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GP Week : Issue 145
WRC >>> news After an extraordinary two day battle, works Skoda driver Jan Kopecky avenged the memory of his narrow Canarias defeat last year at the hands of his team-mate Juho Hanninen. This time he beat Skoda UK driver Andreas Mikkelsen when Mikkelsen was slowed on the final stage with engine trouble. Kopecky had started the final stage with Mikkelsen, in line for his fourth successive IRC win, leading by 3.6 seconds, having never been more than 5.1 seconds apart on this 15stage event. For round two of the 2012 IRC series the action moved from the gravel tracks of the Azores to the Spanish Gran Canaria island, home of dramatic smooth asphalt mountain roads, but nonetheless the rally was essentially a replay of the series’ first round with another Skoda 1-2. With their newly-homologated wide track cars making their debut instead in France, top running Peugeots were absent in the Atlantic island, though the island driver Luis Monzon drove his old spec Peugeot into third place. Skoda’s cadet drivers SeppWiegand and Hermann Gassner fought for fourth place. Wiegand again took the place but this time only after Gassner went off the road. Two wheel drive cars were headed by the Suzuki Ignis S1600 of sixth- placed Joan Vinyes, while there were strange event in the Production Car category. After the Group N Subaru of Jose Luis Barrios retired with brake problem. the Subaru R4 car of Marco Tempestini was left unchallenged. At the mid way halt, the Renault Megane N4 of Robert Consani was moved into the same class which he led from that point to the end. Organisers of the Vodafone Rally of Portugal are working hard to overcome the anticipated dusty conditions expected on the three night gravel stages to be run on the Thursday evening. There are widespread fears among the teams of both sporting and organisational troubles if there is to be a repeat of the nighttime dry gravel stage problems experienced on last year’s Catalunya Rally. Currently the conditions in the Alentejo region, traditionally the driest area in the country where it has been the driest for around 80 years, are not favourable. The organisers have chosen this region to host stages following pressure from the FIA to re-introduce night stages in the WRC and to lengthen the total stage distance. A rally spokesman said: “The organisers are well aware of the difficulties. The chosen stages are deliberately fairly short and they are held on higher and more open ground rather than in wooded areas. We are also urgently investigating other ways the problems can be averted” . The rules for this event say that the Qualifying Stage selection process will dictate the running order for only the three night stages, and following that the three days to follow will all be run in reverse order for the Priority drivers. Teams are afraid the whole rally will be won by whoever is fastest on QS, runs first on the road, gains a huge time advantage and leaving plumes of hanging dust for all the other drivers. On previous Algarve events there have even been cases of cars going off the road because of pacenote mistakes, on account of dusty conditions experienced during recce. ANTI-DUST PRECAUTIONS FOR PORTUGAL Kopecky's last stage revenge in Canarias 13 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: