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GP Week : Issue 172
RALLY >>> NEWS at BRIEFLY » Dutch driver Hans Weijs is to drive the Qatar team Citroen DS3 WRC on the Catalunya Rally. Weijs finished second in the 2010 Junior world championship at the wheel of a Citroen C2 S1600 but has driven VW S2000s cars this year in South Africa. » The 2011 FIA Production Car champion Hayden Paddon rounds off his 2012 season with Red Bull support for his BRR team Skoda Fabia S2000 on the Rallye Catalunya. » Chris Atkinson left Sardinia at high speed, anxious to arrive in China for the final round of the FIA Asia-Pacific championship the following weekend and to live down his sudden decision to miss the penultimate round in Japan. He already leads the APRC by 32 points ahead of the only other remaining contender Brian Green. China Rally entries centre on the MRF Skoda team with Atkinson and Gaurav Gill and the Proton team of Alister McRae and Juha Salo. » Mikko Hirvonen has finished Rally Italia five times in second place before at last winning the rally, gaining his first WRC victory with Citroen and finally putting to rest some haunting memories of Italian gravel rallying ten years ago. The private Italian patron Gabriele Favero arranged for Mikko to contest the Italian Gravel championships in 2002 with a Subaru, and on the final stage of the final round Mikko went off the road and lost the championship. Favero’s iconic ‘Motoring Club’ team is still active. On this event Favero ran a Subaru for the Czech actor-singer celebrity Daniel Landa. A triple puncture ended his hopes of a good position, and finally he had to miss driving over the podium at the finish. He also had a plane to catch. » Nicolas Fuchs’ victory in the PCWRC category in Sardinia came ten years after parallel victories for fellow Peruvian Ramon Ferreyros in Corsica and Argentina. Only two devastating engine failures stopped Ramon from winning the title that year. Mikkelsen gets IRC walkover With Jari-Matti Latvala now contracted to drive next year for Volkswagen, the WRC driver market is now focussed on the future of Mads Ostberg, the young private Norwegian Ford team driver, with reports that a position for him at Citroen is currently under negotiation. Ostberg (pictured left) is currently lying third in the world drivers’ championship behind the two Citroen team drivers, and ahead of both of Ford’s official team drivers, despite only having started 10 of the 12 WRC rounds held so far. His quest for results had labelled Ostberg as a reliable points earner so despite his impressive come-back to fourth place in Sardinia it was an important step for ward for Mads: “Sardinia was the chance for me to show some pace and I am happy to have been able to do that.” He finished the rally having scored five fastest times, more than the winner Hir vonen (4), second place Novikov (3) and single stage wins for Sebastien Loeb, Petter Solberg, Jari-Matti Latvala and Sebastien Ogier. His effort to win supplemental driver championship points at the final Power Stage was lost when he punctured. Mads’ record this year has been even more impressive considering the car that he drives, which has now contested no fewer than 21 world rallies and was already second-hand when it was acquired from M-Sport at the start of the year following a hard life at the hands of Ken Block, Per-Gunnar Andersson and Lambros Athanassoulas. On this event his car suffered a broken subframe on Thursday evening and then a broken rear differential which dropped him from third to seventh on Friday afternoon, not to mention a final puncture. Mad about Mads Entries for the final round of the IRC series, Cyprus Rally, closed on last Friday without entries from either of the Skoda team drivers Jan Kopecky or Juho Hanninen. This means that Andreas Mikkelsen will be crowned the final IRC champion ahead of the event, notwithstanding the special arrangement whereby the Cyprus Rally counts for double championship points. Only one of these three drivers could have won the title. For some time the policy of Skoda Motorsport had been to end their active season at the recent Sanremo Rally, the penultimate round of the IRC, unless an entry in Cyprus had been necessary to clinch the manufacturers’ European rally title. Hanninen is already crowned European champion and Kopecky the national Czech champion, so Skoda will now have already won three major titles open to S2000 drivers this year. There is also a good chance the independent MRF Skoda team driver Chris Atkinson will win the Asia-Pacific series. The only available title they have missed is the SWRC support championship, in which mathematically it is possible for Hayden Paddon to equal the points score of the series leader Craig Breen, but would lose the title on a count-back. The SWRC has been the very closely fought between manufacturers. With one event still to run, the top four placed cars are all different models – normally aspirated Ford, Proton, turbo Ford and Skoda. 16 GPWEEK.com // 16 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: