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YOUNG STARS ARZENO AND BREEN GET IRC BIDS
An exciting team of young drivers will enter this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge in Peugeot 207 Super 2000s with backing from Peugeot Sport.
Mathieu Arzeno, 24, and Craig Breen, 22, have signed for the French Saintéloc Junior Team to tackle at least four rounds of the IRC starting with next month’s Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally and including Tour de Corse and the GEKO Ypres Rally.
Team boss Sébastien Chetail said: "I really believe in these two young talents. I was blown away by the performance of Craig Breen last year. As for Mathieu Arzeno, I know his speed as he drove last year with us."
EXCITEMENT GROWS AHEAD OF RALLY ISLAS CANARIAS
Expectations for Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés were heightened earlier this week (Tuesday) when the 36th running of the event, round two of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, was officially launched in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.
Attended by various sporting and political dignitaries, plus a large number of media, organisers used the launch to reveal the exciting entry list for the asphalt rally, which will run from 15-17 March and mark the third time that Gran Canaria has hosted a round of the all-action IRC.
A total of 31 cars will contest the main IRC event with 11 doing so in Super 2000 cars. Four entries have been received for the IRC Production Cup, while a further 16 crews are due to bid for IRC 2WD Cup glory.
CONSANI TO PICK AND CHOSE IN 2012 IRC
Robert Consani doesn’t do things by halves when it comes to his IRC 2WD Cup campaign. Rather than making do with one Renault rally car, the young Frenchman has two to chose from, one for asphalt events and one for rounds on gravel.
"Our plan is to use the Mégane for asphalt and our Clio R3 for gravel, as the Mégane isn’t homologated for gravel," said Consani. "We want to do as many rounds of the IRC as possible - everything if we can - but like always it depends on budget."
Consani’s IRC 2WD Cup debut on SATA Rallye Açores last month ended when he crashed out on the final day.
BOUFFIER VOWS TO FIGHT ON IN IRC FUNDING BID
Bryan Bouffier is so committed to chasing Intercontinental Rally Challenge glory in 2012 that he has vowed to "never give up" in his efforts to contest the all-action series.
Bouffier was a podium finisher on the opening event of the season, SATA Rallye Açores, but has yet to confirm any further appearances in the Peugeot 207 Super 2000 he shares with co-driver Xavier Panseri.
"For the time being Açores was a one-off and it was really last minute," said the Frenchman. "Of course I will keep on looking for the money and I will try to do as many of the rallies as I can. I never give up and I am always optimistic."
CO-DRIVER FLØENE REVEALS FITNESS DRIVE
It’s not just the drivers in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge who have to be fighting fit. Co-drivers, too, also have to be good physical order to compete at the sharp end of the field as Ola Fløene, the man who guided Andreas Mikkelsen to the IRC title in 2012, explained.
"I need to be in a deep concentration to be with Andreas as we go through the stages, and I work hard with myself on the physical and mental side of the sport," said Fløene.
"Before the start of a stage, some of the drivers do push ups and a bit of running, and I do the same. The other navigators look at me and think I’m a little bit crazy, but I do this because it helps my concentration at the right level."
PIKES PEAK CAR TO STAR ON CIRCUIT OF IRELAND
The car Ari Vatanen used to win the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1989 will be one of the star attractions at the Titanic Super Special Stage, which will open the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally on 6 April.
Constructed within Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, the temporary all-asphalt test will form the opening stage of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier next month.
Several Group B rally cars and specials such as Vatanen’s Peugeot 405 T16, will perform demonstration runs prior to the stage going live at 17:00hrs local time.
Only two examples of the Pikes Peak Peugeot, which was equipped with four-wheel steering and a 700bhp engine, were built. Irish collector Enda Garvey owns one of the machines and has agreed to make it available for the event.