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GP Week : Issue 160
August will be a busy month for WRC Deputy Neste Oil Rally Finland Clerk of the Course Seppo Harjanne, as he rushes southwards after his rally to act as special adviser for the WRC candidate Rally of South Africa two weeks later. He has already inspected the route and been impressed at the variety of conditions the KwaZulu Natal region around Durban offers: “The first day is based on closed public road sections in the picturesque Valley of a Thousand Hills. This is perhaps the area which has the closest visual connection with the popular visions of Africa. “Then on day two the rally is based further inland in the Richmond forests, near Pietermaritzburg. It is hard to categorise these forests, but the closest I can say is that they remind me of the old Western Australian forests. There is also another very important area close to the coast which is not being included in the Candidate event, but planned for a WRC event. These are the sugar cane sections, which are very tricky. The surfaces are always tricky, and like the vineyard stages in Germany, the roads present visually deceptive challenges for the drivers” . ” This is because the high canes prevent drivers seeing round bends, it is like driving in tunnels. Seppo Harjanne was world champion co-driver in 1985 with Timo Salonen, but in the heydays of international rallying in South African in those days, he never personally had the chance to compete in the country: “Many other WRC drivers took part in these events but plans for us never came to fruition. This new project is a huge challenge, not just to run a world standard event but all the management, personnel delegation and promotional challenges behind the event” . at BRIEFLY » It made all the difference. Pre-rally shakedown and the ceremonial start for the Italian championship Rally San Crispino were brought forward - so as not to clash with the Euro 2012 match between Italy and Germany. The event was won by Paolo Andreucci in a Peugeot 207 S2000. » The German Eifel Rally Festival (26/28 July) has attracted a remarkable collection of old-timer rally cars, authentic and replica, including no fewer than 40 genuine ex-works rally cars. Being non competitive, this event is popular with owners of genuine but less powerful cars from the past. » An estimated 1000 people attended the funeral of Gareth Roberts at Llanpumsaint in South Wales last week. Nearby there was an emotive collection of the various cars in which Gareth had been successful in his tragically short career in rally sport, » It is reported that the FIA has clarified the anti-Wales Rally GB comments made by World Rally Championship Commission President Jarmo Mahonen at the recent Acropolis Rally in Greece. Assurances have been given that Rally GB will continue to be a cherished round of the WRC, wherever it is based in future. » Ford’s competition director Gerard Quinn has emphasized that comments attributed to him saying that Ford would leave the WRC and go to the IRC unless there was immediate progress on the WRC promotion front were inaccurate. He has explained that there is no intention for the team to leave the WRC before their contracted agreement ends in 2013. There is no assurance the IRC will continue its present form after the end of his year, anyway. SEPPO TO SA WRC >>> NEWS Favourite old gravel stages on Italian soil, some of which were also used in old time Sanremo WRC events, will form the basis of competition in the 40th San Marino Rally (5-7 July), the seventh round of the IRC season. This will be the third IRC rally, after Targa Florio and then Ypres, to run in a four week period. It is also the last event before the championship heads eastwards for a group of four qualifying rounds in Eastern European countries. The event also counts for the Italian national CIR and the gravel Italian championships, the second major gravel event in as many weekends in this region of Italy. Twelve of the 13 stages will be run in Italy; the outstanding stage will a six kilometre all-asphalt stage which passes from the south of the tiny microstate Republic to the city itself. Skoda will be represented by national team drivers Andreas Mikkelsen (the UK team, winner in 2011, first non-Italian or local driver to win this event for 24 years), Umberto Scandola (Italian Skoda team) and the German team driver Sepp Wiegand. Their main rival will be Giandomenico Basso, making first gravel rally with the 1.6 turbo Ford Fiesta S2000. The HRT Peugeot team, for whom Craig Breen drove in Targa Florio, has withdrawn from the event so their guest driver on this event, Hayden Paddon, will not take part. Some very well known rally names, such as Sandro Munari and Miki Biasion, have won this event in the past. PIC: “Lucky” seen in action on the 1984 San Marino Rally in a Ferrari 308GTB four-valve. His co-driver was Claudio Berro, now the Director of Racing at Lotus IRC HEADS TO SAN MARINO The now all-asphalt Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, due to be run close to Colorado Springs, USA on 8 July has been postponed because of serious fires in the area. Star international entry this year was to have been outright record holder Nobuhiro Tajima (pictured,during his 2011 record run), this time driving an electric car, while 1987 record breaker Walter Rohrl planned a 25 year return with his Audi. A total of 211competitors were expected to take part. PIKES POSTPONED 14 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: