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GP Week : Issue 136
WRC NEWS >> the decision that vW’s resident motorsport co-ordinator and co-driver timo Gottschalk should run as co-driver on Rallye de France with the German WRC Academy driver Sepp Wiegand was a surprise. Immediately, this led to suggestions that Gottschalk, who won the 2011 Dakar Rally with the then VW driver Nasser Al Attiyah, had been enlisted by VW to assess the capabilities of Wiegand as a possible future VW World Championship team driver. Wiegand was a late entry into the Academy, where drivers run identical Fiesta R2 cars. The other young German candidate for the VW team, Christian Riedemann, had been a member of the Academy since the start of the season. This was the first opportunity for Riedemann and Wiegand to compete on a WRC event on completely equal terms. Gottschalk refuted suggestions by the media that he was working as a spy for VW. “I am taking part on this event completely independently of VW, and had to ask their special permission to be able to take part here.” CZeCh Super 2000 driver Martin Prokop confirmed in Strasbourg that he will become a World Rally Car driver, starting at Rally GB. “ In the beginning”, he explained, “ we had been talking with Malcolm Wilson at M-Spor t to rent a WRC car just for Rally GB, then this idea got expanded into running a WRC next season as well.” Prokop’s current sponsors, led by the family’s transport and logistics Jipocar group, will continue their support. “ I will now be able to start competing at the highest category. I have not driven a Fiesta WRC yet, though I won a prize test day with a Citroen C4 and have some small experience with the Xsara WRC. “I will have a two-day test before Rally GB and hopefully get the confidence. I imagine the engine will be much more powerful than our present S2000 but the chassis will be similar. I am sure the engine, however, will be something incredible.” Next year’s program is not defined, but it is possible Prokop will run the Fiesta WRC in the European rounds of the world series. VW Working with the Academy Fiesta WRC for Prokop WRC SNIPPETS n WRC Academy Driver Miguel Baldoni was absent from the Rallye de France, on account of the near- clash of dates with his local round of the Argentina national series, the San Luis Rally. He won this event for the fourth successive time, in a fourth different type of car. This time he was at the wheel of a VW Golf Trend Maxi Rally. For missing the Rallye de France, officials docked him 25 points in the Academy series. He had 26 points to date, so now he has only one. n South African WRC Academy rally driver Ashley Haigh-Smith, on his debut appearance at the world championship event, was hurt on SS2 when his Fiesta R2 crashed. He was helicoptered to hospital, where it was found he had a cracked pelvis and a broken collar bone. Medical sources say these injuries are happily not the cause of lasting concern. Haigh- Smith’s British co-driver James Aldridge suffered cuts and bruises caused by the impact of the seat belt buckle. It is reported that this was the first rally for Haigh-Smith on tarmac and his first in a left-hand- drive car. 43