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GP Week : Issue 151
WRC >>> news Organisers of rallies in the World Rally Championship in the past year or two have been under increasing pressure to run their events in the way that the FIA would like championship rallies to go. The per vading philosophy is that every idea is worth trying, even if the idea has been tried out before and proved to be a failure. In this way, organisers in recent times have flirted with concepts like mixed surfaced stages and night stages, which have subsequently been proved once again to be unsatisfactory. Reverse order and driver selection systems are still under debate. The current buzz-word is ‘Endurance’. In this respect the objectives are laudable. WRC Manager Michele Mouton recently explained that long special stages always create dramatic stories. On the other hand, endurance through long length of events does not sit comfortably in these days of global economic challenge. Endurance in the FIA dictionary takes many different meanings. Monte Carlo: Five days of competition, not the usual three. Sweden: already traditionally the longest event in the season gained approval by promoting multi-nationalism with cross-border stages. Mexico: The stage distance went beyond the 400km mark. Portugal gained FIA approval as their start was far away in the country’s capital. Argentina embraced endurance in three ways – longer stages (three over 50km), a total of 500km of stages and the distance between tyre changing points was increased from 80 to 100km. Coming soon to the WRC, the Acropolis strikes new ground by extending the proportion of the rally to which competitors will be committed to their prior running order selection – 47% of the competitive distance. Is that really ‘Endurance’? Certainly it is endurance of a different form – the endurance of suffering extended agony if you as the driver make the wrong choice of starting position!... The many meanings of 'endurance' ... at BRIEFLY » Dangerous roads in Argentina! It was reported that Ramona Karlsson’s collision was due to a recovery truck unexpectedly reversing into the access road to a stage. The sad incident recalled the accident in 2001 at the regroup halt at Santa Rosa de Calamuchita when a rogue water tanker crashed into the rally cars of Bruno Thiry and Armin Schwarz, seriously injuring a senior Skoda executive. Then came the broken down fuel tanker which caused the long delay on Day 1 this year and which led to many drivers tackling the final stage of the day entirely in darkness ... » The FIA has now declared that the Citroen DS3 WRC of Mikko Hirvonen was incorrect on two fronts at the Rally of Portugal – not only the clutch irregularity which by itself led to Mikko’s exclusion from the results, but now also for having a marginally oversize turbo turbine. The diameter of the turbine has strict tolerance limitations. The car of Sebastien Loeb was not examined on that occasion, having retired earlier in the event. » News is still awaited about the disclosure that Paulo Andreucci’s new Peugeot 207 S2000's second place at Mille Miglia ERC Rally is still unconfirmed. FIA sources’ suggestion of an underweight suspension piece arose out of an administration confusion, but it is not known whether there will be a penalty or not. The victory of Giandomenico Basso’s Fiesta RRC is not in question. The two MRF team Skoda Fabia S2000s of Gaurav Gill (above) and Chris Atkinson finished 1-2 in New Caledonia, while their APRC Proton team rivals failed to finish. Atkinson was in line to win but then he had a strange problem. His car’s windscreen washer reservoir smashed on a heavy landing and the contents drenched the engine. Finally he was able to restart but finished nearly five minutes behind his Indian teammate Gill. This was only the second victory in the championship for Gill. The Proton team lost Alister McRae on the first stage of the event when he punctured, continued to drive on a flat tyre, but consequential damage stopped him. He restarted the event and won points for being the fastest driver on Day 2 but was not classified. Teammate PG Andersson stopped on the final morning, after the team changed the headgasket damaged by earlier water ingestion. SKODAS SURVIVE 'WET' NEW CALEDONIA RALLY 15 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: