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GP Week : Issue 54
>>WRCnews Rally Australia’s experimental classes Japanese driver Nobuhiro Tajima in his Suzuki special World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm in his converted Ford Fiesta rallycross car REPCO Rally Australia is to be the first World Championship rally to accept the new ideas recommended by June’s World Motor Sport Council to allow locally modified cars to compete on a World Championship event. If the special modifications allowed under Australian national rules were to be banned from cars competing on the RRA, none of the currently top Australian drivers would be able to drive their regular cars. Entry-wise the event would suffered badly: “We were already discussing these issues with the FIA even before the World Council gave the green light”, said event promoter Garry Connelly. “We have been working side by side with them on this matter.” The modifications to be allowed at RRA however go much further than the WMSC had in mind, which basically was to allow local cars to fit cost-friendly aits for verdict NEW Zealand’s Pirelli Star Driver Mark Tapper must wait until Thursday to know whether he will be allowed to start the Neste Oil Rally Finland (30 July - 2 August). He is currently recuperating at home at Brookby near Auckland after falling awkwardly while carrying out maintenance work on his house. He fractured a bone in his right wrist and damaged the joint at the top of his humerus bone, requiring an operation to insert metal strengthening pieces in his shoulder: “Currently I am having twice daily enriched- oxygen treatment to speed up the healing. A decision will be made two weeks before the Finland rally, but I feel confident I will be allowed to go. Happily the injury was to my right arm, and the PSD Mitsubishis are left-hand-drive cars! The Ralliart Italia PSD prepared Evo X cars are undergoing reliability testing in readiness for Finland. Over the years Tapper has been unlucky. In 2005 he had to miss a rally in New Zealand when he broken a leg while repairing a roof; in Portugal this year he had his ribs strapped up after a motorcycle accident … locally produced parts, which together did not enhance the performance of the cars. A 34mm diameter turbo restrictor will be allowed in place of the 32mm currently required under Group N rules. Much bigger intercooler spray systems can be used, considerable changes can be made for electrical systems as well. With this in mind, RRA will allow Australian modified cars with certain restrictions. Only 15 such cars may enter. They will run in a separate category and will not be eligible for the overall awards or championship points. Currently only one globally FIA-legal S2000 car is believed to be in the country, though the FIA is undertaking checks to see whether the Toyota Auris cars run by the Neil Bates team can be homologated as well. Skoda’s greatestever success? EVEN for a company which has been in competition for 100 years, the 1-2 result in Rally Russia ranked really high … but highest ever? Speaking after the end of the event, head of Skoda Motorsport Michal Hrabanek cautiously said: “We are all enormously happy, this is the best reward for the entire team, Skoda Auto and its partners involved in the Fabia Super 2000 project. Big thanks to all of them. Obviously, this victory is a great impulse for further work and we are not going to rest on our laurels. I believe that this milestone will boost the whole project.” Marketing Manager and motorsport veteran Pavel Hortek was more effusive: “In one way winning the FIA Cup for two-litre rally cars in 1994 was something very special for us, but remember that this is different. The Fabia S2000 is the first competition car produced by Skoda which is competitive on an overall basis at world level”.” John Haugland, who singlehandedly achieved endless international results with Skoda cars in the seventies and eighties, said: “I would go so far as say that the results of Hanninen and Kopecky was the best result for the company ever!”. Single results are one thing, championship successes are still to come, but the Fabia 2000 is still new, and the official team have only a reduced programme this year, while its privateer team network is being developed. The next appearance for the official team is the IRC Barum Rally in Zlin in August, though Hanninen hopes to compete in Neste Oil Rally Finland in a private Fabia. 19