The island of Madeira will be our home for the next six days whilst we contest the Rali Vinho Madeira round seven of the IRC. The rally is one of the most popular European events due to its unique atmosphere and the fast and talented drivers it attracts.
This year there will be a total of 21 S2000 cars in the event representing four manufacturers: Fiat, Peugeot, Proton and a privately entered Skoda. The official Skoda team will not be contesting the Rally.
The entry list also contains 53 local Portuguese entries out of the 70 competitors across all classes, including 2008 Portuguese Rally Champion Bruno Magalhaes. Kris competed against Bruno in the Azores round of the IRC and that time came out on top. However, Bruno had a problem with his Peugeot 207 S2000's transmission so he will be hoping for a problem free run and could push Kris much harder this time.
Also competing in the rally will be local youngster Bernardo Sousa who normally drives in the Production Car World Rally Championship. Sousa was born in Madeira and learn't to drive on the demanding asphalt roads of the island. He will drive an Abarth Grande Punto Super 2000 for the Italian Procar team.
Guy Wilks will be back behind the wheel of his Proton after a good run in Russia and I am sure will want to run as close to Kris as possible and it would be great to have another British driver at the head of the IRC field.
Anton Alen will not contest Madeira and will instead be replaced by Luca Rossetti in the "Factory" Abarth Grande Punto. Luca will be somebody to watch as he has won 4 of the 5 IRC rounds he has contested so far. He had a 100% record in 2007 and 2008 but crashed out of his only 2009 round in Monte Carlo.
Due to his FIA ranking Luca Rossetti will be the first car on the road at the start of the rally on Thursday. Second car will be his team mate Giandomenico Basso followed by Michal Solowow in his Peugeot 207 S2000. Kris will run 6th on the road. and first of the KRONOS team cars.
I will keep you up todate with all the rally news via the blog over the coming days and via our twitter link, www.twitter.com/peugeotrally.