IRC news in brief before Rally Acores
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Delighted Tempestini set for IRC bid
Marco Tempestini has revealed his delight after securing a seven-event programme in the all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge this season.
Tempestini, an Italian by birth but now living and working in Romania, will chase IRC Production Cup glory in the Subaru Impreza R4 STI he shares with navigator Dorin Pulpea.
Their participation on seven IRC rounds in 2012 means they will become the first all-Romanian team to appear on a regular basis in the series, which fires back into life on SATA Rallye Açores later this week (23-25 February).
“The IRC is a very interesting championship and I am delighted that we managed to have an extended programme in this competition in 2012,” said Tempestini. “So far we have competed on three rounds of this championship and it is clear to us it is very competitive. We will try to finish each rally on one of the top three positions of the Production Cup and it would be perfect if we manage to be in the top three at the end of the season.”
Following SATA Rallye Açores Tempestini will tackle the Canon Mecsek Rallye in Hungary in June, Rally San Marino and the Sibiu Rally in Romania in July, Ukraine’s Prime Yalta Rally and Rally Sliven in Bulgaria in September, plus the season-closing Cyprus Rally in November.
The 48-year-old hasn’t ruled out making an additional appearance to boost his chances of a top-three finish in the IRC Production Cup.
Dream Team Ukraine enters IRC
Not content with hosting a round of the all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge, the Ukraine now has its own team competing in the series, starting from this week’s SATA Rallye Açores.
Dream Team Ukraine, which has appointed former world champion and rallying legend Ari Vatanen as its team coach, will enter two M-Sport Ford Fiesta Super 2000s on all 13 rounds of the IRC for Oleksiy Tamrazov and Oleksandr Saliuk Jr.
A third car, a production-based machine, will be entered for rising star Vitaliy Pushkar from June’s Canon Mecsek Rallye.
Dream Team Ukraine, which was launched in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv last week, was created by Evgeniy Chervonenko, a former USSR rally champion and the driving force behind the Prime Yalta Rally, and Tamrazov.
The Prime Yalta Rally, meanwhile, counts as round 10 of 13 of the IRC and takes place from 15/16 September in the Black Sea city of Yalta.
Change of scenery for Al-Ketbi
Rashid Al-Ketbi will swap the vast deserts of the Middle East for the lush countryside of the Azores when he contests the archipelago’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier for the first time this week.
Al-Ketbi is embarking on a 10-event IRC campaign in 2012 at the wheel of a Skydive Dubai Rally Team-entered ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 staring with SATA Rallye Açores.
He said: “Taking part in the IRC is an exciting new challenge for me. It is exciting to be here rallying for the first time and, yes, so very different to the deserts we are used to. The target has to be to finish and score as many points as possible.”
Hunt braced for tough battle with Maciel
Harry Hunt has singled out Paulo Maciel as the driver who will provide his strongest opposition on SATA Rallye Açores, the opening round of the 2012 IRC 2WD Cup, this week.
Hunt, the 2010 IRC 2WD Cup champion, was enjoying a close battle with Maciel on the island event last season before he was forced to retire.
The 23-year-old Briton is returning to the IRC 2WD Cup this year for a renewed title bid along with co-driver Robbie Durant.
“It’s going to be a difficult start to our IRC season as the Azores was an event we didn’t finish last year, despite setting some fastest times in our class, but I’m feeling ready to step up my game this year,” said Hunt. “Our main aim is to finish and to leave the first round of the season with points under our belt. We’d like to be as competitive as we can against the other crews but there’s a local driver [Maciel], who will probably be our biggest threat - he was really quick last year. He won the 2WD category in the Azores last season and I’d really like to challenge him this time round.”
Love is in the air for Honda’s Krózser
Menyhért Krózser will be reunited with his first love when he takes part on eight rounds of the IRC 2WD Cup in 2012.
‘Menya’ will follow in countryman and former IRC 2WD Cup regular János Puskádi’s footsteps by tackling an expanded programme of IRC rallies with co-driver and fellow Hungarian György Papp.
He will drive a Honda Civic Type R after beginning his career in an older specification of the Japanese machine nine years ago.
“Having clinched the Hungarian title in class five 2WD and victory in the Gravel Cup, I wanted a fresh challenge,” said Krózser, who finished second in the IRC 2WD Cup on the Canon Mecsek Rallye last September. “I proved last year that I can compete with top class of the IRC. And having spoken to János and heard about the technical upgrades for the Honda Civic Type R, it was an easy decision.
“In many ways I am returning to my first love: I chose the Civic Type R for my first appearance in 2003, winning the Group N championship and being elected rookie of the year.”