BFG drivers' team in Portugal

BFG drivers' team in PortugalFrom Michelin Press [ 11/03/2008 ].
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BFGoodrich and Kronos Racing will offer a free drive to an up-and-coming national driver on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal from May 8-10.

At the press conference last Thursday in Lisbon to mark the official launch of the Portugal Rally, BFGoodrich, Kronos and the Portuguese Automobile Club invited prospective candidates to apply for the drive.

The IRC championship is made up of 10 rallies in 2008, which take place all over the world. Five European countries have been selected to participate in the BFGoodrich Drivers Team programme: Portugal, Belgium, Spain, the Czech Republic and Russia.

Thanks to the ‘BFGoodrich Drivers’ Team’, a local crew from each of the five countries will be able to take part in their home IRC event. They will drive a full-specification Peugeot 207 Super 2000, with all the professional help and back-up that is given to the regular drivers.

The car and the driver will be run by renowned Belgian team Kronos, which took Sebastien Loeb to the 2006 drivers’ World Rally Championship title.

How the selection process for Portugal works:

From March 5-31, all the potential candidates for the drive should put their names forward to the Portuguese Automobile Club.

One month before the rally starts, the Portuguese Automobile Club will present a selection of names to BFGoodrich and Kronos. Between them, the two companies will settle on a shortlist of three drivers.

BFGoodrich and Kronos will then invite a panel of national journalists to select a crew for the Peugeot 207 Super 2000 on their local IRC event. The vote will be decided by secret ballot.

The successful crew will then take part in the Portuguese IRC round with a Peugeot 207 Super 2000 backed by BFGoodrich and Kronos, using the same equipment as regular drivers Freddy Loix and Nicolas Vouilloz.

A test day will take place on May 4 in Portugal, in order for the driver to get used to the Peugeot 207 and the BFGoodrich tyres. This is to give him the best possible chance of doing well on his home event. The journalists involved in the selection programme will also be invited to the test.

Once all the preparations are over, the new crew will be officially entered to compete on the rally from May 8-10. Naturally, they will be aiming to make a big impression on the leaderboard.

Carlos Barbosa, the President of the Portuguese Automobile Club, said: "Thanks to BFGoodrich, Kronos, and the support of the Portuguese Automobile Club, a Portuguese driver will take part in a motorsport event at the highest level, by starting the Vodadone Rally de Portugal with the best possible package. The BFGoodrich Drivers’ Team is an extremely innovative and exciting initiative. We’re delighted by the opportunities with which our brightest national stars have been presented, through the unstinting efforts of BFGoodrich and Kronos Racing."

Frédéric Henry-Biabaud, the Michelin Group’s Competitions Director, added: "This is an excellent opportunity to underline the BFGoodrich brand’s commitment to rallying, by helping young drivers through the ‘BFGoodrich Drivers’ Team’ initiative. This is a major priority for the BFGoodrich brand, which has demonstrated that its high-quality tyres always bring an extra edge to performance – both in rallying and rally raids."

Marc Van Dalen, the team principal of Kronos Racing, commented: "We’ve been loyal to BFGoodrich tyres since their rally campaign started, and we are particularly proud to work with them on this project. The BFGoodrich Drivers Team is a unique and exceptional opportunity for these local drivers, who will step into a top-level package. I feel sure that this scheme is going to attract a very large number of potential candidates."