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GP Week : Issue 125
RALLY news >> NotwithstaNdiNg the constant efforts by rally car designers to maximise downforce, the Neste oil Rally Finland remains the rally where cars spend longer, much longer, off the ground than any other. But is getting close-up experience of the skies a major part of pre-Finland preparation? One driver who thinks it matters is Petter Solberg, who recently enjoyed Breitling publicity hospitality to the full. Jet trainer flight, sky-diving and wing- walking were all on the agenda. If this effort results in Petter finally winning a rally with his privately run Citroen team, fans round the world will be delighted. Solberg’s struggle on the ground however continues. It was reported last week that his long-time sponsor Hurtigruta Carglass had withdrawn support for the team, but the team declined to comment on this story. Solberg has already said he is uncertain whether his team can participate in all the five remaining rallies after NORF this season. Missing from the entry list for the forthcoming Neste oil Rally Finland, the third round of the suppor t series, are two of the original 18 wRC academy drivers. Swedish driver Calle Ward has suffered from the financial problems of his main sponsor, and similar problems have affected the Italian Matteo Brunello. Ward had a disastrous opening two events, with engine failure both times, compounded in Sardinia by a crash. Brunello scored Academy points on the opening round in Portugal, but went off the road and also had engine trouble in Sardinia. Future rally plans for Ward are uncertain, but Brunello hopes to carry on with the Citroen DS3 trophy in Italy. Meanwhile three Academy drivers (series leader Egor Kaur, Molly Taylor and Fredrik Ahlin) go to Finland with different co-drivers. Ahlin’s will be his third co-driver in as many championship rounds. the Fia is reported to have cancelled the wRC Production Car Cup for drivers of 2wd Cars, the sub-division of the PCwRC support championship. As a result, the entries for the two eligible 2WD cars on the Neste Oil Rally Finland, the Citroen DS3 R3T of fully-registered Harry Hunt (right) and the Guest entry of Mikko Pajunen in a Renault Clio R3, have been removed from the PCWRC category on the event altogether. The only available comment from the NORF organisers is that the FIA has exercised its right to abandon a series in mid-season for reasons of poor entries, but no official announcement has been issued. Hunt, who was the Rookie’s Cup winner last year has finished both PCWRC events he has entered so far his year. His team confirmed the first they heard about the planned cancellation of the Cup was last week in Azores before the IRC event, even though FIA sources said that possible series cancellation had been in discussion for many months. The team commented that their programme this year had been centred around fulfilling their championship commitments to the PCWRC. The FIA plan to reconsider the matter at the World Championship Commission meeting on July 20. Petter flies high Image: Ole Kristian Strom Two-wheel-drive confusion Ward and Brunello quit WRC Academy 19