Here’s a video of Kris Meeke going head-to-head with Guy Wilks in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge series… A fantastic display of driving skill from both!
Article by Liga Stirna.
Just two weeks ago the rallying world waved good-bye to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), and immediately plans for new European Rally Championship (ERC) were started. Organizers of the IRC, Eurosport Events, will be responsible for the revised and renewed ERC for next 10 years, and they promise a brand new approach to this Championship.
Compared to previous ERC, the new-look 2013 series might feature fewer rounds one the calendar, but it has more consistency and new additions to the rallying world to enjoy. For these 13 rallies, some “big name” events have been lost and some new countries have appeared on the list: we here in Baltics are especially proud of the inclusion of Rally Liepāja-Ventspils in 2013 ERC. Considering the high level of rally organization in Latvia, we can promise a great and safe event!
Before the final ERC calendar was finalised, a press conference was held in Riga where the inclusion of the Latvian Rally Liepāja-Ventspils in ERC as the season’s second round and first gravel/snow event was announced. In this press conference, the IRC Commercial Director Mr. Antonello Ledoletti spoke about the visions of revised ERC.
Q: How much of the IRC philosophy will you keep in ERC?
AL: “Basically we’ll keep all our philosophy and more. The same passion, with more and more passion. We’ll keep our experience in IRC, our business model to realize it in the fantastic European championship. We want to say that this won’t be a switch [from IRC to ERC], but this will be real takeover. We are sure that it will be good for teams, for drivers, for everybody, as in the end it will be a true European Rally Championship title. We will transfer all our experience from the IRC to the ERC.”
Q: Taking in account that there will be just 13 events in ERC, you will create fierce rivalry between rallies. How are you going to judge them, as Rally Liepāja – Ventspils never will be like Rally Monte Carlo, for example?
AL: “A lot of elements will be taken in consideration: local promoter, support from local authorities, support from sponsors, and government. And, last but not least, the beauty of the country. Don’t forget that rally is also about landscape: in TV that looks spectacular. For Latvia, of course, we have fingers crossed for snow, then this rally will be even more spectacular.”
Q: Will this new Championship be driver-dedicated?
AL: “Our intention is to follow the same mentality of the IRC and also to make the ERC open for new and young drivers, but also for the stars that wants to participate. We’d like to have the same open-minded approach to receive all the teams and drivers, and why not to make new stars as we’ve done until now for the future. ERC will be a championship for teams and drivers, not car manufacturers.”
Q: What about cars and classes?
AL: “We are open to all classes as out interest is to have more participants. We want to be open for teams, drivers, everyone. Of course there are sporting regulations, but we will try to maintain this with he FIA.”
Q: Are you satisfied with TV viewers’ interest for rally?
AL: “The audience of the IRC has reached more than 120 million houses in Europe and everything looks fine for rallying with this new deal with the FIA. Last year we had more than 100 million of viewers all around the world.”
Q: Are you planning to continue to broadcast live stages?
AL: “Yes, we’re planning to do that. But unfortunately, not from the Latvian rally. As you can understand, this is a very huge involvement from us with a lot of matters, first of all, financial, so for the moment just some stages from some rallies will be live.”
This year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) is set for a thrilling climax with four events of the all-action series remaining including Rally Sliven, an exciting addition to the IRC schedule for 2012.
Following this week’s Prime Yalta Rally in Ukraine, where crews are currently completing their final preparations prior to the competitive action getting underway this Friday (14 September), the IRC will make its first visit to Bulgaria from 28-30 September.
Rally Sliven represents an intriguing prospect for IRC regulars and newcomers alike. New to the series for this season, the event is a mainstay of the Bulgarian national championship and part of the FIA European Rally Cups. It features technical asphalt stages in the mountains around Sliven, Bulgaria’s eighth largest city, with altitudes ranging from 250 metres to 1100 metres above sea level. Some runs feature an altitude variation of 600 metres. Two legendary downhill tests, Bulgarka and Stara Reka, are back on the itinerary for the first time in 20 years, while the popular Sliven superspecial stage, based in a park in the city, will attract thousands of spectators.
“Fans from throughout Bulgaria will gather around the stages and create a great atmosphere for the competitors, who will quickly find out how challenging the stages are,” said Atanas Chanev, the Deputy Clerk of the Course. “There are uphill sections followed by steep and technical downhill parts. Every stage has its specific grip and even on some stages the amount of grip changes in almost every corner. Rally Sliven will be the most interesting motorsport event in Bulgaria this year and a lot of people will come and be part of our debut in the IRC.”
Entries close on Thursday 20 September and more details are available at http://www.rallysliven.com.
Rally Sliven: key features
*Ceremonial start in Sliven on Friday 28 September
*Superspecial stage in host city, one of 13 asphalt runs over competitive distance of 197.32 kilometres
*Technical stages based in the mountains above Sliven, 300 kilometres from Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia
*Finishing podium at 14:30hrs local time on Sunday 30 September
*Day-by-day highlights and Inside IRC magazine programme on Eurosport
Rally Sliven is round 11 of the 13-event IRC season. The series concludes with Rallye Sanremo in Italy from 12-13 October and the Cyprus Rally based in Pafos from 2 – 3 November.
Yağiz Avci has entered the record books as the first Turkish driver to win a round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge since the all-action series begun six years ago following his success on the Prime Yalta Rally in Ukraine yesterday.
Piloting an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000, the three-time Turkish champion reached the finish on the banks of the Black Sea more than three minutes ahead of his closest rival. A sterling performance from start to finish enabled Robert Consani to clinch the runner-up spot, as well as the first IRC podium for French manufacturer Renault. His maiden top-three plus an IRC Production Cup and IRC 2WD Cup double earned Consani the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy. Continue reading Yagiz Avci claims IRC Prime Yalta Rally win
Mikko Pajunen has got his bid for a maiden Intercontinental Rally Challenge victory off to a flying start on the Prime Yalta Rally, round 10 of the all-action series.
Piloting an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 for the first time, Pajunen completed the opening 7.61-kilometre loop quickest, which has earned the 27-year-old Finn a 0.98s advantage going into the first full day of action in Ukraine on Saturday. Hot on Pajunen’s heels, however, was home hero Yuriy Protasov who steered his Fiesta RRC to a stage win on the day’s opening 2.12-kilometre super special.
“We’ve only had two short stages today but now we must concentrate on keeping Yuriy behind us tomorrow,” explained rally leader Pajunen, whose Fiesta is run by the AT Rally Team. “The first part of the second stage was very slippery and had a lot of hairpins. It was the first time I haven driven tight hairpins in this car so that was a new learning experience for me. I’m feeling very comfortable in the car but there are still a lot of new things to learn so I need to be careful tomorrow.”
Multiple Turkish champion Yağiz Avci is third despite having limited experience of competing on asphalt in his Fiesta S2000. Avci is currently 10.1s behind second-placed Protasov. “We were perhaps too cautious on the first stage but the real challenge starts tomorrow,” admitted Avci. “First, we want to finish the rally but if the feeling is good then maybe we will attack.”
Fourth overall and leading the way in the IRC Production Cup is Marco Tempestini in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI. Tempestini, currently second in the IRC Production Cup title standings, is 1.76s ahead of second-placed Ukrainian Vitaliy Pushkar in a Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X R4. Valeriy Gorban is third in the IRC Production Cup in a Lancer Evolution IX, with fellow local driver Yurii Kochmar fourth in a similar car. ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 driver László Vizin is ninth overall, with Ukraine’s Yukhym Vazheyevskyy rounding off the top 10 in a Peugeot 207 S2000.
Frenchman Robert Consani leads the way in the IRC 2WD Cup at the wheel of a Renault Mégane RS despite losing a handful of seconds when changing gear. Murat Bostanci is second in a Fiesta R2, 12.3s behind the rapid Cansani. Third is Romanian Vlad Cosma, 1.0s adrift of Turk Bostanci.
Saturday’s action will consist of six stages totaling 145.13 competitive kilometres. The day will begin with the 17.26-kilometre Al Petri 1 test at 08:49hrs local time.
Ekaterina Stratieva returns to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge on Barum Czech Rally Zlín next week determined to “enjoy every centimetre” of the asphalt showcase.
The Bulgarian has called on double European champion Simon Jean-Joseph to help her prepare for the event, where she will be chasing success in the IRC 2WD Cup.
“For two months I don’t do another race because I want to concentrate on Zlín,” said Stratieva. “Simon Jean-Joseph helped me a lot by telling me to be more relaxed and enjoy every centimetre that I drive. I am in love with the stages on this rally, very hard and technical. All the time you must have very good concentration. I hope we will get a good result.”
Stratieva and co-driver Carmen Poenaru are one of three all-female crews competing in Czech Republic.
Here’s an action-packed video of Pavel Valousek taking on SS1 of the 2009 Barum Czech Rally at night!
Video uploaded to YouTube via bonk3238.