IRC news in brief after Canarias shakedown

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By Franck Drui

15 March 2012 - 23:58
IRC news in brief after Canarias (...)

Confident Mikkelsen starts first on day one

Andreas Mikkelsen will start first on the road on the opening day of Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés tomorrow (Friday).

Driving a ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, Mikkelsen will be chased over Friday’s stages by Jan Kopecký who competes in a Fabia S2000 for the factory team.

“I’m a much stronger driver on Tarmac now, so we want to be faster for sure, but we also want to finish and score points,” said Mikkelsen, the defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion.

ŠKODA Auo Deutschland’s Sepp Wiegand goes third with Red Bull Team’s Hermann Gassner Jr fourth in another Fabia.

Ricardo Moura is the leading IRC Production Cup runner on the start list in his Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer with Oleksandr Saliuk running sixth in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000.

Behind Jonathan Perez, in a Peugeot 207 S2000, Joan Vinyes is the top IRC 2WD Cup contender in eighth with Luis Monzón ninth in another Peugeot.

Alberto Hevia completes the top 10 with Skydive Dubai Rally Team’s Rashid Al-Ketbi 12th on the road.

Friday’s route consists of nine special stages over a competive distance of 139.40 kilometres. The first stage, Guia 1, goes live at 07:53hrs local time.

“Seventy per cent of the stages are completely different to last year,” Mikkelsen added. “The roads are really fast too, which I like. We had a good recce and I’m confident we’ve got good pace notes, so I’m happy.”

Tamrazov bids to finish in Gran Canaria

Oleksiy Tamrazov will be aiming to get his Intercontinental Rally Challenge season back on track by finishing Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés this week.

The Dream Team Ukraine ace retired on the opening event of the year in Açores last month but hopes to bounce back in Gran Canaria by completing the 15-stage event in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000.

“It’s our first event on asphalt together so we are looking for a finish, that’s very important,” said Tamrazov’s Italian co-driver Nicola Arena. “The shakedown stage was not so representative so I don’t really know how it can be tomorrow. But to finish the rally is the aim.”

Arena revealed he and Tamrazov received a special waiver from the event organisers to start their reconnaissance slightly later than scheduled due to Arena not being able to reach Gran Canaria until Tuesday morning following his participation on the world championship rally in Mexico the previous weekend.

Hevia counts on Fabia performance gains

Alberto Hevia hopes tweaks to his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 will give him the edge on his first start in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge for almost two years on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés tomorrow.

Hevia’s AMP Classic Team-entered Fabia incorporates ŠKODA’s latest evolutions for the Fabia for the first time and Hevia plans to take advantage.

“In the motor we have 12 or 14bhp more,” said the former Spanish rally champion. “There have also been some changes to the suspension and today in shakedown it has been very good.”

Hevia has never enjoyed a successful run in Gran Canaria but he says it’s an event that he enjoys coming to.

“I’ve had a few accidents here in Canary Islands but what is really great are the fans,” said Hevia. “They are fantastic and I have a really great time with them.”

Saliuk to start Rally Islas Canarias...on foot!

Oleksandr Saliuk and co-driver Pavel Cherepin won’t be at the wheel of their M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 when they start Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés this evening.

Instead they will take part in the ceremonial start on foot after their car developed an electrical fault during this morning’s shakedown.

Regulations permit crews to walk over the start ramp if their car is in need of repair. The Dream Team Ukraine machine will be restored to full working order once the plane carrying a replacement part lands in Gran Canaria tonight ahead of the first competitive stage getting underway on Friday morning.

Saliuk, who is contesting a full schedule of Intercontinental Rally Challenge events this season, was able to complete one run in shakedown this morning after borrowing a component from team-mate Oleksiy Tamrazov’s car. It will represent his only experience of driving his Fiesta S2000 on asphalt.

Moura works to secure more IRC runs in 2012

Ricardo Moura hopes that a strong result on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés this weekend will lead to more appearances in this season’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

Moura currently heads the IRC Production Cup standings following his home event, the season-opening SATA Rallye Açores last month.

However, the Ralliart Lancer driver’s participation in Gran Canaria was unexpected, as he has never previously taken part on a rally outside of a Portuguese territory before.

“I am trying to get a good result here so I can demonstrate to the Açores government and officials that doing rallies outside of Açores can be a good way to promote the Açores as a destination,” said Moura. “We will not look to try to do all the events in the IRC, just the events in the countries that are important to the Açores. I hope it can be possible but we have to see.”

Moura has a different co-driver for this week’s all-asphalt round with Antonio Costa replacing Sancho Eiró, who partnered Moura on the last IRC round. Costa usually partners Moura on rallies outside of the archipelago.

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