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GP Week : Issue 137
WRC news >> “We retired from Rallye de France because the organisers placed barriers on the side of the road on the outside of a corner and never told us,” Armindo Araujo told journalists in his native Portugal. “As we are not a registered team, we are banned by the FIA from using gravel note crews. We were lying seventh overall and running seventh car when we went off the road on the first corner of the first stage of the final day. “Shortly after the start of the stage we had to turn right in front of a house. The thick concrete barriers were in front of the house, which reduced the width of the road by a metre or so. These barriers were not there during recce, and there was no warning from the organisers that they had been put them there. The first six cars were allowed to have gravel crews working for them and could warn their drivers of unexpected obstacles. On the Mulhouse stage the previous afternoon they also made some changes, but there they gave us full warning.” As a result, the Armindo’s Mini John Cooper Works WRC suffered serious suspension damage and could not continue. Araujo’s car is being repaired in time for Catalunya Rally, where he is due to have two days of pre-event testing. The car will be fitted with a new engine and new gearbox for this final asphalt round of the season. The whole incident is shown clearly at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLmsSI9xogk The spate of crashes in Rallye de France have demanded changes to plans for the Mini WRC team for Spain. The badly damaged car of Daniel Oliveira, from which the injured co- driver Magalhaies had to be cut free for rescue, has been rested and the car he used in Australia is being hurriedly re-prepared. Less easily rectified are the injuries for co-driver Carlos Magalhaes, who will not be fit enough to compete. His place is expected to be taken by 60 year-old Argentine co-driver Fernando Mussano, seen earlier this year with Miguel Baldoni in the Academy category (second place in Sardinia) and earlier with Marcos Ligato in New Zealand in 2005 when they finished third in the PCWRC. Magalhaes hopes to be back in action for Rally GB. Kris Meeke’s car was less extensively damaged than Oliviera’s although the bodyshell itself was beyond repair. He will be driving a new car which is currently being completed at Prodrive. At the BRR SWRC Skoda team, it is expected that Timo Gottschalk, VW’s co-driver who won Dakar and who surprisingly accompanied Sepp Wiegand in the Academy Fiesta in France, will be Hermann Gassner’s co -driver in Spain, to replace the injured Kathi Wustenhagen. Only a few hours before third placed Petter Solberg was excluded from third place in Rallye de France, Gaurav Gill was excluded on the other side of the world for a technical error on his new Mitsubshi Lancer Evo X R4 at the Hokkaido APRC Rally, after he finished second and the highest placed championship contender. On the first appearance of the R4 version Mitsubishi car in the series, it was found that the car was not fitted with mandatory foam side-impact protection material in the door, even though the car had the plastic side windows which have to be used when the foam panels are installed. As a result, Gill’s MRF Team teammate Katsuhiko Taguchi was the highest- placed championship contender in another Mitsubishi R4. Taguchi’s car was not inspected. The event’s overall winner, Toshi Arai in a Subaru Impreza R4, was unaffected by these problems. The hopes of Proton, whose drivers are aiming for the APRC title, are unaffected. Alister McRae (third overall in Japan) leads teammate Chris Atkinson (retired with oil leak) by seven points with one event (China) still to run. Gill excluded in Japan while Arai wins Mini team changes after France Armindo anger over crash 45