REVIEW OF THE SANREMO RALLY

PROTON Motosports driver Chris Atkinson will return to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge for next week’s Rallye Sanremo as preparation for what could be the biggest moment of the Australian’s rally career one week later.

Atkinson has dominated this year’s FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, winning three from four rounds of the series, and is well placed to seal the FIA title for the Malaysian manufacturer on the Rally Hokkaido, which starts in Japan on September 30. Next week’s Rallye Sanremo will be the perfect opportunity for the Queenslander to hone his competitive instinct.

PROTON Motorsports’ regular driver Giandomenico Basso will partner Atkinson in Sanremo.

Rallye Sanremo will be Atkinson’s second IRC outing of the year and, after a season of travelling around the Asia-Pacific region, racing through the Ligurian Alps will feel like home for the Monaco-based driver. Atkinson and Basso will make a formidable team for the next IRC round, with double FIA European Rally Champion Basso a former winner of his home round of the series.

As has often been the case in teaming up an IRC programme with its FIA APRC commitments, the PROTON Motorsports team will be doing plenty of travelling in the next month. Hours after crossing the finish line in Sanremo, the team will be packing up and flying east for Hokkaido. And on the completion of the Japanese event complete, PROTON will return to Europe for Rally of Scotland, meaning three rallies on two continents in three weeks.

Chris Atkinson said: 
“It’s great to be back in the IRC again. I’ve done the recce for this event before, but never competed in Sanremo. It’s fair to say that this is one of the events I’ve always wanted to do: it’s one of the classics and a really tough event. From what I remember some of the stages can be quite technical and then there’s the night stage, which is going to be a big challenge. I haven’t competed for a while now, so I’m really keen to get back in the car, especially on asphalt as I haven’t driven on that surface since January. Competing in Sanremo will definitely help me for the following week in Japan. There’s nothing like time in the car to keep you sharp. The competition in IRC will be really tough as usual. Those boys have been out racing pretty much every other week and that really gets you on the ball as a driver. I’m pretty fortunate having a team-mate like Giandomenico [Basso], he’s got plenty of knowledge on setting the car up on these roads and for tyre choice if the weather closes in.”

Giandomenico Basso said:
“I love this rally. It’s a rally that I’ve done plenty of times before and I’ve got some good memories from Sanremo. I’ve won it before and I nearly won there last year as well. I love the long stages; I’ve always liked long stages as you really have to think a lot about the car and the tyres over the whole stage – it’s not like the short stages where you just go. There’s a really special atmosphere to Sanremo; it’s a great place to be in a rally car. This is a rally where experience definitely helps and you need to concentrate very hard because of all the corners. It’s a really technical event that is not easy to master; you have to be really on top of the car. The speeds are not that fast and that makes it more demanding, physically and mentally. Then of course you have the long stage at night, which is a really tough test for everyone. It’s a great rally and this week we want to see our guests from Malaysia encouraged by what they see.”

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Posted on September 22, 2011, in IRC and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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