PEUGEOT UK’s junior rally star Chris Ingram will debut a striking black and red ‘Coupe Franche’ (a diagonal sharp line dividing two distinct colours) livery design recently used to promote the 30th anniversary of the Peugeot GTi on his 208 ‘R2’ rally car, when he contests his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship, at the Circuit of Ireland Rally (2-4 April). In celebration of 30 years since the launch of the original PEUGEOT 205 GTi last year, some of the exclusive and Limited Edition 208 GTi 30th models were available in the distinctive Coupe Franche design, which is now available on the top-of-the-range 208 ‘GTi by Peugeot Sport’. The radical and bold-looking two-toned colour scheme has a textured black front-end with a high-gloss red rear, and it is this that will be depicted on the PEUGEOT UK rally car for the very first time.
The 208 ‘R2’ will look stunning on the Irish stages, as the talented 20-year-old Manchester-based driver aims for another strong points-scoring finish in the ERC Junior category. Ingram’s season started well with a sixth place finish on the unfamiliar snow and ice covered gravel roads of Latvia. The Circuit of Ireland is an event Chris knows much better, having done the event twice before – the first time in 2012, when Ingram was just 17-years old. Last year, in front of 74,000 spectators, Chris became the youngest winner of the prestigious Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy after leading the Junior category at two-thirds distance. Despite crashing out, former PEUGEOT UK Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) champion and now WRC driver Kris Meeke presented the 19-year old with the award, saying that Ingram’s performance had been “absolutely outstanding”. Supported by PEUGEOT UK, PEUGEOT Financial Services and TOTAL Lubricants, Ingram and co-driver Gabin Moreau will be aiming for ERC Junior victory in Ireland – although that will be far from easy, with a record 19 ERC Junior competitors taking part from 12 different countries. Speaking ahead of the Circuit of Ireland Rally, Chris commented:
My ERC Junior championship will really begin once we get to Ireland. I made some mistakes in Latvia but we still scored some good back-up points. After leading R2 on the Circuit both times I’ve competed, before misfortune, so I hope it’s a case of third time lucky and we can see the finish line this time with a podium. The Irish stages are incredible and I love the style of fast, flowing and bumpy roads, which the Circuit of Ireland offers. I’m so excited to pilot the 208 ‘R2’ on these roller-coaster Irish roads. The chassis is brilliant and will suit the jumps and bumps. I remember last year that I spent more time in the air than on the Tarmac in the little Twingo, but the Peugeot is much more stable and lands big jumps better and safer.
This year’s Circuit of Ireland Rally begins with a Qualifying Stage on Thursday 2 April, which will determine the running order for leg one, followed by a ceremonial start outside Belfast City Hall later the same evening. Friday (3 April) and Saturday (4 April) are two busy action-packed days, with a total of 135 miles of competition held over 18 special stages in counties Antrim and Down. Most of these speed tests – like the famous Hamilton’s Folly stage, located south of Ballynahinch, and the long McGaffins Corner test near Newry – will be held on narrow, twisty and bumpy closed country lanes, although there will be two spectacular town stages in Newtownards on the Friday night and in Lisburn on Saturday. The finish ceremony will take place in front of the Titanic Building at 18.15 on Saturday.