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GP Week : Issue 36
SPECIAL StAGES n Hubert Deferm became 2008 Belgian Rally Champion after finishing second on his home town event, the Rallye Condroz-Huy. He beat Melissa Debackere to the title by a single point. n British Porsche driver Richard Tuthill won the Rally Costa Brava, a round of the FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship, taking the lead on the final stage. n Trivial fact: the last three events in the World Championship that have used new stages have all been won by Mikko Hirvonen. These were Ireland in 2007, and in 2008 (Jordan) and now Japan. n The penultimate round of the French asphalt championship was the Criterium Cevennes, and it had a first-time winner; Ludovic Gal in a Peugeot 307 WRC. Subaru driver Eric Brunson leads the series by five points with only the Rallye du Var to go. n The national Swedish Rally Championship will run control tyres from Pirelli for the next three years. n More than half of the competitive stage routes planned for the 2009 Rally Portugal World Championship event will be new. The downtown superspecial in Faro is replaced by the superspecial in the Algarve Stadium as in 2007, but the course will be wider than before. n Manfred Stohl won RallyeWaldviertel in Austria at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo fuelled by CNG. 16 Will lightening strike twic DOES lightning strike twice? Ford certainly hope so. The BP Abu Dhabi team goes to the final round of the World Rally Championship eleven points down on the Citroen Total team, fondly recalling the 12 points it took off its rivals in Japan. If they do this again at Wales Rally GB (5-7 December), the final round of the 2008 World Rally Championship, they will unexpectedly retain the World Championship. It is a long shot to hope that Ford will again score a 1-2 and that the two Citroen cars between them score no more than seven points on the Wales Rally GB, but that is what happened in Japan. Another special attraction on the rally will be eight times MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi at the wheel of a works-run Ford Focus World Rally Car. He carries his traditional number 46, meaning the PCWRC driver Jari Ketomaa, who has a championship entitlement to this number, carries 146 instead. Stobart plan a blaze of glory with no fewer than a six entries, two championship entries for Francois Duval and Matthew Wilson, then cars for Henning Solberg, Barry Clark, Steve Perez and Dave Weston. A total of 21 World Rally Cars are on the list, including the newly crowned JWRC champion Sebastien Ogier making his first start in one of these cars. FIA threatens sanctions for spending Jaarko Nikara (Ford Fiesta ST) in action THE FIA has announced plans to contain the cost of the newly-proposed World Rally Car rules, due to take effect in 2010, and in reality expected to come into force in 2011. The threat is the formation of a dedicated Commission to ensure that the ‘Super Production’ category cars (the current Group N and Super 2000) will be converted into World Rally Cars solely by the addition of a specific kit without involving unexpected degrees of expensive technology. The reduction in the size of the championship in 2009 and 2010 has led to further cost restrictions. Every entry in the 2009 World Championship must run the same engine for three rallies, and each team can only run eight cars per year. The team can again choose which events shall be linked together for engine allocation purposes, but there will only be four links for a team doing the full season, three links if an MT team opts to enter fewer rounds. Other measures were confirmed; the sport is to have a golf and tennis-style world driver ranking system to be trialed in 2009 and made official in 2010. Standardised penalties for speeding during recce are to be enforced and the system for enforcement clarified. And the reduced WRC calendar for 2009 (twelve rallies instead of the current 15) has led to clarification about the minimum number of rallies that second-level registered (MT) teams must enter (eight instead of 10). A new rule also states that full World Championship points shall be granted however much a rally might be shortened. This is to give fairer conditions for the Junior and Production championships in which drivers select the six events they will enter in advance. The final major decision was that the supplier of control fuels will revert to the British company Carless. For the past three years the fuel has been provided by Shell in Germany.