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GP Week : Issue 7
REIGNING British Champion Guy Wilks led the Pirelli International Rally, first round in the 2008 British Rally Championship, from start to finish. Run in the Kielder forest region in North England, his Mitsubishi was fastest on 12 of the 13 stages, and as a result, and for the second year running, Wilks won the event. Wilks made a strong start, gaining a lead of 24s on the first four stages run in the dark on Friday evening, and when second-place finisher Finn Juha Hanninen spun during Saturday, the lead increased to just under a minute. Third place finisher David Higgins was involved in a battle with Wilks’ team-mate Philip Morrow. Morrow was unsettled on the Friday night stages, but drove hard on the Saturday morning before being slowed by gearbox troubles. He kept his fourth place, with Swedish driver Patrik Flodin powerless to challenge when he lost boost pressure. Reigning European Cvvhampion Simon Jean- Joseph had been leading his class for the first nine stages, but then his Citroen C2 R2 Max landed heavily on a rock hidden by a crest, gifting the class to Fiesta ST challenge cars, led by Joakim Nyman from Sweden. The only untoward incident of the rally was when a Porsche driven by Jimmy McRae crashed in the historic category of the event, the driver being evacuated to hospital reported with a broken wrist and sternum. “That jump was flat out when I drove an Escort last year,” he quipped. “The Porsche must have been a lot faster car.” Wilk’s keeps that winning feeling ALESSANDRO Bettega has been entered at the final moment for the Junior World Rally Championship, and makes his debut this year in Jordan. Bettega is the son of the Lancia works rally driver Attilio, who died in a rally car crash in 1985 and gained world rally podium finishes on six occasions. Bettega drove a Stobart team Focus on last year’s Tour de Corse, but hopes for similar deals this year have failed. His manager Walter Calcinotto, who runs the TRT team, is disappointed. “We knocked on many doors asking for help to arrange a WRC programme for Alessandro this year, but it is always the same,” he said. “However good you are, you are only welcome if you come with a pot of gold. In the end we had no choice. My team bought a Renault Clio R3 for ourselves, entered the JWRC and went for it. At least we have got some wheels for Alessandro in Jordan.” Bettega’s JWRC entry is in the name of the TRT team, which means that he can score championship points, but the team can pass on the entry to someone else on future events, without penalty, if it proves impossible for him to complete the season on his own account. Son of a gun set for JWRC WRC news >> 12