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GP Week : Issue 170
WRC >>> FRANCE There was heartbreak in the SWRC when Hayden Paddon was enjoying his first clean run in the car of his new team from Austria and easily leading the category when he went off the road and retired three stages from the finish. The rally started off with Per-Gunnar Andersson holding a relatively slender championship lead of eight points, in front of the closely matched Paddon and Craig Breen. On the second morning Andersson's Proton stopped with electrical troubles when he was lying third behind Paddon and Breen. Breen was then delayed by transmission failure and was driving slowly in front-wheel drive mode. Andersson restarted the final day, lying fifth, the last SWRC position. Paddon's retirement elevated Breen into the lead with Yazeed Al Rajhi second with the other Proton driver Andreas Aigner in third place, in front of Andersson. At this point Aigner was over 12 minutes ahead of his team-mate, and the Proton team put a strategic plan in force. At successive time controls between there and the finish of the rally, Aigner was instructed to arrive as far ahead of schedule as possible – firstly by six minutes, then by a single minute and finally by eight minutes. This action safely imposed a voluntary 15 minutes of penalty, so that Andersson was elevated into third place in the category with the additional championship points that provided. The final round of the SWRC will be the last round of the WRC series, in Spain in November, where Breen now starts with a two points lead over Andersson. The private Rally Class championship category was headed on this event by the Indonesian driver Rifat Sungkar, who won Class 3 for Group N cars outright. For the second year running, the driver of car 109 has clinched the WRC Academy! This year Elfyn Evans scored his fourth successive Academy rally victory, leading the category from the second stage to the finish. Alastair Fisher won the initial Superspecial but immediately after wards retired with engine failure. Eight cars started the event, but the Dutchman Timo van der Marel lost time when he damaged the rear suspension on the first corner of the first stage and lost a wheel. Brendan Reeves stopped with a puncture on Stage 2, but such was the strength of competition he was only able to climb back to fourth, behind Evans, Jose Suarez and John MacCrone. Points-scoring stage wins were gained by seven of the eight runners. Evans cruising to the finish with Suarez the top stage scorer. Evans' title will only be finally confirmed when he starts the final event in the series, the Rally of Spain in November. Super 2000 WRC Breen wins and takes series lead WRC Academy Evans above ... 45 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: