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GP Week : Issue 58
Acropolis Rally, no fewer than five drivers can now be champion – and Portugal’s Araujo is now favourite. He is going to contest the Aussie event even though his team, A 3 Ralliart Italy, has not registered Australia as one of the six events in which he can score points. He will therefore enter under another team. It’s allowed, and it is an astute tactic. Eight of the 12 rounds in the 2009 WRC count for the PCWRC, and on original registration for the series, the competitors must say which six will count for their championship points. Even though the championship is only for drivers, an entrant for the series can be a driver or a team, the distinction being who takes legal responsibility, and especially who faces a penalty if a driver does not contest a nominated event. A team can decide which driver will drive their car; they are not obliged to have the same driver every time. In some cases, the driver and the team are synonymous. In other cases, it can change all the time. The only visible difference for Araujo in Australia is that his car will not carry his usual number 47, but 39, the number which belongs to the Errani Team Group, the fourth different driver to run under Errani’s entry so far this year. Drivers can compete on all eight PCWRC events with registered teams, but they can only score points on their first six events of the year. What is the reason for all this manipulation? Firstly, the exclusion of Al Attiyah from the Acropolis has suddenly changed the playing field. Secondly, the chances of scoring points in Australia, which would be Armindo’s sixth appearance in the series, is much higher than in Britain. Nasser cannot compete in Australia on account of a previous engagement to drive the Silk Way Cross Country event in Russia for Volskwagon, and anyway, statistically the opposition in Britain is greater. Rally GB has attracted 19 registered PCWRC entries and traditionally also run two extra ‘Guest’ entries. Only nine regular PCWRC entries nominated Australia, so the chances of scoring points there are greater. And thirdly, by another rule, if a driver drives a seventh or eighth event as a PCWRC competitor, he may not score points but he blocks other competitors from scoring the points which he might have done. Ralliart Italy are obliged to start in Britain, and will take Armindo and a Lancer Evo X, where they will wait and see what happens. Isn’t it all very clever? Ralliart Italy manager Marco Pastorini said “yes, but it was not our idea, it was Nasser’s! We are playing his game. The idea originally came from Al Attiyah when he entered Cyprus under the name of one team and then changed the name of the entrant for the other events.” And is everything now under control? “No, not really. The FIA still has to hear the appeal against Nasser’s exclusion from the Acropolis Rally, and if that succeeds, everything goes back to square one.” RMINDO Araujo has decided to go to Repco Rally Australia in an attempt to clinch the FIA’s Production Car World Rally Championship. Following Nasser Al Attiyah’s exclusion from the