IRC news before Rally Sibiu (Part 3)

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By Olivier Ferret

20 July 2012 - 08:29
IRC news before Rally Sibiu (Part (...)

Flodin plans to play it safe on Sibiu debut

Patrik Flodin has vowed to put caution ahead of outright speed when the opening stage of the Sibiu Rally gets underway on Friday afternoon – even though he admits that won’t be an easy task.

Flodin, from Sweden, is making his third start in this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge in a Petter Solberg Engineering M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 and his first start on the Romanian gravel event.

“It’s a very rough and long rally but I will be clever enough to go round the stones and try to go at a speed that I can bring the car back to the service,” said the Hankook-backed driver, who is using a replacement engine in his Fiesta after the original failed on Rally San Marino earlier this month. “It’s very hard to drive like that if somebody is trying to fly because you will be really disappointed when you see their times and they are 20s faster but you have to use your head.”

Flodin conducted extensive running in shakedown this morning, which amounted to his first meaningful time in his Fiesta on gravel following his early exit in San Marino. He reported making significant progress.

“Shakedown was like our test,” said Flodin. “I was able to play around with the car, with the [damper] clicks and the balance. I have some ideas what is going on now but I don’t have much experience of the car and this is a completely new rally compared to San Marino.”

The 27-year-old Flodin admits he is still experiencing some discomfort from the broken collarbone he suffered earlier this year, adding: “I am in quite good shape but I have just some pain around the muscles and the collarbone but I don’t have any pain in the collarbone. I just need a couple more weeks to make it a little bit stronger but I don’t have any problem to drive.”

Kangur prepared for tough test in Romania

IRC 2WD Cup contender Martin Kangur says he is braced for a tough test when the Sibiu Rally gets underway with the opening Dobârca stage later today.

Estonian Kangur, currently second to Briton Harry Hunt in the IRC 2WD Cup standings, will pilot a Catwees Honda Racing Civic Type R on the gravel event in Romania’s Transylvania region.

“It will be a very hard mission,"said the 19-year-old.“There are a lot of stones on the gravel roads and avoiding punctures is almost impossible. On some places you can drive fast but there are others where you simply have to save the car. Some compare the stages with the old Acropolis Rally, but it reminds me some of the rallies in Turkey. You can’t make any mistakes if you want reach the finish. And hopefully we are the chosen ones."

Kangur will be reunited with co-driver Andres Öts for the Sibiu Rally after the Russian was unable to compete in San Marino earlier this month.

Hunt gets that Olympic feeling ahead of Sibiu Rally

Harry Hunt’s sole focus might be on extending his lead of the IRC 2WD Cup on the Sibiu Rally but that hasn’t stopped him from looking ahead to the London 2012 Olympics, which begin in his home city a week today.

The 23-year-old from London is a regular in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge with the Welsh I-Cars Motorsport team and revealed the sense of excitement currently building in the British capital ahead of the games getting underway.

“The Olympics are amazing and it’s great they’re coming to London,” said Hunt. “It will be very busy with loads of people, chaos at times but it will be a really good event, a lot of Londoners are very excited. I’ll be watching the football mainly and some athletics and maybe a bit of beach volleyball.”

Hunt arrives in Romania for the Sibiu Rally on the back of his first win of the season in the IRC 2WD Cup category in San Marino earlier this month, a result that has boosted his confidence for the gravel event.

“I have confidence generally because my preferred surface is gravel so naturally I have more confidence coming to a gravel rally,” said Hunt. “Also coming here two weeks after winning in San Marino gives me a lot of confidence. But then again after the recce we saw the roads were a lot rougher than we thought so maybe I have a little less confidence now. We just have to get to the end.”

Q&A: Andreas Aigner

Andreas Aigner will start the Sibiu Rally in Romania bidding to make it three wins out of three starts in the IRC Production Cup in his Stohl Racing Subaru Impreza R4 STI.

Some drivers are saying that the Sibiu Rally will be one of the toughest events of the season. Do you agree?

“Well it’s more rough than places like Greece and Cyprus where I have driven as well. All the loose stones will be quite difficult starting seventh on the road from the cars in front of us. There could be some surprises for us.”

How concerned are you about punctures?

“Not only the punctures, it’s for the whole car. It’s so rough and so hard for the suspension and steering arms. It will be a really hard challenge to go to the finish without any problems or just with small problems.”

What will you do to combat those potential problems?

“For sure we don’t make any risks on the rideheight of the car, we will put it as high as possible. The suspension is very good but there are just so many stones to hit that you have to be really careful.”

How much extra caution have you included in your pacenotes?

“You have more caution in your pacenotes because the big stones are so loose so it will be really, really difficult to enter the corner. The target is not to be too late on the brakes because when you are braking too hard the car is moving at the front and you hit the stones or you can’t go through the corner.”

The heat will also be a factor…

“The fitness level of me and my co-driver Ilka [Minor] is quite good so it should be no problem. For sure it’s hot in the car but if you keep moving then there’s some air from the air intake in the roof. The average speed is not as high so it will be hot but it will be no problem.”

And what about the dust?

“For sure during the night recce it was really, really dusty and there was no wind at all to blow the dust away. Hopefully there will be wind, otherwise it’s quite difficult because you go in the woods and the dust is there. With the lights on you can see nothing.”

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