IRC: Neuville wins thriller in Sanremo

Loix, whose efforts earned him the prestigious Coilin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, could have moved to the top of the IRC standings if he'd claimed maximum points and rival Jan Kopecky remained in fifth place, having been unable to replicate the pace that has carried him to back-to-back victories in Czech Republic and Hungary. As it is, by inheriting fourth, Kopecky's comfortable lead remains intact heading to the penultimate round in Scotland next month.

Bryan Bouffier took the final place on the podium and he was disappointed not to have been able to battle for the win.

“This is not the best result for me because I would have preferred to have fought for the victory,” he confirmed. “But it's a good result for Peugeot with two cars on the podium. Thierry did the perfect race.”

Bruno Magalhaes meanwhile rounded out his 2011 IRC campaign with a strong fifth place for Peugeot Sport Portugal. Aside from a handful of set-up issues and a lack of brakes on Friday's night stage little troubled the multiple Portuguese champion, who set a number of competitive times in his 207.

M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Umberto Scandola began day two as the leading Italian but a steering problem on stage 10 dropped him to seventh overall behind countryman Alessandro Perico in a privateer Peugeot.

Pierre Campana's bid to emulate the fourth-place finish he recorded on Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc was hampered by a plethora of mechanical problems, which required the fitting of a new loom and injection rack at midday service. He took eighth.

Toni Gardemeister extended his point-scoring run in this year's IRC to eight events after the Finn brought his TGS Worldwide Fabia home in ninth position. It was the first time he'd finished Rallye Sanremo in five attempts.

Factory Proton driver Giandomenico Basso had been in the fight for a top finish but a spin on stage five and an off-road moment on the night stage when his intercom failed and he couldn't hear the instructions of his co-driver Mitia Dotta, dropped him out of contention. Alternator problems on Saturday morning caused further frustration but he fought back to deny Swiss Peugeot privateer Gregoire Hotz the final point on the very last stage.

Peugeot UK's Guy Wilks crashed out on Friday's first test. Australian Chris Atkinson also failed to complete the opening run when his Proton Motorsports' Satria Neo stopped with a suspected electrical failure. Karl Kruuda retired on Friday's night stage when a loss of brakes resulted in him sliding into a wall and breaking his Fabia's front-right wheel.

In the IRC Production Cup Florian Gonon claimed his third victory after heading home Italian Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer driver Marco Cavigioli by a comfortable margin. Gonon, driving a Subaru Impreza, was fastest in the category on all but one stage. Irishman Eamonn Boland was third with Corrado Perino fourth. Johan Heloise failed to finish.

In the IRC 2WD Cup class Davide Medici secured his maiden win after seeing off the challenge of fellow Italian Stefano Albertini, who last ground with set-up issues on the final day. Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi, the winner of the IRC 2WD Cup in Corsica earlier this season, finished third with Roberto Vescovi taking fourth.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Thierry Neuville. Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg. Rallye Sanremo 2011. [Pic credit: IRC]
Freddy Loix /Frederic Miclotte. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rallye Sanremo 2011. [Pic credit: IRC]
Andreas Mikkelsen /Ola Floene. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rallye Sanremo 2011. [Pic credit: IRC]
Andreas Mikkelsen. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rallye Sanremo 2011. [Pic credit: IRC]
Thierry Neuville /Nicolas Gilsoul. Peugeot 207 S2000. Rallye Sanremo 2011. [Pic credit: IRC]
Podium. Rallye Sanremo 2011. [Pic credit: IRC]
Thierry Neuville. Peugeot 207 S2000. 2011 Rallye Sanremo winner. [Pic credit: IRC]

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