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IRC: Vouilloz wins in Madeira.

Nicolas Vouilloz took his first victory of the year on the Madeira Rally on Saturday, the fifth round in the 2008 Intercontinental Rally Challenge, to claim the exclusive lead in the race for the drivers' title.

The Peugeot Belgium driver won the opening spectator superspecial on Thursday night and then reclaimed the lead on SS12 on Friday, after Peugeot Portugal driver Bruno Magalhaes picked up a puncture that cost him three minutes and the chance to win the rally.

Vouilloz then faced a tough final day in Madeira, taking in eight special stages, in which he had to fend off another local expert in a Peugeot, Madeiran Alexandre Camacho, as well as Abarth driver Giandomenico Basso.

"I had a lot of pressure today, so I'm very pleased to win," said Vouilloz. "I didn't have so much confidence over the final stages, so it was a question of trying to hang on and not make any mistakes.

"It was very close all day, so I'm really happy that this tactic worked: it was definitely one of the toughest days of my career."

The undoubted star of the final day though was Basso, who won all of the Saturday stages apart from one. Basso - a two-time winner of the Madeira Rally - was briefly in the lead on Friday morning, but lost out after making the wrong tyre choice in the afternoon.

Having started the final day with more than a 30-second deficit to the leader, he ended it just five seconds behind, grabbing a well-deserved second from Camacho in the final test.

"I don't think choosing the soft compound g-Force Profiler on Friday was an error," Basso insisted at the end. "It was a realistic option because certain portions were reported to be damp. They just dried out quicker than we thought.

"I pushed as hard as I could today and my hard compound g-Force A10 tyres were consistent over all four of the loop's stages. Finishing second overall is a nice reward for everyone in the team."



Related Pictures

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Nicolas Vouilloz. Peugeot Belgium. August 1 2008. Madeira Rally. [Pic credit: IRC]
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