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GP Week : Issue 41
>>WRCnews in Portugal Why so many crashes in Portugal? The 43rd Vodafone Rally of Portugal was a horrendous experience for drivers at every level. Drivers who fell off the road in Portugal and had to retire included Latvala, Novikov, Rautenbach, Gronholm, Bonato, Thomas, Sousa, Mayer, Prive, Flodin, Tarabus and Sandell. Plenty more drivers went off the road but were able to continue ... Even Sebastien Loeb said it was quite out of the ordinary – but why? The weather was clear, the stages were well within the acceptable level of roughness. It was everything else which made this a recipe for accidents for everyone concerned. Firstly, the stages were very technical, with corners which were difficult for a driver to read in the normal way. Secondly none of the top drivers competed here in 2008, when the event was run as an IRC event, and the route was substantially different to that of the World Championship rally in 2007. Then there was the significant problem of dust, which was potentially so challenging that the organisers ordered all the cars to run at two-minute intervals, not just the top cars. But it wasn’t just the dust during the event – it was the dust during the recce which caused the trouble. One co-driver could not understand why they went off the road: “Somehow the note was wrong but I didn’t know why!” During the second run through the stages later that day, came the realisation of just how much a dust bowl it had been during recce: “Suddenly we realised that there were two bends at that place, and we never knew it ....” Marcus Gronholm (FIN) and his damaged Subaru. No manufacturers? You’re kidding! Oliver Quesnel (Team Principal at Citroen Total) has reacted to FIA President Max Mosley’s opinion that World Championship rallying could be successful without manufacturers’ teams. “For me if there are no more manufacturers, there won’t be so many drivers. “I can’t see the sport going on without manufacturers at the highest level. Without the manufacturers you won’t get the cars, drivers or money and maybe the media. “Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so …” 17 Dani Sordo