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GP Week : Issue 43
>>WRCArgentina Paradise for ... Stewards! SOMETHING in the air in South America seems to give unusual levels of energy for Stewards of the World Championship rallies. Nowhere else in the world is there such a high level of late-night activity by the FIA Stewards – on this year’s Rally Argentina there were no fewer than six exclusion notices issued to competitors, even before the start of the final day! At midday on Friday two competitors were already in trouble, both local privateer drivers, because they used their normal competition tyres at Shakedown, when they should have used Pirelli control tyres. The offence was not significant, the drivers escaping with a caution. At 2245 on Friday came the first exclusion, that of Martin Prokop. His Mitsubishi Evo IX was fitted with brake discs of an older type, homologation for which had been cancelled. It was an error by the team, who had thought all the offending pieces had been disposed of, for safety, but these parts had not. On Saturday evening no fewer than five Argentine Mitsubishi drivers were summoned and told their rally was now over. Their cars had been fitted with But nothing beats the world record of Production Car driver Gabor Meyer on the 2008 Neste Oil Rally of Finland – he was excluded twice! lightweight, cheaper body panels. Use of these parts is allowed when the cars run on national championship events. It was in 2002 that the top two drivers, Gronholm and Burns, were excluded from the same event, for different reasons, leaving third placed driver Carlos Sainz a very surprised winner. Gronholm was excluded because the team broke a recently-introduced anti-service rule, in which service crews were subject to a one-metre exclusion zone; Burns because of a wrongly manufactured flywheel. Rules is rules! Group N: There were many non- championship but competitive Argentine drivers in Group N cars, most impressive being Nicolas Madero in an Evo IX who led Group N overall at the end of Day 1, while later Juan Marchetto (also Evo IX) made many best stage times in Group N. The fate of many local drivers was disturbed by confrontation with officials. In the first instance, Czech driver Martin Prokop was holding a steady fifth place but it was discovered his Evo IX was fitted with old specification brake discs, and he was excluded. Then several local driver were found to have cars fitted with budget-friendly plastic bonnets and bumpers, against the rules, and five of them were excluded … It’s all a headache The complex side streets of Villa Carlos Paz are difficult to fathom, something of a challenge for visitors. The official rally roadbook orders competitors to turn right at a fuel 46 station called Aspro. The Tango Rally Team meanwhile proudly announced that one of their major partners was a company called Tafirol, a company making headache tablets.