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GP Week : Issue 146
Three times FIA European rally champion Luca Rossetti is to contest the 2012 Turkish national rally championship in a Skoda. Rossetti won his third ERC title last year at the wheel of a private Fiat, the 2010 series in a works run Abarth Grande Punto and the 2008 series in a Peugeot 207 S2000 run by the Italian importers’ team. Also recently announced is the move by a former Fiat team driver Giandomenico Basso, who won the ERC series in 2006 and who drove a Proton on the 2012 Monte Carlo Rally. He moves to a Ford Fiesta S2000 when he returns to the IRC series, in which he was the inaugural champion also in 2006. His first appearance will be in Corsica, round 4 in the series. He has also rallied a Peugeot. The 2010 FIA Pacific Cup zone champion Proton driver Chris Atkinson has also announced he will drive a Skoda in the Asia Pacific series this year. The decision by the Indian-based MRF Asia Pacific team to run Skoda cars instead of Mitsubishis suggests that the 2012 six round AP championship will be dominated for the second successive year by Super 2000 cars. Almost exactly one year ago a Super 2000 car won an APRC event for the first time, the Proton Satria Neo driven by Chris Atkinson at the Malaysian Rally. Since then S2000 cars finished the season winning half of the events and the Proton drivers all the major APRC titles. With all four top APRC drivers (McRae and Andersson in Protons, Atkinson and Gill in Skodas) at the wheel of these cars, continued S2000 success in 2012 is assured. The reign of Group Nt cars started in APRC when World Rally Cars or big Group A cars were banned from the series in 2003. The APRC season this year starts at this weekend’s Whangarei Rally in New Zealand. The main novelty of the 2012 series is the new Junior Cup for which four drivers 28 years or younger have entered, all in two-wheel-drive Proton Satria Neos. As from Round 4 of the 2012 world championship series, the Vodafone Rally of Portugal, VW Skoda team driver Sebastien Ogier has voluntarily relinquished his FIA priority status and will run as a private driver. VW Motorsport explained: “We asked the FIA to take away Ogier’s Priority Status even though we could have kept it from the FIA side. The main reason was that the priority status meant we had to struggle with his early starting positions. This made it difficult to compare the real times of our team drivers and of the other S2000 cars.” The number two drivers in the VW team have not been given Priority status, and have been running their rallies under different rules. The new FIA Qualifying Stage and the reinstated general reverse running order rules have already created havoc for VW in Mexico, when Ogier and Kevin Abbring were forced to run exactly one hour apart on Day 1. OGIER REJECTS FIA PRIORITY WRC >>> news S2000 SUCCESS ASSURED IN ASIA-PACIFIC Champs change cars 17 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: