San Marino - IRC news before SS6

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By Olivier Ferret

7 July 2012 - 10:09
San Marino - IRC news before SS6

New gearbox keeps Hunt in the IRC 2WD Cup fight

Harry Hunt has praised his I-Cars Motorsport mechanics after they rushed to replace a leaking gearbox in service in San Marino this morning.

The Briton reported a leak on Friday’s San Marino night stage. Thanks to the efforts of his team, however, Hunt and co-driver Robbie Durant continue to lead the IRC 2WD Cup.

“There was a hole in the gearbox, which was leaking oil so we had to take it steady last night,” Hunt told IRC Rally Radio’s Chris Rawes. “It was a bit of a panic this morning but they got the gearbox changed and we’re here.”

Hunt’s advantage over French driver Robert Consani has been trimmed to 59.8s after the Renault Clio driver went fastest in class through Saturday’s first stage.

Overall leader Andreas Mikkelsen is also running with a replacement gearbox, which was fitted as a precaution in service this morning.

Rally San Marino: Saturday stage guide

Rally San Marino is an exciting new addition to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2012. Vastly successful co-driver Tiziano Siviero is your expert guide to Saturday’s action.

SS6, SS9 and SS12, Monte Benedetto (6.82 kilometres): “The shortest of the gravel stages on the 40th edition of Rally San Marino, the start is situated on a slight slope near Sant’Agata Feltria, in the midst of a chestnut trees area. From the beginning it’s very fast with a compact surface on a wide road. After two kilometres the road starts to descend, it is beautiful but narrow. The crossroads with asphalt at four kilometres are very interesting: coming from Petrella Guidi and Sant’Agata Feltria and down to the hairpin turns towards Piagola you can see a beautiful stretch of road. The final part of the stage is still very attractive, there are some very interesting turns and from there it’s possible to follow a long stretch with the eye.”

SS7, SS10 and SS13, Rofelle (15.85 kilometres): “Here is a special stage where the foot can make a difference. A little less than 16 kilometers on dirt road that brings fans back in time. This is indeed a historic special stage of San Marino of the 1980s but its charm remains the same with the passing of time. The road runs entirely in the midst of the Apennines and crosses four different regions. There is a medium fast beginning with some nice hairpin bends at 1.8 kilometres at the beginning of the climb. At four kilometres the road is not covered by woods, and you can see large sections passing tiny villages. Here the race gets more “driven” with very low average speeds, giving the chance to enjoy the technical skill of the drivers. At six kilometres you reach a junction on the asphalt leading to Rofelle area. Going back to a dirt road, it becomes wide and very fast. The passage through the Montebotolino is spectacular and totally to enjoy thanks to two wide hairpin bends. The last kilometers of the special stage are brand new and here the road becomes even faster. This is where the right foot should stick to the pedal.”

SS8 and SS11, Sant’Agata Feltria (14.45 kilometres): “It’s not a special stage like all the others with the surface changing repeatedly. It’s one of the most difficult to digest. The beginning of the stage is really beautiful. As they say: pure adrenalin! There is a steep downhill section to be faced with the right foot down and a lot of attention. The stage changes its features after the crossroads of Pagno. The road, indeed, becomes much slower and leads through the woods. The passage of Rivolpaio village is also very evocative: the road is narrow and is located amidst the walls of the tiny village. Another place of spectacular intensity is at 10.60 kilometres with the beautiful passage in the heart of Poggio village. The special stage continues with a very fast part leading up to the finish.”

Tamrazov among six confirmed retirees in San Marino

Oleksiy Tamrazov is one of four Intercontinental Rally Challenge regulars who won’t be restarting on day two of Rally San Marino.

Dream Team Ukraine’s Tamrazov and co-driver Nicola Arena from Italy retired on Friday’s opening test when contact with a concrete block left their M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 with irreparable suspension damage.

Although Arena said there was a possibility that they could restart, they are among six crews on the official list of retirements.

Patrik Flodin is also out after his Petter Solberg Engineering’s Fiesta overheated on stage one. Toshi Arai will go no further following his exit as a result of a ball joint failure on the road section to stage four. Martin Kangur, a frontrunner in the IRC 2WD Cup, is also confirmed as having retired his Honda Civic Type R.

In total 30 crews will restart on day two of Rally San Marino.

Victory contender Basso happy ahead of final day

Giandomenico Basso will start the final day of Rally San Marino firmly in contention for his first victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge for almost three years.

Basso, a four-time winner in the IRC, is currently 4.1s adrift of overall leader Andreas Mikkelsen in the M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC he shares with co-driver and fellow Italian Mitia Dotta.

This week’s rally, the seventh round of the all-action IRC, marks the first time that Basso has driven his Fiesta on gravel. It’s also his first start on a loose surface event for nearly two years.

“It has been a difficult rally but we are happy and for today we will see what we can do,” said Basso. “My feeling is better now with the car because I have learned more and more. I can only improve.”

Basso’s last victory in the IRC was on Rali Vinho da Madeira on 1 August 2009.

San Marino leader Mikkelsen to start first on day two

Andreas Mikkelsen will run first on the road on the final day of Rally San Marino, round seven of the all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge, which enjoys extensive coverage on Eurosport.

The ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver, who leads overall by 4.1s, will be followed through Saturday’s eight stages by Giandomenico Basso’s M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC and Umberto Scandola in a ŠKODA Italia Fabia.

Sepp Wiegand starts fourth with IRC Production Cup leader Jarkko Nikara fifth in a Subaru Impreza R4 STI and Laurent Reuche sixth in the leading Peugeot 207 Super 2000.

Germain Bonnefis, currently 21st in the overall standings, has be reseeded in eighth position in his Peugeot Sport 207, one place behind seven-time Finnish champion Juha Salo. Harry Hunt, the IRC 2WD Cup pacesetter, starts 14th.

The top six drivers will run in intervals of two minutes with all remaining crews starting in one-minute gaps.

Saturday’s itinerary begins with a 45-minute service halt in San Marino followed by the opening special stage, the 6.82-kilometre Monte Benedetto run, which gets underway at 10:23hrs local time.

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