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GP Week : Issue 161
at BRIEFLY » Proton’s unlucky season was halted when Tom Cave won the non championship Thailand Rally, a major event in a key market country for the manufacturer. The team now moves this weekend’s Rally Malaysia for round four of the FIA Asia Pacific series, where the Proton team is represented by Alister McRae and Per Gunnar Andersson, who are up against the MRF Skoda drivers Chris Atkinson and Gaurav Gill. » Best wishes old friend. Former director of Peugeot and Citroen competition Olivier Quesnel has moved on to join the OAK Racing team as Competition Activities Director. His remit is to take charge of international expansion within existing and future worldwide endurance racing championships. » The Catalunya Rally will run a 2km mixed surfaces stage on the Friday night in the scenic seafront of the holiday resort of Salou, where the event is based. The first day will again run gravel and mixed surfaces stages on Day 1, with asphalt stages on the remaining days, all in daylight. » Skoda works driver Juho Hanninen’s visit to Turkey for the ERC Bosphorous Rally was a great success, leading from Stage 2 to the finish ahead of the Fiesta of Yagiz Avci and the European champion Luca Rossetti in another Skoda.. Hanninen has pulled further ahead in the Euro series, the next event being the Madeira Rally. » The Bohemia Historic Rally show in Czech Republic this weekend will open the eyes of younger rally fans. Entered are examples of Tatra 603, Trabant 601, Wartburg 353 and Moskvich 2140 rally cars, of the sort which were the foundation of the sport in earlier times. Giandomenico Basso’s Fiesta 1.6 turbo S2000 won the hot gravel San Marino IRC rally, narrowly beating series leader the normally aspirated Skoda of Andreas Mikkelsen. Twice in the last six stages of this two day event, Basso and Mikkelsen had shared the lead of the event, equal to the tenth of a second, the final margin being 2.8 seconds. Basso, the winner of the then experimental IRC series in 2006, was driving his first gravel rally in two years and spun twice in the opening stage before settling down. Mikkelsen fell marginally behind on Day 2 with power steering trouble, and Basso took advantage of the turbo car’s torque on slower uphill stretches. The rally started dramatically. On the narrow first stage there were blockages caused by problems with Patrik Flodin’s Ford (overheating engine caused by a water leak) and the young Peugeot driver Germain Bonnefis (fuel pressure problems) and eventually the stage was neutralised for the cars involved. Oleksii Tamrazov (Fiesta) retired when he lost a wheel. On day two Juha Salo retired his Pirelli prize- drive Fiesta, again with a water leak, when lying fifth overall. The spectacular mountain top state of San Marino ran this event for the 40th time, this time using some stages in Italy run on the old WRC Sanremo Rally. After seven of 13 rounds the Skoda UK driver Mikkelsen leads the official Skoda drivers Jan Kopecky and Juho Hanninen. In the IRC Production Car class (which combines R4 with N4 cars), Jarkko Nikara dominated the category leading from start to finish and winning all but the last two stages but his Subaru R4 teammate Toshi Arai retired with suspension failure. In the IRC two-wheel-drive category British driver Harry Hunt (Citroen DS3 R3) led all the way despite gearbox trouble and heads the series in front of Honda driver Martin Kangur who retired with power steering trouble. The IRC now has a series of four rallies in Eastern Europe, beginning with the Sibiu Rally in Romania in two weeks. The draft list of entries for the 2012 Neste Oil Rally Finland, round eight in the WRC, shows a drop of over 30 percent compared with the number of starters 12 months earlier, but still it is the highest number so far this season. Main news is that the former Subaru WRC driver and current leader of the FIA APRC series Chris Atkinson (above) will make only his third WRC appearance in 30 months when he replaces Nasser Al Attiyah in the Qatar entry Citroen. Al Attiyah will be absent, competing in the Olympic Games. Curiosity factor in the entry list surrounds the remarkable 21 year old Esapekka Lappi, the Fiesta S2000 driver who has proved unbeatable this year in national Finnish championship rallies, on only his second WRC appearance. The entry list is strong in terms of World Rally Cars – there are eleven Fiestas plus two Fiesta RRC WRC derivatives for Yazeed Al Rajhi and Edoardo Bresolin, the member of the rally car collection family in Italy. The list shows 85 cars (including 41 Fiestas of one form or another), three more than the previous best this year, which was Monte Carlo. WRC >>> NEWS San Marino IRC: Basso's 1.6 on top Finnish entries down 16 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: