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GP Week : Issue 18
n Spanish motorsport all rounder Josep Bassas died recently after a long illness. He was Spanish asphalt rally champion in 1989 and then 1997 Spanish Touring Car Champion. He was most famous for driving BMW M3 cars and after retirement was the manager of Baporo Motorsport. n Former two times world rally champion Marcus Gronholm was a debut winner in European rallycross when he won the A final race at Holjes in Sweden in his Fiesta. True to rally sport, from which he retired at the end of last year, he beat the Citroen C4 driven by Kenneth Hansen! n On August 31 Prodrive is inviting enthusiasts to participate in a parade of Impreza cars, starting from Lanark, the Scottish home town of the McRae family and ending at Prodrive’s premises in Banbury. This is to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Rally New Zealand 1993, which was the late Colin McRae’s first world rally win. and the first victory ever for Subaru on a world championship event. This happening will be held at the same day as the 2008 Repco Rally NZ is to finish at Hamilton, far away in the Antipodes. n In the Azores, Bruno Magalhaes (Peugeot) headed a Super 2000 top three result, while Spanish guest driver Xavier Pons went off the road on the second day when lying second. n In the centre of France Alexandre Bengue won the Rouergue Rally, based at Rodez, in a Peugeot 307 World Rally Car, but Eric Brunson still leads the French championship. SPECIAL StAGES To the relief of everyone with commercial interests in the sport, the FIA’s decision to proceed with a promoter agreement for the World Rally Championship came as a major step forward. It is the first sign that there is a central wish to take advantage of the special characteristics of rallying, capitalise on the individual characteristics of each event and give relevant identification to the opportunities available. In other words, to study the sport as a whole and maximise its entertainment opportunities. Ford’s Motorsport Director Mark Deans was cautiously optimistic at the developments. “The FIA’s promoter announcement has kept us engaged in the idea of continuing our world championship activity after the end of this season, but there are very many unanswered questions. We must wait till the October WMSC before we know for sure what is going on, and if we are going to get value out of future activity of world championship rallying.” Ford believes that the problems are twofold. Firstly, to strengthen the foundations of the sport and, secondly, to take advantage of this. The company feels there are many inadequate aspects to rallying which are down to the FIA to address so that it can then become a promotable framework. For example, Ford disagrees with the calendar rotation system which annually eliminates the traditional rallies which provide the popular image of the sport. Ford is also unhappy with the calendar dates being given to events and the intervals between each event, and would also prefer to introduce a ‘football calendar’ season. “Certainly the world championship calendars for 2009 and 2010 must be considered very suboptimal. All these factors have to be sorted out so that the promoter can then start to raise the profile of the sport”. What can the promoter do to elevate the profile? “Promoters have a multi-faceted role. They have to make the sport attractive to people physically present at events, for people at home and, increasingly, for internet customers. It is their job to make this a dynamic package, like the way that sports such as Tennis and Golf have become, and also like F1.” The ISC has been in this position before, but its bold initiatives for changing the sport for the better gradually drifted to nothing. So why is the new situation any better than before? Deans: “Up to now the ISC’s remit has been to concentrate on the media. Now the official promoter negotiations are being offered to the ISC, it gives an important opportunity to have the same body working as both media partner as well as global partner. “They have above all the chance for people in authority officially to understand our issues. The only thing which matters is to ensure that we get value out of the sport.” ADVERTISE in GPWEEK For more details CLICK HERE to access a HuGE global audience NEWS/ANALYSIS 16