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handbrakes &hairpins issue 22


Profile: Henri Toivonen

Subaru Impreza 555

Driven: Subaru Tribeca 3,6R

this week:

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Fuel Stop: News Briefs Damseaux Honoured as Motor Sportsman of the Year


Serge Damseaux Honoured as Bridgestone/Guild Of Motoring Journalists Motor Sportsman Of the Year Serge Damseaux, 10 times South African rally champion, is the 2007 Bridgestone/Guild of Motoring Journalists Motor Sportsman of the Year. Damseaux retired from national championship rallying at the end of the 2007 season after a 24-year rally career which saw him accumulate a record 74 national championship victories. Three of these came in last year’s eight-round championship. Five other motor sportsmen were nominated for the prestigious award, which was first won in 1964 and has been sponsored by Bridgestone for the past 15 years. They were Wesleigh Orr, A1 Team South Africa’s rookie driver in the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport; Giniel de Villiers, South Africa’s foremost international cross-country rally competitor who led the 2007 Dakar Rally until an engine failure at the halfway mark; Arushen Moodley, the first South African of colour to win the national Superbike title; Hennie Groenewald, last year’s Wesbank V8 Supercars champion; and Hudson Kennaugh, the 2006 Superbike champion, who successfully competed in the British Superbike and Superstock championships in 2007. Winner of the Colin Watling Award for special achievement in motor sport by someone other than a competitor was Glyn Hall, leader of the Nissan Motorsport team who have distinguished themselves by winning 13 national motor sport championships in the past 12 years including the last seven off road championships. Also nominated for the Colin Watling Award were Denis Joubert, former chairman of the Western Province Motor Club, who promoted and administered motor racing in the Western Cape and has now retired after devoting virtually his entire working life to the WPMC and its circuit at Killarney; and the Kyalami Marshals’ Association, whose members not only voluntarily perform their duties at Kyalami but also at circuit races around the country. - Credit: SUPPLIED.

Image: Motorpics.

BRC Adopts WRC-style numbering

The Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship will adopt World Rally Championship style door and rear window numbers for 2008, the first time this style has been used in the UK outside the WRC. The move is intended to give competitors more space for their own advertising and has been welcomed by the events too. “We have been lobbying for this change for some years now,” said BRC manager Mark Taylor, “and we think it will please both competitors and events alike. The smaller door numbers allow a bigger area for both event and competitors’ sponsors, while moving the large numbers onto rear windows helps keep track of the cars more easily on the stages.” This style of numbering has been used in the WRC for several years now, so the rectangular style, positioned towards the top of the doors, should not be too difficult to get used to. The sizes will be as per FIA/WRC regulations to maintain parity between the championships. “All the BRC cars at the Autosport International show in January sported the new style plates and we had some positive comments during the show.” concluded Taylor. - Credit:


Skoda testing new Fabia S2000

Images: According to the leading World Rally Championship website,, Skoda has started testing the first protoype of it s S2000-spec Fabia rally car, which the website says would go on to compete in the Production World Rally Championship (P-WRC). The S2000 Fabia is based on the second generation Fabia, and is equipped with a 2,0-litre normally aspirated 4-cylinder petrol engine, a 6-speed sequential transmission and a four-wheel drive system with 3 mechanical differentials. Dr. Eckhard Scholz, head of Skoda’s technological development, said the date of the car’s first competitive outing hadn’t yet been decided: “This year we are planning to optimise and certify the vehicle so we can use it on both national and international levels. When exactly the vehicle will be released for competition use will depend on the achieved progress, relevant test results and the final certification.” Scholtz said the car would eventually be made available to rally customers. “We are also planning to offer the vehicle to private teams,” said Scholtz. “Based on a customer service arrangement, further development work on the vehicle will be done in close cooperation with our importers worldwide”. Although Skoda has said nothing about a works team return to the WRC, it remains close to the sport. Martin Lauer, head of corporate communications said: “Skoda’s history of over hundred years of involvement in motorsport is unique, and we are proud to be able to continue the success story with the Fabia Super 2000. We believe that the vehicle will become a successful part of this tradition, because car racing is popular all over the world and offers great opportunities to promote our products”. - Credit:

Mikkelsen’s also a record breaker, and future star!

On WRC Rally Sweden last week, Jari-Matti Latvala became the youngest ever WRC rally winner, at the age of 22 years and 313 days old. This impressive feat is all the more awe-inspiring in that it was alos his only second ever time on the podium.... That same weekend, rally fans would have noticed that Andreas Mikkelsen finished the event in fifth place overall. This young driver, who is being personally coached by the legendary Marcus Gronholm, also added his name ot the WRC record books as the youngest drvier to score points in a WRC event. He beat Matthew Wilson’s record set at the WRC Rally Argentina in 2006 when Wilson was nineteen and collected one point for his eighth position overall. Mikkelsen is only eighteen years old, and has finished in fifth place, also breaking his personal best record set in last year’s WRC Rally Ireland where he ended the event in ninth place. “On Sunday I had a great fight with Matthew and it was too bad he went off because it was a good battle and as well as being sad for him, I would have preferred to have fought to the end! When we saw he had retired we just turned down our pace and concentrated on improving our pace notes for returning here in 2010,” Mikkelsen said in an interview posted on - Credit:

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Glyn Hall honoured in motor sport awards

Glyn Hall, inspirational leader of Nissan Motorsport, is the winner of the Colin Watling Award for special achievement in motor sport by someone other than a competitor. Hall was honoured by the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists at the annual Bridgestone Motor Sportsman of the Year awards function in Johannesburg, on February 13. Last year Nissan won its seventh successive national off road championship and took its total for the past 12 years to 13 motor sport championships, an unprecedented run of successes that started with a Gp N championship win in 1996. In 2007, Hall’s team of three Nissan Navaras finished 1-2-3 in the Absa Off Road Championship for production vehicles, winning seven of the eight events and helping Nissan to win the manufacturers’ championship for the sixth time in seven years. Under Hall’s expert guidance Nissan Motorsport has designed, built and developed more than 20 Hardbody and Navara racing pickups since 2000, which have won races in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Morocco, Hungary, Portugal and Spain, and have competed with distinction in five Dakar Rallies. Eight were entered for the aborted 2008 Dakar and at least three of them were realistic candidates for a top-five result. Hall and navigator Martin Botha caused something of a shock in the 1990 national rally championship when they won overall in a class B semi-privateer VW Golf GTi against the might of the works four wheel drive class A cars. The final result went down to the very last event, when Hall and Botha pipped Nissan works driver Hannes Grobler and Piet Swanepoel in a four wheel drive Nissan Sentra. Grobler, who had won the 1986 championship in a Nissan Skyline, went on to win the 1991 championship in the Sentra. Hall retired from rallying at the end of the 1992 season and was appointed manager of Nissan Motorsport in 1993. An internationally renowned race engineer and car builder, he led the team to two national Gp N production car championships (in 1994 and 1996) and masterminded Nissan’s four-year domination of the national touring car championship, when Giniel de Villiers won the drivers’ championship in a Primera in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 and Nissan won the manufacturers’ award in each of the four years. Under Hall’s direction, Nissan has won the last seven national off road championships, with De Villiers (2001), Duncan Vos (2002 and 2007), Grobler (2003, 2004 and 2006) and Alfie Cox (2005), all driving Nissan Hardbody or Navara pickups developed and prepared in Nissan’s motor sport workshop. In 2006 Nissan won the Bridgestone production car championship with Leeroy Poulter in a Sasol 350Z. “We’re very proud of Nissan’s achievements in motor sport under the inspired direction of Glyn Hall,“ said Julio Panama, managing director of Nissan South Africa. “He thoroughly deserves his award from the Guild of Motoring Journalists. Motor sport is an important marketing tool for Nissan, and we remain committed to an active programme, as we have been since we first competed as Datsun way back in 1959. Next year will be our 50th year in South African motor sport.” - Credit: SUPPLIED.

Safari Rally in Kenya postponed

The organisers of the KCB Safari Rally have applied to the FIA to postpone their ARC Round to 27/28th June 2008. To facilitate this move due to the current political situation in the country. Kenya has requested the organisers of the Zambia Rally to move their event one week later to 25/27th July 2008. In a telephone conversation ZMSA has agreed to consider this move to help Kenya. - Credit:

Citroen C2R2 Cup boosted for BRC Charles Hurst and Citroen Sport have signed a deal which will see additional support for the UK Citroën C2R2 Cup, which runs exclusively in the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship. The C2R2 Cup now in its second year has already attracted a number of competitors and with the support of Charles Hurst Motors, Citroën Sport and new partners Total Oils, it will be a big step forward from 2007. As the UK official distributor of Citroën Sport competition parts, Charles Hurst Motors will again be providing on event management and the provision of parts and technical support though their division. In addition to the existing Rally 2 class BRC prize fund, which is paid out on each qualifying round of the Championship, registered C2R2 Cup finishers will share £1750 per event with £500 to the winner down to £100 for sixth place. The popular one make series is also augmented by the provision of matching awnings, ground sheets and crowd barriers to ensure the C2R2 “Village” is a Citroën focal point in the BRC service areas. “The additional support from Charles Hurst and Citroën Sport is very welcome indeed and it is fantastic for competitors and their teams, offering even more prize money and increased profile on each event.” said Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship Mark Taylor. The premise of a single make championship is to provide a level playing field for competitors but also to have an identifiable brand. Consequently each registered drive and co-driver will be required to wear Citroën Sport branded rally suits and carry C2R2 Cup championship decals on the cars.


IRC to host 2WD cup in 2008

Images: The IRC will host a two-wheel drive cup this season, in order to reward participants who choose to compete on the series in twowheel drive cars. This initiative has come about to provide greater recognition for manufacturers of two-wheel drive cars within the IRC series, some of whom already compete with a Super 2000 car. Nonetheless, two-wheel drive machinery has been able to fight on equal terms with four-wheel drive cars on several occasions throughout the season last year. The two-wheel drive competitors have been particularly strong on asphalt, with Luca Betti finishing fifth overall on the Rallye du Valais in Switzerland at the wheel of the Honda Civic Type R R3. Two-wheel drive cars make up a sizeable proportion of the entry list on the majority of IRC events, regularly finishing in the points. Jacques Behar – the President of IRC series promoter Eurosport Events – commented: “The decision to host the ‘IRC 2WD Cup’ this year follows on from the requests of several of our competitors. We are extremely happy to oblige, in line with our philosophy of putting our participants first and maximising sporting opportunities for everybody. The ‘IRC 2WD Cup’ will become a prestigious competition within the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, rightly recognising the efforts of those teams and drivers who compete in two-wheel drive cars – whether they are private entries or manufacturer-backed squads. The establishment of the new Cup is sure to add yet another thrilling dimension to the IRC this year.” The latest IRC sporting regulations are now online at, containing full details of the ‘IRC 2WD Cup’. At the end of every event, a classification of the two-wheel drive runners will be drawn up from the general classification and the standard FIA points system (10-8-6-5- 4-3-2-1) will be applied for drivers, co-drivers and manufacturers. This will lead to a two-wheel drive overall classification at the end of the year, the winners of which will receive the ‘IRC 2WD Cup’. Prizes will also be presented to those finishing second and third in the two-wheel drive classifications. The ‘IRC 2WD Cup’ will operate on all 10 rounds of the IRC this year, with the best seven scores from every competitor counting towards the final classification – as is the case in the main IRC series. The two-wheel drive prizes will be presented at the end of every event, with the Cup itself being awarded at the official end of year IRC prize-giving ceremony. - Credit:

Raymond Moore from Charles Hurst commented, “We have been working hard over the closed season to find additional support . Citroën Sport have been very supportive introducing a number of initiatives. Together with support from Total Oils, we can boast a good cash prize fund and end of season prizes.” The overall prize for the C2R2 Cup winner at the end of six qualifying rounds of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship will be a place at the Citroën Sport shootout to decide a supported drive on a round of the 2009 Junior World Rally Championship. All C2R2 Cup competitors are automatically eligible for selection to the Pirelli Star Driver competition. In addition, the highest placed Junior driver will also be entered in the BRC’s Pirelli Star Driver shootout offering a chance to win a fully funded drive in the 2009 British Rally Championship. - Credit:

Suzuki vehicles return to South Africa

Suzuki Motor Corporation of Japan last week announced that their range of automobiles will again be available on the South African market as of June 2008. To this end, they have appointed Suzuki Auto South Africa (Pty) Ltd as their authorised importer and distributor of Suzuki motor vehicles. Suzuki vehicles were previously distributed through the General Motors dealer network in South Africa. This arrangement was, however, amicably terminated in 2004. Market and feasibility studies have shown that there is a positive market sentiment towards Suzuki automobiles and that an expanded range of Suzuki vehicles with a dedicated dealer network will be well-received in this market. The projected growth in the South African economy and particularly automotive sales furthermore prompted Suzuki Motor Corporation to establish a subsidiary company in South Africa. Suzuki Auto South Africa (Pty) Ltd has been jointly established between Suzuki Motor Corporation who owns 85% of the equity in the newly formed company and Suzuki South Africa (Pty) Ltd, the authorised importer and distributor of Suzuki motorcycles and outboard motors. Mr. Kazuyuki Yamashita has been appointed as Managing Director for Suzuki Auto South Africa (Pty) Ltd. He has many years of experience in the field of sales and marketing with Suzuki Motor Corporation including several international appointments. “We are confident that the Suzuki automotive brand will do very well in the South African market and are looking forward to introducing the exciting Suzuki Swift hatchback, SX4 Crossover Vehicle, Jimny and Grand Vitara range of Sport Utility Vehicles to this market during 2008.” “We intend to expand the model line-up during 2009 through importing strategic models from international assembly plants.” said Yamashita. He furthermore added that dealerships will be established in most of the major cities and centres by mid-year and that the buying public can expect to see the first Suzuki vehicles on the showroom floors by June. - Credit: SUPPLIED.


British Rally Championship Crew Profile #1: Rob Swann and Darren Garrod

The BRC will feature all its registered competitors on a regular basis throughout the 2008 season.

Some well known and some not so well known faces will appear in this section and obviously there will be more to say about the longer serving competitors than the newbies. That said, the intention is to give additional exposure throughout the field and in no particular order, the first of the featured bunch are Rob Swann and Darren Garrod. Still only 39, Rob Swann has been rallying for around thirteen years and contested the 2007 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship in a Subaru Impreza N12. His business in the demolition, groundwork and plant hire industry has helped Rob secure backing from Allied Property & Leisure Ltd, a large developer in the South East, alongside long time sponsor Revolution Wheels that has supplied competition wheels for several seasons. In 1995 he appeared on the rallying scene on the Dukeries Rally in a Mazda RX3 with his brother Peter co-driving. They were placed back at 167th overall, but had improved by the Cambrian at the end of the year to take 28th. He swapped to an Escort in 1996 and finished the season second in the BTRDA B10 class and twelfth overall with some impressive top twenty results. His 1997 season saw a swap to a group N Escort Cosworth but a frustrating year left him with a solitary point, having swapped codrivers a couple of times. By 1999 he had settled with his Escort and with Ken Bowman in the co-drivers seat and finished third in the 2000 BTRDA Silver Star series, with a flourish on Rally GB in an Evo, taking 42nd place overall. 2001 saw him competing in an Evo 4 with some excellent class results, eventually finishing runner up N4 driver behind Leon Pesticcio. He also contested the Swansea Bay Rally, part of the ANCRO series, beating a certain Guy Wilks by twelve places. In 2002 Rob won the BTRDA Gold Star Production Cup in the Mitsubishi and the experience competing at National level in an Evo stood him in good stead for his move to the British Rally Championship. This experience was supplemented by several more outings on Rally GB but by his own admission the step up to the BRC was a big one. “2004 was a learning year for me in a Mitsubishi in the BRC,” he commented, “but I swapped to an Impreza in 2005 and I’ve been improving every year. We were 3rd in the Championship at the mid point last year.” Darren Garrod has sat with me for the last few seasons in the BRC and the partnership has worked well. His increase in pace is plain to see as last year he contested his local event the Tempest Stages where he finished an impressive third with a pair of World Rally cars in front. The result was more impressive still when his co-driver was Revolution Wheels boss Warren McKiernan who had never navigated before. His fifth place in the 2007 BRC is his best result so far, but he still smarts from Rally Isle of Man; Rob explains, “We were set for our first ever BRC podium and we missed out on the final stage by 0.6 seconds to Wyn (Humphreys). I was gutted, but it shows that it is possible to be up at the top with a bit of luck.” Welsh electrician Darren is no stranger to success either, having won the Astra Stages Clubman event in 2005 and 2006 with Ieuan Rowlands and Nick Kenny respectively. The Pwllheli based 28 year-old guided Rob to an impressive debut 10th place on Rally Yorkshire that year and entered Rally GB, unfortunately succumbing to mechanical problems. His co-driving career began in 1998 navigating on road rallies, but he soon progressed to stage rallying and contested the Peugeot 206 Cup alongside Paul Jones. Even in 2004 he was still in the Peugeot and keeping fresh with local Welsh road rallies. By 2007 he had a regular seat with Rob and 2008 should see the partnership renewed for the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship. - Credit: Driver: Rob Swann D.O.B.: 05 September 1968 Lives: Bishops Stortford, Great Britain Car: Subaru Impreza Group N14. Website: Co-driver: Darren Garrod IMAGE: D.O.B.: 08 April 1979 Lives: Pwllheli, Great Britain.

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!


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Past WRC Master: Henri Toivonen

Henri Toivonen reached legendary status as a master rally driver early in his relatively short career. Born on 25 August 1956 in Jyvaskyla in Finland, he followed in his father’s footsteps to enter the world of rallying, for his father was the 1968 European Rally Champion driving a Porsche. Toivonen was renowned for his awe-inspiring driving style on gravel, but he proved equally competitive on tarmac too. He started driving at the young age of five competing in karts. In his late teens he went on to win the Finnish Cup in Touring Cars, before switching to Formula Vee racing. Toivonen moved up to the Formula Super Vee, and claimed the 1977 Finnish Formula Vee Championship. His talent at handling a car were difficult to ignore, even though his parents griped abut the safety of circuit racing. He then decided to switch to rallying full-time, but not before selling his karts to a six-year old Mika Hakkinen who would later be two-time Formula One World Champion. His circuit racing talent was spotted by the sport’s head honchos. Eddie Jordan reportedly believed that Toivonen would become a Formula One world champion if he committed himself to the sport, for he likened Toivonen’s performances to that of Ayrton Senna. Interestingly, in the 1986 WRC Rally of Portugal Toivonen driving a Lancia Delta S4 proved the performance of the Group B rally cars: as a stage of the rally, competitors were tasked with racing around the Estoril F1 track. Toivonen recorded a lap that would have put him in sixth place in that year’s Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix! In 1975 at the WRC Rally Finland (the 1000 Lakes Rally) Toivonen and co-driver Antero Lindquist entered in their privateer Simca Rallye 2 car. Toivonen was forced out of the event after the 36th Special Stage due to a broken sump guard. While still focusing on his circuit racing career he did manage to compete in another WRC event two years later in the 1977 WRC Rally Finland in a Chrysler Avenger and finished in a highly commendable fifth place overall - against all the works drivers of the time! He then started the 1978 season at the Arctic Rally, which fell part of both the European Rally Championship and the World Rally Championship. In this event he finished in second place, behind Ari Vatanen and ahead of Markku Alen. In that year, 1978, he won his first rally event: the Nordic Rally, which was part of the Finnish Rally Championship. The following year Toivonen competed in 15 rallies in the British, Finnish and European championships, as well as in two WRC rallies, namely the 1000 Lakes (in a Fiat 131 Abarth) and RAC Rally Great Britain (Ford Escort RS). He retired from both these events, but his performances were attracted the factory Talbot team to sign him for the 1980 WRC season. Toivonen first World Rally Championship victory came in a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus in the 1980 WRC Rally Great Britain. He was 24 years old! Toivonen moved to the Rothmans-sponsored Opel team for 1982 and 1983, then signed with Porsche for 1984 European Rally Championship and with the Lancia team for three events in a Lancia 037. Lancia snatched up his services for their 1985 campaign, and he proved to be highly skilled in rallying, and was considered one of the greatest drivers of all time. The 1986 WRC Tour de Corse Rally, a world rally around the island of Corsica, began on Thursday, 1 May. Toivonen complained of a sore throat and was suffering from flu, but he insisted on driving after having his championship lead reduced in the last two rallies. According to several sources, he was also taking medicine to treat a fever. Despite his ill health, he was taking stage win after stage win, and leading the rally by a large margin. After the first leg, Toivonen commented: “This rally is insane, even though everything is going well at the moment. If there is trouble, I’m as good as dead.” Toivonen was complaining about the car being too powerful for a rally like the Tour de Corse. He found it very hard to keep the car balanced on the road and admitted it was very exhausting. In a short interview before he steered his Lancia into the 18th stage, Toivonen made a comment which would remain his last words in public: “Today, we have driven

the equivalent of a full Jyvskala. It’s hard to keep up with the speed.” During the second leg, on Friday 2 May, at the seventh kilometre of the 18th stage, Corte-Taverna, Toivonen’s Lancia went off the side of the road at a tight left corner with no guardrail. The car plunged down a ravine and landed on its roof. The aluminium fuel tank underneath the driver’s seat was ruptured by the trees and exploded. The fuel tank was not protected by a skid plate, an item used mainly on gravel rallies, which was not fitted for the all-asphalt Tour de Corse. The explosion happened within seconds of the crash, and Toivonen and his American co-driver, Sergio Cresto would not have time to get out had they still been alive. The fire caused by the explosion was so intense that the Delta S4, built of fast-burning kevlar-reinforced plastic composite, was unidentifiable as a car afterwards. Both Toivonen and Cresto died in their seats. Toivonen left behind wife Erja and two young children, son Markus and daughter Arla, while Cresto was single with no children. Toivonen’s accident remains a mystery because it had no close witnesses. Although it was caught on tape by a spectator further down the stage, it proved to be impossible to determine the cause of the crash from the footage. No race marshals were close to the scene to notice the black smoke and no-one at the race finish knew about the accident. Toivonen’s team only started to fear something might have happened after he failed to arrive from the stage on schedule. The next rally crew through the stage then mentioned they had seen some black smoke. By the time the emergency vehicles arrived on the accident scene, they could only put out the flames, which had been fanned by the wind. Lancia engineers and technicians could not determine the cause of the accident as the remains of the car were so charred. Walter Rohrl later confirmed that Toivonen was taking medicine for his flu, but the cause of the accident is still unknown. Within hours of the accident, Jean-Marie Balestre (President of FISA) banned the powerful Group B rally cars from competing the following season. The Audi and Ford teams withdrew from Group B rallying immediately, but other teams competed until the end of the season. FISA was criticised for not concentrating too much on rallying, as they had not noticed the cars were becoming fast and oftentimes uncontrollable. Toivonen’s Lancia Delta S4 was able to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 2,3 seconds… on a gravel road! A FISA investigation later proved that drivers’ reactions were too slow to keep up with the speed of the Group B cars, and the drivers’ eyes could not adjust their focus between fast corners, resulting in tunnel vision. During his World Rally Championship career Toivonen competed in 40 world rallies, gathering three wins, 11 podium places, 183 stage wins and retiring 22 times. He died at the peak of his career, leading the championship and the Tour de Corse. With only wins and retirements in the last seven rallies, he seemed invincible in the Lancia Delta S4, after finally finding a car that was both competitive and suitable for his driving style. Toivonen was buried in Espoo, where his family moved from Jyvaskyla when Toivonen was still very young. In Corsica a marble slab dedicated to him and Sergio Cresto was placed at the curve where Toivonen crashed. The memorial place always has an unopened bottle of Martini, which is a reference to Toivonen’s Martini-sponsored teams. A local resident puts new flowers by the slab every day. In 1988, former rally driver and arguably the most successful female rally driver in history, Michele Mouton organised the first Race of Champions to commemorate Toivonen’s death. The Race of Champions was originally restricted to rally drivers, but became even more popular with the introduction of Formula One and NASCAR drivers. The Henri Toivonen Memorial Trophy is still awarded to the winner of the individual event every year. Another trophy bearing Toivonen’s name was the Henri Toivonen Grand Attack Trophy, which was awarded by Peugeot’s Rally Challenge, organised by Des O’Dell, “to the driver who most embodied the spirit shown by the young Finn.” In 2006, Toivonen was honoured at the Neste Oil Rally Finland. An exhibition in memory of him was opened on 17 August in the Rally HQ Jyväskylä Paviljonki.


Nationality: Finnish Active years: 1975 - 1986 Teams: Talbot, Opel, Porsche, Lancia World rallies: 40 Championships: 0 Wins: 3 Podium finishes: 11 Stage wins: 183 Points: 194 First world rally: 1975 1000 Lakes Rally First win: 1980 Rally Great Britain Last win: 1986 Rally Monte Carlo Last world rally: 1986 Tour de Corse

Henri Toivonen: A Rally Legend


This week’s favourite WRC rally car: Subaru Impreza 555 WRC

The story of the Subaru Impreza 555 WRC car started in 1993, and is continuing to this day. The Impreza has notched up a total of six World Rally Championship titles and 46 rally victories in its career thus far: it has been Subaru’s defining car, rising the brand from relative obscurity to legend and cult status in world rallying and on the road today. Great drivers such as Ari Vatanen, Kenneth Eriksson, Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen, Tommi Makinen, Richard Burns to Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson have revelled in the Impreza’s capabilities as a rallying

car to incredible victories. Subaru did not start competing in the World Rally Championship with the Impreza, but rather the bigger model the Legacy RS in 1989. In conjunction with Prodrive, the Subaru World Rally Team was born, and the rallying world was introduced to Subaru’s unique all-wheel drive and boxer-engined package. According to reports, the Impreza 555 was first debuted to the world’s media on 19 May 1993, three months before it was to make its competitive WRC debut. Subaru replaced the Legacy RS with the more nimble, more powerful Impreza, and this change has proved highly successful to date! The Impreza performed strongly from its first rally, thanks to its basic layout and intelligent weight distribution: the engine was all-aluminium meaning that less weight hung over the front wheels to enhance the car’s balance. The car also featured an active centre differential to add to the car’s breadth of capabilities.

Subaru’s Impreza 555 WRC made its debut at the 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland in 1993 with two cars entered. Driven by local rally stars, Markku Alen and Ari Vatanen, the Subaru Impreza was immediately competitive. Vatanen dominated the rally, but due to a window d-misting problem Vatanen was denied first place. His second place catapulted the car into the spotlights of rally fans worldwide. The following year, at the 1994 WRC Rally Corsica Carlos Sainz took the Impreza’s first win. New Zealander “Possum” Bourne won the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship in 1994, and Sainz and Colin McRae added three more WRC wins to the Impreza’s tally. Colin McRae piloted the Impreza 555 to win both the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ World Rally Championship titles in 1995, making McRae the youngest ever world champion. Sainz finished runner-up in the Drivers’ title fight. 1996 was a repeat of the previous year’s successes, with McRae and team-mate Kenneth Eriksson winning a second Manufacturers’ title for the team. The car was replaced for the 1997 with the Impreza WRC97. The Impreza 555 will long be remembered for its breadth of capabilities and as the origins of a rallying legend.


ARC Rally Tanzania Review: Round One

Images: Motorpics Zambians Muna Singh and David Sihoka led from the start to finish of the 2008 African Rally Championship’s first event, the Rally Tanzania. Second place went to Jas Mangat and co-driver Kashif Sheikh. South African sisters Lola and Megan Verlaque competed in this event, and fought rally-long for a podium placing. The event got underway in Dar es Salam, and featured exciting new drivers to the championship. The first stage consisted of a fast open stretch of road, which worked its way into a narrow sandy section. Problems lay ahead in this stage for all competitors as Asad Anwar (driving a Subaru Impreza N10) suffered engine failure in the narrow sandy roads. His car blocked the route through the stage, delaying the whole field from smoothly negotiating the stage. Officials gave all teams the same stage time. The longest stage of the rally was 52km long fast open road stage. Crews were able to stretch their engine’s legs and hit top speed in top gear, but this presented drivers’ with a unique problem: oncoming traffic. Lola Verlaque explains: “The first corner I cut I had a taxi in front of me! Very nerve-wracking! I was too slow and lost over a minute to the front runners.” Verlaque managed to recoup the lost time in tight and twisty stages, but knew that there were still many kilometres of the rally left to run. On the start of Day Two, the Verlaque sisters were lying in sixth place overall, 1 minute 26 seconds behind fifth-placed Jamie White (Zimbabwe). A rerun of the previous day’s fast stage proved costly to Jamie Whyte: he damaged a control arm, and lost his fifth place to the Verlaque pair. Before the last stage, the Verlaques were well placed for a comfortable run to the finish. In the last stage, fourth-placed team suffered a puncture as well as a broken exhaust, and this cost the pairing over six minutes stage time, thus moving Verlaques into fourth overall. With teams being held up by the ailing car of Navraj Hans and Emmanuel Katto suffering a puncture, this gave the Verlaque sisters the chance to take third-place overall as well. Lola Verlaque said: “The best fight ever for a position we have ever had in an event.” 15 cars entered this event, and only nine crossed the finishing line, highlighting this rally’s level of difficulty. The next event on the African Rally Championship calendar is Rally Kenya taking place on 21 to 23 March 2008. Rally Tanzania results: 1. Muna Singh / David Sihoka (Zambia) Subaru - 2:28:15 2. Jas Mangat / Kashif Sheikh (Uganda / Kenya) Subaru - 2:31:38 3. Lola Verlaque/ Megan Verlaque (S.Africa) Subaru - 2:36:49 4. Randeep Birdi / Sahib Bhatti (Tanzania) Mitsubishi - 2:37:28 5. James Whyte / Phillip Archenoul (Zimbabwe) - Subaru - 2:39:44 6. Navraj Hans / Frank Gitau (Tanzania/Kenya) - Mitsubishi - 2:43:30 7. Ben Pelser / Erik Bakkes (S.Africa) - Subaru - 2:45:28 8. Hideaki Miyoshi / Hakaru Ichino - (Japan) - Mitsubishi - 2:44:30 9. Rudy Cantanhede / Bruno Cantanhede (Rwanda) - Subaru - 2:51:33

Images: Motorpics


Driven: New-for-2008 Subaru Tribeca 3,6

Subaru have proven their mastery at putting together fantastic vehicles for the road, and the world’s rally stages. With their tried and trusted Symmetrical All Wheel Drive technology and punchy Boxer engines Subarus are considered as drivers’ tools. These Japanese vehicles are a pleasure to drive in any condition and on any surface - just ask Petter Solberg and the thousands of Subaru owners the world over. With a growing vehicle range, Subaru have entered the luxury SUV market sector with their Tribeca. The Tribeca was well received by the world’s press in 2006 when it was debuted and has won many new fans to the brand. The exterior styling of the Tribeca was regarded by some as love-it-or-hate-it. I was immediately taken with Tribeca, as I felt it stood out from the rest of the SUVs on the market. Its front end design was distinctive and unmistakably Subaru. For their flagship model, Subaru have given this model what they term a “visual metamorphosis” for the new-for-2008 model, as well as equipping it with a more powerful engine The name Tribeca has been pinched from the culturally-advanced and sophisticated “three boroughs” neighbourhood of New York City’s Manhattan Island. This name, according to Subaru, represents the confluence of three automotive genres: luxury sedans, MPVs and SUVs. Looking at the Subaru Tribeca it is easy to spot its influences, and easy to understand its funky name. Designers at Subaru gave the Tribeca a wider and taller grille, a new bonnet design, reshaped headlights, and striking new front fenders to give the Tribeca a new, more conservative front end. Being more conservatively styled it will now appeal to a wider audience thanks to its understated appeal while retaining the distinctive Subaru design. The overall silhouette of the Tribeca has been untouched, with the attractive rear end and shapely shoulder lines carried through to this model. The third-quarter windows have grown bigger due to intelligent thinking: the benefit of this is that the third row seat occupants now have greater visibility out of them. Another detail change to the exterior is the larger wing mirrors. When I first drove the Tribeca last year, I never found these side view mirrors to be too small, but it was when I climbed into the new-for-2008 Tribeca at its launch that I realised what an improvement the larger wing mirrors made to the driving experience. In 2006 the Tribeca won an award for its shapely interior. Auto World (a large motoring publication in the USA) named the Tribeca as the winner of its “Interior of the Year 2006” award in the luxury SUV category. For the 2008 model Subaru have not fettled with this winning recipe, but have enhanced its ergonomics. The dash and centre console is a highlight of this car, as it is a showcase for the brand’s technological and innovative thinking. With a focus on practicality, the Tribeca is still a class-leader with its controls being easy to reach and easy to operate for both the driver and front passenger.

Atop the dash is the revised Multi-Function Display (MFD), which is now touch-screen operated. Here all the car’s luxury and comfort features can be accessed in a bright and uncomplicated menu at the touch of a finger. Housed in the MFD is a parking camera. When selecting reverse the MFD screen shows a view of from the rear of the car, making parking a cinch. It is inch-perfect, and will prove invaluable to those who like me battle to park in tight parking spaces. Under the bonnet the previous 3,0-litre power plant has been replaced with a meatier and mightier 3,6-litre version. Here 190kW of power at 6 000rpm and 350Nm of torque from 2 000rpm are available at your right foot. The vehicle’s dynamic have been improved by the quicker responding motor and its enhanced performance. With a slight prod of the accelerator the Tribeca launches itself from a standstill to 60km/h and onto 100km/h with ease. Cruising on the highway at 120km/h the engine was hardly having to power the car forward, but it rather just idled contentedly away. Mated to a quick-changing five-speed automatic transmission, which features an all-new torque lock-up converter and a new transmission control unit, gear changes are smooth and lightning quick. This has enabled the engineers to improve the overall refinement of the engine, lower its fuel consumption and decrease its emissions. Power is transferred to all four wheels via Subaru’s Symmetrical All Wheel Drive system to optimise the traction available to give the Tribeca outstanding handling for a vehicle of this type in any condition and on any surface. It is as at home on the highway as it is off-road thanks to its Symmetrical All Wheel Drive, 215mm ground clearance and McPherson strut front suspension and double wishbone rear suspension for the accurate control of vertical wheel movement. It is truly a go-anywhere vehicle! Safety is an important issue at Subaru, and the Tribeca is filled with the latest and greatest safety features. In this regard it has a “ring-shaped reinforcement frame structure”, occupant-sensing dual-stage driver and passenger air bags, seat-mounted side impact air bags, curtain side air bags, a roll sensor (which detects a potential vehicle rollover and deploys the airbags), as well as Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), which is an advanced vehicle stability control system. Included is ABS with Brake Assist. All these safety features are standard on the Tribeca! The new-for-2008 Tribeca is a go-anywhere SUV with the luxury and comfort features of an executive sedan. The 2008 Subaru Tribeca retails for R510 000, and this price includes a three-year/63 000km maintenance plan and a three-year/100 000km warranty. Test drive it at your nearest Subaru dealership.