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Rally Islas Canarias (Canaries) - 15-17 Mar 12

Posted: March 19, 2012 12:04 PM - 3444 Hits

Round 2 - 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC)

Mikkelsen extends IRC lead with 2nd place result on the Rally Islas Canarias

Posted: March 19, 2012 11:07 AM

ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen has extended his lead in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, after finishing 2nd on the Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés.

Co-driven by Ola Fløene, the IRC champion enjoyed an incredibly close battle with Jan Kopecký (ŠKODA Motorsport), as the two factory-prepared Fabia S2000 drivers set the fastest time on all 15 special stages. Despite driving flat out for more than two hours over the fast and twisty asphalt mountain roads high above the host town of Las Palmas, the gap between the leading two drivers was never more than 5.1 seconds – until an engine misfire on the final stage settled the battle in Kopecký’s favour. Andreas lost over 30 seconds on the final test and dropped to 2nd place – although the ŠKODA duo were still over three minutes ahead of the rest of the field.

The 1-2 result sees ŠKODA score maximum points for the second time this year, increasing its lead at the top of the IRC Manufacturers’ table.

Andreas had identified the Canary Island-based event as one of the most difficult IRC rounds to win, yet, running as car number 1 for the first time in his IRC career, he began by setting fastest time on the opening three stages. After the loop of stages had been repeated, his advantage was 5.1 seconds.

Andreas went into the overnight halt 1.2 seconds behind Kopecký, but regained the lead on Leg 2’s opening stage. A further two fastest times re-established a 4.4 second advantage, before Kopecký fought back on SS13 and 14. Kopecký was just 0.1 seconds quicker on the penultimate stage, despite Andreas running with a misfire for the last 3kms. He and Ola attempted to diagnose the fault before entering the final stage, but had to complete all 16.12kms with a misfire, costing them all hopes of victory. At the final service, the ŠKODA UK Motorsport engineers discovered the problem was a broken injector connector.

“The whole team did such a fantastic job on this rally, so we are very unlucky to pick up a misfire so close to the finish. To finish second and score eighteen points is of course good, but I really wanted to win this rally and so did the team. I improved my driving on Tarmac a lot last year and also during this event, and whilst I’m really disappointed not to have scored my first IRC win on Tarmac here in Gran Canaria, I promise to come back stronger. Hopefully the Circuit of Ireland will be a good rally for us.”

The next round of the IRC is ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s home event, the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally (6-7 April).


Posted: March 19, 2012 10:53 AM

Jan Kopecký has claimed a dramatic final-stage victory on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés after an engine misfire slowed rival Andreas Mikkelsen with his first win in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge on asphalt in his grasp.

Kopecký, in a factory ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, had trailed Mikkelsen’s ŠKODA UK entry by 3.6s starting the final 16.12-kilometre test. But with Mikkelsen losing vital speed due to a broken injector connector, he was powerless to defend his advantage as Czech Kopecký raced to his first victory in the IRC this season and his second on Gran Canaria following his maiden triumph in 2010.

Mikkelsen, from Norway, had to settle for the runner-up spot, 28.3s behind Kopecký, but extends his lead in the IRC drivers’ standings, while ŠKODA, now unbeaten on this event for the three years, claims maximum IRC manufacturers’ points for the second time this season.

Luis Monzón was the top Peugeot finisher in third with Joan Vinyes clinching IRC 2WD Cup honours for the second year in a row in an impressive sixth overall. Monzón was selected as the winner of the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, which goes to the driver whose performance best embodies the spirit of the rally legend on each round of the IRC. In the IRC Production Cup, Robert Consani bagged his and Renault’s first category win ahead of Marco Tempestini’s Subaru Impreza.

“We were pushing quite much on the last three stages and finally Andreas had some problems with the car,” said Kopecký. “I must say I don’t feel so happy because I wanted to beat him in a fight. But this is what can happen in rallying so thanks to ŠKODA because they gave us an opportunity to be here and thanks to my new co-driver Pavel Dresler because today he improved himself a lot and did a great job.”

A dejected Mikkelsen, who led after all but two stages of the 15-stage rally, said:
“The car started misfiring three kilometres from the end of the penultimate stage. We tried to make some repairs but there was nothing we could do. There was no power at all – we were just hoping we could get through the stage. It’s so disappointing this happens when we think we’re going to win.”

Luis Monzón was the top Peugeot finisher and the leading Spaniard in an impressive third overall with Sepp Wiegand a fine fourth on his Canarias debut for ŠKODA Auto Deutschland. Monzón hadn’t driven a Super 2000-specification car until this week but shrugged off his lack of recent experience to produce a faultless drive.

With fourth-place all but secured following Hermann Gassner Jr’s crash on Saturday’s first stage, Wiegand spent the afternoon experimenting with different car set ups ahead of the upcoming asphalt rallies in Northern Ireland and Corsica. It was the second event in a row that the 21-year-old German has finished fourth, thereby underlining his huge potential.

Spaniard Jonathan Perez took fifth in another Peugeot 207 with Joan Vinyes winning the IRC 2WD Cup for the second year in a row in sixth position, closely followed by Gorka Antxustegui and Honda driver Angel Marrero. With Vinyes and Antxustegi not eligible for overall IRC points, Marrero collects sixth-placed points.

Hungary’s Janós Puskádi, competing in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000 for the first time, impressed on his way to ninth overall and seventh-placed points. Skydive Dubai Rally Team’s Rashid Al-Ketbi finished 10th to bag four IRC points with Honda driver Germán Hernandez and Renault’s Robert Consani rounding out the IRC point scorers.

IRC Production Cup
Young French driver Robert Consani secured IRC Production Cup honours for the first time in his Renault Mégane RS, despite completing the final stage and subsequent road section to the finish in Las Palmas with the car’s gearbox oil supply depleted.

Partnered by new co-driver Nicolas Klinger for the first time, Consani drove without error throughout the event to head Romania-based Italian Marco Tempestini, whose Subaru Impreza R4 STI repeatedly lost its brakes nearing the ends of stages.

Joan Vinyes once again excelled in the IRC 2WD Cup, while his Suzuki Motor Iberica team-mate Gorka Antxustegui was fastest in class on four stages today as Vinyes eased his pace. Angel Marrero impressed in third and reported that his Honda Civic Type R ran without fault. Germán Hernandez finished fourth in another Honda to put the Japanese make top of the IRC 2WD Cup manufacturers’ standings with Robert Consani fifth.

Harry Hunt had been on course for fifth in his Citroën DS3 R3T only for the car’s engine to cut out two kilometres from the finish of the final stage. And it would get worse for the former IRC 2WD Cup champion when a broken fuel injector meant he was unable to reach the finish, handing what became sixth position in the category to Yeray Lemes in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2. Bulgarian Ekaterina Stratieva just missed out on a point at the start of her IRC 2WD Cup campaign.


Posted: March 19, 2012 10:46 AM

1. Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) 2hrs 21mins 46.5secs
2. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) +28.3secs
3. Luis Monzón/Jose C. Deniz (Peugeot 207 S2000) +3mins 13.6secs
4. Sepp Wiegand/Timo Gottschalk (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) +4mins 32.0secs
5. Jonathan Perez/Enrique Velasco (Peugeot 207 S2000) +7mins 00.3secs
6. Joan Vinyes/Jordi Mercader (Suzuki Swift S1600) +9mins 00.3secs
7. Gorka Antxustegi/Gabriel Suárez (Suzuki Swift S1600) +9mins 18.9secs
8. Angel Marrero/Victor Marrero (Honda Civic Type R) 11mins 27.4secs
9. János Puskádi/Barna Godor (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) +12mins 03.3secs
10. Rashid Al Ketbi/ Khalid Al Kendi (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) +14mins 43.2secs

Seeded Entry List

Posted: March 13, 2012 11:06 AM

Gran Canarias podium would please Mikkelsen

Posted: March 9, 2012 1:58 PM

ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen believes that a podium finish on the forthcoming Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés (15-17 March) would be another significant step in the defence of his Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) drivers’ title, after his recent victory on the opening round in the Azores.

The Canary Island-based event is the first asphalt rally of the season, and Andreas and co-driver Ola Fløene have only contested it once before – finishing a trouble-free 6th last year and scoring valuable points towards their IRC titles.

Not only has Andreas got experience of the fast and snaking mountain roads above the host city of Las Palmas, he is now just at home competing on asphalt as he is on gravel rallies, thanks to fine tuning a smoother driving technique. Some of Andreas’ development work has included endurance races at the Nürburgring, and it’s been his ability to adapt these circuit skills to the special stage that has helped him lead three asphalt rallies last year – the Mecsek Rallye (Hungary), Barum Czech Rally Zlín and Rallye Sanremo (Italy).

Round 2 of this year’s IRC has received a strong entry, with 11 Super 2000 cars in the starting line up – including the ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia S2000 of Jan Kopecký. The event also sees the leading competitors from the FIA European Rally Cup (South-West) and Spanish, Canarian and Las Palmas Provincial Rally Championships.

“I enjoyed the rally in Gran Canarias last year. We went there to learn the stages and get a solid result, and that’s what we achieved. I’m a much stronger driver on Tarmac now, so we want to be faster for sure, but we also want to finish and score points.

“Being the first driver to win three consecutive IRC rallies is a nice feeling, but it will be hard to keep it going on Gran Canarias because it’s a tough event. It’s the first rally of the year on Tarmac and there are a lot of very fast Tarmac drivers, so if I get a podium I will be very happy with that.”

The 36th Rally Islas Canarias Trofeo El Corte Inglés begins with a ceremonial start at the Parque Santa Catalina, in the heart of Las Palmas, at 20.30 on Thursday 15 March. Leg 1 starts at 07.00 on Friday 16 March and contains nine special stages, including two runs over Artenara (SS2/5) which, at 15.32 miles (24.67kms), is the longest stage of the event, plus a quick blast around the Gran Karting Club track. After 86.61 miles (139.4kms) is completed, the tough opening day comes to an end more than 12 hours after it began.

Leg 2 on Saturday 17 March starts at 09.00 and contains a 31.54 mile (50.76kms) loop of three stages, which is repeated in the afternoon. After all 15 stages and an overall competitive distance of 149.7 miles (240.92kms) are completed, the rally finishes back in Las Palmas at 18.00.


Posted: March 9, 2012 1:23 PM

The race for the 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge crown is showing no signs of slowing down. Fresh from the thrilling season-opening SATA Rallye Açores last month, crews now head to the island of Gran Canaria for the first asphalt event of the year, Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés.

A counting round of the IRC since 2010, the rally has undergone significant change for this season with an expanded route increasing the overall competitive distance by some 50 kilometres and adding a further three stages to the itinerary.

While the two night stages that provided a huge test in 2011 no longer appear on the schedule, the rally will continue to create a major challenge with six of the 15 stages more than 20 kilometres in length.

In contrast the Gran Canaria stage measures just 1.50 kilometres. The test is based at Gran Canaria’s karting club and proved a big hit with fans last year on its return to the itinerary following several years away. It will be dusk when the stage begins on Friday to signal the end of the opening day’s action.

With the stages frequently climbing and descending, drivers have to pay close attention to the speed they carry and the line they take for each corner to ensure optimal momentum is maintained at all times. That also makes precise car set-up and pacenote accuracy vital.

One of the other notable features of the stages is the abrasive surface, which is partly constructed from volcanic lava. It means grip levels are high and in the event of rain will remain constant, although tyre wear can be at a premium as a result. However, because there is little opportunity to take ‘cuts’ through corners, the road surface remains relatively clean and consistent and the risk of punctures is reduced.

· Stage lengths vary: Gran Canaria is 1.5 kilometres in length while Artenara is almost 25 kilometres.
· Defending IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen has never won an IRC round on asphalt before.
· Fourteen different nationalities are represented on the entry list.
· Gran Canaria, 100 kilometres off the coast of Morocco, is the third largest of seven Canary Islands.
· IRC 2WD Cup favourite Joan Vinyes is a former hillclimb ace in his native Andorra.

Defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Andreas Mikkelsen will be among the favourites for first place on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés. Although his three IRC wins to date have come on gravel-based rallies, the ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver has become a formidable force on Tarmac.

Asphalt is also the surface on which Jan Kopecký excels. After missing out on an Açores’ entry, the Czech ace will be anxious to make up lost ground in the title battle in his ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia.
ŠKODA Auto Deutschland’s Sepp Wiegand shone on his IRC debut in the Açores last month, finishing fourth overall following a close battle with fellow German Fabia driver Hermann Gassner Jr of the Red Bull Team. Both rising talents will be competing in Canarias for the first time. Another ŠKODA driver capable of a strong result is Spanish privateer Alberto Hevia, an event regular.

Oleksandr Saliuk and Oleksii Tamrazov front Dream Team Ukraine’s challenge in their M-Sport Ford Fiesta S200s, while Hungarian Janós Puskádi will start his first IRC event in a Fabia S2000 having impressed in the IRC 2WD Cup in the past. Rashid Al-Ketbi will continue his IRC acclimatisation in this Skydive Dubai Rally Team Fabia on a rare outing on asphalt.

Luis Monzón will combine his role as event promoter with driving a Peugeot 207 S2000. Jonathan Perez will also pilot one of the French machines and will be hoping to build on his starting position of 12th.

IRC Production Cup
Following his dominant class victory on his home event, SATA Rallye Açores, last month Ricardo Moura will be bidding to make it two wins in a row at the wheel of his Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer. However, Romania’s Marco Tempestini will have other ideas as he bids to make up for his early exit in Açores in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI. Meanwhile, fellow Subaru representative José L Barrios and Lancer pilot Armide Martin both have plenty of event knowledge to call on.

Joan Vinyes and Suzuki Motor Iberica team-mate Gorka Antxustegi are expected to head the battle for IRC 2WD Cup honours once again following their one-two finish in Canarias in 2011. But they will face strong opposition from Honda Civic driver Angel Marrero and Yeray Lemes (M-Sport Ford Fiesta).

After they both failed to finish the season-opener in Açores, Robert Consani and Harry Hunt will be aiming to bounce back with strong results in Canarias. While Hunt, the 2010 IRC 2WD Cup champion, scored points on the event last season, Consani is a Canarias newcomer. He’s also switching from the Renault Clio he used in Açores to a Renault Mégane RS. Elsewhere, Bulgarian lady driver Ekaterina Stratieva begins her 2012 IRC 2WD Cup campaign in Canarias.

The winner for ŠKODA Motorsport in 2010 on his prospects of victory number two

This will be your first start of the season in the IRC. Are you ready?
“I hope so. I’ve been testing for two days near Alicante in Spain on roads that were quite similar to Canarias with lots of grip. I’ve also been doing at least two hours running or in the gym each day.”

How much of a boost do you get from the fact you’ve won this event before?
“I won two years ago but last year I lost by 1.5s and maybe that cost me the championship! I like the rally because it’s on nice Tarmac with high grip. The stages are interesting to drive on and the weather is often stable.”

You said a lack of precision with your pacenotes slowed you down on the rally last year. Are you confident this won’t happen again?
“Last year we changed the pacenotes a lot and there was one section we didn’t get right. This year I will concentrate much harder in the recce.”

Did you follow SATA Rallye Açores and what did you think of Andreas Mikkelsen’s performance?
“I did and it was a little bit a crazy feeling for me being at home when there was a rally going on because last year I was quite quick there. Andreas did a great job with no mistakes. One mistake for Juho [Hänninen] cost him the rally I think.”

How confident are you that you can win the rally?
“Of course I can win but it won’t be easy. Andreas will be very quick and he’s taken a big step forward on Tarmac. Firstly I need to get the best result for ŠKODA without taking any big risks. I don’t take any pressure. I love this sport and I love being in my ŠKODA rally car.”

Event Website / Details

Posted: February 22, 2012 11:47 AM

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