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GP Week : Issue 57
SPECIAL StAGES n Rally Bulgaria organisers are fighting hard for confirmation that their rally will count for the World Championship in 2010. They have promised to hold the ceremonial start as well as a Superspecial in the country’s capital Sofia, and to place the central service park between Sofia and the headquarters town Borovets. There is no decision yet whether to ask the FIA for permission to take advantage of news rules allowed the event to be run over only two days. n The remarkable New Zealand privateer driver Malcolm Stewart died as a result of a long illness. Stewart contested his country’s major rally 29 times, and hoped to celebrate his 30th entry in 2008 but had to withdraw on health grounds. His best result was third place on the 1988 event, at the wheel of an Audi Coupe Quattro: three years earlier he finished fifth driving an Audi Quattro. n Czech driver Vaclav Pech has headed a Skoda World Rally Car 1-2-3 result in neighbouring Slovakia when he won the IMPA Rally Bratislava. He drove a Fabia while Octavia WRC cars finished second and third. n Karamjit Singh is to drive an official Proton Satria Neo S2000 on the Pacific Cup APRC events in his native Malaysia, Indonesia and China. This resumes an successful partnership with Mellors Elliot, who prepared the Proton Pert (rebadged Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) cars which took Karamjit to the inaugural FIA Production Car World Championship title in 2002. Karamjit also won the APRC three times early this decade. n Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo had no sooner announced plans for their 2010 IRC event (the event to start in Valence and finish in Monaco, a 9 km ‘selection’ stage run in the Vercors region would define the starting order, and most of the action would be in the Ardeche region and that GT cars will be allowed to compete) than plans were changed. The FIA reminded the organisers that only cars complying with Group A or N could enter international rallies – in other words, no GT cars allowed! 18 FIA’s event rotation system canned! THE announcement by ISC, the WRC Global Promoter, of a five year agreement to include Rally Finland in the World Rally Championship has officially ended the recent unpopular rotation system of selecting qualifying events for the championship. “This is the end of the old rotation system”, said ISC Chairman Neil Duncanson. “This is evidence of what we want to achieve, which is having the best rallies in the heart of the championship.” ISC stated that it hopes to sign a number of the WRC’s major events to long-term deals in the coming months. There is no mention of the future location for NORF, the only event in the World Championship to have been held in the same city every year since the start of the series. This is the final year of the current agreement between the rally and Jyvaskyla, but the perceived greed of the city’’s hoteliers, whose prices were hiked up to three times for the days of the rally, means that there will be renewed pressure to move the event elsewhere. Meanwhile, the FIA’s Rallies Commission has declared that Argentina, despite being one more long-haul event, is the preferred first reserve and that Italy is the second, should Bulgaria not be asked to run a World Championship event in 2010. Although October’s World Motor Sport Council’s decision will be the final word, the recommendation of the Rallies Commission is expected to be decided by a commission’s fax vote in the next two weeks. Kimi sta FORMER Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen made his first ever (non-snow) gravel rally start in Finland. It was also the first time a F1 World Champion had entered a World Championship rally. Although his fame comes out of speed on asphalt surfaces, he commented pre-rally that “I think gravel is more normal for me. “Compared with my experiences on the winter rallies earlier this year, these roads are faster, the grip is better and the Makinen gets bigger TOMMI Makinen Racing launched its new premises close to the World Championship Rally city of Jyvaskyla the day before the start of Neste Oil Rally Finland, raising speculations about the longer term aims of the company. Star exhibit at the pre-rally presentation was the first example of a 2010 version Subaru Impreza Group N car. Specific changes included a 33mm restrictor, lighter and stronger bodyshell, full throttle gear shifting facility and many electronic mapping changes. The car also possesses more power and torque. The suspension package has been revised and there is a data screen in front of the driver. But there was no hint about the eventual plans for the company, or how Subaru itself would prepare for the next generation of competition activity. It was therefore interesting to note that this officiallyendorsed Subaru company, which normally is dedicated only to running turbocharged competition cars, was running two normallyaspirated Fiat Grande Punto S2000 cars, for Anton Alen and Kimi Raikkonen.