12 September 2011
IRC: Kopecky takes closest ever IRC victory
Freddy Loix brought his BFO-Skoda home third. Having shown speed on the opening day, he couldn't hit the same heights on the second.
“It's a combination of factors,” he said. “The feeling of the car is better, I have a good feeling but I'm losing a few seconds here and there. I can see where I'm losing but I can't react for the stage after, so it's always the same silly mistakes. It's not a question of gravel on the road. If I feel well, like in the Barum Rally, gravel is no problem. It's more about being on the big attack and about confidence.”
Confidence had been a problem for Peugeot France's Bryan Bouffier on the opening day as he struggled with set-up issues and lack of trust in the veracity of his pace notes. Today he was within the top five on every stage, but the overall gap to the leaders was too great for the Rallye Monte-Carlo winner to overcome: “The car worked very well today,” he said. “I had a better feeling and we took some points.”
Fifth fell to Hermann Gassner Jr in only his second asphalt rally in the Red Bull Skoda. Gassner improved continuously throughout the event, beginning just outside the top 10 and ultimately passing more experienced entrants on merit. By Sunday morning he was posting stage times well within the top 10, and was fourth quickest over the last two stages.
It was only on the penultimate stage that Gassner unseated local IRC Production Cup entrant Gyorgy Aschenbrenner, who used his local knowledge to remarkable effect. Regularly setting top 10 stage times aboard his Ralliart Lancer Evolution IX, Aschenbrenner delighted the local fans and drew one of the biggest crowds in the service park.
Brake problems on the first day consigned Toni Gardemeister to the lower portion of the top 10, and his counter-attack this morning was hindered by a misfire on SS1. “It felt like bad turbo lag,” he said. “It would pause, there was nothing, then the power would come in. I stopped after the stage and went under the bonnet, played with some connections, but we had to look at it in service.”
In the afternoon, though, the TGS Worldwide Skoda came on song and Gardemeister had no complaints. “The car is working brilliantly,” he said, “and we've learned a lot about this new rally.”
Hungarian entrant Robert Butor finished eighth after a strong run, beating several IRC regulars in his Peugeot 207 S2000: “We are very happy. For us the Hungarian championship was the most important and in this we are second, so it's good.”
Bruno Magalhaes was ninth in the Peugeot Sport Portugal 207 S2000, having solved the set up and gear ratio issues that hindered him on the first day. “This rally was very tough,” he said. “It was hard to run against local drivers – they were fast.”
Beppo Harrach rounded out the top 10 in a Ralliart Lancer Evolution IX, though Karl Kruuda - who suffered a puncture in SS12 - was just 2.1s behind after the final stage: “This result is much more than we expected before the rally,” said Harrach. “To be able to fight with all the Super 2000 cars ahead of us - amazing!”
Intercontinental Rally Challenge
Canon Mecsek Rallye
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