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GP Week : Issue 47
SNIPPETS FROM SARDEGNA n Dani Sordo claimed the reason for checking in late at the start of the first stage, conveniently forcing Hirvonen to run on the road in front of him, was because he had “a damper problem”, which was not generally believed. On Stage 3 Sordo lost time with a broken front shock absorber, damaged when they hit a rock in the road. “It seems that the rock had been dislodged by the car in front of us,” Sordo explained. That was Hirvonen’s … n Latvia’s PCWRC driver Andis Neiksans was banned from starting the rally, following a recce accident after which the Police confiscated his driving licence. n Madeiran driver Bernardo Sousa maintained his unenviable record of Shakedown disasters. He crashed in the pre-rally Shakedown on his two previous PCWRC entries this year, Norway and Portugal, then here his Fiat Grand Punto broke its steering. n Sebastien Ogier was given a six-rally programme, to prove his worth in the WRC, up to Sardinia. Then Citroen Racing gave him one more, Acropolis, and now he has been tentatively entered for an eighth, Poland. “Everything depends on available funding”, explained Olivier Quesnel, “and at the moment we do not yet know he can start in Poland.” The entry was made, just in case. n An extraordinary disaster befell the five Pirelli Star Drivers on the first morning. After three stages only two arrived at the midday service still running. Two stopped with mysterious fuel troubles. Williams had complete clutch failure while both Nikara and Thomas reported misfiring. n Confirmed by Ford, the reason for Hirvonen’s retirement in Argentina, was a failure connected with the new electric water pump system in their car. n What’s in a name? Italian Gentleman driver Pierlorenzo Zanchi had painted on the side of his car the name ‘Petter Zanchi’... To the amusement of his friends, delivery of his latest luxury yacht was delayed and he was denied his accommodation at the island. 40 Al Attiyah takes a cl THE race for the championship in the Production Car category at Rally d’Italia was undoubtedly the most dramatic in the history of the series. In the end Nasser Al Attiyah snatched the lead on the final stage from Patrik Sandell and won by 1.5 seconds. Two other drivers had held the lead during the event, and there was an amazing series of eight successive stages in which the lead changed. Earlier Patrik Flodin had held the lead but then lost time with a driveshaft failure. Armindo Araujo led before he had a broken rear shock absorber. Al Attiyah now leads the series by two points from Araujo with Sandell one further point behind. Also in Group N cars were the five Pirelli Star Driver award winners. The highest placed of these drivers was 23 year-old Finn Jarkko Nikara, who finished third overall in Group N and three times scored fastest Group N stage times. All the Star Drivers had problems with their cars, usually with suspected fuel contamination, but in the case of Jon Williams a clutch failure. Both Mark Tapper and Martin Semerad retired after going off the road, while Nick Thomas stopped because of fuel trouble. Markko back for Ford MARKKO Martin returned to the Ford team as a test driver before Sardinia, having in recent years been engaged in test work for Prodrive on their Impreza WRC projects. The team reported he gave important suspension ideas. Jari-Matti Latvala said: “It was a good idea. It is very easy for us to get blind to the things we are doing!” Christian Loriaux added “we wanted to have a test driver with no preconceived ideas, which is why we asked him. We had good feedback from him, his guidance happened to be in the same direction as we were going, anyway. It gave us a lot of confidence. “I suspect he was expecting to find more wrong things in what we were doing!”