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GP Week : Issue 164
WRC >>> NEWS Lindholm returns! Sebastian Lindholm is back again in a WRC event as the sixth and latest member of Finland’s celebrated 51 club. Drivers in the club have excelled themselves in previous years in their career, and have decided to make a final comeback to the sport when they are 51 – or in Markku Alen’s cars when he was still 50 – by entering the Neste Oil Rally Finland for one final time. Hannu Mikkola was the first member of the club, invited by Toyota Team Europe to drive a works Celica, followed by Markku Alen, Timo Salonen, Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen, all except for Hannu in World Rally Cars. Lindholm follows a different career path to his predecessors, never having achieved a podium result in a WRC event, but he was remarkably national champion eight times in the heartland of the world’s top rally drivers! In his WRC career he was a works driver for Ford, Peugeot and on one occasion Suzuki. The 2007 Wales Rally GB with the Suzuki was his last appearance in the WRC, after which he concentrated on the family farming business with his cousin Marcus Gronholm at Inkoo, where he has laid out a rally course to give customers the chance to discover the delights of the sport. He made one other rally appearance in recent years, in 2009, in Estonia where he had enjoyed many successes in the past, which ended with an unfortunate accident. How they fared: Mikkola 1993 Toyota Celica ST205 7th Alen 2001Ford Focus 16th Salonen 2002 Peugeot 206 14th Vatanen 2003 Peugeot 206 11th Kankkunen 2010 Ford Focus WRC 8th LOTUS DEBUTS IN MADEIRA Three days before the start, Bernardo Sousa’s Lotus team received confirmation from the FIA that the Exige S, the world’s first car complying with the R-GT class, had been homologated, so they were allowed to start the ERC Madeira Rally. Unhappily the car almost immediately suffered electronic trouble which dramatically affected the transmission shift system and Souda went off the road on Stage 3. There was damage to the chassis which the team were unable to repair and allow the car to restart on the second full day of the event. The rally was run notwithstanding disastrous forest fires on the island before the event and was led from Stage 2 to the finish by Bruno Magalhaes’s Peugeot after a long battle with both local driver Vitor Sa and ERC championship leader Juho Hanninen. After suffering a double punctures on Stage 2, Hanninen had been lying third until delayed by fuel pressure problem on the final stage. Lotus Racing manager Claudio Berro said the Exige S is now due to appear on another tarmac event in Europe in September. Sousa said his accident was caused by problems with the car's electronics, which reflected on the performance of the engine and gearbox: “The paddleshift did not get me into the gear I intended, and the wall was impossible to avoid” After enjoying an incredible first half of the season in which he gained a considerable lead in the FIA’s SWRC championship, New Zealander Hayden Paddon has left his private Spanish run Skoda team to contest the rest of the season in a Skoda run by the Austrian BRR team. BRR are the team which ran Juho Hanninen on the 2011 events in which he won the SWRC championship. “The reasons for moving teams were various, both logistical and competitive” , Hayden said. “My Spanish friends were remarkable, but we were both having to learn how to run the Skoda as we went along. The result in my opinion was that we could not show the speed we needed.” This is BRR’s fourth season running Fabia S2000s. Paddon: “we asked the BRR chief Raimund Baumschlager last year if we could run one of his cars and had a test, but it did not work out at that time.” Baumschlager confirmed that his team has a choice of two Fabia S2000s, in which they alternately compete in the Austrian and the Hungarian national championships: “The cars he will use will depend on logistical circumstances. Our cars are exactly the same, and both have the latest specifications. Paddon will run in his usual colours, so externally it will be the same as before!” PADDON CHANGES TEAMS Image: Ridder 14 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: