Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia, round five of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, was stopped after eight stages this morning following the accident that claimed the life of British co-driver Gareth Roberts.
Event organisers Automobile Club Palermo confirmed that the accident occurred approximately eight kilometres from the start of the Cefalu’ stage east of the service park in Termini Imerese.
A rescue crew was located 50 metres from the crash site and attended immediately. Despite their best efforts, Roberts succumbed to his injuries. Driver Craig Breen was unhurt in the accident but was treated at the scene for shock. No spectators were involved and the remainder of the event was cancelled as a mark of respect to Roberts.
Along with Breen, the talented and popular 24-year-old was embarking on his first major campaign in the IRC. Following points-scoring finishes on the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in April and Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse last month, their programme with Saintéloc Racing would have included the upcoming Geko Ypres Rally and Sibiu Rally Romania.
Their participation in Sicily with HRT Motorsport was added to their schedule to provide an additional opportunity to demonstrate their considerable talents in a Peugeot 207 Super 2000. After seven stages they were in sixth position overall having set a succession of impressive stage times on an event they were competing on for the first time.
IRC Manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas said: “It’s a very sad accident. The death of a 24-year-old young man at the start of a fantastic career is always a tragedy. From the start of this year, together with Craig Breen, Gareth has put in some excellent performances and the crew really got themselves noticed. There’s no doubt in my mind that these performances would have got even better. At this terrible time, I’m thinking very much of Gareth’s family, to whom all of us at Eurosport Events, the promoter of the IRC, pass on our sincere condolences.”
A short tribute to Gareth will be included in Eurosport 2’s coverage of the event at 09:00hrs CET on Sunday 17 June. The same programme will replace the scheduled Inside IRC show at 23:00hrs on Tuesday 19 June.
Jan Kopecký was declared the winner of the event. He had trailed overnight leader Andreas Mikkelsen, in an identical ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, by 4.5s starting Saturday’s first stage but moved in front by going 5.3s quicker than the Norwegian, who reported being too cautious through the stage, which was won by Giandomencio Basso in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC. Basso was the highest-placed Italian driver in third overall. Massimiliano Rendina and Simone Campedelli won the IRC Production Cup and IRC 2WD Cup respectively.
Mikkelsen, who won the IRC title in 2011 with co-driver Ola Fløene, said: “I didn’t know Gareth very well, but he seemed like a really great guy and he was clearly a very good co-driver. Ola and I send our condolences to Gareth’s family, friends and to Craig.”
Basso said: “This is one of those terrible, chance things that is very hard to believe. It’s a horrible situation we are all faced with together and I am so sad and sorry.”
Paolo Andreucci, the six-time Targa Florio winner who finished fifth on the event, said: “I feel very bad…very bad. Unfortunately a very talented young man has gone. In the fullness of time, maybe we need to look more in detail at the causes and what exactly happened to see if we can learn anything. But for now though, I’m just thinking of Gareth, Craig and his family.”
FINAL TOP 10 IRC POSITIONS (RESULTS DECLARED AFTER SS8)
1 Jan Kopecký (CZE)/Pavel Dresler (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 1h04m59.1s
2 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Ola Fløene (NOR) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 +0.8s
3 Giandomencio Basso (ITA)/Mitia Dotta (ITA) M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC +2.5s
4 Umberto Scandola (ITA)/Guido D’Amore (ITA) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 +23.5s
5 Paolo Andreucci (ITA)/Anna Andreussi (ITA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +33.3s
6 Matteo Gamba (ITA)/Emanuele Inglesi (ITA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +54.4s
7 Sepp Wiegand (GER)/Timo Gottschalk (GER) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 +1m08.7s
8 Alessandro Perico (ITA)/Fabrizio Carrara (ITA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m17.5s
9 Massimiliano Rendina (ITA)/Mario Pizzuti (ITA) Ralliart Lancer Evolution X +4m44.1s
10 Robert Consani (FRA)/Nicolas Klinger (FRA) Renault Mégane RS +4m58.6s
IRC Production Cup: Massimiliano Rendina (ITA)/Mario Pizzuti (ITA) Ralliart Lancer Evolution X
IRC 2WD Cup: Simone Campedelli (ITA)/Danilo Fappani (ITA) Citroën DS3 R3T
IRC STANDINGS (BEST OF EIGHT SCORES COUNT, ALL POINTS PROVISIONAL)
IRC drivers after round five of 13
1 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) 89pts; 2 Jan Kopecký (Czech Republic) 83pts; 3 Juho Hänninen (Finland) 43pts; 4 Sepp Wiegand (Germany) 40pts; 5 Bryan Bouffier (France) 27pts; 6 Dani Sordo (Spain) 25pts; 7 Craig Breen (Ireland) 18pts; 8 Giandomencio Basso (Italy), Pierre Campana (France) and Luis Monzón (Spain) 15pts.
IRC co-drivers after round five of 13
1 Ola Fløene (Norway) 89pts; 2 Pavel Dresler (Czech Republic) 83pts; 3 Mikko Markkula (Finland) 43pts; 4 Timo Gottschalk (Germany) 40pts; 5 Xavier Panseri (France) 27pts; 6 Carlos del Barrio (Spain) 25pts; 7 Gareth Roberts (United Kingdom) 18pts; 8 Sabrina de Castelli (France), Jose C Deniz (Spain) and Mitia Dotta (Italy) 15pts.
IRC manufacturers after round five of 13
1 ŠKODA 209pts; 2 Peugeot 124pts; 3 Renault 51pts; 4 M-Sport 39pts; 5 Subaru 31pts; 6 Honda 22pts.
IRC Production Cup drivers after round five of 13
1 Robert Consani (France) 43pts; 2 Marco Tempestini (Romania) 33pts; 3 Andreas Aigner (Austria), Garry Jennings (United Kingdom), Ricardo Moura (Portugal) and Massimiliano Rendina 25pts; 7 Toshi Arai (Japan), Donagh Kelly (Ireland) and Sérgio Silva (Portugal) 18pts; 10 François Delecour (France), Sam Moffett (Ireland) and Ruben Rodrigues (Portugal) 15pts.
IRC Production Cup co-drivers after round five of 13
1 Nicolas Klinger (France) 43pts; 2 Dorin Pulpea (Romania) 33pts; 3 Sancho Eiró (Portugal), Daniela Ertl (Austria), Barry McNulty (United Kingdom) and Mario Pizzuti (Italy) 25pts; 7 Kevin Flanagan (Ireland), Dale Moscatt (Australia) and Fernando Nunes (Portugal) 18pts; 10 James O’Reilly (Ireland), Estevão Rodrigues (Portugal) and Dominique Savignoni (France) 15pts.
IRC 2WD Cup drivers after round five of 13
1 Harry Hunt (United Kingdom) 33pts; 2 Petru-Antone Boschetti (France), Simone Campedelli (Italy), Robert Consani (France), Paulo Maciel (Portugal), Marty McCormack (United Kingdom) and Joan Vinyes (Spain) 25pts; 8 Gorka Antxustegui (Spain), François Delecour (France), Tommy Doyle (Ireland) and Énio Medeiros (Portugal) 18pts.
IRC 2WD Cup co-drivers after round five of 13
1 Robbie Durant (United Kingdom) 33pts; 2 Danilo Fapani (Italy), Filipe Gouveia (Portugal), Nicolas Klinger (France), Benoit Manzo (France), Jordi Mercader (Spain) and David Moynihan (Ireland) 25pts; 8 Liam Moynihan (Ireland), Paulo Rego (Portugal), Dominique Savignoni (France) and Gabriel Suarez (Spain) 18pts.
IRC 2WD Cup manufacturers after round five of 13
1 Renault 154pts; 2 Honda 58pts; 3 Peugeot 35pts; 4 M-Sport 27pts.
Go to www.ircseries.com for full standings, including IRC Production Cup and IRC 2WD Cup.