Sanremo Rally - The competitors

Sanremo Rally - The competitors

17.09.2011: Intercontinental Rally Challenge, round 9 of 11 Rallye Sanremo 22-24 September 2011

Intercontinental Rally Challenge, round 9 of 11

Rallye Sanremo  22-24 September 2011     



 
Jan Kopecky heads the IRC drivers' standings and is a favourite for victory  
   



Sixteen Super 2000 cars will do battle on Rallye Sanremo with title chasers Bryan Bouffier, Juho Hanninen, Jan Kopecky, Freddy Loix, Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville all appearing on the entry list. However, Hanninen’s participation has still to be confirmed by his SKODA Motorsport team due to his other commitments with the Czech manufacturer.


If the Finn, the defending IRC champion, does skip the event then team-mates Kopecky and Loix are likely to capitalise. Kopecky opened up a 17-point lead in the IRC standings with victory on the last round, the Canon Mecsek Rallye in Hungary, while Loix is well-placed in the title reckoning when dropped scores are considered.


IRC rules allow drivers to count their best seven scores only. Having finished in the points on seven events this year, Kopecky will have to begin dropping scores from now on. Loix, meanwhile, has only scored on six rounds so far.


Thierry Neuville heads the Peugeot challenge in his Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg 207 and is full of confidence following his second place finish in Hungary earlier this month. With previous Sanremo experience – plus a test near the rally route on Monday – to count on, Neuville has high hopes of claiming his second win of the season.


Bryan Bouffier will be one of several Peugeot runners determined to do likewise. The Peugeot France ace won January’s Rallye Monte-Carlo and has the ability to replicate that form in Italy. Peugeot UK triumphed in Sanremo with Kris Meeke in 2009 and would relish a repeat success with Guy Wilks, who replaced Meeke in the squad for the 2011 season. Peugeot Sport Portugal’s Bruno Magalhaes will also be a contender.


Pierre Campana will make his IRC return in Sanremo at the wheel of the Munaretto-run Peugeot 207 he took to fourth overall on May’s Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc. The French ace has a strong record in Sanremo having won the IRC 2WD Cup class there in 2009.


Max Settembrini is also back on IRC duty for the first time since Corsica. Like Campana, the Italian veteran will be at the wheel of a 207, which is also the car of choice of Swiss Gregoire Hotz, a newcomer to the IRC in 2011, and Italian Alessandro Perico, a former Sanremo winner.


PROTON Motorsports has made a tweak to its line-up with Australian Chris Atkinson being drafted in to replace Swede PG Andersson. Atkinson, who is based over the border in nearby Monte Carlo, took part on the IRC season-opener in the principality with PROTON and has achieved considerable success this season with the Malaysian manufacturer in the Asia Pacific championship. Italian Giandomenico Basso, another former Sanremo winner, pilots the team’s second Satria Neo S2000 and will be out to impress.


TGS Worldwide’s Toni Gardemeister has been a model of consistency this season, scoring points on all seven rounds he’s contested so far in his Fabia S2000. The Finn has a prior knowledge of the Sanremo stages and plenty of speed to match. Rising Italian star Umberto Scandola was quick in Sanremo last season and will be a threat again this year in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000.



IRC Production Cup


Swiss Florian Gonon returns to IRC Production Cup action bidding for his third win in his Subaru Impreza.


With a 25-point margin over his closest rivals, Gonon could strengthen his grip on the inaugural IRC Production Cup title with a strong result in Sanremo. Italian Marco Cavigioli will have other ideas in his Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer as he looks to make the most of the momentum generated by contesting the last two events.


Johan Heloise, from France, will pilot an Impreza for Top Run Motorsport of Italy, while Irishman Eamonn Boland and Italian Corrado Perino complete the competitive entry in their Lancers.



IRC 2WD Cup

The big guns of the IRC 2WD Cup will be out in force on Rallye Sanremo with defending champion Harry Hunt, current title leader Jean-Michel Raoux, and Sandro Sottile, who won the IRC 2WD Cup section in Sanremo last season in his Honda Civic Type R, all competing.


Stefano Albertini, the category winner on the last two rounds in Czech Republic and Hungary, will be capable of running at the front, as will Honda driver Martin Kangur and Italian Elwis Chentre, who switches to a SKODA Fabia R2. Belgian Cedric Cherain and Frenchman Mathieu Arzeno will also be quick as will Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi, who won the IRC 2WD Cup section in Corsica back in May.     
    

    
- RIchard Rodgers - photo IRC

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17.09.2011 / MaP

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