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Guy Wilks will swap the wintry north east of England for the hot and humid interior of Brazil, when the Škoda UK Motorsport driver contests Round 2 of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, the Rally International de Curitiba (4-6 March), in his Fabia S2000.

In preparation for the dramatic change in temperature, Guy has added sauna and steam room work-outs to his gruelling fitness regime of daily runs across the County Durham countryside, and is in peak physical shape for the sauna-like in-car temperatures that he is expecting to face in Brazil.

The 29-year old driver from Darlington currently lies 6th in the IRC standings after a faultless performance on Rallye Monte Carlo (19-23 January). Another points-scoring result in Brazil is likely to see Guy move up the table, as only two of the drivers ahead of him in the series, fellow Škoda Fabia S2000 drivers Juho Hänninen and Jan Kopecký, are contesting the event.

A top eight finish won’t be easy, as the Rally International de Curitiba has attracted a strong 48 car entry, with drivers from Great Britain, Czech Republic, Finland, Portugal, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.

Whilst this will be Guy’s first rally in Brazil, he and co-driver Phil Pugh (Tywyn) are no strangers to rallying overseas and against local experts, and have contested events as far afield as Argentina and Mexico. It will also be their first gravel rally since winning the RAC MSA Rally of Scotland three and a half months ago, although Guy did complete a very productive 112 mile (180 kms) test near Osilo, in the northern part of Sardinia (February 19-20), where he concentrated on getting the car set-up to exactly how he likes it. With temperatures topping just 14ºC on the Mediterranean island, the Škoda UK Motorsport team hopes that it will merely be a case of adjusting the settings for the anticipated 28ºC conditions when it runs the Fabia S2000 at the pre-rally shakedown in Brazil.

Based 255 miles (410 kms) south-west of Sao Paulo, the Rally International de Curitiba will be a difficult event, as the terrain is flat and very fast, with lots of high-speed crests and dust to contend with. Drivers who have contested the event before will be at a distinct advantage, yet Guy’s aim is to challenge for a top position and score as many IRC points as he can.

Guy Wilks: “We had a very good test in Sardinia.  We found a four kilometre section of gravel road that was flat and very fast – just what we expect to find in Brazil.  We were also lucky it stayed dry, and although it was a lot colder in Sardinia than it will be in Brazil, it was certainly the best conditions we could have hoped for in Europe at this time of year.

“Brazil will be a difficult rally, but I like the challenge of new events and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve trained hard and I’m in good physical shape, and I feel ready for the heat and humidity. If all goes to plan, we’ll just need to make a few minor adjustments to the set-up of the Škoda Fabia S2000 during the pre-event shakedown, and then we’ll be ready for what promises to be two days of very tough competition.

“The trip to South America isn’t just about the rally in Brazil, as twelve days after we’ll be starting Rally Argentina. The focus will be very much on returning to the UK with a good haul of points after two strong performances.”

The Rally International de Curitiba begins with a ceremonial start in the city centre on Thursday 4 March. The action begins the following day, with Leg 1 competition taking place over three separate fast and flowing gravel stages located to the west of Curitiba.  The longest of these, the 11.8 mile (19 km) opening Campo Magro stage, is repeated three times, and the day contains a total of seven stages equalling 64 miles (103 kms).

Leg 2 takes place on Saturday 6 March and is the longer of the two legs, as it contains 73.5 miles (118.3 kms) of competition. Five gravel stages (two of which are repeated) are planned in the countryside north east of Curitiba, beginning with the 17.4 mile (28 kms) Baocaiuva test, which is the longest stage of the rally. The climax to the event is the spectacular 2 mile (3.38 km) Super Prime Pinhais stage, which takes place on a purpose-built arena adjacent to the Autódromo Internacional de Curitiba; the venue for the opening round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, which takes place the following day.

The rally winner is expected to complete the 15th and final super-special stage at 16.00 local time (19.00 UK time) after two days and 137.5 miles (221.3kms) of competition.

Eurosport will broadcast recorded highlights from each day of the Rally International de Curitiba, beginning on Friday 5 March. Eurosport and Eurosport 2 will then broadcast a Magazine programme, featuring the event (Monday 8 – Wednesday 10 March). Please check TV listings for details.

Fans will also be able to follow Guy’s progress on Twitter (http://twitter.com/GuyWilks), Facebook and http://www.guywilks.com.

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