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Handbrakes & Hairpins Issue 15

All content copyrighted property of Handbrakes and Hairpins, 2007-8 To receive your FREE weekly Handbrakes and Hairpins newsletter, or if you would like to share this with a friend, please send me your e-mail address to evanrothman@gmail.com. Mobile: 083 452 6892.

In this week’s Issue: Plus: The latest rallying news, feature articles and photos. SA Rally Driver Profile: Stevan Wilken

A look back at 1978’s Porsche 911 Carrera SC

An in-depth look at Citroen’s Xsara WRC


Stobart Announces WRC Driver Line-Up For 2008

Image: RallyStuff.Net After a hard fought season of FIA’s World Rally Championship, the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team proved they are a force to be reckoned with, even battling it out with the full factory teams on many events. Jari-Matti Latvala was revealed as last season’s driver to watch in 2008, as he was promoted to the BP-Ford World Rally Team for this year to partner Mikko Hirvonen in the full factory works Ford Focus WRC machines. For 2008, the team aims to build on their success and capitalise on the momentum they gained in the 2007 season. To do this they have retained the services of Henning Solberg and the talented Matthew Wilson, and to add another dimension to their team, they have signed Gigi Galli to shake up the WRC field once more. For the new season, the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford World Rally Team will use the awesome Ford Focus WRC 07 cars, upgrading from their WRC 06 vehicles. Malcolm Wilson, who heads up the official BP-Ford World Rally Team, is once again signed up to lead the M-Sport backed Stobart outfit as the previous two seasons proved highly successful for the privateer team. Gigi Galli’s inclusion in the team will see him compete in all 15 of the WRC rallies for this season as their permanently nominated points scoring driver. Apparently the second scoring driver seat will be left open during the year as the team will aim to once more compete for the podium places of the Manufacturer’s Championship title race.

Rallying is the most thrilling form of motorsport today, attracting an international audience of tens of millions each event. With boundless levels of talent, the drivers and navigators mesmerise these spectators with their gravity-defying antics. But, what got them started in sport? What makes them tick? Drivers and navigators: please send me these answers to evanrothman@gmail.com!

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For the opening round of the WRC 2008 season, Stobart have already entered a fourth car to be driven by Francois Duval. He will be looking to clock up as many vital manfacturers’ points in the first round for the teams as is possible, as this Belgian rally driver has previously competed in Fords on this challenging event before to great success. Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team finished fourth in the WRC Manufacturers’ Championship last season, and this results in the team’s two main Focus RS WRC machines to proudly wear numbers seven and eight on their doors. According to the team, Matthew Wilson has decided to retain his number 16 numberplate for the 2008 season for those events in which he will not be nominated to score for the team. Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said: “It’s set to be another exciting year for the Stobart team after such a successful season this year. Jari-Matti’s promotion to the BPFord Abu Dhabi team has left an opportunity for someone to join this very competitive squad and we are happy to announce that it will be Italian driver Gigi Galli. Gigi has a wealth of experience in the WRC and I’m sure will be a great asset for the team. Matthew and Henning will again be part of the Stobart team after some fantastic performances in the 2007 championship. The battle this year with Subaru came down to the final event in Wales and next year things are again looking strong for the Stobart squad.”

Images on this page: RallyStuff.Net Missed an issue of Handbrakes and Hairpins? Got an interesting motorsport story to tell, or are entering the challenging world of rallying as a competitor for the first time? Handbrakes and Hairpins would love to hear from you, and publish your story. This is YOUR rallying newsletter, so without your support Handbrakes and Hairpins would not be as entertaining a read as before you. evanrothman@gmail.com 083 452 6892


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Fuel Stop: News Briefs World Motor Sport Council Sets WRC Calendars

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In December 2007, the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) convened to set the 2009 and 2010 FIA World Rally Championship calendars. The WMSC made a selection of events that are to be shuffled year-to-year, and this includes many new events, with some old ones returning. According to press releases, the following calendars have been adopted for the 2009 and 2010 seasons of the WRC. 2009 FIA World Rally Championship: 01 February - Rally Ireland 15 February - Rally Norway 15 March - Rally Cyprus 05 April - Rally Portugal 26 April - Rally Argentina 24 May - Rally Italy 14 June - Rally Greece 28 June - Rally Poland 02 August - Rally Finland 06 September - Rally Australia 04 October - Rally Spain 25 October - Rally Great Britain

2010 FIA World Rally Championship: 24 January - Rally Monte Carlo 14 February - Rally Sweden 07 March - Rally Mexico 11 April - Rally Jordan 25 April - Rally Turkey 16 May - Rally New Zealand 20 June - Rally Indonesia 18 July - Rally Russia 08 August - Rally Bulgaria 22 August - Rally Germany 12 September - Rally Japan 10 October - Rally France

And, safety issues for WRC vehicles were also addressed. A number of measures to improve side impact protection in cars have been adopted for all manufacturer cars for the 2008 World Rally Championship. These safety measures allow for more space for absorbing energy; a stronger seat; an energy absorber; safety nets and optimised seatbelt anchorage positions. Furthermore, side impact measures, including strong seat rails and a load spreading door cage, will be applied as soon as the manufacturers and the equipment suppliers are able to comply. H&H

Race Of Champions Crowns Ekstrom King For 2007 In a record first time in the history of the internationally acclaimed competition, Mattais Ekstrom pulled off the seemingly impossible at Wembley Stadium, in England, to beat Michael Schumacher to victory in the Race of Champions final. In a best of three final format, both motorsport icons thrilled and excited the thousands of motorsport fans gathered at the purpose-built indoor arena, Ekstrom managed to pull out a small lead over Micheal Schumacher, and resulted in Schumacher spinning mid-corner in a mad-dash for the chequered flag. The Nations Cup was won by Team Germany, which came as no surprise with the likes of Micheal Schumacher lapping the circuit... After the Nations Cup was held, it was time for the highlight of the evening, and the reason the thousands of fans bought their pricey tickets: the Champion of Champions Race. Being held in England, the English fans apparently cheered loudly for World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) competitor Andy Priaulx, but he bombed out in the semi-finals. Jenson Button, the country’s F1 driver, also dropped out in early rounds. Heikki Kovaliainen wowed the crowds with his exciting driving style, as he knocked out Sebastien Vettel (another F1 driver). Kovaliainen’s victory was short-lived as the newly signed McLaren F1 driver lost control of his car on the start/finish line in a spectacular fashion during the next round against Priaulx, crashing an Aston Martin (ouch!) into the middle barriers. This paved the way for Ekstrom to force his way into the finals, and then on to dethroning Michael Schumacher as the peoples’ Champion of Champions. Two-time DTM Champion Mattias Ekström: “I didn’t start off very good but it’s turned out to be a nice event. At the end of the day everybody wants to win The ROC. To come here in front of all the spectators to this nice event, for me I really enjoy it every time. I wouldn’t say it’s that easy, whether it’s seven-time Formula 1 Champion or four-time Touring Car Champion, all of the drivers are very good. If you get your rhythm going, any one of them could win.The track layout was a bit more technical this time after France last year. The first turn on the outside was really demanding.” Seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher : “It has been truly quite a thrill! I’ve been here twice, and twice it has been a big pleasure. I wasn’t so good in the Solution F; there is something with me where I need to see my wheels! I’m no good if I don’t see them, I have been very bad in saloon


cars in the past. We came here to enjoy ourselves, to be here for a good reason: for the ICM charity and finally to race. We do this as good as we can and sometimes one is better than the others. We can all live with this because it’s not a championship so there’s no pressure. This is my first time racing after my retirement. In previous years if you race F1 you have a lot of pressure. You are determined and focused and at one stage, at this time of year, I just liked to switch off. In 2004 I could do it but normally after a season I’m just empty by the end of the year. Now it’s different so I’m open for fun events such as this. I hope I get an invitation next year!” Double World Rally Champion, Marcus Grönholm (Team Finland) “I was a little bit too confident against Sebastian. On the start line I thought it would be easy for me but no. He didn’t make any mistakes and he was very fast so that was a mistake from me.” THE RACE OF CHAMPIONS RESULTS : Winning driver 1/8 final 1: M.Schumacher (Schumacher versus H. Solberg) 1/8 final 2: J.Button (Button versus A. McRae) 1/8 final 3: S.Bourdais (Bourdais versus S. Johnson) 1/8 final 4: D.Coulthard (Coulthard versus P. Solberg) 1/8 final 5: H.Kovalainen (Kovalainen versus S. Vettel) 1/8 final 6: A.Priaulx (Priaulx versus Y. Muller) 1/8 final 7: M.Ekström (Ekstrom versus T. Kristensen) 1/8 final 8: T.Pastrana (Pastrana versus M. Gronholm) Quarter final 1: Schumacher (beat Button) Quarter final 2: Bourdais (beat Coulthard) Quarter final 3: Priaulx (beat Kovalainen) Quarter final 4: Ekström (beat Pastrana) Semi final 1: Schumacher (defeated Bourdais) Semi final 2: Ekstrom (defeated Priaulx) Final heat 1: Ekstrom (versus Schumacher) Final heat 2: Schumacher (versus Ekstrom) Final heat 3: Ekstrom (versus Schumacher) H&H

Abarth To Heat Up IRC In 2008 In an announcement to the world’s motorsport media, the Italian-based Abarth IRC team has stated that it will return to the Interncontinental Rally Challenge for the 2008 season with a two car Grande Punto team. The driver line-up includes Giandomenico Basso, who is a former European Rally Champion and the reigning Italian Rally Champion, and Anton Alen, the son of rally legend Markku Alen. A third car will be run at selected events and will be piloted by Umberto Scandola. Abarth has said that it will also compete in the highly-competitve Italian Rally Championship through a satellite team, while their Intercontinental Rally Championship campaign will start in May with the Portugal Rally. An Abarth spokesman said: “Our general idea is to run just two cars, for Basso and Alen, with perhaps a third car sometimes. It should be a very strong team: we’re all looking forward to it.” With Basso more experienced on asphalt and Alen – the winner of last year’s Rally Russia – acknowledged as a gravel expert, the team is also very well-balanced. “I can’t wait to get started,” said Alen, who is entering his first full season of the IRC. “This is a fantastic opportunity for me and of course I am going to be doing my very best to get the most out of it. There are more asphalt rallies than gravel events, but that is good for me as I need to gain more experience on sealed surfaces. The level of competition is sure to be very high.” Abarth is working to improve the Super 2000 Grande Punto further over the winter, with refinements to the engine and transmission. Having tested at the end of November, the team will resume its testing programme in January. H&H

Loix Signs Up With Kronos For IRC Campaign

Freddy Loix will drive a Peugeot 207 S2000 run by the Kronos team next year as part of its new extended line-up. Loix is also switching co-drivers next year, with Robin Buysmans – his regular partner on the Belgian Championship – back in the navigator’s seat for the full IRC campaign. Loix will start his programme in Portugal, making 2008 his first full season in the IRC. Loix joined the series in Ypres this year, leading the event before being forced into retirement with a mechanical problem. “I think next year should be a very good season for us,” said Loix, who has been a factory driver with Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Peugeot on the World Rally Championship in the past. “I’m particularly looking forward to driving on the gravel rallies, as I didn’t get the chance to drive them last year,” he said. “I think the championship will be extremely close again, but of course I will be doing everything I can to try and win it.” H&H


Ford Unveils Hot New Focus RS

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Ford of Europe is confirming its plan to deliver an exciting all-new, high performance Focus RS model for launch in 2009. A design image released by the company today hints at the exciting direction the new model is taking. The new Focus RS will be based on the dynamic new Focus ST. It will be developed by Ford Team RS, a specialist team led by Jost Capito who, as previously announced, is being appointed to the new role as Vehicle Line Director for Ford of Europe Performance Vehicles from January 1, 2008. “With two consecutive Manufacturers’ World Rally Championship titles under our belt, the time is right to create a new Focus RS,” said John Fleming, Ford of Europe’s President and CEO. “With the Fiesta and Focus ST models, Jost and his team have proved already that they can deliver exciting and practical performance road cars. The success of these models, combined with Jost’s experience in motorsport and Ford of Europe’s positive business results, mean that we now have a credible business case for a no-compromise Focus RS road car for more enthusiastic drivers.” The basic concept for a new Focus RS has been under development within Ford Team RS under Capito’s leadership for some months already. Now that the programme has been given the ‘green light’, Capito and his team will be concentrating fully on this programme. “We have reviewed our technical options and worked closely with the Design team on how the car might look, and I’m very excited by the results,” said Jost Capito, “Now with the programme going ahead, the hard work really starts as the small team working on the project takes the car from prototype to production.” Ford of Europe will not reveal any of the technical details of the new Focus RS until closer to launch in 2009. The company plans to show a concept version of the car publicly for the first time in mid-2008. “We will use the redesigned 2008 Focus ST as the base for a no-compromise RS model that will become the ultimate road-going Focus,” Capito added. “Just as the Focus RS WRC owns the rally circuit, we want the new Focus RS to own the road, so we have the major competitors in our sights as we develop the car’s performance, design, handling and braking.” “We’re not ready to confirm any of the technical details of the new Focus RS yet - Jost and his team have a lot to do to finalise the exact specification and styling,” said Fleming. “But make no mistake, I can assure you that ultimately, the car we plan to launch will be worthy of wearing the coveted Ford RS badge.” - Information Supplied. H&H

There are many cars on our roads used to dominate the regional, national and international rallying today, and with vehicles as above, and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo Series and Subaru Impreza WRX STI generations, road cars are inspired by their rallying participation. Fancy a road car as a rallying machine? Send me your thoughts, as well as your letters, stories and opinions to evanrothman@gmail.com.


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British Rally Driver Wins Amazing Competition!

Darren Gass, 19 year old, was the youngest driver in the 2007 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship, and has become the first winner of the prestigious Pirelli Star Driver competition. The competition was hosted at the home of the newly crowned WRC Manufacturers’ Champions, BP-Ford World Rally Team headquarters at M-Sport in Cumbria, England. The five finalists endured a series of assessment tests over two days. The finalists George Thomas, Phillip Morrow, James Wozencraft and Matt Beebe, together with Gass, were put through their paces which included a gruelling one hour evaluation of their fitness, assessment of their media skills, TV interviews, testing their knowledge of FIA regulations and finally driving both a Group N3 Renault Clio and a top spec Subaru N12 on a forest special stage. The finalist were being constantly assessed by the Pirelli Star Driver panel of expert judges, BP-Ford World Rally team boss Malcolm Wilson, ex-Suzuki JWRC team manager and Finland Rally manager Risto Laine, Mario Isola who is Pirelli Global Rally manager and WRC Rallies Editor from Autosport magazine, David Evans. After a tense final interview with each driver, the panel unanimously agreed that newly crowned British Junior Rally Champion Darren Gass should receive this fantastic Pirelli prize. Before announcing the winner, Malcolm Wilson said “I just wish that there were opportunities like this when I was just starting out in my rallying career. This prize offered by Pirelli through the British Rally Championship is just phenomenal. All of the finalists were exceptional and whilst only one of you will walk away with the prize, with focused determination, you are all very capable of succeeding and I hope that you will all work tirelessly to be reselected next year for the 2008 final shootout.” Gass, who comes from County Armagh in Northern Ireland, is only in his second season in rallying, having drove his first rally car in competition just a couple of weeks after passing his driving test. Sat beside Darren in the final competition was his regular co-driver Neil Shanks from Elgin in Scotland. The final result seemed to come as a complete surprise to Darren Gass who said, “This is fantastic, I really can’t believe I have won. I put everything into each of the tests, it was the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life and to perform in front of four well respected judges has been a great experience. I will commit 100% into this opportunity Pirelli is giving me. I know I have a lot more to learn but with Pirelli’s support my dream of one day becoming a World Rally Champion took a step forward today.” Pirelli Tyres Motorsport Director, Paul Hembrey added, “Pirelli is committed to the world of rallying, from the top level at WRC down to the grass roots. We are actively seeking to promote and support young driver development throughout the world, and the BRC scheme is one of the first of many initiatives. We are delighted with Darren Gass, the first Pirelli Star driver winner who was unanimously selected by the judges. I wish Darren every success in his future career.” - Source: www.rallybrc.co.uk H&H

Motor Sport Paintings To Hang In Your Home

An avid Handbrakes and Hairpins reader, Johan Rabe from Oudtshoorn, recently e-mailed me fantastic paintings he has created. These are not just any paintings, but as he has a love for motorsport, he has painted scenes of local and international motor sports. Rabe has exhibited his work at the Klein Jaroo National Arts Festival for a number of years, and he once again plans to display his paintings for sale. Do you like what you see here, or would like to get in touch with Johan Rabe directly, please direct your enquiries to: Johan Rabe - Cell: 082 906 2825 (07.30 - 16.00 weekdays only)


This Week’s Favourite Rally Car: 1978 Porsche 911 Carrera SC Rally Car

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In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Porsche 911 was a famous rally car for privateers, especially for Group Three and Group Four. Rallying was not fully supported by the Porsche factory, aside from the Martini-sponsored teams that competed in the 1978 WRC campaign and the Dakar Rallies of the 1980s to 1990s. French Porsche tuner Jacques Almeras put together big teams, and managed to build two great rally cars based on the SC and the Carrera. Top drivers regularly seen behind the wheel of Almeras’ Porsches were Hannu Mikkola, Bjorn Waldegaard, Guy Frequelin, Walter Rohrl, Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Jean-Luc Therier. When Porsche (as a full works team) did make their WRC and rallying debut, they did get involved way back in 1968 with a strong driver pairing of Vic Elford and Pauli Toivonen. Porsche’s big honchos quickly realised that only the 911 was of any use in rallying, and that the Monte Carlo and Safari Rallies were of (marketing) importance and significance to the Porsche factory. Porsche’s factory involvement in rallying only lasted until the early 1970s and they then made a comeback at the 1978 Rally Safari with Bjorn Waldegaard at the wheel of one of the machines. He finished a highly respectable second place overall! According to reports, the winner of the 1978 Rally Safari was a Peugeot 504, which had suffered from an ailing motor all event, but still managed to beat the Porsche by a healthy 30 minutes... Needless to say, the German team left with their tails between their legs. By 1985, Prodrive became involved with the Porsches in rallying (with Jacques Almeras) with a new version of the 911 Carrera SC RS and backed by Rothmans (great name, don’t you think? - Ed.). This team managed to claim a podium at the 1985 WRC Rally Corsica, and that was about all they could achieve. Prodrive ended their workign relationship with Porsche after the factory decided to only use their impressively fast 4X4 959 for rally raid events such as the Dakar Rally. Since 2004, several semi-works 911 GT3 entries are very much impressive with the car entered in a Group N-based category called “GTN” in Belgium and France. Key Car Specs: Power Output: 300 BHP @ 8 000RPM 310 Nm of Torque @ 7 200RPM Length/Width/Height: 4230mm/1800mm/1300mm. Transmission: RWD Engine: 2 994cc, 6-cylinder Boxer, Rear Longitudinal.

H&H

Rallying is the most thrilling form of motorsport today, attracting an international audience of tens of millions each event. With boundless levels of talent, the drivers and navigators mesmerise these spectators with their gravity-defying antics. But, what got them started in sport? What makes them tick? Drivers and navigators: please send me these answers to evanrothman@gmail.com!


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South African Rally Driver Profile: Stevan Wilken

Images: MotorPics. A New Era For PANNAR - 2007 Season Overview: In the beginning of 2007 Pannar Seed and Stevan Wilken joined forces to create a motorsport team to be reckoned with in the Sasol South African National Rally Championship. For Pannar and Wilken this was a new partnership with both parties looking forward to making the most from the 2007 championship. The season kicked off in Cape Town, where things didn’t start off according to Wilken’s plans as the team had to retire from the event with clutch problems. For the second event, the Sasol Rally, which was held in Sabie and Nelspruit areas in Mpumalanga, Wilken started the rally off strongly and carried this through to a solid victory for his team and Pannar in the Class A6 category. After a splendid performance, Volkswagen Motorsport decided to upgrade their car with a sequential gearbox, this to further enhance their performance. This upgrade took two weeks of hard work and late nights at the Volkswagen Motorsport workshop in Port Elizabeth to get the car ready for the Zulu Rally, which was held in Durban in May. With an upgraded car the team set out to repeat their earlier performances but it was not to be. One of the new components malfunctioned, and left the pair stranded for 16 minutes on the side of the road while they furiously worked to get the car back onto the road. In the end, Wilken was forced to settle for third in Class A6. The Total Rally, the fourth event on the calendar, presented Wilken and Pannar with an opportunity to attack their competitors as their vehicle was once more rebuilt. The event started well, with the team leading from the outset, but they ran into reliability woes when the car suddenly lost oil pressure in Stage 11, bringing their rally to a grinding halt. The problem was later traced to a cracked oil cooler...

Port Elizabeth, home of the Volkswagen Rally, once more started off well and the team ran at the front of the A6 pack until stage 14, when a shock absorber broke, resulting in their fast pace reduced. However, Wilken managed to finish in a respectable second place in Class A6. The high-speed Osram Rally (held near Bloemfontein and Dewetsdorp) was a thrilling event to spectate and participate in. The team was proving their speed, and were once again at the sharp end of the A6 field when, on the penultimate stage of the rally the car overheated, meaning Wilken had to carefully nurse the car to a fourth place A6 finish. Cape Town was the setting for the penultimate round of the Sasol National Rally Championship. Wilken immediately started the rally off with a bang by setting a blistering pace to lead the event and to come out the eventual winners once more in class A6. Now with a firm foothold over the championship, they needed to win the last event to be able to take the 2007 A6 National crown. Johannesburg was the setting for this battle, but the heavens opened and the rain pored to make conditions unbearable to compete. Never the less, they gave it their utmost but after Stage 6 they came across a drunk spectator on the route in the stage and had to swerve to avoid a head-on collision with their vehicle. In the process, Wilken left the road hitting a ditch and bending the radiator and braking a water pipe which caused the motor to overheat, and now drowning their hopes of winning the 2007 A6 National crown. The team was recently honoured at a banquet at Muldersdrift Conference centre as 2nd place winners in the A6 category of National Champions. Stevan Wilken would just like to thank all his sponsors that made this journey possible: my Parents, Pannar, VW SA, BP Ultimate, Aquilla, and Super Quick Greytown. H&H


Christmas Isn’t Over Just Yet: EXAMINED! The Citroen Xsara WRC Car (2001-2006) and Subaru Impreza WRC Car (2003) It is without a doubt that the Citroen Xsara dominated the international rallying scene for six seasons, from 2001 to 2006, before being replaced by the equally impressive C4 WRC. Citroen Sport, the chaps who tirelessly prepare those menacing WRC machines, had readied the Xsara a little over a year before it was actaully debuted in 2001. Citroen Sport employed the services of Philippe Bugalski to compete in the French Rally Championship in 2000, and the new car duly won the championship in its first year of competition. It was only at the WRC Rally Catalunya in 2001 that Citroen entered this Xsara in a WRC event. According to reports, it took the WRC team another two seasons before they would compete with the WRC in a full WRC campaign. In these early days of the Xsara’s rallying career, it was considered as an asphalt-surface rally specialist car and this prompted Citroen Sport to enter events such as the WRC Rally Sweden, WRC Safari Rally and WRC Rally Finland for the 2002 season. The French motor manufacturer saw to increase and improve its experience and knowledge of these surfaces. Making the Xsara more competitive, and easier to develop from season to season, was the fact that the Xsara road car was not dramatically developed over the course of its rally participation, thus not needing Citroen Sport to redesign its rally machine accordingly. Citroen Sport was then able to concentrate on attention to detail, enhancing minor aspects of the Xsara WRC machine to hone it into a record-beater. In the hey days of the Group B rallying of the 1980s, the car that lead the pack was the Peugeot 205 T16. Like the Citroen Xsara has now done, the Peugeot broke all rallying records in its day. Interestingly, both the Peugeot 205 T16 and the Citroen Xsara were engineered by the same man: Jean-Claude Vaucard.

Bring on WRC08! Read Handbrakes & Hairpins for ALL the 2008 WRC news, previews and reviews!

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Piloted by arguably the greatest WRC driver ever, Sebastien Loeb (think differently, then send me an e-mail to evanrothman@gmail.com with your opinions), the Xsara success story was not due only to this man’s might talent. In the three Loeb championship winning years (2004, 2005 and 2006), Loeb started 44 WRC events and retired from only THREE due to mechanical problems! And, the Xsara won 32 WRC events in five years, making it only second to the Group A Lancia Delta that won 46 WRC events in seven years. The Citroen Xsara WRC faced much, much more competition in its era! The Subaru Impreza WRC03 was a return to a four-door body shell, with the facelifted Subaru Impreza (codenamed the 44S). Petter Solberg, one of the most colourful personalities in motorsport, and an amazing talent behind the steering wheel of a rallying car, won the 2003 WRC Drivers’ title by a single point! With its attractive lines and awesome acceleration, the Subaru World Rally Team gained many new fans around the world. Solberg driving the wheels off the Impreza WRC03 only fuelled his fans love for the team, and Solberg worked hard to eventually lift the WRC Drivers’ Crown at the end of the season. It was not an easy victory by any means, but the resilient Norwegian pushed his competitors (Gronholm, Sainz and Loeb) hard on each event, resulting in Solberg having clocked up the most points in the season. This Subaru may not be as successful as previous generations of the WRC models, but it did bring a fantastic championship title to the Japanese motor manufacturer. The Subaru has been plagued by reliability issues this season, but with Dave Richards committed to the WRC programme next year at Prodrive, you can expect the Subarus of Petter Solberg, Chris Atkinson and Xevi Pons to be battling it out for top honours in 2008’s events! H&H

H&H-15