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GP Week : Issue 42
W ORLD level motorsport returns to Argentina for the second time in three months, the World Rally Championship following the remarkably successful and popular Dakar event, on its first time in South America. The new, and curiously unbalanced, 12-round rotation format for the WRC is playing tricks this year. Before the start of this weekend’s Rally Argentina, Round 5, one-third of the 2009 season has already been held. Furthermore, this will be one of only two ‘long haul’ rallies (held outside Europe) this year. In these days of widespread world economic crises, there is an encouragingly good entry of 59 cars (56 started last year), with nine World Championship entries, 12 Production Car World Rally Championship entries, and three Junior World Rally Championship cars. In addition to Citroen Total, BP Ford Abu Dhabi, Citroen Juniors and Stobart VK team entries, once again there is a single WRC Munchis entry for Federico Villagra. The main driver change in the WRC sector concerns the Citroen Juniors. This event was never on the program for Evgeniy Novikov, so their regular third entrant Sebastien Ogier will be registered for this event. But the FIA has ordered that Ogier not carry the now-vacant competition number eight, but the number 12 which he has carried on the three previous events this year. As this event counts for both the JWRC and the PCWRC, the PCWRC cars will again carry three digit competition numbers. The only non-registered World Rally Car driver on this event will be Petter Solberg, once again in his Citroen Xsara. For JWRC drivers, Argentina will be a points bonanza, so long as the drivers qualify as finishers. Aaron Burkart and Michal Kosciuszko come from Suzuki Sport Europe, while Alessandro Bettega has his Renault Clio Super 1600 instead of the usual R3 car for logistic reasons. 44