IRC news before Rally San Marino (Part 2)

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By Olivier Ferret

5 July 2012 - 13:21
IRC news before Rally San Marino (...)

BONNEFIS TO MAXIMISE IRC DEBUT CHANCE

French rising star Germain Bonnefis has vowed to make the most of the opportunity handed to him by Peugeot Sport when he makes his Intercontinental Rally Challenge debut on Rally San Marino this week.

Bonnefis is currently contesting the French Gravel championship as his prize for winning the Volant 207 one-make series in his homeland last season. Eager to build his international experience and reward him for his performances in 2012, Peugeot Sport is entering the 25-year-old on the gravel-based IRC qualifier from 5-7 July.

“We will do everything we can to profit from the opportunity and make it a success,” said Bonnefis, who will pilot a Peugeot 207 Super 2000 alongside co-driver Olivier Fournier. “Our tactic will be to turn on the speed gradually as the rally progresses. We shouldn’t be under any pressure, so we will try not to make any mistakes on the first visit to each stage before upping our pace second time round to see how we compare with the other drivers during the latter part of the rally.”

IRC CHAMPION MIKKELSEN TARGETS GRAVEL SCORES

Andreas Mikkelsen plans to score as many points as possible on the upcoming gravel rounds in San Marino and Romania as he continues his bid to become the first driver to win the Intercontinental Rally Challenge title twice.

Mikkelsen holds a six-point advantage heading to Rally San Marino this week, despite crashing out of round six, the Geko Ypres Rally in Belgium. He won in San Marino last season when the event counted as a round of the Italian Gravel Trophy.

“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 points as possible,” said the ŠKODA UK Motorsport talent. “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.”

SOUSA PLEASED WITH LOTUS PROGRESS

Bernardo Sousa says the Lotus Exige R-GT’s first public outing as a course car on the Geko Ypres Rally last month marked an important step in the car’s ongoing development.

The Lotus International Rally Team is currently readying the car for its competition debut later this season when it will be eligible for the IRC 2WD Cup.

Sousa and co-driver Corrado Mancini passed through a number of stages on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge event in Belgium to accumulate vital data and experiment with different set-ups.

“Progress was steady and significant in Ypres,” said Sousa. “The great potential of the Exige R-GT is emerging day after day. In this phase the team and I are trying to achieve the highest reliability and are only relatively interested in the stage times, even if I must say that the car is proving to be faster every day.”

THREE QUESTIONS TO: JUHA SALO

Multiple Finnish champion looks ahead to his IRC debut in San Marino.

With so much success achieved in Finland, have you had the time to compete outside of your country before?

“This will not be my first time because I have also done some rallies in China, Latvia, Sweden and even Sardinia. But for sure it will be my first time in San Marino and I must say I am quite excited to be doing this rally.”

How much experience do you have of the M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 you will use on the event?

“I won’t drive the car until shakedown and I have never done a rally in a Super 2000 car before either. I have just done a test, about 160 kilometres, in a PROTON Satria-Neo in the United Kingdom. It will be a new experience for me but a good experience also.”

Apart from driving rally cars how else do you keep busy?

“Rallying is not just my hobby, it’s also my job. When I am not driving rally cars I also work on them. But really I am busy marketing myself, trying to find sponsors to do more rallies. Maybe I can do more rallies in the IRC.”

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