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GP Week : Issue 55
SPECIAL StAGES n Hayden Paddon has had a comfortable win on the New Zealand championship Wairarapa Rally after rival Richard Mason crashed. Paddon heads the NZ series by 58 points in front of Emma Gilmour. n Travis Pastrana beat his Subaru teammate Ken Block on the New England round of the US America series Block led the rally earlier before a spin and then a puncture n Another Porsche win in Germany! Olaf Dobberkau has won the asphalt Eifel Rallye in his 911 GT3 in very changeable conditions, while third overall winning his class was veteran Belgian driver Bruno Thiry in a Citroen C2 R2 Max. n Stig Blomqvist has finished second overall in the Midnight Sun revival rally for classic cars, at the wheel of a Ford. Arne Backstrom was the winner in an Audi. The Midnight Sun was the name of Sweden’s premier rally before it turned into a winter event. Seven times Swedish Rally winner Stig never won the old Midnight Sun. n Elvis Lives! Italian driver Elwis Chentre has won the San Martini di Castrozza Rally in a Citroen Xsara WRC. Ott Tanak won the South Estonia Rally in a Subaru. Finnish driver Jarkko Miettinen travelled across Europe to win the Sibiu Rally in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X. Miettinen is reigning Romanian champion. n Marcus Dodd has won the British Pirelli MSA gravel rally championship for the fifth time. He finished second on the Swansea Bay Rally after suffering turbocharger problems. n Following an eleventh-hour postponement of a press conference to announce details of the Wales Rally GB, a further conference has been called for this Wednesday when hopefully details of how the rally promoters will work alongside the Welsh authorities this year will be disclosed. n Local Mitsubishi driver Nicolas Fuchs was the comfortable leader of the Huancayo Codasur championship rally in Peru, until the two final Superspecial stages. There was then a fierce fight for the lead. Fellow Peruvian Raul Orlandini eventually beat Argentine driver Juan Marchetto by 0.4 second. 1 Ford defeated at Pikes P A turbocharger failure thwarted Marcus Gronholm’s attempt to smash the 10-minute barrier at the Pikes Peak hillclimb. Nobihuro Tajima once again won the event, but he was a quarter-minute outside his record time set two years ago. The foreign invasion had problems before and during the event. Gronholm’s Ford Fiesta teammate Andreas Eriksson rolled his car in pre- event practice and then crashed again on race day. The independent Ford RS200 of Mark Rennison had engine trouble and missed practice, but succeeded in reaching the top of the climb. Gronholm had suffered engine overheating trouble in practice. There was some small consolation for Ford. Keith Davison won the Vintage car section in a Falcon Sprint ... Three cars were therefore classified in the Unlimited class: 1 Tajima 2 Gronholm Ford Fiesta 3 Rennison Ford RS200 Suzuki Special 10m15.368s 11m28.963s 12m11.561s Bulgarianfatality may delay WRC decision THE accident which cost the life of co-driver Flavio Guglielmini cast a pall over Rally Bulgaria and delayed an accurate prediction of the outcome of the official inspection of this rally’s capability of running an event of WRC standards in 2010. An urgent decision is required as alternative plans to select a replacement event will have to be made if a favourable inspection is not forthcoming. Was the rally good enough? The promoters of Rally Bulgaria are under no illusions about the enormity of the task of running a rally in the World Championship, and have quietly been listening and watching and copying good ideas from elsewhere. One impressive function on the Wednesday before the rally was the invitation to leading Bulgarian drivers to the centre of Sofia for a doughnut driving display in the courtyard in front of the nation’s Parliament buildings. That was fun! Dimitar Agura, the rally’s general manager, explained that entrance charges to spectator stages were helping to pay for the rally. This was new to Bulgaria. A three day pass cost 18 leva, (about 9 euros), full VIP treatment was 100 leva (50 euros). Agura said that the budget for running a WRC event would be 2m euros, including the cost of running aSsuperspecial stage. When the Sunday stages were cancelled, this must have been a major blow to the organisers. The reaction of the organisers to the accident will be scrutineered closely by the FIA. And even if every procedure was according to the requirements, the enormous jump in scale of operation in every other aspect of the event from ERC regional level to world level will be huge. Clearly stages in extra areas must be found before a full three day event can be held, and colossal extra facilities which the WRC demands must be arranged. As Piero Sodano. the FIA’s chief inspector, sai: “Even if everything is fine this year, harder work will begin for next year …”