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May 26

Local heroes set for Prime Yalta Rally

IRC round 4

IRC - Intercontinental Rally ChallengePRi - IMAGE DOWNLOADMore than 50 crews are set to start next week’s Prime Yalta Rally, round four of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, including one of Ukraine’s most famous rallying partnerships.

Oleksandr Saliuk Sr and Evgeniy Chervonenko, the event promoter, will team up in a PROTON Motorsports Satria Neo Super 2000. They will form one of 15 crews competing in the headline S2000 category on the asphalt event from 2-4 June.

Saliuk Sr and Chervonenko won the USSR rally crown two decades ago ago and were regarded as being among the region’s fastest of their era. Although they have stopped competing regularly since landing that historic title, Saliuk’s son Oleksandr Jr has begun his own promising driving career while Chervonenko is the driving force behind the Prime Yalta Rally. Saliuk Jr had been due to drive for PROTON on the Crimea-based event only to suffer a broken arm.

“The original plan was for my son to drive the PROTON, but since his injury I have stepped in to take his place behind the wheel,” said Saliuk Sr at a press conference in Yalta. “It means a great deal to me and to Evgeniy to compete together 20 years after we won the title in the USSR. This is a very important rally in the Ukraine and one which will attract the IRC’s fastest drivers to our beautiful part of the world. Evgeniy and I are very excited about competing with these drivers and teams in front of the home crowd.”

In addition to Saliuk Sr’s factory PROTON, the Malaysian manufacturer will enter two further Satria Neos for PG Andersson and Giandomenico Basso. There will also be four Peugeot 207s, six Skoda Fabias plus one M-Sport Ford Fiesta competing in the S2000 class. In addition, seven Subaru Imprezas and nine Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancers will battle for IRC Production Cup honours while the IRC 2WD Cup has received 20 registrations with Honda and M-Sport among the makes represented.

PRi - IMAGE DOWNLOADThe PROTON team will field three Satria Neo Super 2000s in Yalta

Neuville steps up IRC bid with Yalta entry 

Thierry Neuville has stepped up his bid to win the Intercontinental Rally Challenge drivers’ crown by confirming his participation on the Prime Yalta Rally.

Neuville shot to equal second in the IRC classification with his stunning maiden victory on Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc in mid-May.

His original schedule of events did not include the all-asphalt round in Ukraine from 2-4 June but the 22-year-old will now compete in Yalta at the expense of his planned entry on Barum Czech Rally Zlin in late August.

“Upon reflection, we felt it was better to send Thierry and Nicolas [Gilsoul, his co-driver] to Ukraine rather than Czech Republic,” said a team spokesperson. “To all IRC competitors, the Yalta Rally will be a discovery and we believe Thierry can be particularly competitive there. This will maximise his chances of winning and also allow him to accumulate more kilometres on asphalt before the Ypres [Rally, his home event].” 

Yalta press conferences to be streamed live

Prime Yalta Rally organisers have announced details of an exciting initiative for their Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier.

They have made arrangements to provide live streaming over the internet of the pre-event press conference at 15:00hrs on Thursday 2 June, the end of day press conference at 19:00hrs on Friday 3 June and the post-event press conference on Saturday 4 June.

All press conferences will be streamed via www.yaltarally.com where further details can be found.

Praise for Al Rajhi from team boss van Dalen

Kronos Racing head Marc van Dalen has praised driver Yazeed Al Rajhi following the Saudi driver’s run to 14th overall on Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc earlier this month.

Al Rajhi had only tackled two sealed-surface rallies before making his Tour de Corse debut at the wheel of a Peugeot 207 Super 2000.

“He was very surprised to be four seconds per kilometre slower at first and couldn’t understand why,” said van Dalen. “But I told him the level in the IRC is very high with lots of experienced drivers and Tarmac specialists. After that he started to learn slowly and improved on each stage and realised the best option was to be at the end of the rally.”

Al Rajhi said: “My last time on Tarmac was in 2009 so I was in Corsica to learn. My next IRC rally will be in Madeira where I hope to improve some more.”

Maurin ups IRC schedule with four more events

Julien Maurin will take part on at least four more rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000.

The Frenchman, 26, bagged his first IRC points on Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc in seventh overall. He will now contest the Geko Ypres Rally in late June, July’s Sata Rallye Acores, August’s Rali Vinho Madeira before he chooses between the Mecsek Rallye in September or the Cyprus Rally in early November.

“I make five or six rounds in the IRC because it is a very nice championship,” said Maurin, who also entered Rallye Monte-Carlo back in January. “I had a good result in Corsica for my first time and I am excited about the other rallies.”

Maurin, who is is using the latest specification M-Sport Fiesta, is relishing the prospect of contesting the gravel-based IRC round in the Azores. He said: “I debut on gravel and it’s my favourite surface. I made Azores in 2009 and it’s for this I want to go back, it’s beautiful.” 

source: ircseries.com, rally-irc.com

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