Due to run for a 32nd time in 2012, Rally Sliven completes the list of IRC newcomers for this season and brings the total number of events in Eastern Europe to five. A mainstay of the Bulgarian championship, the rally is famed for its tricky and unique asphalt surface.
After SS1: Avci on top in Sliven following stadium stage
Yağiz Avci has continued where he left off on the Prime Yalta Rally by leading the Mabanol Rally Sliven following the opening 1.91-kilometre SSS Sliven stage around the city’s Hadji Dimitar Stadium tonight.
In dry conditions and in temperatures of 26 degrees centigrade, the reigning Turkish champion, who claimed his maiden IRC win in Ukraine earlier this month, stopped the clocks in 2m00.5s at the wheel of his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000.
IRC Production Cup contender Marco Tempestini was second fastest, 0.5s adrift of Avci in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI with category rival and IRC 2WD Cup pacesetter Robert Consani next up in his Renault Mégane RS, 3.4s down on Avci.
Cheered on by thousands of local fans, Dimitar Iliev, the five-time Sliven winner and favourite for victory in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, was fourth fastest 4.0s, off the lead. Former IRC 2WD Cup champion Harry Hunt was fifth with Petar Gyoshev completing the top six in his Peugeot 207 S2000.
Menya Krózser (Renault Clio R3) was seventh followed by Bulgarian lady driver Ekaterina Stratieva and impressive IRC rookie Yuan-Hu Lin from Taiwan. Murat Bustanci completed the top 10. Rising Bulgarian star Todor Slavov was 11th quickest with Martin Kangur the fastest Honda driver 15th overall.
The stage was stopped for a time after Bulgarian IRC 2WD Cup contender George Lazarov crashed into a tree. Lazarov was taken to hospital for precautionary checks but was subsequently given the all clear. The stage was resumed once his car had been recovered.
Day one’s action resumes with the Mollova Gora stage at 10:30hrs local time on Saturday following a 15-minute service in Sliven.
After SS2: Donchev fastest, Iliev takes Sliven lead
Krum Donchev has gone fastest on Saturday’s opening 18.08-kilometre Mollova Gora stage but it’s Dimitar Iliev who now leads the Mabanol Sliven Rally, round 11 of the all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Yağiz Avci, the winner of the previous round in Yalta, held top spot overnight in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000. But after trailing Donchev by 19.3s through the stage, the reigning Turkish champion is now 12.6s off the lead heading to stage three, Kotel.
Donchev, in a Globul Rally Team Peugeot 207 Super 2000, was 2.7s faster through the stage than Iliev, the five-time winner in Sliven and a favourite for victory in his Vivacom Rally Team ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000. He is now in third place overall, 9.4s down on Iliev.
Petar Gyoshev, whose ASC Prestige team rushed to carry out substantial repairs to his 207 S2000 during first service in Sliven this morning following his off on SSS Sliven on Friday night, was third fastest, 4.7s down on Donchev. He is second overall, 3.9s behind Iliev.
Subaru Impreza R4 STI driver Marco Tempestini holds a 6.2s advantage over Renault Mégane RS driver Robert Consani in the IRC Production Cup classification following his second successive stage win in the category.
Todor Slavov was the fastest of the IRC 2WD Cup runners in a stunning fourth overall and now moves into the class lead with former champion Harry Hunt second. The Bulgarian’s impressive pace means he climbs to fifth in the overall results in his Renault Clio R3.
Kotel 1, measuring 11.92 kilometres, goes live at 11:38hrs local time. Hot weather continues to form the backdrop to the asphalt event, the IRC’s first visit to Bulgaria.
After SS3: Iliev makes it three different stage winners out of three in Bulgaria
Dimitar Iliev has underlined the close and exciting nature of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge by making it three different stage winners out of three following his pacesetting performance on the 11.92-kilometre Kotel test.
Driving a Vivacom Rally Team ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, Iliev was 2.0s faster than the Peugeot 207 S2000 of Petar Gyoshev. It means the five-time Sliven winner grows his overall advantage to 5.9s heading to the famous Stara Reka stage at 12:12hrs local time.
Krum Donchev, in another Peugeot, was third fastest with IRC 2WD Cup pacesetter Todor Slavov once again impressing in his Renault Clio R3 by going fourth fastest.
Turkish rally champion Yağiz Avci, the winner of the previous round in Yalta, was fifth quickest in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 with Hungarian Menya Krózser setting the sixth fastest time in his Clio.
Marco Tempestini once again set the pace in the IRC Production Cup in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI. His margin over category rival Robert Consani, in a Renault Mégane RS, increases to 9.1s.
Turkish driver Murat Bostanci was eighth quickest and takes 10th place from Honda pilot Martin Kangur as a result.
Hot weather continues to form the backdrop to the asphalt event, the IRC’s first visit to Bulgaria.
After SS4: Iliev continues Sliven IRC victory push
Bulgarian hero Dimitar Iliev has maintained his bid to win the Mabanol Sliven Rally for a sixth time by going fastest of all on the famous Stara Reka stage.
Back on the event itinerary for the first time in 20 years, the stage includes a demanding downhill section. Iliev, in a Vivacom Rally Team ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, was 5.3s faster than closest rival Petar Gyoshev. It means his overall lead ahead of the Peugeot 207 S2000 driver stands at 11.2s with one stage remaining before the midday service halt in Sliven.
Krum Donchev was third quickest, 8.1s behind Iliev. Meanwhile, Yağiz Avci, the winner of the previous Intercontinental Rally Challenge round in Ukraine, has dropped back in his bid to make it two victories in a row. The M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 driver was 44.3s off the pace and is now 1m17.3s adrift of first place in the overall classification.
After SS5: Crews complete morning loop with Iliev out front
Dimitar Iliev has completed the opening loop of stages leading the Mabanol Sliven Rally by 19.4s after storming to his third fastest stage time in succession.
The Vivacom Rally Team ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 was 8.2s quicker than Peugeot 207 S2000 driver Petar Gyoshev by 8.2s to grow his overall advantage on round 11 of the all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Crews are now heading back to service in Sliven for a 30-minute halt. Stage six, the repeat of the Mollova Gora test, gets underway at 14:20hrs local time.
After SS6: Donchev recovery underway with stage win
Krum Donchev’s bid to make up the time he lost with a puncture on stage five is well and truly underway after the Bulgarian star went fastest on stage six of the Mabanol Sliven Rally, the repeat of the 18.08-kilometre Mollova Gora test.
Donchev, a four-time Sliven winner, dropped out of a podium place when his Globul Rally Team Peugeot 207 Super 2000 suffered a deflated front-right tyre two kilometres from the start of the 15.06-kilometre Bulgarka stage.
On stage six he was 1.3s faster than event leader Dimitar Iliev to close to within 7.7s of fifth-placed Hungarian IRC 2WD Cup contender Menya Krózser in the overall classification.
Iliev, meanwhile, now leads the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier by 22.5s in his Vivacom Rally Team ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 with Petar Gyoshev in second in his Peugeot 207 S2000. Gyoshev was third fastest through the stage, 4.4s adrift of Donchev. Meanwhile, Todor Slavov continues to impress in his Renault Clio R3. The Bulgarian youngster was fourth fastest to maintain his grip on third place overall.
Saturday afternoon’s itinerary is running 15 minutes behind schedule after stage three was temporarily halted after Eytan Halfon rolled his M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2. The Turkish driver and his navigator Sedat Bostanci were taken to hospital for checks.
After SS7: Gyoshev lands another stage best for Peugeot
Peugeot’s strong start to Saturday afternoon’s loop of four stages continued when Petar Gyoshev recorded his first fastest time on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier aboard his 207 Super 2000.
Gyoshev was quickest by 0.8s through the 11.92-kilometre Kotel test to close to within 21.7s of overall leader Dimitar Iliev, who was second fastest in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000. Iliev, a five-time Sliven winner, admitted earlier that his need to preserve his advantage out front meant he wouldn’t be pushing to the maximum this afternoon in order to avoid making a mistakes.
Krum Donchev has moved ahead of Menya Krózser into fifth overall after setting the third best time in his Peugeot. Elsewhere, Renault Clio R3 ace Todor Slavov continues to edge clear of M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Yağiz Avci in the battle for the final podium spot. The gap between the pair is 7.4s with two stages of day two remaining.
Martin Kangur, who was eighth fastest, continues to occupy a strong seventh overall in his Catwees Honda Racing Civic Type R. However, Robert Consani is dropping time with a driveshaft issue on his Renault Mégane RS. The Frenchman is eligible for points in both the IRC Production Cup and IRC 2WD Cup but is dropping time.
Petar Gyoshev has slashed Dimitar Iliev’s lead of the Mabanol Sliven Rally to 7.1s after claiming his second stage win in a row on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier.
Driving a Peugeot 207 Super 2000 for the ASC Prestige team, Gyoshev was 14.6s faster than ŠKODA Fabia S2000 pilot Iliev through the 19.95-kilometre Stara Reka test. Krum Donchev was second fastest in his Peugeot, 2.9s while Todor Slavov continues to impress in his Renault Clio R3. The Bulgarian IRC 2WD Cup driver was fourth quickest.
Marco Tempestini did not start the stage after returning to service in Sliven when an engine problem developed on his Subaru Impreza R4 STI.
After SS9: Iliev hits back in race for Sliven victory Dimitar Iliev has hit back in the battle for victory on the Mabanol Sliven Rally by claiming his first stage win of the afternoon in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.
Iliev’s advantage out front on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier had been whittled down to 7.1s following the eighth stage. However, by setting the fastest time on stage nine, the repeat of the 15.06-kilometre Bulgarka run, Iliev now heads closest rival Petar Gyoshev by 11.7s heading to the overnight halt in Sliven.
Gyoshev, in a Peugeot 207 Super 2000, was second fastest through the stage, 4.6s adrift of Iliev. Krum Donchev was third quickest in another Peugeot with Yağiz Avci setting the fourth fastest time in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000. Todor Slavov was fifth quickest to hold on to third overall in his Renault Clio R3.
Crews are now entering the 45-minute service halt in Sliven. Sunday’s action begins with the 15.28-kilometre Ablanovo stage at 10:30hrs local time.
IRC Mabanol Sliven Rally day one review: Iliev heads close battle
Dimitar Iliev can make it seven different winners in this year’s all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge providing he can maintain his advantage out front when the Mabanol Sliven Rally concludes in Bulgaria tomorrow (Sunday).
Iliev, who is on course for his sixth win on the asphalt rally located 300 kilometres east of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, moved in front on Saturday’s opening test after trailing overnight leader Yağiz Avci by 4.0s following Friday night’s superspecial stage around Sliven’s Hadji Dimitar Stadium.
In high ambient and ground temperatures, the Bulgarian championship leader, in his Vivacom Rally Team ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, recorded a trio of stage bests to reach the midday service in Sliven with a lead of 19.4s over Peugeot 207 S2000 pilot Petar Gyoshev. However, a slightly more measured approach in the afternoon, combined with an extremely cautious run through stage eight, which was coated in gravel in some sections, allowed Goyshev to trim his lead to 7.1s.
But Iliev hit back to win the day’s closing test to hold a slender margin of 11.4s starting Sunday’s final quartet of challenging stages. “We can go faster but I don’t want to make any mistakes because I also need to think about the Bulgarian championship,” said Iliev. “However, the gap is not enough to relax so I will have to push a bit more tomorrow.”
Gyoshev endured an anxious start to the day while his ASC Prestige team rushed to repair damage the Bulgarian inflicted on his car when he struck a tree during SSS Sliven. But he slowly regained his composure to win two stages in the afternoon and has vowed to go on maximum attack on day two.
Krum Donchev, who began the day with a stage win having dropped time trying to reverse after a wrong turn on SSS Sliven, was in third place when he picked up a front-right puncture two kilometres into stage five. By having to stop and change the damaged tyre, the Globul Rally Team Peugeot driver languishes in fifth place overnight, 22.3s behind Prime Yalta Rally winner Yağiz Avci, who continues to build his limited experience of driving on asphalt in his Castrol Ford Team Türkiye M-Sport Fiesta S2000.
Todor Slavov is a hugely impressive third overall in his Renault Clio R3. The rising Bulgarian star, making his first full start of the season due to budgetary constraints, has shone throughout the day despite reporting an initial struggle to gain confidence as a result of his limited competition schedule.
Slavov tops the IRC 2WD Cup classification by almost two minutes ahead of Hungarian Menya Krózser, who dropped time on stage eight with an intercom fault. Behind Krózser, Martin Kangur holds seventh overall in his Catwees Honda Racing Civic Type R. The Estonian teenager admitted to a lack of confidence with his pacenotes in the morning but otherwise reported no problems.
Georgi Vasilev tops the IRC Production Cup category after class rivals Robert Consani (Renault Mégane RS) and Marco Tempestini (Subaru Impreza R4 STI) both hit trouble. A down-on-power engine plagued Consani throughout the day before a double driveshaft failure caused further frustration for the French driver. He holds 10th overall behind Turkish IRC 2WD Cup contender Murat Bostanci. Tempestini, meanwhile, lost time with a turbo problem on stage five, set the fastest Production Cup time on stage six only to stop on the subsequent road section with a loss of oil following a small fire.
Harry Hunt had been in the top 10 and second in the IRC 2WD Cup but dropped out of contention when he slid wide on a corner on a patch of gravel and got stranded for almost 15 minutes. Leading female driver Ekaterina Stratieva was plagued by a handling issue in the morning but is on course for a strong result in the IRC 2WD Cup.
Sunday’s action consists of four stages and begins with the 15.28-kilometre Ablanovo stage at 10:30hrs local time. The finish is scheduled in Sliven at 14:00hrs.
After SS10: Gyoshev fastest as Donchev closes on podium
Todor Slavov’s tenure of third place on the Mabanol Sliven Rally is under threat after Krum Donchev cut his advantage to 7.5s on Sunday’s opening stage, the 15.28-kilometre Ablanovo test.
Donchev, in a Peugeot 207 Super 2000, was almost 18 seconds faster than his Renault Clio R3 rival to move firmly in contention for third place with three asphalt stages remaining.
In the battle for victory on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge counter, Peugeot ace Petar Gyoshev has trimmed Dimitar Iliev’s advantage out front to 10.1s after he went 1.6s faster than the Vivacom Rally Team ŠKODA Fabia S2000 pilot. It was Gyoshev’s third stage victory on the event located 300 kilometres east of the Bulgarian capital Sofia.
Iliev suggested at the completion of day one that he would adopt a cautious approach running first on the road due to the build up of gravel on the stage surface. However, Gyoshev insisted he would be mounting an all-out push for victory in his 207 S2000.
Hot and dry conditions continue to form the backdrop to the IRC’s first visit to Bulgaria. Stage 11, Kantona, gets underway at 10:58hrs when Gyoshev will continue his pursuit of first place in this exciting battle for IRC glory.
After SS11: Iliev back on track, Donchev takes third
Globul Rally Team’s Krum Donchev is the new third-placed driver on the Mabanol Sliven Rally, round 11 of the all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge, after he demoted Todor Slavov on the Kantona stage.
Peugeot 207 Super 2000 driver Donchev had been expected to overtake Slavov’s lower-specification Renault Clio R3 through the 20.20-kilometre test. And he did so with comparative ease to the extent he is now 24.7s clear of his rival with two stages of the asphalt event remaining. Despite losing third place, Slavov continues to dominate the IRC 2WD Cup division.
Out front, Dimitar Iliev (pictured) has been able to fend off Petar Gyoshev’s advances by going 4.5s faster than the Peugeot pilot in his ŠKODA Fabia S2000. Gyoshev won this morning’s opening run but Iliev, who has now gone quickest on five stages, has built an overall lead of 14.6s heading to the 11.97-kilometre Kipilovo stage, which goes live at 11:36hrs local time.
In other notable developments, the lead of the IRC Production Cup could be about to change. Georgi Vasilev, who had held top spot, has yet to register a time on the Kantona stage, which is set to hand Renault Mégane RS driver Robert Consani the position and elevate Anton Titov into the top 10.
Hunt crashes out of Mabanol Sliven Rally Harry Hunt has crashed out of the Mabanol Sliven Rally, round 11 of the all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
The British driver, out of contention for IRC 2WD Cup honours following his lengthy delay on Saturday morning, went off the road approximately a quarter of the way through the 20.20-kilometre Kantona test, the 11th of the 13-stage rally. Both Hunt and co-driver Robbie Durant have been taken to hospital in Sliven for precautionary checks.
Their accident also delayed erstwhile IRC Production Cup leader Georgi Vasilev. He had stopped to change a puncture earlier in the stage following a spin and was forced to stop again at the site of the crash to enable a rescue vehicle to attend the scene. It is not clear whether Vasilev is continuing. Hunt has spoken by telephone to his team manager.
After SS12: Iliev closes in on IRC glory in Sliven
Dimitar Iliev is one stage away from winning the Mabanol Sliven Rally for a sixth time after he extended his overall advantage on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier to 16.3s by winning the Kipilovo test.
Iliev, in a Vivacom Rally Team ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, was 1.7s quicker than closest rival Petar Gyoshev (ASC Prestige Peugeot 207 S2000) with fellow Bulgarians Krum Donchev (Peugeot) third fastest and Todor Slavov fourth quickest in a Renault Clio R3.
Honda Civic Type R runner Martin Kangur has moved into sixth overall after Menya Krózser failed to register a time in his Renault.
Petar Gyoshev has won the final stage of the Mabanol Sliven Rally but it was not enough to prevent Dimitar Iliev from claiming victory on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier in Bulgaria.
Gyoshev, driving a Peugeot 207 Super 2000, was 5.1s quicker than his ŠKODA Fabia S2000-driving rival to finish 11.2s behind in the overall classification. Krum Donchev secured the final step on the podium in his Peugeot with Todor Slavov finishing fourth and the top IRC 2WD Cup runner in his Renault Clio R3. Yağiz Avci (M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000) and Martin Kangur (Honda Civic Type R) round out the top six overall.
Iliev’s success makes him a six-time winner in Sliven. He’s also the seventh driver to win a round of the all-action IRC in 2012.
With the competitive action contained within a 24-hour window, a huge strain is placed on car and crew. The stages use narrow and undulating roads and feature fast and flowing sections, frequent changes of rhythm and blind and open corners with rapid climbs and descents.