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GP Week : Issue 22
SPECIAL StAGES n Drivers are preparing to challenge the FIA’s decision to ban Safety Crews in 2009, particularly considering the first round of the 2009 season is the all-asphalt Rally Ireland. On the same week this year that the Rally Ireland is due to run in 2009, there was snow on the roads and on the stages... n Subaru’s new Impreza N14 cars had a mixed Finnish Rally. Top finisher was Jari Ketomaa despite a crash. Second was Svedlund, slowed early on by rear suspension damage while both Naren Kumar and Evgeniy Vertunov retired with engine failures while Teemu Arminen crashed. n 70 year-old Rauno Aaltonen was the 1000 Lakes’Guest of Honour. The 1965 European Rally Champion is one of rallying’s legendary Flying Finns, from the days of the BMC Mini Cooper cars, but only ever won the ‘1000 Lakes’Rally on one occasion. This was at the wheel of a Mercedes Benz 220 in 1961. The actual car had been restored and was on display. “It was quite different in those days. The stages were secret and this is the car on which I had to learn the ‘Scandinavian flick’without which we would never have got round the corners!” n The organisers were successful in curtailing some of the colossal speeds experienced on Rally Finland event in the past. The winning average speed this year was 117.32kph (last year 121.85kph) while the fastest stage of all, Stage 15, this year was won at 125.098 kph. Last year the infamous Ouninpohja stages was win at over 129kph. 16 Behind every silver cloud ... HUNGARIAN Production Car championship driver Gabor Mayer had a torrid time in Finland – and he didn’t even drive in the rally! Pre-rally, Mayer had a long outstanding rendezvous with the FIA Stewards, due to his failure to compete on the Rally of Turkey, which he had been obliged to enter, but which he did not attend. It had been his second absence, after being excused from the earlier rally in Greece for reasons of ‘force majeure’. He presented medical reports which the FIA officials did not find sufficient to excuse his subsequent absence and he was found to have breached the entry requirements of the championship, fined 5000 Euros and had his international competition licence suspended until the end of the year. And, to his chagrin, the stewards sent a request to his national authority that his national competition licence should be suspended as well. His rally life, however, was already in turmoil. During recce for the rally in Finland he was timed at 141kph within a 80kph area, an offence which meant that the police physically took away his driving licence, even though it was foreign, and reported the affair to the rally organisers, who then fined him another 800 Euros. He was in deep trouble. He had an entry on the rally which he could not take up, he had no competition or normal driving licence, and he had a very smart blue and white Subaru Impreza N12, proudly wearing competition number 144 standing in the service park!. In the end Mayer’s team were able to offload their driverless entry to the Finn Tapio Suominen, who had entered a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 in the Red Devil colours of black red and white. Suominen had earlier been short-listed for one of the two ‘Guest’PCWRC entries, but unhappily lost out to Salo and Valimaki. So when Mayer’s entrant was able to offload an entry (and honour their commitment to the championship) somebody came out of the whole business happy!