IRC: BFGoodrich Barum Rally preview

Best foot forward Zlin BFGoodrich's Intercontinental Rally Challenge partners will be ideally shod as the series heads to the Czech Republic and the town of Zlin, home to footwear giant Bata. The season's sixth round could well mark a ...

Best foot forward Zlin

BFGoodrich's Intercontinental Rally Challenge partners will be ideally shod as the series heads to the Czech Republic and the town of Zlin, home to footwear giant Bata. The season's sixth round could well mark a turning point in the fight for both titles since the top-two in the Manufacturers' and Drivers' standings are currently split by a single point. The advantage is currently in favour of Abarth/BFGoodrich ahead of Peugeot/BFGoodrich in the former, while the latter is topped by Italian Andrea Navarra who leads Spain's Enrique Garcia Ojeda.

After the recent journey to the island of Madeira to the west, the Intercontinental Rally Challenge switches to the Czech Republic in the east of Europe for the Barum Rally, the sixth round of the 2007 calendar.

The industrial town of Zlin, which is situated near the Slovakian border, a short distance from Brno, will host the 37th edition of this long-standing European Championship fixture which invariably draws considerable crowds. The organisers claim a total figure of 300,000 spectators over the weekend and promise an electrifying atmosphere for the super-special they have laid on in the streets of Zlin.

"The rally is based in a flat part of the country but the stages can be very varied, with a mix of fast, flowing portions and twisty, narrow forest roads on the same test," says Simon Jean-Joseph (Citroen/BFGoodrich) who won outright here in 2004. "It can also be quite bumpy, especially on the Pindula stage, while grip is generally good, although inconsistent in places. If it rains, those parts sheltered by trees stay damp for some time."

BFGoodrich will provide two types of g-Force Profiler for the Czech event, one for dry weather (available in a choice of two compounds: the A01/soft and the A10/medium) and the other for damp conditions (W00). The regulations do not permit the use of run-flat systems, but competitors are authorised to carry two spares if they wish.

The five rounds contested to date have been won by five different drivers and the frequent leader changes during events and the pitiless battle for the Drivers' and Manufacturers' crowns have ensured that the 2007 Intercontinental Rally Challenge has lived every bit up to its promise so far.

Another strong field will gather for this weekend's encounter and the entry list features ten or so potential winners, including asphalt specialists Freddy Loix (Abarth/BFGoodrich) and Bernd Casier (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) from Belgium, plus Peugeot Spain/BFGoodrich's Nicolas Vouilloz and Enrique Garcia Ojeda. Ojeda is currently second in the provisional Drivers' standings, just one point behind Andrea Navarra (Abarth/BFGoodrich) who has led the championship since March. Other possible front-runners are Renato Travaglia, a previous winner of this event, who will be making his debut here with the Grande Punto Abarth S2000, plus Czech driver Roman Kresta, another former winner, who has entered a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX/BFGoodrich. Simon Jean-Joseph (Citroen/BFGoodrich) stands out as avourite in the two-wheel drive category.

-credit: bfg

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