Eurosport Events, the promoter of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, is delighted to confirm the appointed of Jean-Pierre Nicolas as IRC Manager with immediate effect.
Nicolas, a famed international-level rally driver who turned to team management with huge success after calling time on his own competition career, joined the Eurosport family for the IRC’s inaugural season in 2007.
Since then he has performed a key role in the ongoing success of the series by utilising his extensive expertise in the sport, particularly in organisation and on-event management, garnered over four decades.
Frenchman Nicolas steps up from his previous position as IRC Motorsport Development Manager, a role he has now completed. He will be responsible for coordination between the IRC and the competing teams, drivers and the local event promoters, while also providing managerial support to the on-event IRC team.
The move, confirmed ahead of this week’s fourth round, Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse, signifies a change to the management structure of the all-action rally series, which has been implemented to streamline the various organisational processes.
Francois Ribeiro, Motorsport Business Director of Eurosport Events, explained: “Jean-Pierre’s contribution to the IRC has been tremendous and we are thrilled that he has accepted this new senior position. Jean-Pierre’s experience in rallying is vast and his increased input will ensure the series continues to go from strength to strength.”
Nicolas added: “I am very pleased to accept this new position. The IRC is dear to my heart and I have a lot of passion for the series and all those who continue to make it such a success. I want to make the most of my knowledge of being involved in the sport for more than 40 years and while everybody in the IRC will be the boss of their own areas, I will have a 360-degree view on what we all do so we will all work together better for the future.”
All other IRC managerial personnel will continue to provide their own expert knowledge to the series with Commercial Director Antonello Lodoletti now able to focus his attentions of growing commercial relationships with new and existing partners and event promoters. Meanwhile, Gilbert Roy who is responsible for Eurosport’s flagship coverage of the IRC continues as Director of Editorial and Programme Development.
IRC confirms Renault registration, six-event Mégane N4 European Challenge
Posted: March 22, 2012 11:06 AM
Renault has registered as an official manufacturer of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge for the first time, Eurosport Events, the IRC promoter, is delighted to confirm.
As well as being eligible for IRC manufacturer points, Renault’s Mégane N4 European Challenge will support six rounds of the all-action IRC from next month’s Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally. The IRC enjoys extensive television coverage on Eurosport.
The IRC’s Commercial Director, Antonello Lodoletti, welcomed Renault’s inclusion as part of the IRC family for the 2012 season. He said: “We are very pleased that such a prestigious and successful marque as Renault has registered as an official IRC manufacturer and selected six rounds of the IRC as the schedule for its exciting Mégane N4 European Challenge. Renault’s involvement in rallying covers several decades and examples of Renault rally cars are in use throughout the world, regularly achieving success with young up-and-coming drivers. We trust Renault will enjoy the same benefits of a partnership with the IRC that our existing manufacturer partners do and we hope this is the start of a successful collaboration.”
Renault Sport Technologies’ Motorsport Director, Rallies, Jean-Pascal Dauce, said: “Renault's involvement in rallying has always been strong, consistent, and characterised by success. Over the course of the years our presence has altered, and it is now entirely dedicated to customer competition. By choosing the IRC for our Mégane N4 European Challenge series in 2012, we could not dream of a more beautiful playground for our customers. There is nothing better than the competition, challenge and popular support on the IRC to underline the quality and performance of our company and the efficiency of our customer competition engineers.”
Renault joins existing IRC partners Honda, M-Sport, Peugeot, ŠKODA and Subaru. The Mégane N4 European Challenge will be contested over the following IRC events*:
6-7 April: Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally (asphalt)
9-12 May: Tour de Corse (asphalt)
21-23 June: GEKO Ypres Rally (Belgium, asphalt)
31 August-2 September: Barum Czech Rally Zlín (asphalt)
12-13 October: Rallye Sanremo (Italy, asphalt)
* Venue of sixth event to be confirmed
4 IRC Event Deal for Craig Breen with Sainteloc Racing Peugeot 207 S2000
Posted: March 6, 2012 10:32 AM
Craig Breen Rallying is delighted to announce that Craig Breen will drive a Sainteloc Racing, Peugeot 207 S2000 for at least four IRC Events this season. The deal will also see Craig and Sainteloc Racing being supported by Peugeot Sport.
The Sainteloc IRC Junior Team will include Craig and his team mate Mathieu Arzeno both driving full spec Peugeot 207, EVO 2012.
The first event will be the Circuit of Ireland and will be followed by Tour de Corse, Geko Ypres Rally and Hungary's Mecsek Rally.
Craig test the car in France before the Circuit to acclimatise to the Peugeot.
Go Motorsport: the choice of champions!
Posted: February 16, 2012 12:32 PM
Go Motorsport is delighted to announce further support from Škoda UK which will see the campaign’s logos displayed on the Škoda Fabia S2000 of defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen in this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Established by the Motor Sports Association (MSA), governing body of UK motor sport, to encourage and assist more people to get involved in all areas of motor sport, the initiative has gained widespread backing since its launch in 2008.
“We are hugely grateful for all the support Go Motorsport has received and would like to thank Škoda UK for helping us to promote the campaign via its title winning IRC team,” said Colin Hilton, Chief Executive of the MSA.
Last summer Škoda arranged for three rally drivers from the MSA’s Team UK squad to drive Mikkelsen’s championship-winning Fabia S2000 on the Goodwood rally stage. In November, Andreas then joined forces with TV presenter Vicki Butler-Henderson to help Go Motorsport to promote the many attractions of entry-level navigational rallies on Channel 5’s Fifth Gear motoring programme.
“Motor sport has so much to offer at all levels,” confirmed Hilton. “That’s why we are delighted when enthusiastic companies such as Škoda UK are so proactive and visible with their support.”
“We have been working closely with the MSA over the last year and are keen to help where we can,” confirmed Cathie Sleigh, head of Škoda UK Motorsport. “Škoda has a rich motor sport history stretching back for more than a century, so we are always keen to encourage others to get involved. It’s important for us to help promising young drivers to develop their skills as well as to ensure the sport’s appeal reaches ever wider audiences. The MSA shares these key objectives and that’s why we are pleased to be promoting its Go Motorsport initiative with decals displayed on the Škoda UK Motorsport Fabia S2000 in 2012.”
Mikkelsen and co-driver Ola Floene start their IRC title defence on the Azores later this month and will compete in events throughout Europe including the Circuit of Ireland Rally in early April.
“Although I’m competing internationally now, I learned many of my skills by rallying in the Welsh forests and that’s why I’m very happy to be flying Go Motorsport flags on my Fabia S2000,” said Mikkelsen. “Whether it’s navigational events organised on the public roads by local motor clubs or stage rallies held on forest tracks, rallying clearly has lots to offer everyone in the UK.”
All-star driver line-up for Subaru in IRC
Posted: January 23, 2012 12:49 PM
Subaru will support an all-star driver line-up in this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge after registering as an official IRC manufacturer for a third successive season.
Young guns Andreas Aigner and Jarkko Nikara plus reigning IRC Production Cup champion Toshi Arai will all benefit from the backing of the iconic Japanese car make in 2012.
A joint statement from Fuji Heavy Industries and Subaru Tecnica International said: “Subaru will once again register as a manufacturer in the IRC. This will enable its customers who enter the series to acquire points. In addition to Arai, Subaru will be supporting Jarkko Nikara from Finland and Andreas Aigner from Austria in 2012.”
Exact programmes for all three drivers have yet to be announced but Aigner’s campaign with the leading Stohl Racing team is expected to include the rounds in Corsica, Belgium, Romania, Czech Republic and Cyprus.
Hunt choses IRC for 2012 action
Posted: January 12, 2012 3:01 PM
British driver Harry Hunt is planning an audacious bid to reclaim the IRC 2WD Cup crown he lost last season by contesting all 13 rounds of this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
The 23-year-old from London won the IRC 2WD Cup in 2010 driving an M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 but spent last season acclimatising to his new Citroen DS3 R3T. He has decided to return to the IRC this year due to the intense nature of the competition on offer.
“We took a really huge step up in 2011 and it took a while to learn how to get the best from the car,” said Hunt, who will continue to be co-driven by Robbie Durant. “With a second season in the car, coming back to some of the rallies we know plus also learning new events against strong local opposition, we should be able to get closer to the limit of our potential.”
Fresh new-look ŠKODA factory colour scheme for Andreas’ Fabia S2000 in 2012
Posted: January 6, 2012 2:08 PM
Andreas Mikkelsen’s ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia S2000 will feature a crisper factory-designed colour scheme in 2012, as he attempts to become the first driver to win back-to-back Intercontinental Rally Challenge driver titles.
Co-driven by Ola Fløene, Andreas will join Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler and Juho Hänninen/Mikko Markkula in the three factory-prepared Fabia S2000s that will spearhead ŠKODA’s attempt to win the IRC Manufacturers’ title for a third consecutive season. It’s an incredibly strong driver line-up, as Mikkelsen, Kopecký and Hänninen finished 1-2-3 in the final 2011 driver standings.
Andreas’ car will retain its unmistakable ŠKODA UK Motorsport identity with the familiar Union Flag appearing on the roof and bonnet once again. In addition, a new black side detail incorporates elements of the flag to make the car even more recognizable for spectators. Other changes for the 2012 car include the introduction of a thin black keyline that frames the lower bodywork’s green panels. At the rear, a Union Flag has been incorporated into the rear tailgate with the bottom edge now featuring a matt black stripe.
The ŠKODA UK Motorsport team will continue to be run on events separately from ŠKODA Motorsport, with Andy Rogers moving to position of Team Manager and Pierfranceso Zanchi and Nicolas Roux continuing as Team Principal and Chief Engineer respectively.
There are a number of changes to the 2012 IRC calendar that Andreas is looking forward to next season, the biggest of which being the expansion of the series from 11 to 13 rallies and four all-new events.
The Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally has become ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s home round of the IRC, which is perfectly located for its buoyant Northern Irish retailer network. The event, which ran for the first time in 1931, is one of oldest rallies in the world and attracts huge support. It’s also a good event for Andreas, who in 2007 contested several rounds of the Irish Tarmac Championship and has experience of the unique nature of the bumpy and narrow asphalt roads.
Rally San Marino has also been added to the IRC itinerary – an event Andreas won last year on his way to becoming Italian Gravel Rally Champion.
Next year’s IRC contains nine asphalt, three gravel and a mixed surface event. The series begins with the Rally Azores in February and contains more events in the emerging Eastern European marketplace, visits unchartered territories as well as several classics such as Rallye Sanremo and Tour de Corse, before finishing in Cyprus in November.
Andreas: “Next season there are a lot of rallies that I know, plus four new events. The new round in Ireland will suit me very well, because I’ve done some rounds of the Irish Tarmac Championship and also the WRC event over there before. I’ve not done these actual Circuit of Ireland stages, but I know the nature of the roads and know what to look for in terms of set-up of the car, so I think Ireland will be a really strong event for us.
“San Marino is in, and I won that rally last year in the Italian Gravel Championship, so that will be another strong event for us. The other two new rounds in Romania and Bulgaria I don’t know and I’m not sure what to expect, but we’ve performed well in the past on rallies we’ve never done before and we’re confident there are a lot of strong rallies on next year’s calendar for us.”
Updated Peugeot 207 for IRC in 2012
Posted: December 31, 2011 11:13 AM
Peugeot will unleash an updated version of its 207 Super 2000 on next season’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
The French make claimed a trio of IRC manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles from 2007-2009, while Bryan Bouffier and Thierry Neuville were victorious on three IRC rounds in 2011. Both were also in the battle for the IRC drivers’ crown.
But Peugeot wants more and is making changes to the 207’s engine and chassis as Bertrand Vallat, the man in charge of the car’s design and development, explained: “The 207 S2000 will be widened by 20mm. That will enable us to comply with the regulations, while at the same time bringing a performance gain to the existing version on both asphalt and gravel.”
He continued: “The most notable gain will be cornering stability, especially through faster corners on asphalt. We have also profited from changes to introduce some minor bodywork modifications, which will help brake cooling. Air flow round the wheel arches has been optimised, too.”
Dresler to replace co-driver Stary
Posted: December 31, 2011 11:11 AM
Pavel Dresler will replace Petr Stary as Jan Kopecky’s co-driver on a permanent basis for the 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge season.
Kopecky and Stary had competed together for three years before Stary was forced to withdraw from last month’s season-closing Cyprus Rally due to a long-standing health problem. Unfortunately, Stary is still undergoing medical treatment, which has prompted Kopecky’s SKODA Motorsport team to recruit Dresler full time after he deputised for Stary in Cyprus.
“I want to say a big thank you to Petr Stary for great three years that we have spent together and wish him a fast recovery,” said Kopecky, runner-up in the IRC for the past three seasons.
ŠKODA WANTS TO COMPLETE IRC HAT-TRICK IN 2012
Posted: December 17, 2011 1:28 PM
The ŠKODA Motorsport team will continue the Fabia Super 2000 car in 2012. The team will be hoping to win the Manufacturer’s title for the third year running. This has been the most successful year in the brand's long history of motorsport efforts. The participation in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) with the Fabia Super 2000, where ŠKODA has won the titles in both the Drivers and Manufacturers categories for two consecutive years, remains the brand's top priority. Furthermore, one of the factory crews will compete in selected rallies of the European Championship, and the factory team will appear in the Czech rally championship. Juho Hänninen and Jan Kopecký remain the brand's factory drivers for 2012. The first event in 2012 to see the factory team in action is the Jänner Rally, taking place in Austria over the first weekend of January.
Commenting on the team's agenda in 2012, Head of the ŠKODA Motorsport team Michal Hrabánek says: “ŠKODA's top priority will be to defend the IRC titles we have won in the past two years. Three drivers in factory-prepared Fabia Super 2000s are going to fight for points in the Manufacturers category – Jan Kopecký and Juho Hänninen of ŠKODA Motorsport (factory team) and Andreas Mikkelsen of ŠKODA UK Motorsport. With future prospects in mind, we want to gain experience in selected events of the European Championship where we will be represented by Juho Hänninen and Mikko Markkula, one of our factory crews. Intending to become even more visible in the home market, the other factory crew,Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler, will appear on Czech tracks as part of the Czech Championship. Pavel Dressler has replaced Petr Starý who, unfortunately, has a long-standing health problem – in this connection, the whole team wishes Petr a fast recovery.”
2011 SWRC Champion Juho Hänninen: “I have learned a lot at ŠKODA Motorsport over the past three years, and these have been more than good times for the entire team. I believe that we will be successful also next year, which holds some new rallies for us, but that is exactly what makes this sport so exciting. I am pretty certain that we are going to make another step ahead with the Fabia.”
Three times IRC runner up Jan Kopecký: “I appreciate the opportunity to continue co-operating with ŠKODA Motorsport. Our ambition in the Czech Championship is of course to keep appearing on the top ranks and the goal in the selected IRC events is to always win as many points as possible in order to help ŠKODA win the third title in the Manufacturers category. I want to say a big thank you to Petr Starý for three great years that we have spent together and wish him a fast recovery.”
The Mladá Boleslav-based car manufacturer is celebrating 110 years of its motorsport efforts in 2011, a year which, has been its most successful so far. ŠKODA has comfortably repeated last year's victory in the Manufacturers category of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge championship, Fabia Super 2000 drivers have won the first three places in the Drivers category of the IRC (Mikkelsen 1st, Kopecký 2nd, Hänninen 3rd) and Juho Hänninen and Mikko Markkula have won the first-ever SWRC title for ŠKODA. At the end of this year, ŠKODA Motorsport and its Fabia Super 2000s made their debut in the Race of Champions, a prestigious multi-discipline event with a history of more than 20 years.
Exciting IRC calendar for 2012 revealed
Posted: November 24, 2011 12:49 PM
More events in the emerging Eastern European marketplace, visits to unchartered territories plus the inclusion of several classics, such as Rallye Sanremo and Tour de Corse, are among the highlights of the revamped Intercontinental Rally Challenge schedule for 2012.
In addition, ground-breaking SimulCam technology – which was pioneered this season and allows viewers to watch two cars tackling the same section of a stage at the same time – will be used in the television coverage from eight of the 13 events next year, thereby underlining Eurosport’s growing commitment to the all-action series.
Starting with the gravel-based Sata Rallye Acores in February and concluding with the mixed-surface Cyprus Rally in early November, the calendar will feature 13 rounds with events in Canary Islands, Ireland, Corsica, Hungary (Mecsek), Belgium (Ypres), San Marino, Romania, Czech Republic (Zlin), Ukraine (Yalta), Bulgaria (Sliven) and Italy (Sanremo).
In total there will be four new rallies on next season’s calendar: Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally, Rally San Marino, Sibiu Rally Romania and Rally Sliven in Bulgaria. The inclusion of newcomers Bulgaria and Romania means that along with the existing IRC rounds in Czech Republic, Hungary and Ukraine there are now five events in the increasingly important Eastern European region.
As well as featuring two more events than this year, there is a greater number of gravel rounds planned for 2012 with three loose-surface qualifiers, up one from this year, plus one mixed-surface event appearing on the new list of dates. The extra event on gravel will raise the challenge facing crews as well as the spectacle for fans watching stage-side or at home on television.
There are nine rounds based purely on asphalt, while the Cyprus Rally will be the only event to use a combination of gravel and asphalt stages.
The inclusion of the Circuit of Ireland Rally will maintain an IRC round in the United Kingdom with many of the stages taking place in Northern Ireland. The event, which ran for the first time in 1931, is one of oldest rallies in the world and attracts huge support.
Francois Ribeiro, Eurosport Events’ Motorsport Business Director, said: “We are very pleased to have finalised the 2012 IRC calendar during what is a very exciting time for the IRC. With new territories, more gravel rallies, the continued inclusion of some of the sport’s most iconic events, plus the increased use of SimulCam technology in the live television broadcasts, IRC season six is set to be a big hit with the fans, drivers and teams.
“With more events in Eastern Europe the IRC will also benefit from new marketing and promotional opportunities, not to mention the huge numbers of spectators that attend those events. The new calendar will create an ideal platform for drivers to demonstrate their talents and for manufacturers and customer teams to showcase their products and services. We can’t wait for the action to get underway.”
ŠKODA UK Confirms Mikkelsen for Intercontinental Rally Challenge Title Defence in 2012
Posted: November 23, 2011 4:56 PM
ŠKODA UK Confirms Mikkelsen for Intercontinental Rally Challenge Title Defence in 2012
The newly-crowned Intercontinental Rally Challenge drivers’ champion Andreas Mikkelsen will return to defend his title in 2012 in the same factory-prepared ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia S2000 that he and co-driver Ola Fløene won the series in this year.
Once again, the ŠKODA UK Motorsport team will also be an integral points-scoring part of ŠKODA’s drive to win the IRC manufacturers’ title for a third consecutive time.
The 22-year old driver led the last six rallies of the 2011 IRC (Azores, Czech Rep., Hungary, Sanremo, Scotland and Cyprus), winning the last two events and claiming the title at Rally Cyprus. Andreas also recorded an unbeaten 38 fastest special stage times on his way to becoming the youngest-ever IRC champion.
A respected gravel driver, Andreas’ test programme and FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy training has also turned him into an equally formidable driver on asphalt.
For its third full season in the IRC, ŠKODA UK Motorsport will once again enter a latest spec Fabia S2000 prepared by ŠKODA Motorsport, which will continue to be run on events by the highly experienced ŠKODA Rally Team Italia.
Andreas: “I really couldn’t believe that we’d won the IRC drivers’ title when I crossed the finish line of the Cyprus Rally! We knew we had a chance of becoming 2011 champions. It was a slim chance, but it proves that in life you should never give up.
”I really want to thank ŠKODA UK for giving me this opportunity to drive for them in 2011 and I’m so happy to repay their faith in me by winning the drivers’ title. The aim now is to try to become the first driver to successfully defend his IRC title. We’ll be back in 2012 in a factory-prepared ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia S2000 to with that goal and to support ŠKODA in claiming the manufacturers’ title for the third year running.”
Robert Hazelwood, ŠKODA UK Director: “This has been a tremendous season, with dramatic highs and lows. The high of ŠKODA winning the drivers’ title is fantastic, and does what we set out to do – creates excitement for the ŠKODA Skoda brand for our customers, our retailers and their staff and our own staff. I applaud Andreas and Ola on their achievement and can’t wait to get started on the exciting 2012 IRC campaign.”