IRC Prime Yalta Rally preview
author: Intercontinental Rally Challenge
Popular Ukraine sporting event
A new addition to the IRC roster in 2011, the Prime Yalta Rally is one of the most exciting asphalt events of the season with its spectacular waterside service park, demanding stages through the stunning Ai-Petri mountains overlooking Yalta, not to mention the huge following the event attracts from fans.
Famed for its Mediterranean climate and location close to the stunning Black Sea coastline, the Yalta Rally is unique in that two quick-fire stages take place prior to the ceremonial start, albeit a short distance from the event base, on Friday 14 September.
Rashid Al Ketbi
It also covers a tried and tested route with the three different stages on day three virtually identical to the runs used on day two, albeit in a reverse direction.
The Prime Yalta Rally stages are typically fast and flowing, not uncommon with the undulating asphalt roads found in the south of France and similar in places to Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse, which hosted the fourth round of the IRC earlier this season. Road surfaces are generally smooth, albeit lacking grip, with a good line of sight into the corners that should enable drivers to push to the maximum. However, the asphalt is broken in sections and there is a risk of punctures despite the robust covers produced by the IRC’s tyre partners Michelin and Yokohama.
While temperatures hovered around 25 degrees centigrade when the Yalta Rally took place in June of last year, the mid-September date means that there is a slight question mark about the weather, with rain a possibility.
*Yalta etched its name in history when it hosted the wartime conference between the governments of the United States of America, United Kingdom and Soviet Union to agree Europe’s reorganisation following World War II in February 1945.
*Ukraine is an enthusiastic supporter of the IRC. As well as hosting a round of the series, Dream Team Ukraine is contesting selected events with up to three cars for home talents Vitaliy Pushkar, Oleksandr Saliuk and Oleksiy Tamrazov.
*A father and son will be in action on the Yalta Rally with Marco Tempestini and son Simone Tempestini both competing in Subaru Imprezas.
*Borscht soup is a dish to savour in Ukraine. It’s made from vegetables, including beetroot, and meat.
*Apart from the UEFA Euro 2012 football tournament, the Yalta Rally is Ukraine’s biggest sporting event
One of the key features behind the ongoing success of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge is the allowance in the regulations for drivers to pick and choose what events they contest based on budgets and other commitments.
With drivers able to count their best eight scores out of a possible 13 only, defending IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen has chosen not to include the trip to Yalta in his schedule for 2012 having already contested nine rounds of the series so far this year. But he remains a big fan of the event and the challenge it will present the crews taking part.
“The Tarmac is very different to any other rally I’ve ever done; it’s very slippery in the dry and if it’s wet it will be really tricky,” said the ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver. “The stages are more or less the same as last year, so there are some spectacular stages – especially Ai-Petri. That goes up a big hill and then you go straight into the next stage, Plato, which goes down the hill. These two stages are quite tricky for punctures, but if you stay out of trouble on these two stages I think you’ll have a good chance of scoring a very good result.”
Rashid Al-Ketbi makes a welcome return to IRC action in his Skydive Dubai Rally Team Fabia Super 2000 for what will be his first appearance in Yalta where he will face opposition from rising Finnish talent Mikko Pajunen, who is co-driven by Kimi Räikkönen’s former navigator Kaj Lindström in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000.
Yuriy Protasov will pilot a Fiesta RRC – similar to the car Giandomenico Basso drove to victory on Rally San Marino earlier this year – for the 77 Rally Team, where he will be joined by fellow Ukrainian Yukhym Vazheyevskyy in a Peugeot 207 S2000. Yağiz Avci, from Turkey, will drive a Fiesta S2000, while László Vizin will compete in Eurosol Racing Team’s Fabia.
IRC Production Cup
The battle for home supremacy will take centre stage in the IRC Production Cup with young talent Vitaliy Pushkar going up against established ace Valeriy Gorban in the showroom category. Pushkar won the IRC Production Cup in impressive fashion on the Sibiu Rally in Romania in July and will once again be a contender for victory in his Dream Team Ukraine Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer. Gorban, meanwhile, doubles up as the boss of the Mentos Ascania Racing team, which has considerable international competition experience. Romania’s Marco Tempestini will also be one to watch in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI as will Italian veteran Marco Cavigioli and Volodymyr Pechenyk, who claimed IRC Production Cup glory in Yalta last season. Frenchman Robert Consani, who competes under a Ukrainian licence, will also challenge for victory in his Renault Mégane RS.
IRC 2WD Cup
As well as being eligible for IRC Production Cup honours, Robert Consani will be in the hunt for first place in the IRC 2WD Cup. The Renault driver trails Harry Hunt by 26 points after nine rounds but with Hunt not competing in Ukraine, Consani can slash his lead to one point if he wins on his Yalta debut. Romania’s Vlad Cosma and leading female driver Ekaterina Stratieva, from Bulgaria, will also impress as will Honda Civic drivers Ivan Ostapchenko and Alexey Panov. Murat Bostanci, from Turkey, is one of several M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 drivers taking part, while Giedrius Kriptavicius from Lithuania will be lining up in a Renault Clio.