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Mecsek Rallye (Hungary) - 09-11 Sep 11

Posted: September 17, 2011 9:27 PM - 4056 Hits

Round 9 - 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC)

Magic Mikkelsen denied victory in closing stages

Posted: September 17, 2011 9:27 PM

Having led the Mecsek Rallye since the start, Andreas Mikkelsen came within two stages of winning his first Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) event – only to be denied a worthy victory when he hit an unexpected carpet of loose gravel on the penultimate stage (SS13), which eliminated all grip and forced his ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia S2000 off the road and into retirement.

Co-driven by Ola Fløene, Andreas had driven magnificently throughout the event, setting three fastest times in the first four stages to establish and early lead on his first visit to Hungary. The 22-year old FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy driver led a round of the IRC overnight for the first time by 8.7 seconds, and immediately increased his lead to 15.6 seconds after a sublime run over Day 2’s opening stage – on which he took 6.9 seconds off 2nd placed Jan Kopecký (ŠKODA Motorsport).

With just three stages remaining, the gap had increased to 18.8 seconds and it was time to consolidate the position and ease off slightly.

Repeats runs over the fast asphalt stages in the Mecsek Hills, located near the ancient city of Pécs, near to the Croatian border in south-west Hungary, were making the area more familiar, and Andreas was confident enough to ease off a lot through the trickiest of the remaining three stages, confident that a 10.4 second margin over the final two stages would be sufficient.

The likelihood is that whoever was running first on the road would have encountered a big problem, when a good, dry and clean surface turned into a bed of loose gravel, immediately after a crest on a sixth gear right hand corner mid-way through SS13. Andreas hit the gravel, lost all grip and slid sideways into nearby trees. He and Ola were unharmed, and they managed to drive their Fabia S2000 to a junction, where they parked and awaited recovery.

There was still great joy for ŠKODA at the finish, with Jan Kopecký/Petr Starý winning the Mecsek Rallye for ŠKODA Motorsport. They finished 0.8 seconds ahead of Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul, while Freddy Loix/Frédéric Miclotte made it two ŠKODA Fabia S2000s in the top three – allowing ŠKODA to increase it’s already healthy lead in the IRC manufacturers’ standings.

Andreas:
“We had the perfect weekend up until stage thirteen. We had led from the start, I was driving smart, Ola was doing an amazing job and the car was faultless. Our rally came to an end on an uphill fast right hand corner over a crest, and where the corner tightened a little there was gravel all over the road. It was a repeat of a stage we’d done in the morning, and the first time through there was no gravel and even on the second run there was nothing on the road until the point we went off at. When we hit the gravel there was no grip at all and we slid off the road in sixth gear and hit a tree.

“I’d like to thank the team for doing such a great job this weekend and preparing a fantastic car. It was my first event in Hungary and to lead for so much of the rally is really positive.”

Round 9 of the IRC is the Sanremo Rally (23-24 September).

PROTON: Canon Mecsek Rallye review

Posted: September 17, 2011 9:26 PM

The PROTON Motorsports team is now looking forward to demonstrating the potential of the Satria Neo S2000 on Rallye Sanremo later this month, after a couple of freak engine faults sidelined the cars on the Canon Mecsek Rallye which finished in Hungary yesterday (Sunday).

Both drivers P-G Andersson and Giandomenico Basso had enjoyed a positive pre-event test with the Malaysian manufacturer, but when the competition on the latest round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge got under way, they hit trouble on the first of two days.

There was frustration within the PROTON Motorsports team after the drivers weren’t able to capitalise on the pace which has shot the Satria to the top of this year’s FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. Running out of Pecs, Hungary’s fifth largest city and into the Mecsek mountains close to the Croatian border, Andersson and Basso were looking forward to the event. New to the IRC for this year, the Canon Mecsek Rallye would have provided a level playing field for the crews, none of whom had competed on the fast asphalt lanes previously.

Unfortunately Andersson suffered a cambelt-related issue in SS6, having already damaged a wheel on the rally’s second stage. Basso departed near the end of the opener with a problem linked to the oil filter.

Attentions now turn to Rallye Sanremo (September 22-24), a 23-hour event which runs through the mountains behind the beautiful host town of Sanremo. Always one of the most popular rallies of the season, the dash around the Italian Riviera is particularly popular with Basso, who won his home round of the IRC in 2008.

Quotes:
P-G Andersson said:
“I hit a kerb on the second stage, which damaged the left-rear wheel on the car. I stopped to try and change the wheel, but it wouldn’t come off. We kept driving and eventually we could get it off. That cost us a lot of time and any chance of a result. The impact had damaged the transmission as well, so the team had to get the rear differential changed in service as well. Unfortunately, we retired later with a small problem with the engine. This was a very frustrating event.”

Giandomenico Basso said:
“We were very much looking forward to this rally after our test had gone well. Everything was moving in a good direction with the car after the last round in Czech Republic. We were in a very fast section near the end of the first stage when the engine seized, it’s a real shame – the stage had gone well and we I think things were looking good on this event.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“I have to say, as a team we’re devastated by what’s happened here in Hungary. We came here on good form, having done more work on the car and we’ve been ruled out by two relatively simple engine problems. It’s massively frustrating and these problems have spoiled the potential we had prior to the event. The team will now go back, regroup and come back stronger in Sanremo later this month. Onwards and upwards; we will fight on.”

KOPECKY TAKES CLOSEST EVER IRC VICTORY

Posted: September 17, 2011 9:23 PM

SKODA Motorsport's Jan Kopecky won the 45. Canon Mecsek Rallye by the smallest margin in the history of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge after a dramatic final day of action. In an event marked by close battles throughout the field, Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg's Thierry Neuville won the final stage but lost out to the Czech driver overall by just 0.8s.

Right up until the penultimate stage, this rally looked like it belonged to SKODA UK's Andreas Mikkelsen. The overnight leader started the day strongly, built an advantage with a commanding early stage win ("On the first stage this morning I was sleeping," Kopecky said), then backed off too much on the first stage of the afternoon. With the pressure back on, 6.2km into SS13 Mikkelsen slid wide on gravel in a fast right-hand corner and the back of his car hit a tree. He was able to keep the heavily damaged Fabia S2000 moving until the next junction, where he was able to park it safely.

“We had the perfect weekend up until stage thirteen," he said. "We had led from the start, I was driving smart, Ola [Floene] was doing an amazing job and the car was faultless. I’m so disappointed about what happened.

“Our rally came to an end on an uphill fast right-hand corner over a crest, and where it tightened a little there was gravel all over the road. It was a repeat of a stage we’d done this this morning, and the first time through there was no gravel. Even on the second run there was a nothing on the road until that point. When we hit the gravel there was no grip at all and we slid off the road in sixth gear and hit a tree.

“We are getting so close to winning a rally now, it’s just a shame we couldn’t fulfil it here."

The battle for the lead between the SKODA team-mates wasn't the only story of the day. Peugeot's Thierry Neuville was third overnight and began the day within striking distance of the leader. There could be no question of team orders up front as Neuville racked up a succession of stage wins, and after Mikkelsen's retirement Neuville ended the penultimate stage 8.1s behind new leader Kopecky.

To close the gap over the remaining 17.7km would be a tall order, and so it proved. Neuville won the final stage convincingly but fell just short of overall victory, by 0.8s. Could they have snatched victory in the final stage? Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul will be pondering that between now and the next round.

"Unfortunately I absolutely wanted to modify a pace note in a very fast section, and I didn’t have time to tell him the pace note for afterwards,” said Gilsoul. “The corner tightened so we had a big moment. But Thierry has very good car control and we had a bit of luck."

Freddy Loix brought his BFO-SKODA home third. Having shown speed on the opening day, he couldn't hit the same heights on the second.

"It's a combination of factors," he said. "The feeling of the car is better, I have a good feeling but I'm losing a few seconds here and there. I can see where I'm losing but I can't react for the stage after, so it's always the same silly mistakes.

"It's not a question of gravel on the road. If I feel well, like in the Barum Rally, gravel is no problem. It's more about being on the big attack and about confidence."

Confidence had been a problem for Peugeot France's Bryan Bouffier on the opening day as he struggled with set-up issues and lack of trust in the veracity of his pace notes. Today he was within the top five on every stage, but the overall gap to the leaders was too great for the Rallye Monte-Carlo winner to overcome.

"The car worked very well today," he said. "I had a better feeling and we took some points."

Fifth fell to Hermann Gassner Jr in only his second asphalt rally in the Red Bull SKODA. Gassner improved continuously throughout the event, beginning just outside the top 10 and ultimately passing more experienced entrants on merit. By Sunday morning he was posting stage times well within the top 10, and was fourth quickest over the last two stages.

It was only on the penultimate stage that Gassner unseated local IRC Production Cup entrant Gyorgy Aschenbrenner, who used his local knowledge to remarkable effect. Regularly setting top 10 stage times aboard his Ralliart Lancer Evolution IX, Aschenbrenner delighted the local fans and drew one of the biggest crowds in the service park.

Brake problems on the first day consigned Toni Gardemeister to the lower portion of the top 10, and his counter-attack this morning was hindered by a misfire on SS1. "It felt like bad turbo lag," he said. "It would pause, there was nothing, then the power would come in. I stopped after the stage and went under the bonnet, played with some connections, but we had to look at it in the service park."

In the afternoon, though, the TGS Worldwide SKODA came on song and Gardemeister had no complaints. "The car is working brilliantly," he said, "and we've learned a lot about this new rally."

Hungarian entrant Robert Butor finished eighth after a strong run, beating several IRC regulars in his Peugeot 207 S2000: "We are very happy. For us the Hungarian championship was the most important and in this we are second, so it's good."

Bruno Magalhaes was ninth in the Peugeot Sport Portugal 207 S2000, having solved the set-up and gear ratio issues that hindered him on the first day. "This rally was very tough," he said. "It was hard to run against local drivers – they were fast."

Beppo Harrach rounded out the top 10 in a Ralliart Lancer Evolution IX, though Karl Kruuda - who suffered a puncture in SS12 - was just 2.1s behind after the final stage.

"This result is much more than we expected before the rally," said Harrach. "To be able to fight with all the Super 2000 cars ahead of us - amazing!"

IRC Production Cup:
Gyorgy Aschenbrenner and Piko Zsuzsa continued their dominance in their Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, remaining in the top 10 throughout the day. Aschenbrenner had some handling issues in the morning's final stage but the timing was opportune, since a service halt followed immediately. Second placed Beppo Harrach also finished inside the top 10, 24.5s ahead of David Botka, both in Lancer Evolution IXs. IRC regular Toshi Arai, driving the Subaru Impreza R4 in its third event, found it hard to match the pace of the Hungarian drivers but set-up improvements overnight enabled him to finish seventh in class.

IRC 2WD Cup:
Menyhert Kroszer, driving a Citroen DS3 R3T, held an overnight lead of 15.0s over IRC 2WD Cup regular Stefano Albertini's Renault Clio R3, but Albertini attacked from the very first stage and by the lunchtime service had moved into the lead. The battle continued throughout the afternoon and Albertini won by just 1.9s. Olle Sasa was 2m22.6s behind in his Suzuki Swift S1600. Jean-Michel Raoux continues to top the IRC 2WD Cup standings after finishing seventh. Honda moved clear in the makes' classification with two cars in the top six.

DRIVER QUOTES
Jan Kopecky (CZE), SKODA Fabia S2000, first overall:
“It was very difficult racing, a very quick rally. Finally we are in first place – okay, we were lucky, but we didn’t make any mistakes, we stayed on the road, we didn’t spin or go off, and the car was working perfectly. The result was first place.”

Thierry Neuville (BEL), Peugeot 207 S2000, second overall:
“We changed the set-up and the car felt much better, and I felt more confident. I continued to push and push and we felt really good. We had just a little moment on the last stage today, Nicolas was maybe a little too late with the pace note, but we managed it and we could continue. Maybe we lost the rally there but yesterday I was not driving so good on a few stages, so it’s hard to say. Today it was like we switched off and went flat out.”

Freddy Loix (BEL), SKODA Fabia S2000, third overall:
“It was certainly not my most easy rally because I could never do the speed of the first three cars. I was always doing the third or fourth time, so today when I came in for the first service I had a small talk with my engineer, he was pushing me and I said, ‘Look, I want to finish the rally like this because at the moment I can’t go quicker, and maybe with some luck by the end of the day I will be on the podium.’”

Results

Posted: September 17, 2011 9:07 PM

1 Jan Kopecky (CZE)/Petr Stary (CZE) SKODA Fabia S2000 2h00m06.7s
2 Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Peugeot 207 S2000 +0.08s
3 Freddy Loix (BEL)/Frederic Miclotte (BEL) SKODA Fabia S2000 +1m00.0s
4 Bryan Bouffier (FRA)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m25.6s
5 Hermann Gassner Jr (GER)/Timo Gottschalk (GER) SKODA Fabia S2000 +2m32.5s
6 Gyorgy Aschenbrenner (HUN)/Piko Zsuzsa (HUN) Ralliart Lancer Evo IX 2m38.2s
7 Toni Gardemeister (FIN)/Tapio Suominen (FIN) SKODA Fabia S2000 +3m05.6s
8 Robert Butor (HUN)/Igor Bacigal (HUN) Peugeot 207 S2000 3m16.8s
9 Bruno Magalhaes (POR)/Paulo Grave (POR) Peugeot 207 S2000 +3m51.7s
10 Beppo Harrach (AUT)/Andreas Schindlbacher (AUT) Ralliart Lancer Evo IX 2m38.2s

IRC Production Cup:
Gyorgy Aschenbrenner (HUN)/Piko Zsuzsa (HUN) Ralliart Lancer Evo IX R4
IRC 2WD Cup: Stefano Albertini (ITA)/Simone Scattolin (ITA) Renault Clio R3

Magalhaes excited ahead of IRC return

Posted: September 8, 2011 10:38 AM

Bruno Magalhaes says he can’t wait to resume his Intercontinental Rally Challenge campaign when he contests the Canon Mecsek Rallye in Hungary from 9-11 September.

Magalhaes, a former IRC event winner, has endured a mixed start to his 2011 campaign at the wheel of a Peugeot Sport Portugal 207 S2000. He missed last month’s Barum Czech Rally Zlin to regroup following his retirement from July’s Sata Rallye Acores when he was battling for a podium finish.

“I’m pleased to come back to the IRC,” said the 30-year-old from Lisbon. “I feel really confident after the pace we showed in Ypres and I really want to show my pace again. We have had some bad luck this season but I believe I can do a good result on what will be a new rally for everybody.”

Magalhaes will be looking to make the most of team manager Carlos Barros’ knowledge of the Canon Mecsek Rallye stages after Barros visited the event last season.

“Carlos has told me the stages will be fast with good grip in some places but not so good in others,” said Magalhaes. “But it’s only when I discover the route myself that I can understand the real challenge.”

Proton: Canon Mecsek Rallye preview

Posted: September 5, 2011 10:55 PM

The PROTON Motorsports team arrives in Hungary for the start of the latest Intercontinental Rally Challenge on Friday (September 9), with the sole aim of building on the solid results achieved on last month’s Barum Czech Rally Zlin.

PROTON drivers P-G Andersson (Sweden) and Giandomenico Basso (Italy) are both on top form and match-fit after their Czech run just a fortnight ago. And the Malaysian-manufactured Satria Neo S2000, having halved the gap to the pace-setting factory cars at the front of the field, continues to get better and better this season.

The challenge which awaits the crews in Hungary is asphalt, like the last round. But the nature of the roads around the host city of Pecs is a slightly different to the Zlin lanes. The stages this time around will be faster, smoother and less abrasive. Round eight does have its similarities to round seven, however: the roads will still dive in and out of dense forests, meaning the grip levels can alter radically under the trees. The other similarity will be in the number of people lining those roads. More than 300,000 turned out to watch in Czech. With a similar number expected this week, more than half a million people will have been exposed to the PROTON Motorsport brand via the IRC in just two weeks.

Beyond its IRC programme, PROTON Motorsports is also contesting the 2011 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, where the Malaysian manufacturer has already clinched one title (the Pacific Cup). Courtesy of winning three from four rallies so far this year, PROTON leads both the drivers' and manufacturers' championships with two rounds remaining.

But, before the PROTON Motorsports team is seen on its next IRC event on Friday, two-time Junior World Rally Champion Andersson and his fellow Satria Neo S2000 driver, double European Rally Champion Basso will get the chance to fine-tune the car to the precise requirements of the Hungarian roads at a pre-event test tomorrow (Monday).

The weather will be changeable this week, courtesy of the Mecsek Mountains which provide a beautiful backdrop to a rally making its debut in the IRC. The event is well-known to the rally community as an IRC Supporter rally and locally as one of the best events in Hungary. The Canon Mecsek Rallye has a 45-year history in the sport.

With only just over a week between the last two rounds of the series, the PROTON Motorsports team has been busy transporting the two Satria Neo S2000s between Czech Republic and Hungary. The cars have been re-prepared in that time, with the Malaysian manufacturer even finding time to make some alterations to the car to make it even faster this week.

The event starts from the centre of what was the 2010 European Capital of Culture on Friday afternoon, with a spectator-pleasing, but non-competitive prologue stage soon afterwards. The first timed stage begins on Saturday morning, with the crews facing a gruelling day of sport. On the road for more than 13 hours, the drivers will tackle a 498-kilometre route, 144 of which will be competitive and driven flat-out. Sunday’s second and final day is slightly shorter, but the Canon Mecsek Rallye will certainly test the cars and crews to the full.

As ever, all the action on the stages will be relayed to millions of fans around the world via Eurosport’s extensive network of shows and channels.

Quotes:

P-G Andersson said:
“With all these rallies on Tarmac this year, my driving is improving on this surface all of the time and we are learning more and more about the PROTON. I am trusting the car, which is what you have to do to be competing with the car on the limit. The last rally was a good step and we should be making another one here. Not having competed regularly in the IRC, these are new rallies for me. But, this time around, Hungary is a new event for all of the main IRC drivers. This is better, it means nobody has an advantage – nobody has made pace notes or really knows what to expect from the roads.”

Giandomenico Basso said:
“I was happy with the last rally, we made the finish and a good result for the team; that was a hard race and I’m sure this one will be as well. We showed the car is reliable and the car is coming better for Barum and for here. We will be at maximum attack here in Hungary, we have a good feeling in the PROTON team.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“We’re looking to bring both the cars home with a couple of solid top-10 results in Hungary this week. We are making very, very good progress with the car. We saw the result of that progress in Zlin, with the way the time differences were coming down from 12 months ago. Like P-G says, it’s nice that we’re going out on a level playing field for all of the guys, nobody really knows too much about what’s coming on this event. Like all IRC rounds, I’m sure it’s going to be another great and very well-supported rally.”

TV Times

Posted: September 2, 2011 3:27 PM

Ireland/UK Time:

Saturday 10 September:
23:00hrs-23:30hrs: Day one highlights (Eurosport)
25:15hrs-25:45hrs: Day one highlights (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Sunday 11 September:
07:30hrs-08:00hrs: Day one highlights repeated (Eurosport)
10:15hrs-10:45hrs: Day one highlights repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
18:45hrs-19:15hrs: Day two highlights (Eurosport)
25:15hrs-25:45hrs: Day two highlights (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Monday 12 September:
09:15hrs-09:45hrs: Day two highlights repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Tuesday 13 September:
22:15hrs-22:45hrs: Rally Review (Eurosport)
23:15hrs-23:45hrs: Day one highlights repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
23:45hrs-24:15hrs: Day two highlights repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Wednesday 14 September:
04:45hrs-05:15hrs: Rally Review (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
25:15hrs-25:45hrs: Rally Review repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Friday 16 September:
12:30hrs-13:00hrs: Rally Review repeated (Eurosport 2)

IRC CANON MECSEK RALLYE PREVIEW

Posted: September 2, 2011 3:24 PM

THE CHALLENGE
With the dust still settling on last week’s thrilling Barum Czech Rally Zlin, where Jan Kopecky beat Freddy Loix in the closest finish in Intercontinental Rally Challenge history, the all-action series blasts back into life in Hungary next week when the Canon Mecsek Rallye joins the IRC schedule for the first time.

Based in the city of Pecs, the 2010 European Capital of Culture in the south-west of the country, the Mecsek Rallye has been a popular fixture on Hungary’s national calendar for 45 years and previously ran as an IRC Supporter Event.

The stages, located in spectacular forest areas north of Pecs close to the Mecsek mountains, are characterised by their high-speed nature with average speeds of 130kph commonplace, although this will be tempered slightly with the use of artificial chicanes at certain points. Roads used are mainly flat, of medium width and with a good surface although there are some narrow sections that provide a challenging contrast.

With the shortest competitive stage measuring 12 kilometres in length and the longest totalling 28 kilometres crews are set for a tough test, particularly if ambient temperatures continue to hover around 30 degrees centigrade, which they have done in recent weeks.

Huge numbers of fans typically converge on the rally route and that will swell with the addition of the IRC regulars on the bulging entry.

Uniquely the event gets underway with a prologue stage on Friday 9 September following a ceremonial start in Pecs’ main square. The 1.2-kilometre course doesn’t form part of the competitive action but serves as an introduction to the spectators of the competing drivers.

The first day of competition, Saturday 10 September, features four special stages run twice totalling 144.46 kilometres in length. The first stage goes live at 09:08hrs local time with the first car not due to tackle the day’s final stage until 20:39hrs, making for a demanding day for the crews and teams alike. Fortunately, several visits to the permanent service park, which is housed adjacent to the Expo Center Pecs, provide some respite.

Sunday’s route consists of three repeated stages totalling 107.40 kilometres. The terrain will be familiar to the crews as the stages are the same as those used on Saturday, albeit run in the opposite direction and with a few changes to the distances. The first stage gets underway at 09:08hrs with the finishing ceremony taking place from 16:18hrs.

As well as forming round eight of the 11-event IRC series, the Canon Mecsek Rallye counts as the final round of the Hungarian championship where several drivers will by vying for the title in addition to trying to make their mark against the IRC regulars. A national-level rally and an event for historic cars will run behind the main field.

All drivers competing in Pecs will be in contention for the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, which is awarded on all rounds of the IRC to the driver whose performance best embodies the spirit of the rally legend.

THE COMPETITORS

Juho Hanninen heads the Intercontinental Rally Challenge drivers’ standings after seven rounds but with the Canon Mecsek Rallye not forming part of his schedule this season it will leave the Finn’s SKODA Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecky in prime position to move to the top of the drivers’ table.

Kopecky, fresh from his dramatic victory on the previous round in his native Czech Republic, is three points behind Hanninen in the title race and knows that a strong finish will move him to the top of the order at the wheel of his Fabia Super 2000.

Belgian Freddy Loix lost out on victory in Zlin by 1.2s and will be determined to get revenge over his SKODA team-mate. Loix, who competes under the BFO-SKODA Rally Team banner, is 10 points behind Hanninen and a contender for victory in Hungary.

SKODA UK Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen has won more stages in the IRC than other driver this season and will be hoping to convert that pace into his maiden win in the series. Other SKODA drivers in action include Finn Toni Gardemeister, who competes in a Fabia run by his own TGS Worldwide operation, Estonian teenager Karl Kruuda, and Red Bull SKODA driver Hermann Gassner Jr, from Germany, who is switching from the Super 2000 world championship for a one-off appearance in the IRC.

The two-car team from SKODA Auto Deutschland will also be in contention in Hungary after drivers Matthias Kahle and Mark Wallenwein both impressed on the previous IRC round. Norbert Herczig is new to the IRC but the former Mecsek winner could prove a surprise package in his SKODA Rally Team Hungaria entry.

Bryan Bouffier, currently fourth in the IRC standings, heads Peugeot’s challenge in his Peugeot France-backed 207 Super 2000. The Frenchman crashed out in Zlin and will be anxious to get his season back on track in Pecs. Like Bouffier, Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg’s Thierry Neuville is an IRC event-winner this season and will be a threat, as will Peugeot UK’s Guy Wilks.

Peugeot Sport Portugal’s Bruno Magalhaes is back in the IRC after missing round seven in Zlin and will be eager to score well. Janos Toth leads the Hungarian championship and is being supported by Peugeot’s local importer. Italian Marco Tempestini, who lives in Romania and competes under a Romanian licence, is another 207 exponent competing in Pecs.

Sweden’s PG Andersson and Giandomenico Basso, from Italy, will drive the brace of factory PROTON Satria Neo S2000s and will be looking to build on their strong performance in Zlin where they increased the Malaysian make’s manufacturers’ championship points’ total. Leading the M-Sport Ford Fiesta effort in Hungary are Germany’s Felix Herbold and local driver Frigyes Turan, a former Mecsek Rallye winner.

IRC Production Cup
Toshi Arai will make his third start in the new-for-2011 IRC Production Cup aboard his Yokohama-backed R4-specification Subaru Impreza. While the Japanese is regarded as a rapid performer, he will face strong opposition for category honours from several local drivers including Ralliart Lancer pair Gyorgy Aschenbrenner, who competes under the pseudonym ‘ASI’ and Miklos Kazar, currently second in the Hungarian championship chase. Andras Hadik will also be a frontrunner in his Impreza, while Beppo Harrach, from Austria, has previous Mecsek experience in his Lancer.

IRC 2WD Cup
Estonian Martin Kangur and Hungarian Janos Puskadi front Honda’s push for IRC 2WD Cup honours, which will also be a target of class leader Jean-Michael Raoux, Eric Mauffrey and Stefano Albertini, the category winner in Zlin late last month. Raoux holds a 24-point advantage over Albertini following a strong start to his inaugural IRC campaign, despite being better known as a gravel specialist.

THE EXPECTATIONS

PG Andersson (Sweden), PROTON Satria Neo S2000:
“It's good when it's a new rally because none of the IRC drivers has an advantage of the pacenotes or the roads. It makes it more even. I’m also improving my driving on Tarmac and trusting the car more. I can be more on the limit.”

Janos Toth (Hungary), Peugeot 207 S2000:
“It will be an unpredictable race and the weather can make it trickier. I am really excited and expect a nice competition with lots of good foreign IRC drivers. Everybody will be very fast and we have to be good.”

Mark Wallenwein (Germany), SKODA Fabia S2000:
“Now we have done some recent kilometres in the car I’m fresh for Hungary. I feel comfortable in the car and believe we can try to push a little bit more, improve our times and improve our overall position.”

SEEDED ENTRY LIST

Posted: September 2, 2011 3:22 PM

Andreas hungry for more success in Hungary

Posted: September 2, 2011 9:40 AM

Having led the last two rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), Andreas Mikkelsen – statistically the fastest driver in this year’s series, with more stage wins (18) than anyone else – aims to record another great performance in his ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia S2000 when he contests the Mecsek Rallye (9-11 September) in Hungary for the first time.

Co-driven by Ola Fløene, Andreas led on gravel in the Azores before finishing 2nd to Juho Hänninen (ŠKODA Motorsport), while he described his most recent outing on the Barum Czech Rally Zlín as the best performance of his career on asphalt. With the technique and confidence to now drive the Fabia S2000 as fast as even the most recognised asphalt experts, Andreas is quietly confident of continuing from where he left off in the Czech Republic and setting a strong pace in Hungary.

Andreas has never rallied in Hungary before, but as the event is completely new to all the IRC regulars, the 22-year old FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy driver feels this could play into his hands, as he excels at driving at full speed on new roads – courtesy of his natural ability and a detailed pace note system that he and Ola have developed over the past seven years.

The event might be new to Andreas, but several of the ŠKODA UK Motorsport team personnel have contested the Mecsek Rallye in 2009 and ‘10, as the engineering squad also runs a Fabia S2000 for ŠKODA Rally Team Hungaria driver Norbert Herczig in the Hungarian Rally Championship.

ŠKODA has won the Mecsek Rallye four times in the event’s 44 year history; with drivers Václav Pech in a 130RS (1982 and ’83) and Turi Tamás in an Octavia WRC (2004 and ’05). ŠKODA return in force this year, with 10 Fabia S2000s on the entry list. In addition to Andreas and Herczig, other drivers include Jan Kopecký (ŠKODA Motorsport), Freddy Loix (BFO ŠKODA Rally Team) Matthias Kahle and Mark Wallenwein (ŠKODA Auto Deutschland), Hermann Gassner Jr. (Red Bull ŠKODA) and Toni Gardemeister (TGS Worldwide Ou).

Andreas:
“I really like the challenge of a new rally. Ola and I have a very good pace note system and normally we are just as fast the first time through a stage as we are the second. The fact the Mecsek Rallye will be new to all IRC drivers is a good thing for us and should play to our strengths. The team has a lot of experience of rallying in Hungary, and I’m looking forward to getting there to see exactly what the conditions are like for myself. After the pace we had in Barum, I’m sure we will be competitive in Hungary and that the possibilities for a good result are pretty good.”

Pierfrancesco Zanchi, ŠKODA UK Motorsport team manager:
“The nature of Hungarian stages is generally very fast. In some rallies the average speed is 130kph, and the Mecsek Rallye is one of the fastest. We have other fast asphalt rallies in the IRC, like in Zlín and Ypres, but the Mecsek Rallye is unique. The surface is very different and the stages can be open and wide, sometimes like a motorway! It’s sometimes hilly, but no dramatic mountains like in Sanremo for example.”

Based in the city of Pécs, near the border of Croatia in the south-west of Hungary, the Mecsek Rallye begins with a Prologue at 17.00 on Friday 9 September. Recced on foot, the time for this slalom test will not count towards the overall results, but will receive a separate award. A more traditional rally format follows, with a long 14-hour day of competition on Saturday 10 September. Leg 1 starts at 08.00 and contains a loop of four stages, which are all repeated in the afternoon. The day contains the 17.39 mile (28km) Orf? stage, which is the longest of the rally, and doesn’t finish until 22.32, after eight stages totalling 89.76 miles (144.46kms).

Leg 2 takes place on Sunday 11 September. Starting at 08.00, it contains a further six stages (three tackled twice) totalling 66.73 miles (107.40kms). The rally finishes at 16.48 after a total of 14 stages and 156.49 miles (251.86kms)

Eurosport will broadcast edited highlights of the event, so please check TV listings for details.

Huge entry for Hungary’s IRC debut

Posted: September 1, 2011 3:07 PM

More than 100 crews, including 20 IRC regulars and a host of locally-based teams, have entered next week’s Canon Mecsek Rallye, round eight of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and Hungary’s first appearance in the all-action series.

The asphalt event, which takes place in the city of Pecs from 9-11 September, is running for a 45th time this season and has attracted a star-studded entry with several leading Hungarian drivers set to take on the IRC stars over two days of exciting competition.

Bryan Bouffier, currently fourth in the IRC standings, heads Peugeot’s challenge in his Peugeot France-backed 207 Super 2000. Other Peugeot drivers include Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg’s Thierry Neuville, Peugeot UK’s Guy Wilks, Peugeot Sport Portugal’s Bruno Magalhaes and Hungarian championship leader Janos Toth, who is being supported by Peugeot’s Hungarian importer.

SKODA’s line-up includes factory drivers Jan Kopecky and Freddy Loix, privateers Toni Gardemeister and Karl Kruuda, Red Bull SKODA’s Hermann Gassner Jr, the SKODA Auto Deutschland duo Matthias Kahle and Mark Wallenwein, plus Andreas Mikkelsen and Norbert Herczig, who are representing the SKODA importers of United Kingdom and Hungary respectively.

PROTON Motorsports’ will field a brace of factory Satria Neo S2000s for PG Andersson and Giandomenico Basso, while Toshi Arai returns to the IRC to front Subaru’s bid in the IRC Production Cup in his Yokohama-backed Impreza R4 where he will face opposition from several local drivers including Ralliart Lancer pair Gyorgy Aschenbrenner and Miklos Kazar. Leading the M-Sport Ford effort are Germany’s Felix Herbold and local driver Frigyes Turan, a former Mecsek Rallye winner.

Janos Puskadi front’s Honda’s push for IRC 2WD Cup honours, which will also be a target of class leader Jean-Michael Raoux and Stefano Albertini.

The event, a new addition to the IRC for this season, features 14 all-asphalt stages over a competitive distance of 251.86 kilometres. Stages are located in forest areas north of Pecs and run on mainly high-speed roads.

Mecsek Rallye gears up for IRC debut

Posted: August 26, 2011 8:46 AM

Mecsek Rallye organisers are promising competitors and fans a warm welcome when the Intercontinental Rally Challenge heads to Hungary for the first time next month.

Based in the city of Pesc 200 kilometres south of the capital Budapest, the event will take place from 9-11 September as round eight of the 11-event IRC season.

A statement from the organisers said:
“The Mecsek Rallye is the most beloved race of the national championship and in September it will be very special for many reasons. The race celebrating its 45th birthday will also be the most prestigious event ever of national rally sport because we can receive a serious international field the first time.

“Thanks to Formula One races organised in Hungary, the country has become common knowledge of ‘petrolheads’ and this year as the scene of World Touring Car Championship, it also had great success.

“It is believed that we can raise our international reputation in the history of rally competitions as well and we will have the opportunity to introduce Hungary, more accurately Pecs and its outskirts. The town giving home to the centre of the competition was the European Capital of Culture last year and Pecs showed that the world should find worthy of attention. Now, Pecs is going to show a new side to an other target audience, what is more, outside the continent, too.

“In addition to the exciting race, we are going to wait for the dear guests coming here not only with cultural programmes but mainly with great loving and kindness as well.”

Entries Received

Posted: August 12, 2011 12:26 PM

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Magalhaes to bounce back in Hungary

Posted: July 29, 2011 10:57 AM

Peugeot Sport Portugal’s Bruno Magalhaes plans to bounce back from his disappointing exit from Sata Rallye Acores earlier this month when he contests the Mecsek Rallye in Hungary in September.
Magalhaes was in contention for a podium finish on the island rally only for a mechanical failure to force his retirement. The talented 31-year-old also failed to go the distance on the previous round in Ypres when his Peugeot 207 Super 2000 suffered a broken engine.

Although the Lisbon ace was downhearted following his retirement in the Azores, he is hoping for an upturn in fortune when he returns to IRC duty on the Pecs-based asphalt rally – a new addition to the IRC schedule this season – from 9-11 September.

His team boss Carlos Barros said:
“It has been a difficult year but we will not give up. In these moments we all have positive thoughts for the future and we think about that next rally ahead.”

Event Website / Details

Posted: January 2, 1990 3:04 PM






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