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GP Week : Issue 31
>>WRCcatalunya The ultimate shakedown THE organisers of Rally Catalunya found a new way to test the suitability of the drivers for what is traditionally considered the fastest asphalt championship rally in the calendar. It was called the ‘Furius Baco’ test. This was a ride in the PortAventura theme park at Salou. Apart from the usual twists and turns of a theme park roller coaster ride, it is its speed that makes this special. The theme park proprietors calculate the passengers are accelerated from zero to 135kph in three seconds, faster, they claim, than racing cars. The ride is 900 metres long, taking 25 seconds end to end, with an average of 130kph, faster than any stage on the event. Among the reluctant passengers was Mikko Hirvonen’s analytical co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen. “All I could think about was just how CATALUNYA 1 Sebastien Loeb Daniel Elena 2 Dani Sordo Marc Marti 3 Mikko Hirvonen Jarmo Lehtinen 4 Francois Duval Patrick Pivato 5 Petter Solberg Phil Mills 6 Jari-Matti Latvala Miika Anttila 7 Chris Atkinson Stephane Prevot Citroen 3:21:17.4 Citroen +24.9s Ford +1:02.5 Ford +1:10.8s Subaru +3:27.4s Ford 8 Andreas Mikkelsen Ola Floene +4:03.8s Subaru +4:04.9 Ford +5:19.6 Points: Loeb 96, Hirvonen 84, Sordo 59, Atkinson 42, Latvala 37, P Solberg 36. woefully poor our rally car’s launch control system is by comparison!” Galli back in action INJURED WRC driver Gigi Galli was back in action on the recce for the Catalunya Rally, six weeks after his terrifying and painful crash in Rally Deutschland. But while he was back in action, he was still unable to walk without crutches. His work was only possible by being able to use an automatic transmission. “In fact I feel good, everything is getting better,”he said. “My broken hip is repairing itself, my specialist visited me two weeks ago and said step-by-step I can start to walk again. “I was well enough to come here to Spain and make a recce of the stages. Now we are looking for a solution about what we can do next year. I want to continue being a rally driver, in my spirit I have a lot of sideways driving left in me!” The available options are few, with Ford’s hierarchy still talking about “desperately”wanting to stay in the sport, but confirming there were no valid contracts after Wales-based Rally GB in December this year. Galli’s determination to stay in the rally scene is unbounded. “I came (to Spain) because I don’t want to be forgotten, and anyway it is nice here is Spain. Back in my home in Livigno (the highest and statistically the coldest town in Italy) we already have had some snow. Snow in our area in August is not unusual.” Galli is unusual in having reached the top of the sport through his experiences in Group N cars. “I have come a long way since the days when I was driving Mitsubishis in Italy. I have seen and learned so much since then. Being a rally driver means a lot of things, most of all having a good support from people behind you. And there I have been really fortunate. “People ask me who gave me the most encouragement and I always have to say it was my mum, my mother! And there were so many afterwards. I owe it to all of them to keep on going.” 43