Rally / 27 September 2012

Mabanol Sliven Rally: Martin Kangur going for victory in 2WD

The Intercontinental Rally Challenge continues its tour of Eastern Europe this week, with drivers and crews arriving at Bulgaria for the Mabanol Sliven Rally.

Dominated by lightening quick asphalt stages in the mountains around Sliven ? with a hilltop 1050m above sea-level - the Mabanol Sliven Rally is a traditional highlight of the Bulgarian national championship and part of the FIA European Rally Cups. But it?s a new and unfamiliar face on the 2012 IRC calendar.

Keen to take on the challenge is Estonian Martin Kangur, who returns to the IRC this weekend behind the wheel of the JAS Motorsport Honda Civic Type R.

?It?s a very fast rally,? says Kangur about the Bulgarian asphalt stages. ?Every stage is different and full of surprises, like the uneven ground in the forests or the gravel on the longest stage. One moment you feel like you?re in the Targa Florio and the next you think you?re driving in Yalta.?

Joining Kangur as co-driver will be Ken Jaerveoja, who teamed up with the Estonian in San Marino earlier in the year: "Anders Ost wasn?t available for Sliven and I have worked with Ken already this year. He?s a brilliant co-driver and it?s great to drive with him again.?

Martin Kangur is not the only top 4 driver coming back this weekend to challenge for the 2WD Cup. After two missing rounds, Harry Hunt also returns to defend his first place in the 2WD.

?One thing is certain: it will be a tough battle!? adds Kangur. ?But I?m going for victory and why not? Securing the 3rd place on the final standings of the 2WD Cup would be fantastic.?

Also flying the flag for Honda in Bulgaria this weekend is Greece ace Vasilis Karavasilis and co-driver Giannis Saritsoglou, who will be running a second Honda Civic Type R.

After the superspecial stage around the Hadji Dimitar Stadium in Sliven on Friday at 20.00, the crews begin on Saturday morning the first stage of 13 special stages, covering 197 kilometres of tarmac. For the first time in 20 years two legendary downhill stages are back on the itinerary: Bulgarka (15.06km) and Stara Reka (19.95 km).

The final winner is expected to finish around 14.00 on Sunday 30 of September. 

The IRC will return to Western Europe in October for the Rally of San Remo, before the final countdown in Cyprus in November. 

More: www.ircseries.com