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GP Week : Issue 47
>>WRCnews CALENDAR IN ‘FLUX’ ISC, the promoter for the World Rally Championship and charged with proposing a revised structure to the 2010 WRC calendar, has reacted to the withdrawal of three of the nominated rounds authorised by the FIA by adding four new names. Portugal, Spain, Corsica and Fiesta R2 launched FORD’S customer market 1.6- litre Fiesta R2, the company’s first rally car to be designed around FIA’s Group R rules, was launched at and ran as 00 car in the Rally d’Italia Sardegna. Aimed at replacing the popular 2-litre Group N Fiesta ST, (nearly 300 conversion kits for which have already been sold round the world), this model is intended as Ford’s next preferred single-make championship car. FIA’s cost saving Group R rules encourage performance improvements through using parts sold as standard for more powerful models in the Ford range, rather than requiring specially engineered pieces. Certain special parts are admitted under the rules, however. The Fiesta R2 for example has a Sadev-supplied five-speed sequential gearbox, adjustable Reiger shock absorbers, a hydraulically operated handbrake, T45 material rollcages, special four- piston front brake calipers, and a variable valve timing tuned version of the Zetec engine. Chief engineer Chris Williams explained that many parts fitted to the car come from models in the Focus passenger car and also the Transit Connect van ranges. Malcolm Wilson of M-Sport explained that this car was an ideal project for a one-make World Rally Championship- based series, having been developed to be suitable for the full range of conditions experienced in the WRC. FIA homologation is expected for July 1, but the first event on which the cars will appear is not yet decided. Snijers set for Ypres Patrick Snijers will drive the Rene Georges-run VW Polo S2000, as team-mate for Francois Duval, on the Ypres Westhoek Rally. Snijers, who lost his driving licence after a recce speeding offence, returned to the sport on the first full day of the Wallonie Rally. He regained his licence from the Police at midnight, after the short opening day, during which his co-driver was obliged to drive the car! Britain have been added to the series. The fourth name has been added as the Bulgarian round has yet to be official ‘observed’. No dates have yet been decided, because ISC is now suggesting some rallies change their dates, so that the calendar ends up with three week gaps between each championship round, and a longer gap in the summer, because of the World Cup football tournament. The draft proposals have been shown to the teams and will, in final form, then be presented to the FIA’s World Council meeting on 24 June. A major compromise is already evident – the policy of strict rotation approved in 2007 has been abandoned. The proposed calendar still seriously unbalanced. Although there are six events in first half of the season and seven in the northern autumn, there are four long-haul rallies in the first half (and a fifth in the second). The first event is still to be Sweden but then half of the season will be on gravel while four of the final seven events will be on asphalt. Comments from the teams are cautious. Olivier Quesnel of Citroen Racing: “The calendar could have been worse!”… though Mark Deans of Ford, who earlier strongly advocated a change to a winter calendar, nevertheless says that “the new calendar is encouraging – we have a group of organisers who really want to be part of the series”. Latest draft list for 2010 is thus: Sweden, Mexico, Portugal, Jordan, Turkey, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Japan, Spain, Corsica and Great Britain. 19