SanRemo Rallye tarmac titans set for IRC battle

SanRemo Rallye tarmac titans set for IRC battle

08.10.2012: Intercontinental Rally Challenge, round 12 of 13 Rallye Sanremo, 12-13 October

Intercontinental Rally Challenge, round 12 of 13
Rallye Sanremo, 12-13 October


The Intercontinental Rally Challenge heads to Rallye Sanremo and the Italian Riviera next week for the final all-asphalt event of the 2012 season. And with the outcome of the coveted IRC drivers’ crown still far from settled, a thrilling battle is expected when the action gets underway on Friday 12 October.

A mainstay of the IRC since its formation in 2007, Rallye Sanremo actually hosted one of four IRC pilot events in 2006. With the competitive running contained within a 25-hour window, there will be little time for the crews to visit the town’s casino and tempting restaurants as they focus instead on the tricky and narrow mountain stages overlooking Sanremo and its glorious Mediterranean coastline.

After taking the start in Sanremo on Friday afternoon, competitors tackle three stages before a lengthy regroup. While fans will be able to get close up to the cars stationed in the town’s Piazza Borea d’Olmo, drivers and co-drivers will get a welcome respite prior to tackling the daunting 44-kilometre Ronde stage, which goes live at 21:00hrs local time and takes place under the cover of darkness.

Following the overnight halt in Sanremo, Saturday’s itinerary includes three repeated stages from 09:05hrs split by service in the host town where the first car is due to cross the finishing ramp at 17:35hrs. The rally-closing Colle d’Oggia stage will be shown live on RAI Sport 1, with daily highlights of the event on Eurosport and RAI.


Rallye Sanremo’s stages are characterised by fast and flowing sections, frequent changes of rhythm, and blind and open corners with rapid climbs and descents commonplace. The ability to find the optimum ‘racing’ line and maintain a high level of speed are essential for recording competitive stage times.

Road surfaces are predominantly smooth, albeit with some sections of broken asphalt. The undulating nature of the roads places a great strain on the cars with the engine, transmission and brakes all being subjected to heavy punishment. The possibility of rain and fog simply adds to the challenge.


*As well as hosting round 12 of the IRC, Sanremo is the venue for an annual song festival.

*Sanremo is affectionately known as the Citta dei Fiori, the city of flowers, due to its flower market.

*The Liguria region, where Sanremo is located, has a reputation for olive oil production, which is used with basil to make pesto, a popular Ligurian speciality.

*Sanremo rose to prominence as a holiday destination with several grandiose hotels built overlooking the sea, including the Royal Hotel, the rally’s headquarters, which was opened in 1872.

*Multiple winner Sandro Munari is one of the legends of Rallye Sanremo. Such was his fanatical following that spectators would get on their hands and knees and kiss the asphalt he’d just driven on.


With title leader Andreas Mikkelsen set to conclude his 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge campaign on next month’s Cyprus Rally, the stage is set for his closest rivals, Juho Hänninen and Jan Kopecký, to narrow the absent Norwegian’s advantage in their similar ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000s.

Hänninen is 43 points behind Mikkelsen with Kopecký a further 10 points adrift of his factory team-mate starting the all-asphalt counter, where ŠKODA can secure a third IRC manufacturers’ crown. However, they will both come up against formidable local opposition as they chase maximum points.

Paolo Andreucci, the reigning Italian champion, won in Sanremo in 2010 and will be a major force in his Peugeot 207 Super 2000. Giandomenico Basso, in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC, was victorious on Rally San Marino in July and won Sanremo’s pilot IRC event in 2006. Umberto Scandola will also be capable of running at the front in his ŠKODA Italia-backed Fabia, while rising star Stefano Albertini was a contender for IRC 2WD Cup honours in 2011 and is embarking on his first season in S2000 machinery.

Craig Breen returns to the IRC for the first time since the accident on Targa Florio Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia that claimed the life of his best friend and former co-driver Gareth Roberts. The Irishman will pilot a Saintéloc Racing Peugeot alongside new navigator Paul Nagle, who partnered Kris Meeke to IRC title glory in Sanremo in 2009.

Portugal’s Bruno Magalhães, a former IRC event winner, makes his second start of the season in a 207 S2000, while Munaretto Peugeot pilot Pierre Campana will be looking to build on the podium he scored in Corsica having won his class on a practice rally in Italy recently. Florian Gonon completes his three-event IRC schedule in a second Saintéloc Peugeot. Other S2000 contenders include Hungarian Janós Puskádi and Italian Alessandro Perico, while Harry Hunt steps up to the category from the IRC 2WD Cup with the vastly successful Kronos Racing squad.

IRC Production Cup

A close fight is expected between Italy-born Romanian Marco Tempestini in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI, Robert Consani (Renault Mégane RS), who took the category lead with victory in Bulgaria last time out, Italian Max Rendina and Ukrainian Vitaliy Pushkar.

Rapid Subaru trio Andreas Aigner, Toshi Arai and Jarkko Nikara are all late additions to the entry in their Imprezas. Italian veteran Marco Cavigioli will be chasing more points, while Martinique driver Johan Heloïse returns to IRC Production Cup duty after recovering from a hand injury.


With title rival Harry Hunt switching to a Peugeot 207 S2000 for Sanremo, Robert Consani will be aiming to pull clear in the title battle with a top score aboard his Renault Mégane RS. Italian Junior champion Simone Campedelli, the IRC 2WD Cup winner in Sicily back in June, will be a threat, as will Bryan Bouffier, who gives Peugeot’s 208 R2 its competition debut.

Andrea Nucita and Austrian Renault Clio R3 driver Michael Kogler will be out to impress, as will Elwis Chentre in his Fabia R2. Mikko Pajunen, a stage winner on the Prime Yalta Rally in a Fiesta S2000, is back on board in his Renault Twingo R2 alongside Kimi Räikkönen’s former co-driver Kaj Lindström. Andrea Crugnola will also be quick.

Richard Rodgers, photo IRC


08.10.2012 / MaP

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