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GP Week : 29-Apr-2008
The Car he Loved to Hate: Not everything Sebastien Loeb does turns to gold. Some turns to dust. In 2007, every driving error he made seemed to occur in the same car, chassis 07, and this is the car that is now being driven by Conrad Rautenbach! It was in this car that Loeb crashed in Norway, Sardinia and finally Japan. He called the car a ‘merguez,’ a horrible little sausage. He may have an even stronger name for the car now … THE arrival of the World Rally Championship into the Middle East, a region never visited before, was an exciting occasion. Crews discovered the highest organisational standards while drivers were introduced to some of the most tortuous and deceptive roads ever experienced. The prospect of high temperatures daunted team engineers, especially because pre-event testing in any country with comparable climatic conditions is forbidden, while the drivers were astonished at the theme park ride characteristics of the stages. “Never has there been a rally where accurate pace notes will be so important,” confirmed Jari-Matti Latvala. “Here everything is yellow, you cannot look beyond a blind crest and sense which way the road will go!” Latvala himself found how harsh the roads could be the hard way, his charge ending in broken suspension, pictured right. The surfaces on the gravel stages were another big unknown, being made up of specially prepared roads which seemed to be rock hard - but liable to degrade with the passage of the rally cars. Jordan provides a tough test Good organisation but tricky roads in the Middle East 36