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GP Week : Issue 20
THE Zimbabwe and Zambia rallies will also be the two last chances for Kenyan drivers Alfir Khan and Peter Horsey to make their claim for support under the Pirelli Star Driver challenge scheme for competing in the 2009 World Championship events. All six registered Star Driver drivers are still in the hunt, however. Of the FIA’s four regional championships, only the African and the Middle Eastern series will select their candidates for the Star Driver awards based on positions in the official results of rounds in the series. The Asia Pacific challenger will be chosen by winning the greatest number of special stages in the Malaysia Rally, and the short list for eligible candidates representing the European series will be decided by nominations from sporting authorities, not only from countries running events in the FIA European series but also those running world rallies as well. The two chosen drivers will then be selected after a special shoot-out in Austria. The African championship will be the first to announce their young star for the future, Asia Pacific and European series will follow suit in October and Middle East not till November. … and last chance to shine NISSAN was well known in its sports car racing days for taking every chance to run under competition number 23 – when a Japanese person says 23, it sounds very much like saying Nissan. The big regret for 53 year- old Italian Group N Mitsubishi Evo VI driver Fabrizio de Sanctis is that he cannot run the forthcoming Neste Oil Rally, Finland with 23 as his racing number. That privilege is given only to drivers who have a World Rally Car. The thing is, this is a special occasion for him – it is Fabrizio’s 23rd successive entry on this famous world championship rally, always as a privateer, an achievement he is proudly promoting as a world record! “Some people, like Sebastian Lindholm, have done this event more often, but not in an unbroken line”, Fabrizio explains. “Returning to Finland for me is like going home even though the rally itself has changed considerably over the years. “There just aren’t many privateers nowadays like there used to be, you don’t get the same excitement of meeting people from so many different countries. There are nothing like so many different stages and of course they are now all run in daylight. “Recce rules are quite different. Interestingly today’s longer stages demand more physical effort. The stages themselves are still very special, only the Killeri superspecial is out of keeping. When we used to drove the old full-length Ouninpohja it was one of the most beautiful rally stages to drive anywhere in the world.” Money has always been tight – rallying on a budget is an art form of its own: “I spend a year looking for people to sponsor me for the next year. I only enter two of three other rallies each year, and always trying to go somewhere different and unusual, but I always want to come back to Finland. “We stay in cottages instead of hotels and this which reduces costs. Many times we go to Finland with the same tyres we used the year before, which we cannot do any more. The scrutineers were always amazed at how many previous year’s markings were still on my tyres!”. Fabrizio’s happiest result was in 1992 when he was third-best private non- Scandinavian competitor. His nine-to-five job back home in Italy is as a consultant specialising in photovoltaic renewable energy systems. Renewable energy? 53 years old? Fabrizio is practising what he preaches! ‘23’ is Go Fabrizio finishing another “1000 Lakes” Rally, and the new logo ready for the forthcoming Neste Oil Rally ... WRC news >> 17