handbrakes &hairpins issue 21
Profile: Guy Frequelin
MG Metro 6R4
Rally Sweden Action
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WRC Rally Sweden Review: Young Guns
Image: RallyStuff.Net Written by Evan Rothman The WRC Rally Sweden proved to be as thrilling, and as surprising, as many rally fans and competitors alike were hoping. This the second round of the World Rally Championship was held in unseasonably warm weather this past weekend. The relatively high temperature (averaging between 0 - 2 deg Celsius) melted the snow and ice on the gravel roads, and leaving a sludge of mud and snow to challenge the drivers’. The unique Pirelli SottoZero studded tyres were not able to perform at the best, leaving the drivers’ to tread carefully through the stages. With a recipe for an interesting drivers’ rally promised, with the Scandinavian drivers hoping to all beat Sebastien Loeb on their home event, the tone of the rally was set. However, no one would predict that top drivers would fall victim to the treacherous conditions early on in the rally… Sebastien Loeb (Citroen Total World Rally Team) rolled his Citroen C4 WRC on SS4 on Day One. Spectators rolled his car back onto its four wheels, and in his struggle to get back onto the road Loeb damaged its clutch. He retired from the rally at this point, and restarted Day Two under the SupeRally rules. The damage to his clutch proved terminal as he was forced to withdraw from the rest of the rally, scoring zero points in this event and opening the door to the rest of the WRC drivers to earn valuable points early in the season. WRC Rally Sweden was won by Jari-Matti Latvala and Miika Anttila in their Ford Focus RS WRC07. He started the event off strongly, sending out his intentions to the rest of the drivers that he was going to the one to catch for the win. He remained at the head of the leader board throughout the rally, and secured his win on Day Three. His victory makes him the youngest driver in WRC history to ever have won an event - he is only 22 years and 313 days old! More remarkably is that this is only his second appearance on the WRC podium… and it will most certainly not be his last.
“I couldn’t have dreamed I could win on only my second event in a works team, especially after such a disappointing start to the year in Monte Carlo last month. I can’t really find the words to describe my feelings. I never thought I would win this weekend. I started the rally so well and made no mistakes so I was able to control my speed. I felt comfortable in the car all weekend and the whole team has a reason to celebrate,” Latvala said. As they returned to the team’s service park at the end of the rally, Latvala and co-driver Anttila were greeted by fellow countryman and double world champion Marcus Grönholm, the man they replaced in the BP Ford Abu Dhabi line-up this season following his retirement. “This is an incredible day for Jari-Matti and one he will never forget,” said Grönholm. “He
Image: RallyStuff.Net is part of rallying’s new generation, and he and Mikko have great futures to look forward to in the sport.” Team-mates, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarno Lehtinen, drove a sensible rally to finish in second place overall in their Ford Focus RS WRC07. Hirvonen realised early on in the rally that he was not able to match Latvala’s pace, so he went about consolidating his spot on the podium. In doing so helped the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team to score 18 valuable points for their WRC Manufacturers’ challenge. “Jari-Matti and I may be two young lads in the Ford team but we proved that we can still take a 1-2 finish and showed how strong the team is,” said Hirvonen. “I came here to win but Jari-Matti made it clear on Friday that he was the man of the rally so I had to settle for second. My consolation is that I’ve never led the championship before. I’m sure I will have more battles with Jari-Matti. I was frustrated I couldn’t find a rhythm on Friday but then I eased my pace because I wanted to make sure of the points. I’ve always said that if I can’t win this year, I must finish second and that’s what I did.” For Ford, Sweden proved dream-like as Gigi Galli (Stobart VK M-Sport Rally Team) claimed the final position on the podium, giving the manufacturer a clean sweep of the top three positions. Galli battled Henning Solberg throughout the event for third, but the Norwegian driver suffered an “off” and was only able to recover to finish the event in 13th place gifting third place to Galli. This event marks Galli’s second visit ever to the podium in his WRC career, and highlights the Stobart team’s wisdom in signing this Italian rally driver to their team. The Subaru World Rally Team are riding on a crest of a wave at present as both their drivers finished in the points in last month’s WRC Rally Monte Carlo, and in Sweden Petter Solberg added to the team’s points tally by adding five more points for his fourth place finish. Solberg logged problems with the handling of his car in this event, but he persevered to push for a strong result for his team. Development of the Subaru Impreza WRC2007 has been frozen for the team is ploughing all their resources into preparing the new 2008 car. This makes every points scoring result with the outgoing Impreza WRC car even more impressive and valu-
able for the team. “We just drove today to finish the event and collect some more points, for us and the team. There was nothing special today and I’m pleased with fourth” said Petter Solberg. “Everyone at the front backed off today I think and we weren’t fighting for position so we didn’t take any risks. The stages were bad again today, and we pretty much ran them all on gravel. I felt the balance of the car in these conditions was better this morning than yesterday, but we had no reason to push today.” Andreas Mikkelsen, a privateer in a Ford Focus RS WRC, fought long and hard for his fifth place. It was his best-ever WRC result to date. Mikkelsen battled with Matthew Wilson (Stobart VK M-Sport Rally Team), but Mikkelsen was rewarded with the place and its valuable four points after Wilson was forced to retire on the penultimate stage of the rally with throttle problems. With Loeb out of the event, Dani Sordo was left to fly the Citroen Total World Rally Team’s flag. However, he too did not have a trouble-free run in the WRC Rally Sweden either. Before the start of the event he had to change his engine, and with the new regulations this season he was given a five minute time penalty. The Spaniard drove hard from the back of the field to finish in a commendable sixth place overall to score three points for himself and the team. “It’s not much fun competing in conditions like this. The stages were even more treacherous than usual,” summed up Dani Sordo. “You just couldn’t tell what the surface would be like through the next corner. On today’s six scheduled tests, for example, there was more dirt than ice.” “Even so, I have to say I am pleased with our run,” added the Spaniard. “Replacing our engine before the start meant we carried a five-minute penalty even before we drove off the start ramp! I consequently began by bedding myself in before gradually upping my pace. My pacenotes were better than last year and I felt increasingly confident. I was no doubt helped by the lack of real wintry conditions, but our car performed impeccably, too, and I managed to work my way up the leaderboard to finish sixth, which brings Citroën a few points. I also feel more comfortable in these slippery conditions and our Pirelli SottoZero tyres worked well despite the delicate task they faced. It was a good weekend, but I’m now very much looking forward to Mexico!” Giving the Suzuki WRC Team their best result to date was Toni Gardemeister with his seventh place overall. His Suzuki SX4 performed faultlessly throughout the gruelling event. His team-mate, P.G. Andersson retired from the rally, his home event, with an unfortunate head gasket failure. Taking the final points scoring position was Production WRC (P-WRC) competitor Juho Hanninen in his Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. He also walked home with overall victory in this the first round of the P-WRC championship. Chris Atkinson, in his Subaru Impreza WRC, lost more than 15 minutes when he had an spin on Day One, and was unable to regain his composure in the event. He finished 21st overall. Khalid Al Qassimi (BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team) won the inaugural “Colin’s Crest” trophy for the biggest jump over the famous WRC Rally Sweden landmark. WRC Rally Sweden 2008 Final Results: 1) Latvala/Anttila (Ford Focus RS WRC07) = 2h 46min 41,2 sec 2) Hirvonen/Lehtinen (Ford Focus RS WRC07) = +58,3 sec (to 1st) 3) Galli/Bernacchini (Ford Focus RS WRC07) = +2min 23,2 sec 4) Solberg/Mills (Subaru Impreza WRC2007) = +2min 59,4 sec 5) Mikkelson/Floene (Ford Focus WRC) = +5min 46 sec 6) Sordo/Marti (Citroen C4 WRC) = +7min 13,1 sec 7) Gardemeister/Tuominen (Suzuki SX4) = +10min 35,3 sec 8) Hanninen/Markkula (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) = +12min 27,5 sec
NEXT EVENT: WRC RALLY MEXICO
This is the first proper gravel rally of the season! Loeb will be looking to reassert his skills on this rally, and hope to recapture the WRC Drivers’ title lead. The event starts on Thursday 28 March and ends on Sunday 2 March. Don’t miss it!
Drivers’ Points 1) M. Hirvonen - 16 pts 2) S. Loeb - 10 pts = Latvala - 10 pts 4) P. Solberg - 9 pts = G. Galli - 9 pts 6) C. Atkinson - 6 pts 7) F. Duval - 5 pts 8) A. Mikkelsen - 4 pts
LEADERBOARD Manufacturers’ Points 1) BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT- 26pts 2) Subaru WRT- 16 pts = Stobart VK M-Sport WRT- 16 pts 4) Citroen Total WRT- 15pts 5) Suzuki Sport WRT - 5 pts
P-WRC Rally Sweden Review: Round One
Image: RallyStuff.Net It was no surprise that a Scandinavian driver won the WRC Rally Sweden, and all Swedish rally fans were cheering for a similar victory in the P-WRC Rally Sweden. Juho Hanninen and co-driver Mikko Markkula (Mitsubishi) proved to be the team to beat on this event, as they took top honours after driving a confident and faultless rally. It was also the pairing’s first P-WRC victory, and not their last this season either. “I’m happy with the result,” said Hanninen. “I took the speed off today as we had quite a big gap and there were big rocks so I wanted to avoid a puncture. It’s been a long day but after what happened last year I’m not celebrating until after scrutineering. After last year’s disappointment this is a really good start to the season.” Second place went to Jari Ketomaa (driving a Subaru), also on their debut P-WRC debut. Ketomaa finished some 1 min 23,2 seconds adrift of rally winner Hanninen. Patrick Sandell powered his S2000 Peugeot to third place overall, and proved that S2000-spec cars will be a force to be reckoned with this season. Martin Prokop (Mitsubishi) finished fourth, losing out on a podium position on the last stage of the event. Ketomaa held the rally lead from the start flag, but was reeled in by Sandell after the former J-WRC champion won three consecutive stages to open a 16-second lead. According to Sandell, the Peugeot 207 S2000 was able to keep pace with the leading Group N cars on the straights, but that the S2000 was faster in the twisty sections. Hanninen challenged Sandell for the lead, and this battle lasted until Sandell hit a snowbank on SS11. This accident cost Sandell two and half minutes, and dropped him to fourth place overall. Hanninen was then able to settle into a comfortable pace at the front of the field. Sandell, meanwhile, leap frogged over Prokop for third place on the final day of the rally. “I would like to have won here but I am very happy with second on my first P-WRC rally,” said Ketomaa. “WRC rallies are much longer than I am used to - probably three times the length of rallies in the Finnish championship - so I’m learning how to take care of everything better to make it last longer.” Despite losing the P-WRC lead when he went off on SS11, Sandell was delighted with his third place. “I am so happy that this feels like a victory! My co-driver Emil [Axelsson] and I were talking about all of our good rallies and this feels better than all the others,” said Sandell. “The car is fantastic and even though we are missing a little power at the top end we will have the 2008 engine for Argentina so I’m looking forward to seeing how much better it is then. When we started here we hoped for a top three finish which we achieved but we never thought we would also be fighting for a win so that was a bonus. This is more than Peugeot Sweden and France could have hoped for,” he added. - Credit: www.wrc.com.
Fuel Stop: News Briefs Asia Pacific Rally Championship news update The Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) is now firmy established as one of the premier regional championships in World Rallying. The quality of events and the level of competition continues to go from strength to strength. Taking place in one of the most diverse regions of the world, in a climate of rapidly expanding economies, the FIA APRC continues to attract drivers and teams from across the world. Some of the best Gp N drivers in the world feature in this exciting and exacting championship, where television audiences around the world are measured in hundreds of millions. Each of the seven events of 2008 APRC has its own unique characteristics, adding to the allure of rallying in this part of the world. From the dust and dirt of Canberra, to the tropical paradise of New Caledonia, to the wintery conditions of Whangarei, to the home of Group N rallying in Japan, to the steaming jungles and plantations of Malaysia and Indonesia, to the majesty of China, APRC offers each and every participant something to savour. With its diversity of climate, topography, culture, language, cuisine and history, APRC is truly a regional championship offering the very best of what this region has to offer. APRC 2008 will feature seven events on the calendar, Noumea (New Caledonia), Canberra (Australia), Whangarei (New Zealand), Obihiro (Japan), Makassar (Indonesia), Johor (Malaysia) and Longyou (China). A major change for 2008 is the introduction of the Asia and Pacific Cups. This provides an opportunity for competitors to get a “taste” of international rallying, without the need to commit to the full APRC. Each Cup will comprise 3 events (3 of 3 in Pacific – 3 of 4 in Asia). APRC is primarily a Group N championship, in that the favoured cars are the current world leaders in Group N rally technology. Subaru and Mitsubishi will be well represented in the series in 2008. In 2007, Subaru were the recipients of the manufacturers trophy, while the Motor Image Rally Team supported Australian driver Cody Crocker won the drivers’ title with his co-driver Ben Atkinson taking the co-driver honours. The championship runs under similar competition format to the FIA World Rally Championship and is subject to regulations as laid down by the FIA. These include the FIA International Sporting Code, the FIA General Prescriptions (Rally) and the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship Regulations which are specific to the APRC. Most events follow the FIA format of a central service area with “cloverleaf” legs over 2 or 3 days. Parc Ferme’s are established at end of each leg or day. Vehicle eligibility is open to Production cars (Group N), Touring Cars (Group A5, A6, A7) but excludes World Rally Cars and Group A8 cars. Super 1600 and Super 2000 cars are also eligible to compete. Each class has a driver and co-driver award along with an overall manufacturer trophy. Points scoring is based on finishing order in each round to calculate overall points, using the same formula as for World Rally Championship. (10,8,6,5,4,3,2,1)In addition to this, points are awarded for each leg of each event for the first 3 place getters, 1st (3), 2nd (2), 3rd (1). This is known as SUPERally and allows for non-finishing competitors from the 1st leg to restart the 2nd and any subsequent legs. Points are awarded for each of the Cups on the same basis as the full APRC. - Credit: FIA APRC Media. The Asia Pacific Rally Championship calendar for 2008: Round 1) 12 - 13 April: Rally de Nouvelle (Caledonia) Round 3) 07 - 08 June: Rally of Whagarei (New Zealand) Round 5) 22 - 24 August: Rally Indonesia - Makasar (Indonesia) Round 7) 08 - 09 November: Rally China (China)
Round 2) 10 - 11 May: Rally of Canberra (Australia) Round 4) 11 - 13 July: Rally Hokkaido (Japan) Round 6) 11 - 12 October: Rally Malaysia (Malaysia)
South African Regional Rally calendars detailed
KwaZulu-Natal Rallies and Rallysprints: 1) 09 February - Rallysprint 2) 07 - 08 March - Hitachi Tour 3) 26 April - Rallysprint 4) 07 June - Rallysprint 5) 23 August - Rallysprint 6) 27 September - Rally 7) 25 October - Rallysprint 8) 15 November - Rally
SAHRA Special Stage Rallies: 1) 16 February - Belfast Rally 2) 15 March - SCC East Rand Rally 3) 19 April - PMC Rally 4) 17 May - Tzaneen Rally 5) 21 June - SAM Rally 6) 02 August - HMC Witbank Rally 7) 30 August - TMCC Bapsfontein Rally 8) 04 October - SCC Pretoria Rally 9) 25 October -SAHRA Rally
Total Western Cape Regional Rallies 1) 16 February - Bredasdorp Rally 2) 17 May - Ceres Rally 3) 04 - 05 April - Toyota Dealer Rally 4) 14 June - Barloworld Rally 5) 20 July - All Tar Rally 6) 20 September - Total Swartland Rally 7) 04 October - Blue Crane Rally
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s favourite WRC car: MG Metro 6R4 Austin Rover, the small British motor manufacturing firm, in 1981 were in the centre of a period of transformation, of rejuvenation of their product range and of their future models. Austin Rover’s motorsport chief John Davenport pounced on this period of renewed interest in the brand, he sought to enter the world of rallying. Using the under-estimated Ford Escort RS1700T as his framework for a new rally car, he believed that the Ford employed the characteristics of a successful rally car: front-mounted engine and a rear-wheel drive transmission package. With the move only starting towards 4WD, Davenport decided to implement a four-wheel drive transmission into his envisioned rally car. Davenport linked up energies with Patrick Head, who at the time was a Williams F1 engineer, to work on designing a rally car. Davenport and Head both settled on using the MG Metro as the base for the new rally car. Head proposed a new direction for the project: in order to reach and maintain the ideal balance for the car, Head suggested mounting the engine in the rear of the car. Davenport and the Austin Rover board members gave this concept the green light, and six months later Head and the Williams’ F1 engineering team presented Davenport with three prototypes they could rally. A new chassis was built for the MG Metro (it was crafted into a tubular chassis), Williams’ designed a new gearbox, sourced the differentials from 4WD experts Ferguson, with a Rover V6 in the in the rear. From a kit-form, the new rally car was first assembled and then tested. According to Austin Rover records, for the purposes of comparison the new rally car was tested against a Group A-spec Rover 3500 and an Audi Quattro. In the early stages of development, it was clear that the MG Metro was competitive even though with its somewhat underpowered 240 bhp motor. In 1983, the team embarked on finding a suitably powerful motor, one that could compete evenly with the likes of the Audis. A Honda V6 (which was due to appear in the Rover 800) was considered, but Patrick Head wanted a lighter and more compact motor for the rally car. Finally, a V6 version of the Rover V8 was used, after being extensively reworked and fettled by Austin Rover’s development engineer Cliff Humphreys. The MG Metro 6R4 (which stands for 6-cylinder, Rear engine, 4-wheel drive) made its public debut at the end of February of 1984. The rest of 1984 was used for finalising the development of the Metro. At the end of 1985 the MG Metro 6R4 project development was completed. The engine, a 3,0-litre V6, pumped out 410 bhp at 9 000rpm, and this figure was improved upon as the car entered the 1986 World Rally Championship. Autocar magazine had managed to sneak a test of this new awesome rally car. They tacked their performance equipment to the car, and had the following interesting figures as results: 0 - 30 mph 0 - 50 mph 0 - 70 mph 0 - 90 mph
= 1,2 sec = 2,4 sec = 4,0 sec = 6,5 sec
0 - 40 mph 0 - 60 mph 0 - 80 mph 0 - 100 mph
= 1,7 sec = 3,2 sec = 5,2 sec = 8,2 sec
With the potential to shake up the World Rally Championship, the MG Metro 6R4 was poised for success. Unfortunately, this was not to be. Henri Toivinen was involved in a fatal accident when his car crashed down a cliff in the 1986 WRC Rally Corsica. FISA immediately ruled that the Group B rally cars were simply too fast, and therefore too dangerous to drive, and banned them from competition from the end of that season. This resulted in the early retirement of the promising MG Metro 6R4 rally car.
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Past WRC Master: Guy Frequelin
Guy Frequelin was not only a successful rally driver and co-driver, but he proved his masterful skills as a team principal for the Citroen Total World Rally Team to help the French motor manufacturer to four consecutive World Championship titles until his retirement at the end of last year.
Born on 2 April 1945 at Langres, France, notched up impressive rallying and sports car accolades. In 1981, in what is perhaps his finest rallying achievement as a driver he finished runner-up in the 1981 WRC title chase, narrowly losing to Ari Vatanen. It was in this same year too that he won his only WRC event, the WRC Rally Argentina. His motorsport career then took a turn to the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans races. In 1977 he was part of a four-car Renault team, which included the drivers Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Jacques Lafitte, Patrick Tambay, Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, Rene Arnoux and Didier Pironi and Derek Bell. Frequelin was named as the third driver to two cars that year, but neither cars were able to finish the race due to engine-related problems. Frequelin returned to take up the Le Mans challenge once more in 1981, this time paired with Roger Dorchy in a Peugeot. Again the car was forced out of the race as a result of engine maladies. Nationality: French His leadership and vision at the Citroen Total World Rally Team Active years: 1973 - 1987 made this team the most successful rally team in the history of Teams: Talbot, Opel the sport. He mentored Sebastian Loeb, oversaw the development World rallies: 35 of the Citroen Xsara WRC and C4 WRC to take World Rally Championships: 0 Championship crowns back to the head office in France. Guy Wins: 1 Frequelin brought the might of the Citroen back to the world, Podium finishes: 7 through his motorsport achievements. Stage wins: 35 Points: 150 First world rally: 1973 Tour de Corse First win: 1981 Rally Argentina Last win: Only 1 win in career as driver Last world rally: 1987 Rally Sanremo
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Focus: SA Rallying going same route as Europe
Images: Motorpics South African rallying could change radically in the next few years, as was the case with rallying in Europe. This is the opinion of Fernando Rueda of Cape Town who campaigns a Class N4 Team TOTAL Mitsubishi Lancer Evo in the SA National Rally Championship. Rueda, speaking from Cape Town said that it was highly likely that the South African National Rally Championship could only consist of the top class, Class S2000, and perhaps two more classes within the next few years. He said that the introduction of Class S2000 in South African Rallying has had a marked influence on the sport. He said that it is expected that Class S2000 will grow to nine cars this year. Next year one could easily see the addition of another five or six Class S2000 cars. Rueda said that it made a lot of financial sense for competitors to buy second hand Class S2000 cars from manufacturers, rather than spending much more money on developing cars in lower classes. He stated that Mitsubishi Motors was developing a S2000 car and if it were available for the 2009 season, he would buy one rather than continue in Class N4. He stated that the future of Class N4 was already in jeopardy. “It is common knowledge that Ford intends making a S2000 car available in South Africa next year. It is quite possible that there may be two Ford cars, one going to a current N4 competitor. Johnny Gemmel, Nicholas Ryan and Japie Van Niekerk, who have competed in N4 over the last few years have already changed to Class S2000”, Rueda said. “Class S2000 is already a popular class for manufacturers in Europe and Australia and it is quite possible that we could see more manufacturers entering the fray in South Africa”, he said. He was convinced that all of this would be good for the growth of the sport in the country and that the sport would become much more attractive to spectators who then see all of the top competitors in the country competing against each other in a fast and spectacular class. He added that it would also bring more sponsors to the sport since they would get better exposure by sponsoring cars in the top class. According to Rueda the two classes that could survive could be A6 and N3. “Class N3 would then become the entry class for newcomers on the national rally scene”, the former African Rally Driver’s Champion said. - Credit: SUPPLIED.