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GP Week : Issue 83
" ...on the entrance to bends it is like driving round a banked circuit, WRC PREVIEW >> face a special challenge -- learning to live with dust. The team's co-ordinator explained: "The most striking thing about last year's event was the number of cars that went o the road and the fact that so many drivers blamed bad pacenotes. It seemed that this happened because recce was carried out in dusty conditions. So if recce is to be run in dry conditions, everyone on the rally this year is likely to face the same problem." Actually, the organisers are just a little curious. Over the winter there has been a lot of rain, and they are wondering how much of the route will be as dusty, as before, or whether it will now be rocks which will be the biggest hazard! In the place of the PCWRC cars, this event counts for the Junior series (JWRC), of which this is the second out of six rounds which drivers must contest and can take scores from ve. This is the last time competitors in the Junior championship can make a debut appearance before the registration cut- o point -- and there are three contenders not seen so far this year: Dutch Citroen C2 S1600 driver Hans Weijs, Yerey Lemes from the Canarias Islands in a Renault Clio S1600 and Frenchman Mathieu Arzeno in a Citroen C2R2 Max, who hopes to rally a Citroen C2 S1600 later in the season. The list of registered entries has been nalised at 11. There are two important subdivisions to this series. Firstly there are the Rookies ( rst timers who do not run Super 1600 cars, led after the rst round by the British driver Harry Hunt) and secondly the National Federation category, led by the Dutch KNAF team, who will be the only nation eligible for the Cup this year. This year the JWRC is very much asphalt- orientated. Apart from one day on mixed surfaced stages in Spain, this will be the nal time this year JWRC will compete on gravel. One special feature of the event is the return of a famous name -- Jolly Club. From the days of the late 1970s to 2002, Jolly Club had been a remarkable force at many di erent levels of rallying, culminating with running the Lancia world championship programme in 1993, when the o cial team stopped operations. The franchise then moved from Italy to Spain, where the team was based, to the Czech Republic, from where they made a solitary appearance on the 2002 Monte Carlo Rally, to be seen no more. The brand's activities in Spain centred on both racing and rallying, where Salvador Servia won the national rally championship at the wheel of a Lancia 037. Up to the end of activities in 1992 drivers such as Carlos Sainz, Jesus Puras, Juan Carlos Onoro and the four times FIA Group N champion Gustavo Trelles from Uruguay rallied under their banner. The team is run by Juan Petisco, who was European champion co-driver in 1980 alongside Antonio Zanini and went on to be the manager for Citroen Spain. This year they reappear with Lemes. Welcome back! Whereas contenders for the national Portuguese championship form part of the entry list for the WRC event, there is a subsidiary second event called the Revival Rally, for drivers of classic and historic cars. Four-times World Champion Juha Kankkunen will take part on the event, at the wheel of a Ford Escort Mark II from the Barcelona specialist company ASM Historic Motorsport. Another celebrity in the Revival will be Antonio Sainz Cenamor, brother of Carlos Sainz, also at the wheel of an Escort II. The competitors on this event will drive ve stages in all, running between the rst and second passes of the WRC competitors on the three stages on Saturday and the same again on Sunday over two stages. Legends from the Rally of Portugal go on and on. Last year's memorable moment, of course, came when Jari-Matti Latvala's Focus rolled countless times down a hillside, eventually to be stopped by a tree. It sounds like we are in line for another memorable event this year with highly- fought battles in even more categories than ever. The only fear concerns the unsolved situation regarding running order and the unclear guidelines set out by the FIA in this case. Rather than follow strictly the published penalty rules, the top teams Ford and Citroen continue to abide by their gentleman's agreement, which means not to check in early but without limits on slowing-down if this means they can start in a more favourable position the next day. It is a pity to suggest this, but in some ways it will be a much less stressful rally if it were to be run held in wet conditions, with no dust in recce, and no need for ghting over restart orders! Activities start with the rst run round, the Superspecia,l at Faro stadium on Thursday evening at 8pm in the failing light of the evening. Cars will run in reverse order with the nal runs, hopefully with Loeb and Hirvonen on the tracks at the same time, just before 10pm, in darkness. The rally nishes with a repeat stage at the stadium on Sunday afternoon. They're back! Long-time rally supporters Jolly Club return. Here, Franco Cunico (ITA) / Stefano Evangelisti (ITA) take their Jolly Club Ford Escort RS Cosworth to 3rd in the FIA 2-Litre World Rally Championship round at Sanremo, 1995. 37