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GP Week : Issue 21
>>WRCnews End of Fiat’s Famine? THE form guide looks good. Fiat driver Giandomenico Basso won the two previous rallies and is up for a hat-trick at this weekend’s IRC Madeira Rally. But life has not been so good for Fiat’s Grande Punto S2000 cars these days. The Rally will be the first anniversary of the last Fiat victory on a round of the IRC championship, a period in which their cars have only won two rounds of the European. Will Madeira this year see a turn of the tide, or will rival Peugeot’s 207 S2000 cars continue to scoop the prizes? Nic Gullino, Fiat’s rally team manager: “Madeira is Basso’s type of rally, an event which demands driving with consistency clean lines. It is an event with excellent surfaces, virtually all the traditional pave has now disappeared – it is an ultimate tarmac rally. Our team has had a lot of very bad luck recently, not helped by the incredible killer instinct driving of the Peugeot driver Luca Rossetti.” The event counts for both the IRC and the European series. Madeira is the second IRC event this year in Portugal and the third out of four times this year that IRC and ERC drivers meet each other on the same event. Rossetti and Vouilloz tie at the top of the IRC charts, Rossetti has a 10 point lead over the Polish driver Michal Solowow in the ERC. New Sponsor for Rally Japan PIONEER is returning to rally sport, as the new sponsor for Rally Japan, promoting the Carrozzeria brand, its in car entertainment and navigational systems. As outlined at the press conference, however, Pioneer is not the only effective sponsor of the rally – spectators will also help the cause. A full price three-day spectator ticket will cost about one-third of a million yen (about US$2500), with one-day tickets proportionately less. Route details were published earlier, outlining that there are to be no fewer than 29 special stages on Morrow benched by Mitsubishi UK 24 year-old Philip Morrow, the number two Mitsubishi driver on British Championship rallies, has been dropped by the team, just four weeks before his home event in Northern Ireland. The decision to release him came from the Mitsubishi UK board, following crashes on each of the first three rounds in the series. On the second and third rallies, these accidents led to Morrow’s retirement, damaging hopes of winning the Team prize in the series. 16 The team spokesman said “this was a business investment related decision, but was particularly delicate because of the Ulster Rally. Contractually, however, there was no option. Drivers know that three accidents mean they are out of the team”. For the past five years Mitsubishi UK have offered their number two seat to the winners of the national Evo Challenge series, which Morrow won in 2007. Morrow has been a member of the MSA British Rally Elite scheme and this development is a disappointment for all concerned. There have been happier times for Morrow’s predecessors. The highly experienced driver Gwyndaf Evans had this prize-drive in 2007 and ended up third in the series. No decision has yet been taken on a replacement. This is the latest difficulty faced by the team this year, following the destruction by fire of Guy Wilks’ regular car on the Jim Clark Rally when a universal joint coupling broke and caused a fuel leak. the event, based this year at Sapporo, the largest city in the Hokkaido island in north Japan. This will be the greatest number of stages on a world championship rally for over 10 years.