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Rally San Marino - 6-7 Jul 12

Posted: August 15, 2012 2:31 PM - 4442 Hits

Round 7 - 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC)


Posted: August 15, 2012 2:31 PM

Giandomenico Basso has clinched his fifth career victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge following a scintillating battle with Andreas Mikkelsen on the 40th running of Rally San Marino.

Mikkelsen appeared to be in the ascendancy when he won Saturday’s opening stage only for Basso to hit back by going fastest on the next run. His triumph ignited a thrilling fight that ebbed and flowed with astonishing frequency, and was only settled in Basso’s favour on the very last all-gravel stage.

Such was the intensity of their scrap Basso and Mikkelsen were tied on time for first place on two occasions. At the finish in San Marino’s historic quarter on Saturday evening, just 2.8s separated the pair with Basso claiming five stage wins to Mikkelsen’s six.

The result means Basso, competing on a gravel rally for the first time in two years, becomes the fifth different winner in the IRC this season, while second place for defending IRC champion Mikkelsen increases his lead over Jan Kopecký in the race for the drivers’ crown. Basso’s success is also the first for M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta Regional Rally Car in the IRC, which enjoys extensive coverage on Eurosport.

Jarkko Nikara claimed a dominant win in the IRC Production Cup at the wheel of his Subaru Impreza R4 STI, while Harry Hunt also won with comparative ease in the IRC 2WD Cup, the former champion’s maiden triumph of 2012.

“I’m very happy,” said Basso, whose victory was his first in the IRC since 2009 and earned him the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy. “It was a fantastic race and battle with Andreas, who is a very good driver. My team has done a great job and the car and tyres have been perfect.”

Basso’s hopes of success appeared to have nosedived when he dropped 9.1s behind Mikkelsen after Saturday’s first test following a cautious run in slightly damp conditions. But with his rival losing time cleaning the road of significantly more loose surface gravel on the next two stages, Basso was able to draw level heading to service in San Marino after Mikkelsen was slowed by powersteering failure.

Mikkelsen began the afternoon loop by edging Basso by 0.3s on stage nine only for Basso to draw level once again following stage 10. The decisive stage came on the next run when Mikkelsen’s normally aspirated ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 was unable to match Basso’s turbocharged machine on the uphill sections. Basso completed the stage leading by 4.9s and although Mikkelsen was fastest on the final two tests, it wasn’t enough to prevent Basso from winning.

Umberto Scandola overcame power and handling issues to secure the final podium place in his ŠKODA Italia Fabia with ŠKODA Auto Deutschland’s Sepp Wiegand a strong fourth on his Rally San Marino debut and only his third start on gravel. The inexperienced 21-year-old impressed from the outset by recording his first stage win in the IRC. Although he gradually slipped down the order due to tyre selection, handling issues and a costly spin on Friday afternoon, it was nevertheless an impressive showing by Wiegand who has now scored points on all six IRC events he has started this season.

Juho Salo had never driven his Fiesta S2000 prior to Thursday’s shakedown. But despite his lack of familiarity with the car and a puncture on Friday afternoon, the seven-time Finnish champion marked his return to the IRC for the first time since the China Rally in 2008 by running in the top five only for a water leak to trigger his retirement heading to stage 10 after he’d spun on the previous test.

After a fuel pressure glitch left Germain Bonnefis stranded for more than seven minutes on Friday’s opening run, the 25-year-old Peugeot Sport protégé underlined his potential with a succession of rapid stage times in his Peugeot Sport 207, including a standout fastest time on stage eight. However, any hopes of a points finish on his IRC debut were dashed when a damper failed on the penultimate stage.

There was late heartbreak for Hungarian privateer János Puskádi who, after crossing the flying finish of the final stage with the fifth best time, promptly slid off the road into a ditch where he was forced to retire. Swiss Laurent Reuche was in sixth place when he tore a wheel off his Peugeot.

Patrik Flodin, from Sweden, was unable to start Friday’s second stage after water pump failure caused the engine in his Petter Solberg Engineering M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 to overheat. Oleksiy Tamrazov went no further than stage one after breaking the front-left wheel of his Dream Team Ukraine Fiesta striking a concrete block.

IRC Production Cup

Jarkko Nikara upheld Subaru honour with his maiden IRC Production Cup victory by a margin of more than four minutes over the Hungarian Gergély Szabó. Nikara, in a Yokohama-shod Tommi Mäkinen Racing R4 STI, led from the outset and apart from a stall at a hairpin on Saturday morning, little troubled the Finn on his way to a strong fifth overall. Marco Tempestini took third but only after overcoming a fraught final day, when he was delayed by a puncture, a broken brake calliper and a brief car fire. However, Tempestini will be able to take heart from his battling performance ahead of his home round of the IRC in Romania later this month. Defending champion Toshi Arai from Japan was in second place when a ball joint failed on his Impreza heading to stage four.


Not even an enforced gearbox change following an oil leak on Friday’s final stage could knock Harry Hunt off his stride as the Briton scored an impressive category win to move clear in the title race. Hunt, the 2010 class champion, drove without error and preserved his car and tyres perfectly over the gravel stages, which became increasingly rough as the event drew to a close. Paolo Diana took second ahead of fellow Italian Renault Clio R3 driver Oscar Vettore. Catwees Honda Racing’s young Estonian Martin Kangur started the event in the joint lead of the standings with Hunt only for his Civic Type R’s powersteering to falter. There was late drama for Robert Consani who retired his Clio on the very last stage having looked set for a podium finish.


Posted: August 15, 2012 2:30 PM

Giandomenico Basso has won the prestigious Rally San Marino, the seventh round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, using a Pirelli gravel tyre freely available to rally drivers and teams throughout the world.

Driving a Ford Fiesta Regional Rally Car, Basso triumphed by 2.8s following two days of frenetic action in and around the Europe’s oldest sovereign state. It was the double European champion’s first gravel event in two years and the first time he’d driven his Fiesta on a loose-surface rally on the back of a 40-kilometre test.

With all but one stage on gravel, tyre durability and performance were crucial to the outcome of the rally, particularly when ambient temperatures rocketed to 35 degrees centigrade and ground temperatures peaked at 50 degrees centigrade.

The San Marino stages were smoother and more forgiving than those on other gravel-based events. However, the surface was slippery during the first pass but increasingly more punishing when the stages were repeated, sometimes twice. And with many of the stages featuring significant undulation and steep climbs from tight corners, the tyres were subjected to a stringent test, particularly by Basso’s turbocharged car throughout the 190 kilometres of competitive action.

Basso used Pirelli’s K4 Scorpion tyre on the first pass through the stages to disperse the loose gravel before switching to the company’s XR5 Scorpion option when the stages were repeated, due to their ability to deal with the more aggressive surface and intense heat. Basso reported no significant tyre wear and following the finish in San Marino’s historic quarter on Saturday evening, he paid tribute to the work of the Pirelli technicians onsite and in Milan.

“This is a fantastic result for me and while the team did a great job with the car, this victory would not have been possible without Pirelli,” said Basso. “Tyres were a crucial element of this event but throughout the rally I was able to take advantage of Pirelli’s expert tyre technology, which is available to competitors all around the world.”

Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli’s product manager, said:
“The Pirelli tyres used by Giandomenico, who put in a superlative performance after not competing on gravel for two years, are tried and trusted products that anybody can buy from a dealer. The combination of K4 Scorpion and XR5 Scorpion works very well on a demanding gravel event such as San Marino, with a high rate of attrition and an aggressive surface, highlighting both the performance and durability of our products. We would like to thank the A Style team, a completely private team, who still managed to field a fast and reliable car that was good enough to fight for victory from the start.”

Basso’s success earned him the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, which goes to the driver whose performance best embodies the spirit of the rallying legend on each round of the IRC. A panel of judges including Colin’s father Jimmy McRae and IRC general manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas chose the winner. Colin McRae used Pirelli tyres to win his world rally title in 1995.

Completing Pirelli’s triumph in San Marino was the two-wheel drive victory for Britain’s Harry Hunt in a Citroen DS3 R3T and a Group N win for Mitsubishi Lancer driver Gabriele Noberasco. In the historic section of the event, former World Rally Championship star Piero Liatti led home a trio of Pirelli-equipped Lancia 037s.

Basso, Hunt, Noberasco and Liatti were driving four completely different types of car – but the winning result was the same for the Pirelli runners.

Mikkelsen extends IRC lead with 2nd in San Marino

Posted: August 15, 2012 2:29 PM

ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen has extended his lead in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge after finishing 2nd on the San Marino Rally (July 6-7) in his factory-prepared Fabia S2000. The reigning Drivers’ champion is now 24 points ahead of Jan Kopecký (ŠKODA Motorsport), while ŠKODA increases its lead in the Manufacturers’ standings to 128 points, as the 13 round series moves into the second half of the season.

Co-driven by Ola Fløene, Andreas drove magnificently to lead the narrow, twisty and dusty gravel event for eight stages (SS3-10), despite running first on the road during Leg 1 and sweeping the loose gravel away for the cars following. His normally aspirated Fabia S2000 was also at a disadvantage on the many uphill hairpin sections against the turbocharged car of Giandomenico Basso, yet his inch-perfect driving saw Andreas record six fastest stage times compared to Basso’s five over the two day event.

Andreas entered the 13th and final stage 3.8 seconds behind Basso. It was a stage that favoured the turbocharged car, as Basso had been quicker on both previous runs through it. With finishing well and scoring valuable IRC points the main priority, Andreas was one second quicker than Basso over the final test to secure 2nd place – finishing just 2.8 seconds adrift after over two and a half hours and 118.2 miles (190.3kms) of competition.

ŠKODA Fabia S2000s filled the next two positions, with Umberto Scandola finishing 3rd and initial rally leader Sepp Wiegand 4th.

“The stages on this year’s San Marino Rally have been some of the most difficult gravel ones I have ever competed on, especially when we were running first on the road and sweeping the loose gravel. The roads were so narrow and twisty, with so many trees and bushes hanging into the road, that it was impossible to see the exit of corners, so I’m very pleased with our speed and performance. When the stages were fast we were the fastest, but on the many uphill hairpin sections we lost out to the turbocharged car. We came to San Marino to score as many IRC points as possible and to extend our lead in the series, so I’m very happy that we’ve achieved that.”

In addition to broadcasting recorded highlights of the event, Eurosport cameras have been following Andreas and Ola during the San Marino Rally for its Inside IRC programme, which is scheduled to be broadcast at 23.30 (CET) on Tuesday 10 July (check TV listings for regional times).


Posted: August 15, 2012 2:20 PM

1. Giandomenico Basso/Mitia Dotta (Ford Fiesta S2000)….2hrs 35mins secs
2. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+2.8secs
3. Umberto Scandola/Guido D’Amore (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+1min 41.6secs
4. Sepp Wiegand/Timo Gottschalk (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+2mins 06.2secs
5. Jarkko Nikara/Jarkko Kalliolepo (Subaru Impreza)….+6mins 12.2secs
6. Gergély Szabó/Karoly Borbely (Mitsubishi Lancer)….+10mins 15.6secs

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Posted: July 3, 2012 10:54 AM

Yokohama heads into new territory for Rally San Marino

Posted: July 3, 2012 10:45 AM

It will be a trip into new territory for Japanese tyre manufacturer Yokohama next week, as the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, featuring Yokohama as a tyre partner, heads for the republic of San Marino for the next round of the IRC. This event will also be the second outing for Yokohama-supported reigning IRC Production Cup champion Toshi Arai and team-mate Jarkko Nikara, following their debut this season on the Tour de Corse in May.

Rally San Marino is forming part of the IRC for the first time this season and sees the series return to gravel after two tarmac events. Running entirely within the republic save for a single stage in Italy, the event uses hard base gravel roads with a light covering of loose surface, so road-cleaning should not be as apparent on some events.

Arai and Nikara, run by multiple world champion Tommi Makinen, will be using the Yokohama ADVAN A053 gravel tyres on their Subaru Impreza R4 cars. The weather is likely to be hot and dry but stage distances between services are relatively short to begin with - the longest is just over 40Km until the final loop of stages on Saturday, when the crews tackle five stages without service, totalling 60Km.

Looking ahead to the event, Yokohama technician Ian Beveridge said;
"I think San Marino shouldn't pose too many problems from a tyre point of view. The weather looks like it will be dry and warm and the roads are quite smooth, rather than abrasive.

"In preparation, we visited the event last year and saw the roads are hard-packed base with a little loose gravel on top, so while they will clean, it will not be a huge amount. Once clean, they are likely to be in good condition and provide good grip.

"We will be taking the ADVAN A053 gravel tyres, in a soft and medium compound, as these should suit the conditions well. We will have a new compound for the weekend as we are continually developing the rally products and I think the road surface, and the fact that the stages are fairly fast and flowing, should mean that hopefully, it won't be as demanding an event on tyres as others in the series."

While San Marino is forming part of the IRC for the first time, this year marks the 40th running of the event. It begins with a ceremonial start in San Marino on the evening of Thursday 5 July before the action begins in earnest on Friday 6 July, with five stages, including the San Marino special at 21.30. Saturday sees eight stages for the crews before arriving at the finish at 20.00 hours. San Marino is BST + 1 hour.

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Posted: July 2, 2012 2:34 PM

Mikkelsen aims for repeat success in San Marino

Posted: June 29, 2012 11:19 AM

ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen is hoping to extend his lead in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge with another successful run on the San Marino Rally (July 6-7), having won the event last year en route to becoming Italian Gravel Rally champion.

However, with only 10 miles (16kms) of this year’s route the same as in 2011, he and co-driver Ola Fløene will have to be at their best in their factory-prepared Fabia S2000 to repeat last year’s result.

Whilst virtually all of this year’s San Marino Rally’s six different stages will be new to Andreas, he has a good feel for the picturesque mountain region and has a knack of being instantly quick on unfamiliar territory. After flying to Bologna airport directly from the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Andreas will have a full day’s pre-event test in the hills outside San Marino on Tuesday.

As on all Italian rallies, ŠKODA UK Motorsport has a secret weapon in the form of team co-ordinator Dario D’Esposito, who has extensive experience of the San Marino Rally – having won the event twice with Andrea Aghini in 1998 and 2002.

“We head to San Marino leading the IRC and we have this and another really strong gravel rally in Romania coming up, so the aim is to come away from both events with as many championship points as possible. I feel very comfortable and confident in the Fabia S2000, and whilst no rally is easy, we have a great opportunity to make the most of what could turn out to be a decisive time in this year’s series. We won in San Marino last year, and while this year’s route is basically all new, I have a good feel for the area and I’m looking forward to returning.”

The 40th running of the San Marino Rally contains 13 special stages (12 gravel and one Tarmac) totalling 118.2 miles (190.3kms). The event starts at 09.45 on Friday 6 July. Leg 1 contains the two longest stages of the rally, with the 27 mile (43.48km) stage loop repeated in the afternoon. The day ends with SS5, a 4 mile (6.43km) Tarmac spectator stage in San Marino, that will be run in reserve order and on gravel tyres. The day ends at 21.44, after 58 miles (93.39kms) of stages.

Saturday’s Leg 2 begins with a 45 minute service, followed by a 23 mile (37.12km) loop of three stages. The loop is repeated in the afternoon, before a third and final pass over two of the stages completes the 60.2 miles (96.91kms) of action. The finish ceremony is in San Marino at 20.00.

Eurosport will broadcast recorded highlights of the event. Check TV listings for times and more details.


Posted: June 29, 2012 8:47 AM

The all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge is back on gravel next week when Rally San Marino joins the series for the first time.

Based in the Republic of San Marino albeit with all but one stage in neighbouring Italy, the event marks the halfway point of the season and a crucial stage in the title race with six points separating the top two drivers.

Rally San Marino is the first of two loose-surface rounds in succession, with Sibiu Rally Romania running two weeks later. It’s also the second IRC round in a row to take place in two different countries following the Geko Ypres Rally, which included stages in Belgium and France.

This year’s Rally San Marino is the 40th running of the event. To mark the occasion, organisers have altered the route considerably by including stages not used for a number of years. They are also planning various activities to celebrate the milestone including the commissioning of a commemorative watch and book and the hosting of a post-event party for former winners.

The competitive action consists of five repeated all-gravel stages, plus a single-use Tarmac stage through the streets of San Marino City. Day one features two runs over the 19.33-kilometre Sestino stage and two passes over the 24.15-kilometre Mercatello test with regular service halts in San Marino, plus the day-closing 6.43-kilomete San Marino street stage, which gets underway at 21:32hrs local time.

Saturday’s route includes the 6.82-kilometre Monte Benedetto stage and the 15.85-kilometre Rofelle stage, both run three times, plus the Sant’Agata Feltria test, which measures 14.45 kilometres in length and runs twice. The finish is set for 20:00hrs on Saturday in San Marino.

All drivers competing on Rally San Marino will be in contention for the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, which is awarded to the driver whose performance best embodies the spirit of the rallying legend.

Rally San Marino is considered to be a straightforward gravel event with the stages consisting of a smooth surface, formed of soft stones, but with a hard base. Road cleaning, normally such a factor on gravel rallies is less prevalent with the surface changing minimally from one run to the next, which means consistency is rewarded.

The gravel stages, held in the picturesque countryside, are generally high speed and fairly wide in nature with some undulation. Specialist knowledge is not so crucial as it is on other IRC rounds with the stages relatively easy to master with an effective set of pacenotes.

*The constitution of San Marino was enacted in 1600 and is the oldest constitution still in effect.
*San Marino’s sporting stars are not universally known although motorbike riders Alex De Angelis and Manuel Poggiali, footballer Davide Gualtieri – whose goal against England after 8.3s in a World Cup qualifying match in 1993 is still a record – and rallying brothers Mirco and Loris Baldacci have bucked that trend.
*Despite its size San Marino has a rich motorsport history, giving its name to a Formula One grand prix, which took place 100 kilometres into neighbouring Italy at the Imola circuit from 1981 until 2006.
*A local delicacy worthy of sampling in San Marino is Torta Tre Monti, a wafer layered cake covered in chocolate.
*Piero Longhi is one of the most successful drivers in Rally San Marino history, winning from 2005-2008 in a Subaru Impreza.

Andreas Mikkelsen will be out for revenge when the Intercontinental Rally Challenge resumes on Rally San Marino next week. Although the defending IRC champion holds a six-point advantage heading to the gravel event, he will arrive in the republic on the back of his first non-score in the series since the Canon Mecsek Rally last September.

Mikkelsen, who crashed out of the recent Geko Ypres Rally, won in San Marino last season during his stint in the Italian Gravel Trophy. However, with the route for this year’s rally significantly altered, the ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver won’t necessarily have an advantage.

Giandomenico Basso is the man most likely to push Mikkelsen for top honours in the same M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC he took to a podium finish on Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia. The Italian has previous San Marino knowledge to call on and is fast on gravel as he is on asphalt.

Sepp Wiegand returns to action after missing the recent trip to Ypres through illness. The ŠKODA Auto Deutschland youngster has impressed during his maiden IRC campaign, scoring points on his five appearances so far.

Rapid Swede Patrik Flodin will form part of the two-strong Petter Solberg Engineering line-up in San Marino and will joined by Finn Kristian Sohlberg in a second M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000. It will be Sohlberg’s first IRC appearance and his first on an international rally for several years.

Frenchman Germain Bonnefis will make his IRC debut in San Marino after being handed a dream opportunity by Peugeot Sport. Bonnefis is competing in the French Gravel championship in a 207 Super 2000 as his prize for winning Peugeot’s Volant 207 one-make series last season. His entry in San Marino is a bonus following several strong performances in his homeland.

Other contenders include Skydive Dubai Rally Team’s Rashid Al-Ketbi and Janós Puskádi, who will be back behind the wheel of his Eurosol Racing ŠKODA Fabia having spent the Ypes Rally running it for fellow Hungarian László Vizin.

IRC Production Cup
Inaugural IRC Production Cup winner Toshi Arai will make his second start of 2012 on a surface he relishes: gravel. The Japanese will head the Subaru challenge in his Impreza R4 STI and will be one of the favourites for victory along with Tommi Mäkinen Racing team-mate Jarkko Nikara and Romanian Marco Tempestini, a regular frontrunner this year.

Davide Catania is back in the IRC 2WD Cup for the first time since SATA Rallye Açores in February. As a gravel specialist, Catania will be out to impress but will have to overcome the challenge of joint title leaders Harry Hunt and Martin Kangur. Honda Civic driver Kangur is on a high after winning in Ypres and has more experience of gravel competition.


A double Rally San Marino-winning co-driver, D’Esposito is now the team co-ordinator for ŠKODA UK Motorsport, which runs Andreas Mikkelsen’s IRC title-winning Fabia Super 2000

What is your connection with Rally San Marino?
“I won it twice as a co-driver, on both occasions with Andrea Aghini. My first win was 1998, in a Toyota Corolla WRC, and the second was in 2002 with a Peugeot 206 WRC. Back then it was very different: around twice the distance, as it also took in some stages near Gubbio that are now part of the San Crispino Rally in the Italian championship.”

Your driver Andreas Mikkelsen has previous knowledge. How much will this help him?
“We competed in San Marino last year with Andreas, as part of the Italian Gravel Trophy, and we won that too. He liked it: it’s a nice fast, flowing gravel rally. But I’m not sure how useful that experience will be for him this year, as the route is basically all new.”

How much has been changed?
“Only eight kilometres of the first stage, Sestino, have been kept from last year and that stage is run twice: so we just have 16 kilometres in common with 2011. The rest are old stages from back in my day – or even earlier sometimes!”

What’s the key to success in San Marino?
“In the past, the key to success certainly used to be tyres. There’s quite a hard surface underneath a bit of loose gravel, so if you had racing gravel tyres you could really make a big difference, as they were able to bite into the surface below. The road doesn’t clean much though, so the grip stays quite consistent.”

How much of Rally San Marino is actually in San Marino?
“Just one stage, which is called ‘San Marino’ – but that’s more of a superspecial on Tarmac. The service park and the headquarters is all in San Marino though, which is a very good thing as the organisation of this rally has always been fantastic.”


Posted: June 28, 2012 8:58 PM

Rally San Marino, round seven of the all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge, will recreate the event’s glorious past according to double world champion co-driver Tiziano Siviero.

The rally is a new addition to the IRC for 2012 but is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year when it takes place from 5-7 July.

Siviero, who works as part of the organising team, said:
“Great choices [of stages] and great efforts have been made by the organisers who want to celebrate the 40th anniversary with a return to the glorious past. The most beautiful and difficult stages have been revived. The roads are in excellent condition, well prepared and the stages have a really good rhythm.”

Twelve of the 13 stages take place in neighbouring Italy. However, the final stage on day one is held entirely in the Republic of San Marino and uses an all-asphalt route. Entries close today (Thursday)

Website / Rally Guide / Details

Posted: June 28, 2012 8:53 PM

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