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GP Week : Issue 28
Williams wins the FIA’s first WRC Star Driver Award SOUTH African driver Jon Williams is the FIA’s first Pirelli Star Driver, an award which brings him a car sponsored by the FIA and Pirelli on six rounds of the 2009 World Rally Championship. He gained the award after finishing the top qualifying driver on the Zambia Rally, the final round of the FIA’s African championship, beating Peter Horsey and Alfir Khan from Kenya. Horsey started the event the favourite for the award but firstly went off the road and lost seven minutes, then had suspension failure three stages from the end. The event itself was won by Japanese driver Hideaki Miyoshi, who thereby becomes the 2008 FIA African regional champion. Zambian Muna Singh was Miyoshi’s closest Never too Old Fifty year-old Mats Jonsson became 2008 Group A Rally Campion of Sweden at the final championship round last weekend at Norrkoping. He was driving the same 10 year-old Ford Escort World Rally Car with which he won the South Swedish European zone championship rally earlier this year. This was the 14th time he had become a rally champion in his country. His greatest claims were winning the Swedish World 18 Championship rally in 1992 and 1993, each time with Toyota. Jonsson intends trying for a 15th title, but has ruled out progressing to a Focus WRC car on cost grounds! … The Norrkoping Rally was a two day event. Mats had a spin on the first day and restarted in a favourable sixth position. Overnight leader Jari Saarinen and second places Jonas Wigren both lost time when they stalled their Focus WRC cars, giving Jonsson his chance to win the rally and the title. rival starting seven points behind, but he retired on the first full day with gearbox failure. Zimbabwe Rally winner Jamie Whyte finished second on the rally and second in the series. Five events were run in this year’s African series, with the Rwanda round cancelled for financial reasons and the Safari Rally in Kenya finally held after being postponed. Four other drivers are in line to win Pirelli Star Driver scholarships. The next will be decided at the Asia Pacific round in Malaysia on the second weekend in October. Two weeks later the two contenders selected out of the European and other regional series will be known and, finally, the Middle East series candidate will not be known until the end of the year.