Pirelli-equipped Peugeot Italia driver Paolo Andreucci is aiming to extend his 14-point lead in the Italian Rally Championship by winning next weekend’s Rallye Sanremo, the penultimate round of the hotly-contested series, which also forms part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge this year.
Ten competitive stages held in the narrow mountain passes overlooking the Mediterranean town of Sanremo await series leader Andreucci and the Pirelli-supported crews next week. Following a phenomenal season including three victories and six podiums, Andreucci will be fighting for another victory to ensure he remains on track for securing his sixth Italian rally title. If all goes well, Andreucci can be crowned champion with Pirelli again on Saturday evening.
Andreucci, who has won Rallye Sanremo twice before, said: “This is certainly one of the most special but also one of the most challenging events of the year for us, where we face tough competition not only from our regular rivals but also from the IRC competitors, who are truly world class. The Pirelli tyres we use should help to give us an advantage in terms of both consistency and performance: we have some quite long and challenging stages in Sanremo, where the tyres should come into their own. At this time of year it is also normal to see uncertain conditions; it has rained in the past but this is not a big concern for me because I know we are on Pirelli.”
Stefano Albertini, the winner of the 2010 Italian Junior Rally Championship, will also be competing for victory in the IRC R3 championship category. The 25-year-old was awarded with a drive on four rounds of the Italian Rally thanks to three partners: Pirelli, IRC and team Twister Corse.
Former Italian champion and Sanremo winner Giandomenico Basso will also drive a Ford Fiesta RRC on the Ligurian event, equipped with Pirelli tyres. “The combination of this car and Pirelli tyres has already proved to be extremely competitive this year, when we won the Mille Miglia Rally,” said Basso. “I think the characteristics of Sanremo should suit the Fiesta quite well, and unlike many of our rivals we don’t have a championship to think about, so I’m looking forward to being able to push hard.”
Several other drivers will rely on Pirelli tyres at the demanding all-asphalt event including Peugeot 207 S2000 driver Alessandro Perico, as well as Simone Campedelli in a two-wheel drive Citroens DS3. Max Rendina will drive his usual Mitsubishi Lancer where he hopes to continue his lead in the production championship.
Pirelli will bring its RX5 tyre for longer and moderately abrasive stages and the RX7 for dry and short and smooth stages. The RX9 tyre will also be available for mix (dry and damp) and extremely slippery conditions, which could present themselves late at night or early in the morning. The RE tyre will also be available for wet conditions.
The forecast is expected to be mixed over the weekend and it is likely that crews will use the whole range of Pirelli tyres, from hard to soft. The forecast for the rally is a mix of wet and dry conditions with maximum temperatures of 15 – 20 degrees Celsius.
The RX family of tyres is among the most versatile in Pirelli’s competition range thanks to a lightly grooved tread pattern, a square profile and a particularly rigid structure. This gives it unsurpassed levels of grip and driveability, contributing to Pirelli’s impressive track record in Sanremo. The RE is also a family of tyres that is renowned for its excellent grip in wet conditions.
In Sanremo, there will be two trophies: the Renault (Twingo R2) and Citroen (DS3) where everyone will be aiming to clinch the 2012 title.
A ceremonial start in Sanremo will mark the beginning of the seventh round of the series on Friday afternoon, before competitors will tackle three stages before a tricky 44-kilometre night stage at 21:00hrs local time.
Following an overnight halt in Sanremo, Saturday’s itinerary includes a repeat loop of three stages before the official closing ceremony at 17:35hrs.
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