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GP Week : Issue 26
SPECIAL StAGES n When their team-mate Ken Block crashed on the final stage, Travis Pastrana and his British co-driver Derek Ringer inherited the lead on the Ojibwe Forest Rally in Minnesota state, and edged closer to the title in the US Rally-America series. Block took Pastrana’s PCWRC car to New Zealand – where he then went off on the first stage! n Plans are afoot to run the first international rally in Saudi Arabia aimed at following on from the Hail Saudi Baja. Due to be held 12-13 November, as a candidate for the Middle East rally series. n Another promotional success! No fewer than 41 Spanish drivers applied to drive the BF Goodrich celebrity Peugeot 207 S2000 on the Rally Principe de Asturias, (11-13 Sep) to be held at Oviedo in North Spain. n China Rally has moved once again. This year this final round of the IRC will be at Shaowu. the fourth different venue in five years for the rally. n TPeugeot driver Luca Rossetti continued his winning ways at the weekend at the Rally del Friuli e della Alpi Orientali, beating the Mitsubishi of Paolo Andreucci. Neither works Fiats reached the finish. n Mads Ostberg has undergone successful optical surgery, and will be fit enough to return to rallying next weekend on a Norwegian national championship rally. Andreas Mikkelsen will appear in a Porsche Carrera Cup race the following weekend, one of his opponents being Prince Carl Philip of Sweden. 18 Gill makes Indian rally history INDIA has joined the list of Production Rally championship-winning nations. No sooner had the sport welcomed Naren Kumar into the Production Car World Championship this year, the first Indian driver to contest a world rally series, it has seen the first ever victory by a resident Indian on an FIA championship rally, with 26 year-old Gaurav Gill winning the APRC Rally of Indonesia. Gill started his motorsport career in typically Indian style, as a competitor in the uniquely Indian sport of motorcycling rallying. Word in India was that he was very good until he had a serious accident in which he broke a leg badly. He first started car rallying in 1999 with the JK tyre manufacturer team and had hoped to progress into the Asia zone series but the Malaysian driver Karamjit Singh came along and took his intended seat. JK then withdrew from rallying and without a rally car to drive, Gill went racing instead. He came back to rallying in 2005 at the Hyderabad Rally, replacing an injured driver in the revived JK team. He was in line to win on his debut return to rallying before team orders relegated him to second place, behind Naren Kumar. In 2006, Naren and Gaurav continued as JK teammates driving Maruti Suzuki cars and had a very successful season in which Kumar took the national title. For 2007 Gill was invited to swap camps and compete for the MRF tyre manufacturer team, for whom he became national champion at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Cedia. Part of the deal was a program of Asia-Pacific rallies in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX but he disgraced himself in New Caledonia by crashing twice, heavily. He came back later in the season with a new co-driver, Australian Glenn Macneall, and eventually took fourth place in Indonesia. For 2008 he was attracted back into the APRC with the lure of the Pirelli Star Driver scheme, for which he was eligible, but motorcycles again stood in his way – he had a serious street accident and missed the first three rounds of the series, only returning in time for Hokkaido in July and then Indonesia in August. Gill’s victory in Indonesia has put his name in Indian motorsport’s hall of fame, but Miracle of Zim REPORTS coming back from observers who attended last weekend’s event Zimbabwe Challenge Rally have indicated that it was a miracle that the rally happened at all, let alone up to the expected standards of an FIA regional series. Life in present day Zimbabwe is almost a siege. Currency is chaotic (recently ten zeroes were taken off the nominal value of the Zimbabwe dollar), business is conducted under the counter in US dollars, even the basic commodities of life have to be acquired on shopping trips to South Africa. Yet the rally went ahead. One official observer said: “There is an incredible adaptability, a remarkable ‘get on with life’ mentality.” The organisers of the rally worked flat-out to make the event happen. They personally re-graded roads and worked with the government officials, who gave their blessing to the event. Officials provided the necessary vouchers for fuel, without which petrol cannot be bought. People working on the rally shared everything with their colleagues. The FIA gave certain blessings, for example there were no separate arrival controls before stages. The forthcoming rally in ‘Zam’in three weeks’time has a lot to live up to. The rally in Zim was a miracle of the world of rallying. the big challenge of his career comes in October when the FIA holds the APRC Pirelli Star Driver shoot-out at the Malaysia Rally. On this event the driver chosen to represent Asia Pacific in selected events in next year’s FIA world championship must prove his worth by his speed on special stages – whether or not he actually finishes the rally. It seems like a challenge at which the Indian Humpty Dumpty can hardly fail! Then, when all that is over, he goes to Japan for the world championship rally, as PCWRC team-mate once again with Naren. Word from India has it that Gaurav is faster...