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Monte Carlo - 21-24 Jan 09

Posted: February 2, 2009 11:59 AM - 12785 Hits

Round 1 - 2009 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC)

  • Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia win Monte Carlo


Posted: February 2, 2009 11:59 AM

Juho Hanninen believes Skoda's Fabia Super 2000 can only improve following its impressive debut on the Monte Carlo Rally last week.

The Czech manufacturer is embarking on a six-event programme of Intercontinental Rally Challenge events this season and came close to winning on its first appearance in the series on the challenging rally.

Finnish driver Hanninen had opened up a lead of more than 90 seconds on the opening day but was slowed by a puncture before he crashed out in his efforts to make up for lost time. His team-mate Jan Kopecky finished fourth after being slowed by a power-steering failure on the opening day.

"Everything was going my way until Friday morning," the 27-year-old said. "I was surprised how fast I was able to go but the technicians did an excellent job and the car was working perfectly. Our tyre choices were very good, too, mainly thanks to my safety crew, who gave me very good information.

"I am sorry to have been too fast when I had my accident. I simply pushed too hard, as I wanted to make up for the one minute I lost when I had my puncture. It's a pity because the team has done a fantastic job here. However, a lot of hard work is still ahead of us but I believe that the car's future results will be very good and that this event has shown its great potential."

Hanninen added the close competition in the IRC would make it hard for his Skoda team to establish itself its first season running the Fabia Super 2000.


Posted: February 2, 2009 11:58 AM

Frederic Henry-Biabaud, the competition director of tyre firm BFGoodrich, believes the company's investment in the BFGoodrich Drivers' Team programme has been vindicated following Sebastien Ogier's victory on the Monte Carlo Rally last week.

A panel of 16 French journalists selected Ogier from a short-list of five drivers, who had been whittled down from 75 applications received from French and Monegasque pilots.

This is the second season BFGoodrich has supported the scheme and Henry-Biabaud said he was very satisfied following Ogier's win at the wheel of a Kronos Racing-prepared Peugeot 207.

"This result says so much for the magic of the BFGoodrich Drivers' Team operation," he said. "Sébastien Ogier ended up winning the most famous rally of them all. Opportunities rarely get more magical than that."

"Barely two weeks ago, Sebastien's hopes of taking part in the Monte were little more than a dream. However, after receiving the majority of the votes cast by a panel of 16 French journalists in Paris earlier this month, he has gone on to win this extraordinary rally at his first attempt."

"Today's win is a tremendous success for the BFGoodrich Drivers' Team programme which is really proving to be the human adventure we intended it to be when it was introduced. The scheme's sixth outing since its launch at the beginning of 2008 has provided us with just the result we had been hoping for: outright victory."

The next event on the BFGoodrich Drivers' Team schedule will be the Belgium Ypres Westhoek Rally from June 19-20.


Posted: January 29, 2009 11:34 AM


Eurosport Events, the promoter of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge is delighted to announce outstanding viewing figures from the Monte Carlo Rally, the opening round of the 2009 IRC series.

A cumulative reach of seven million* different viewers tuned in to Eurosport to watch the 77th Monte Carlo Rally, which was broadcast on a live basis from the stages - a first in the history of rallying.

Over the three days of the competition, a total of seven stages were shown live, including uninterrupted coverage from the last four stages, the legendary "Col de Turini" night tests.

In order to deliver this highly challenging live TV production, Eurosport Events used 10 on-board cameras and several fixed on-site cameras as well as one on a helicopter overflying the route. These multiple camera signals were relayed live through a combination of light aircraft and satellite.

In total, more than six hours of coverage were broadcast on both Eurosport and Eurosport 2 throughout the Monte Carlo Rally, which is well-known as the oldest and most prestigious rally in the history of the sport.

Géraldine Filiol, Managing Director of Eurosport Events, commented: "We are very happy with our landmark live coverage of this epic event, which marks a world premiere in the way that the sport of rallying is broadcast. We are also delighted that over seven million television viewers caught up with the live action on Eurosport, in addition to the many thousands of fans who joined the action on-site. These unprecedented figures reinforce the appeal of the IRC to a global television audience. It also confirms the value of the IRC, which intends to bring rallying closer to the fans through innovative and dynamic television coverage. I'd like to thank the Automobile Club de Monaco for a great partnership, enabling such a historic operation. We look forward to continuing our development and innovative approach over the rest of the season."

The IRC will continue to break new ground by visiting South America for the first time, as the second round of the series will take place in Brazil with the Rally Internacional de Curitiba from March 5 to 7. This event will run alongside Brazil's World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) round, held at the same venue and also promoted by Eurosport Events.

*source: AGF/GFK, SKO, BARB, TNS Global, MMS, AGB Nielsen Media Research, TNS Gallup, ARMA/GFK Romania

Posted: January 26, 2009 4:21 PM

Photo: IRC

Kris Meeke Reports & Video Clips

Posted: January 25, 2009 11:06 PM


Posted: January 25, 2009 11:01 PM

The Škoda Motorsport factory team presented two Fabia Super 2000 racing cars at this season' s first IRC event, entering a new stage of their Fabia Super 2000 project after nearly two years of development work. Driven by Finns Juho Hänninen and Mikko Markkula and Czechs Jan Kopecký and Petr Starý, respectively, the cars had to cope with challenging conditions including rough weather and have shown that Škoda Motorsport has developed a competitive racing car. The results and performances put in by both drivers, especially over the first two days of the event, are considered very positive and beneficial for further work on the Fabia Super 2000 project.

Finland's Juho Hänninen was first after the first day, Jan Kopecký, despite technical problems in the first speed test, quickly fought his way up from the 24th place after that test to finish tenth in the end.

On Day 2 the event moved to snow-covered roads near Valence where both Škodas did well again, coming first in four speed tests of altogether six - Juho Hänninen three times and Jan Kopecký once. Moreover, when Jan finished second after his team-mate in one of the tests, the team was applauded by fans for achieving a “double“. However, the Finn had back luck in the last speed test of that day, falling down to the third place after one of his tyres got punctured. Continuing his way up, Jan Kopecký finished seventh.

The final part of the event brought the teams back to Monte Carlo. Although Juho Hänninen had to give up after an accident, he has shown that his experience is a great asset for Škoda Motorsport and that he is a good choice for the Fabia Super 2000 vehicle and the entire team. His performance at Stage 2, including three speed test wins, drew massive attention from both fans and media. Continuing his catch-up mission, Jan Kopecký put in another good performance and finished fourth in the total rankings.

Commenting on the factory team's Monte Carlo Rally performance, Head of Škoda Motorsport Michal Hrabánek said: “In the first place, we are glad to have successfully completed this important stage of our vehicle development project and opened the door to a new one. The Fabia Super 2000 project is running on two complementary levels, racing and sales. We have certainly made a competitive car that is prepared to compete with the best in its class, and I also consider the team's performance at this year's Monte Carlo Rally good. I daresay we have shown our strength, but there's still a lot of work ahead of us and we have to work as hard and efficiently as we have been working so far and never lose respect for our competitors. I wish to thank all of the team members, i.e., the crews, mechanics, engineers and other people involved for excellent teamwork, and believe that this Monte Carlo premiere will motivate all of them to continue working hard. I also believe that we have done a great job in terms of promoting the Škoda brand. Our further racing agenda will depend on detailed analysis of the Monte Carlo Rally performance, but our plan to take part in a further five events of the 2009 IRC series remains unchanged for the time being.”

Summarising the whole competition, Juho Hänninen said: “Everything was going my way until Friday morning. I was surprised how fast I was able to go - the technicians did an excellent job and the car was working perfectly. Our tyre choices were very good, too, mainly thanks to my “on-track spies”. I believe that the car's future results will be very good and that this event has shown its great potential. However, a lot of hard work is still ahead of us. I am sorry to have been too fast in Friday's speed test, I simply pushed it too hard as I wanted to make up for my one-minute loss. It's a pity, as the entire team has done a fantastic job here.”

Finishing fourth in the total rankings and getting five points in the driver competition, Jan Kopecký was more than happy: “The Fabia Super 2000 has shown how fast it is, and it's apparent that the direction we have set is good. All the kilometres done in last year's tests are an important factor behind this success. I wish to thank the whole team and the Škoda company for helping us move this project ahead, as well as the Czech fans along the roads for supporting us loudly.“


Posted: January 25, 2009 10:43 PM

Reigning Junior World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier has won the 77th Monte Carlo Rally for the BFGoodrich Drivers' Team: the first time that the programme - which chooses a different local driver from the five rounds of the IRC on which it operates - has resulted in a rally winner.

Peugeot Belgium's Freddy Loix - the runner-up on last year's IRC series - got his 2009 campaign off to a solid start by finishing in a fault-free second on the Monte Carlo Rally, ahead of the Peugeot Total 207 S2000 entry driven by Le Mans star Stephane Sarrazin. Thanks to a magical atmosphere, challenging stages and typical weather, this year's Monte Carlo Rally well and truly lived up to its reputation as the oldest and most prestigious event in the sport.

Despite having no experience of Super 2000 machinery prior to a short test before his very first Monte Carlo Rally, Ogier took the lead at the end of the second day following a puncture for former rally leader Juho Hanninen. The Finn gave Skoda's new Fabia S2000 a spectacular IRC competition debut by claiming the lead on the opening morning, which he extended to more than a minute and a half before SS9: the final stage of day two. Hanninen then picked up a front puncture just five kilometres into the stage but chose to drive to the end, losing two minutes and dropping to third. He was confident that he could make the time back up, but crashed out on the very first corner of SS10: the first stage of Friday.

The same stage also claimed Irishman Kris Meeke, making his IRC debut along with Peugeot UK. Having set fastest time on SS3, the Irishman dropped around a minute on the second day with a puncture sustained after hitting a hole. On Friday morning though he lost control of his 207 S2000 after it slid onto a patch of slush. The car left the road in fifth gear and rolled five times, demolishing part of a bridge, but both Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle emerged uninjured. A dramatic early retirement was that of Peugeot Belgium driver and reigning IRC champion Nicolas Vouilloz, who broke a steering arm on SS7 after a small impact.

As always, tyre choice was the key to the Monte Carlo Rally. With most stages containing a very wide variety of conditions it was normally a question of just finding the best compromise. One of the best examples was the final four stages through the Col de Turini this evening, which formed a dramatical climax to the 77th Monte Carlo Rally. Peugeot driver Stephane Sarrazin, who ran as high as second overall on the opening day, lost more than five minutes with an off on SS4: the opening stage of Thursday. Nonetheless, he steadily recovered throughout the remainder of the event to climb up the order.

The Frenchman gambled on his choice of tyres for the first loop of Col de Turini stages, selecting normal rain tyres instead of the snow tyres favoured by most people. This enabled him to claim third place by just one second from the other factory Skoda of Jan Kopecky, which performed strongly despite intermittent power steering problems. A storming run on the penultimate stage of the rally enabled him to claim fastest time by half a minute from Kopecky and seal his podium place. World rally star Toni Gardemeister - who has twice finished second in Monte Carlo - was set for second place until the alternator broke on his privateer Abarth Grande Punto with only three stages to go.

The factory Abarth team of Giandomenico Basso, Anton Alen and Luca Rossetti suffered mixed fortunes. Rossetti was out on the very first stage after sliding into a snowbank. The same fate awaited the 1994 World Rally Champion Didier Auriol, who put his privateer Peugeot off within metres of Rossetti.

The IRC 2WD Cup was comfortably won by Fiat Punto S1600 driver Manuel Villa


Posted: January 25, 2009 10:40 PM

1 Ogier/Ingrassia (Peugeot 207 S2000)     4h40m45.7s
2 Loix/Smets (Peugeot 207 S2000)     +1m43.6s
3 Sarrazin/Renucci (Peugeot 207 S2000)     +2m21.6s
4 Kopecky/Stary (Skoda Fabia S2000)     +3m17.3s
5 Basso/Dotta (Abarth Grande Punto S2000)     +4m28.0s
6 Romeyer/Fournel (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)     +20m30.0s
7 Burri/Gordon (Abarth Grande Punto S2000)     +21m23.0s
8 Artru/Virieux (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)    +9m51.4s

Results & News:

Video Clips from Meeke & Ogier testing

Posted: January 20, 2009 12:04 PM

Sebastien Ogier selected for BF Goodrich 207

Posted: January 14, 2009 4:05 PM

Sebastien Ogier will drive the BF Goodrich supported Peugoet 207 S2000 in Monte Carlo. (Car No 9)

Kris Meeke & Paul Nagle seeded at 12

Posted: January 14, 2009 3:47 PM

The entry list for the 2009 Monte Carlo Rally has been published, with Kris Meeke & Paul Nagle in the Peugeot UK Super 2000 car seeded 12th on the event. Kris will depart for Monte on Sunday 11th January in preparation for the recce, and ends next week with his first test in the car. The event, based at Monte Carlo, runs from Wednesday 21st  to Saturday 24th January 2009.

Kris is looking forward to driving to car for the first time next week:
"I've never driven the Peugoet S2000 machine in competition before. You have to be quite assertive with them, and I think that this should suit my driving style. But I go into the championship with a lot less experience of the cars and events compared to some of the other drivers so I plan to look at the bigger picture -- the championship."

Monte Carlo-classic for Franz Wittmann as start of international school

Posted: January 14, 2009 3:45 PM

The Interwetten Racing Team confirms seven of eight rallies in the IRC series

For Franz Wittmann, a new era in his rally career has already begun. Since Monday the 25-year-old Lower Austrian and his co-driver Bernhard Ettel are inspecting the special stages of the legendary Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo, where the 77th edition will commence on January 21 at 7.30. At the same time this marks the start of the IRC series, the second-highest ranking series in the rally circus after the World Rally Championship.

Yet, to Wittmann, this milestone is the beginning of an intensive year of learning, for, with the exception of the WRC-run in Sweden in 2004, the Austrian Vice-National-Champion is still inexperienced internationally. Even more so since the starting list at the classic in the French Maritime Alps can boast of several impressive names. From three-times Monte winner Didier Auriol (Fra) over IRC Champion Nicolas Vouilloz (Fra), WRC-old hand Toni Gardemeister (Fin) to up-and-coming rally youngster Sebastien Ogier (Fra) no less than 17 drivers will compete on S2000 cars. But Wittmann is not afraid of big names and puts the focus on his own goals:

“We are steering a straight course and won’t deviate from it. Obviously the teams with S2000 cars will be dominating. But our Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX by Stohl-Racing is a very reliable car which carried us to the title of Vice-Champion in the National Austrian Championship. Our goal, as mentioned many times, is to learn by each completed kilometer to assert ourselves in international rallying. Therefore the performance is what counts rather than the place in the end.”

For this schedule Franz Wittmann has found a very understanding partner in Interwetten. CEO Mag. Thomas Daubek confirms that the main focus is on the development and evolution of Wittmann:

“It was our definite decision to support a young driver. Franz Wittmann fits our brand and we want to accompany him on this way even if we can’t expect victories at the beginning. Franz shall have the opportunity to get acquainted with this motor sports series and move up to the top step by step.”

Since the final timetable for the IRC series was only announced last weekend Interwetten Racing has finalised seven of eight runs so far. Beside the beginning in Monte Carlo these are the Rally Acores (Portugal), the Ypres Rally (Belgium), the Barum Rally (Czech Republic), the Rally Asturias (Spain), the Rally Sanremo (Italy) and the season’s finale in Scotland. The eighth run will be decided between the Rally Russia and the Rali Madeira (Portugal).

Wittmann: “This is a real challenge that I’m looking forward to. I will prepare very carefully for each run. I know that this season is not only a year of learning but also will be quite decisive for my future career. For I, of course, owe it to my partner Interwetten to present myself both professionally and successfully.”

Franz Wittmann’s aim for the Monte Carlo Rallye is the first place behind the S2000 teams even though the group of Mitsubishis and Subarus will prove to be strong competition. But the Lower Austrian has already shown that he can very well deal with difficult surface conditions at the National Austrian Championship finale in the Waldviertel. Conditions that can surely be expected at the “Monte”.

The “77th Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo 2009” will commence on January 21 at 7.30 in Monte Carlo. Until the crossing of the finishing line on January 24 at 1.20 in the morning 14 special stages with a length of 362,25 kilometres are scheduled. The overall length measures 1.624,74 kilometres since the rally leads from Monaco to the almost 400 kilometres distant Valence. The obvious highlight of the rally will be the comeback of the “Night of the Long Knives”. From Friday to Saturday the special stage “Col de Braus – la Bollene Vesubie”, better known as Col de Turini, and “Lantosque – Luceram” will be completed twice.

Entry List

Posted: January 9, 2009 12:53 PM

Vouilloz, Meeke, Gardemeister, Sarrazin, Auriol, Basso for this year's Monte Carlo Rally

Posted: January 5, 2009 1:35 AM

Reigning IRC champion Nicolas Vouilloz, will be joined by Toni Gardemeister, Stephane Sarrazin, Didier Auriol, Giandomenico Basso, and Kris Meeke for this year's Monte Carlo Rally.

Event Website / Details

Posted: December 9, 2008 11:54 AM

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