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GP Week : Issue 162
WRC >>> NEWS at BRIEFLY » WRC drivers heading off this weekend to Estonia for pre-NORF practice on fast gravel roads include Thierry Neuville (Citroen WRC), Martin Prokop and Oleksii Tamrazov in Fiesta WRCs and Yazeed Al Rajhi in a Fiesta S2000. Over 130 competitors have entered, in addition to drivers on the separate FIA championship Historic event in which Jari-Matti Latvala is due to start number 1. Number one in the main Auto 24 Rally Estonia event will be vacant in the absence of last year’s winner Mads Ostberg. » Unbeaten 21 year-old Esapekka Lappi won his fifth successive national Finnish championship rally this year in his Ford Fiesta S2000 on Saturday at the OK-Auto Rally at Kouvola. NORF is the next major Finnish event, when the young Finnish hopeful will meet the full force of the SWCR championship drivers for the first time. » Remarkable consistency this year by Zambian Subaru driver Essa Mohammed, who won last weekend’s Pearl of African Uganda Rally report, has put him well ahead in the FIA African Championship. Mohammed finished over three minutes in front of Ugandan Subaru driver Jas Mangat. » British Subaru driver David Higgins won the 2012 Rally America championship for the second year running when he finished second on the New England Forest Rally, in Maine, USA. This is Higgins’ fourth US overall rally title, following two earlier SCCA titles. Event winner was Antoine l’Estage in a Mitsubishi Evo X. A remarkable fifth place on the event went to Australian driver Will Orders in a 1989 rear-wheel- drive Nissan Silvia, while sixth was the 2012 FIA WRC Academy driver Christopher Duplessis in a Fiesta R2. Breen returns to WRC Craig Breen has confirmed he will return to rallying following the tragic accident in a Peugeot in the Targa Florio which took the life of his co-driver, Gareth Roberts. He has been entered in the Neste Oils Rally Finland with a new co-driver, fellow Irishman, Paul Nagle. The NORF is round 8 of the WRC, and the fifth round of the SWRC series in which he is a FIA registered championship driver. The ongoing contractual status of Kris Meeke and his co-driver Paul with Prodrive, for whom they were Mini John Cooper Works drivers, is not known. Meeke and Paul were IRC champions with Peugeot in 2009. Bohuslav Ceplecha right, the 35 year-old Czech co-driver of Martin Semerad, lost his life in a crash on Stage 3 of the Bohemia Rally, based at the Skoda headquarters town of Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic. They were competing in the Czech national team Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. Rally Bohemia was a qualifying round of the FIA’s central European rally cup zone series and a highly important promotional event for the Skoda company. The event was stopped after four of the top nine seeded drivers (also Juho Hanninen and Roman Kresta on the opening stage in damp and slippery conditions, and Ostberg the day before) had gone off the road. Ceplecha’s championship career began as co-driver to Josef Semerad from 2002 till 2007 when he also began competing alongside Martin, then 17 years old, in Junior Cup events. In 2008 he and Martin were chosen as WRC Pirelli Star Drivers for the 2009 season. This year they contested the Czech national and sprint rally series and won the Krkonose Rally outright. Mads Ostberg suffered back injuries in a crash during shakedown, after he had put up the fastest time. His Fiesta hit a wall that was hidden behind foliage during a subsequent run through the stage. His co-driver Jonas Andersson was unhurt. Hospital doctors had detected signs of fractures in Ostberg’s back but happily the injuries are not so serious as first thought. The team has however cancelled thoughts of competing on next weekend’s Estonia Rally where he had hoped for a straight fight with Thierry Neuville’s Citroen.. There is no news whether he will be fit enough to compete in Neste Oils Rally Finland. Home win for Proton Proton cars led from Stage 3 to the end of Malaysian APRC Rally after early leader Chris Atkinson lost considerable time with a broken water hose in his Skoda. He eventually finished third overall, 25 minutes behind the winner. Swedish driver PG Andersson then inherited the lead which he held till early on Day 2 when his Proton retired with electrical trouble. British driver Alister McRae went on to win his first APRC Rally since China 2011. Atkinson’s MRF teammate Gaurav Gill retired with overheating trouble after lying second. Atkinson still comfortably leads the APRC with 126 points against 81 for McRae. FATAL CRASH STOPS BOHEMIAN RALLY 16 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: