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GP Week : Issue 141
RALLY INSIGHT >> WRC Academy is much easier than from M-Sport’s parent base in North East England. Now the two Poles work together closely. Zasada’s transport company handles the movement of the cars to and from the rallies. Who will win the end of season’s sponsorship prize? Estonian Egon Kaur starts the final round at Wales Rally GB as favourite to win the WRC Academy, but he knows the ultimate prize is far from decided. Egon was one of the candidates for the Academy who has had to pay for the project himself, and he knows that even winning the eventual prize will not be a guaranteed gateway to his career: “First of all I would have to make the right decisions and use the opportunities really effectively. For sure I need help to do that, because I don’t have the experience to make the right decisions. I think the most realistic step will be to enter the SWRC, but we will see.” Egon starts Wales Rally GB with points on his side and knows that a solid safe result should be sufficient to clinch the prize. Craig Breen, his nearest challenger who entered the Academy as a Pirelli Star Driver, knows that his hope of the prize lies in acquiring bonus points from a lot of fastest stage times as well as a good result: “I am just going to have to go flat out. The Academy has already taught me many things, like how to plan yourself better. Previously I used to compete on a variety of rallies without any structure to it at all. The Academy has taught me to approach everything in a better way. I have learned how to control my rallies from the front as opposed to from behind. “ The Fiesta R2 car is however not going to mould you into being a perfect rally driver in four-wheel-drive cars. But learning to cope with pressure, learning to be mentally fit and work with other drivers, the Academy helps you get into good shape.” Speed-wise Breen has been the star of the special stages this year. He has won 25 stages in five events compared with 15 for Lemes and 13 for Kaur. In third place of the series is a disappointed Spaniard, Yeray Lemes, who also stood every chance of challenging Kaur for the title but for the penalties he incurred at the Rallye de France, the penultimate round of the series, for speeding infringements. For these Lemes lost 10 points, failing to take full advantage of the retirements on that event of both Kaur and Breen. But he is still in with a chance of the prize. And what, apart from the final award of the sponsorship, will be the conclusion to the first year of the WRC Academy? Woda: “I think all the drivers have impressed me. I don’t want to quote names because it is very easy to forget someone. It was incredible to see the good condition of the car and the mechanical parts in the gearbox after Kaur had been driving, Breen of course has been very fast. Brendan Reeves surprised me, a very clever driver, Alistair Fisher has also been very very fast, a very nice guy but a bit unlucky – but most of them are extremely competitive.” The WRC Academy is set to continue into 2012, with the input of the full sponsorship for drivers who emerged through the Pirelli shoot-out system. Four of the six events next year will be the same as 2011 (Portugal, Finland, Germany and France), with the two others being Acropolis and Spain. Reaches its climax 41