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GP Week : Issue 166
RALLY >>> NEWS SKODA ENGINE WOES A MYSTERY The background behind the sudden string of engine failures on the Skoda cars at the IRC Barum Rally remains a mystery, following on from the sudden engine failure in Finland of the then SWRC championship leader Hayden Paddon (above). Reports from Czech Republic suggest that the engine failure of Jan Kopecky on the Barum Rally was caused by a broken conrod. The works-assisted Austrian BRR team, which now run the Skoda car of Hayden Paddon, has been running Fabia S2000 cars for four years. Their chief, Raimund Baumschlager said: “apart from some problems very early, this is the first engine failure we have had. We are waiting to hear the reason from Skoda’s engine specialists Oreca. All we know is that two valves were damaged.” It is reported that Kopecky’s failure was the first to be suffered on these cars by Skoda Motorsport. Some engine failures in the Barum Rally have been assigned to overdue overhauls, but the broken Skoda engine of Antonin Tlusak was reported to be well within normal servicing limits. It is rumoured that a batch of faulty valve springs had recently been fitted to Skoda engines and that teams have been urged to return their engines for early rebuilds. Skoda were not alone with engine woes in Zlin. The Renault Megane driver Robert Consani stopped with engine sensor trouble. Vaclav Pech’s Mini had a problem with brand new fuel pump, while Pavel Valousek’s Peugeot lost oil. The IRC-leading Skoda UK team are slowing down Andreas Mikkelsen’s championship challenge, announcing they will not contest either of the next two rounds, the Yalta Rally in Ukraine or Sliven Rally in Bulgaria. Entries in the two final rounds, Sanremo in Italy and then the Cyprus Rally (which counts for double points) are still uncertain. The team explained that they never intended to enter more than 11 of the 13 rounds, but were carefully monitoring the championship situation as regulatory points dropping starts to take effect. The decision not to go to Ukraine means that their driver will be unemployed for the weekend of Wales Rally GB, as his usual seat in the VW team Skoda on that event has already been filled by Kevin Abbring. Skoda Motorsport seems to be progressing well in their quest to win four major titles this year. Kopecky has already won the national Czech title, Juho Hanninen the European title, Mikkelsen is well on the way to the IRC title for the second year and privateer Hayden Paddon is currently lying second in the world championship SWRC series. The decision by Chris Atkinson to accept the offer of an alternative drive at Wales Rally GB has left his regular Asia Pacific championship team with a car and no driver at Rally Hokkaido, a clashing fixture. The Australian Racetorque team which runs the championship team Skoda Fabia S2000 cars for the Indian MRF tyre company sponsor has no option but to leave the empty Skoda in the service park. Team manager Lane Heenan said “we had already sent our cars from (the preceding APRC event in) Malaysia to Japan before we heard that Chris has decided not to compete in Japan. Gaurav Gill will continue to drive our number two car, as agreed. In order to protect our APRC team championship chances, we have nominated the private New Zealand driver Brian Green to run under our licence this time with his Subaru.” Atkinson’s lead in the APRC is such that he will still be ahead before the final round in China. Mikkelsen slows down Two places at once ... A last minute proposal to save the financially-challenged IRC Sliven Rally (29-30 September) from cancellation has been made by the Bulgarian federation. The event deputy director Atanas Chanev confirmed last week that half of the required registration fee had now been paid, and the Bulgarian federation President Radoslav Koziekov had guaranteed payment of the remainder of the fee by instalments after the event. The organisers are currently waiting for the reaction of this proposition from the series promoters Eurosport, expected within a week. Late plan to rescue Sliven 16 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: