IRC teams & drivers 2011

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IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby RonSkoda » 01 Oct 2010 19:40

After Chris' post in the Scotland thread about who will drive for Peugeot UK next year, I thought it was time to start a thread about IRC drivers for 2011. All rumours/speculation at this stage.

Peugeot UK: McRae/Cronin/McShea/Gould/McCormack/Wilks read more here: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/87064

Peugeot Portugal: Magalhaes is close to a full programme for 2011

Peugeot Belgium: Neuville

Peugeot France: Bouffier? Peugeot pretended that Peugeot CZ and Peugeot Italy decided to enter a French driver on Barum and Sanremo this year. More of the same next year?

Interwetten: More for Wittmann likely?

Skoda Motorsport: Hanninen and Kopecky are under contract for next year for more IRC, but it seems likely that the works team will be present less than this year and they will have to be entered by "private teams" to keep Mr Quesnel happy.

Skoda UK: Seem happy with their programme, hopefully more for Wilks unless he goes to Peugeot UK.

Abarth: A comeback? Rossetti said he was aiming for IRC in 2011.

Proton: Panizzi/Cronin/McRae/Atkinson? Hopefully the factory will invest some more in the team and we can see them some more next year.

Mikkelsen: More with Hankook Ford?
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby Gregor » 01 Oct 2010 20:24

Where does that leave Loix?
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby RonSkoda » 02 Oct 2010 04:50

Gregor wrote:Where does that leave Loix?


Sorry, forgot Loix. Looks likely he will have an expanded IRC programme with Skoda next year. He already secured funding for 2011 after his impressive performance this year.
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby ChrisB » 03 Oct 2010 11:46

OK, but Scotland I talked more of Scotland, this 2011 prediction should be fun.

Skoda:
Should be the same as this year:
- Hänninen
- Kopecky
- Loix
- Wilks (likely and with Skoda UK)

Peugeot:
- Neuville
- Magalhaes
- Peugeot UK
Porbably additional entries for Monte and Andreucci.

Who that Peugeot UK driver should be is probably the most interesting thing in this year's drivers changes. I can't come up with names, though. Wilks would be on my cards, and I would also like him very much in the Peugeot. But why should he part from Skoda UK, and vice versa, why should Skoda UK part from him? Keith Cronin is not from the UK!
In the article linked by Ron it says: "A spokesman from Peugeot UK admitted the potential driver's experience was not uppermost in the minds of the team." - that pretty much excludes McRae and McShea as well as Wilks! If the driver is Gould or McCormack, than I don't see Peugeot taking a title challenge to Skoda at all next year.
More of Wittmann is likely.

Ford:
No-one confirmed. Mikkelsen most likely. Anton Alen? Hope they find good drivers, because that is the car most likely making the championship interesting and not a Skoda walk through.

Proton:
Nothing decided, but continuation likely and Cronin likely to be one of their drivers. I don't see Panizzi being more than a test driver, and I don't see Alister or Atko still in the car. Probably Cronin and a surprise.

Abarth:
If they come, it would surely be with Rossetti & Basso, but I find it unlikely. Wish they came.
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby RonSkoda » 03 Nov 2010 14:19

Well the picture is becoming a bit clearer now!

Peugeot UK have confirmed Wilks. It seems they offered him more guaranteed events than Skoda and they have promised to have a "big push" on development of the car. It's good news for the championship I think.

Now the big question is who will Skoda UK go for? Mark Higgins and Adam Gould have both contacted Skoda UK, Alister McRae wants to stay in IRC too. My money is on McRae, although I would like to see Higgins too.

It seems Juho Hanninen will move to sWRC in order to learn the events for a possible future Skoda/VW WRC programme but he will do Monte and Barum with the works team. Kopecky and Loix will probably have to drive in "private" teams for the rest of the year to keep whinging Mr Quesnel happy.

It seems Proton are planning on an expanded IRC programme next year and already intend to enter Monte Carlo. I am looking forward to seeing more of them. The car is really not bad, but the big problem is reliability. If they could get a clear event they could collect some decent results.
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby Gregor » 03 Nov 2010 14:33

A pity Skoda can't hire Kronos to 'manage' their cars just to twist Mr. Quesnel's tail a bit.
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby RonSkoda » 09 Nov 2010 11:44

Seems to be a bit of a surprise choice for Skoda UK: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/88088
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby AndyRAC » 09 Nov 2010 12:34

Can’t say I blame them. The problem is that all our young drivers have very little experience of IRC/ WRC events – whereas Wilks/Meeke were JWRC contenders. The issue is getting all these youngsters out on these events, and getting experience. However, £££££££ is the problem in getting drives. What does it say about the state of British rallying when the UK importer puts a Norwegian in the car - even though it’s the right and sensible decision. I can't imagine the French, Spanish or Finns putting an outsider in a national importers car. Too many of the youngsters are stuck doing BRC, which is no longer the series it was - it maybe classed as an International series, but sadly isn't.
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby ChrisB » 09 Nov 2010 12:51

Granted the BRC is a joke compared to the 70s, 80s & 90s, but why a Norwegian driver for a UK importer? It just doesn't make sense at all. It's like Citroen not using a Citroen engine in WRC. I'd rather have had Alister McRae or one of the Higgins brothers in the car, even if they may be past their best days.
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby RonSkoda » 09 Nov 2010 13:47

I would have quite liked to have seen Mark Higgins or Alister McRae too but they are the best Britain has to offer right now and they are pretty old.

Fact is, Mikelssen is a better choice than anyone available and it sounds as if Skoda Motorsport CZ had a considerable amount of influence over this choice. Maybe they are playing Quesnel at his own game when Ogier/Bouffier e.t.c. pretend to drive for Peugeot Italy/Czech Republic e.t.c.
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby RonSkoda » 11 Nov 2010 13:50

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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby Sulland » 11 Nov 2010 16:45

Will Skoda Motorsport Italia that are running the car, get him a new stiff 2011 shell/car, or will he drive the 09 Evo's they already have ?
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby RonSkoda » 17 Nov 2010 13:03

I am sure Andreas will have an up-to-date Evo2 car, in fact he has been testing with Skoda Motorsport in CZ this week.

More news; Toni Gardemeister looks to do several IRC events in 2011: http://irc.rallye-info.com/article.asp?sid=11&stid=9083
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby Gregor » 27 Nov 2010 16:09

It looks like Subaru of America has picked up Mark Higgins for 2011, though since there aren't many events in the Rally America season anymore that shouldn't stop him from running elsewhere.

Peugeot pilfering Wilkes is the best news I could have imagined since it includes a push to update the 207.
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby ChrisB » 29 Nov 2010 02:34

Gregor wrote:It looks like Subaru of America has picked up Mark Higgins for 2011, though since there aren't many events in the Rally America season anymore that shouldn't stop him from running elsewhere.

Peugeot pilfering Wilkes is the best news I could have imagined since it includes a push to update the 207.

Maybe it helps if we support this case by votes?
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Lets-g ... 2120367296
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby RonSkoda » 29 Nov 2010 14:53

ChrisB wrote:
Gregor wrote:It looks like Subaru of America has picked up Mark Higgins for 2011, though since there aren't many events in the Rally America season anymore that shouldn't stop him from running elsewhere.

Peugeot pilfering Wilkes is the best news I could have imagined since it includes a push to update the 207.

Maybe it helps if we support this case by votes?
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Lets-g ... 2120367296


I would love to see Mark in IRC, but I guess his big chance was with Skoda UK. I did hear he was close to a deal before they signed Mikkelsen.

Actually I wonder whether Quesnel is to "blame" for this. I somehow think that if Skoda didn't have to stop with the works team to keep Quesnel happy then they would have wanted Mikkelsen in the works team to replace Hanninen (who is doing sWRC). Now they have to pretend Andreas is driving for Skoda UK. I am guessing Skoda UK actually aren't paying much towards this at all...
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby Gregor » 29 Nov 2010 15:46

I had the wrong Higgins; Subaru of America has hired David Higgins to drive in the US next year.
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby RonSkoda » 05 Dec 2010 17:48

http://www.rallye-info.com/article.asp?stid=9101

Good news! Says they will build new cars for next year but whether that means they will have any developments or not we shall see....
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby ChrisB » 06 Dec 2010 01:07

Building new cars, as in additional ones. Currently the team has only 4 cars available, which all have had heavy use last year. Nevertheless development is constantly ongoing, improvement in all areas. The one big problem I see is they are still stuck with that Renault engine for the time being, and that to me seems very much down on power as well as unreliable, so it is not quite clear in which direction to go with that engine.

PG Andersson is only signed for Monte for now, but could do more. Basically the idea is Alister McRae for APRC and Chris Atkinson for IRC and Gilles Panizzi as test driver. So for both series they have an unregular 2nd driver. For IRC that may be Keith Cronin, maybe more of PG Andersson, Alister wants to do a couple of rounds, and why not i.e. Panizzi for Corsica.

Strange it seems Proton has the most glorious driver line up ther is, while Ford is totally silent and Peugeot is too busy complaining about the opposition to find time signing a good driver for their own case (no offence to Wilks, but one is not enough as we have seen with Meeke in 2010)
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Re: IRC teams & drivers 2011

Postby RonSkoda » 06 Dec 2010 11:31

I think Niall McShea is also a possibility for Proton in IRC?

Meanwhile Peugeot at least pulled something out of the bag for Monte where Petter Solberg will drive for "Peugeot France"

Also it seems Magalhaes will have an IRC programme again in 2011 (confirmed for Monte) and Bryan Bouffier might get a bigger programme than just Monte too.
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