The results recorded by the Peugeot Belgium-Luxemburg Team drivers at the conclusion of this week's 50th Rally Madeira will be of utmost importance in regards to their respective Intercontinental Rally Challenge campaigns.
"I have to repeat my success of 2008," declared an
ambitious Nicolas Vouilloz, last year's winner on Madeira Island. "The start of my season was difficult, especially at Ypres and Monte Carlo. I have to urgently reverse the trend."
The defending champion still has the opportunity to do well this year: "The seven best results are considered. Up to this point I have two interesting results and I have five rounds to contest. That means I still have all my chances... but I cannot commit a mistake.
"I have an advantage," he adds. "I love Rally Madeira."
Another advantage for the Frenchman lies in the work accomplished on the Peugeot 207 S2000, with upgrades brought to the suspension, brakes, engine and gearbox.
"The upgrades are not fundamental, but they arrive just in time for Madeira because the competition will be particularly fierce," explained Team Principal Marc Van Dalen.
In addition to the Abarth Grande Punto S2000 cars of Giandomenico Basso and Luca Rossetti, other Peugeot Super 2000-spec cars will be on hand for Kris Meeke and local specialists Bruno Magalhaes and Alexandre Camacho amongst others.
That however is not preventing Peugeot Belux driver Freddy Loix from aiming for victory as well at the all-asphalt rally...
"Last year I was discovering the terrain and I was a bit surprised," recognised the Belgian. "I did some good times and won at least one stage. I enjoyed the routes, but I was too irregular: that explains why I finished sixth.
"I am clearly better prepared this year," Loix stated.
Heading into Rally Madeira, Freddy Loix and Nicolas Vouilloz respectively hold third and fifth positions in the IRC drivers' standings, six and 16 points behind current leader Kris Meeke.
In the constructors' rankings, Peugeot dominates with 68 points; 25 ahead of Skoda and 27 ahead of Mitsubishi.