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GP Week : Issue 175
RALLY >>> NEWS Wilson not panicking on driver contracts M-Sport chief Malcolm Wilson has said that he would not be fazed by the fact that Citroen hoped to announce their 2013 driver line-up next week. “For me the number one priority is to get funding in place in order to be present in the world championship next year. Only after that will we have a chance to think about drivers, although of course every team wants the best possible line-up. “I am optimistic and hopeful; a lot of things are going on. Certainly I have had meetings with people from Qatar and with others as well. This is certainly the biggest challenge I have ever faced.” The problem is not just whether or not a top team of drivers will drive Fords next year, but like Prodrive, M-Sport face the worry about the future of their world rally car projects if it is not possible to enter a manufacturers’ team in the WRC next year. If this happens, intended homologation of the technical improvements to the Fiesta WRC and the Mini John Cooper Works WRC cars are threatened. And, under current rules, it will not be possible for secondary WRC (M2) teams to register for the championship. The night before the rally, M-Sport hosted an emotional thank-you meal for every person who had been active in the recent world championship activities. The Stewards also imposed a 10-minute penalty for a wheel offence in Catalunya, on this occasion for losing a wheel on a road section, the circumstances of which seemed remarkable – see the Stewards' remarks below! This happened to the Indonesian driver Rifat Sungkar, the Rally Class driver” “On being questioned, the crew explained that they an accident during SS 7 which damaged the wheel and associated supports. They stopped twice to carry out repair before the next stage and on the road section after that stage. They proceeded then towards the Service Park with all 4 wheels fitted to the car. The Stewards said that travelling on a road on three wheels was not "an acceptable public image. During this time they stopped and checked the car and made further repairs. Between 2 and 3 km from the Service Park, they noted a noise but because of the narrow road they could not safely stop and the car appeared to be travelling correctly. On arriving at the time control, they discovered that the wheel had actually come off.” It seemed harsh, considering the pubic perception of vehicles in his countryis that most of them have three wheels anyway! Evgeniy Novikov went home from Spain after setting two records during the rally. On Stage 4, a 26km all-gravel stage done on Day 1, he achieved the first scratch time on a WRC stage for a driver using DMack tyres; then on the all-asphalt Day 2 he achieved notoriety for another reason, becoming the first driver in the history of the WRC to be penalised for running with too badly worn tyres. Regulations state the tread depth of asphalt tyres must not be less than 1.6mm "over at least three quarters of the tread pattern". It seems that all the tyres failed the Scrutineers inspection in this respect. It had long been (wrongly) assumed that this was an unenforceable rule because a driver could never know that he had broken the rule. The Stewards imposed a 10-minute penalty which dropped Novikov from eighth to 11th place at the end of Day 2. Which wheel? It was there when we last looked! DMacks on stage pace – but a bit thin! 14 GPWEEK.com // 14 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: