IRC: Loix grabs lead in dramatic day one finish in Sanremo

Bruno Magalhaes is a strong sixth in this Peugeot Sport Portugal 207 with Umberto Scandola the leading Italian in seventh overall in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000.

Former Sanremo winner Alessandro Perico (207) is eighth with Pierre Campana ninth following a troubled opening day. The rising star was firmly in the fight for a top finish only for an engine sensor fault to slow his Munaretto 207 on stage three. Repairs at service resulted in an engine mapping glitch, which meant his car was using 25 per cent too much fuel on the second loop of stages and losing power. To compound the Corsican's frustrations, his car's gear lever snapped on stage five. He then reached the end of the Ronde stage with a right rear puncture.

Skoda privateer Toni Gardemeister completes the top ten with Proton Motorsports' Giandomenico Basso slipping to 13th after an intercom failure caused him to briefly go off on Ronde and damage his Satria Neo S2000. Karl Kruuda also hit trouble on the night stage, crashing his Fabia.

There was drama on the opening stage when Guy Wilks smashed the front-left wheel of his Peugeot UK 207 on a bridge parapet after understeering on a patch of loose gravel and retired.

Chris Atkinson, in the second factory Proton, stopped shortly afterwards when his Satria Neo suffered a suspected electrical fault and stopped.

Neither driver will restart on day two with Atkinson's Proton team mechanics particularly keen to begin readying the car for the next IRC round in Scotland before they fly off to Japan for next weekend's Asia Pacific championship qualifier.

Florian Gonon meanwhile heads the IRC Production Cup standings in his Subaru Impreza with Marco Cavigioli firmly in contention in second place at the wheel of a Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer. Subaru driver Johan Heloise lost more than two minutes when he suffered a front-left puncture on stage three. He is fifth overnight behind Eamonn Boland and Corrado Perino.

As for the IRC 2WD Cup, David Medici is on course for his maiden win in the class after he completed day one with an advantage of 25.3s over Stefano Albertini. Sandro Sottile, the IRC 2WD Cup winner in Sanremo for the past two years, crashed into a wall on stage four and retired. Martin Kangur, in a similar Honda Civic Type R, lost time when his car's powersteering failed midway through stage five. Defending IRC 2WD Cup champion Harry Hunt was slowed by an overheating engine on stage one. Title leader Jean-Michel Raoux has struggled with the set-up of his Clio R3 on his Sanremo debut, reporting that his car's steering was too heavy.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Thierry Neuville. Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg. Rallye Sanremo 2011. [Pic credit: IRC]
Andreas Mikkelsen /Ola Floene. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rallye Sanremo 2011. [Pic credit: IRC]
Freddy Loix /Frederic Miclotte. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rallye Sanremo 2011. [Pic credit: IRC]
Freddy Loix /Frederic Miclotte. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rallye Sanremo 2011. [Pic credit: IRC]

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