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GP Week : Issue 142
45 WRC NEWS >> Irreconcilable differences regarding the dates for the 2012 Rally of Scotland have led to the event being cancelled in 2012, with the hope of it being restored for 2013. The official announcement referred to local difficulties in Scotland, with forestry authorities unwilling to sanction rallies between March and September each year. The event has been run for three years as a qualifying round of the IRC in the autumn, albeit with poor end-of-season entries, which has led to the wish to hold the event at another time of the year. Hopes to persuade the IRC championship authorities to agree to a change of date for the 2012 event to early spring, however, had stalled. The current alternative wish of the IRC is to make an agreement with the Circuit of Ireland Rally, an asphalt event currently held early each season on closed public roads in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. RALLY OF SCOTLAND 2012 CANCELLED Anxious times in the WRC continue, with both Ford and Mini being unable to confirm whether they expect to be present in the 2012 world championship. Ford’s chief Gerard Quinn stated before the rally that there continued to be ongoing discussions about 2012 but nothing yet was finalised. Ford’s current policy was to focus on the rally in hand and aim to bring a Ford driver to the world title for the first time in 30 years (since Ari Vatanen won the title in the David Sutton private Escort in 1981). Ford personnel confirmed that contracts were not being renewed until the situation was resolved. Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile stated he planned to stay with Ford if Ford’s WRC programme continued. There was unease in the service park when Mini personnel confirmed that planned pre-Monte Carlo and pre- Swedish tests were not now going to be held, events which have not been tackled by the team. Prodrive chairman David Richards was keen to refute the assumptions these cancellations were causing: “Our test schedules are continually evolving as development parts become available and we optimise our performance for specific events. Strategically the team has decided to delay the homologation of certain parts until March to maximise our performance across the whole of the 2012 season; therefore nothing should be read into the fact that we have changed some of our test dates.” At the pre-Wales Rally GB press conference Petter Solberg explained his concerns: “ We have managed to be here, but I know that sometimes in your life you have to say ‘stop’. If it doesn’t go, it doesn’t go. We will see. We have a choice of other motorsport. My passion for rallying is still there but we have to be realistic.” Both Solberg and fellow Norwegian Mads Ostberg confirmed that they had earlier assumed it would be impossible to start the event at all, for financial reasons. The decision issued by the Stewards of the IRC Cyprus Rally to adjust the time of a competitor because he was delayed by dust came as a big surprise. An FIA source suggested this was ground breaking, although there had been frequent instances in which times have been adjusted when a competitor has been forced to stop because a stage had been physically blocked. In this instance the competitor (Jan Kopecky) said he was simply slowed by a slow-moving fellow competitor and considered the delay cost him around 20 seconds. The Stewards decided he should be given an allowance of around 15 seconds. There was no suggestion that the other driver (Thierry Neuville) was deliberately obscuring the vision of cars behind, and finally this matter played no part in the finishing order of the event. At this time there are no established rules listing the circumstances when a time should be adjusted. This decision came two weeks after the running of the WRC Rally Catalunya was seriously disturbed by dust caused when a dry gravel stage was run at night, and only the first car had a clear run. On that occasion, this new results policy was not in force; the decision was that the loss stood when it fell and that no change of times should be made. The international Steward in Cyprus was Radovan Novak. Surprise Stewards’ decision in Cyprus Ford, Mini WRC future not confirmed