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GP Week : Issue 1
Historically, subaru always goes well in Mexico. in 2008 Petter solberg and chris atkinson were 1-2 in shakedown; in 2007 with the latest version of the infamous ‘wide-track’ Petter led the rally for the first five stages; in 2006 he led for the first seven stages; in 2005 he won the rally outright. The sad and curious result on the Wales Rally GB is the only win the team has achieved since then. Prodrive’s Technical Chief David Lapworth agrees: “I think our engines are relatively good in Mexico. The boxer engine layout is more suitable because we have easily the widest bore and shortest stroke of all the World Rally Car engines. “This means that at the high- revs end of the scale, when power matters, our engine revs the most freely. “We have always had a good engine at the higher altitude rallies such as in Africa, Mexico and Argentina.” A fortnight before its victory in 2005, Petter told Subaru personnel that if the car did not go well on that event they would never win a rally with it, and even if it did win there that was no guarantee of continued success: “Mexico is an event that favours us so much, and makes different demands on cars because of the high altitude, where our engine works much better than those of other teams.” According to Petter, the lack of power masks other problems with the car. “The engines do not give so much power at altitude, and consequently our lack of traction is not such a problem. And any handling deficiencies are also concealed for this reason.” - MartiN HolMEs No Blues for Subaru Sebastien Who? Why do the Subarus go so well in Mexico? HE WENt to Mexico as a driver who was unknown outside his native France, entering his first ever world rally championship event. He returned with a name that will become familiar to rally enthusiasts around the world, and not only because his Christian name sounds familiar! Sebastien Ogier was well aware of the enormity of the challenge of entering the World Rally Championship: “We really didn’t know what to expect before coming to Mexico. Citroen, PH Sport (who prepared the car) and the world championship scene were all new to me and I had no idea where we stood compared with the others. There was so much we had to take on board.” Rally people in France already knew Ogier well. FFSA, the French motorsport federation, has helped the careers of rally drivers for some time, most famously in 2000 when they worked with Sebastien Loeb. “This year (the Federation) is aiming even higher”, explained FFSA President Nicolas Deschaux. “For the first time the FFSA has decided to give a young hope the opportunity to take part in the whole of a major international championship at the wheel of a competitive car.” 24 year old Ogier was already French champion in the Peugeot 206 Cup, and his FFSA scholarship was to contest the JWRC season in a Citroen C2 S1600 car. Ogier led the category in Mexico from start to finish, his little car - proudly painted in its French blue, white and red colours - performing perfectly, with only a few minor snags en route. His ninth place in the overall rankings in Mexico equalled the highest overall placings a Junior driver had ever achieved in the World series in the seven year old story of Junior rallying. Ogier’s provenance is there, his famous namesake applauding his Efforts: “He was quick to begin with, then controlled the race from the front,” enthused Sebastien Loeb. “Their win was a great omen. Congratulations!” – MartiN HolMEs WRC MEXICO >> 49