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GP Week : Issue 174
RALLY >>> NEWS at BRIEFLY » Former WRC driver Federico Villagra must wait one more month to know whether he has clinched his native Argentine rally championship, following troubles in the waterlogged flat country events in Buenos Aires and Misiones provinces. The latest round, based at Posadas, on the frontier with Paraguay, was stopped after only three stages were run, forcing organisers to halve the number of available championship points. Ford driver Villagra’s final remaining challenger for the title is the VW driver Miguel Baldoni, another driver trained in world championship events. The final event will be run in the hilly Cordoba province » Croatian company United Business is remaining quiet on the subject of the Lotus Exige S rally car project but is celebrating victory for its Italian driver Luca Rossetti in the Turkish championship, and promising protege Australian driver Molly Taylor a programme in the 2013 European rally championship. » The FIA President Jean Todt visited Cyprus ahead of the IRC and MERC event. When asked if Cyprus stood a chance of returning to the WRC, he said “future WRC Calendars will be reviewed over the next five years” and expressed his confidence that Cyprus “will be able to have a good position”. Meaning? » Hans Weijs headed a VW Polo S2000 one-two on the South African Garden Route Rally based at Wilderness on the southern coast of the country, while Mark Cronje won the national rally championship in his Ford Fiesta S2000 after finishing fourth on the final round. Weijs left the country without delay, as he is to drive the Qatar team Citroen DS3 World RallyCar on next weekend’s Catalunya Rally Toyota Motor Corporation has found a new rally driver – straight from the company ’s Board Room! 56 year-old Akio Toyoda, President and CEO of TMC, has made his debut appearance behind the wheel of rally car, in the TRD Challenge section of the Shinshiro Rally. This category tackled five of the stages which featured on the final round of the 2012 All-Japan rally championship. Toyoda-san, who has already raced an 86 at Nurburgring, was driving a Toyota 86 prepared by his company, Yazoo Racing. The all-asphalt Shinshiro Rally was run 50km from Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture, close to Nagoya. “I enjoyed the experience very much but I was very ner vous during the final special stage. Now I cannot wait to enter a gravel rally!” he said. On the main event, the closely fought All-Japan series was finally won by Subaru driver Norihiko Katsuka after Mitsubishi driver Fumio Nutahara suffered turbo trouble in his Mitsubishi. Toyota's 'home-grown' talent Proton's plans Corporate officials at the Malaysian Proton company are considering rally activities for 2013, focussing on programmes to be tackled and the required technical development of cars. Chris Mellors, chief of MEM, the British-based company which runs their international championship rally cars, said: “Currently it is anticipated the team will tackle the FIA Asia Pacific series again, and we are checking out the opportunities for the new WRC-based WRC2 series for four-wheel-drive cars, the detailed regulations for which are expected shortly.” On a technical level the challenge of Super 2000 is that future homologations of 2-litre cars cannot by regulation proceed, and the awaited decision is whether to prepare an R5 car on a short term basis before a newer suitable model is produced in a couple of years or so. Catalunya Rally is the final event in the current Proton programme, in which PG Andersson is closely in contention for winning the final SWRC season before the WRC format is changed next year. ERC policy explained Announcing the intended list of events in the 2013 FIA new-style European championship, promoter Eurosport Events executive Francois Ribeiro said in Cyprus that the effective merger between IRC expertise and ERC heritage should make the new ERC series stronger than the IRC had ever been. It was a matter of putting all resources into one series: “The FIA has a policy to make the WRC more global, and that means the sport has to be made stronger in Europe. The ERC is now to take over the role of being the WRC’s feeder championship, in the way we saw at the IRC with drivers such as Mikkelsen, Neuville, Meeke and so on. There have been many criteria in selecting the events in the ERC calendar, beyond that of producing young driving talent. These include ensuring a suitable mix of rallying’s three main surfaces, the organisational quality of events, a satisfactory level of local funding for the event, a satisfactory level of local importance for the event, the degree of local media interest and of course ensuring a satisfactory level of affordability for competitors” . Provisional 2013 FIA ERC calendar 01 Jännerrallye (Austria) Asphalt snow, 3-5 January 02 Rally Liep∼ja-Ventspils (Latvia) Gravel snow 1-3 Feb 03 Circuit of Ireland Rally (UK) Asphalt 28-30 March 04 SATA Rallye Açores (Portugal) Gravel 25-27 April 05 Tour de Corse (France) Asphalt 16-18 May 06 Croatia Rally Asphalt 6-8 June 07 GEKO Ypres Rally (Belgium) Asphalt 27-29 June 08 Event TBA Gravel 11-13 July 09 Event TBA Gravel 25-27 July 10 Barum Czech Rally Zlín Asphalt 30 August-1 September 11 Rally Poland Gravel 27-29 September 12 Rallye Sanremo (Italy) Asphalt 10-12 October 13 Rallye International du Valais (Switzerland) Asphalt 7-9 November Cyprus Rally saw the end of the popular and friendly partnership of IRC double champion Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Ola Floene, on the verge of Mikkelsen being expected to be confirmed as third regular driver in the new VW WRC team. He is to be accompanied in future by Mikko Markkula, the co-driver who guided Juho Hanninen to his success in the 2012 European series, and this will start on this weekend’s Catalunya Rally. To celebrate the end of their partnership, second placed Andreas let Ola drive the final (15km) stage of the Cyprus Rally, in which Ola conducted himself well, dropping only 46 seconds to the fastest driver. It was a fairly safe manoeuvre, as they were more than seven minutes ahead of the third driver, Toshi Arai. 43 year-old Ola worked with Mikkelsen right from the start of his rally career in 2006, when Andreas was 17 years old. 31 year-old Markkula has been the regular co-driver for Hanninen since the start of his international career in 2007. Mikkelsen changes co-driver 17 GPWEEK.com // 17 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: