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GP Week : Issue 142
44 WRC WALES >> hayden Paddon, who had already clinched the Production Car title earlier in the season, competed on Wales Rally GB in a Subaru R4 for the first time. Paddon spent considerable time trying to set-up to his requirements. The car was a normal Impreza Hatchback class N4 converted to R4 specification in five days by the Belgian Symtech team. This event did not count for the SWRC, so the leading Class 2 competitors were Paddon and the team of two Skoda S2000s for VW Motorsport’s candidate drivers, on this occasion the top FIA Institute driver Kevin Abbring and Sepp Wiegand, who was rallying in a four-wheel-drive car for the first time. Abbring beat Paddon by just under a minute while Wiegand retired when his co-driver fell ill during the event. Abbring takes Class 2 ... On the 50th anniversary of the first-time Britain’s premier rally first used forest roads for competitive sections, it was fitting that the 2011 event went back to the Dovey forest complex near Dolgellau which is now known by the Welsh name Dyfi. In the 1960s long routes laid out in this complex were used, always run in secret format with pre-event recce banned; fewer tracks were subject to public rights of way or local resident requirements and therefore unavailable for road closure. These used to be the longest stages run in Wales and are still used by local events. Not many of the top drivers on this year’s event had had any cause to be in that forest before, but two had. One was Matthew Wilson who had a very serious accident in which both legs were broken and which put him and his co-driver Scott Martin out of the sport for months. The route for this years’ event passed close by the spot where Wilson’s Focus went off the road. And the second was Kris Meeke, whose first event in his rally career (a prize-drive as the result of a junior driving talent competition) used Dovey as the first stage. What a way to start your career! “D ifferent days when I first rallied the little Peugeot. We were not allowed to use pacenotes then. We drove the roads blind!” Wales Rally goes ‘home’