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GP Week : Issue 62
SNIPPETS FROM AUSTRALIA n The five candidate Pirelli Star Drivers gave a press conference before the rally, and all of them gave a great impression of their warmth, self confidence and good fun. After it was known that Brendan Reeves would be unable to attend, New Zealander Hayden Paddon became clear favourite to gain the 2010 APRC award -- which he did. n Pirelli's rally manager Mario Isola confirmed that the 2010 Pirelli Star Drivers will continue to use Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X cars like this year, dispelling suspicions that they will move on to Super 2000 cars. n 35 stages were planned for the rally. No World Rally has had that many stages since Finland in 1994, but that event had a much longer competitive route, which totalled 522km of stages. Repco Rally Australia was to run only 344km of stages. n Some of the stages were incredibly fast, the fastest being SS20, which was won by Loeb at an average of 132.5kph. n Strange twist to the rules; In Cyprus, competitors had to tackle asphalt stages on gravel tyres, and were ordered to leave service parks with new tyres each time because the FIA did not care for the idea of competitors running on buffed tyres. This rule did not apply in Australia. n Once again Conrad Rautenbach retired after the final stage of the event. He damaged his radiator in a crash, but managed to reach the end of the last stage, before the engine overheated on the road section to the finish. This time there was no strategic overtone. Conrad was not going to score points and retirement meant he has a new engine for the next event. n Latest news about the status of Bulgaria within the 2010 World Rally Championship calender; the matter will be further discussed at a meeting of the World Rally Championship Commission on September 16. WITH Nasser Al Attiyah's provisional exclusion from the Acropolis still undecided, there was an air of unsettledness among the PCWRC competitors, with endless permutations as to who had a chance to win the title. The man with the special mission at the penultimate round in Australia was Portuguese driver Armindo Araujo, competing on his sixth and final points scoring round of the season. Championship contenders had to face the challenge of two important 'Guest' drivers, who were not entered in the championship, but who could deny points from regular competitors. In the opening downtown stages Araujo was unbeatable, but come the gravel, his compatriot Bernardo Sousa went brilliantly in his Fiat, though he was soon caught by Martin Prokop. Prokop fell back, however, when a rock damaged his suspension and New Zealander Richard Mason took the lead in front of Sousa and Cody Crocker, who passed Sousa as well. Sousa retired when he went off the road. Prokop fought his way back to retake the lead, gaining his first category win of the season, finishing ahead of the Subarus of Mason and Crocker. Just when all the excitement seemed to have died away, Toshi Arai stopped with transmission failure on the final stage. His retirement elevated championship contender Araujo into fourth place, a potential title winning result. From the start of the second day, the young New Zealander Hayden Paddon (not registered for PCWRC) was the fastest Group N driver, and finished ninth overall, one place ahead of PCWRC winner Prokop. Paddon learned on Friday night that he had gained the Asia-Pacific regional Pirelli Star Driver award for next year. Prokop wins the battle But it looks like Armindo Araujo will win the PCWRC war, while new Pirelli Star best of the non-WRC cars 36