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GP Week : Issue 46
>>WRCINSIGHT ALMOST 300 rally crews will tackle to the hard stuff this weekend in Scotland! The Jim Clark International Rally (JCR) will be the first of Preview Extra: Jim Clark Rally three rounds of the British Rally Championship run on tarmac stages, and the only occasion in the year when public roads can be closed for rallying on the British mainland. There are no fewer than six different rallies in all, run on the same stages but at different times. For the first time there will be a category on this event for Historic cars. This is a special anniversary year for the JCR. It was 50 years ago that a young local farmer won a club rally in south-east Scotland. His name was Jim Clark, and he came from a small town near Duns. One competitor in the historic category of the JCR will Life begins at 40: Loeb took his 40th win at Sardinia last year, far left, while Latvala flew to third place, above left. Solberg will have some new bits for his Citroen in Italy, left. Don’t expect Hirvonen to be this happy with second again, above – he needs to win! been implemented following the weaknesses shown in Portugal. Petter Solberg’s eight year old Xsara WRC will appear in Sardinia with a revised nose section, which improves the under bonnet cooling. This modification first appeared on the Kronos-run works cars in Mexico 2006, where Sebastien Loeb broke a spell of bad luck and went on to win the next five rallies ... A disastrous time control error on the recent national championship Sorland Rally cost Ole Kristian Unnerud his seat beside Norwegian driver Mads Ostberg, after they had won every stage and finished three minutes in front. This gifted victory to the team’s great rival Andreas Mikkelsen, who was driving a Subaru Cup car. For Sardinia, Ostberg’s co-driver will be Veronica Engan, the former co- driver for Eyvind Brynildsen and M uch of the recent news comes from Norway. Bernt Kollevold. Mikkelsen, meanwhile, had entered Sardinia in a Fabia WRC, but this was later withdrawn. Henning Solberg has been spotted in unusual company. He was competing on the EVS Viking Rally, a promotional event for zero-emission vehicles, in a hydrogen-powered Ford Focus road car. He was in the co-driver’s seat, while his car was being driven by Crown Prince Haakon! The entry list shows 60 crews, but only one Italian car, a Fiat Grande Punto S2000 driven by the Portuguese driver Bernardo Sousa. None of the regular Italian championship drivers will take part on this event. WRC-wise, the entry is amazingly strong, with no fewer than 41 priority drivers, of whom 33 are registered championship competitors. The most important technical novelty at the event will be the first public appearance of the Ford Fiesta R2 rally car, which will be run as a zero driven by Matthias Boon. be Andrew Cowan, a contemporary and friend of Clark. To celebrate this anniversary the rally has two special features; the ceremonial start will be held in downtown Edinburgh, and there will be a special stage held round-the-houses of Duns itself. The rally headquarters and the service park are now to be at Kelso, instead of Charterhall airfield. The competitive route itself is similar to before, but with more night stages than usual, and this year the traditional Langton stage, run close to Duns, with a spectacular water crossing, will not be run. BRC competitors must as usual run on Pirelli control tyres, which for the big Group N cars are available as ‘slicks’, intermediate and wets, with permission to cut the treads if required. Entry wise, the reigning Champion Guy Wilks is giving the event a miss as after two no-scores this season his hopes of retaining his title are now slender. All the other top current championship contenders are present.