Abarth 5e in 1e superstage van 50e Vinho Madeira rally

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Abarth 5e in 1e superstage van 50e Vinho Madeira rally

Berichtdoor Sportiva-Italia » Zo Aug 02, 2009 12:19

Bron: Italiaspeed.com

Abarth 5e in 1e superstage van 50eVinho Madeira rally
31-07-2009

De fabrieks Abarth rijders Giandomenico Basso en Luca Rossetti
zijn aan de 50e editie van de Vinho Madeira rally begonnen en behaalden een 5e plaats in de eerste superstage:


The factory Abarth drivers Giandomenico Basso and Luca Rossetti have begun their bid to win the 50th Rali Vinho Madeira which kicked off last night with a Superspecial stage of the streets of Funchal and is set to get underway proper this morning. Abarth is looking for its first win of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge season this weekend while Basso, who moved into the joint lead of the European Rally Championship in Bulgaria 12 days ago, will be looking to add further ground on his rivals here as the Atlantic island rally counts towards both series.
On the short Superspecial last night Rossetti posted a time of 1:35.4 which gave him the fifth fastest time while Basso was next up, just a whisker back (1:34.7). The best time on the Superspecial though went to IRC points leader Kris Meeke (1:32.9) who had promised to take a measured approach to a rally but immediately threw down the gauntlet with the fastest stage time.

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The 50th edition of the popular rally got underway in front of tens of thousands of fans. With a ceremonial start in the centre of town, the cars then blasted into the Superspecial on the streets on the historic seafront as a prelude to the action coming over the next two days on the Atlantic island. Through today and tomorrow the rally will take place in the hills and plateaux of the region. Featuring such famous stages as Chao da Lagoa, Paul and the breathtaking descent of Encumeada, are among the highlights of the event structure, drawing thousands of fans in the balmy summer heat
Meeke stormed through the Superspecial stage 0.9s faster in his Peugeot 207 S2000 than local hero Bruno Magalhães in his similar car. "Third place here would feel like a win," Meeke said. "I've won three in a row but the points difference to Jan Kopecký in second place is still only one point. It's clear how competitive the IRC is this year and I've got to focus on getting points." Meanwhile Peugeots filled the six of the eight top places as the field returned to Parc Ferme for the overnight halt, with only the Rossetti and Basso offering any resistance to the French cars. Magalhães was followed by Corrado Fontana's 207, with defending IRC champion and 2008 Madeira winner Nicolas Vouilloz fourth.

Supporting the factory Abarth duo this weekend are a trio of privately entered Grande Punto Abarths and the hot favourite amongst these is the #16 white, blue and black machine of Bernardo Sousa who was born in Funchal, the capital of Madeira, and learned his trade competing on its demanding asphalt roads. He posted the fifteenth quickest time on the Superspecial last night in 1:39.5. Sousa was a two-time winner of Madeira’s junior championship and claimed his first overall rally win on the island when he won the Rally Porto Santo Line in 2007. Since then the 22-year-old has competed in the Production Car World Rally Championship and made his IRC debut in Portugal in May 2008. His car is being run by the Italian Procar team, and alongside Sousa is co-driver Jorge Carvalho. Sousa’s only other appearance in the IRC this year was on Sata Rally Açores in May when he finished tenth behind Magalhães.
Another eagerly-anticipated driver is 2008 IRC 2WD Champion Marco Cavigioli, who is returning to the IRC this weekend at the wheel of a Grande Punto Abarth S2000. With co-driver Enrico Cantoni alongside him, the talented Italian is keen to make a big splash on his asphalt outing and he posted the seventeenth fastest time on SS1, in 1:40.0. Rounding out the Grande Punto Abarth contingent is the #23 machine driven by Albert Llovera who went round the streets of Funchal in 1:44.7, the thirty third fastest time.

Afbeelding Afbeelding

The 2WD Cup is set to provide fireworks in the Atlantic as well, with the return of two of the top contenders – Manuel Villa in his Fiat Punto S1600 and the turbocharged Peugeot 207 RC of Denis Milet – with both men determined to put a halt to Honda's recent run of form. They will take on a huge number of local stars in similar equipment in what will be another key battle to savour on the 50th Rali Vinho Madeira. First blood in this battle last night went to Villa who posted a time of 1:44.1 on the Superspecial. This was also a hugely impressive thirtieth overall, with Millet 13 places further back on the overall classification, although local drivers filled out the top positions in the class. However there was quickly one less rival to worry about as 2WD Cup contender Samir Sousa was forced to withdraw after his Peugeot 206 S1600 suffered a terminal oil pump failure on the way to the start ramp.

50th Rali Vinho Madeira - provisional standings after SS1:

1 Meeke (Peugeot) 1m 32.9s
2 Magalhaes (Peugeot) +0.9s
3 Fontana (Peugeot) +1.9s
4 Vouilloz (Peugeot) +2.0s
5 Rossetti (Abarth) +2.5s
6 Basso (Abarth) +2.8s
= Camacho (Peugeot) +2.8s
8 Loix (Peugeot) +2.9s
I ragazzi strani che romani!
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Berichtdoor Sportiva-Italia » Di Aug 04, 2009 22:52

Updates:

01-08-2009

Giandomenico Basso firmly put his stamp on the opening day of the 50 Rali Vinho Madeira yesterday, as he seeks his third win in four years on the island, notching up eight fastest stage times to finish the marathon leg with 16 seconds in hand over his closest challenger. The rally is the seventh round of the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) and it is also the first time that a Scorpion car has led an event in the series this year. The factory Abarth driver’s pace was tempered somewhat in the final four stages of the day after he lost reverse gear from the Grande Punto’s gearbox. Fearing that a spin could leave him stranded on the challenging Madeiran roads, he erred on the side of caution and eased up after SS10 to retain the overnight lead.
Basso had started the first stage of the first leg proper yesterday morning (SS2) in a provisional sixth place after a cautious run through the superspecial of the streets of the island's capital, Funchal, on Thursday evening. He immediately signalled his intent with fastest time, and the Italian also won the next five stages to record six consecutive fastest times and move into a solid lead. “I will keep this way or maybe faster. Always very strong. This morning’s round was rewarding,” the Italian said at service. “It was very important to start the rally this way, with these performances. I did good times, better than all the others, and this helps us to face the northern area. I will keep attacking, now even more. The car is perfect.” Basso also collected three useful points towards his European Rally Championship challenge as the island rally counts towards that series and points are awarded at the end of each leg as well as at the finish.

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Also happy with his car yesterday was Basso’s Abarth factory team-mate Luca Rossetti. “The car is very good,” said the Italian, who is contesting the Italian Rally Championship for the Abarth team this year. “I did a good round this morning. The rally is now heading north, so the turns are longer and better. I will keep this pace. I am here to help Basso win this rally.” Helping the team’s performance this weekend is a new engine evolution.
Basso was third-quickest on SS8 before adding two more back-to-back fastest scratch times. Easing off ever-so-slightly due to the lack of reverse gear, he was second fastest on SS11, third on SS12 and wrapped up a commanding first day with second-fastest on the final stage of the leg (SS13). Basso, who finished second on the island last year, commented: “There can be a small problem with the car, but nothing serious. I don’t know what happened. I think we made an excellent race day. We will try to keep the pace tomorrow.” Rossetti is in fifth place overall overnight, albeit just over a minute adrift, after a solid opening day’s work.

Basso’s lead had extended as far as 19.4 seconds, but in the closing stages of the day it was chipped down to 16 seconds by Bruno Magalhães (who took three stage wins yesterday) as the surviving crews returned to Funchal with just one day remaining in Madeira. “This is my first event on the new BF Goodrich tyres, and I took it a bit easier in the first stages today,” Magalhães said. “As the day has gone on I’ve got a better feel for the car and I think that shows.” Magalhães showed considerable skill to outpace the field through the final stage of the day, Referta 2, at the wheel of his Peugeot 207 S2000. However, Basso only dropped only 1.1 seconds to ensure that his lead was maintained, and further back Kris Meeke continued to pull away from seventh-placed Freddy Loix with the third-fastest time through the last stage.
Of the other Grande Punto Abarth S2000 runners, Marco Cavigioli was the best-placed at the end of the first leg in eleventh place. Like Basso he also changed his gearbox at the final service. The Italian is the reigning IRC 2WD Cup Champion and is making his return to the series on this event with a Super 2000 Abarth.

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Hugely popular with the big crowds in Madeira is Andorran sportsman Albert Llovera. Once the youngest person to ever compete in skiing at the Olympic Games, Llovera was injured during a skiing competition that left him confined to a wheelchair. However, noted for his grit and determination, Llovera turned to his passion in rallying and has won several titles since turning to cars. He has a close association with Fiat, having previously rallied a Stilo, and is now a regular at the wheel of his specially-adapted Grande Punto Abarth. “It was very pleasant doing this first day of the race,” Llovera said at parc ferme last night. “Some stages were hard to me. The car is okay, and me too. Tomorrow we will be here.” An early retirement yesterday was the Grande Punto Abarth of local youngster Bernardo Sousa, who suffered an electrical glitch on his car’s engine. He will return under Superally regulations today.
A total of 45 cars remain in the event, from 69 starters. In the 2WD Cup, regular front-runners Manuel Villa (Fiat Punto S1600) and Denis Millet (Peugeot 207 RC) hold the top two positions after Jose Camacho dropped out prior to SS12 with technical problems.

50th Rali Vinho Madeira - provisional standings at the end of Leg 1:

1 Basso (Abarth) 1hr 55m 28.3s
2 Magalhães (Peugeot) +16.0s
3 Camacho (Peugeot) +29.4s
4 Vouilloz (Peugeot) +49.7s
5 Rossetti (Abarth) + 1m 3.6s
6 Meeke (Peugeot) +1m 7.7s
7 Loix (Peugeot) +1m 11.8s
8 Nunes (Peugeot) - +3m 13.5s
I ragazzi strani che romani!
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Berichtdoor Sportiva-Italia » Di Aug 04, 2009 22:56

Updates:

02-08-2009

Giandomenico Basso shares third place in the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge title race with Freddy Loix, the result of a tense and exciting three days in Madeira, the seventh round of the series. The Abarth team leader's victory puts him just seven points behind championship leader Kris Meeke with four rounds remaining after a thrilling duel with local hero Bruno Magalhães which ended with just 3.5s between them after 21 stages.
"It was fast, nervous and exciting," said a clearly delighted Basso. "The team has been working hard and the car was strong. This event is very special to me, and to make my third win here after losing on the last stage last year is fantastic." The 50th Rali Vinho Madeira was also valid for the FIA European Rally Championship and Basso arrived on the island as the joint points leader, equal with Corrado Fontana and Michal Solowow, thanks to his win on the last round of the seires in Bulgaria. Basso's maximum score (18 points) this weekend means he leaves Madeira with 59 points and has put some daylight between himself and his two main rivals for the ERC title with Solowow now on 51 points and Fontana on 49.

Afbeelding

Having won eight of the 12 special stages on Friday, Basso looked to have the event under control and with a replacement gearbox fitted after Friday night's worries he looked strong. Yet Magalhães resolutely pushed the Italian on every stage, and after spinning on SS17, Basso came under increasing pressure as his lead was cut - but had enough in hand to claim the victory. "It was a very close fight, and I am so pleased to do this here in Madeira," said Magalhães. "It is an honour to compete with international drivers on this amazing rally, and I have loved every second."
Basso's win was his third in the last four years on the event during which time he has never finished outside the top-two and it comes on the prestigious occasion of the 50th edition of the Rali Vinho Madeira. The Super 2000 category Abarth Grande Punto now has three wins cemented into the record books on the event (the of these first wins coming when it was known as the Fiat Grande Punto Abarth Rally in 2006) with the island rally proving to be a happy hunting ground for Fiat Group products over the decades. Lancia's immortal Delta (1986-87 and 89-92) rules the roost amongst the Madeiran winners, and has six victories to its legendary name. Two other Lancias are etched into the roll-call of honour: the 037 Rally (1983 and 1985) has won twice and the Stratos (1979) once. The Fiat 131 (1980) and 125 (1972) have both won in Madeira, while Ferrari (1962-63) has claimed two victories, and even Alfa Romeo chalked up a win in 1961.

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There was more glory on the island yesterday for the Fiat Group, this time in the IRC 2WD Cup as Manuel Villa scored his second win of the season in his Fiat Punto S1600. Villa was easily able to contain the threat from his biggest rival in the series, Denis Millet's turbocharged Peugeot 207 RC, to take a resounding win and in the process also finish in an impressive 20th place overall. The two had arrived in Madeira tied on points.
Basso's Abarth factory team mate Luca Rossetti crashed out heavily yesterday afternoon after running in a solid mid-top-10 position; the Italian had started to come into his own on day two on the rally and had posted two consecutive fastest stage times just before his accident. Of the other privately-entered Grande Punto Abarths in the rally, the highly regarded local youngster Bernardo Sousa departed the scene very early on during day one with electrical problems, while reigning IRC 2WD Cup champion Marco Cavigioli, who was returning to the IRC for the first time since winning his title but chasing ERC points, retired with gearbox problems between SS20 and SS21 while holding onto a solid tenth place overall. Popular with the large crowds on the island, Albert Llovera battled all event long in his Grande Punto Abarth and impressively worked his way up the order to finish 21st overall.

Afbeelding

Coming home third behind Basso and Magalhães yesterday was the defending Portuguese national champion Alex Camacho, who was able to fend off reigning IRC champion Nicolas Vouilloz in another tense battle through the final stages. "We started a little slow, though we were trying to go fast," said Vouilloz. "I'm not really happy about the weekend but the car was good today and we were able to drive to the maximum. Fourth place is not what we needed from this event but that was the best we could do."
In contrast Kris Meeke was delighted to come home in fifth place, putting four more points on the board. "This is a very, very special rally," he 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 Giandomenico after three hours is amazing. The points you win on a bad weekend are the ones that count the most."
Less happy was Freddy Loix, who knows that with four rounds to go every point counts, and that the single point Meeke was able to keep from him in Madeira could prove invaluable. "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."

Afbeelding

Behind Loix came two more Portuguese Peugeots – Miguel Nunes and Corrado Fontana 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 too 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.
I ragazzi strani che romani!

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