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Apr 07

Exciting entry for Rally Islas Canarias

Subaru driver Jose L Barrios will be in action on Rally Islas Canarias

PRi - IMAGE DOWNLOADPRi - IMAGE DOWNLOADA total of 76 cars are set to contest Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles, which takes place on the island of Gran Canaria from 14-16 April. Thirty-five crews have entered the main Intercontinental Rally Challenge event with a further 41 competitors registered for the national-level rally, which counts as a round of the Spanish championship.

Juho Hanninen is the number one seed for the main rally in his Skoda Motorsport Fabia Super 2000. The defending IRC champion is one of five drivers competing in the Czech machine, which include Toni Gardemeister, who is making his first appearance with his self-run TGS Worldwide operation, and last year’s winner Jan Kopecky.

Rallye Monte-Carlo victor Bryan Bouffier, Briton Guy Wilks and Belgium’s Thierry Neuville are among the six Peugeot 207 S2000 drivers on the entry, which also features two factory PROTON Satria Neo Super 2000s for second seed Giandomenico Basso and PG Andersson.

The IRC Production Cup will be a straight fight between Subaru Impreza runner Jose L Barrios and Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer exponent Gustavo Sosa, while 20 drivers will be in contention for IRC 2WD Cup honours. Yeray Lemes, the first two-wheel-driver finisher on the event last year and reigning IRC 2WD Cup champion Harry Hunt will be among the contenders for victory.

PRi - IMAGE DOWNLOADSubaru driver Jose L Barrios will be in action on Rally Islas Canarias 

Yalta preparations impress IRC officials 

The Prime Yalta Rally’s first appearance on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge schedule in June is set to be an outstanding success according to two senior IRC officials who visited the Ukrainian city earlier this week.

Xavier Gavory, the IRC General Co-ordinator and Jean-Pierre Nicolas, the IRC Motorsport Development Manager, were in Yalta to assess preparations ahead of the fourth round of the IRC from 2-4 June.

“We have been very impressed both by the quality of the organisation and the quality of the stages,” said Gavory. “The stages are like what you find on Rallye Monte-Carlo and Tour de Corse with a very nice landscape to match. Every year the rally attracts thousands of fans and I’m sure there will be even more when the IRC comes to town. The rally is Ukraine’s second biggest sporting event behind the Euro 2012 football tournament and many celebrities and VIPs will be attending.”

During their visit Gavory and Nicolas took part in a press conference hosted by Evgeny Chervonenko, the chairman of the rally organising committee. He said: “We were honoured to receive such guests as Xavier Gavory and Jean-Pierre Nicolas in the Ukraine and we are pleased the preparations for Prime Yalta Rally 2011 are going according to plan. We are ready to welcome the thousands of IRC fans in Yalta and hope that they do not want to leave the Crimean Monte Carlo, the city of Yalta. We invite all the fans of motorsports to Ukraine in early June, and we promise we can show you a really interesting race and hospitality.”

PRi - IMAGE DOWNLOADJean-Pierre Nicolas (left) and Evgeny Chervonenko at the Prime Yalta Rally press conference

Hanninen and Kopecky set for Tarmac run 

Skoda Motorsport has officially confirmed its participation on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles next week with factory driver Juho Hanninen convinced that he could be an even bigger threat on asphalt this season than he was in 2010.

Finn Hanninen shadowed team-mate Jan Kopecky on the sealed-surface island event last season, settling for second place to the Czech, an established ace on asphalt, following a close battle.

“My second place last year was fantastic,” said Hanninen, who shone on January’s Rallye Monte-Carlo before being delayed by a freak snowfall. “I have definitely made some progress on asphalt ever since and I feel increasingly comfortable on this surface. I see this event as an excellent opportunity to continue improving.”

Kopecky, meanwhile, is braced for a tough battle on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier: “Our goal is ambitious but the competition is going to be even tougher than last year. There will be some excellent drivers but that is exactly what makes rallying and the IRC so exciting.”

Confidence high for Magalhaes 

Bruno Magalhaes says he will start Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles next week with his confidence restored following his high-speed crash on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge season-opener back in January.

The Peugeot Sport Portugal star crashed heavily on Rallye Monte-Carlo, to the extent that his team had to build a replacement 207 Super 2000.

Last month, the 30-year-old took part on his country’s round of the world championship where he finished as the top S2000 driver in 12th overall.

“After the big crash in Monte Carlo it’s very good for me to have three days inside the car and for sure I will start the rally in Canarias with confidence,” said Magalhaes. “We proved our speed and the car was really good and the time with my co-driver was really important because it has been a long time since we worked together in this way.”

Magalhaes and navigator Paulo Grave are planning a one-day test on Gran Canaria next Monday (11 April).

PRi - IMAGE DOWNLOADBruno Magalhaes will start Rally Islas Canarias full of confidence

PROTON to run new tweaks in Gran Canaria

The PROTON Satria Neo Super 2000s of PG Andersson and Giandomenico Basso will feature a series of upgrades when they contest round two of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles.

Since January’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, the Anglo-Malaysian squad has made improvements to the engine and suspension, which it will fine tune during a two-day test on Gran Canaria prior to the competitive action getting underway.

“We’ve completed some engine work during the test [in Italy last month] and looked at different engine strategies and set-up,” said PROTON Motorsports team principal Chris Mellors. “Giandomenico was pleased with the car and we were pleased with him. We’ve got more developments coming on the car all of the time: the suspension is the next area we are looking at.”

PROTON will head to Gran Canaria on the back of its one-three finish on the Malaysian Rally, round one of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, last weekend. Occasional IRC drivers Chris Atkinson took victory with RACMSA Rally of Scotland podium finisher Alister McRae taking third.

Autograph session confirmed for island event

Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles organisers have arranged an autograph signing session in the service park from 19:00hrs-20:30hrs on Wednesday 13 April. All media are invited to attend.

source: ircseries.com, rally-irc.com

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