IRC Honda begins defence of IRC 2WD Manufacturers' title in Azores
47th SATA Rallye Açores (SATA Azores Rally), February 23rd-25th, 2012
Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), round 1
For immediate release
Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
HONDA SET TO START DEFENCE OF IRC 2WD
MANUFACTURERS’ TITLE IN SATA AZORES RALLY
· Local hero Ricardo Moura heads competitive Group N category
· IRC opening round will also host shorter Saõ Miguel Trophy Rally
· Non-competitive City Stage in Ponta Delgada on Wednesday night
PONTA DELGADA (Azores): Honda begins the defence of its IRC 2WD Cup manufacturers’ title in this weekend’s SATA Azores Rally and is in the process of homologating a series of upgrades to the popular Civic Type R.
The car will appear on the opening IRC round in the hands of the MHH Rally Team’s Hungarian driver Menyhért Króser and co-driver György Papp. The Japanese manufacturer clinched the 2011 title at the RAC MSA Rally of Scotland, following a victory for Martin Kangur and third position for Janos Puskadi.
Challenging the Hungarian duo for IRC 2WD Cup honours over the demanding Azorean gravel stages on the island of Saõ Miguel will be the Portuguese sensation Paulo Maciel – defending IRC 2WD Azores Rally champion with his Citroën – the talented young British driver Harry Hunt at the wheel of a Citroën DS3 R3T, Hungary’s László Vizin in a Turán-Motorsport SE-entered Skoda Fabia R2 and Portuguese driver Robert Consani (Renault Clio R3.
Italy’s Davide Catania (Citroën DS3 R3T), Frenchman Robert Consani (Renault Clio R3), defending Azorean 2WD rally champion Carlos Costa (Citroën C2 R2 GT) and Ivo Nogueira (Citroën DS3 R3T) complete the competitive line-up.
Ricardo Moura is the home favourite to achieve success in the IRC Production Cup or Group N category at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. The Azorean driver is held in high esteem as a top gravel specialist and was entered by the Portuguese organisers as their wild card in last year’s PWRC category of the WRC Rally of Portugal.
Main competition for Moura – who finished sixth overall and first in Group N last year in the Azores - will come from a host of Portuguese drivers, with the likes of Ruben Rodrigues and Luis Pimentel leading the way in their Mitsubishis. Showroom category cars dominate the lower reaches of the 39-car entry and a further 10 will challenge for Group N honours.
The event is also a counting round of the local Saõ Miguel Trophy Rally and has attracted a provisional 19 starters, who will tackle just five of the 14 special stages (58.04 competitive kilometres) on Thursday and Friday.
Paulo Rego tops the entry list with co-driver Abel Carreiro and other Portuguese and Azorean drivers are evident in cars as diverse as a Ford Sierra Cosworth, an Opel Corsa, a Toyota Rav-4, a Toyota Starlet and a quartet of Seat Marbellas entered by the Fastbravo team.
This weekend’s event marks the fourth time that the SATA Azores Rally has been included in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC). The 14 timed special stages start on Thursday afternoon and run through until Saturday evening, with 198.44 competitive kilometres on offer in a total route of 701.61km across the largest island in the Azores archipelago.
Before the official starting ceremony in Ponta Delgada at 13.30hrs on Thursday afternoon, teams will tackle a City Demo Stage on the promenade in Ponta Delgada on Wednesday evening (February 22nd). This will not count towards the overall classification, but participation is compulsory and is sure to attract a large crowd.
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Press Officer, 2012 SATA Rallye Açores, UK mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@googlemail.com
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