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GP Week : 29-Apr-2008
n Two times FIA World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz has won the seven day Central Europe Rally, a special cross country event held in Hungary and Romania as compensation for the cancellewwd Dakar event earlier this year. The Spaniard’s Volkswagen finished less than two minutes in front of Stephane Peterhansel’s Mitsubishi with another former rally driver, German Dieter Depping, third, also in a VW. n Zimbabwe driver Jamie Whyte (Subaru) inherited victory on the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally when the leader Hideaki Myoshi (Mitsubishi) punctured on the final stage. It was Whyte’s first ARC victory, after many years of endeavour! The top placed under-27 years old driver Jon Williams (VW Polo S2000, from South Africa) finished fifth and leads the African Rally Championship Pirelli Star Driver challenge. n The Acropolis Rally returns to tradition by arranging for the Ceremonial Start to be held again in Athens. This will be beneath the hillside on which the Parthenon building stands. It also means that plans to have a superspecial stage at Tatoi on the Thursday evening are abandoned. SPECIAL STAGES HOPES for an all time fifth successive World Rally Champion title for Sebastien Loeb were dented when the Frenchman crashed out of the lead of the Jordan Rally. His Citroen C4 World Rally Car crashed headlong into the similar car of the privateer driver Conrad Rautenbach. The accident happened on an unusual type of road section, when cars being driven up to the start of a stage were travelling in the opposite direction to cars returning after completing the stage. The road where the accident happened was a narrow public asphalt road, where there were many blind bends. The written route instructions given to competitors highlighted the potential dangers on this stretch of route (it is unusual for competitors to travel in the opposite directions to each other). It was particularly galling for Citroen Sport to find that the car which ended Loeb’s hopes of victory was one they owned and which was leased out to a privateer. Instances when team- mates eliminate each other are very unusual and normally the incidents happen on stages. To happen on a non-competitive open road section is extraordinarily rare … The car which Rautenbach was using was one in which Loeb himself had crashed three times last year, in Norway, Sardinia and Japan. RULES formulated last week by the FIA for selecting the under-27 Pirelli Star Driver award candidates indicate a variety of regulations according to the various regions of the world where they compete. Whereas the African championship candidate will be chosen according to championship points on the events in the ARC through the season, the Asia-Pacific candidate will be selected on performances on only one event, the Malaysian Rally which is the penultimate round in this year’s series. And the career promotion prospects will be based not on the overall results of the rally but only on speed on the stages, whether or not they qualify as a finisher. The Whangarei Rally, third round in the APRC, has a bearing on the selection of a candidate, in that the two fastest stage drivers among the under-27 APRC drivers on that event will be given financial help to travel to Malaysia. The strangest feature of the APRC Star Driver rules is the required reliance on speed in Malaysia. APRC coordinator Murray Brown said: “The weather factor in Malaysia can be extreme. Conditions on stages can turn from rock hard gravel to deep and glutinous mud in minutes. When this happens, it is quite the most technical event in the series.” Already announced is that there will be not one but two candidates chosen from the European series. Shoot-Out in Malaysia Citroen’s Jordan Suicide Pact 14