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Barum Rally (Czech Republic) - 27-29 Aug 10

Posted: September 2, 2010 9:31 PM - 7786 Hits

Round 8 - 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC)
Round 7 - 2010 European Rally Championship (ERC)


ŠKODA STORMS TO IRC TITLE WITH 1-2-3 ON HOME RALLY

Posted: September 2, 2010 9:31 PM

Škoda has won the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge after a stunning all Fabia S2000 Facelift podium finish on its home round of the series, Barum Czech Rally Zlín (27-28 August).

It was the fourth time that Škoda Motorsport has locked out a 1-2-3 podium finish and its sixth rally win from nine rounds of this year’s IRC. Škoda wins the prestigious Manufacturers’ title with three rounds of the IRC remaining.

The Drivers’ points table is currently dominated by Škoda Motorsport talent too, with Juho Hänninen in first place with 56 points, Jan Kopecký nine points behind in second and Freddy Loix third, having scored a maximum 10 points by winning all three rounds he has competed on.

Škoda UK Motorsport has made a significant contribution to Škoda’s title winning success, with Guy Wilks finishing second on Rally International de Curitiba in Brazil and Rally Argentina and scoring 16 Manufacturers’ points for the brand. By finishing high up in sixth in Monte Carlo and third on Rally Islas Canarias 'Trofeo El Corte Ingles', Guy has also limited the number of points several of Škoda’s rivals could have scored.

Competing against seven other car manufacturers in the 2010 IRC, Škoda has led the hotly contested battle of the brands since the beginning of the season. Rally Argentina (19-21 March) saw Škoda celebrate its first 1-2-3 finish in international rally competition, when Hänninen, Wilks and Kopecký locked out the podium for Škoda for the first time.

This was followed with another 1-2-3 score on the very next event, Rally Islas Canarias (29 April-1 May), when Kopecký, Hänninen and Wilks came home in that order.

Freddy Loix, Kopecký and Hänninen secured Škoda its 1-2-3 hat-trick on the Rali Vinho Madeira (5-7 August), while Loix, Hänninen and Pavel Valoušek (who leads the Czech Rally Championship in a Fabia S2000) gave Škoda its fourth 1-2-3 finish last weekend. In addition, Hänninen won the Rally d'Italia-Sardegna (4-6 June) and Loix claimed victory on the Geko Ypres Rally in Belgium (25-26 June).

For Loix, victory in the Barum Czech Rally Zlín was his sixth IRC rally win of his career, making him the most successful driver in the history of the series.

Michal Hrabánek, Head of Škoda Motorsport:“This is a unique achievement for the entire Škoda brand. We see the victory in the IRC Manufacturers’ competition as a great success and a result of the team's hard work throughout the Fabia Super 2000 project. It is indeed a unique milestone in the history of our sporting activities. The season is not yet over, though, and we will do our best to win the Drivers’ competition, too. Now we are going to start preparing for the San Remo Rally. I wish to thank all the crews that have won points for Škoda this season, and also the entire team, i.e. all our mechanics, engineers, and other people who have contributed to this achievement.”

Robert Hazelwood, Director of Škoda UK:
“Being crowned Intercontinental Rally Challenge champions is a great achievement for Škoda. I’d like to congratulate our colleagues at Škoda Motorsport on a fantastic season so far. We’re looking forward to the remaining rounds of the series – in particular Rally of Scotland, where Škoda UK is aiming to put on a great show and win the event for the second time in a row.”

Guy Wilks:
“Škoda Motorsport has done a fantastic job to develop such a good rally car like the Fabia Super 2000, and winning the IRC title in such style is just reward for all its skill and rally engineering excellence. I’m very happy to have contributed to its success by scoring Manufacturer points with second place finishes in Brazil and Argentina. The season’s far from over, and I’ll be aiming to finish on a high and do my best to give Škoda UK back-to-back victories on Rally of Scotland.”

The next round of the IRC is the Sanremo Rally in Italy (24-25 September).

Miclotte (Loiz) reveals late scare in Zlin

Posted: September 2, 2010 2:43 PM

Barum Czech Rally Zlin-winning navigator Frederic Miclotte has revealed that he and driver Freddy Loix suffered a dramatic moment of their own in the closing stages of the thrilling Intercontinental Rally Challenge event, which featured three changes of lead on the final four stages.

The Belgian pair secured their third win in as many starts in the IRC this season on the rain-hit asphalt rally in their Skoda Motorsport Fabia S2000. Despite being a relatively comfortable 25 seconds clear of closest rivals Juho Hanninen and Mikko Markkula at the finish in Zlin on Sunday afternoon, there was a moment when Miclotte feared their bid for victory would end prematurely.

"From looking at the data the team realised there was a problem with the gearbox and that it would have to be changed in the final service," said Miclotte. "We only had 20 minutes and it normally takes more than this. But the guys changed it in 14 minutes, which was really amazing. The team did a perfect job so we're very happy even though it was quite a tense finish."

Zlin Subaru Individual Award for Stajf

Posted: September 2, 2010 2:43 PM

The latest Subaru Individual Award has gone to Vojtech Stajf following his run to 17th place on Barum Czech Rally Zlin, which took place in southeast Czech Republic from 27-29 August.

Driving for the Czech National Subaru Team, Stajf was making his second start in this year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge following his appearance on Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo in January where he finished 14th alongside regular co-driver Marcela Doleckova.

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), Florian Gonon (Ypres), Sergio Silva (Azores) and Pedro Meireles (Madeira) are the other Subaru Individual Award winners so far this season.

ZLIN COLIN MCRAE IRC FLAT OUT TROPHY GOES TO KOPECKY

Posted: August 31, 2010 4:46 PM

an Kopecky's disappointment at losing out on victory on Barum Czech Rally Zlin on Sunday (29 August) has been eased slightly after he was chosen as the winner of the third Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, which is presented to the most spectacular driver who best embodies the spirit of the rallying legend on rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

Kopecky, who follows in the footsteps of previous winners Bruno Magalhaes and Freddy Loix, was handed the prestigious award by a panel of judges consisting of the IRC's Motorsport Development Manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Gilbert Roy, the Director of Editorial and Programme Development for Eurosport Events, and Colin's father Jim McRae, who was in Zlin to make the presentation to Skoda Motorsport driver Kopecky.

Chasing his second win in a row on the demanding asphalt event, Kopecky had led from the start and was 26 seconds clear in front when he crashed into retirement with three stages remaining. Nevertheless his performance, which included setting the fastest time on five of the rain-hit stages, was enough to earn him the prestigious accolade on round nine of the 2010 IRC season.

An emotional Kopecky said: "I have to say it's a big honour. Colin was an official Skoda driver and [on Rally GB in 2005] I did the whole recce with him. He was a very good guy and it's really sad what happened to him."

The judges also considered Keith Cronin, who set several top 10 stage times in the emerging PROTON Satria Neo S2000, and Vaclav Pech, who was battling for a top five finish in his showroom-specification Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX before an off dented his hopes. However, Jim McRae said that Kopecky was most deserving of the award because of the pace he displayed in the changeable conditions at the wheel of his Fabia Super 2000.

"I went to a few stages on Saturday and Sunday," said McRae, a five-time winner of the British Rally Championship and a trustee of the Colin McRae Vision charity. "The conditions were very difficult but Jan drove very well and was unlucky not to win. It's for this reason that he was chosen."

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 handed over at the IRC's end of season awards ceremony.

It was conceived following the formation of an official partnership in June 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*.

The 2010 IRC season continues with Rallye Sanremo, round ten of the series, from 23-25 September when the next Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy will be presented.

*Prior to the start of Barum Czech Rally Zlin, reigning IRC champion Kris Meeke, an ambassador of Colin McRae Vision, presented a cheque for 90,000 CZK (about 3700 Euros) to a local Zlin-based charity, the Children's Traffic Foundation.

CAMPANA OUT OF LUCK ON BARUM CZECH RALLY ZLIN

Posted: August 30, 2010 1:05 PM

Up-and-coming Frenchman Pierre Campana maintains second in the Clio R3 European Trophy standings after a frustrating outing on Barum Czech Rally Zlin in the Czech Republic, where he was forced to retire on the final stage after going off the road in extremely difficult conditions.

The Corsican driver came into the all-asphalt event, which he was contesting for the first time, leading the prestigious one-make Renault series, but the ninth round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge soon turned into a weekend to forget for the talented 25-year-old.

From the beginning, conditions were extremely variable, which meant that he lost time on Friday night's opening superspecial stage through running intermediate tyres, when slicks would have been the better choice after the stage surface dried out.

Pierre, driving a Clio R3 run by the Munaretto team and backed by French simulator company Ellip6, then tried his best to make time up on Saturday's stages, but had to battle shock absorbers that were too hard. Nonetheless, despite some damage that the car sustained during a compression on the rough and broken roads, Pierre fought back to reclaim second in the Trophy standings after a fantastic effort in the afternoon.

On Sunday there was more rain, with even local hero and overall rally leader Jan Kopecky falling foul of the treacherous conditions. Lacking in local experience, Pierre and his co-driver Sabrina de Castelli planned simply to bring their Ellip6 car to the finish without taking any risks, in order to secure as many points as possible for the championship.

Sadly, it was not to be. Struggling for grip in heavy rain, Pierre went off on the final stage having come tantalising close to finishing in the points on his first trip to the specialised stages of southeast Czech Republic. Nonetheless, he maintains second in the Clio R3 European Trophy standings and is also still well-placed in the IRC 2WD Cup.

Thankfully for Pierre, he will not have much time to reflect on his bad luck, as next weekend he is already competing again on Rally Alpi Orientali: a round of the Italian championship that he is using as a warm-up for the next IRC encounter in Sanremo at the end of September.

Pierre said:
"Barum Czech Rally Zlin did not work out as I had intended, but while this is obviously frustrating, the only thing I can do now is learn from the experience and put it behind me. I had never driven in conditions like this before and I'm glad that I had the chance to do so as the rally taught me a lot. Nothing is yet lost: up to now we've had a great season and we are still second in the Clio standings. After the Rally d'Alpi Orientali next weekend we then go on to Sanremo, where I won the category last year, so I'm feeling very optimistic. I'd like to thank Ellip6 and Munaretto for their continued support: the small setback we suffered in Czech Republic has only made me more determined for the future!"

PROTON shows speed and promise in IRC

Posted: August 30, 2010 12:37 PM

The PROTON R3 Rally Team was the talk of the Barum Czech Rally Zlin on Saturday afternoon after Irishman Keith Cronin turned in a drive of exceptional speed and precision on the slippery and highly specialised roads around Zlin. And what made Cronin's times even more astonishing was the fact that he'd never competed on the event before, or competed in the PROTON.

Both Cronin and his PROTON R3 Rally Team team-mate Niall McShea took their time to play themselves in through Saturday morning. The team's pre-event test in the Czech Republic had been run in sunny conditions, with temperatures approaching 30 degrees. It was all change when the rally started. The rain arrived and, with it, brought tumbling temperatures and what seemed like a Teflon coating to the stages. Already recognised as one of the most demanding rallies in Europe for its inconsistent grip level, the rain made the event even harder. Even local drivers like Jan Kopecky (Skoda's hometown hero who led the event after day one) admitted this was one of the toughest Barum Rallies he'd known.

With a car ill-at-ease on the super-slippery stages, both Cronin and McShea took a cautious approach to the first loop. Once back in service, they made the necessary set-up changes to the Satria Neo S2000s and then returned to the roads and made the most of the car's grip, poise and power.

On the first stage out of service, Cronin was only 3.8 seconds off the fastest time, and faster than local superstar Kopecky. The reigning British Rally Champion was on the same pace in the next stage and heading for another incredible time, only to drop time with an overshoot at a junction. Unfortunately for Cronin his fantastic run came to an end a kilometre from the finish of the next test. The split times earlier in the 11.24-kilometre Semetin stage showed that Cronin and the PROTON would, once again, be troubling the leaders, until he slid off the road at the exit of a long corner. The Satria went off the road and dropped down a bank, coming rest close to a river. Unfortunately for the super-fast Irishman and the equally quick Satria Neo S2000, that was the end of the event.

Running in the sister Satria, McShea also turned up the pace through the afternoon, but his efforts were foiled when he detected a noise in the car's bellhousing. He parked the car up one stage after Cronin had retired.

While neither driver registered a result on their Czech rallying debut, both drivers demonstrated the speed of the PROTON Satria Neo S2000 in the most competitive of rallying environments. The entry for the Zlin-based round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge was one of the strongest in the series' history, and, on Saturday afternoon, PROTON came within an inch of beating them all on one of the most challenging events on the calendar.

The PROTON R3 Rally Team will return to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge later in the season.

Quotes:
Keith Cronin said:
"The rally has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride of emotions, to be honest. The overriding feeling I have is one of massive enjoyment from driving the PROTON; it's an incredible car, fantastic. There's no doubt it took me a little while to get to grips with the car, having driven a turbo car on an event the week before. But once I knew where I was with everything, it was perfect. Testing in the dry and competing in the wet wasn't ideal, but these were great lanes. I felt better and better with the car on Saturday afternoon and felt we could have gone up a gear again. It was really frustrating when we had the overshoot in the seventh stage, that was going to be a good time for us. And where we went off was a tricky place: it was a really long corner with lots of mud at the exit. We started to slide, I saw a bridge and the hedge and went for the hedge. We dropped off the road and down a bank. I couldn't believe it: so disappointing. I hurt my wrist a bit when we went off, but that was nothing compared with the feeling of being out of the event. I have to thank the team for giving me the opportunity to come here and drive the PROTON in the IRC. It's been a fantastic chance for me and one I'm not going to forget for a long time."

Niall McShea said:
"It was great to be back with the team again, and fantastic to be driving again. This was certainly not the easiest of places to come and compete for the first time though. During the recce, you could see that the roads were going to be really tough: the surface and grip level didn't seem to be the same from one corner to the next and the last thing we needed was the rain. But the rain came! Our times were coming through Saturday afternoon, we'd made some changes to the car and we were happier with the way the set-up was running when I heard a noise in the ninth stage. I switched the car off straight away. It's a real shame as I feel that everything was coming together."

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
"We feel hugely positive leaving the Czech Republic. Okay, we haven't got the result we would have liked, but what we have shown is the capability of the car here on the Barum Rally. The conditions were absolutely terrible on Saturday, not least because they were the polar opposite from what we had been running in during the test. That meant the boys were pretty much starting from scratch on set-up work during the first loop, which was reflected in the times. But, on Saturday afternoon, once they were up and in their stride, we saw a great performance from the drivers and the car. Niall was very unfortunate to have a problem with a part in the bellhousing on his car, but Keith was going tremendously well. To come here for the first time and set the times he was doing was exceptional. He had a huge weight on his shoulders, driving a car which he wasn't used to on roads he'd never seen against the best S2000 competition in the world, and he didn't let himself down. He certainly came here and gave the ball a kick. The crash was frustrating, but that's the sport. Keith certainly turned in a head-turning performance."



Keith Cronin / Barry McNulty

The Interwetten Racing drivers finish the qualitatively and quantitatively best-manned IRC-run in 11th place

Posted: August 30, 2010 12:24 PM

It was a great relief when Franz Wittmann/Klaus Wicha (Peugeot 207 S2000) crossed the finish ramp of the Barum Rally on Sunday in Zlin. For after three retirements this season, reaching the finish had not only been the professed goal but also a boost for the self-confidence. Even more so since, with eleventh overall place, the Interwetten Racing duo had superiorly realised the hoped-for top 15 result. That counts for a lot since the Barum Rally – with 28 entered S2000 cars – had been both quantitaviely and qualitatively the best-manned IRC-run this season.

In order to reach this goal a lot had been done in the run-up to the Barum Rally. Beside extensive testing, Franz Wittmann also completed the World Championship run in Germany where he finished in very good 17th overall place.

ROMO Team Manager Ronny Leschhorn:
“We were satisfied with the preparation and therefore were able to hand over a perfect car to Franz. It is, of course, difficult to go right to the limit after three retirements. But we are making good progress and I’m sure that Franz will already fight for points again at the next rally.”

The only downers for the Interwetten Racing duo were a tyre damage on Saturday and a slip on Sunday (SS 14) which cost over two minutes altogether and thereby prevented a top 10 result. As for the rest, the Lower Austrian residing in Wels showed himself rather satisfied, especially since he reached eighth-best overall time on the last special stage and moved up to eleventh place.

Clearly marked by the big fight at the three-day-event, the Interwetten Racing driver explained: “Tyre-wise we chose the safety variant. From this perspective everything was in order at this rally.”

The next run of the IRC Series by Franz Wittmann will be from September 23 to 25 in San Remo.

Czech rally fans encountered a big disappointment at their home rally. Local hero Jan Kopecky (Skoda Fabia S2000) had been in the lead up to the 14th special stage when a technical defect forced him to retire. Thus the victory went to Freddy Loix (Bel/Skoda Fabia S2000). It was the third IRC triumph this season for the Belgian. Juho Hänninen (Fin/Skoda Fabi S2000) reached second place, thereby extending his lead in the IRC ranking, in front of Pavel Valousek (CZ/Skoda Fabia S2000).

CZECH IRC JOY FOR LOIX IN DRAMATIC CLIMAX

Posted: August 30, 2010 12:08 PM

Freddy Loix has become the most successful driver in the history of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge by taking a record-breaking sixth win and his third in as many starts this season after a dramatic climax to Barum Czech Rally Zlin today (Sunday) when the lead changed hands three times on the final four stages.

Juho Hanninen claimed second to maintain his title advantage while third place for local hero Pavel Valousek not only ensured a Skoda Fabia one-two-three but also enabled the Czech firm to clinch the 2010 IRC manufacturers' crown for the first time with three rounds remaining.

Overnight leader Jan Kopecky had looked set to triumph on the demanding all-asphalt rally for a second year in a row but spun into retirement with three stages left to run when he was 26 seconds out in front.

Kopecky, who was on a charge in his efforts to make up lost time following a spin earlier on stage 14, broke too late for a left hander and slid off the road. Although his Fabia was largely undamaged it was beached on a large branch. Unable to regain the stage, Kopecky and co-driver Petr Stary were forced to retire having led the rally from the very first stage through the streets of host city Zlin on Friday evening.

"There was some vibration after the first spin and I was a little afraid I had a puncture," said the 28-year-old Czech driver. "My thinking was too much for this and I went off. I'm very disappointed and sorry for Skoda because the car was absolutely perfect and also to the crowd who gave me so much support all weekend."

His misfortune promoted Bryan Bouffier, at the wheel of a Peugeot 207, into first place. But Bouffier's challenge came unstuck when he damaged his rear suspension sliding wide on the penultimate stage. Although he managed to soldier through the run, his delay dropped him to second, 3.8s behind Loix heading into the final test.

Any hopes Bouffier had of regaining top spot were dashed when a broken pipe, the legacy of an earlier compression, dumped water over his Peugeot's front tyres and caused him to go off into a ditch five kilometres from the start of the stage.

Loix and co-driver Frederic Miclotte had settled for second place when Bouffier pulled clear on stage 15. A cautious run through the mud-strewn penultimate stage ensured they moved in front when Bouffier hit trouble and the Belgians kept their composure to claim what had been an unlikely victory leaving midday service.

Rain and cool temperatures were a factor throughout the event in southeast Czech Republic. Not only did the unseasonable conditions add to the challenge facing the competitors by making the inconsistent stage surface more slippery than usual, they also made tyre choice a lottery as crews gambled over compound choices to suit the changeable weather.

Juho Hanninen was one of a number of drivers to fall foul of the conditions when he slid off backwards into a tree at high speed on stage four. Although the moment dropped him out of contention, an error-free performance thereafter helped the Finn to land his eighth podium finish of 2010.

Pavel Valousek trailed IRC champion Kris Meeke by 18.4s with one stage left to run but moved ahead of the Northern Irishman when Meeke's Peugeot UK 207 suffered a broken front differential two kilometres into the stage. Meeke started Sunday's final eight stages confident he could fight for second place but a series of incorrect tyre choices wrecked his chances. A sticking throttle on stage 14 caused more anguish before the differential fault dropped him to fourth behind Valousek.

Valousek, who lives close to Zlin, made the most of his local knowledge and some inspired tyre choices to beat his previous best finish of fourth place in his semi-works Fabia. The pick of these was when he opted for dry weather hard-compound tyres for Sunday's opening loop of stages when most of his rivals believed it would rain.

Andreas Mikkelsen took a solid fifth in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 with Vaclav Pech rounding out the top six in his Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer. Pech had been in a close fight with Czech championship rival Valousek only for an off to drop him back and leave his car with a punctured front-right tyre and damaged suspension.

Guy Wilks marked his return from injury with seventh place in his Skoda UK Motorsport Fabia although his true pace was masked by a rear differential fault, which his mechanics were unable to cure due to a component supply issue. The glitch hindered braking stability and traction on the, at times, treacherous stage surfaces. Jaromir Tarabus secured the final IRC drivers' point in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000.

Kevin Abbring took his second IRC 2WD Cup win of the season in his Clio R3 with rising Czech driver Lobomir Minarik second in a similar machine. Abbring, from the Netherlands, moves joint top of the drivers' standings with Rafael Tulio, who wasn't competing in Zlin.

There was some consolation for Jan Kopecky, however, when he was handed the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy for his efforts. Colin's father Jim McRae, who was in Zlin, was part of the three-person judging team. He said that Kopecky's spectacular performance had best embodied the spirit of the rallying legend, who lost his life in a helicopter accident in 2007.

Freddy Loix (Belgium), Skoda Fabia S2000, first overall:
"It's my second victory in Zlin but definitely my hardest and definitely my most exciting. The conditions were extremely difficult and it was a big fight with Bryan at the end. I always had a good feeling with my car but I was missing something in my driving. It was a question to be as quick as possible without making any mistakes."

Juho Hanninen (Finland), Skoda Fabia S2000, second overall:
"My goal was to be first or second to improve my points. I was second so I am happy but it was very interesting because the weather kept changing on almost every stage. It started well on my side and I had the speed but then I had my big moment although I was lucky not to retire."

Pavel Valousek (Czech Republic), Skoda Fabia S2000, third overall:
"This is my best position on this rally and I'm really glad we've achieved it. Today we chose the right tyres and this was very important. I would like to thank my team for all their help."

Results

Posted: August 30, 2010 12:03 PM

1 Freddy Loix/Frederic Miclotte (Skoda Fabia S2000) 2h31m31.0s
2 Juho Hanninen/Mikko Markkula (Skoda Fabia S2000) +25.0s
3 Pavel Valousek/Zdenek Hruza (Skoda Fabia S2000) +1m20.2s
4 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Peugeot 207 S2000) +1m57.6s
5 Andreas Mikkelsen (M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000) +2m33.9s
6 Vaclav Pech/Petr Uhel (Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX) +3m07.4s
7 Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh (Skoda Fabia S2000) +3m41.1s
8 Jaromir Tarabus/Daniel Trunkat (M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000) +5m18.0s
9 Tomas Kostka/Vit Houst (Skoda Fabia S2000) +6m13.1s
10 Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (Peugeot 207 S2000) +6m52.2s

Colin McRae Vision makes donation to local charity prior to start of IRC Barum Czech Rally Zlin

Posted: August 29, 2010 4:48 PM

Colin McRae Vision has used its partnership with the Intercontinental Rally Challenge to make a substantial donation to a charity based in Zlin, where round nine of the IRC will take place this weekend (27-29 August).

Established following the death of the 1995 world rally champion, his young son Johnny and two family friends in a helicopter accident in 2007, Colin McRae Vision aims to improve health and education for children around the world.

IRC champion Kris Meeke, Colin's former protégé and an ambassador for Colin McRae Vision, helped to present the cheque for 90,000 CZK (about 3700 Euros) to the Children's Traffic Foundation, which supports children who have lost one or both of their parents in a road traffic accident.

"Children who lose a parent are often left without resources to pay for education, hobbies or sports activities and the work done by the Foundation helps to limit the effect of their loss," said Jim McRae, Colin's father and a trustee of Colin McRae Vision. "Helping the Foundation fits our aims perfectly and we're delighted to offer our support, which will help seven children living in the Zlin area with financial assistance for their education for one year."

Since formalising their official partnership in June, Eurosport Events, the promoter of the IRC, and Colin McRae Vision have been working 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, in the IRC newsletter and during television coverage of IRC rounds.

"One of the main objectives of the partnership was to help charities and good causes based close to the route of IRC events and we're delighted such a worthwhile initiative, namely the Children's Traffic Foundation in Zlin, will benefit from such a generous donation from Colin McRae Vision," said Geraldine Filiol, Managing Director of Eurosport Events who is present in Zlin.

Barum Czech Rally Zlin will also mark the third time this season that the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy will be presented. Handed to the most spectacular driver who best embodies the spirit of the rallying legend on rounds of the IRC, Jim McRae will join IRC's Motorsport Development Manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Gilbert Roy, the Director of Editorial and Programme Development for Eurosport Events, in choosing the latest recipient of the prestigious award.

Twitter Feeds

Posted: August 27, 2010 12:01 PM



Campana aims to end IRC 2WD Cup campaign on a high

Posted: August 27, 2010 11:59 AM

Rising rally star Pierre Campana plans to bow out of the IRC 2WD Cup in style by winning the category on Barum Czech Rally Zlin, which gets underway this evening (Friday 27 August).

Campana, 25, has claimed podium finishes in the series on the two appearances he has made so far this season and currently holds second place in the drivers' standings in his Renault Clio R3, four points adrift of the title lead.

However, Clio R3 drivers can only score IRC 2WD Cup points on the three events that run in tandem with IRC rounds, namely Monte Carlo, Ypres and Zlin. That means Campana won't be eligible for points in the two-wheel drive division on his next scheduled event after Zlin, Rallye Sanremo in late September.

"I've really enjoyed driving my Ellip6 Renault Clio R3 in the IRC 2WD Cup and I'm very pleased with the results I have achieved," said the 25-year-old Campana, who tops the standings in the Clio R3 European Trophy, which is appearing on three rounds of the IRC 2WD Cup this season. "It's possible I could go to Sanremo with another type of car but, as things stand, this will be the last time I can score IRC 2WD Cup points so I would love nothing more than to win my last 2WD Cup event although I know it will very difficult because there will be lots of other quick drivers."

With his rally career still in its infancy, Campana has yet to tackle the all-asphalt stages around the city of Zlin. Unlike traditional sealed-surface events, the rally route is made up of largely bumpy roads, some on concrete, others using broken Tarmac. Most of the stages run through forests and woodland areas with fast corners and tree-line stretches commonplace.

"From what I was told and from what I experienced in the recce this is a very specific rally where experience is important," said the Corsican ace. "But most rallies I go to I do so for the first time and I am often able to prepare a good set of pacenotes and perform well, even though I don't have much knowledge of the stages or the terrain. I am confident I can do the same here and deliver a strong result for my sponsor Ellip6, who have done so much to help me this season."

Campana underlined his potential by finishing third in the Junior World Rally Championship section of Rallye de France-Tour de Corse in 2008. He followed that success up by finishing second in the IRC 2WD Cup on Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo back in January. His performances in his career so far earned him a spot in respected rally news website Maxrally.com's top 10 drivers to watch.

"Things are going in the right direction for me and I am very grateful to everybody who has made that possible," said Campana. "The important thing now is to continue learning and improving and I intend to do that in the Czech Republic this weekend."
Barum Czech Rally Zlin, which covers 265.26 competitive kilometres over 17 special stages, marks the start of a busy few weeks for Campana and co-driver Sabrina de Castelli. Following the finish of the Czech event on Sunday evening, the duo will head to Italy for the Alpi Orientali Rally, a round of the Italian Clio R3 Trophy.

Quick Q+A with Pierre Campana

Since your last rally in Belgium in June how have you kept busy?
"My physical fitness is very important to me so I have been training very hard both in the gym and by running near my home in Corsica. I also have to work to pay my bills and this keeps me busy."

Are you concerned you have not been in a rally car for a long time?
"It's always nice to do rallies and test but it's not always possible for logistical and financial reasons. My Ellip6 Renault Clio R3 is always very well maintained by my team, Munaretto, so whenever I get into the car I have a good base set-up. I work will with my co-driver Sabrina de Castelli so it doesn't take long to get back up to speed when we have not competed for a while."

It's a busy couple of weeks for you with two rallies on successive weekends...
"I cannot wait! For sure you like as much time as possible to prepare for each event but it won't be a problem to do rallies one after the other. I want rallying to be my career so I have to get used to a busy schedule. Certainly it's something I am very excited about."

Eurosport TV coverage for Zlin

Posted: August 26, 2010 9:25 AM

Eurosport, Europe's largest television sports channel, will show live coverage from Barum Czech Rally Zlin, round nine of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, this weekend (27-29 August).

In addition to the live broadcasts, Eurosport will also screen extensive highlights of both legs of the IRC qualifier, which has attracted a 130-car capacity entry.

Eurosport will broadcast live or slightly delayed (subject to timing) from the stop point at the end of special stage six from 15:00hrs-15:30hrs CET on Saturday August 28. It will also broadcast live from the event parc ferme from 19:00hrs-19:30hrs CET later that day. On Sunday, coverage from the rally's service park will be shown live from 12:30hrs-13:00hrs CET.

A full Schedule is Below

On top of this international coverage, national TV channels Czech Television, TV Prima and RTA will also cover the event.

Barum Czech Rally Zlin begins with a ceremonial start on Friday 27 August at 17:00hrs local time. The opening stage is a 9.36-kilometre run through the streets of host city Zlin. Crews will tackle the course in reverse number order with the first car due to start at 21:15hrs.

Mikkelsen returns to Barum Czech Rally Zlin with Hankook

Posted: August 26, 2010 9:21 AM

Hankook’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge team is in action this weekend with Andreas Mikkelsen back at the wheel of the Hankook Ford Fiesta S2000 on the Barum Czech Rally Zlin.

The Norwegian Rally ace contested the event last year for Hankook and is looking to build on this experience as the team returns to the prestigious IRC championship.

Mikkelsen and co-driver Ole Fløene head to the start of the event in high spirits after a fine finish in the recent Stat Rallye Acores where they were fourth overall and recorded their maiden IRC stage win.

“Things are going well for us with two top five finishes on our most recent IRC events,’’ said Andreas. “The car and the Hankook tyres are an incredibly powerful package on the stages although we know that competition this weekend is going to be tough and we are taking nothing for granted.’’

The Barum Czech Rally Zlin is one of the toughest events in the IRC calendar but Andreas and Ole believe that a combination of experience here last year, a good recce, M-Sport prepared Ford Fiesta S200 and quality tyres from Hankook will enable them to compete at this high level.

And Hankook’s UK motorsport manager Mike Patterson said he is looking forward to seeing how much the team has progressed after the summer break.

“We have been competing on both gravel and asphalt this season with successful results on both surfaces which is great for Hankook and our reputation on the rally stage,’’ he said. “Our engineers have proven themselves time and time again by providing tyres which perform in all conditions.’’

Action in the rally, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, gets underway on Friday with a spectator special in the centre of Zlin before two action packed days and the finish on Sunday.

The event is one of seven selected IRC rounds Mikkelsen will contest this year in the Hankook Ford Fiesta S2000. The Hankook IRC programme also San Remo, Scotland and Cyprus.

Franz Wittmann Press Release 23.08.10 - Barum Rally as biggest challenge

Posted: August 23, 2010 3:04 PM

After things hadn’t worked out to plan following three retirements within the IRC series in Monte Carlo, Grand Canary and Sardinia, Franz Wittmann/ Klaus Wicha have especially prepared for the Barum Rally.

The Interwetten Racing Duo had already tested extensively with the Peugeot 207 S2000 prior to the WRC rally in Germany with the team of ROMO Motorsport of Ronald Leschhorn and entered the run in the Trier area as a true preparation for the Zlin. Therefore the result there was of secondary importance. The fact that it turned out to be an overall 17th place at this tough WRC run was all the more positive.

Franz Wittmann on this:
“It was a great preparation for us and I was able to learn a lot. But now our complete focus is on the IRC run in Zlin. The competition is overwhelming and I will have to fight from the word `go´. The Skoda and Ford works drivers have already been very fast in Germany which is why we will have to get our bearings on the competing private drivers in the beginning. Our goal ist to finish among the top 15.”

Franz Wittmann/ Klaus Wicha will already arrive at the Barum Rally on Tuesday. Things will prove to be a bit more difficult for the team of ROMO Motorsport under the direction of Ronnie Leschhorn.

“They drove back from Trier to their headquarters and completely disassembled the Peugeot 207 S2000. Thereby all parts that could possibly have been damaged in Germany are being scrutinously examined. Only after that the departure for Zlin will take place. At least I returned the car without outward damage to our team. This might help to save some time, at least”, says the Interwetten Racing driver.

This year’s Barum Rally, celebrating its 40th year, is the most high-class IRC run of the year. Counting Franz Wittmann/ Klaus Wicha and their Peugeot 207 S 2000 in, no less than 28 S2000 cars have entered the competition. All in all no less than 131 teams from 26 nations will enter the anniversary rally.

Last year the Interwetten Racing driver Franz Wittmann offered his best season performance at the Barum Rally despite „only“ reaching 15th overall place and therefore not scoring IRC-points.

On the first day, on the town circuit of Zlin, an electronic defect had him fall back to 42nd place. The race to catch up on leg two took him up to 14th place. Then a tyre damage cost him four minutes, having him drop back to place 32 overall, but at the end of the day the Austrian had worked his way back up to 26th place again. And in spite of problems with the differential at his Mitsubishi on the third day he managed to move up and up until finishing in 15th place overall in the end.

MEEKE GOES ALL OUT TO BEAT HIS CZECH MATES

Posted: August 23, 2010 3:01 PM

Peugeot UK's Kris Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle are this week competing at the Barum Czech Rally Zlín (27-29 August). Round nine, with only four IRC events left, is the 40th running of the Barum Czech Rally Zlín, and will be another key round for Peugeot UK and Kris Meeke. With the rally taking part in main championship rival Skoda's backyard, scoring as many points as possible will be the key objective.

The event gets underway on Friday evening with a 'fantastic super-special stage' run at night with a stage of three laps through the streets of Zlín that attracts 40,000 spectators, making for a great atmosphere.

Day 1 restarts on Saturday at 08.30 with two stages, before refuelling at Vizovice and another two more stages that include the longest stage of the entire event, before a midday service at Otrokovia. The morning's four stages are repeated in the afternoon.

Day 2 starts on Sunday at 07.30 with the longest 15.47 miles stage of the day. Another stage lies in wait, before a remote refuel at Spytihn?v and a further two stages before the mid-day service. All four stages are repeated again in the afternoon, before the finish ceremony in Zlín at 15.24. There are 17 special stages in all, totalling 164.82 miles.

Colin McRae charity donation planned for Zlin

Posted: August 21, 2010 5:51 PM

epresentatives from Colin McRae Vision will travel to Zlin in Czech Republic later this month to make a major financial donation to a charity based close to the route of round nine of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, which takes place from 27-29 August.

Colin McRae Vision was established following the death of the rallying legend, his young son Johnny and two family friends in a helicopter accident in 2007, to improve health and education for children around the world.

In June of this year, Colin McRae Vision and Eurosport Events, the promoter of the IRC, formed an official partnership. One of the objectives of the alliance is to work with organisers of selected rounds of the IRC to identify suitable projects and initiatives that help young people.

Although full details of the donation amount and the beneficiary charity won't be revealed until next week, Jim McRae, Colin's father, will attend Barum Czech Rally Zlin to help make the presentation to the charity. The presentation will be made on the start ramp prior to the rally getting underway at 17:00hrs local time.

PROTON returns to IRC action

Posted: August 21, 2010 4:43 PM

The PROTON R3 Rally Team returns to Intercontinental Rally Challenge competition on next week's Barum Czech Rally Zlin.

Niall McShea returns to the PROTON team for the first time since his sensational debut in the car on last year's World Rally Championship-qualifying Rally Ireland. McShea is joined in the team by reigning British Rally Champion Keith Cronin, one of the sport's most promising young drivers.

McShea and Cronin will join some of the toughest Super 2000 competition in the world when they arrive in the Czech city of Zlin for PROTON's second IRC appearance of the season. And both drivers are relishing the challenge ahead. Courtesy of his Rally Ireland outing last season, McShea is already well known to the team. The former Production Car World Rally Champion has also done some test and development work with PROTON through this season, helping to further enhance the car with which he impressed on Ireland's west coast last year, when he set a time faster than multiple World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb.

Cronin's experience of Super 2000 is limited to an appearance in a privateer Fiat on last year's Rally of Scotland. But there's no doubting his speed. He took the coveted British title (previously won by some of the sport's greatest names like Colin McRae, Ari Vatanen and Hannu Mikkola) at his first attempt last season and has continued to impress with more rally wins in his title defence this year. Cronin arrives in Zlin straight from the latest round of the British series in Northern Ireland.

Barum Czech Rally Zlin is undoubtedly one of the toughest rallies on the IRC schedule. The region is one of micro climates where bright sunshine and 30-degree heat can turn to heavy downpours in no time, making tyre choices exceptionally difficult. Much of the route runs beneath the trees in forested sections, which also means inconsistent grip.

This year will be the 40th anniversary of the event, with more spectators than ever expected on what is already one of Europe's most popular rallies. And this year the quarter of a million fans expected in the south-eastern Czech city will be treated to the sight of Malaysia's finest rally cars being raced through the super-tricky stages by two of the sport's brightest lights.

The event opens with a test tailor-made for the fans. Before starting the main competition on Saturday morning, the crews will face a superspecial stage in the centre of Zlin. The drivers will tackle three laps of the city in the dark ? a daunting prospect, particularly with the road being lined by concrete walls. After that, it's straight into two long days of sport, before the Sunday afternoon finish.

The PROTON R3 Rally Team will undertake a two-day test in the Czech Republic on Sunday and Monday next week.

Quotes:
Niall McShea said:
"I'm absolutely delighted to be back with the PROTON team. The first time I drove this car, I knew it was something special. I just love driving it. It was awesome through the lanes in Ireland last year and, knowing the way the boys have been working on the car since last year and having driven it occasionally since then, I know it's going to be a special feeling again to get in it in the Czech Republic. Obviously, the competition in the IRC is incredibly tough, the drivers and cars out there are among the best around, and most of them have been competing regularly. I've been away from top-flight competition for a little while, but it won't take long to get back to full speed again. I don't really know anything about the event itself, all I do know is that only 20 per cent of the route is the same as it was last season, with the organisers bringing new stages or turning last year's stages around. This is going to help us: if everybody is making new pace notes, it tends to level the playing field a little bit. But I've also heard about the incredible atmosphere which goes with competition in that part of the world, I think we're in for a great weekend."

Keith Cronin said:
"I'm going to have quite a steep learning curve on this rally: I've never competed there before and I don't know too much about Super 2000, so there's some learning for me to do, but this is a great opportunity for me. I'm absolutely looking at the finish of the rally, I need to get through and make the most of the experience. But, having said that, this is rallying and it's never quite that simple. Coming into the event off the back of the Ulster Rally, the British Rally Championship round I will have competed on a week earlier, is good for getting me up to speed on asphalt rallies, but the cars are quite different in terms of driving style; it's not really going to help with working out how fast the PROTON can go around corners or how much later I can brake going into bends. With the PROTON I'll have a higher-revving engine and a sequential gearbox to work with, which will be great. Another big positive for me is my team-mate on this event: Niall McShea. I know Niall, I met him earlier this year and he's a good guy and very open. He tells it like it is and I'm sure he's going to help me out with certain areas of the car set-up."

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
"We're looking for a clean run on this rally. We've completed more engine work since the car last competed in Queensland [in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship] and we're looking forward to see how the developments are working in competition. We have a two-day test planned in Czech Republic just before the event, which will be crucial for the drivers to acclimatise themselves with the car. This is not a straightforward asphalt rally, so the cars do need some fine-tuning on the set-up side of things, the test will be perfect for that. Obviously, Niall has been in the car before, so he knows what it's all about, but this is Keith's first time with us. The key for him is to get to the finish, learn the car and just get some experience. But, we'd like Niall to have a bit of a go and see where we can get the car. I would think we should be looking at a top-10 result without asking for too many heroics. It's going to be a very interesting event."

TV Times

Posted: August 20, 2010 11:42 AM

All Time Irish (GMT)

Saturday 28 August
14:00hrs-14:30hrs LIVE from stop point SS6 (Eurosport)
18:00hrs-18:30hrs LIVE from parc ferme (Eurosport 2)
20:00hrs-20:30hrs Day one highlights (Eurosport)
23:30hrs-24:00hrs Day one highlights (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Sunday 29 August
05:45hrs-06:15hrs Day one highlights repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
07:30hrs-08:00hrs Day one highlights repeated (Eurosport)
11:30hrs-12:00hrs LIVE from service park (Eurosport 2)
21:00hrs-21:30hrs Day two highlights (Eurosport)
22:15hrs-22:45hrs Day two highlights repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
23:45hrs-00:15hrs Day two highlights repeated (Eurosport)

Monday 30 August
07:30hrs-08:00hrs Day two highlights repeated (Eurosport)

Tuesday 31 August
14:30hrs-15:00hrs Rally review (Eurosport, Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Wednesday 1 September
06:00hrs-06:30hrs Rally review repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Thursday 2 September
12:00hrs-12:30hrs Rally review repeated (Eurosport 2)

Saturday 4 September
08:45hrs-09:15hrs Rally review repeated (Eurosport 2)
10:00hrs-10:30hrs Rally review repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

BARUM CZECH RALLY ZLIN PREVIEW

Posted: August 20, 2010 11:38 AM

THE CHALLENGE
With four events of another enthralling Intercontinental Rally Challenge season remaining, the battle for the prestigious title is tightly poised as the series heads to Czech Republic next week for the 40th running of the all-asphalt Barum Czech Rally Zlin.

Juho Hanninen tops the drivers' standings after eight rounds but his lead over Skoda Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecky has been trimmed to just seven points. And Kopecky, a recognised asphalt specialist and the winner in Zlin last season, knows victory on his home event would erode Hanninen's advantage still further after he outscored the Finn on the last IRC round in Madeira.

Kopecky is relishing the opportunity of competing in front of the Czech spectators, who traditionally flock to the event in huge number. However, he is the first to admit the rally is one of the most difficult on the IRC calendar due to the proliferation of high-speed blasts through forests and woodland, sections of broken Tarmac and the bumpy nature of some of the roads. Considered daunting by some drivers, the rally demands huge commitment and extremely accurate pacenotes.

A mainstay of the IRC since its inception in 2007, the event gets underway with a superspecial stage through the streets of host city Zlin on Friday 27 August. Run at night, the course is effectively three laps of the city's central area and crosses over a railway line. Crews are released from the start in regular intervals, which means there will be approximately seven cars on the concrete wall-lined course at any one time.

Saturday's opening leg features four stages, each run twice. They include the 29.09-kilometre Trojak test, one of several stages being run in an opposite direction to last year as part of efforts by the event organisers to keep the route fresh for the competitors. Indeed, only 20 per cent of the stages have not been altered since 2009.

Day two follows a similar format to Saturday with four stages run twice. Like Saturday's Biskupice stage, the Velky Orechov test, the penultimate stage of the rally, was last used in 2004, which could hand an advantage to some of the more experienced competitors on the bulging 130-car capacity entry list.

Service on both days of the rally is in Otrokovice, 11 kilometres from Zlin.

Although ambient temperatures usually hover around 30 degrees centigrade during rally week, heavy rain showers are commonplace, particularly at night. With much of the route running under tree cover, the stage surface can become unpredictable in places. The tree cover can also hinder visibility with shadows forming on the roads and sunlight breaking through the trees in some areas.

The event marks the third time the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy will be presented. The award is handed to the most spectacular driver who best embodies the spirit of the rallying legend on rounds of the IRC this season. Its recipient is chosen by a panel consisting of IRC's Motorsport Development Manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Gilbert Roy, the Director of Editorial and Programme Development at Eurosport Events, and Jim McRae, Colin's father, who will be in Zlin to make a donation to a local good cause.

THE COMPETITORS

With victories on all three of the pure asphalt events run so far in the IRC this season, Skoda's Fabia S2000 is being tipped as the car to beat in the Czech Republic, the marque's home rally. Several Fabias will be running the Facelift update, which features a wider track that has enhanced the car's handling. They include the factory versions of Juho Hanninen, Jan Kopecky, Freddy Loix and Pavel Valousek, the leader of the Czech championship.

Hanninen heads Kopecky by seven points in the title standings. A two-time winner this season, Hanninen prefers driving on gravel events. Kopecky, who won Rally Islas Canarias earlier this season, thrives on asphalt rallies and will take the start on the back of a successful pre-event test.

Like Hanninen, Loix has also triumphed on two IRC rounds this year and his first place finish last time out in Madeira put him joint top with Kris Meeke on the list of all-time IRC winners with five victories. Loix is only contesting a handful of IRC events this season so isn't a factor in the title battle. However, the Belgian's pace on asphalt means he will be a contender to repeat his Zlin victory of 2008.

Peugeot UK's Meeke arrives in Zlin knowing nothing less than victory will do if he is to successfully defend his IRC crown following a season plagued by non-finishes. However, even if he did better the second place he achieved in Czech Republic in 2009, the Northern Irishman admits it will be hard to win the title for a second time.

Barum Czech Rally Zlin marks Guy Wilks' first start in the IRC since his crash on Rally d'Italia-Sardegna in early June, which left him with two fractured lumbar vertebrae. It will also be the first time he has driven his Skoda UK Motorsport Fabia Facelift in competition. The Briton is almost back to full fitness although he is still reporting some slight stiffness in his back after training.

Andreas Mikkelsen is the lead M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 exponent on the entry and the Norwegian has the pace to run at the front of the field. He made his IRC debut in Zlin last season and will be eager to make the most of that knowledge.

The PROTON R3 Rally Team fields an all-new driver line-up following its seasonal debut on the Geko Ypres Rally in late June. Replacing Chris Atkinson and Alister McRae in the squad's Satria Neo S2000's will be Irishman Keith Cronin and Northern Ireland's Niall McShea. Cronin is the defending British champion, while McShea has extensive international competition experience.

Thierry Neuville returns to IRC action for the first time since finishing third in Ypres. Without the opportunity to test prior to the rally, the Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg driver will face a busy pre-event shakedown on Friday as he looks to fine-tune the set-up of his Kronos Racing-run 207.

Peugeot's challenge in Czech Republic will be boosted by the rapid Bryan Bouffier, who will drive a factory-backed 207. He was due to compete in Zlin last season but was forced to withdraw after an engine problem in shakedown.

Franz Wittmann Jr's last IRC appearance ended with a car-wrecking crash in Sardinia but the Austrian is back in his fully rebuilt 207 as he hunts his first finish of 2010. Also at the wheel of 207s are Turkish lady driver Burcu Cetinkaya and Brazil's Daniel Oliveira.

Vaclav Pech Jr is the leading Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer driver, while Vojtech Stajf heads the Subaru Impreza runners. Other Czechs in action include three-time Zlin winner Roman Kresta, who will drive a Fabia S2000, and Fiesta pilot Jaromir Tarabus.

The IRC 2WD Cup will be hotly contested by several runners from the Clio R3 European Trophy, including series leader Pierre Campana and Dutchman Kevin Abbring, the IRC 2WD Cup winner in Ypres. They are eligible to score drivers' points on three events this season.

Other drivers capable of success are former two-wheel class champion Marco Cavigioli, Briton Harry Hunt and Honda Civic Type-R competitors Laszlo Vizin and Martin Kangur.

THE EXPECTATIONS

Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic), Skoda Fabia S2000:
"Of course I hope to win and I know it would be very good for my championship chances if I did. But it's a very difficult rally with fast sections very close to the trees. We have found a good set-up and have good event knowledge."

Kris Meeke (United Kingdom), Peugeot 207 S2000:
"A podium finish is the best we can hope for. We'll do our best to challenge for the victory as we always do but it's going to be near on impossible against the Skodas, which seem to have the edge at the moment."

Frederic Miclotte (Belgium, Freddy Loix's co-driver), Skoda Fabia S2000:
"Jan Kopecky is going to be really fast because it's his home rally. But we also know the stages so we will be trying to win but everything will have to be perfect for that to happen. It won't be easy."

Record-breaking Super 2000 entry for Zlin

Posted: August 19, 2010 2:47 PM

A record-breaking 28 Super 2000 cars are set to start Barum Czech Rally Zlin, round nine of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, which runs from 27-29 August.

The tally beats the existing benchmark of 24, held jointly by this year's Geko Ypres Rally and last season's Rallye Sanremo.

Among those expected to run at the front of the all-asphalt event, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this season, are 2009 winner Jan Kopecky, his Skoda Motorsport team-mate and IRC title leader Juho Hanninen, Peugeot UK's defending IRC champion Kris Meeke and Rali Vinho Madeira winner Freddy Loix.

Other notable names on the 130-car entry are Guy Wilks, who returns to the IRC following his injury-enforced lay-off, Czech championship leader Pavel Valousek, and Thierry Neuville, who finished third on his last IRC appearance in Ypres in late June.

Barum Czech Rally Zlin begins with a ceremonial start on Friday 27 August at 17:00hrs local time. The opening stage is a 9.36-kilometre run through the streets of host city Zlin. Crews will tackle the course in reverse number order with the first car due to start at 21:15hrs.

Seeded Entry List available

Posted: August 18, 2010 11:57 PM

Wilks to mark comeback with Czech test

Posted: August 13, 2010 11:50 AM

Guy Wilks will mark his comeback from injury when he tests a Skoda UK Motorsport-run Fabia S2000 Facelift for the first time on August 23.

The test in Czech Republic, which is in preparation for Barum Czech Rally Zlin, round nine of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge from 27-29 August, will take place 80 days after Wilks suffered two fractured lumbar vertebrae during a high-speed crash on Rally d'Italia-Sardegna on 5 June.

Wilks said:
"I'm massively looking forward to getting back into the Skoda Fabia S2000. It's been very frustrating since Sardinia, being on the outside of the IRC looking in. I've missed three rallies but it was important that I'm 100 per cent fit before getting back into the car. My motivation to get back into a rally car and win rallies has never been higher than it is right now."

The British driver has resumed full training following his most recent round of x-rays and has also been driving a road car for several weeks.

He added:
"I'm sure we'll have a good test and be well prepared for the Barum Rally. I've got no problems with getting back into a rally car and driving flat-out. If we're able to begin from near where we left off [in Sardinia], I'm sure we'll have a good run and be able to score IRC points."

McShea and Cronin for PROTON in the Czech Republic

Posted: August 11, 2010 8:38 AM

Former Production Car World Rally Champion Niall McShea will be re-united with the PROTON R3 Rally Team on the Barum Czech Rally Zlin later this month, where he will be joined in the all-star team by reigning British Rally Champion Keith Cronin.

As you would expect from a world champion, McShea has a wealth of experience and speed at the sport's highest level. His last outing was with PROTON on last year's Rally Ireland. Despite only having limited testing in the Satria Neo S2000, McShea stunned the watching world with third fastest time on the opening stage. McShea and the Satria were 15 seconds faster than multiple world champion Sebastien Loeb on the 22-kilometre Glenboy test. In an instant, McShea and PROTON had hit the headlines. Since Rally Ireland last season, the likeable McShea has kept in contact with the MEM team, which runs PROTON's IRC campaign, with a view to returning to the drivers' seat of the Satria. That opportunity has arrived.

With McShea bringing worldwide experience, his PROTON team-mate in Zlin, Keith Cronin brings youth. Cronin was crowned British Rally Championship at the age of 23 last season. And now, a year on, having also won the Pirelli Star Driver programme of a funded season in Britain, he's making a solid fist of a title defence, with two wins from the four rounds run so far.

McShea and Cronin will test the Satria Neo S2000s before the Barum Czech Rally Zlin, honing the PROTON's set-up for the challenging asphalt stages ahead of them.

PROTON's regular Asia Pacific Rally Championship crews Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson will return for the team's next APRC outing, the Rally of Indonesia next month.

The Zlin-based round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge starts on Friday August 27, with a superspecial stage comprising three laps of the city centre. The main action on this hugely popular event starts the next day, when crews face eight asphalt stages in the fast but technical lanes surrounding Zlin. The event ends on Sunday afternoon (August 29) after a further eight stages. This is the 40th anniversary of the event, which also qualifies for the European Rally Championship. The two PROTONs will face stiff competition from IRC favourite Jan Kopecky; the Czech driver won for Skoda last season, delivering the result the 265,000 fans had waited eight years to see: a local driver in a local car leading the way.

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
"I think everybody was impressed with what Niall [McShea] did on what was pretty much the first time out for the PROTON Satria in Ireland last year. Lying third overall in atrocious conditions on a round of the World Rally Championship after just a handful of test kilometres was an amazing effort and a precise reflection of the car's potential. We've stayed in touch with Niall, he's done some testing for us in the development of the Satria and we wanted to put him in the car for an IRC round this season, Zlin fits perfectly. And, when you're looking at an asphalt rally, it's hard to ignore Keith Cronin. He's a British champion and one of the hottest young talents around. His asphalt form is pretty sharp too, he's just won International Rally Isle of Man, an event acknowledged to be one of the toughest asphalt events in the world."

Niall McShea said:
"When I first drove the PROTON Satria last season, I could hardly contain myself. It's an amazing car and I'm delighted to have this opportunity to drive it again. I always felt there was some unfinished business after we ran so well early in Rally Ireland last year. I've been busy testing and developing cars recently, so I'm feeling pretty much match-fit and ready to go. It's great to be back working with Chris and the whole PROTON team again."

Keith Cronin said:
"I got a taste of Super 2000 rallying on last year's Rally of Scotland, so to be offered the chance to drive one of frontline S2000 cars on a round of the IRC was an incredible opportunity for me. Niall has told me about the car and I can't wait to get in it and drive it. Obviously, it's quite different to the Group N cars I've been driving in the British Rally Championship for the last couple of years, but it won't take me long to get to grips with the PROTON. This is a gilt-edged chance for me, and I intend to make the most of it."

Wittmann targets Zlin for IRC return

Posted: August 3, 2010 5:59 PM

Franz Wittmann will return to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge on Barum Czech Rally Zlin in late August and is scheduled to complete his second season in the series with appearances in Sanremo and Cyprus.

Wittmann, 26, hasn’t appeared in the IRC since crashing heavily on Rally d’Italia-Sardegna in early June. His Interwetten Racing Peugeot 207 has now been rebuilt and he will resume his campaign on the Czech asphalt rally from 27-29 August when he will team up with co-driver Klaus Wicha.

“When we saw the real damage after Sardinia we knew it was not possible to go to the Azores,” said Wittmann. “Madeira was never on our list of events so we will come back in Zlin when we hope to get the best result possible.”

Wittmann’s backer, the Interwetten chief executive Wolfgang Fabian, added:
“Since the ship has sailed for Franz in this year’s IRC I think that this [new] schedule is sensible and financially affordable regarding a possible next IRC season.”

WILKS TO MAKE IRC RETURN ON BARUM CZECH RALLY ZLÍN

Posted: July 9, 2010 9:37 AM

Guy Wilks will return to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in his Škoda UK Motorsport Fabia S2000 on the Barum Czech Rally Zlín, which takes place in the Czech Republic on 27-29 August.

The 29-year old Darlington driver has been out of competition since he and co-driver Phil Pugh crashed out of the Rally d'Italia-Sardegna at the beginning of June. Guy is recovering well from the two fractured vertebrae he sustained in that accident, and is focused on getting himself fully fit for Škoda Motorsport’s home round of the series.

Guy will test a Fabia S2000 Facelift for the first time in the Czech Republic before the event, which will enable him to become familiar with the wider front track configuration and to get himself back up to full rally speed.

The Barum Czech Rally Zlín celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2010. Held around the Moravian town of Zlín, the event has been a round of the European Rally Championship since 1983 and the IRC since 2007. Last year 265,000 spectators lined the stages to watch local heroes Jan Kopecký and Petr Starý win the event in their Škoda Motorsport Fabia S2000.

Guy Wilks:
“I’m delighted that we’re going to return to the IRC on the Barum Rally, because it gives me a definitive date to aim for and to make sure I’m one hundred per cent fit before I get back into the Fabia S2000. We’ll also be able to have a good test before the rally, which is important because I haven’t as yet driven the Fabia S2000 Facelift, and there are a few new things to get used to.

“It won’t take me long to get up to full speed again, but after missing three rallies mid-season I have to be realistic. I did the Barum Rally recce last year, so I have an idea of what the roads are like. Jan [Kopecký] will be very quick in Barum, as will Juho [Hänninen], Kris [Meeke] and several other drivers, so we’ll be going there aiming for a podium finish. We were on the pace and finished on the podium in Gran Canarias, which was an asphalt rally I’d never done before, so I’d be happy with a similar result in the Czech Republic.

“My recovery is coming on very well. Since Sardinia I’ve been relaxing and swimming, and I’ve been able to do some PR work at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and at the Fabia vRS launch – all of which have been good, because I get bored very easily. I’m going to start physiotherapy very soon to strengthen my back and then I’ll be able to start training properly again.”

Rally Guide 1 available

Posted: June 29, 2010 9:23 AM

Event Website / Details

Posted: January 1, 2010 12:01 AM

BIG CELEBRATIONS PLANNED FOR IRC'S CZECH ROUND

Posted: December 28, 2009 9:56 PM

Barum Czech Rally Zlin might be more than eight months away but organisers are already planning a series of celebrations to mark the event's 40th anniversary.

The popular asphalt rally, which was won by Skoda Motorsport driver Jan Kopecky this season, is due to form the eighth round of next year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge from August 27-28.

Some 265,000 spectators attended the event last summer and rally bosses are promising plenty of surprises for fans lining the route on next year's event.

"The time at the end of the summer holidays proved to be good and we are preparing many surprises for the spectators next year," said clerk of the course Milos Regner.

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