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GP Week : Issue 48
>>WRCnews 33 year-old Alexandre Bengue is to drive an Opel Astra S2000 on the forthcoming Ypres Rally (18-20 June), the fifth qualifying round of the IRC series. He is then to compete in four other IRC events – Barum, Asturias, Opel Comes to IRC Sanremo and Scotland. After Fiat, Peugeot, Skoda and VW, this is the fifth confirmed manufacturer of S2000 cars to participate in this series. The programme is supported by Hankook tyres and Yacco oils. Although launched last year and homologated on January 1 this year, the Opel features Xtrac transmission systems and Exe-tc suspensions. Eurosport has promised four hours of live television coverage from the event. The IRC series provides an attractive rally competition platform for a company such as Hankook because there is no limit on tyre suppliers for four-wheel drive cars. A privately run Opel S2000 has been rallied once before, in Greece, when a promising debut was shortened by throttle troubles which have now been overcome. It is also due to appear on this year’s Acropolis Rally. Note: the FIA is expected to homologate the Toyota Auris S2000 on a worldwide basis in August. Deans retires FIVE days after his team, BP Ford Abu Dhabi, scored a decisive victory over their rivals Citroen on the Rally d’Italia Sardegna, Motorsport Director Ford of Europe Mark Deans announced his retirement from the company, with immediate effect. 52 year-old Deans had held this position since November 2007, and is said to be about to pursue personal projects. His boss, Ingvar Sviggum, VP of Marketing, Sales and Service said Deans has been a great asset: “He has helped to keep our WRC activity running through the industry crisis. We are grateful for Mark’s commitment and dedication to the company during his 29 year career with Ford.” He is to be replaced by Irishman Gerard Quinn who carries a new title – Senior Manager, Motorsport. No announcement about whether Ford will continue to be active in the world rally championship after the end of the season has been made, a topic on which Deans was inconclusive during the recent Sardinia Rally. Finnish promoter: WRC is anaemic ... Ostberg’s Co-driver Merry-go-round JONAS Andersson, usual Swedish co-driver for PG (no relation) Andersson, is to be the latest co-driver for 21 year-old Norwegian World Championship driver Mads Ostberg. After a trial run at the Aurskog Holand Rally on June 6 they will go together to the Acropolis Rally. Only broken steering 1.5 km before the end of stage 12, the last stage on day 2, stopped Mads from achieving a remarkable career- best fourth place on the Rally d’Italia, with his fiancee Veronica Engan as codriver. A mandatory 10 minute penalty dropped him to seventh overall at the finish. After years working together with Ole Kristian Unnerud, why does Mads need yet another codriver change? “I prefer Veronica is my fiancee not my codriver!”, said Mads. Potential father-in-law Morten Ostberg, proprietor of the Adapt Rally Team added. “we are happy to be in this family situation. It was very inspiring for all of us to have (Veronica) in this role in Sardinia, but due to their relationship we all regard this as not such a good idea.” Andersson currently works as a construction manager in Norway. In 2004 he was co-driver to PG when they won the World Junior Championship and then won the World Junior Cup again in 2007. 0 JARMO Mahonen, Promoter of Neste Oil Rally Finland, his country’s round of the World Championship and member of the sport’s World Rally Championship Commission, states that the current “anaemic” state of the World Championship does not help the sport survive the current global economic recession. The budget for this year’s event, which traditionally relies heavily on corporate support, has been slashed by 40 percent. “This year spectators will be the biggest marketing targeting effort. As event organiser one must be prepared for several lean years but I baulk at the idea of having to carry on with exactly the same concept as this year.” Meeke Challenges Wilks at Chatsworth REIGNING British rally champion Guy Wilks leads the British rally team contesting the invitation Nations Cup competition at the Rally Show to be held at the Chatsworth stately home on 6- 7 June. His team will be challenged by Irish drivers, headed by IRC series leader Kris Meeke, and Germans led by Olaf Dobberkau, winner of the recent Sachsen Rally. Meeke has already won IRC championship events in Brazil and Azores this year, as well as leading Rallye Monte Carlo. Eugene Donnelly, winner of the Jim Clark International Rally, supports Meeke in the Irish team. Other attractions on this two-day event next weekend include demonstrations by Mikko Hirvonen in his works Ford Focus WRC, a wide selection of historic rally cars, various other competitions on a special stage run on a special stage within the grounds and countless sideshows.