Alen hopes for Italy gravel boost

Abarth driver Anton Alen is hoping that a strong performance on the all-gravel Costa Smeralda Rally this weekend, part of the Italian Rally Championship, will boost his chances on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge's finale in Scotland at the end of the year

Alen hopes for Italy gravel boost

Alen is Abarth's gravel specialist in the IRC, so while his team-mates take part in the IRC's Principe de Asturias Rally on asphalt, the Finn is competing in Italy to help get the Grande Punto S2000 up to speed on loose surfaces.

The Costa Smeralda Rally is based in Porto Cervo on the island of Sardinia, and uses many of the same stages as the World Rally Championship event that took place on the island in May.

"This event will be useful practice for Scotland, although I imagine that the weather in Scotland will be a little bit different!" said Alen. "Of course I want to do some more asphalt rallies but the team has decided that I have more experience on gravel so this is what we are concentrating on here.

"On the last IRC gravel event, in Russia, we were quick so hopefully we can do the same in Scotland. There are some small developments on the car for us to try that might help."

While the stages in Sardinia are characterised by soft and sandy gravel, there are some rougher sections that could be similar to the Scottish Rally.

"It surprised me a bit that some of the stages were still in quite bad condition after the World Championship rally, so I think they could become quite rough - especially during the repeated passages," said the 26-year-old Finn.

"Other sections are faster and more flowing, so there is a good mix of stages. The idea behind me doing this rally is to get more experience, but I will definitely be pushing from the start as well. I want to get a good result here to show what we can do."

Alen has competed on the Costa Smeralda Rally previously, at the wheel of a Group N Subaru Impreza, and he is hoping to put that experience to good effect.

Nonetheless, he will be up against Italian Championship regulars who have a comprehensive knowledge of the terrain. The leading drivers in Sardinia include former European champion Renato Travaglia and Italian specialists such as Paolo Andreucci and Andrea Navarra. Another strong contender will be Piero Longhi, at the wheel of Skoda Italia's Fabia Super 2000.

Anton Alen's famous father, Markku, won the Costa Smeralda Rally in 1981 at the wheel of a Fiat 131 Abarth and then again in 1988 with a Lancia Delta Integrale. Other former winners of the Sardinian event include Attilio Bettega, Henri Toivonen, Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol.

Hevia leads, Meeke hits trouble
Previous article

Hevia leads, Meeke hits trouble

Next article

Basso leads Asturias after leg one

Basso leads Asturias after leg one
Load comments
Ireland deserves a WRC round Plus

Ireland deserves a WRC round

Drivers are in accordance: Ireland should be in the World Rally Championship. DAVID EVANS followed the Circuit of Ireland and was left with no doubt that the drivers are right

Apr 23, 2014
Kubica's rally to recovery Plus

Kubica's rally to recovery

Robert Kubica's rally speed is obviously there - in abundance - but he's got to stop crashing. Charles Bradley went to the Azores to get the lowdown on the ex-F1 star's comeback trail

May 3, 2013
Why Kubica can win on ERC debut Plus

Why Kubica can win on ERC debut

Former GP winner Robert Kubica makes his international comeback this week in the Canaries Rally. And David Evans reckons he'll win aboard a Citroen DS3 RRC

Mar 21, 2013
Rallying's new era keeps the best of the old Plus

Rallying's new era keeps the best of the old

As the IRC to ERC transformation takes effect in Austria, David Evans is excited that the IRC's promotional strengths will carry over - but still wishes the WRC could get some of that magic

Jan 3, 2013
Farewell IRC, long live ERC Plus

Farewell IRC, long live ERC

As the Intercontinental Rally Challenge prepares for its swansong in Cyprus, David Evans recalls the shortlived series' heyday - and looks ahead to its European successor

Nov 1, 2012
The 2011 IRC season review Plus

The 2011 IRC season review

The fifth Intercontinental Rally Challenge was the best yet, and it was Skoda UK driver Andreas Mikkelsen who emerged as champion from a tense five-way shootout at the season finale. Matt Beer reviews the season

Nov 22, 2011
Who to watch in the Monte Carlo Rally Plus

Who to watch in the Monte Carlo Rally

This year is the Monte Carlo Rally's centenary and, just as in recent years, there's no shortage of World Rally Championship stars turning up to give the IRC regulars a run for their money

Jan 18, 2011
The top 10 IRC drivers of 2010 Plus

The top 10 IRC drivers of 2010

The competition didn't run as deep as it might have, but there was plenty of fight at the front with six of our top 10 winning rallies during the season. Matt Beer puts them in order

Nov 29, 2010