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GP Week : Issue 39
>>WRCPREVIEW The Pirelli Drivers come to Town THE five under-27 drivers selected last year for the Pirelli Star Driver award met each other in Britain in early March at a joint training session, before going to Italy to test their cars. In Portugal they compete against each other for the first time, in Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X cars, all strikingly painted in Pirelli yellow but individually with the flags of their countries along the sides. The PSD system was inaugurated in 2008 as a way for the World Champion control tyre supplier to reinvest in the development of the sport. For selection purposes the FIA’s world of rallying was divided into different regional sectors. Drivers from each region were eventually selected, by a variety of means, to be given a free six-round programme of WRC events in 2009. There is no final end-of- season prize for the most successful driver. The purpose of the award is to give the drivers an opportunity to show their talents and, hopefully, progress onwards independently in the sport The selected five this year are the Finn Jarkko Nikara (23) and the Czech Martin Semerad (18) both representing the European region, New Zealander Mark Tapper (now 28) representing Asia Pacific, Cypriot Nicos Thomas (21) on behalf of the Middle East and South African Jon Williams (26) representing Africa. The Pirelli Star Drivers and livery (above) African series starts with Safari THE Safari Rally hits the roads in Kenya this weekend for the 57th time. Now moved earlier in the season since last year, attention this year will be focussed on the race for the African Championship, currently led by Zimbabwean James Whyte, who starts this event at number one. The event is also listed on the IRC calendar, though the top IRC teams will be unable to attend, on account of the logistic pressures of their cars returning from the rally in Brazil and then going to the Azores. 49