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Next Rnd 7 - San Marino - Gravel 06-07 July 2012

One of three all-gravel events on the 2012 IRC calendar, the rally will take place for the 40th time this season. The stages in the mountains in and around San Marino are made up of a mixture of fine and sandy gravel tracks and are notoriously challenging.

Official Website: rallysanmarino.com/default

Listen: rallyradio.com/Welcome


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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Short delay for opening Rally San Marino stage

The opening stage of Rally San Marino, round seven of the all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge, will run five minutes behind schedule at 11:00hrs CET, event organisers have confirmed.

In addition, the top 15 drivers will start in intervals of two minutes to allow for hanging dust clouds that are a feature of gravel events, particularly when stages are surrounded by trees and bushes that restrict air flow.


After SS1: Wiegand fastest on San Marino opener

Sepp Wiegand has claimed his first fastest stage time in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge by winning the opening stage of Rally San Marino.

The 21-year-old German rising star was 7.5s faster than IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen on the 19.33-kilometre Sestino test, which started 13 minutes behind schedule.

“It was really slippery but I’m really happy,” said Wiegand. “It was not too much risk, just normal driving and I think I can go faster next time round.”

Umberto Scandola was second fastest despite reporting a possible fuel contamination problem in his ŠKODA Italia entry. Scandola was 2.5s slower than Wiegand in a similar Fabia Super 2000.

Mikkelsen said he adopted a cautious approach in his ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia after clocking the third fastest time. “It was one of the most difficult gravel stages I am doing, so narrow and twisty,” said the Norwegian. “I was afraid of hitting things so I took it steady.”

Giandomenico Basso spun twice in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC and was 8.6s slower than Mikkelsen as a result. “It was very difficult and very slippery,” said the Italian, who was fourth fastest.

Petter Solberg Engineering’s Patrik Flodin was late starting the stage and received a 40-second penalty as a result. He then lost time stuck behind Germain Bonnefis, who was stranded in the middle of the road for several minutes when his Peugeot 207 Super 2000 suffered a fuel pressure issue.

The Swede’s recovery was then delayed when he got caught up in dust clouds created by Juha Salo’s Fiesta. All drivers finished the stage but suffered considerable delay.

Meanwhile, Hungarian János Puskádi reported overshooting a junction and having to reverse in his Eurosol Racing Team Fabia.

click: ircseries.com/news/617


Early woe for IRC ace Flodin in San Marino

Patrik Flodin’s hopes of a podium finish on Rally San Marino, round seven of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, are over after the Swede was forced to retire following Friday’s opening stage.

Flodin, in a Petter Solberg Engineering M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000, stopped on the road section heading to stage two with an overheating engine caused by a water leak. It is understood he will restart on Saturday morning although no confirmation has been forthcoming from his team.


After SS2: Basso fastest, Wiegand holds lead

Giandomenico Basso has gone fastest on stage two of Rally San Marino, despite reporting making a few mistakes in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC.

Basso, a four-time winner in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, completed the 24.15-kilometre Mercatello stage 3.0s faster than defending IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen to maintain fourth place in the overall standings. “It was a very difficult road but I two made mistakes,” said Basso. “I’m afraid to push.”

Mikkelsen, in a ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, said: “It was very slippery, I can’t find any confidence with the tyres at all. I’m just sliding everywhere and there’s not much we can do.”

Sepp Wiegand was third fastest after he reported nudging a small tree during one of three moments. However, he continues to hold a 3.3s lead over Umberto Scandola in a similar Fabia Super 2000 heading to service in San Marino.

“The stage was okay but we had two or three big moments when I was too late on the brakes,” said the ŠKODA Auto Deutschland driver. “One time I touched a little tree on the right side. It was really difficult and really slippery.”

Scandola is continuing to be hampered by the power issue he experienced on the opening stage. He said: “We had the same problem with the petrol and we have no power.”

Juha Salo said he experienced a handling issue in the closing five kilometres of the stage in his Fiesta. He was fifth quickest, one place ahead of leading IRC Production Cup runner Jarkko Nikara in a Subaru Impreza R4 STI.

Germain Bonnefis was seventh quickest in his Peugeot Sport 207 S2000. “It was a good stage for us but we don’t have a handbrake and there is a lot of slow bends,” said the young French driver.

Stage three, Sestino 2, is scheduled to get underway at 15:54hrs local time.

click: ircseries.com/news/620


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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
After SS3: Mikkelsen leads as Basso goes fastest again

Giandomencio Basso has claimed his second stage victory on Rally San Marino to close the gap to new leader Andreas Mikkelsen to 1.8s.

Basso, in an A-Style M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC, was 3.8s quicker than Mikkelsen through the second run of the 19.33-kilometre Sestino stage. He said: “Everything’s okay, it was clean and there was no dust. I am much happier.”

Mikkelsen, the reigning Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion, reported an upturn in confidence due to the cleaner nature of the tricky gravel roads. However, he said he was now struggling to match the pace of Basso’s turbocharged Fiesta in his normally-aspirated ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.

“It’s much better now it’s cleaner,” said Mikkelsen. “Basso is doing a very good job and I am losing time in the uphill hairpins against the turbo car. I am not pushing to the maximum because the stages are tricky and I have to be careful. Maybe tomorrow.”

Despite slipping from first to fourth overall, Sepp Wiegand said he could not be disappointed: “For me it’s okay, I was happy with the stage. I am very young and I don’t have so much experience. Maybe the soft tyres were not the best choice for this stage.”

Umberto Scandola said the power loss issue that affected him this morning was still hampering his pace. However, he remains firmly in contention for victory, 3.3s behind Mikkelsen after going third fastest in his Fabia.

click: ircseries.com/news/631


Despair for Arai on Rally San Marino Japan’s Toshi Arai has been forced to retire from Rally San Marino after a ball joint failed on his Subaru Impreza R4 STI on the road section heading to stage four.

The vastly experienced Arai and Australian co-driver Dale Moscatt were in second place in the IRC Production Cup, 34.7s behind Tommi Makinen Racing team-mates Jarkko Nikara and Jarkko Kalliolepo. They were 150 metres from the stop line of stage three when they were forced out.

Arai and Moscatt are the defending IRC Production Cup champions. Rally San Marino is their second appearance of 2012 and it is not clear if they will be able to restart on day two.


After SS4: Mikkelsen scores first stage victory

Andreas Mikkelsen has hit back in the battle for victory on Rally San Marino by claiming his first stage win on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier.

Mikkelsen, in a ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, was 0.6s quicker than Giandomenico Basso’s M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC to go 2.4s clear of the Italian driver heading to tonight’s all-asphalt stage in San Marino.

“Things are going as we want but I can see where I am losing time to Basso,” said Mikkelsen. “When the road is fast it’s no problem but when there are hairpins I have no chance [against his turbo car].”

Umberto Scandola continues to impress in his down-on-power Fabia, going 1.4s slower than Mikkelsen to remain in third overall.

“We are at 80 or 90 per cent with the engine,” said Scandola. “We need to push more because of this but sometimes we are too much and we go out of the line in the corner.”

Sepp Wiegand lost ground when he spun and lost approximately 15s trying to get pointing in the right direction again. The German is 31.5s off the lead. “It felt like we had a flat tyre all the time,” said the ŠKODA Auto Deutschland driver. “This stage was not so nice but tomorrow is a new day.”

Juha Salo completed the stage with a rear-left puncture on his Fiesta S2000, which he said occurred three kilometres from the stage finish after hitting some stones on a right-hand bend.

click: ircseries.com/news/633


After SS5: Mikkelsen wins night stage in San Marino

Andreas Mikkelsen has won the all-asphalt San Marino stage to bring to a close the opening day’s thrilling action.

The only competitive element of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier to take place in the Republic of San Marino, the stage was run in reverse order under the cover of darkness.

It was always going to be a huge challenge for the crews who had to tackle the 6.43-kilometre stage with gravel tyres. But their task was increased following heavy rain in the build up to the stage going live.

Driving a ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, Mikkelsen set a time of 4m54.6s through the stage, which was 1.7s faster than the time managed by his closest rival for victory Giandomenico Basso. It means Mikkelsen’s advantage over the M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC driver stands at 4.1s starting day two.

IRC Production Cup leader Jarkko Nikara continues to impress after he demoted his fellow Finn Juha Salo for fifth overall by setting a faster stage time.

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, getting underway at 10:23hrs local time.

click: ircseries.com/news/640


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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
After SS6: Mikkelsen starts day two in style

Andreas Mikkelsen has made a strong start to day two of Rally San Marino by winning the opening 6.82-kilometre Monte Benedetto test in his ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000.

Despite reporting having to sweep away some loose surface gravel by running first on the road, Mikkelsen has extended his lead over M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC driver Giandomenico Basso to 9.2s.

Mikkelsen, who is using a replacement gearbox fitted as a precaution in service in San Marino this morning, said: “It was a good stage with no problems. The road was cleaning a bit but it was a clean run. We had soft tyres and I have some work to do on the car.”

Basso began day two 4.1s behind Mikkelsen but said a lacking of “feeling” resulted in him dropping a few precious seconds to the charging Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion. He was 5.1s slower than Mikkelsen. “It was not a good feeling, very slippery because of the rain from yesterday,” said Basso, who has selected a medium compound tyre.

Umberto Scandola was third quickest, 8.9s behind Mikkelsen for ŠKODA Italia. He said: “The engine is okay today but the stage was very slippery. We need to go very fast today.”

Germain Bonnefis continues to make up ground following his extensive time loss on stage one by setting the fourth quickest time in his Peugeot Sport 207 Super 2000. The young French driver was 11.1s down on Mikkelsen.

Sepp Wiegand was fifth fastest, 11.2s adrift of Mikkelsen in his ŠKODA Auto Deutschland Fabia. “I lost one or two seconds to Scandola but it’s better to finish fourth than not to finish,” said the 21-year-old.

Jarkko Nikara continues to lead the IRC Production Cup in fifth overall despite reporting the brakes on his near-standard-specification Subaru Impreza losing performance on the downhill sections. He was eighth quickest.

Fellow Finn Juha Salo, who blamed losing position to Nikara on the San Marino stage last night on his decision to adopt an extremely cautious strategy, was seventh fastest behind the Swiss Laurent Reuche.

click: ircseries.com/news/646


After SS7: Basso closes back up to Mikkelsen

Giandomenico Basso has slashed Andreas Mikkelsen’s overall lead on Rally San Marino to 1.3s with the fastest time through the first of three runs of the 15.85-kilometre Rofelle stage.

Driving an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC for the Italian A-Style Team, Basso took full advantage of his turbocharged engine on the tight and twisty test to edge Andreas Mikkelsen, in a normally aspirated ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, by 7.9s. It was Basso’s third stage victory on the gravel event, round seven of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

IRC rookie Germain Bonnefis continues to impress in his Peugeot Sport 207, the young Frenchman recording the third quickest time, 13.1s slower than Basso.

Umberto Scandola was fourth quickest, 13.9s down on Basso. Although the ŠKODA Italia pilot is now 24.1s adrift of the overall lead, his margin ahead of Sepp Wiegand in fourth has increased to 30.5s after the young German could only manage the sixth quickest time in his Fabia.

Juha Salo was fifth quickest and, as a result, has moved back ahead of countryman Jarkko Nikara into fifth place in the overall classification. Nikara continues to dominate the IRC Production Cup in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI.

The action resumes with the 14.45-kilometre Sant’Agata Feltria stage from 11:51hrs local time, which will be followed by a 30-minute service halt in San Marino at 13:32hrs.

click: ircseries.com/news/648


After SS8: Bonnefis wins stage, Basso is joint leader with Mikkelsen

Intercontinental Rally Challenge newcomer Germain Bonnefis has emerged as a future star by claiming his maiden IRC stage victory on Rally San Marino.

Bonnefis, in a Peugeot Sport 207 Super 2000, set a time of 12m54.0s through the 14.45-kilometre Sant’Agata Feltria stage, 1.2s quicker than Giandomencio Basso who has moved level with Andreas Mikkelsen at the top of the leaderboard following Saturday’s third stage.

Although Bonnefis, a 25-year-old from France, conceded running eighth on the road had helped his cause due to the cleaner nature of the stage surface, he was nevertheless delighted with his performance.

“I did not realise it would be the scratch time but it’s more easy for us starting later,” said Bonnefis. “But it’s splendid because it’s the first time for me in the IRC and I have just five races in this car.”

Basso, a four-time winner in the IRC, was 1.3s quicker through the stage than Mikkelsen, who completed the last four kilometres of the run with no powersteering on his ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000. “We lost five or six seconds but they are valuable seconds,” said Mikkelsen. “On the previous one we were cleaning more so we have lost even more time.”

Juha Salo shone with the fourth fastest time in his Fiesta S2000 with Umberto Scandola fifth quickest. The young Italian could have gone even faster had it not been for a costly spin 200 metres from the stage finish in his ŠKODA Italia Fabia. Meanwhile, Sepp Wiegand said he was planning to adjust the set-up of his ŠKODA Auto Deutschland Fabia after reporting handling issues in the stage.

Jarkka Nikara has dropped to seventh behind Swiss Peugeot driver Laurent Reuche after stalling his Subaru Impreza’s engine at a hairpin. Reuche lost time on the previous run with a puncture.

Crews are now heading back into San Marino from neighbouring Italy, where the gravel stages are taking place, for a 30-minute service.

click: ircseries.com/news/649


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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
After SS9: Mikkelsen back in front on Rally San Marino

Andreas Mikkelsen leads Rally San Marino by 0.3s as the battle for victory on round seven of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge continues to intensify.

Mikkelsen took 5m21.7s to complete the second running of the 6.82-kilometre Monte Benedetto test in his ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, compared to the 5m22.0s managed by Basso’s M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC. While Mikkelsen could celebrate reclaiming the lead outright, Basso said the run had been “difficult”.

Umberto Scandola reported problems with the set-up of his ŠKODA Italia Fabia after changing dampers in service. However, Sepp Wiegand said he could “trust” his ŠKODA Auto Deutschland version after switching to hard compound tyres.

Laurent Reuche has gone off the road and taken a wheel off his Peugeot 207 Super 2000. The Swiss had been in sixth overall. Juha Salo reported slowing down in order to pass the stranded Peugeot. The Finn also said he had lost approximately 15s with a spin. Reuche’s exit elevates IRC Production Cup leader Jarkko Nikara back into the top six in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI.

Stage eight winner Germain Bonnefis went off the road five corners from the stage start and picked up a front-left puncture. “We lose a little time but it’s not important,” said Bonnefis, who also had damage to two other tyres at the stage finish. He was 34.2s slower than Mikkelsen as a result.

click: ircseries.com/news/652


After SS10: Basso draws level as victory battle intensifies

The sensational battle for victory on Rally San Marino continues unabated with Giandomenico Basso drawing level with Andreas Mikkelsen after winning stage 10 of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier.

Basso, in an A-Style Team M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC, was 0.3s faster than ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s Mikkelsen through the second running of Rofelle, which means they are now equal on time at the top of the leaderboard with four all-gravel stages remaining.

ŠKODA Auto Deutschland’s Sepp Wiegand was 9.3s down on the flying Basso with Umberto Scandola a further 2.6s adrift for ŠKODA Italia. He has now slipped 55.1s behind the battling leaders.

click: ircseries.com/news/654


After SS11: Basso takes outright lead for the first time

Giandomenico Basso leads Rally San Marino outright for the first time after going quickest through stage 12, the final pass of the 14.45-kilometre Sant’Agata Feltria test.

Basso, in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC, started the stage equal on time with rival Andreas Mikkelsen but is now 4.9s in front of the ŠKODA UK driver with two stages remaining before the finish in San Marino this evening.

Mikkelsen, the defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion, said: “It’s not easy, the stage was okay, but we’re struggling against the turbo car.”

Sepp Wiegand continues to trim Umberto Scandola’s advantage in the fight for the final podium place. The German was 1.1s quicker than the Italian to set the third quickest time.

Germain Bonnefis said he was “driving slowly” in order to preserve his Peugeot Sport 207 Super 2000’s tyres after using both of his spare tyres through picking up a brace of punctures.

Runaway IRC Production Cup leader Jarkko Nikara reported a “knocking” sound on the left side of his Subaru Impreza R4 STI when braking.

click: ircseries.com/news/657


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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
After SS12: Mikkelsen hits back but Basso still leads

Andreas Mikkelsen has claimed his fifth stage victory on Rally San Marino but it wasn’t enough to overhaul Giandomenico Basso for top spot on the thrilling Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier.

ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver Mikkelsen, the defending IRC champion, was 1.1s faster than Basso, in an A-Style Team M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC. However, the Italian’s overall lead starting the final stage – the 15.85-kilometre Rofelle test – stands at 3.8s.

In the battle for third place, ŠKODA Auto Deutschland’s Sepp Wiegand was again quicker than ŠKODA Italia’s Umberto Scandola but he remains more than 25s adrift of his rival.

click: ircseries.com/news/658


BREAKING NEWS: Basso snatches San Marino thriller

Giandomenico Basso has won Rally San Marino, round seven of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, following a dramatic battle with defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen.

Basso, driving an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC, beat Mikkelsen’s ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 by 2.8s after they had raged a thrilling fight for glory on the second day of the gravel event, a new addition to the IRC schedule for 2012.

After SS13: Mikkelsen wins stage, Basso wins rally

Andreas Mikkelsen has completed the 40th running of Rally San Marino by winning the gravel event’s final stage. However, he was unable to prevent Giandomenico Basso from claiming outright victory.

Mikkelsen, the defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion, was 1.0s faster than Basso through the 15.85-kilometre Rofelle test but had to settle for second overall, 2.8s down on his Italian rival.

Sepp Wiegand was third fastest with Umberto Scandola fourth quickest to clinch the final place on the podium.

There was more drama when János Puskádi completed the stage only to crash out after the flying finish in his privateer ŠKODA Fabia. “It was too slippery, I pushed the brake but it was not enough,” said the dejected Hungarian, who faces the prospect of having to retire from the event.

click: ircseries.com/news/660


San Marino Photos:

San Marino Videos: ircseries.com/video/41


Next Rnd 8 - Sibiu Rally Romania July 19-21

Official Website: raliulsibiului.ro/en/

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