ANDREUCCI CHASING FIVE STRAIGHT WINS FOR PIRELLI

Paolo Andreucci will be aiming to make it five wins from five starts in this year’s Italian Rally Championship when he contests this weekend’s Rally del Salento in his Pirelli-equipped Peugeot Italia 207 Super 2000.

Pirelli’s official rally test driver and multiple Italian champion, has been unbeaten in his national championship this season, racing into a 49-point lead after four events alongside co-driver Anna Andreussi.

Rally del Salento will celebrate its 45th anniversary this year and is one of the most challenging events on the Italian championship calendar. The stages consist of fast straights and tight corners, with stone walls that flank the roads. These provide drivers with very little room for error, so a neat and tidy driving style is essential. The stages are also extremely slippery, with generally low grip levels. With plenty of short straights and 90-degree corners, many parts of the event are not dissimilar to Rallye Deutschland on the World Rally Championship.

Andreucci has vast knowledge of Rally del Salento and believes he can beat the competition once again with his Pirelli P Zero RX7 tyres, designed for dry asphalt. If the temperatures are very warm, the Italian is likely to use the harder RX5 compound. This tyre gives excellent grip under braking and acceleration, a vital requirement for Rally del Salento as the roads are often quite dirty.

“The roads on the Rally del Salento are very hard to drive, but I’ve won there twice before so I know that it’s possible,” said Andreucci. “For Salento, you need a tyre that gives you quite precise control, because if you go off line then it’s very easy to hit one of the walls and pick up a puncture. But I have a very good feeling with the RX tyre: it’s the same tyre that I won the Targa Florio on last month. Luckily we have a nice advantage in the championship now, so I can afford to base my pace on what our rivals our doing. In the end though, you still have to keep up a regular rhythm because otherwise it’s easy to lose concentration and make a mistake.”

Another Pirelli-equipped highlight of the rally will be the return of the MINI in Regional Rally Car specification, this time driven by Andrea Perego. This is the second time that the MINI will appear in Italy, following Andrea Navarra’s victory on gravel on Rally dell’Adriatico.

Rally del Salento, round five of the Italian championship, takes place in the south west of the country and comprises 12 all-asphalt stages covering a competitive distance of 152 kilometres.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “The Rally del Salento is one of the most demanding events on the Italian championship calendar, requiring a very precise tyre that allows the driver to stay in full control at all times. The roads are also extremely slippery, which means that the tyres have to generate as much grip as possible despite temperatures that are often high in southern Italy at this time of year. It’s an event that demands the maximum versatility as well as performance from the tyres, and I’ve got every confidence that our drivers will be able to showcase their abilities once more.”

The event starts on the evening of Thursday 16 June with an autograph signing session, followed by two special stages around the La Conca kart circuit. Friday’s action features two special stages repeated three times prior to the overnight halt in Lecce. Saturday’s itinerary takes in two repeated special stages near Porto Badisco. The finishing ceremony will take place in Lecce’s Piazza Mazzini on Saturday afternoon.

For further information on Rally del Salento visit www.rallydelsalento.com