More world class rally territory for the IRC For practically three decades, Argentina has stood out as a favourite venue for rallying's top names. Following their recent and successful trip to Brazil, the Ontercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC)...
More world class rally territory for the IRC
For practically three decades, Argentina has stood out as a favourite venue for rallying's top names. Following their recent and successful trip to Brazil, the Ontercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) and Peugeot could hardly skip over the opportunity to extend their South American stay by adding a visit to the spectacular gravel stages of Argentina's Cordoba region to their respective calendars.
A different rally :
It was less than a fortnight ago that the IRC's defending champions Kris Meeke and Peugeot claimed their first win of the 2010 campaign in Brazil. The majority of the crews and mechanics returned to Europe after that event, but the cars and spares embarked directly on the 2.200 km road journey south to Villa Carlos Paz, the holiday resort that sits at the southern tip Lago da Roque, and traditional home to the Rallye Argentina.
"Unlike my rivals, I had prior knowledge of the terrain in Brazil, " admits Kris Meeke. " In Argentina, the situation will be reversed since some of the drivers have already competed there, whereas I have only done the recce for the event...once. " That was back in 2005, but it does still mean that the Briton has a certain inderstanding of the lie of the land.
" The Argentine stages are much harder-packed and rougher, and are often very rutted, too, which is pretty punishing for the wheels and suspension. There are also quite a few water spashes. "
The word from Villa Carlos Paz is that it has rained quite heavily in recent months, and certain dirt roads are in a poorer state thane ver. And despite the fact that the organisers have widely chosen not to include the famous Giulio Cesare and El Condor stages, which have produced very high attrition rates over the years, competitors still face an extremely hard challenge, including the equally celebrated La Cumbre-Agua de Oro and Ascocinga-La Cumbre tests. Because of fog and low-lying cloud, hazards often seem to jump out at the drivers from nowhere, and Peugeot Sport is recommending a specific set-up for the different teams who are running 207 Super 2000s on the South American event.
" The Argentine stages are far twistier and also put the emphasis on vertical suspension movement, " onbserves Bertrad Vallat, the engineer in charge of developing the 207 Super 2000. " This means we need to optimise the car's shocks absorbing ability, but without that having an adverse effect on its balance. The surface also tends to cup up between runs, so that's another problem we will need to take onboard ; the teams will have to adjust their settings and even ride-height accordingly. Last but not least, we need to prepare for the many water splashes, too. "
There are effectively a high number of fords in the Santa Rosa de Calamuchita region, which is some 100 km south of Villa Carlos Paz and the epicentre of the opening day's action.
" The main thing is to ensure that the engine and especially the electronis are shielded from the water. This is never an exact science ; we just have to take all the steps we can... "
Kris Meeke will be joined in the Peugeot camp by Portuguese driver Bruno Magalhaès and Brazil's Daniel Oliveira who will both also be contesting the event in a 207 Super 2000.
"The Brazilian round gave me a chance to find my marks again on the loose and also adapt the set-up of my Peugeot to my driving style, " says Magalhaès. " I am targeting a top result. "
Meanwhile, Kris Meeke has every intention of adding a further win to his record in Argentina where his maturity and experience promise to be excellent assets : " It's a rally that will call for a carefully thougt-through, cautious and well-paced approach because the total stage distance is much longer than i twas in Brazil.