IRC: BFGoodrich Rally China preview

No Chinese travels for the IRC front-runners The last round of the 2007 Intercontinental Rally Challenge is based in Longyou, China, although neither Peugeot nor Abarth have decided to make the long trip out to this Chinese city which is ...

No Chinese travels for the IRC front-runners

The last round of the 2007 Intercontinental Rally Challenge is based in Longyou, China, although neither Peugeot nor Abarth have decided to make the long trip out to this Chinese city which is situated to the south of Shanghai. This year's IRC Drivers' and Manufacturers' crowns are consequently highly likely to become  the  property  of  Spain's  Enrique  Garcia  Ojeda  and  Peugeot/BFGoodrich.  The  Rally  China  also counts  towards  the  2007  FIA  Asia-Pacific  Championship  and  the  final  clash  between  Subaru  and Mitsubishi promises to be a particularly thrilling encounter.

Precious  little  is  known  about  the  Rally  China  which  features  as  the  ninth  and  final  round  of  the  2007 Intercontinental Rally Challenge calendar. The event is based in Longyou which boasts a population of 500,000 and which is situated some 400km south of Shanghai, in the Zhejiang province. Zhejiang is famed for its tea.

The  programme  features  223km  of  competitive  action,  while  Longyou  will  host  the  start  ceremony  and  Friday evening's super-special. The stages themselves are very varied and range from the low-lying plains near Longyou to  the  narrower,  twistier  tests  high  in  the  nearby  mountains  (one  of  last  year's  mountain  stages  featured  50 hairpins in just 19 kilometres!). The rally ends in Longyou on Sunday afternoon.

The principal IRC runners have chosen not to make the trip out to China. Neither Peugeot Spain's Garcia Ojeda and  Vouilloz  nor  the  factory  Abarth  threesome  (Navarra,  Alen  and  Scandal)  will  be  present.  The  top  of  the provisional IRC points tables is consequently highly unlikely to change, which means that the 2007 titles are more or less sure to go to Enrique Garcia Ojeda, BFGoodrich and Peugeot.

The Rally China is also the final qualifying round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. Subaru's Cody Crocker only needs to line up for the start of the Chinese event to clinch the Drivers' title. The Australian driver won the 2006 event in torrential rain which transformed the gravel road network of the Zhejiang province into extremely slippery mud-baths.

On the other hand, the fight for the Manufacturers' APRC title has yet to be decided, with Subaru and Mitsubishi split by just two points. Mitsubishi will be able to count on the services of Finland's Jussi Valimäki, who recently secured  his  national  title,  and  Japan's  Taguchi,  who  recently  won  Group  N  and  finished  eight  overall  on  the WRC's Rally Japan in October. BFGoodrich has no involvement in this series since both manufacturers run on rival

-credit: bfgoodrich.com/racing

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Series RALLY