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GP Week : Issue 11
n 20-year-old Nicos Thomas won the second round of the Middle East Rally Championship run last weekend in Cyprus, at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. He outdistanced the favourite, Nasser Al Attiyah, whose Subaru Impreza N14 was plagued by overheating troubles and finally finished third, while Amjad Farrah had transmission failure. Al Attiyah retains his lead in the MERC series. n Provisional route details for the Wales Rally GB (4-7 Dec), final round of the 2008 World Championship, have been published. The route heads north to Central Wales, with stages in Hafren, Sweet Lamb and Myherin coming back to the route for the first time for eight years. The rest of the route will cover familiar ground in South Wales. n Patrick Henry has won the Rallye Alsace Vosges, second round of the French asphalt championship, at the wheel of a Peugeot 307WRC. Little known Subaru WRC driver Eric Brunson now heads the series. n Leading rally in Britain this weekend is the Jim Clark Rally, the only event run on closed public roads in mainland Britain. It is based at Kelso in the south-east corner of Scotland. This event also counts for the Irish Tarmac Rally championship. SPECIAL StAGES Ford asks the tough questions WRC future depends on the answers FORD has posed a series of questions, the answers for which could dictate its future in the WRC. “Our deadline for confirming that Ford continues in world championship rallying after the end of this year is early August,” said Mark Deans, Ford’s Director of Motorsport, as he highlighted the range of decisions waiting to be made by the FIA before Ford can confirm whether to extend its current engagement. “Our agreement extends till the end of 2008. We are passionate about rallying. There are at the moment huge opportunities to revolutionise the sport, but you cannot build a house if there are no foundations.” Deans, above, itemised the four main centres of worry facing Ford, which must be satisfactorily answered before any decision to go into 2009 and beyond can be made: “Firstly there is currently no global promotion for world championship rallying. “Secondly we cannot embark on investment with new rally models (the new World Rally Car formula is to start in 2010) until we know the precise technical regulations. “Thirdly, the calendars for 2009 and, especially, 2010 leave room for improvement, and we want to know what is going to be done about it.” (Quite apart from geographical anomalies, there is the controversial problem of classic rallies dropping out of the championship on account of the rotation system). “Finally we need to be convinced the FIA recognises the unique opportunities afforded by world championship rallying. There are wide issues to consider. Maybe a winter-based season was not a bad idea – because events will be held on the weekends at a time of year when more people (in the Northern hemisphere) watch television. “There is currently a great opportunity to transform rallying back in to being a great sport, but before we can make future plans for ourselves, we need to know what is going to happen. And know it in very short time.” 10