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Issue 182 • 12 May 2011
Loeb makes it number 64 in Italy! Start Ramp Service Park Parc Ferme
Sordo and MINI at the Rally Show Tanäk scoops SWRC win in Italy SARC HMC Rally previewed
“I wasn’t happy with our pace in the opening loop, and then we had a puncture in SS4 which cost us time too, but after that things were deﬁnitely improving - until we hit the rock” - Molly Taylor, p7
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Contents Issue 182 • 12 May 2011 04 NEWS 04 Start Ramp - News Shorts 05 Sordo and MINI to be at the Rally Show
FEATURES 06 07 08 08
Another points-scoring opportunity Disappointment for Aussies in Italy Tanäk scoops SWRC win in Italy Andreucci wins Costa Smeralda Rally
EVENTS 10 12 13 14
WRC Rally d’Italia Sardegna review WRC Academy Rally d’Italia Sardegna review SARC HMC Rally preview IRC Rally Corsica preview
EDITORIAL INFORMATION Editor Evan Rothman
Photojournalist Eva Kovkova
Contributors RallyBuzz, Motorpics, Newspress, Liga Stirna and Olivia Gauch. All content copyrighted property of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, 2007-11. This publication is fully protected by copyright and nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the editor. While reasonable precautions have been taken to ensure the accuracy of information from sources and given to readers, the editor cannot accept responsibility for any inconvenience or damage that may arise therefrom.
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Start Ramp Mikkelsen determined on Corsica Rally Words: Staff Writer Andreas Mikkelsen reckons his previous experience of competing in Corsica won’t necessarily hand him an advantage when the Intercontinental Rally Challenge visits the island this week. Mikkelsen, from Norway, has rallied on the Mediterranean island on three previous occasions, including an outing on Ronde de la Giraglia, a regional rally based around Bastia back in March. “I really like rallying on Corsica, and even though this will be my fourth visit I don’t think I have done any of the stages before, so it will be like a new rally for me,” said the Škoda UK Motorsport driver. “Both Tour de Corse events I did in 2007 and ’08 only took place on a small part of the island and the Ronde De La Giraglia was as far north as you can go.” He continued: “It’s going to be a very tough event for everybody, but the Škoda will be good there and we’ll be aiming to ﬁnish in the points once again.” H&H
Pierre Campana at home rally Words: Staff Writer Pierre Campana began his preparations for Tour de Corse-E. Leclerc in style with victory on a practice event in Italy last weekend. The 25-year-old, who hails from Corte on the island of Corsica, won the Citta’ di Schio rally by a margin of 47 seconds in his Munaretto-run Peugeot 207 Super 2000 after going fastest on ﬁve of the six special stages. Campana, who was co-driven by regular navigator Sabrina de Castelli, said: “It has been a great opportunity to take part in the Citta’ di Schio rally and to build up our preparation [for Tour de Corse] in actual competition. It was a highly enjoyable day and we were able to show good performance against tough competitors. We won ﬁve
Team News Videos
of the six stages and had a comfortable margin at the head of the classiﬁcation, which is obviously a nice psychological boost, even if Tour de Corse will be a completely different challenge. “It has been great to work further with the Munaretto team, who always do a great job, and to get more accustomed to the Peugeot and Michelin tyres. Tour de Corse is next up and I cannot wait to get started.” H&H
Live Rally Radio for Oregon Trail Rally 2011 Words: Staff Writer The premier United States National Rally series is returning to Portland and the scenic Columbia Gorge this weekend. The 2011 Oregon Trail Rally stands as the fourth event on the Rally America national championship calendar. Top drivers in several classes of competition vehicles will come from across the U.S. and Europe to drive on the best rally roads in America. Returning for the 2011 season is the Subaru Rally Team USA with Dave Mirra and David Higgins. Meeting the Subaru blitz will be returning 2010 Rally America National Champions, Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard. These factory teams will want a strong ﬁnish in Oregon to hold off the challenge of current Rally America point’s leader Travis Hanson in his privately entered Subaru. New for 2011 will be the inclusion of Oregon Trail Rally’s Live Rally Radio, powered by Dick Hannah Subaru. Live Rally Radio will bring realtime statistics, scoring, commentary, and driver interviews to the listening audience via an internet radio feed located on the OregonTrailRally.com website. The broadcast can be heard via any broadband connection, whether desktop computer or smart phone, anywhere in the world. H&H
Event News Breaking News
Hanson still leads the way Words: Staff Writer Travis Hanson secured his third Super Production class victory of the season at the Washington based Olympus Rally, and in doing so retained the lead of both the overall and Class standings. From the outset, the Hanson duo of Travis and father Terry set about delivering a solid performance to bolster their standing in the Super Production Championship, and that they did. Throughout the stages which were run, Travis held his own among the Open Class entries, and for the majority ran ahead of factory Subaru driver Dave Mirra, as well as leading his Class. However, the victory was bittersweet, as the rallying community regretfully lost a valued member at the event. Driver Matthew Marker lost his life in an accident during the ﬁrst day of racing. Rally America took the step to cancel the rally thereafter as a mark of respect. The next event of the Rally America National Championship is the Oregon Trail Rally from 13 - 15 May. The team heads to Portland to race what some have called the trickiest roads on the calendar. Portland, Oregon plays host to the upcoming event, which includes a “Superspecial” stage at Portland International Raceway (PIR), where fans can get up-close and personal with the teams competing. “PIR is a fun part of this rally that I always look forward to,” says Travis. “The Super Production Class is our focus this weekend and we will be driving with the Championship in mind. We are excited to announce Dick Hannah Subaru as an additional sponsor,” says Hanson. Travis will join David Higgins and Pat Richard at Dick Hannah Subaru on Thursday 12 May at 6pm to display their cars and meet fans! The team wants to thank theirs sponsors Dick Hannah Subaru, OSLV, Team O’Neil, Exedy, Olson’s Auto Body, Broken Motorsports and Big Boulder Park for their much needed help and continued support. H&H
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Issue 182 • 12 May 2011 • Page 05
Sordo and MINI to be at the Rally Show Words: Staff Writer Picture: Newspress Dani Sordo will drive the MINI John Cooper Works WRC on its British debut this weekend at the Cornbury Park Rally Show, fresh from securing a superb sixth place ﬁnish at Rally Italy and where the MINI WRC Team made its ﬁrst ever appearance. The MINI WRC Team driver will put the car through its paces on 14 and 15 May, only a week after Rally Italy in Sardinia, its ﬁrst outing in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). The 1.1 mile stage at Cornbury Park will be the ﬁrst event British rally fans get to see the MINI in action on home soil and will provide a thrilling opportunity for VIPs to accompany Dani Sordo on one of the
runs. After an exciting weekend in Sardinia, Dani Sordo said, “It will be great to be back in the MINI John Cooper Works WRC so soon after our debut in Italy. I know that everyone in the UK wants to see the car in action and I aim to give the thousands of rally fans at Cornbury Park a great display.” Dani Sordo, from Spain, is one of two experienced drivers the MINI WRC Team has put its faith. Kris Meeke, from Northern Ireland, will also face up to the challenge of the WRC for the ﬁrst time in 2011. Both drivers showed good turns of speed in Rally Italy that bodes well for the future. Dani brought his car to the ceremonial ﬁnish in sixth whilst Kris sadly suffered a technical problem which prevented him from ﬁnishing. MINI’s eagerly anticipated
return of to the international motorsport stage begins a new era for the brand. In 2011, the MINI WRC Team will compete at selected rounds of the WRC in order to prepare for the complete 2012 World Championship season. Based on the MINI Countryman, the MINI John Cooper Works WRC has been developed by Prodrive and is equipped with a 1.6 litre turbo engine further developed by BMW Motorsport. Jochen Goller, Director of MINI UK, said, “We are delighted to be able to demonstrate the MINI John Cooper Works WRC toMINIfans in the UK for the ﬁrst time. The Cornbury Park Show is a great location and so close to MINI Plant Oxford, where the launch of the WRC Team took place on 11th April.” H&H
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Another points-scoring opportunity Words: Evan Rothman Picture: Evan Rothman Witbank and Bronkhorstspruit play host to the HMC Rally this weekend, Round Three of the South African Rally Championship. Team Total’s four-car squad will once more be tackling South Africa’s most demanding rally roads in their bid for puncture-free stages, points and podiums. Team Total, South Africa’s largest privateer team, is represented in Class S2000 and Class S1600, and also features its ﬁrst all-female rally crew in its illustrious ﬁfteen-year history. After last month’s punishing event in Nelspruit, Jean-Pierre Damseaux brought his Toyota RunX S2000 to the ﬁnish in fourth position in South Africa’s premier rallying Class. His impressive speed and determination in 2011 sees him occupy second in the Drivers’ Championship standings, while his co-driver Carolyn Swan currently tops the Co-Drivers’ standings. Mohammed Moosa and Grant Martin powered their Team Total Toyota RunX S2000 to a strong eighth place at Round Two, and are conﬁdent of moving closer to the podium in only their second season in what is the world’s biggest National-level Class S2000 ﬁeld. The
Tzaneen-based driver thrilled fans on Day One in KwaZulu-Natal, but severe damage to his car’s rear suspension after an “off” left the RunX an ill-handling machine for the remainder of the event. Their run in the forests around Nelspruit last month saw their conﬁdence return as Moosa set increasingly faster stage times to record a strong eighth place overall. In Class S1600 (formerly A6), Craig Trott and co-driver Robbie Coetzee continue to mount the pressure on their Class rivals with their fast yet consistent performances. Leading his Class on Day One of the Total Tour Natal Rally, Trott suffered two unfortunate punctures on Day Two and with a few wrong turns adding to his lost time, Trott fought bravely to ﬁnish 17th overall and fourth in Class. In last month’s outing Trott and Coetzee were robbed of Class victory on the penultimate stage, and the consistent pace of their Toyota RunX is not to be underestimated. Team Total’s ﬁrst all-female crew of Stefanie Hugo and Angela Shields have experienced the hasher side of the sport, as their Toyota RunX was retired on Day Two in KwaZulu-Natal with terminal electrical problems and most recently an engine sensor failure 10km into the ﬁrst stage of Round Two resulted in them having to retire from
the event. Their determination and enthusiasm has not been dampened, and Hugo and co-driver Shields aim to wow their fans on the HMC Rally this weekend. The rally will be based in Witbank, with the Rally HQ at the Portuguese Club. Eleven stages and 180 competitive kilometers lie in wait for the rally teams, with the action on Day One taking in 45km and three fast speed tests in the Witbank area. Day Two offers competitors and spectators two gravel stages in the Witbank area before moving off to tackle high-speed gravel stages in the Bronkhorstspruit region before returning to the Portuguese Club for the ﬁnale. H&H • Follow Total South Africa on Facebook (http://www.facebook. com/TotalSouthAfrica) and Twitter this weekend, with live updates, photographs, video clips, stage results and information on the team’s progress and the rally’s action. Handbrakes & Hairpins will also feature this content, plus all the usual gossip, news, stage results, photographs and video clips too: http://www.facebook.com/HandHmag; http://twitter.com/#!/Evan_Rothman.
Issue 182 • 12 May 2011 • Page 07
Disappointment for Aussies in Italy Words: Staff Writer Picture: Molly Taylor Frustration and disappointment are the words Australian rally driver Molly Taylor is using to describe her weekend run at the Rally d’Italia Sardegna. The Sydneysider and her Queensland-born co-driver, Rebecca Smart, damaged the radiator of their Ford Fiesta R2 during a heavy landing on the second stage of Day Two of the World Rally Championship event. The Sardinian rally, which served as Round Two of the WRC Academy series created to test drivers under 25, started last Friday (May 6) with eight stages. The young drivers also contested Day Two (Saturday), which was made up of six stages, before ﬁnishing their event with a compulsory Academy de-brief on their performance and results. Molly, who celebrated her 23rd birthday on the Friday, described Sardinia as ‘incredibly tough’, a real test of cars and drivers unlike any rally she has contested before. It’s not surprising – only ﬁve of the 17 identical Academy
cars ﬁnished the ﬁrst day, with no less than eight falling victim to a rock which ripped out sump guards. Molly’s car was one of them. “I wasn’t happy with our pace in the opening loop and then we had a puncture in Stage Four which cost us time too, but after that things were deﬁnitely improving – until we hit the rock.” After the Academy mechanical team worked miracles on the broken cars, the two Australians and many of their rivals were able to compete on Day Two under the ‘Superally’ rule. This means a crew can restart the event – and be eligible for points – after retirement due to technical or mechanical problems, in exchange for a time penalty. In this case, ﬁve minutes was added to their time card but their chance to negate that would be short-lived. The ﬁrst stage went well but by the second it was all over. The duo was well taken care of by friendly residents until they could retrieve the car from the stage, but it was not enough to ease the pain. “What can I say? It’s obviously not the result we wanted,” Molly says.
“I wish we’d had more kilometres on Friday when we were in such a good position with so many other cars falling by the wayside, but then we did too. “And we were looking good and feeling quite conﬁdent after the ﬁrst stage on Saturday, only to come unstuck on the next one. Frustrated and disappointed are the only words that describe it all, but we’re taking on board everything we’ve learned so we do a better job at the next round in Finland.” The third round of the six-event WRC Academy Cup will be part of the iconic Neste Oil Rally over the weekend of July 28-31, but the Australians will be back in action before that. They’ve entered the Jim Clark International Rally (May 27-28), the fourth round of the 2011 British Rally Championship series. The WRC Academy competitors all drive identical Ford Fiesta R2s prepared by World Rally Championship specialists, M-Sport, with a Pirelli control tyre. Taylor and Smart are running an identical car in the British series. H&H
Issue 182 • 12 May 2011 • Page 8
Tanäk scoops maiden SWRC win in Sardinia Words: Staff Writer Pictures: Eva Kovkova Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Ott Tänak enjoyed a near-perfect debut at Rally d’Italia Sardegna as the Estonian driver dominated the third round of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship (SWRC) from start to ﬁnish. Returning to the SWRC after missing the previous round in Jordan, Martin Prokop took a second podium spot for the Fiesta S2000 with his third place ﬁnish this weekend. It was the Skoda Fabia S2000 driver Juho Hanninen who spoiled the perfect 1-2-3 podium result for Ford this weekend. Tänak, a former Pirelli Star Driver, was quickest through the opening stage and stayed out front for the rest of the day, racking up six fastest stage times. By the end of the day he had carved out an advantage of 25.7sec from fellow Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Martin Prokop and was placed seventh overall. A trouble-free morning followed for Markko Märtin’s protégé who racked up three-fastest stage times to lead the series by 53.3sec by Service D. Throughout Day Two, Tänak held onto his seventh place position and in front of eight World Rally Cars. Sunday was trouble-free for Tänak as the young Estonian consolidated his rally lead with a polished performance, securing him 25 well-deserved championship points and promoting him to top of the S-WRC championship standings alongside Prokop. Ott Tänak said: “It’s been a tough rally but I’m very happy with this result. I’ve never been here before, so I haven’t been pushing to the maximum but everything just seems to have worked well. There were so many rocks on the stages, if you go a little bit off the line then they can catch you out. We have been careful but the car has been great - we’ve had no problems. I was worried after a big hit on the ﬁrst day, but the car was ﬁne. I’ve been lucky because I’ve not needed to push - I’ve just enjoyed being able to learn the car and not had to worry too much about pressure from behind.” H&H
Andreucci makes it three-in-arow on the Italian Championship Words: Staff Writer Picture: IRC Series Italian Rally Championship leader and ofﬁcial Pirelli test driver Paolo Andreucci is celebrating after winning Round Three of the series: the 30th Rally Costa Smeralda, which ﬁnished in Olbia on Saturday evening (7 May) as part of the Rally d’Italia Sardegna. The ﬁve-time Italian champion and co-driver Anna Andreussi drover their Peugeot Italia 207 S2000, with which Andreucci won the Italian title last year. Despite the rough conditions on the punishing rock-strewn tracks, Andreucci and his Pirelli Scorpion gravel tyres proved untroubled. Based in Olbia on the north east coast of Sardinia, the event followed directly behind the World Rally Championship (WRC) Rally d’Italia Sardegna. This posed an added challenge for the Italian series drivers as they tackled the roads that had been churned up by the turbocharged fourwheel drive cars to create large ruts and reveal sharp stones. Protecting tyres in these conditions can be a tough test, but Andreucci found his Pirelli Scorpion rubber helped guide him through the treacherous roads without fail. “If you look at the ﬁrst three stage times I am slower than the other drivers, but this was our strategy,” he said. “The ﬁrst four stages are really rough so my plan was to get through stages one to three without damage, before changing to new
tyres ahead of stage four, which was the most challenging on the cars.” The strategy worked perfectly for Andreucci with several drivers retiring on the longest stage of the event. They included Skoda Rally Team Italia’s Andreas Mikkelsen, who had been leading the event courtesy of several strong stage times before an impact damaged his Fabia Super 2000’s engine and forced him to retire. “The tyres performed exactly how I wanted them to… they didn’t let me down,” added Andreucci. Andreucci drove the ﬁrst day of the rally, on the hard and rocky roads to the west of the island, on the harder compound Scorpion K2s before changing to medium compound K4s for the Saturday stages, which took place on the sandier roads to the north. Rally Costa Smeralda took place over eight stages and comprised a total of 138.58 competitive kilometres. Andreucci will resume his Italian championship on the Rally Targa Florio from 5 – 6 June. H&H
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Event Reports Results
Welcome to The Loeb Show, part 64 Words: Evan Rothman Picture: Eva Kovkova Sebastien Loeb claimed his ﬁfth win of the WRC Rally d’Italia Sardegna this past weekend, recorded his 64th WRC career win and has also moved seven points clear of Mikko Hirvonen in the Drivers’ Championship. This rally was a thriller, from the ﬁrst stage to the last, and was another Loeb Show performance that wowed all fans and critics. The opening day of the rally thrilled rally enthusiasts with its beautiful scenery, high drama and demanding nature of the route. Eight punishing stages run over 131km of intense competition saw seven-times World Champions Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroen Total World Rally Team) led privateers Petter Solberg/Chris Patterson (Petter Solberg World Rally Team), with a hard-charging Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team) in third place and only 53.1sec behind the overnight leader. Testament to his speed and sheer driving talents, Loeb dispelled the theory that the ﬁrst car over the stages would suffer from the road-sweeping phenomena. The Frenchman was able to not only set competitive stage times,
but he also managed to open up a considerable advantage of 33.2sec ahead of his rivals. Hirvonen was in embroiled in a head-to-head battle with Loeb throughout Day One until SS5 when he dropped time as a result of an unfortunate puncture. Separated by only 01.2sec from Loeb at the beginning of SS5, Hirvonen was proving his car’s mighty pace and a solid and concerted effort in the afternoon’s remaining loop of stages saw Hirvonen minimize the loss of stage time to the leader. Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassi (Citroen Total World Rally Team) ﬁnished Day One in fourth place after an up-anddown day in their rally machine. They were only 02.4sec behind Hirvonen at the overnight halt and less than 10sec ahead of Mads Ostberg/Jonas Andersson (Stobart Ford M-Sport World Rally Team), while Dani Sordo rewarded the MINI Motorsport team with a fantastic debut to end Day One of the MINI WRC Team’s ﬁrst competitive outing in sixth place overall and only 29sec off Ostberg and 01min 33.2sec behind former teammate Loeb. The WRC Rally d’Italia Sardegna’s Day Two was played out over 143km and six make-or-break stages. Loeb increased his grip on the
winners’ trophy on Day Two when he maintained his lead of almost 30sec ahead of his determined rivals. The Frenchman began Saturday’s ﬁrst stage with an advantage of 33.2sec. After completing the day’s ﬁnal stage, the 14.21km test, Loeb stated that his lead of 28.3sec would be enough for him to clinch the rally win, his fourth on the Mediterranean island. “It was a great day, a very hard day also, but a great day,” said Loeb. “It’s really difﬁcult to accept losing time when you are cleaning the road in difﬁcult conditions, but we had to keep concentrated and continue to believe it would be okay. Twenty-eight seconds should be enough but it’s still a difﬁcult day tomorrow.” Hirvonen was locked in an all-out battle for second with Sebastien Ogier (Citroen Total World Rally Team) and Petter Solberg. The three drivers were separated by a little more than 10sec after 274km of special stages and the smallest slips in concentration on Day Three’s ﬁnal four stages would drop a crew off the podium. The Finnish star Hirvonen managed to retain his second place, but was only 06.3sec ahead of Ogier and Solberg a further 04.9sec behind. Despite a puncture on the day’s
Issue 182 • 12 May 2011 • Page 11
second speed test, Solberg’s overall time was very impressive. Once more, WRC and rally pundits will be left wondering what Solberg might have been capable of on Day Three had the puncture on Day Two not cost him valuable time… Spectacular in his M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team’s Fiesta RS WRC was Norwegian Mads Ostberg, ﬁnishing Day Two in a highly commendable ﬁfth. Sordo once again showed the potential of his MINI John Cooper Works WRC machine when he stopped his car at the overnight Parc Ferme in sixth overall. His teammate, Irishman Kris Meeke, was less fortunate after he was forced to stop on the second test on Day Two due to a water leak to add to his frustrating WRC debut. The driver of Day Two was undoubtedly Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team) who restarted Day Two under SupeRally rules after retiring on Day One after an ‘off’ that resulted in suspension failure on his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Of the six stages, Latvala record ﬁve scratch times, to leave his rivals thankful he was not able to leapfrog them on the leader board. Loeb kept the pressure and rhythm high on Day Three of the rally, and ﬁnished the rally with a lead of 11.2sec over Hirvonen. Solberg rounded out the podium positions with another heroic drive in his Citroen DS3 WRC.
“Leading from nearly the start that’s really a good job,” said Loeb. “Mikko was pushing very hard behind so we really had to take big risks all the time. We lost time in some places because of the cleaning but we took it back in some other places. It was really a hard ﬁght but I did not believe at the start of the rally that I could make it like this.” Hirvonen, snifﬁng an opportunity to attack for the lead, cut into Loeb’s lead on the ﬁrst of the day’s stages, but overshoot on a junction on the next stage to hand Loeb back the advantage. However, the rally organisers retrospectively corrected a timing error made on SS10 in favour of Hirvonen, Loeb’s lead shrunk to 14sec with just the Power Stage left to run. Hirvonen went fastest through this 8.24km stage, but it wasn’t enough to topple Loeb and his incredible driving skill on this rally from the top spot on the podium. Ogier started Day Three 04.9sec up on Solberg in third overall and was looking set to claim the podium position, but on SS17 a broken rear suspension in his Citroen DS3 WRC put paid to those aims. Repairs at Service enabled Ogier to continue to the ﬁnish in fourth, ahead of M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team driver Mads Ostberg Sordo marked the debut of MINI’s John Cooper Works WRC by
clinching sixth overall. SWRC winner Ott Tanak maintained his grip on seventh overall in his Ford Fiesta S2000 and ﬁnished comfortably clear of SWRC rival Juho Hanninen, who took eighth overall in his Skoda Fabia S2000. Matthew Wilson overcame the brake and steering woes that slowed him on day one to secure ninth overall in his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta, the fourth time this season that he has scored world championship points. Nasser Al-Attiyah’s recovery from his delays on the ﬁrst day culminated in the ﬁnal drivers’ championship point in tenth overall. H&H
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION 01) S. Loeb /D. Elena Citroen DS3 WRC – 03h 45m 40.9s 02) M. Hirvonen/J. Lehtinen Ford Fiesta RS WRC + 11.2s 03) P. Solberg/C. Patterson Citroen DS3 WRC + 23.8s 04) S. Ogier/J. Ingrassia Citroen DS3 WRC + 01m 31.5s 05) M. Ostberg/J. Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC + 02m 42.6s 06) D. Sordo/C. Del Barrio MINI WRC + 03m 27.6s 07) O. Tanak/K. Sikk Ford Fiesta S2000 + 07m 10.9s 08) J. Hanninen/M. Markkula Skoda Fabia S2000 + 07m 37.6s 09) M. Wilson/S. Martin Ford Fiesta RS WRC + 08m 00.4s 10) N. Al- Attiyah/G. Bernacchini Ford Fiesta RS WRC + 12m 33.8s
Issue 182 • 12 May 2011 • Page 12
Kaur claims another WRC Academy win Words: Staff Writer Picture: RallyPrint.com, Molly Taylor The second round of the Pirellisupported FIA WRC Academy concluded in Sardinia on Saturday evening with a second win for Egon Kaur. The Estonian is one of 18 rising talents contesting the newfor-2011 young driver training series in identical Ford Fiesta R2s, which use Pirelli control tyres. On the all-gravel Rally d’Italia Sardegna, all Academy runners, including Kaur, found the demanding rock-strewn gravel roads a tough challenge. But the Pirelli Scorpion K4 tyres passed the test with ﬂying colours with only one tyre failure reported throughout the event. The gravel roads of Sardinia are notoriously tough on cars. Because the Academy drivers had to follow in the path of a number of four-wheel drive machines, which churned the roads and made the conditions worse, the Academy runners faced an even greater test. Pirelli Star Driver Brendan
Reeves, from Australia, said: “The conditions were very tough but the tyres held up really well. It was really loose out there but the grip the tyres gave was fantastic.” Irishman Craig Breen, another one of the six Pirelli Star Drivers in action in Sardinia, added: “The ambient and ground temperatures really soared today. There are a lot of downhill sections, but even with the heat and the engine braking, the tyres performed perfectly. I thought I would have to consider how to look after my tyres in these conditions but it wasn’t a problem at all.” Such was the tough nature of the event that only ﬁve of the 18 starters completed the opening day’s stages. Egon Kaur, who won the inaugural WRC Academy event in Portugal, lost four minutes when he went off the road on stage two. But he recovered and demonstrated his ﬁghting qualities by clinching victory ahead of Argentine Miguel Baldoni and Swede Fredrik Ahlin, a Pirelli Star Driver. “To not only win the ﬁrst two
rounds of the Academy but to win today after losing four minutes yesterday is amazing,” said Kaur. “It was tricky out there but you just have to take it steady. The tyres have been excellent, I’ve felt conﬁdent and quick on them all weekend.” Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, said: “This is our home rally so we are delighted that the tyres performed so well for the Academy drivers. They had many challenges facing them this weekend, with lots to learn, but it seems that they looked after the tyres, and the tyres looked after them! “Our congratulations go out to all the drivers for taking on the extremely difﬁcult challenge but continuing so professionally. Egon Kaur’s victory just shows that with conﬁdence and determination you can still go on to win.” The next event for the Pirellisupplied WRC Academy will be Neste Oil Rally Finland from 28 - 30 July. H&H
Issue 182 • 12 May 2011 • Page 13
Rautenbach tops Drivers’ Championship Words: Staff Writer Picture: Evan Rothman With two privateers heading the points standings after the ﬁrst two rounds of the South African rally championship, this weekend’s HMC Hencom Autobody Rally in the Witbank and Bronkhorstspruit areas of Mpumalanga will see a serious onslaught by the factory teams from Toyota and Volkswagen. Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach currently tops the Drivers’ Championship standings after the ﬁrst two rounds in a S2000 G-Fuel Ford Fiesta after winning the opening round with French co-driver Nicolas Klinger and ﬁnishing third in the recent Sasol Rally a month ago. But it was the dominant manner in which the two factory S2000 Castrol Toyota Auris cars of Leeroy Poulter and Johnny Gemmell took the top two places in the Lowveld that will have the former World Junior Rally Championship contender needing to bring his A game to the contest. Second in the Drivers’ Championship after two steady if unspectacular performances to date is Team Total’s Jean-Pierre Damseaux in a Toyota RunX. Thanks to the fact that Rautenbach’s co-driver does not have a South African competition license, Damseaux’s co-driver Carolyn Swan ﬁnds herself in the lead of this Championship. Rautenbach and Damseaux can also expect stiff competition from the four factory BP Volkswagen Polos in the hands of former National Champions Hergen Fekken and Jan Habig, defending Champion Enzo Kuun and 2009 Dakar Rally champion Giniel de Villiers,
competing in his third rally for the Uitenhage-based manufacturer. Fekken’s co-driver Pierre Arries is second in the co-drivers’ championship and is followed by Gemmell’s Scottish co-driver Drew Sturrock. The VW’s didn’t feature well in the ﬁnal results of the Sasol Rally, with Fekken and co-driver Pierre Arries the only ones to make the top ten, but the fact of the matter is that Jan Habig/Robert Paisley were leading eventual winner Poulter and team-mate Gemmell when they were eliminated by a spectacular roll on SS12. It was the six-times national champion’s ﬁrst major crash in 14 years and, like a wounded buffalo, he will not be a person to be triﬂed with this weekend. The well-supported S2000 class for four-wheel drive two-litre cars is again expected to deliver top quality gravel action with all the highspeed action that the fans have come to expect. Also in the 18-car ﬁeld in the premier Class are three more very competitive Ford Fiestas. Two Sasolbacked cars are in the hands of Mark Cronje and Jon Williams, with Cronje setting the pace in both events held so far, but only managing a best result of ﬁfth on the Sasol Rally to date. Charl Wilken has made a conservative start to the season in the Basil Read/bizhub Fiesta and will be looking to improve his eighth place in the Championship. Other S2000 privateers to look out for this weekend include Damseaux’s team-mate Mohammed Moosa in a Toyota RunX, Nicholas Ryan and Japie van Niekerk in VW Polos and the Pirtek Peugeot 207’s of Hein Lategan and Visser du Plessis. Early leaders in the junior
Drivers’ Championship (contested by the S1600 and S1400 Classes) are the brother-and-sister combination of Christoff and Celeste Snyders (S1600 Sabertek VW Polo). They are only four points clear of former Champions Craig Trott/Robbie Coetzee (Team Total Toyota RunX), and both can expect a tough challenge from the likes of Ashley HaighSmith/Hilton Auffray (React Ford Fiesta), and Tjaart Conradie/Kesevan Naidoo (Silverton Engineering Toyota Auris). A depleted S1400 Class looks to be a shoot-out between joint leaders Megan Verlaque/Lirene du Plessis (BP VW Polo) and Henk Lategan/Christo Ackerman (Q8 Oils VW Polo), both of whom have failed to ﬁnish one event so far. Hoping to break up the party will be Dolf Coetzee/Jacques Nel in a Toyota Tazz. The HMC Hencom Autobody Rally starts from the Portuguese Club in Emalahleni (Witbank) at 12:00 on Friday 13 May and ﬁnishes at the same venue on Saturday 14 May with the ﬁrst car expected at 15h20. The event is being organised by the Highveld Motor Club and will consist of 11 special stages covering some 180 kilometres. Friday’s action will consist of three stages in the Witbank area with a total stage distance of around 45km. The ﬁrst car will leave the Portuguese Club in Mandela Street at 07h30 on Saturday to tackle two gravel stages in the Witbank area followed by ﬁve more gravel stages in the Bronkhorstspruit area before returning to Witbank for the ﬁnal stage opposite the Portuguese Club and rally headquarters. H&H
Issue 182 • 12 May 2011 • Page 14
IRC heads to Corsica for more epic rallying Words: Staff Writer Picture: IRC Series Just under a month after the thrilling four-way battle for victory on Rally Islas Canarias electriﬁed fans around the world, the chase for Intercontinental Rally Challenge glory resumes on the Mediterranean island of Corsica from 12 - 14 May. Affectionately known as the Rally of 10,000 Corners due to the proliferation of twists and turns on challenging mountain roads, the legendary event will reﬂect its original spirit with stages spread over a larger area of the picturesque French island than in recent years, when it joins the IRC for the ﬁrst time in 2011. The claim of the rally his year expresses this spirit, “the Return of the Myth”. Starting in the town of Calvi on Corsica’s north west coast at 13h00 local time on Thursday 12 May, the event will include 14 all-asphalt special stages over a competitive distance of 320km. Thursday’s itinerary features two runs of a 27.53km stage, the longest of the event. From the overnight halt in Calvi, crews head to stages around Corte on Friday 13 May with three repeated tests split by service halts at the town’s aerodrome. The ﬁnal day’s action on Saturday 14 May again consists of three repeated stages and runs around Ajaccio in the south west of the island where the ﬁrst car is due to ﬁnish at approximately 21h35. Although the bulk of the competitors will have some knowledge of the Corsican roads, most stage layouts are unchartered territory for IRC regulars with several classic tests from yesteryear returning to the itinerary. While hot and sunny weather is expected for the duration of the event, the island’s climate can be changeable, particularly in mountainous areas. This can make tyre choice a lottery in the
event of rainfall during a stage. After ﬁnishing a close second to fellow Skoda Motorsport driver Juho Hanninen on the last IRC round, Jan Kopecky will be looking to make the most of his team-mate’s absence in Corsica having gone almost 13 months without a win in the IRC. Hanninen is not planning to defend his IRC title in 2011 despite topping drivers’ classiﬁcation after two events, handing Kopecky the task of upholding Skoda honour on the Mediterranean event. Like Kopecky, Freddy Loix was also a contender for victory on Rally Islas Canarias. The Belgian BFO Skoda driver knows that a ﬁrst win of 2011 would propel him to the top of the drivers’ classiﬁcation following his run to second overall on Rallye Monte-Carlo in January. Thierry Neuville arrives in Corsica on a high following his impressive podium ﬁnish on Round Two where he narrowly missed out on winning in his Team Peugeot BelgiumLuxembourg 207. The 22-year-old was one of the revelations in the Canary Islands and starts the Tour de Corse on the back of a successful test with Peugeot Sport in France last month. Guy Wilks (Peugeot UK 207 S2000) has the pace to win in the IRC, but was restricted to ﬁfth overall on Rally Islas Canarias where he complained of a lack of stability in high-speed corners. Bryan Boufﬁer, the current French rally champion, began his IRC bid with Peugeot France with victory on Rallye Monte-Carlo. While he has never competed in Corsica before, Boufﬁer is more than capable of ﬁghting for ﬁrst place. Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen has more recent knowledge of Corsica’s demanding roads than the many of his rivals after contesting a regional rally on the island back in March. The Skoda UK
Motorsport driver claimed a comfortable victory on the event and also scored a conﬁdence-boosting sixth on round two of the IRC following his early retirement from Rallye Monte-Carlo. One driver with plenty of Corsica experience is Pierre Campana, who hails from Corte. Campana, the joint leader of the IRC 2WD Cup following his victory in Monte-Carlo, steps up to Super 2000 technology for his home rally when he will drive a 207 for the Italian Munaretto squad. Patrik Sandell begins his seven-event IRC programme in a Skoda Sweden Fabia. The 29-year-old has previous experience of competing on the island from his stint in the World Rally Championship where he won the Junior title in 2006. Sandell, who will be co-driven by Staffan Parmander, also has good knowledge of driving Skodas, something he has done since 2010. Subaru will debut its R4speciﬁcation Impreza in the IRC on Tour de Corse. Driven by veteran Japanese Toshi Arai, the car has been designed to narrow the performance gap between pacesetting Super 2000 cars and Group N production models. IRC Production Cup Florian Gonon, who won the inaugural IRC Production Cup event on Rallye MonteCarlo in January, returns to the series in his Subaru Impreza. The Swiss will face opposition from several Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer drivers including JeanMarc Sanchez and Irishman Eamonn Boland. IRC 2WD Cup The IRC 2WD Cup entry is bulging with quality and quantity with 31 runners competing in the twowheel drive class in Corsica. Harry Hunt, the defending IRC 2WD Cup champion, heads the entry and will face strong opposition from Stefano Albertini, Eric Mauffrey, plus Honda Civic Type R driver Martin Kangur. H&H