Vouilloz wins action packed Valais

Vouilloz wins action packed ValaisFrom IRC media [ 27/10/2007 ].
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Peugeot driver Nicolas Vouilloz has taken his third IRC victory of the year on the Rallye du Valais, while Peugeot has sealed the 2007 IRC manufacturers´ title.

Vouilloz's team mate Enrique Garcia Ojeda has effectively claimed the IRC drivers’ title by finishing runner-up – after the duo headed into the final two stages separated by less than a second. Theoretically Vouilloz could still win the title if Peugeot contest the China Rally in two week’s time, but having wrapped up the manufacturers’ title in Switzerland this is extremely unlikely.

Vouilloz dominated the Rallye du Valais, leading from the start and winning nine stages, but he hit fuel pressure problems on the final day that allowed his Spanish team mate to close up to him, ensuring a dramatic finale.

Abarth drivers Umberto Scandola and Freddy Loix battled for third place for most of the event, but in the end it was Scandola who emerged in front – by less than a second! The Italian, on the IRC podium for the first time, won three stages on the event after an extremely solid performance over all three days.

Honda driver Luca Betti finished fifth in his all-new Honda Civic Type R R3 despite a puncture on Friday that cost him some time: the best result for the Italian and his team all season.

Abarth factory driver Andrea Navarra – who started the rally with a possibility of fighting for the title – began the final day in fifth place, but his hopes were shattered by a broken engine on SS15 today. On the opening day of the event Navarra lost around a minute with a puncture, and he struggled to find a set-up that suited him for the rest of the rally. Another retirement was local driver Antonio Galli in a Citroen C2 Super 1600 – who had run as high as fifth on the opening day. Galli stopped with a fuel pump problem on SS9.
This left another local driver, Philippe Roux, to uphold Swiss honours in an Abarth Grande Punto S2000. Less than four seconds behind him was the Mitsubishi of Jean-Philippe Radoux – another Swiss driver. It was an unlucky event for Belgian driver Bernd Casier, who crashed his Peugeot 207 S2000 out of the rally on the first stage. Local man Christian Jaquillard also retired his Peugeot 207 S2000 after an accident.

Speaking on the finish ramp, Vouilloz said: “We had a few nervous moments today with a warning light in the last loop of stages, but thankfully everything was fine and we were able to take this win. Our season finishes here, so this is the best way to end the year: with a victory for us and a manufacturers title for Peugeot. It’s been a great rally, but not easy: the roads today were extremely slippery and it would have been so easy to make a mistake.”