by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 53
T HE late announcement in 2008 that Suzuki and Subaru had reacted to global economic pressures and decided to withdraw their official World Rally Car entries from the 2009 WRC, left only Ford and Citroen actively developing cars for the series. These two manufacturers between them entered five teams (three using Ford cars and two with Citroens), as opposed to six teams from four manufacturers last year. Teams had to be declared by the end of 2008 and, when global anxieties continued into 2009, the FIA decided that World Championship teams could be represented, if necessary, by a single entry, which eased the pressure of reduced commercial support. Subaru was still strongly represented on WRC events in the Production Car category and Suzuki by its Super 1600 cars in the Junior series. At the top end of the sport, however, Citroen Total led the way with Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo while BP Ford Abu Dhabi fielded Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala, challengers who were more closely- matched than the early season bias towards the Citroen had indicated. What has been new this year is the Citroen Junior Team, a mix of drivers including Chris Atkinson, Conrad Rautenbach and Evgeny Novikov, who funded their participation independently or, in the case of , fourth driver Sebastien Ogier, through the support of the French motorsport federation. In the second level Ford ranks came the Stobart and Munchi’s teams, their regular drivers being Matthew Wilson, Henning Solberg and Federico Villagra. The quality at the very top of the sport was unchallenged. Where the recession bit was in the lower levels, the once well fielded entries of ‘Priority 2’drivers in World Rally Cars were often missing, with two major exceptions, both, by coincidence, from Norway. One of the major absentees from the sport following the withdrawal of the Subaru World Rally Team threatened to be Petter Solberg, but he bravely and with enormous imagination, given the world situation, founded his own private team. The preparation for this team was a nightmare and not, as you might imagine, only on the financial front. What competitive car could he drive? It soon became obvious that neither love nor a reasonable amount of money could secrete a car for Petter which would be truly competitive. In the end a deal was done for him to drive a Citroen Xsara World Rally Car – in fact a car which was first driven on a special stage eight years earlier. Thus began a most heart warming and enthralling series of drives. In a season when cynical observers tried to belittle the sport, this was the perfect antidote; exactly what the sport wanted, at the time when it needed an emotional boost – and something which would never have happened without a global credit crunch! Having seen Solberg’s long face for three years, it was a delight to see him smiling once more. The second delight was the private family Ostberg team, running the final generation S14 Subaru Impreza World 3