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IRC: Jan Kopecky wins Rally Islas Canarias

Bruno Magalhaes was on course for fourth place in his Peugeot Sport Portugal 207 only to slip behind Meeke on the final stage when he offered to ease off to help Meeke. The three-time Portuguese champion was challenging for a podium place when he was slowed by a front-left driveshaft failure on Friday morning. The 29-year-old also lost time when his car suffered excessive tyre wear on Saturday's two 25.26-kilometre runs.

Meeke's tally of nine stage wins did little to cheer the Northern Irishman, who was seemingly heading for his second victory of the season with a 17.9-second lead when disaster struck on Friday. Meeke's puncture was caused by a suspension bolt piercing a hole in his Peugeot's front-left wheel over a compression, the legacy of running what his team described as an 'aggressive set-up' to keep the rival Skoda Fabias at bay. Meeke reported discovering a crack in the front-right wheel as well following the ill-fated eighth stage.

After picking up a puncture in virtually identical circumstances to Meeke, Thierry Neuville was in seventh overall and heading for his first IRC points in his Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg 207 when he slid into a rock and broke his car's front-left suspension with one stage left to run.

His misfortune elevated Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer driver Ruben Gracia into seventh place behind countryman Alberto Hevia, who complained of excessive understeer after hardening up his Fabia's shock absorbers. Gracia was the leading runner in a conventional Group N machine.

Sergio Vallejo started leg two in seventh overall but had to drive for much of Saturday's leg with no working powersteering in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000. As a result he slipped to eighth but was sufficiently in front of Jose Barrios, the top Subaru Impreza finisher in ninth.

Franz Wittmann was in 10th overall when he carried too much speed into a left-hand bend approximately two kilometres from the end of stage 11, struck a rock and tore the right-rear wheel off his Interwetten Racing Peugeot 207. The Austrian had been unhappy with his performance, despite not reporting any issues with his car or its set-up.

Daniel Oliveira also failed to go the distance, dropping out of 11th place when his 207 suffered an engine failure on Saturday morning. The Brazilian had been playing catch up after going off on Friday's first stage before spinning and getting momentarily stuck on the second run.

Yeray Lemes won the IRC 2WD Cup by almost two minutes in his Ford Fiesta R2 in an impressive 10th overall. Enrique Cruz finished second in a similar car.

Irish privateer Daniel Barry was the last of 14 finishers eligible for IRC points. Barry's Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX had been plagued by an overheating problem throughout the event, which caused him to run without anti-lag for much of the rally. He also reported stopping on several stages on Friday to let his faltering car cool down.

The 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge season now continues with Rally d'Italia-Sardegna, which runs from 4-6 June.


Rally Islas Canarias - Top 10 positions after leg 2:

1. Jan Kopecky/Petr Stary Skoda Fabia S2000 +2h12m27.4s
2. Juho Hanninen/Mikko Markkula Skoda Fabia S2000 +9.1s
3. Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh Skoda Fabia S2000 +36.4s
4. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m05.5s
5. Bruno Magalhaes/Carlos Magalhaes Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m17.8s
6. Alberto Hevia/Alberto Iglesias Skoda Fabia S2000 +2m25.1s
7. Ruben Gracia/Diego Sanjuan Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +10m06.5s
8. Sergio Vallejo/Diego Vallejo Ford Fiesta S2000 +12m49.7s
9. Jose Barrios/Eloy Rivero Subaru Impreza WRX +13m12.8s
10. Yeray Lemes/Rogelio Penate Ford Fiesta R2 +14m12.4s


IRC drivers' positions (after round 4 of 12):

1. Juho Hanninen 32pts
2. Jan Kopecky 25pts
= Guy Wilks 25pts
4. Kris Meeke 15pts
5. Bruno Magalhaes 13pts
6. Mikko Hirvonen 10pts
7. Nicolas Vouilloz 6pts
8. Gabriel Pozzo 5pts
= Stephane Sarrazin 5pts
10. Federico Villagra 4pts etc


IRC Manufacturers positions (after round 4 of 12):

1. Skoda 64pts
2. Peugeot 33pts
3. M-Sport 15pts
4. Ralliart 8pts
5. Subaru 5pts




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jan Kopecky/Petr Stary. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rally Islas Canarias. [Pic credit: IRC]
Jan Kopecky. Rally Islas Canarias winner. [Pic credit: IRC]
Jan Kopecky. Rally Islas Canarias winner. [Pic credit: IRC]

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Twin Cam Sam - Unregistered

May 02, 2010 9:20 AM

Shame for Kris Meeke. He's still the fastest driver out there, but has been unlucky this year. The top four finishers on this rally should be in the WRC instead of certain other drivers I could name.

Dafydd Larcombe - Unregistered

May 03, 2010 1:37 PM

I actually think that the IRC championship is a good feeder to the WRC. Like in Football and Rugby there needs to be several levels of the sport from which drivers can work their way up until they reach the Premier level and start to shine against already established stars. I think that with the exception of Meeke the top 4 drivers from this Group would currently struggle right now for Pace in the WRC even if they had one of the Top seats inc heavy Testing. In some ways the IRC is better for them. I think the IRC can take care of and nurture young promising and talented drivers like Anton Alen and Andreas Mikkleson and Release them into the Premier WRC when they are fit and Ready.



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