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GP Week : Issue 177a
RALLY >>> NEWS Skoda Motorsport works driver Juho Hanninen has a new co-driver but no rallies to enter! Reigning European champion and 2010 IRC champion 31 year-old Juho currently waits for news of definite opportunities before being able to plan his 2013 season: “I have had an offer from Skoda to continue with them but currently they do not have a defined programme which I could consider. Obviously I need to know what they have to offer and whether there is an opportunity for me to progress to world championship rallying.” In the meanwhile his co-driver of the past six seasons Mikko Markkula accepted the offer to work with Andreas Mikkelsen in a World Rally Car programme with VW, leaving champion driver Hanninen with neither rallies nor co-driver: “In the end I have agreed to go with Tomi Tuominen, a most experienced co-driver who has been occupied with other work for the past two years.” 41 year-old Tuominen (above right) is a man of many parts. He is an experienced WRC co-driver, competing for 10 years with drivers such as Sebastian Lindholm and Toni Gardemeister; his most recent WRC appearance in the co-driver’s seat was at Monte Carlo 2011 with Gardemeister. His best WRC result was sixth place with Kristian Sohlberg in Sardinia in 2006. Since those days he has worked as a commentator for WRC and sometimes F1 with the Finnish television company MTV3, and in his evenings works as a rock band singer. Hanninen: co-driver, but no rallies! at BRIEFLY » Ukraine driver Yuri Protasov has won the inaugural six-round Rally Class series, ahead of Mexican driver Ricardo Trivino and Indonesian driver Rifat Sungkar. This is run on events in the world championship and uses i Former F1 driver Robert Kubica was leading the French asphalt championship Rallye du Var by well over five minutes when he crashed into a tree on the penultimate stage and his old Citroen C4 WRC caught fire. Earlier second place Freddy Loix went off the road with his old Peugeot 307WRC, and eventually the winner was Peugeot 207 S2000 driver Cedric Robert. Robert’s Irish Santeloc teammate Craig Breen finished third despite two punctures. » Coming rally events include: December 1 ... Felix Baumgartner, the celebrated Red Bull Stratos sky-diver, competes in Poland in a Subaru on the 50th Rajd Barborka promotional event in Warsaw, guest of Tomasz Kuchar. Dec 7: FIA World Council and publication of WRC championship rules; Dec 8: Launch of VW world championship team; Dec 14: deadline for registration of 2013 WRC Manufacturers teams and so on! » Sergio Vallejo won the Madrid Rally, final round of the Spanish asphalt rally championship but was unable to beat fellow Posche driver Miguel Fuster to the title. FIA eases WRC homolgation The FIA has eased the restriction on homologations of new pieces for use on World Rally Cars, clarifying the existing rule that no new homologations could be accepted unless the manufacturer has already registered a Manufacturer Team in the WRC. The latest position is that a manufacturer can now make minor changes to the homologations (for example 'jokers') even not being registered to WRC. This rule was the background factor in the hurried registration procedures which enabled BMW Mini to homologate new parts for the Mini John Cooper Works WRC cars in 2012, and led to the hurried formation of the Mini Portugal WRC team. Currently both Ford (through M-Sport) and Mini (through Prodrive) have plans to continue development work with the Fiesta and Mini JCB respectively but they were both uncertain if new pieces had to be limited to use only on RRC (Super 2000) version cars or would also be available for use on full WRC version cars. At this time, neither Ford nor Prodrive have finalised a 2013 Manufacturer Team, deadlines for which close on 14 December. M-Sport declined to make a comment on this development “at present.” Even if efforts to form manufacturer teams in 2013 do not succeed, this ruling will greatly encourage the continued use of privately run Fords and Mini World Rally Cars in the WRC. A hotchpot of plans are being formulated at Skoda Motorsport for the 2013 rally season, based on continuing with the 2-litre old-generation Fabia Super 2000, waiting for the launch of the new production model Fabia in 2014, which will then be used in competition in both R2 and R5 forms. While Juho Hanninen waits to hear the available rally programmes, it is expected that Esapekka Lappi will be confirmed as a team driver alongside Jan Kopecky and maybe Sepp Wiegand. Decisions are still awaited as to whether the main competition thrust will be the WRC2 or the ERC. Lappi’s fellow Even Rally proteges Andreas Mikkelsen will be involved with VW, and Pontus Tidemand is expected to drive the WRC Junior championship. There is no news yet about the future plans for Skoda’s IRC champion Mikkelsen’s former co-driver Ola Floene. Floene: “After Cyprus (his last planned event with Mikkelsen) I wanted to walk away from motorsport, then after Spain I wanted to stay in the sport, in one way or another. I felt I still have a lot to give. I am making enquiries with various teams at this time” . Skoda's pending plans WRC co-driver and WRC/F1 commentator Tomi Tuominen(right) with MTV3 cameraman Sami Sormunen 18 GPWEEK.com // 18 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: