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GP Week : Issue 123
60 year-old Japanese former rally driver Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima broke the outright record for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado USA in a purpose-made Suzuki SX4 Hill Climb Special in this year’s event. This is the first time the hill has been climbed in under the 10 minute barrier and the final time the course will include stretches of gravel roads. Next year the 12.42 mile course will be entirely paved. His car was powered by a 900bhp V6 twin turbo 3.1 litre engine. It was Tajima’s sixth successive title on the hill and the culmination of 20 years of endeavour. Tajima vowed to donate all his winnings to his country’s tsunami relief fund. On the same day (June 26) David Higgins broke the Mount Washington Hillclimb record, at an event last held 10 years earlier, in a Subaru Impreza saloon. This event was held in New Hampshire, using a 7.6 mile mixed surfaced man-made road, first opened 150 years ago. The hill climb was first run in 1904, 12 years before Pikes Peak. Nasser Al Attiyah is at the centre of complicated three-way negotiations involving VW, BMW and the Qatar Olympic Committee. Highest of his dreams is personal success in the 2012 Olympics, thought to be his final chance of scoring success at this level. Currently his position in the national Qatar Skeet Shooting team is not guaranteed, and cannot be until the final trials which clash with the 2012 Monte Carlo Rally. Second dream is a second win on the Dakar, a project strongly encouraged by his commercial supporters Barwa. Originally it was hoped this could be at the wheel of either an official or an ex- works Touareg, but VW’s decision to cut all ties with Dakar and concentrate solely on their WRC programme has caused an upset. This has led Al Attiyah to discuss the chance of contesting Dakar in 2012 in a BMW Mini cross country car, which means that he would have to walk away from his third dream, working with VW through the 2011 and 2012 seasons, in the hope he would drive for the official WRC team in 2013. The project was to start with SWRC entries in the rest of 2011 in a Skoda car, as from Finland 2011. That won’t now happen. VW are said to be currently re- thinking their negotiating strategy at this time, hoping to keep Nasser in their plans. Nasser has, meanwhile, received an offer to drive a BMW Mini on the 2012 Dakar, a thought which does not please VW. Already VW have had to name the two drivers who will drive their Skodas in Finland – Jonas Lindroos and Andreas Mikkelsen – which leaves Nasser without a drive on that event. And waiting anxiously in the background is the Autotek team which runs the Ford Fiesta S2000 in which Nasser contests the 2011 SWRC and also the FIA Middle East championship. They need to know if they will run a car for him in the SWRC from Germany onwards. Late changes to plans are not unusual for Al Attiyah, Twice he has completely restructured his activities in the FIA’s Middle East rally series after the season has begun. Nasser chases three dreams Rally Drivers break same day records