Monday 5 September 2011



For the first time in its history, the International Rally Challenge includes a visit to Hungary for 2011, a move prompted by the country's longstanding tradition for rallying and the sport's current growth in popularity. The 45th Mecsek Rallye will be based in Pécs - 200km south of Budapest - which has a population of 165,000. Discovering new terrain At first glance, the route looks reasonably straightforward, with two visits to a loop of four stages on the Saturday, followed by the same tests – run in the opposite direction – on the Sunday. "This format isn't as simple as it may appear, however," notes Bertrand Vallat, the engineer behind the design and development of the Peugeot 207 S2000. "From what we hear, the stages are very varied. The roads are very smooth in places with sequences of corners into corners, but other portions are said to be narrower, bumpier and faster. All the stages have a bit of everything." This varied profile will be taken onboard when setting up the cars. "Our priority is to have a car that is easy to drive," continues Bertrand Vallat. "We will only have shakedown to make our minds up, but that doesn't unduly worry me. The 207 S2000 is a known entity and we have a selection of options that will enable us to be competitive."

Bryan Bouffier targeting victory

The list of 23 S2000 cars entered for the Mecsek Rallye features no fewer than seven 207 S2000s, including the cars entered by Peugeot's subsidiaries in Belgium-Luxemburg, France, Portugal, the United Kingdom and, of course, Hungary. "As far as strategy goes, we don't have many options," recognises Bryan Bouffier, who is co-driven by Xavier Panseri. "If we want to stay in the chase for the IRC Drivers' title, we really need to win in Hungary." The team is in good shape right now as it just won this weekend’s rallye in Dolnoslaski, and is now leading the Polish Championship with 2 events to go.

Thierry Neuville enjoys discovering new event

Bouffier's observation is echoed by Thierry Neuville and his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul who are the second best-placed Peugeot runners in the provisional IRC standings. "The fact that the stages are new for everyone will counter my lack of experience which can be a handicap on other events," says the Peugeot Belgium-Luxemburg driver. "This time, I will be on a level playing field with my rivals. I will be pleased if I can finish on the podium, and at the very top would be ideal, of course!"

Guy Wilks looking to stem his spell of bad luck

Peugeot UK's Guy Wilks and Phil Pugh will above all be hoping to put an end to the run of misfortune that has plagued them on recent events. "On the Barum Rally, we were on the pace yet again and I thought a top-three finish was on the cards. Unfortunately, we failed to reach the finish. In Hungary, our objective will be to hit the ground running on the Saturday morning…"

Bruno Magalhaès on form

After skipping the championship's recent visit to the Czech Republic, Bruno Magalhaès and Paulo Grave return to the IRC in Hungary boosted by their win on early August's Rali Vinho da Madeira. "It was my first win on my country's biggest rally," beamed the Peugeot Portugal driver. "It's great to be back on an IRC event and the Hungarian stages will be as new to my rivals as they are to me. I have worked hard to make my pacenotes more precise this season and that will hopefully come in very useful this weekend."

Janos Toth challenging for the Hungarian title

Janos Toth and Robert Tagai will be competing in the colours of Peugeot Total Hungaria Rally Team. After claiming seven national titles, Janos Toth was second in his home series in 2010 and is looking to retrieve his crown this time round. "The Mecsek Rallye is the final round of the 2011 Hungarian championship. I currently top the points table, but my cushion over my chasers isn't that safe. I will need to finish ahead of them this weekend if I want to win the title. That will be my priority, but if I can help Peugeot's IRC Challenge bid in the process, that would be very nice, too." The other two 207 S2000s on the entry list will be in the hands of Marco Tempestini/Dorin Pulpea and Robert Butor/Igor Bacigal. Like Janos Toth, the latter benefit from significant experience of this event.

Peugeot and the Hungarian market After a number of difficult years (down 60% in 2009, and down 30% in 2010), the Hungarian market expanded by 5.9% over the first seven months of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010. Peugeot's market share has risen by 0.71 points to 4.53%, which puts it in seventh place (PC+LCV). The passenger car trend is upward for Peugeot (159 more vehicles sold compared with 2010) thanks to the launch of the 508 and the buoyant performance of the 3008 and 5008. Nevertheless, the 308 continues to stand out as Peugeot's best-selling model. The brand is sixth in the LCV market with a share of 8.64%, and LCVs account for a third of Peugeot's vehicle sales. Boxer sales are up 56.5% compared with the same period in 2010 and it is the fifth best-selling model in its segment.

Drivers' standings 1, Juho HANNINEN 98 points 2, Freddy LOIX 95 3, Jan KOPECKY 88 4, Bryan BOUFFIER 61 5, Thierry NEUVILLE 60 6, Andreas MIKKELSEN 56 7, Guy WILKS 47 8, Toni GARDEMEISTER 28 9, Hans WEIJS 18 10, Michal SOLOWOW 15

Manufacturers' standings 1. Skoda 275 2. Peugeot 184

Main entries 1. Bryan BOUFFIER – Xavier PANSERI (Peugeot 207 S2000) 2. Jan KOPECKY – Petr STARY (Skoda Fabia S2000) 3. Freddy LOIX – Fred MICLOTTE (Skoda Fabia S2000) 4. Thierry NEUVILLE – Nicolas GILSOUL (Peugeot 207 S2000) 5. Guy WILKS – Phil PUGH (Peugeot 207 S2000) 6. Andreas Mikkelsen – Ola Floene (Peugeot 207 S2000) 7. Giandomenico BASSO – Mitia DOTTA (Proton Satria Neo S2000) 8. Frigyes Turàn – Gàbor Zsiros (Ford Fiesta S2000) 9. PerGunnar ANDERSSON – Emil AXELSSON (Proton Satria Neo S2000) 10. Toshihiro Arai – Dale Moscat (Subaru Impreza) 12. Marco TEMPESTINI – Dorin PULPEA (Peugeot 207 S2000) 14. Toni GARDEMEISTER – Tapio SUOMINEN (Skoda Fabia S2000) 15. Bruno MAGALHAES – Paulo GRAVE (Peugeot 207 S2000) 17. Janos TOTH- Robert TAGAI (Peugeot 207 S2000) 23. Robert BUTOR – Igor BACIGAL (Peugeot 207 S2000)

Peugeot Sport.

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