IRC: BFGoodrich Rallye du Valais preview

Upbeat times in Switzerland The final European fixture of the 2008 Intercontinental Rally Challenge takes competitors to the Alpine stages of the Rallye International du Valais in Switzerland. Although Peugeot has already wrapped up this...

Upbeat times in Switzerland

The final European fixture of the 2008 Intercontinental Rally Challenge takes competitors to the Alpine stages of the Rallye International du Valais in Switzerland. Although Peugeot has already wrapped up this year's Manufacturers' title, two drivers can still hope to take the Drivers' crown. Nicolas Vouilloz has the advantage, but Giandomenico Basso will be waiting to pounce on the slightest mistake by the French driver to ensure that the fight goes down to the wire in China

It is in the country famed for its sedate way of life that the prize for the fastest driver of the 2008 Intercontinental Rally Challenge could well be decided.

On paper at least, the cards seem to be stacked in favour of Nicolas Vouilloz going into the year's penultimate IRC clash, since his points tally amounts to 60 compared with 42 in the case of Italy's Giandomenico Basso. However, the regulations state that only each driver's seven best results will count at the end of the season.

In a nutshell, should Vouilloz fail to win this weekend's Rallye du Valais, and should Basso finish first, the Abarth driver will still have a fighting chance to clinch the crown in China where the 2008 IRC is scheduled to come to a close.

So, what are their respective chances? Vouilloz has only won one rally this year (Madeira), yet he has notched up an impressive list of five second places. Meanwhile, after a disastrous start to the season, Giandomenico Basso is on a run of two consecutive victories. But there are other significant factors to be taken into account, too: the Frenchman won last year's Rallye du Valais, whereas his Italian rival only did the recce in 2007; the Peugeot 207 S2000 forms a quick, reliable package on asphalt, although the Abarth Grande Punto S2000 has been just as competitive on sealed surfaces in the past two months; Vouilloz will have Bryan Bouffier and Luca Rossetti to help his bid in Switzerland, while Basso's main ally will be Umberto Scandola who finished the Swiss round in third place in 2007.

One thing is sure, however: both drivers are BFGoodrich partners, so both will be able to count on the world's best rally tyres: "The Rallye du Valais calls for a fairly broad range of tyres because of the different types of weather we have had to cater for in the Swiss Alps at the end of October," points out BFGoodrich's IRC Programme Manager, Jacques Morelli. "Our drivers will be able to choose from two types of soft compound dry weather tyres if the conditions prove very cold, plus a hard compound dry weather tyre, because the programme features a long 40km stage. Intermediate and rain tyres are available, too, plus a non-studded snow tyre just in case we get snow. This event, in fact, is a sort of dress rehearsal for next January's Monte Carlo."

The list of potential winners is not restricted to Vouilloz and Basso. Although he is no longer in the running for the 2008 title, Freddy Loix can still add a record third win to his name this year. The competition between tyre firms also promises to be fierce, since Gregoire Hotz, who is targeting a fifth Swiss crown, will be at the wheel of a Peugeot 207 S2000 running on the tyres of an Italian brand, while Briton Stuart Jones has entered an MG Super 2000 on Korean tyres.

BFGOODRICH TYRES
Rallye International du Valais

g-Force Profiler A03
Size: 225/40-18 (soft compound)
Use: dry or damp asphalt, low temperatures

g-Force Profiler 110F
Size: 225/40-18 (extra soft compound)
Use: dry or damp asphalt, low temperatures

g-Force Profiler A11
Size: 225/40-18 (hard compound)
Use: dry asphalt, medium or high temperatures

g-Force Profiler M01
Size: 225/40-18 (soft compound)
Use: damp or wet asphalt

g-Force Profiler W00
Size: 225/40-18 (soft compound)
Utilisation: damp or wet asphalt

g-Force Winter
Size: 18/65-18
Utilisation: snow/ice conditions

BFGOODRICH NEWS

1,400 TYRES FOR SWITZERLAND
BFGoodrich will have almost 1,400 tyres available for the Rallye du Valais.

85% ASPHALT / 15% GRAVEL
True to tradition, a stage of this year's Rallye du Valais (Leg 2) features a proportion of gravel, but only asphalt tyres are authorised. The regulations do not permit studded tyres either, but so-called 'siped' patterns are permitted.

RALLY DU VALAIS TRIVIA
Formerly known as the Rallye des Vins, this event is organised by the local wine producers. Switzerland's Olivier Burri has won his home event a record eight times. The list of former winners also includes Per Eklund, Jimmy McRae, Patrick Snijers (the BFGoodrich Drivers Team representative this year in Ypres), Robert Droogmans and Andrea Aghini.

NATIONAL TITLES
With the end of the season fast approaching, BFGoodrich has already started celebrating a number of titles in several national rally championships, including the Czech Republic (with Kresta), Poland (Bouffier), Portugal (Magalhaes), Russia (Zheludov), Italy (Rossetti), the USA (Pastrana) and Ireland (Boland) where the fight was particularly close.

CHINA RALLY
If the outcome of the IRC Drivers' title isn't settled in Switzerland, Team Abarth (and perhaps Peugeot- Belux) could well make the trip out to China. BFGoodrich is prepared for all scenarios with its g-Force Gravel range of tyres.

THE 2009 IRC
The IRC's 2009 calendar, which will kick off with the celebrated Rallye Monte-Carlo, might also feature Rally Mexico and Rally Japan. The season could well end in the forests of Scotland with the RAC MSA International Rally of Scotland.

VICTORY FOR VOUILLOZ IN ANTIBES
The Rallye d'Antibes, the final round of the 2008 European Championship, took place last weekend in the south of France where ERC regulars Luca Rossetti, Travaglia, Isik and Solowow were joined by Nicolas Vouilloz, Bryan Bouffier (driving the new Proton Satria S2000/BFGoodrich) and Stephane Sarrazin who was making his return to the discipline in the Peugeot Sport Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich. The former Subaru factory driver, whose mission was to prepare for next January's Rallye Monte-Carlo, finished second overall behind Nicolas Vouilloz who came out of the long, tough event on top, on BFGoodrich tyres.

BFGOODRICH TAKES THE 2008 EUROPEAN TITLE
Despite failing to finish the Rallye d'Antibes, Luca Rossetti made sure of his second title of 2008 last weekend after sewing up the Italian crown at the end of September. The result of the French round handed first place in the 2008 European Championship to the Italian Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich driver who follows in the footsteps of 2007 champ Simon Jean-Joseph. Poland's Michal Solowow (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) was third in Antibes to pick up second place in the ERC.

-credit: bfg

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