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GP Week : Issue 64
eads a busy weekend WRC PREVIEW >> THERE will be a fine fiesta of rally car speed this weekend with three major rallies to be run, one championship sure to be decided and two which could might be. Top of the bill must be the all-asphalt Sanremo Rally, 10th and penultimate round of the IRC. One driver, Kris Meeke is able to clinch the title on this event, if rival Jan Kopecky does not finish and if Meeke wins. But seeing the strength of the entry on what is arguably the most specialised event of the season, the strong probability is that the series will not be decided for another two months, when the series finishes at the Rally of Scotland. Only these two drivers can win the title, as the 'best seven' scores rule prevents third placed driver Freddy Loix being able to take the title For fans of the 2-litre normally aspirated Super 2000 formula, Rally Sanremo will be heaven. 24 of these cars are entered, the majority being Peugeots but with four Fiats, four Skodas and one Proton. There will be the unusual challenge of long night-time stages on the first leg of the event and, on the second day, with one stage which serves as a spectacular hill climb leading to the mountain top village of Baiardo. There are only nine stages, totalling 201km, so the event will be quite a sprint with the total distance being only 506km The Trackrod Rally is the final round of three British championship and carries a 50% points increment. Only two drivers are left in the race to the title. These are Mark Higgins, who changes from an old Impreza N11 to the national British Pirelli Star Driver award N14 usually rallied by Adam Gould for this event, and Keith Cronin, who drives his usual Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. The championship points situation is complex on account of dropped-score rules, but basically whichever of these drivers beats the other on this event is expected to be champion. Third placed Alastair Fisher can theoretically take second place if Cronin strikes trouble. The event is run in Yorkshire and is the only time in the year when rally drivers can use the legendary Dalby Forest stages, and it is traditionally the fastest gravel event in the series. It is also one of the shortest rounds of the BRC. Some championship categories have already been decided, including the Fiesta series won by Craig Breen and the Ladies title by Australian Molly Taylor, while the new Junior champion Martin McCormack is to drive this event in the classic car section in an Escort, with a charity winner as a co-driver. The event takes places on Saturday and is based at the Pickering Showground, where there is a spectator-friendly special stage for spectators to enjoy. The Greek round of the FIA's European Rally Championship goes to a new headquarters town, the popular port of Itea. The event has moved down to Central Greece, after being cancelled last year on financial grounds, It had traditionally been run on the Halkidikis peninsula in the north before moving down to the Peloponnese in recent years. This will be the last gravel rally in the series and the main focus is on the entry of Fiat team driver Giandomenico Basso, as Fiat strives to gain at least one title out of a season that has otherwise been unlucky for them in the IRC and national Italian championship series. Basso had previously been entered on the Sanremo Rally, but the entry was switched after Asturias Rally. an event which ended Basso's hopes of gaining the IRC title this year The ERC has developed into a hard three-way fight between works Fiat driver Basso, the privateer Peugeot gentleman driver Michal Solowow and the Italian driver Corrado Fontana, usually a Peugeot driver who for this event has entered a Mitsubishi Lancer IX. Current standings are Solowow 77, Basso 72 and Fontana 65. This is a registration series, which means that drivers' points are gained for positions in relations to each other, not in relation to overall points scores. Reaching the end of the event is the critical challenge, because whatever overall results are gained, the points gained by each contender will be similar. This means a cool head by Solowow should pay him handsome dividends. Greek championship Mitsubishi drivers Papadimitriou, Vovos and Panagiotopoulos, with Subaru driver Nioras are expected to fight for overall victory. 33