by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 53
IRC, Super 2000, PWRC and Juniors PARALLEL to everything going on in the WRC has been the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. This is the fourth year of the IRC, which has provided top level rallying on a different scale to the WRC, and presented opportunities which the WRC’s strict formats prevented. When Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo was dropped from the WRC calendar for 2009, under the FIA’s event rotation system, Monte Carlo rushed to IRC and found the format freedoms it wanted. Other opportunities were the continued chance for teams to pick-and-choose events, most attractive for smaller emergent teams. In this way Skoda entered various events in the IRC, with its newly structured team and new Fabia S2000 model, as did Proton and Opel, while official Abarth-backed entries still came from Fiat and a big entry of Peugeots, often funded by importers and the BF Goodrich tyre company. The IRC continues to offer talented drivers who are refugees from the WRC an opportunity to show their skills, none so much as Kris Meeke. There were two main stories in the first half of the IRC season – the first being Meeke’s wins in Brazil, Azores and Ypres, after he had led the Monte Carlo Rally. The other story was the launch of the Fabia Super 2000 car, the first time in its 100 year history that Skoda had produced a car that was competitive in a major rally formula. Being a Super 2000 model not only presented the chance to vie for outright wins on the IRC, where World Rally Cars are forbidden, but also to compete head-on with the Mitsubishis and Subarus on events run all over the world for Group N cars. While the FIA prevaricated over the specification for the next generation of World Rally Cars, more and more attention was being focussed on Super 2000 problems. It is hard to comprehend that these cars have now been active in international rallysport for five years without having broken through into World Championship rallying, notwithstanding being eligible for use in Production Car World Championship events. It was not until Round 1 this year in Rally Norway that a Super 2000 car (a Fabia) won a major award on a world 3 championship rally … and now of the six PCWRC rounds held so far, Skoda have won three. The Production Car series is strong once more, even if the total number of registered drivers is fewer and it has been made more interesting with the serious programme of Patrik Sandell’s Skoda. In 2008 the PCWRC ended up as a cliff hanger between Andreas Aigner and Juho Hanninen and a disaster for Nasser Al Attiyah. This year Nasser has returned as a front-runner in the now more reliable N14 Subaru, and the competition has become tighter than ever. His main rivals are Armindo Araujo and Eyvind Brynildsen who have continued with old model Mitsubishi Evo IX cars while Evo Xs are being developed in other areas of motorsport. The Evo Xs were selected to be used by the five chosen Pirelli Star Drivers on their six-round programme and, while this activity has done a lot to identify the qualifies of the drivers concerned, it also highlighted the challenge of developing a new model in motorsport. Easily the fastest of the five was the Finn Jarkko Nikara, but on many occasions made fastest stage times of all the Group N competitors, let alone of the PSD drivers. The Junior World Championship has in some ways suffered the most, not only from the global financial unease which has made first-time appearances at world rally level generally more difficult for younger drivers. It has also suffered from the gradual phasing- out of Super 1600 cars in favour of their officially preferred replacements, complying with the FIA’s Group R3 category. The Rookie series was not repeated this year, after Citroen withdrew its Junior Experience programme in favour of more energetic support of French national championship rallying. Systematic development of the 2-litre Renault Clio R3 has made this car a strong rival for the lesser-tuned 1600cc Super 1600 cars. Perhaps the brightest light came from Clio R3 driver Kevin Abbring, the 22 year- old Dutchman who became the youngest ever JWRC winner in Poland this year, after an incredibly tight battle with Michal Kosciuszko.