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Yalta Rally (Ukraine) - 2-4 Jun 11

Posted: June 10, 2011 11:43 AM - 5213 Hits

Round 4 - 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC)

PROTON Motorsports Review

Posted: June 10, 2011 11:43 AM

PROTON Motorsports emerged from the PRIME Yalta Rally with Ukrainian sporting heroes Oleksandr Saliuk Sr and Evgen Chervonenko on the podium in the latest round of the Ukrainian National Rally Championship, which finished yesterday.

Saliuk and Chervonenko had won the USSR Rally Championship title together 20 years earlier and, when Saliuk’s son broke his arm and was unable to take the start, Oleksandr wasted no time in asking his former co-driver to join him in a third factory PROTON Satria Neo S2000. This resurgence of one of the most fondly remember rallying partnerships caught the imagination of a nation and brought close to 250,000 fans to the Crimean coastline to cheer them on.

Saliuk didn’t put a wheel out of place as he raced through the sun-drenched and hugely entertaining Ai-Petri Mountain stages. Such was his performance, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych visited the PROTON Motorsports service area to meet representatives from the Malaysian manufacturer and members of the team. Yanukovych spent half an hour with the team, talking through various aspects of the sport and the rally.

The other two factory Satria Neo S2000s were driven by PROTON’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge regulars, P-G Andersson (Sweden) and Giandomenico Basso (Italy). Both had enjoyed a fruitful three-day test prior to the start of this fourth IRC round of the season – and the results of that test were clear to see. Both cars were running inside the top 10, with Basso up to fifth, and posting competitive times.

Unfortunately a puncture cost Andersson time on the fourth stage, with a similar issue hampering Basso one stage later, following a power steering problem. With those problem solved, the cars were soon back up to speed. Unfortunately, both cars hit engine trouble and retired on Friday.

While the IRC result might not have been the one the team had started the event aiming for, the PRIME Yalta Rally was an undoubted commercial success for the PROTON team. Beyond the sporting side of the event, the Malaysian manufacturer arrived on the shores of the Black Sea chasing recognition from the local fans. And PROTON Motorsports certainly did that. The Satria Neo S2000s were scarcely off the television screens or out of the sports sections of the newspapers. A further nod to the relationship developed between PROTON and the Ukraine came from the merchandise sales being completely unable to keep up with demand.

By Saturday afternoon, the yellow shirts of PROTON appeared to line this section of the Crimean coastline.

Oleksandr Saliuk Sr said:
“I have really enjoyed competing on this rally and working in the car with Evgen again. The car was very enjoyable to drive and it was great to see so many people out watching the rally at the side of the road – and to see so many people visiting our country and having such a good time. The atmosphere around the rally was really enjoyable and to come away with third place in our national championship was very satisfying.”

Giandomenico Basso said:
“This was a very difficult rally. All the time it was bumpy, bumpy and slippery. Some of the roads were going in and out of the forests and when we were under the trees, we didn’t know what was the grip going to be like: sometimes it would be okay, sometimes, there would be no grip at all. It was really hard to read the road. I would say this was quite an extreme asphalt rally, a real challenge. I was happy with where we were running: fifth place was nice and, at that point, we weren’t having any problems. In the third and fourth stages, the car felt very good, we could go quicker, everything was working. All the work the team had done on the car, you could feel it in those stages, but then we lost the power steering in the fifth stage, then got the puncture. It was not so nice, we could have made the good result here. But I am happy for the way the car was feeling before the trouble, the team is in the right way for the next event.”

P-G Andersson said:
“The handling and suspension of the car is so much better, we are definitely getting somewhere with the car. It’s always tough to retire from a rally, but we felt good at the start of this one. Like I thought, the stages were quite similar to what I had experienced in Bulgaria last year, with lots of mixed levels of grip. It wasn’t an easy rally at all. There were earth banks at the side of the road and, after it had rained a lot during the night, you could find some sections of mud where the rain had run out of the bank – these were really slippery. It was a tough rally, but there were lots of people out watching and plenty of them wearing the yellow of PROTON which was nice to see. We focus our attentions on Ypres next.”

Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood (Head of PROTON Motorsports) said:
“We came here with the single objective of establishing the PROTON branding which was previously unheard of in the Ukraine. PROTON put up such a strong challenge against the more established European brands that we were pleasantly surprised to find every Ukrainian rally fan talking about the brand. There was further evidence of this in the enormous attention we received at the service park where almost all of our PROTON Motorsports merchandise and team t-shirts were snapped up by our new-found fans! Overall, the team had put up such an incredible performance with [Giandomenico] Basso running as high as fifth overall before mechanical problems put a serious dent on our aspirations. On the back of these unfortunate circumstances, we achieved our objectives of creating a very high awareness for PROTON and making it a desirable brand in the Ukraine.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“Firstly, I have to say what a huge honour it was to receive the Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in our service area during this event. He was a knowledgeable, interested and very welcome guest.
“This was a rally of highs and lows for us. Obviously, it was great to get Oleksandr and Evgen through and to see them finishing third in the Ukrainian Championship round. It was incredible to have these two legends of rallying in this part of the world in a PROTON for what has been the biggest rally their country has staged. Not only did they acquit themselves extremely well, but they also fired the imagination of the national media. I’ve never seen such complete coverage of a rally from both broadcast and print media. We have been made extremely welcome by the people of Ukraine and we’ve enjoyed the event. Obviously, we didn’t come away with the result we were hoping for from P-G [Andersson] and Giandomenico [Basso], but the silver lining here is the times both cars set. Clearly we’re getting there and we are very close to the competition now. Giandomenico was running fifth and might have had a look at fourth had we avoided the issues which stopped him. We’ve got some tweaks to make for the asphalt, so we’ll be back stronger and faster for Ypres.”


Posted: June 9, 2011 11:58 AM

Guy and Phil had the pace that should have been rewarded with a podium finish only to have it taken away from them, after picking up two punctures on the second day.

Day One of the Prime Yalta rally was a perfect start for the Peugeot UK Team. Guy and Phil set the third fastest time on the first stage and then posted the fastest time on the second stage to make it a Peugeot one and two at the end of the day’s rallying.

Just one tenth of a second separated Phil and Guy from the lead position as they started the second day. Overnight rain, however, made the stages very treacherous and it was necessary to strike a fine balance between the need to be competitive and the necessity not to make any mistakes.

A safe run through the second day’s first stage saw Guy and Phil set the fourth fastest time maintaining their second position overall. A fast run through the next stage looked like they would move into the lead, until they picked up a rear puncture and lost the tyre off the wheel. They lost over 40 seconds and dropped down to sixth place overall. With tyres replaced they attacked the next stages and fought their way back up the leader board to within 3.2 seconds of third place as they entered the day’s final stage.

“We were driving through a sixth-gear left-hander in the woods, about eight kilometres into the stage, when I suddenly felt an impact via the steering wheel,” commented Guy. “The tyre deflated instantly and we had no choice but to stop in the stage and change the wheel.” The puncture and wheel change cost over two minutes in lost time and dropped Phil and Guy down to fifth place overall.

With a gap of 2m 49 seconds to the leader and only six stages to run on the final day there was now no chance of victory. Instead Guy and Phil started the final day in an unenviable position, too far behind to attack for fourth place following the two punctures, but clear of the chasing pack. Therefore, Guy was now faced with the challenge of finding a comfortable pace to maintain his position whilst making no mistakes.

A well controlled drive saw the Peugeot UK 207 S2000 maintain its fifth place overall but, Guy and Phil should have been challenging for overall victory if it had not been for the two punctures. They left Yalta frustrated but with the knowledge that they have the pace to win rallies and with a little good fortune that win will not be far away.

The next rally is the Geko Ypres Rally on 23 – 25 June


Posted: June 8, 2011 6:36 PM

Andreas Mikkelsen set three fastest stage times and finished 4th on the Prime Yalta Rally in his Škoda UK Motorsport Fabia S2000 – just 57.3 seconds behind the event winner, Juho Hänninen, after losing an estimated two minutes with a puncture, two spins and a crash during the three day event!

For his outstanding never give up performance on the Ukrainian event, and in particularly his fight back after the puncture and his ingenuity in repairing the Fabia S2000 after his crash, Andreas received the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy. The recipient is selected by a three man judging panel consisting of Jimmy McRae, Gilbert Roy (Eurosport) and Jean-Pierre Nicolas (IRC).

It was a fantastic rally for Škoda. Victory sees Hänninen take the lead in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, becoming the first driver to win seven rounds of the series, while his Škoda Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecký was 3rd – ensuring that three Fabia S2000s finished in the top four. Škoda lead the Manufacturers’ series, while Hänninen and Kopecký are 1st and 2nd in the Drivers’ standings.

It was an impressive performance by Andreas, who set seven top three stage times on the 14 stage event, producing another great performance on asphalt. Co-driven by Ola Fløene, the 21-year old FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy driver dropped from 4th to 8th after losing almost 90 seconds when he picked up a front right puncture on SS4. He began his charge back up the leaderboard by setting fastest time on the next stage, despite losing the brakes towards the end, a result of the previous stage puncture damaging the cooling system, which cost him over 15 seconds.

Andreas was faster over every stage when they were repeated in the afternoon, even with brake problems and a 5th gear high-speed spin on SS8, to end Day 2 back in 4th.

On Day 3, Andreas set fastest time on SS9 and SS11 to halve the gap to Kopecký to just 12.9 seconds, having started the day 25.6 seconds adrift. He was then enjoying a “perfect” SS12 and was on course for another fastest time when he spun backwards off the road three corners from the end of the stage, losing 20 seconds. Despite this, he was still sixth fastest on the stage – and 1.2 seconds quicker than he had been over the same stretch of road in the morning. Emergency repairs to the Fabia S2000 on the following road section saw Andreas tie the tow rope around a lamp post, in order to help pull the rear bodywork away from the rear right tyre!

With Kopecký now 22.3 seconds ahead and just two stages remaining, the brave fight for 3rd position was over – a fact confirmed by another spin on SS13. Fourth was still a magnificent achievement, and Andreas’ best result in this year’s IRC.

“Performance-wise it’s been very good and the whole team has done a fantastic job. It’s also a great honour to be awarded the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy. Of course he's a big legend in rallying and definitely I figure I look up to, so this prize I really appreciate.

“We were a bit unlucky on this rally with a puncture on Day 2 and also on the last day when we slid off, because we were having a very good battle with Kopecký for third position. We had the most perfect stage, but two hundred metres from the finish line, on the last right hand corner, there was much more gravel on the corner than we had expected and the car slid out. We hit a small tree and lost about twenty seconds. On the second to last stage we had a spin as well.

“I really feel that the whole team deserves a podium because they are doing an incredible job, so hopefully that will come soon. For sure we definitely have the speed to be up there fighting, because our pace is really good. I learnt a lot this weekend, so has everybody, and we are there now.”

The next round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge is the Geko Ypres Rally in Belgium (23-25 June).


Posted: June 8, 2011 6:32 PM

Juho Hanninen has become the most successful driver in the history of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in his own right after winning the Prime Yalta Rally in Ukraine today (Saturday). Driving a Skoda Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, the Finn’s triumph moves him ahead of Freddy Loix with seven wins having previously been tied with the Belgian on six.

Hanninen’s maximum score puts him back on top of the IRC drivers’ standings with Skoda edging ahead of Peugeot in the race for the prestigious IRC manufacturers’ award. There was home success in the IRC Production Cup thanks to Ralliart Mitsubishi driver Volodymyr Pechenyk, while Frenchman Jean-Michel Raoux triumphed in the IRC 2WD Cup.

Elsewhere the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy went to Andreas Mikkelsen who repaired his Skoda UK-run Fabia by the side of the road after he slid into a tree at high speed in his efforts to overtake Jan Kopecky for the final podium spot behind Peugeot’s Bryan Bouffier, thereby embodying the spirit of rallying legend McRae.

Hanninen started Saturday’s final six stages leading Bouffier by 8.2s. He appeared to have gained the edge over his rival by going quicker than the Frenchman through stage nine only for Bouffier to hit back on the next two runs to the extent they were separated by 5.1s at the midmorning service halt beside Yalta’s spectacular waterfront. However, a charging display by Hanninen on stage 12 allowed him to eek out a comfortable margin. Although Bouffier went fastest of all on the final stage, it wasn’t enough to prevent Hanninen from claiming his second win of the season alongside co-driver Mikko Markkula.

Bouffier’s capture of second was the perfect response to his final-stage crash on the previous round in Corsica and fires the Peugeot France 207 driver back into title contention. Jan Kopecky said a lack of confidence through stage 11 had allowed Mikkelsen to threaten his tenure of third place but successive stage wins by Kopecky in the afternoon cancelled out any threat the Norwegian could offer.

Mikkelsen was fastest on two stages on Saturday morning in his efforts to snatch the final podium spot from Kopecky. He closed to within 12.9s of the Czech with three stages left only to spin backwards into a small tree after touching a patch of gravel on stage 12. The impact inflicted damage to the exhaust and right-rear corner of his Skoda UK Motorsport Fabia, which he and co-driver Ola Floene repaired by attaching a ratchet strap to a lamppost to pull some flailing bodywork clear of the exhaust.

The time dropped spinning plus the loss of power caused by the damaged exhaust forced Mikkelsen to settle for fourth, which nevertheless represents his highest finish in the IRC so far this season.

Guy Wilks began the final day in an unenviable position. Too far behind to attack Mikkelsen following his punctures on day two and clear of the chasing pack, the Peugeot UK driver faced the difficult prospect of finding a comfortable balance between pace and caution. He finished fifth but suggested he could have challenged for victory had it not been for the two deflations, having run as high as second. A front-right puncture on the final stage, caused by striking the concrete block holding the flying finish sign in place, completed a frustrating weekend for the Briton.

Thierry Neuville arrived in Ukraine boosted by his maiden IRC victory on the previous round in Corsica. While a high-speed off and a puncture on Friday ultimately wrecked his chances of a repeat win, he showed plenty of pace throughout the event ahead of his home round of the IRC, the Geko Ypres Rally from 23-25 June.

Skoda privateer Toni Gardemeister overcame a down-on-power engine to finish seventh for his TGS Worldwide team. The Finn had dropped a few seconds with an overshoot and stall on stage 11.

Karl Kruuda took a creditable eighth place on his first appearance in the IRC in a four-wheel-drive car. The 18-year-old from Estonia suffered a puncture on Saturday’s opening stage and reported his pacenotes needed to be revised to allow him to go faster on future events.

Patrik Sandell managed to avoid any of the punctures that played havoc on Friday to recover to ninth overall in his Skoda Sweden-backed entry. With IRC 2WD Cup aces Jean-Michel Raoux and Vlad Cosma not eligible for overall IRC drivers’ points, Hungarian Janos Puskadi claimed the final point in his Honda Civic Type R in 12th overall.

Giandomenico Basso, who was fifth after four stages, reached Friday night’s service in 10th overall but didn’t restart on Saturday owing to concerns that damage to his PROTON Motorsports’ Satria Neo S2000’s engine on day two could prove terminal if he continued. Team-mate PG Andersson stopped with oil pressure issues on Friday.


Juho Hanninen (Finland), Skoda Fabia S2000, first overall:
“It’s been a good weekend with no punctures and no mistakes. The car was working thanks to the team, really there were no dramas. I was trying to stay on the Tarmac and avoid the punctures. I might not have always given maximum on the stages because of this but I knew it would be a long rally. I used my brains this weekend.”

Bryan Bouffier (France), Peugeot 207 S2000, second overall:
“It feels very good to score big points and I really need a lot of points if I am to hope to get the title at the end of the year. It was not a perfect weekend for tyre compound choice but the car was perfect.”

Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic), Skoda Fabia S2000, third overall:
“Of course Andreas [Mikkelsen] made a really nice fight and was pushing a lot because he wanted to finish third. Yesterday I went off the road and had problems with the car, losing many seconds. But finally I am on the podium so I am happy today. The car was completely perfect.”


Posted: June 8, 2011 6:29 PM

1 Juho Hänninen (FIN)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) Škoda Fabia S2000 2h27m06.6s
2 Bryan Bouffier (FRA)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +11.7s
3 Jan Kopecký (CZE)/Petr Starý (CZE) Škoda Fabia S2000 +38.7s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Ola Fløene (NOR) Škoda Fabia S2000 +57.3s
5 Guy Wilks (GBR)/Phil Pugh (GBR) Peugeot 207 S2000 +4m00.4s
6 Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Peugeot 207 S2000 +5m01.5s
7 Toni Gardemeister (FIN)/Tapio Suominen (FIN) Škoda Fabia S2000 +7m59.3s
8 Karl Kruuda (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) Škoda Fabia S2000 +10m01.3s
9 Patrik Sandell (SWE)/Staffan Parmander (SWE) Škoda Fabia S2000 +18m08.9s
10 Janos Puskadi (HUN)/Barna Godor (HUN) Honda Civic Type R +29m58.0s

IRC Production Cup: Volodymyr Pechenyk (UKR)/Andriy Yankovskiy (UKR) Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
IRC 2WD Cup: Jean-Michel Raoux (FRA)/Laurent Magat (FRA) Renault Clio R3

Video: Peugeot UK Reports

Posted: June 3, 2011 8:03 AM

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Video: Previews from iRally

Posted: June 3, 2011 8:01 AM


Posted: May 31, 2011 3:34 PM

There is no time to rest for Guy and Phil. After their tough Corsican rally, they head to the Ukraine for the Prime Yalta rally, which starts on Thursday 2nd June.

“I’m still kicking myself for my 'off' in Corsica, because it was entirely my fault,” remarked Guy. “I had just posted the fastest time on the previous stage, so why did I go and overdo it? My Peugeot 207 S2000 is competitive, I don’t need to take it beyond its limits…”

Still flying the flag as the top placed UK team, Peugeot UK and driver pairing, Guy Wilks and Phil Pugh will be fully focused on producing a strong result and score valuable points towards the Championship.

A new rally for the IRC in 2011, the Prime Yalta Rally combines a number of fast and flowing tarmac stages in the mountains overlooking the Black Sea city of Yalta, in the Ukrainian Crimea region. It consists of a total of fourteen stages covering a total of 261.87 km of competitive stage distance. By the end of the rally Guy and Phil’s Peugeot 207 S2000 will have covered a total of 721.61 km, made up of stage kilometres and the distance travelled between the stages and vehicle Service Park.

The rally kicks off on Thursday with two special stages. The first SS1 is located in the outskirts of Yalta and covers a total of 2.12 km. The second is further down the coast south of Yalta, a short stage totalling 5.49 km. After the completion of the two stages the cars will have a short fifteen minute Service halt before being parked up for the night on the quay side in Yalta.

Day Two will see the competitors tackle a total of six stages covering 137.52 km, with the final day made up of a further six stages covering 116.74 km.

“We’ve got to get our head down, make good pace notes and do the job in the Ukraine. I’ve never rallied there before. It’s a new adventure and a level playing field for everyone. So it’s game on,” said Guy Wilks.

A total of 52 crews will set off at the start of the rally on Thursday with a total of four Peugeot 207 S2000s aiming to be on the top step of the podium when the rally finishes on Saturday.


Posted: May 30, 2011 3:24 PM

Times - (Ireland / UK)

Friday 3 June:
23:45-24:10: Day one highlights (Eurosport)

Saturday 4 June:
10:00-10:30: Day one highlights replayed (British Eurosport)
16:45-17:15: Day one highlights replayed (British Eurosport)
22:45-23:15: Day one highlights replayed (British Eurosport 2)
23:00-23:30: Day two highlights (Eurosport)
24:00-24:30: Day two highlights (British Eurosport)

Sunday 5 June:
08:30-09:00: Day one highlights replayed (British Eurosport)
23:00-24:00: Rally Review (Eurosport)


Posted: May 30, 2011 3:21 PM


More unchartered territory is in store for the Intercontinental Rally Challenge when the 12-round, all-action series heads to Ukraine next week for the Prime Yalta Rally.

Based in the country’s Crimea region, the event is well established but joins the IRC for the first time in 2011 with a demanding asphalt route.

Yalta etched its name in history when it hosted the wartime conference between the governments of the United States of America, United Kingdom and Soviet Union to agree Europe’s reorganisation following World War II in February 1945. Now, Yalta is better known for its Mediterranean climate, stunning backdrop provided by the Ai-Petri Mountains and a glamorous waterfront on the north coast of the Black Sea.

The Prime Yalta Rally stages are typically fast and flowing, not uncommon with the undulating asphalt roads found in the south of France and similar in places to Tour de Corse, which hosted the IRC for the first time earlier this month. Road surfaces are generally smooth with a good line of sight into the corners that should enable drivers to push to the maximum.

Jean-Pierre Nicolas, the IRC’s Motorsport Development Manager and former top-line rally driver, has completed a reconnaissance of the route. He said:
“It’s a proper driver’s rally, with the sort of roads that enable you to find a good rhythm, which is still quite fast. The corners are a lot more open than they are in Corsica, so this is a rally that should appeal to the usual asphalt specialists. But you have to be committed and have very precise pacenotes.”

Nicolas has been to visit the Ukrainian stages twice before, but never at the time of year the rally will be held. The weather remains a question mark, but conditions are expected to be on the whole dry and warm with ambient temperatures in the region of 22 degrees centigrade and no rain expected. The asphalt is not especially aggressive, which should minimise tyre wear.

The Crimea region of the Ukraine has a healthy tradition and interest in motorsport, which means that tens of thousands of spectators are expected to pack the stages. With the event brand new to the bulk of the IRC regulars, it’s not just the asphalt experts who will be able to make the most of this opportunity.

Unusually, the stage action begins prior to the ceremonial start overlooking Yalta’s Black Sea shoreline. Two short stages will take place on the afternoon of Thursday 2 June prior to a spectacular waterfront start that will be attended by a number of Ukrainian VIPs and dignitaries.

Friday’s action is made up two loops of three repeated stages separated by service on Yalta’s waterfront. The longest is the 28.95-kilometre Orlinoje test located south west of the city. Saturday’s route features three repeated stages again split by service in Yalta. The first car is due to finish at 15:22hrs local time on 4 June following a total of 14 stages over a competitive distance of 261.87 kilometres. A closing ceremony, complete with fireworks and a party will bring proceedings to a close on Saturday evening.

All drivers competing in Yalta 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.


Fifteen headlining Super 2000 machines will be in action on the Prime Yalta Rally with Peugeot France driver Bryan Bouffier topping the 51-car entry in his 207 S2000. Bouffier won the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo but crashed out of the last round in Corsica. Determined to make up lost ground, Bouffier will be on a charge in Yalta.

Juho Hanninen tasted success on round two in Canary Islands but skipped the last event in Corsica owing to the factory Skoda driver’s restricted IRC schedule this season. The reigning IRC champion has become a potent force on asphalt and is set to shine in his Fabia S2000.

Partnering the ace Finn at Skoda Motorsport is Czech hero Jan Kopecky, who has finished second on the last two rounds to move five points adrift of title leader Freddy Loix. But with BFO Skoda driver Loix not competing in Yalta, Kopecky is well placed to move to the top of the drivers’ classification. However, to do that he’ll have to beat Thierry Neuville, the rising star of the IRC and the winner of the Tour de Corse in his Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg 207 S2000.

The 22-year-old Neuville, joint second with Kopecky in the drivers’ table, hadn’t originally included the Yalta Rally on his roster of events this year but opted to compete in the Ukraine at the expense of a planned appearance on August’s Barum Czech Rally Zlin. Rapid Briton Guy Wilks will partner Neuville in a second Kronos Racing-prepared 207 under the Peugeot UK banner. Both drivers are capable of challenging for victory.

Giandomenico Basso heads the three-strong PROTON Motorsports attack in one of the Malaysian-built Satria Neo S2000s. The Italian is vastly experienced and has won four IRC rounds in the past. Joining him in the MEM-run team will be Swede PG Andersson and Ukrainian Oleksandr Saliuk Sr. Saliuk, a former USSR rally champion, is deputising for his son Oleksandr Jr, who has been forced to stand down after breaking his arm. Evgeniy Chervonenko, the driving force behind the Prime Yalta Rally, will co-drive.

Italian Marco Tempestini, who competes under a Romanian licence in a Peugeot 207, is one of the few leading contenders with previous Yalta Rally experience and finished third on the event last season. Ukrainian Oleksiy Tamrazov is also no stranger to the Crimean roads and will line up in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000.

In addition to its brace of factory cars, Skoda will count on four other Fabia exponents: Skoda UK Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen, TGS Worldwide’s Toni Gardemeister, Skoda Sweden’s Patrik Sandell and promising teenager Karl Kruuda, who starts his first IRC event in an S2000 car for the Estonian ME3 Rally Team.

IRC Production Cup
Homegrown talent Valeriy Gorban heads the IRC Production Cup entry in his Mentos Ascania Racing Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer but will face strong opposition from Yuriy Shapovalov, a regular podium finisher in Yalta. Gorban has impressed in the Production Car World Rally Championship this season and will be hard to beat. Anton Kuzmenko is the leading Subaru Impreza entrant.

Honda Civic driver Martin Kangur, Eric Mauffrey and Jean-Michel Raoux are expected to run at the front in the IRC 2WD Cup, while Janos Puskadi will also be a threat in his Civic. Raoux scored class points on Rallye Monte-Carlo while Mauffrey had been due to compete on the Tour de Corse but failed to start after damaging his Megane beyond immediate repair in a testing crash.


Juho Hanninen (Finland), Skoda Fabia S2000:
“We’re expecting a big challenge on our return to the IRC but we’re very happy to be back. I will try my best to do a good result although it won’t be easy as the competition is very tough, particularly my team-mate Jan Kopecky.”

Oleksandr Saliuk Sr (Ukraine), PROTON Satria Neo S2000:
“It means a great deal to me and to Evgeniy Chervonenko to compete together 20 years after we won the title in the USSR. This is a very important rally in the Ukraine and one which will attract the IRC’s fastest drivers to our beautiful part of the world. Evgeniy and I are very excited about competing with these drivers and teams in front of the home crowd.”

Guy Wilks (United Kingdom), Peugeot 207 S2000:
“Following our crash in Corsica we want to get back in the car and make amends and that’s what we’ll be endeavouring to do on the Yalta Rally. It’s a new event for a lot of the IRC regulars but we need to get on top of the job.”

Yalta press conferences to be streamed live

Posted: May 26, 2011 1:55 PM

Prime Yalta Rally organisers have announced details of an exciting initiative for their Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier.
They have made arrangements to provide live streaming over the internet of the pre-event press conference on Thursday 2 June, the end of day press conference at on Friday 3 June and the post-event press conference on Saturday 4 June.

All press conferences will be streamed via the rally website.

Times (UK/Irish Time)
June, 2nd 13.00 Pre-rally press-conference
15.00 Prime Yalta Rally 2011 Opening Ceremony at Yalta’s waterfront with the participation of all teams, VIP guests and Media representatives

June, 3rd
17.00 Press-conference on the Day results

June, 4th
16.00 Final press-conference
17.00 Closing Ceremony, awarding ceremony

Seeded Entry List

Posted: May 26, 2011 1:52 PM

Seeded Entry List available under "Participants" on the event website:

Neuville steps up IRC bid with Yalta entry

Posted: May 26, 2011 1:48 PM

Thierry Neuville has stepped up his bid to win the Intercontinental Rally Challenge drivers’ crown by confirming his participation on the Prime Yalta Rally.

Neuville shot to equal second in the IRC classification with his stunning maiden victory on Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc in mid-May.

His original schedule of events did not include the all-asphalt round in Ukraine from 2-4 June but the 22-year-old will now compete in Yalta at the expense of his planned entry on Barum Czech Rally Zlin in late August.

“Upon reflection, we felt it was better to send Thierry and Nicolas [Gilsoul, his co-driver] to Ukraine rather than Czech Republic,” said a team spokesperson.
“To all IRC competitors, the Yalta Rally will be a discovery and we believe Thierry can be particularly competitive there. This will maximise his chances of winning and also allow him to accumulate more kilometres on asphalt before the Ypres [Rally, his home event].”

PROTON helps make history on the Yalta Rally

Posted: May 26, 2011 11:17 AM

One of the Ukraine’s most famous rallying partnerships will be reunited on next week’s Prime Yalta Rally when Alexander Saliuk Sr and Evgen Chervonenko get back into a rally car for the biggest moment in their nation’s rallying history.

And they’ll be doing it in a PROTON Satria Neo S2000, as team-mates to two of the sport’s biggest stars, P-G Andersson (Sweden) and Giandomenico Basso (Italy).

Saliuk Sr and Chervonenko won the USSR Rally Championship 20 years ago and were recognised as being among the region’s fastest drivers in their era. Since that historic rally title, the pair have stopped competing regularly; Saliuk’s son Alexander Saliuk Jr is rising through the ranks and his father has stepped aside to focus on his son’s development as a driver. Saliuk Jr cannot compete on next week’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge round after he suffered a broken arm.

Chervonenko has been a driving force behind the Prime Yalta Rally’s recognition by Eurosport Events, the firm which runs the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. And next week, Chervonenko will co-drive in a factory car on the legend he helped create.

Speaking at a specially convened press conference in Yalta earlier this week, Saliuk Sr said:
“The original plan was for my son to drive the PROTON, but since his injury I have stepped in to take his place behind the wheel. It means a great deal to me and to Evgen to compete together 20 years after we won the title in the USSR. This is a very important rally in the Ukraine and one which will attract the IRC’s fastest drivers to our beautiful part of the world. Evgen and I are very excited about competing with these drivers and teams in front of the home crowd.”

The Prime Yalta Rally runs on the asphalt roads in the foothills of the Ai-Petri Mountain, inland from the beautiful Crimean peninsula. The event begins with an opening ceremony at Yalta’s waterfront on Thursday June 2. The rally, round four of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, gets underway with six stages the next day, before finishing after a further six stages on Saturday June 4.

PROTON Motorsports will be running three factory-specification Satria Neo S2000s for Andersson, Basso and Saliuk Sr.

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Posted: May 24, 2011 12:39 PM

Rally Guide

Posted: March 25, 2011 4:33 PM

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PROTON ace Andersson keen on Yalta Rally

Posted: March 1, 2011 11:28 AM

PG Andersson, who will drive for PROTON Motorsports in this season’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge, has welcomed the inclusion of the Ukraine’s Prime Yalta Rally on the calendar for the first time this year.

Swede Andersson is embarking on his first full season of IRC competition in a Satria Neo Super 2000 and says events like the Ukrainian asphalt rally, which takes place from 2-4 June, should make his rookie year slightly easier.

“I’ve heard lots of good things about the event,” said the 30-year-old Andersson.
“I saw the book from the launch of the event and it looks like a really nice place with some great roads. I have never been to the Ukraine before and I’m happy with new rallies because it’s the same for everybody. Everybody is making a new set of pacenotes for the first time and nobody really knows what is coming.”

PROTON team principal Chris Mellors recently visited the Ukraine and admitted he was impressed with what he’d seen.

“It’s a great place,” he said. “The organisers will put on a very, very good round of the IRC and I think it’s very exciting that we’re going out to these new events. The Ukraine is an emerging market for car manufacturers; PROTON is investigating the possibility of selling cars there, and there’s no doubt it’s going to provide a great rally. Taking rallying to a whole new audience is what the IRC is about and this audience is going to be very, very appreciative.”

Yalta Rally presented in Monaco

Posted: January 27, 2011 12:40 PM

Organisers of the Prime Yalta Rally took the opportunity to present their new Intercontinental Rally Challenge event during the opening round of the series in Monte-Carlo last week.

Several manufacturer representatives, team managers, logistics coordinators and members of the media attended the function to learn more about this exciting addition to the IRC calendar and to meet key members of the organising team.

Evgeniy Chervonenko, the Chairman of the rally organising committee, Borys Kolesnikov, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure, and Mikhail Loilenko, the rally’s Clerk of the Course, were all present at the function along with IRC General Manager Marcello Lotti.

The event will run from 2-4 June and will be based in Yalta on the banks of the Black Sea in Ukraine’s Crimea region. It will feature 261 competitive kilometres over 14 all-asphalt special stages in the hills above the city. Yalta’s roads have a reputation for being bumpy and slippery and are set to provide a stern test for the IRC regulars.

Organisers have pledged to assist with border crossings, logistics and accommodation and will arrange several functions and leisure activities during the event.

Yalta became famous for hosting the historic Yalta Conference in 1945 where US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Union General Secretary Joseph Stalin met to discuss Europe’s post-war reorganisation.

Prime Yalta Rally joins IRC schedule for 2011

Posted: December 30, 2010 6:45 PM

The Intercontinental Rally Challenge will include a new event on its schedule in 2011 after an agreement was reached between Eurosport Events, the promoter of the IRC, and Chervonenko Racing, the organiser of the Prime Yalta Rally in Ukraine.

Based in the city of Yalta on the north coast of the Black Sea in Ukraine's Crimea region, the Prime Yalta Rally will form the fourth round of the IRC series from 2-4 June. The agreement is currently for 2011 and includes an option to extend the partnership into 2012.

The Prime Yalta Rally will use all-asphalt stages although there are plans to incorporate some gravel-based tests in the future.

Established as the most prestigious round of Ukraine's national championship and previously part of the European Rally Cup, the event has gained a reputation for its challenging mountainous route and varying asphalt surfaces. As a result, it attracts up to 100,000 of spectators each year and is popular among competitors, with overseas drivers regularly travelling to the event to compete.

As well as receiving the patronage of the Ukrainian government, the rally will enjoy support from several of the country's top sports stars including boxing brothers Vitaly and Vladimir Klitschko and footballer Andriy Shevchenko.

Marcello Lotti, the IRC General Manager, said:
"We have been in close contact with the Yalta Rally organisers for some time and it gives me great pleasure to be able to confirm the event will be joining the IRC family next season. With its population of more than 45 million people, Ukraine represents a very important and growing market for the IRC and another new territory for our young and innovative rally series."

Evgeny Chervonenko, the winner of the last USSR Rally Championship in 1991, the President of the Ukraine Motorsport Federation (FAU) and the head of the Yalta Rally organising committee, said:
"The Prime Yalta Rally will offer competitors and spectators a high standard asphalt route, stunning mountainous special stages, great scenic views and a full entertainment package including concerts, shows and luxury parties. We invite racers to discover this fascinating route and welcome all true rally fans to join at least 300,000 visitors we expect in Yalta this summer. I am sure that competitors will appreciate the warm Ukrainian hospitality."

Event Website

Posted: December 30, 2010 6:44 PM

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