IRC: Basso takes victory in Madeira

Thanks to a huge number of privately-entered 207 S2000s, Peugeot managed to fill eight of the top 10 positions. A rally-long duel between Meeke and Freddy Loix was one of the most entertaining battles that raged throughout the event for fifth place - and may well prove pivotal for the championship.

Going in to Madeira, Meeke held a six point advantage over Loix. The single point at stake in such a hard-fought series spurred a fantastic competition for fifth place, which Meeke ultimately won. Now the Briton has 34 points, Jan Kopecky has 29 and both Loix and Basso have 27.

"This is a very, very special rally," Meeke said. "To come here for the first time and win would be impossible, the top four guys were incredible and to be just over a minute behind after three hours is amazing. The points you win on a bad weekend are the ones that count the most."

For Loix, however, there was clear disappointment: "We hadn't made all our preparations before we came here so Day 1 was spent on the setup - and by the time we got that right everyone had gone!" he said. "We had to keep the pressure on Meeke but he did a great rally and that's another point to him."

Behind them came three more Peugeots - Miguel Nunes, Corrado Fontana and Michal Solowow respectively. The all-new Proton Satria Neo of Guy Wilks finished the event in 10th place overall, the team electing to focus on developing the car once it became clear that a points scoring result was not achievable.

Skoda also failed to increase its score in Madeira, despite the presence of Maurin in a Skoda Italia-prepared Fabia S2000. His challenge was thwarted on the road section to SS13 when, having lost his brakes, Maurin was powerless to avoid an accident which forced major repairs to be made overnight and restarting under superrally regulations well outside the points.

In the 2WD Cup Manuel Villa scored his second win of the season for Abarth in his Punto S1600. The Spaniard was able to contain the threat from his biggest rival in the series, Denis Millet's turbochared Peugeot 207, to take a resounding win.

The IRC now continues at the end of this month when the series head to the Czech Republic for the Barum Rally Zlin, which runs from August 21-23.

Overall times - Top 10:

1. Giandomenico Basso Abarth Grande Punto S2000 3hrs 9m 55.4s
2. Bruno Magalhaes Peugeot 207 S2000 +3.5s
3. Alex Camacho Peugeot 207 S2000 +41.7s
4. Nicolas Vouilloz Peugeot 207 S2000 +49.4s
5. Kris Meeke Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m 21.9s
6. Freddy Loix Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m 28.4s
7. Miguel Nunes Peugeot 207 S2000 +4m 57.9s
8. Corrado Fontana Peugeot 207 S2000 +5m 50.6s
9. Michal Solowow Peugeot 207 S2000 +7m 29.9s
10. Guy Wilks Proton Satria Neo S2000 +10m 40.8s

IRC Drivers' positions (after round 7 of 11) – Top 10:

1. Kris Meeke 34 points
2. Jan Kopecky 29 points
3. Giandomenico Basso 27 points
= Freddy Loix 27 points
5. Nicolas Vouilloz 19 points
6. Juho Hanninen 14 points
7. Sebastien Ogier 10 points
= Carl Tundo 10 points
9. Alistair Cavanagh 8 points
= Bruno Magalhaes 8 points

IRC Manufacturers' positions (after round 7 of 11):

1. Peugeot 82 points
2. Skoda 43 points
3. Ralliart 41 points
4. Abarth 34 points
5. Proton 5 points
6. Honda 1 point

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Abarth`s Giandomenico Basso and co-driver Mitia Dotta celebrate in Madeira. Rali Vinho Madeira 2009. [Pic credit: IRC]
Giandomenico Basso. Abarth Grande Punto S2000. Rali Vinho Madeira 2009. [Pic credit: IRC]
Abarth`s Giandomenico Basso and co-driver Mitia Dotta celebrate in Madeira. Rali Vinho Madeira 2009. [Pic credit: IRC]
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