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Sata Rally (Açores) - 15-17 Jul 10

Posted: July 22, 2010 12:06 PM - 5552 Hits

Round 7 - 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC)

PEUGEOT UK'S KRIS MEEKE & PAUL NAGLE TAKE A WELL-EARNED SECOND IN THE AZORES

Posted: July 22, 2010 12:06 PM

Peugeot scored a dramatic one-two in this weekend's SATA Rally Azores, the seventh round of this year's Intercontinental Rally Championship (IRC).

This result was the first one-two finish for Peugeot in this year's IRC campaign and is great testimony to the strength of the Peugeot 207 S2000 rally car and the determined drives by Peugeot Portugal's Bruno Magalhaes and Peugeot UK's Kris Meeke.

It was Bruno who crossed the line first to take his maiden IRC victory with Kris and co-driver Paul Nagle in second and, more importantly a good solid finish after their recent run of bad luck.

It was not an easy weekend of rallying for Kris and Paul, who had to overcome a number of hurdles on the way to their second place finish. The rally kicked off on Thursday with three special stages and, as the victor of last year's rally, Peugeot UK's Kris Meeke would be the first car to tackle the stages. The first five finishers from these stages would be reversed for the second day so it was important not to be fifth as, sweeping the stages for the drivers on day two, would be a big disadvantage.

Kris, however, was only able to set the fifth fastest time on the opening stage. He found the stage very difficult due to the loose surface gravel which he cleaned out of the way for the cars behind.
"You could see the times of the guys running further back were much faster than those running up front and that was definitely the case for me" said Kris.

Stage two saw a tactical move from Kris when he dropped time to ensure he dropped back in the order to sixth and thereby ensure he was not going to be the first car on the road for day two. This honour fell to local driver Bernardo Sousa who would finish day one in fifth place. At the end of the first day, Skoda's Juho Hanninen held a slender lead over Peugeot Portugal's Bruno Magalhaes in his 207 S2000 and Andreas Mikkelsen in his Fiesta S2000; Kris finished in sixth 12.3 seconds behind the leader.

With the first five drivers starting in reverse order for day two, Kris would be sixth on the road and would now benefit from the drivers in front sweeping the loose gravel off the stages.

Unfortunately, it seemed like the Peugeot UK team's bad luck had returned when Kris and Paul picked up a puncture on the first stage of the day. However, other drivers also picked up punctures and Kris and Paul finished the stage fifth overall. The impact which had caused the puncture had also upset the front suspension settings and on special stage six Kris spun the car and lost more time. On returning to the Service Park, the Peugeot UK team changed the set-up of the Peugeot UK 207 S2000 and Kris and Paul proceeded to set the second fastest time on special stage seven and the fastest time on eight. On special stage nine, Kris and Paul gave it everything they had and took eighteen seconds out of the next placed driver, Andreas Mikkelsen demoting him to fifth place overall and taking his fourth place position. Running in fourth place would also prevent Kris being the first car on the road for the final day when the running order was reversed again.

Sadly, special stage ten was to undo all Kris and Paul's hard work as they picked up another puncture dropping them back into fifth place. With no spare wheel after the puncture, Kris and Paul had to drive carefully in special stages eleven and twelve and returned back to the Service Park physically drained and disappointed that they would be the first car on the road for the final day.

At the end of the second day, Peugeot Portugal's Bruno Magalhaes was leading the rally by 2.2 seconds from Skoda's Juho Hanninen with Kris, fifth, 51.7 seconds behind.

The final day of the SATA rally Azores was to be just as dramatic as the first two. Leaving the Service Park for the final seven stages, Kris and Paul's first target was to get the fourth place position back off Andreas Mikkelsen who was 2.8 seconds in front of them. The first stage of the day, Kris set the fourth fastest time and moved ahead of Mikkelsen who was only able to set the sixth quickest time.

The next stage, special stage fourteen, was the first indication that the Peugeot UK's team luck was about to change. Kris entered the stage first and picked up a puncture. Then the second car driven by Mikkelsen entered the stage passing the stricken Peugeot UK 207 S2000 only to put the car into a ditch avoiding a number of cows which had wandered onto the stage. His car was damaged and this resulted in the stage being cancelled. Kris and Paul lost no time and, therefore, held onto their fourth place. Pressing as hard as they could, they held their fourth place until the penultimate special stage when rally leader Skoda's Juho Hanninen picked up a puncture and dropped to fourth elevating Kris and Paul up to third place overall.

With just one stage to go, Skoda's Jan Kopecky was the new rally leader with a gap of 6.4 seconds over second place Peugeot Portugal's Bruno Magalhaes. The final stage was maximum attack for the two Peugeot drivers and, as Kris exited the stage, his time of 18:35.5 seconds was going to be a hard time to beat. In fact, nobody did beat his time and the extra pressure applied to rally leader Skoda's Jan Kopecky was too much and he crashed out of the rally four kilometres from the end of the stage, giving Peugeot Portugal's' Bruno Magalhaes his first IRC rally win and promoting Peugeot UK's Kris Meeke into second place.

After the rally Kris said he believes their luck has finally changed: "This has given us a little glimmer of hope. We can't do any more than go out and give our maximum on every rally, and for sure we've got three asphalt rallies coming up in a row, we know the car is very good on this type of surface, so now we have to make the most of it and maybe our luck has changed".

"We have to be realistic because we were gifted a second place. We'll take the points whenever we can get them but we can't be satisfied because we didn't have the pace to win. We were competitive on some stages but we need to do more".

Paul Nagle said:
"We never gave up, not from our problems on the very first stage to the very end of the rally".

This is Kris and Paul's second podium finish of the year and puts them back into contention for the 2010 IRC Drivers' crown. The next round of the IRC is on the Portuguese island of Madeira (August 5-7) and the Peugeot 207 S2000s of Meeke and Magalhaes will be out to claim another set of podium positions.

Silva secures latest Subaru Individual Award

Posted: July 22, 2010 12:01 PM

Sergio Silva has won the latest Subaru Individual Award following his eighth-place finish on Sata Rallye Acores last weekend.

Silva, from Portugal, was one of five Subaru Impreza drivers contesting the gravel-based Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier on the Atlantic archipelago. Co-driven by Paulo Leal, Silva finished more than two minutes ahead of the next highest Subaru finishers, Paulo Rego and Abel Carreiro. The result also meant Silva secured one manufacturers' point for Subaru, while also earning a drivers' point for himself.

The Subaru Individual Award is presented on each of the 12 IRC rounds this year to the highest-placed Subaru finisher and demonstrates the support that Subaru is extending to its customer drivers in the IRC in 2010.

Olivier Burri (Monte Carlo), Juan San Martin (Curitiba), Gabriel Pozzo (Argentina), Jose Barrios (Canary Islands), Teemu Arminen (Sardinia) and Florian Gonon (Ypres) are the other Subaru Individual Award winners so far this season.

MAGALHAES WINS FIRST COLIN MCRAE IRC FLAT OUT TROPHY

Posted: July 20, 2010 12:57 PM

Magalhaes was handed the prestigious award by a panel of judges consisting of IRC's Motorsport Development Manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Gilbert Roy, Eurosport Events' Director of Editorial and Programme Development, and Colin's father Jim McRae.

It followed his maiden IRC victory on last weekend's Sata Rallye Acores when the 30-year-old doggedly fought back from a gearbox fault in his Peugeot Sport Portugal-run 207 Super 2000 to regain first place on the final stage of the challenging gravel event. Kris Meeke, who battled several punctures to finish second, and Andreas Mikkelsen, who recovered from a scary moment when he encountered a herd of cows to claim fourth were shortlisted for the award.

"It's a pleasure to give this trophy to Bruno," said Nicolas. "After discussing with Jimmy McRae and Gilbert Roy we decided in this rally the fighting spirit of Colin was best shown by Bruno who has done a really fantastic rally. We hope he will fight again on the next rally to compete for the second trophy."

After accepting the award from Nicolas, Magalhaes said: "It's a big honour for me because Colin is my hero. He was the driver who impressed me the most. I remember him in Rally of Portugal in 1999 when he won the first two special stages by one minute over the other guys and won the rally. He was incredible so for me it's an honour to receive this gift because Colin is a hero."

Jim McRae added:
"Even though he had good knowledge of the stages from before, he's new to the IRC so to go at the pace he did obviously proves he's got a load of talent. I'm very pleased for him and it's also a great thing to hear that Colin was his hero when he was growing up."

The Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy will be presented on all remaining rounds of the IRC with an end of season trophy, the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Driver of the Year, also being awarded at the IRC's end of season award ceremony.

It was conceived following the formation of an official partnership last month between Eurosport Events, the promoter of the IRC, and Colin McRae Vision, a charity established following the death of the 1995 world rally champion, his young son Johnny and two family friends in a helicopter accident in 2007, which aims to improve health and education for children around the world.

Eurosport Events and Colin McRae Vision will work with organisers of selected rounds of the IRC to identify suitable projects and initiatives that help young people. They will also work with the IRC's partners, manufacturers and drivers to promote the efforts of Colin McRae Vision and increase the levels of exposure and support, with regular updates on the IRC website (www.rally-irc.com), in the IRC newsletter and during television coverage of IRC rounds.

The 2010 IRC season continues with Rali Vinho Madeira, round eight of the series, from 5-7 August when the next Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy will be presented.

MAGALHAES LANDS DRAMATIC AZORES VICTORY

Posted: July 20, 2010 12:54 PM

runo Magalhaes has claimed his first victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge following a thrilling finish to Sata Rally Acores today (Saturday). The Peugeot Sport Portugal driver took the lead on Friday's first stage but dropped out of top spot on stage 15 with a gearbox problem and feared his chances of winning were over. But in a dramatic turn of events, Juho Hanninen lost first place with a puncture on the penultimate stage before Jan Kopecky, who started the last test leading by 6.4s, crashed out four kilometres from the finish to hand Magalhaes an emotional win in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans.

Magalhaes had driven without fault throughout the event but his once commanding lead had slowly been eroded by the flying Hanninen, who started Saturday's final seven stages a mere 2.2s behind his Portuguese rival. A faster time through the opening stage of the day for Hanninen elevated him into the joint lead of the event. With stage 14 cancelled after a herd of cows had wandered into the road, Hanninen had to wait until the following test to move in front of Magalhaes although his task was eased when Magalhaes' gearbox lost its oil and coated the windscreen of his 207 in liquid.

A heroic effort by Magalhaes' mechanics to change his gearbox in the allotted 20-minute service time kept him in the battle for a podium finish before despair turned to joy in the closing stages of the last test when Kopecky crashed out.

Peugeot UK's Kris Meeke, saddled by a high-speed spin on stage six and several punctures, started the final leg first on the road in fifth overall and conceded that overhauling Andreas Mikkelsen for fourth on Saturday's opening stage would be as good as it would get. But he refused to give up and moved into third when Hanninen had to stop to change a front-right puncture, before seizing second when Kopecky stopped, despite a minor electrical glitch.

Hanninen, driving a factory Skoda Fabia S2000, made up for the disappointment of losing out on his third win of the season by claiming third to extend his lead of the IRC drivers' standings to nine points over Kopecky with Magalhaes moving ahead of the absent Guy Wilks into third after becoming the sixth different winner from seven events.

For Hanninen's team-mate Kopecky, his retirement marked the first time this season that he had failed to score points. It was also poor reward for a strong performance by the Czech resident who was fastest on three stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, who claimed his maiden IRC stage victory on Thursday evening, survived a dramatic scare on stage 14 when he encountered a herd of cows in the middle of the road. Despite veering off the stage he was unable to avoid striking two cows, which left his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 with extensive bodywork damage. He was able to continue and eventually finished fourth despite his powersteering failing two stages from the end.

"We were flat-out in sixth gear and 50 metres after a big crest there was eight or 10 cows in the middle of the road," said the Norwegian driver. "We had to put the car into the ditch where we hit two of the cows. It was a scary moment."

Portuguese championship leader Bernardo Sousa was set for sixth overall only to damage his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000's right-rear suspension striking a bank on stage 18. He limped to the finish a disconsolate 10th overall.

There were strong performances by several local drivers most notably Azores champion Ricardo Moura who recovered from a puncture on the first stage to take fifth overall in his Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer. Vitor Pascoal completed the top six in his Peugeot 207 with Pedro Vale and Sergio Silva, the leading Subaru Impreza finisher, seventh and eighth respectively.

Rafael Tulio secured IRC 2WD Cup honours following a dominant display in his Peugeot 206. The Brazilian's second victory of the season elevates him to the top of the drivers' standings ahead of Pierre Campana, who wasn't contesting the island event.

As well as picking up the overall honours, Bruno Magalhaes secured the inaugural Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, which will be presented to the most spectacular driver on all remaining rounds of this year's IRC as part of the association between Eurosport Events, promoter of the IRC, and the Colin McRae Vision charity. Magalhaes was chosen as the winner by IRC's Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Eurosport's Gilbert Roy and Jim McRae, Colin's father.

Results

Posted: July 20, 2010 12:41 PM

1 Bruno Magalhaes/Carlos Magalhaes (Peugeot 207 S2000) 2h34m00.4s
2 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Peugeot 207 S2000) +1m00.1s
3 Juho Hanninen/Mikko Markkula (Skoda Fabia S2000) +1m20.7s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Fiesta S2000) +4m45.6s
5 Ricardo Moura/Sancho Eiro (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX) +5m22.0s
6 Vitor Pascoal/Mario Castro (Peugeot 207 S2000) +8m58.7s
7 Pedro Vale/Rui Medeiros (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX) +10m55.3s
8 Sergio Silva/Paulo Leal (Subaru Impreza WRX) +12m54.5s
9 Ricardo Carmo/Justino Reis (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX) +14m23.6s
10 Bernardo Sousa/Nuno Silva (Ford Fiesta S2000) +15m09.8s

Leading IRC 2WD Cup finishers: Rafael Tulio/Cesar Valandro (Peugeot 206)

PEUGEOT'S KRIS MEEKE/PAUL NAGLE HEAD BACK TO THE AZORES FOR ROUND SIX OF THE IRC

Posted: July 14, 2010 3:41 PM

The narrow stone wall-lined stages of the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores saw Peugeot UK's Kris Meeke secure his second IRC victory in 2009. This week, Kris and co-driver Paul Nagle will return to the island with a wish to repeat last year's triumph.

Sao Miguel is the largest of the nine islands which make up the Atlantic archipelago and is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, 930 miles south of Lisbon and 2422 miles from the east coast of North America.

This year, the stages are largely unaltered from those Kris and Paul dominated last year and, like in Brazil, the experience gained from winning last year's event will be an added bonus for the Peugeot UK crew.

The stages on the island are, however, very challenging as some of the gravel stages are interspersed with short tarmac sections providing reduced grip, when the cars are fitted with gravel specification tyres. As Kris was victorious in last year's rally, he will start the first three opening stages on Thursday as the first car into the stages. The order for the second day will be decided by the rally finishing order after day 1.

Last year, Kris and Paul had to contend with exceptionally heavy rainfall which lead to the cancellation of the final stage. This, however, did not slow down the dynamic duo who set ten fastest stage times on the seventeen run stages. Last year's ran in May, this year being run in July should see dryer and more predictable weather conditions.

The 2010 rally will be contested over a total of 19 stages (17 stages in 2009) with a total distance of 226 kilometres, including the fantastic Sete Cidades stage around the rim of an extinct volcano in the west of the island.

Kris's mentor, the late Colin McRae, will also play a part in the remaining IRC season as the Sata Rallye Azores will see the first running of the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy. This will be awarded to the driver who produces the most spectacular performance in the spirit of the rally legend, who lost his life in a helicopter accident in 2007.

The winner of the award will be selected by a panel of judges made up of Colin's father Jimmy McRae, IRC Motorsport Development manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas and a representative from Eurosport, Gilbert Roy. The trophy is part of the new partnership between the IRC and the Colin McRae Vision, an organisation which aims to improve the health and education for children around the world.

Currently in fifth position in the drivers' standings, Kris will be keen to repeat last year's success. A win in the Azores would be a big step towards retaining his driver's title.

The rally starts on Thursday 15th July and finishes on Sunday 17th July.

TV Times

Posted: July 9, 2010 11:59 PM

Irish Time (IST/BST)

Thursday 15 July
22:00hrs-22:30hrs Day one highlights (Eurosport and Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Friday 16 July
08:00hrs-08:30hrs Day one highlights repeated (Eurosport and Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
22:00hrs-22:30hrs Day two highlights (Eurosport and Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Saturday 17 July
08:00hrs-08:30hrs Day two highlights repeated (Eurosport)
09:15hrs-09:45hrs Day one highlights repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
09:45hrs-10:15hrs Day two highlights repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
22:00hrs-22:30hrs Day three highlights (Eurosport and Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Sunday 18 July
07:30hrs-08:00hrs Day three highlights repeated (Eurosport)
23:00hrs-23:30hrs Rally review (Eurosport and Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Monday 19 July
12:00hrs-12:30hrs Rally review repeated (Eurosport 2)

Tuesday 20 July
02:30hrs-03:00hrs Rally review repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
16:30hrs-17:00hrs Rally review repeated (Eurosport 2)
24:00hrs-24:30hrs Rally review repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

SATA RALLYE ACORES PREVIEW

Posted: July 9, 2010 11:23 PM

THE CHALLENGE
Six rounds down and the battle for the Intercontinental Rally Challenge couldn't be closer with Skoda Motorsport team-mates Juho Hanninen and Jan Kopecky separated by just three points at the top of the drivers' standings prior to Sata Rallye Acores.

The gravel event, which takes place on Sao Miguel, the largest island of the Atlantic archipelago, joined the IRC for the first time last season and returns from 15-17 July with a largely unaltered route, which covers 226 kilometres over 19 stages through lush and stunning countryside.

Stages run over narrow gravel tracks that are lined by stone walls in places and pass between huge drops meaning there is little margin for error, despite the leading contenders describing the roads as largely medium-speed. To add to the challenge, several stages feature short Tarmac sections, which can catch out the unsuspecting driver due to the reduced grip they will encounter running on gravel-specification tyres.

Although the stages feature a sandy gravel surface, they do vary in terms of their layout. The Sete Cidades test in the west of the island, for example, runs around the rim of a non-active volcano, while the Grupo Marques superspecial stage, which is used on Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon, is based in a quarry. Although it is less imposing for the drivers, they are tasked with competing side-by-side through the course, which affords spectators excellent vantage points.

Crews will start in competition number order on leg one, meaning Kris Meeke, last year's winner, will start first on the road for Thursday evening's opening three stages, which are located northeast of Sao Miguel's capital Ponta Delgada, where the permanent service park is housed.

On day two, competitors will start in rally order, albeit the top five runners after leg one will run in reverse order. The starting order for day three will be determined by the rally order after leg two.

Last year's event, which ran in mid-May, was affected by heavy rainfall to the extent the final stage had to be cancelled following a torrential downpour. Although the island climate can trigger changeable conditions, the new July date should result in dryer and more predictable weather.

As well as battling for IRC points, competitors will also chase the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy for the first time. It will be handed to the driver producing the most spectacular performance in the spirit of the rallying legend, who lost his life in a helicopter accident in 2007.

The winner will be picked by a panel of judges consisting of Colin's father Jimmy McRae, IRC Motorsport Development Manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas, and Eurosport's Gilbert Roy. The trophy will be presented on all remaining rounds of this season's IRC and is a key element of the new partnership between the IRC and Colin McRae Vision, which aims to improve health and education for children around the world.

THE COMPETITORS
Despite crashing out of the last IRC round in Ypres, Juho Hanninen starts Sata Rallye Acores on a high after winning the recent Rally Bohemia, a round of the Czech championship. While that event took place on asphalt, Hanninen makes no secret of his preference for gravel stages and has won the last two loose-surface IRC events in Argentina and Sardinia.

While there is no doubting Hanninen's pace on gravel, the Finn admits his Skoda Fabia S2000 Facelift has undergone limited running on the loose, which means Skoda's planned pre-event test in the Azores early next week will be crucial for developing an effective set-up.

Jan Kopecky proved on Sardinia, the last IRC qualifier to take place on gravel, that he is more than just an asphalt specialist with three stage wins. The Czech's second place finish in Ypres last month has hauled him firmly into title contention. Like team-mate Hanninen, Kopecky has experience from competing in the Azores last season, where he finished second to Kris Meeke.

As the defending IRC champion, Meeke has endured a poor run of results of late, crashing out in Sardinia and Ypres while challenging for victory, which means he trails title leader Hanninen by 27 points. His Peugeot UK 207's suspension settings are better suited to the smoother gravel roads in the Azores and a repeat of his win there in 2009 would go a huge way towards making up for some of his recent disappointments, not to mention hand him a lifeline in his quest for a second title.

For Bruno Magalhaes the Azores marks the first rally of the season that the ever-present Portuguese has prior experience of and he will be expected to shine at the wheel of his Peugeot Sport Portugal 207. Magalhaes has scored points on all six rounds of the IRC and was in contention for a podium finish in the Azores last season until a gearbox fault foiled his hopes.

Andreas Mikkelsen secured his first IRC points in Ypres last month in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 and will be looking to recapture the pace he showed in Sardinia, where his recovery from an opening-stage crash netted a succession of top five stage times. Mikkelsen, from Norway, is an Azores novice but has shown plenty of adaptability throughout his career and could benefit from a more advantageous road position, the result of starting further down the order.

Portugal's Bernardo Sousa will also be at the wheel of an M-Sport Fiesta. The 22-year-old leads his domestic championship, which runs in tandem with the main IRC event, after winning the opening three rounds and is therefore intent on maximising domestic championship points rather than chasing outright pace. However, he has the speed to run at the front of the field and could prove a nuisance to the IRC regulars.

Like Mikkelsen, Burcu Cetinkaya also began her IRC campaign in Sardinia in her Peugeot Sport Turkey 207. Sadly, damage to her car caused in an accident on the Ypres Rally means she won't be competing in the Azores although she will still travel to the event to drive one of the course cars.

Daniel Oliveira had also been due to take part in his Stohl Racing Peugeot 207, but a hefty crash in Ypres, which left co-driver Carlos del Barrio with a collapsed lung, has scuppered those plans. Del Barrio is making a swift recovery and the pair is set to return to IRC duty on round eight in Madeira next month. Franz Wittmann is also missing from the entry in his Interwetten Racing 207.

With Guy Wilks still recuperating from the back injuries he sustained in a high-speed crash in Sardinia in early June and Proton trio Chris Atkinson, Tom Cave and Alister McRae pulling their entries while a solution to the engine problem that sidelined all three Satria Neos in Ypres is found, several Portuguese drivers are expected to battle for IRC points, which are handed out to the top eight finishers. They include Vitor Pascoal (Peugeot 207), Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer driver Ricardo Moura and Sergio Silva, who pilots a Subaru Impreza.

Former IRC 2WD Cup champion Marco Cavigioli had been expected to challenge for the class laurels in the Azores but a pre-event testing crash badly damaged his diesel-powered Fiat Abarth Grande Punto. Cavigioli's absence is set to play into the hands of event newcomer, the Brazilian Rafael Tulio, who claimed the two-wheel drive division in Argentina back in March in his Peugeot 206. Portuguese driver Paulo Antunes will also be a contender for honours in another 206.

THE EXPECTATIONS
Juho Hanninen (Finland), Skoda Fabia S2000:
"I prefer gravel rallies so from that side I am excited. But it's a rally where you have to be quite precise and patient because the stages are narrow in places and it is easy to lose a wheel from your car. We haven't tested the Fabia Facelift so much on gravel but there is no reason why we won't be on the right level."

Bruno Magalhaes (Portugal), Peugeot 207 S2000:
"I know this rally well and won it in 2008. It's a technical rally, very narrow and fast in places. I will try for a podium but there are some other guys in the IRC who are very fast so it will be difficult. At least I can take some motivation from the crowd who will be waving the Portuguese flag to support me."

Kris Meeke (United Kingdom), Peugeot 207 S000:
"It's an event I feel quite comfortable on and obviously enjoyed last year because we won. You have to be very disciplined because there is little over a width of the car between the stone walls. On gravel grip is always progressive and it's easy to push the limit, slide wide and touch a wall."

Meeke counts on home hero Magalhaes

Posted: July 9, 2010 11:15 PM

Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Kris Meeke expects Bruno Magalhaes to help him take the fight to the dominant factory Skoda team when the IRC resumes in Azores next week.

Magalhaes, from Portugal, has extensive knowledge of the island event following his stint in his domestic rally championship and was in contention for a podium finish there last year until mechanical problems struck his Peugeot Sport Portugal 207 Super 2000.

After attempts by Peugeot to support Meeke's IRC bid by fielding cars for Sebastien Ogier and Stephane Sarrazin faltered when the French drivers retired on the opening stage in Sardinia and Ypres respectively, Meeke believes that Magalhaes can be a consistent threat to Skoda, which has won the last four IRC events.

"Bruno's stage times were right up there in the Azores last year but in the end he was quite unfortunate," said Meeke. "He knows the rally well and if he can string it all together he'll be up there fighting, which will be good for me and good for Peugeot."

Entry List

Posted: July 6, 2010 1:02 PM

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