by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 126
The WRC championship is approaching make -or- break time. A Ford victory is desperately needed for the interest in the series. If Citroen win this event, it will be a record seventh successive WRC victory, starting with Mexico 2011 – fine for the record books but a turn-off for the fans! Sebastien Loeb is going to Finland with a mission to conserve his championship lead: “ Victory in Finland isn’t an out-and- out objective. Depending on how I feel I’ll see how hard I want to push”. How laid-back can a champion be? Or, perhaps, how patronising? Ford however has won this event four times in the last five years and have home crews, with Finnish drivers Mikko Hirvonen and last year’s winner Jari-Matti Latvala. They are curious to know if Hirvonen has finally put behind him the memory of his heavy crash here in 2010. With six Minis due to start, a total of 21 World Rally Cars were entered, a record number for the current formula, seven of these cars driven by Finnish drivers, but since then one has withdrawn. This was the Fiesta WRC due to have been driven by the Finn Janne Tuohino. Each team has been engaged in the permitted four-day test sessions in the country, with both Citroen’s Sebstien Ogier and Mini’s Kris Meeke off the road and out of action. Mads Ostberg won Rally Estonia, the traditional pre-NORF test event, with his Fiesta beating Markko Martin in an old Focus WRC. If the conditions are dry, the road cleaning and running order issues will be a nightmare for the driver who starts the stages first car on the road, with 104 out of 134km being run on Day 2 in virgin conditions. If conditions are damp the problem will be reduced, if it is very wet maybe first car has the prime position! On this event the running order for Day 2 (Friday) will be based on just stages 1 and 2 held the evening before, the distance of these stages being 35km, more than the requisite 10% of the total stage distance. So, the prevailing weather forecast will dictate whether the top drivers will drive hard on these stages – or not! On this event the Power Stage will be held on the Saturday evening, though still comfortably in daylight (sunset on a clear evening is after 2200 local time), but even this will not bring the event to a close. Things will go on well into the night in Jyvaskyla. After the successful after-event party time held to celebrate the event’s 60th anniversary last year, this year the theme is being expanded with an official party also on the Friday night, due to end just five hours before the next day’s rally is to start! SWRC: Nine of the 10 registered SWRC teams have entered, missing being Nasser Al Attiyah’s Barwa team. Most significant is the additional Guest entry for Juha Salo’s Mitsubishi R4, which runs in the same class as the S2000 cars, the first time on a world rally an R4 has been head-to-head with SWRC championship cars. There are three powerful non- championship entries in S2000 cars which include two by Volkswagen Motorsport in Skoda Fabia S2000 cars, the first step in the WRC project which was launched in Sardinia in May. Drivers will be Andreas Mikkelsen, already an accomplished Fabia driver, and Juha Kankkunen’s protege Joonas Lindroos. These two have been given special priority status by the FIA and will start in front of the SWRC championship drivers. PG Andersson has also entered, making the WRC debut of Subaru’s new R4 car. Al Attiyah’s on-off relationship with VW continues, but he is definitely absent from Finland. Currently he is expected to continue driving after this event with his current Ford. PCWRC: In addition to 15 of the regular competitors there are two Guest drivers, Riku Tahko in an Evo X and Mikko Pajunen in a Clio R3. Tahko is in his eighth year of rallying and works with the Juha Kankkunen driving academy. Pajunen is in his fifth year of rallying, and in 2011 has been driving a Twingo R2 in British championship events. Pajunen presents Harry Hunt, the registered PWRC Citroen DS3 R3T driver, with his first opposition in this year’s Two Wheel Drive cup. The organisers were originally instructed by the FIA that the subsidiary 2WD Cup had been cancelled this year, but this order has been postponed and this event will run for their Cup after all. WRC ACADEMY: 16 of the original 18 Academy drivers are expect to be at the start of NORF, but only after considerable rebuilding efforts by the Polish M-Sport operation after Sardinia Of the 18 cars on the Italian event, nine had engine problems caused by heavy under-car impact which led to broken sumps and subsequent damage to the internals. (R2 cars used by Academy drivers have wet sumps whereas WRC cars have dry sumps.) Five of the cars had cracked cylinder heads. Calle Ward’s car was the most damaged when he also rolled, while Karyakin had other damage caused by a very heavy landing. Financial problems mean that Ward and Matteo Brunello, engaged in the DS3 Trophy in his native Italy, have withdrawn from the event. Three of the remaining Academy drivers have changed co-drivers for the event - Ahlin has his third co- driver in three WRC events this year. Finland is also round six of the FIA’s European Historic Sporting Rally Championship. This event, headquartered at Lahti, will use five of the stages run by the WRC cars on the Friday, after the WRC cars have passed, and three of the Saturday stages between the first and second passes of the WRC cars. A special curiosity of the event, however, is the sudden plentiful emergence of private competitors, in a way which has been strikingly absent in recent WRC seasons. A high proportion of the privateer drivers are little-known, even locally, enthusiasts often renting or borrowing cars from friends simply to participate in Finland’s biggest rally. Available space in the grounds surrounding Jyvaskyla’s Paviljonki exhibition halls this year is already limited due to development in the area and therefore some of the teams will be working this year inside the halls themselves. 44