Handbrakes & Hairpins Issue 17
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In this week’s Issue:
Behind the Scenes
Opel’s Ascona B i400
Driven: Audi’s S3
Fuel Stop: News Briefs Martin joins SWRT as test driver for 2008
Markko Martin has signed as the official test driver for the Subaru World Rally Team, as the team steps up its testing programme in preparation for the launch of its all-new Impreza World Rally Car. The 32-year-old Estonian, who won the Bettega Memorial Rally at the end of last year driving an SWRT entered Subaru Impreza WRC2007, has an agreement that will see him responsible for the ongoing testing and development of Subaru’s new WRC contender throughout 2008. Martin’s first WRC event with the Subaru World Rally Team was Rally Australia in 2000, where he sat alongside co-driver Michael Park. The duo contested nine events with the team in 2001, with a best finish of fifth on Rally Finland. Martin has a wealth of experience on which to draw, having competed on the world stage for Subaru and several other top teams, and is excited about his return to a major role in the WRC with Subaru. Markko Martin commented: “For me it’s a great challenge that I am really looking forward to. Having been with the team before, it’s a privilege to come back and be able to help. I’m sure the team has changed a lot since 2001, but the colour is still the same! “It is crucial for me to understand what the car needs to be, and to find the common language with the engineers. The trickiest bit is that before I was used to setting the car up for myself, but now I also have to remember that the car has to work for other drivers. I think that my own preference is quite neutral though so I hope it will more or less work for everybody. “For sure there is pressure in this role. It’s clear that the new car has to be competitive, and I feel now a part of the team that has to perform. But that’s what I’m here for, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.” SWRT Managing Director, Richard Taylor, added: “As a winner of five WRC events and having gained competitive experience in a wide range of World Rally Cars we are delighted to welcome Markko back to the Subaru World Rally Team and are confident that he will play a key role in the successful launch of the 2008 Impreza in a few months time. We look forward to working with Markko again and hope that this will be the beginning of a long term relationship.” - Credit: www.swrt.com
Dakar Rally cancelled at last minute
The much-anticipated 2008 Dakar Rally was called off on the eve of its start, leaving its competitors and support teams in dissappointment. This, supposed to be the 30th running of the tough cross-country rally, was cancelled due to safety concerns along the event’s route. Organisers ASO heeded safety concerns raised by the French government regarding stages being held in Mauritania. The French government received alleged direct terrorist threats regarding the Dakar Rally, and informed the event’s organisers. Following the media frenzy that followed, some key points were raised. The terrorist threat is not new to the Dakar organisers, and the stages in Mauritania have previously been plagued by such incidents. For an event of this magnitude, surely a contingency plan should have been drafted beforehand? All competitors and teams paid their entrance fees, pre-paid for mechanics, service crews, support backup, flights and accommodation, and all was in vain as the event was unfortunately scratched. The future of this great motorsport event has been called into question, but organisers are apparently already working on a new route to avoid any such political problems. We await further media statements from ASO, and hope all will be well for 2009...
Rally New York signs 3-year agreements
Rally New York organisers have signed three-year agreements with the Town of Wawarsing and the Town of Thompson. The agreements run until the end of the year 2010, reports www.RallyNewYork.com. These agreements cover a variety of tarmac and gravel special stage roads in Ellenville, Wawarsing and Thompson, including the venue at the Concord Resort in Monticello with the spectacular, amphitheater-like spectator area overlooking a portion of the special stage going through the golf course. Negotiations of similar agreements with other municipalities within the County of Ulster and the County of Sullivan are in progress. Rally New York organisation is the promoter and the organiser of the Rally New York USA, the first round of the United States Rally Championship (www.usrallychampionship.com), scheduled for April 4 – 5, 2008 with the headquarters at the Nevele Resort in Ellenville, New York and the International Rally New York, the final round of the United States Rally Championship with a year-end Championship Awards Ceremony, which will take place on October 31 – November 1, 2008.
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Rotation for Stobart drivers
Malcolm Wilson will tinker with the Stobart VK M-Sport team’s driver line up on a regular basis to give the main Ford squad a better chance at claiming a third successive manufacturers’ title. The 51-year-old who runs the Stobart VK outfit and the main Abu Dhabi BP-Ford team has signed Italian Gigi Galli to lead the team’s assault. Last season the team was very successful and finished fourth in the Manufacturers’ standings and worried third-placed Subaru, even passing them towards the end of the season before losing out. Driving for them last year were new BP-Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala, Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson. Solberg and Wilson will join Galli and drive for the team again this season. By selecting surface specialists Malcolm Wilson believes the squad can challenge Subaru once again and even put pressure on Citroen, Ford’s main rival for the Manufacturers’ title. Wilson said, “Stobart have put so much investment into Jari-Matti and the fact he’s stepped up the ladder means it was very important to select someone who could not only achieve strong results but also promote the Stobart brand. Gigi is that driver.” Galli contested just three events last year, but took part in the reconnaissance for the other 13 rounds – a move that impressed Wilson. “He’s shown a lot of commitment by doing all the recces and paying for them himself. Things like that contributed to me thinking he was the right driver.” The team’s nominated second driver will rotate through out the season. Belgium Francois Duval will chase points for the team on the opening round in Monte Carlo. Henning Solberg is contesting all 15 rounds and is likely to be selected for points in Sweden and on several gravel rallies. Matthew Wilson also completes a full season and may be called upon on selected events after an impressive end to 2007. - Credit: www.RallyStuff.Net
2008 Australian Rally Championship calendar update Rallycorp last week announced a rearrangement of the 2008 Australian Rally Championship calendar. The new calendar will see the current first round, coates Rally Queensland move to late June in order to condense the previously released calendar which left a two month gap between rounds three and four.
The move will see coates Rally Queensland return to it’s traditional ARC date in the middle of the year, and will ensure the roads are in peak condition following the heavy rain falling in South Eastern Queensland at the present time. Rallycorp believes that moving the start of the season back from the date originally scheduled for the beginning of March will have long term benefits for the television production, series stakeholders and the Championship itself. “Strategically, moving coates Rally Queensland to late June will condense the championship into a tighter timeframe for the benefit of sponsors and competitors” said Rallycorp Chairman Steve Ashton. While the change was made at Rallycorp’s request the new date has been welcomed by coates Rally Queensland event organiser Errol Bailey, major sponsor coates and supporting sponsors – Maroochy Tourism, Pacific Ford and Surfair Resort. “June is certainly the ideal time for any major rally in Queensland, the roads will be in great condition and the climate will provide a great escape for the crews from Australia’s eastern states,” said Bailey. Alongside the ARC component, coates Rally Queensland will include a round of the City Subaru Qld Rally Championship and sub-events for Classic, Clubman, Pocket Rocket and Excel series vehicles. As well as a new date, the 2008 coates Rally Queensland will see the traditional ceremonial start move from its previous base on the Coolum esplanade and combine with the second running of the Pacific Ford Shootout at the Maroochy Showgrounds in Nambour on Friday night 20 June. “The new start is going to be a huge spectacle showcasing the best in Australian rallying and is a great opportunity for fans to see the cars up close before they head out into the forest,” said Bailey. The change means the West Australian round of the Championship, the QUIT Forest Rally, will open the national series for the first time since 2004. Western Australia previously hosted Rally Australia from 1988 to 2006. 2008 Australian Rally Championship Calendar: Rd 1. QUIT Forest Rally - 5 – 6 April Rd 2. Rally of Canberra - 10 – 11 May Rd 3. coates Rally Queensland - 21 – 22 June Rd 4. Toyota Rally SA - 26 – 27 July Rd 5. Great Lakes Rally - 20 – 21 September Rd 6. NGK Rally of Melbourne - 18 – 19 October - Credit: www.RallyStuff.Net
2008 World Rally Championship calendar detailed
Round One: January 24 to 27 - 76th Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo Round Two: February 8 to 10 - Uddeholm Swedish Rally Round Three: February 28 to 2 March - Rally Mexico Round Four: March 27 to 30 - Rally Argentina Round Five: April 24 to 27 - Jordan Rally WRC Round Six: May 16 to 18 - Rallye d’Italia-Sardegna Round Seven: May 29 to 1 June - BP Ultimate Acropolis Rally Round Eight: June 13 to 15 - Rally of Turkey Round Nine: July 31 to 3 August - Neste Oil Rally Finland Round Ten: August 15 to 17 - ADAC Rallye Deutschland Round Eleven: August 28 to 31 - Rally of New Zealand Round Twelve: October 2 to 5 - Rallye de España Round Thirteen: October 10 to 12 - Rallye de France Tour de Corse Round Fourteen: October 24 to 26 - Rally Japan Round Fifteen: November 28 to 30 - Wales Rally GB
IRC Safari Rally dropped from 2008 calendar
Images: www.rally-irc.com In view of the political difficulties in Kenya recently, it is with extreme regret that the organisers of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge have decided not to include the Safari Rally on the IRC calendar this year. The Safari Rally will, however, remain part of the African Rally Championship and will run as scheduled from March 21-23. Jacques Behar, the President of IRC series promoter Eurosport Events commented: “After a great deal of careful consideration, we have decided that we have no choice but to omit the Safari Rally from the calendar this year. I feel very sorry for the event organisers, who have put in so much work to make the rally a success, and we look forward to welcoming the Safari back onto the IRC calendar in 2009 if the political situation has stabilised. The Safari Rally remains an icon of world motorsport, but the safety of our competitors will always be our primary concern. Our decision not to include the Safari Rally this year is no reflection on the event organisers, who are the unfortunate victims of political circumstances.” The Safari Rally will be given “IRC Supporter Event” status this year, prior to its expected return to the full series in 2009. The possibility of replacing the Safari’s slot on the IRC calendar with another event in April is currently being considered, with further details to follow. - Credit: www.rally-irc.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT unveils new livery for 2008
Ford of Europe last week revealed the exciting new look for its 2008 FIA World Rally Championship campaign as the team was unveiled at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham, England. The Focus RS World Rally Car, which powered Ford to the manufacturers’ world title in both 2006 and 2007, sports a striking modern livery that took centre stage at Europe’s largest annual motorsport exhibition. It was also announced that the squad will be named the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team for 2008. The team’s new driver line-up of Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala were joined by Ford of Europe’s new motorsport director, Mark Deans, and team director Malcolm Wilson as they revealed the Focus RS WRC’s colour scheme for the first time. “The Focus RS WRC has a new, contemporary livery which blends perfectly with the outlook of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team,” explained Deans. “This is our first full season in partnership with BP and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and their importance to our WRC programme is reflected in the team’s new name and their prominence on the car. “Of course, there is far more to a successful WRC campaign than the colour of the car and the name of the team. But in the few weeks since I took up my new role as motorsport director I have seen enough to convince me that we are again capable of being fully competitive in 2008. We have a dynamic, young driver line-up supported by one of the most enthusiastic and hard-working teams in motorsport at M-Sport and I look forward to a year that I’m confident will be a successful one,” he added. Deans also sprung a surprise on Wilson, presenting him with a replica of the 2007 FIA World Rally Championship’s manufacturers’ trophy on behalf of Ford of Europe. “That was a fantastic gesture and one that I really appreciated,” said Wilson. “It brought back the memories of what a remarkable year 2007 was for Ford in the WRC. “But that is history and we’re now fully focused on the 2008 season. In Mikko and Jari-Matti we have two young drivers who are hungry for competition but also have experience that belies their years and I’m looking forward to watching them develop further during the season. Abu Dhabi’s Khalid Al Qassimi has a comprehensive programme of 10 events in a third Focus RS WRC and I hope to see him gain further in both experience and confidence during the year,” added Wilson. - Credit: BP Ford WRT.
New livery for Suzuki Sport WRC 2008
Suzuki Sport, newcomers to the top echelon of rallying, recently presented to the world their new livery for 2008. With a strong debut in the last rounds of the WRC 2007 championship, Suzuki Sport enters this season on a high. In the much same way they led from the front in the J-WRC over the past few championships, I feel this team is one to keep a close eye on. The Japanese team will use this year as a learning curve, but they will be looking to fight for rally victories early on. Good luck, Suzuki Sport!
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 email@example.com.
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Past WRC Master: Bjorn Waldegard
Bjorn Waldegard (born November 12, 1943) is a Swedish rally driver, and the winner of the inaugural World Rally Championship for drivers in 1979. Waldegard’s career spans some thirty years: he debuted in the sport in 1962, won his first championship in 1967 (the Swedish Rally Championship) and defended his title in 1968, he went on to compete at the very top level of international rallying until his retirement from the sport in 1992. His first international rally victory, which was achieved behind the wheel of a Porsche 911, came on the 1969 Monte Carlo Rally, while his last win came for Toyota on the 1990 WRC Safari Rally. This achievement made him the oldest driver to win a World Rally Championship event, a record he still retains. The Alitalia-backed Lancia team of the 1970s frequently chose between star drivers Waldegard and Italian frontrunner Sandro Munari. Waldegard and Munari came head-to-head in the 1976 WRC Rally Sanremo. Waldegard had a four-second cushion over Munari entering the final stage, only to be forced to squander that advantage in keeping with the team’s hopes for an “equal” shootout. Waldegard, however, emerged as victor by four seconds having disobeyed team orders and overtaken Munari – as a result, Waldegard left Lancia and joined Ford in late 1976. This displays his fiery temperment and his will to be the best! Driving Ford Escort models, Waldegard won three of the world’s most punishing rallies in 1977: the East African Safari Rally, the Acropolis Rally, and the RAC Rally. He was later victor in the inaugural World Rally Championship series in 1979 for Ford and Mercedes-Benz, beating Hannu Mikkola in the final round at the Rallye Cote d’Ivoire in the Ivory Coast, by finishing second behind his rival. Nationality: Swedish Active years: 1973 - 1992 Teams: Lancia, Ford, Toyota World rallies: 95 Championships: 1 (1979) Wins: 16 Podium finishes: 35 Stage wins: 217 Points: 428 First world rally: 1973 Monte Carlo Rally First win: 1975 Swedish Rally Last win: 1990 Safari Rally Last world rally: 1992 Safari Rally
This week’s favourite rally car: 1981 Opel Ascona B i400
Opel never made a serious attempt at claiming a WRC title more so than with the Ascona B i400 rally car. Built in 1980 the Opel Ascona took German Rally Champion Walter Rohrl to event victories in the World Rally Championship. The Ascona rally project was developed alongside the company’s Manta B i400 model, with the assistance of Cosworth and Irmscher as partners for Opel’s WRC programme. With the Ascona rally car, Opel was aiming to dethrone the Ford Escort RS and Fiat’s 131 Abarth from the top of the WRC log. Powered by a meaty 2,4-litre engine, rather than a 2,0-litre mill, the Ascona was an otherwise conventional front-engined RWD layout model in the same vein as the Ford Escort RS and Fiat 131 Abarth. The Ascona showed its rally winning form in just its second ever WRC event, the 1980 WRC Rally Sweden. Opel still did not commit to a full season in WRC, but participated in selected events from its WRC debut in 1980 to 1982. 1982 is the year the Group B rally cars appeared and forever changed the scene of rallying, bringing an abrupt end to cars such as the Ford Escort RS, Fiat’s 131 Abarth and the Ascona rally car. In 1984 the Audi Quattro was more powerful than ever and the Ascona i400 was rendered obsolete. But the Ascona B i400 was still able to rack up a remarkable record: the Ascona B i400 was the last rear wheel drive rallycar to win a Rally World Championship, ensuring its place in the motorsports book of history. Activity: 1980-1983 255 BHP @ 7 000 RPM 290 Nm @ 5 000 RPM Length/Width/Height: 4320/1664/1360 Weight: 1050 Kg RWD 2420cc Engine Capacity
Behind the Scenes: Driver-to-team communications
On a rally when the drivers leave the service park for the stage loops it is imperative that they are able to communicate with their engineers and key team personnel at all times. In order to facilitate this, the team incorporates a raft of communications equipment into each Impreza WRC2007, including VHF radio, mobile phones and satellite phones, and the engineers share the same technology back in the service park. Very High Frequency (VHF) radio: Team coordinator, Ken Rees, is the man in change of VHF radio communication with the drivers. He uses the radio to transmit non-confidential information to each rally car such as split times, event information and service times. The drivers will report their stage times to Ken when they finish each test, or communicate any problems. Each WRC team is allocated a specific radio frequency for each rally by the FIA, but as each is made public to all teams, the system is certainly not confidential. Ordinarily the radios have a 5-6 mile line-of-sight range but this is increased by the use of a repeater unit carried in a plane above the rally, bouncing the signal over twice the distance. This system is also used to send text messages of up to 14 characters from a laptop computer in the service park to a display screen in the car, located in the co-driver’s footwell. Radio silence is observed once a stage has started, but Ken uses the data system to keep the co-drivers updated with competitors’ live split times. Mobile/satellite phones: “The confidential nature of most communication between drivers and their engineers typically means we use a standard tri-band mobile phone, but this can be limited by the quality of the network coverage, especially in the more remote areas” explains Nick Chalkley, the team’s senior electrical technician. “On rallies such as Argentina or Japan, signal can be very poor, in which case a satellite phone will be used instead. “With a great deal of background noise in service areas, we connect the engineers’ phones to noise cancelling headsets, each complete with a microphone. The drivers use the same setup in the car, and it makes communication far more efficient. A signal splitter in the service area allows technicians or management to plug in to the conversation making it possible to hold conference calls with the right people as necessary.” - Credit: www.swrt.com
New Car Road Test: Audi S3
Give a German a spanner, a hammer, a screwdriver and a few sheets of metal and he will produce for you an amazing car. Look in the history books, for youâ€™ll see this too: Volkswagen Golf Mk 1GTI, Audiâ€™s potent R8, BMWs array of great sedans and Mercedes-Benz produces some of the finest executive luxury sedans in the world, while Porsche builds sports cars that defy all reason and logic in their beauty and performance. Yes, the Germans are master car craftsmen says Evan Rothman. With a proud and illustrious motoring heritage, the German motor industry also has a bright future. New cars are being launched each week, new models being created and developed on a daily basis, there will be more and more sublime German motor vehicle products on our roads in the future than there ever was. This makes buying a new car all the trickier for us consumers, as we have to keep abreast with the latest developments in the industry if we would like to buy the best possible car for our hard-earned cash. Hopefully making your task that little bit easier as a consumer is thanks to Audi, for they recently launched their latest S-badged monster named the S3. Those German engineers in white coats did an excellent job in creating a high-performance hot hatch with the mighty S3. Put together with the latest and greatest components and lightweight materials, jam-packed with luxury and safety features, the S3 is a true driverâ€™s tool. It may look sedate and understated, but does this Audi scream! I was fortunate enough to test this beast recently, and was bowled over by its amazing driving dynamics. Manual gearbox, quattro
all-wheel drive, a meaty 188kW 2,0 Turbo powerplant mated to direct and responsive steering makes the S3 feel most at home in set of fast-flowing and twisting bends… Made from at least a dozen cow hides the leather interior of this Audi is a wonderful place to find yourself swathed in. Audi is famous for creating intelligent interiors, for crafting dashboards that showcase the company’s principles of cutting-edge engineering innovation and design excellence. To me, the subtle detailing of the interior beautifully rounds off the overall styling package. Sitting oh-so-tight and comfortably in a leather Recaro sports seat I felt immediately bonded with the road surface and the car beneath me. After a few tentative prods of the accelerator, and then building confidence in the car’s astounding ability, the Audi does not fail to impress. Work the short and stubby six-speed gear lever hard through the gates, with subtle steering inputs and planting your right foot brutishly on the accelerator, will reward you with an adrenalin rush second to none. The Audi S3 is quite capable of sprinting from standstill to 100km/h in a very brisk 5,9 seconds, and if you own a deserted airport runway, to reach a top whack of 250km/h (electronically governed). It is not on paper, however, that one gets a feeling for the essence of this special Audi - that can only be reached once you have driven the car, parked it and sat down to have a think about it. The clean, neat and sophisticated styling of the S3 matched to those explosive performance characteristics will leave you too in wonder. I think those German folks outdid themselves with this hot hatch! The chassis has been honed to deliver a driving experience par excellence, to give the driver the needed confidence to take the car by the scruff of its neck to extract the most out of it. But, that is if you have ability to match! The S3 is more car than you’ll ever need: to drive fast is easy with its amazing engine, to corner like a racing pro also looks easier thanks to its high levels of grip (from its quattro all-wheel drive), yet it is also as happy to idle along in peak hour traffic with a load of shopping in the boot. It is a car I would be fantastically happy to park in my drive permanently. And, for R336 500 it can be yours. The price includes a one-year/unlimited kilometres warranty and a Audi Freeway five-year maintenance plan as standard.