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s e k a r b d Han &Hairpins world of e th to in t h ig s in r u o y

09 Edition 82 May 20

rallying

Cover News Features Rally of South Latvala wins Kubica to Africa report rally in 2009? in Italy! page 14 page 6 page 9


Welcome to HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS Welcome to Issue 80 of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, your FREE weekly source of rallying news.

This week’s issue is brimming with the latest information and rally news! The cover feature for this weekis... Is there any stopping the Nissan Off Road crew? After a strong 1-2 performance this weekend at the Nissan Sugarbelt 400 in KwaZulu-Natal, Hannes Grobler will be fighting it out with his team-mate Duncan Vos in upcoming rounds. The Toyota teams, however, are not far off the pace... They are tipped for a strong showing on the next event, so watch this space! In this issue is the review of this past weekend’s Oregon Trail Rally, a round of the Rally America Championship. Thrilling as always, Travis Pastrana showed the way home for his fellow competitors once more this season. And, this weekend is the spectacular WRC Rally Italy-Sardinia! This is a not to be missed event, one where Ford has to attempt to outsmart the Citroen crews and Sebastien Loeb. But, will they?

04 09 10 11 12 14

The world’s latest rally news Rally of South Africa is ready to please competitors and spectators!

All action in Tennessee; Ford Fieesta rally car

Hutchison increases his grip on Special Vehicle title lead

Higgins holds on to win BRC Jim Clark Rally!

Latvala on top of world in Sardinia!

As always, I hope you enjoy this week’s read! Evan Rothman

DIARY MAY AND JUNE EVENTS International Rallies: 30 - 31 May: USRC Rally Tennessee 29 - 31 May: ERC Croatia Delta Rally 05 - 06 June: RA Susquhannock Trail Rally 10 - 14 June: WRC Acropolis Rally Greece 18 - 20 June: IRC & ERC Ypres Westhoek Rally South African Rallies: 12 - 13 June: NATIONAL: Rally of South Africa 19 - 21: Toyota 1000 Desert Race 27 June: CPMCC Rally

To receive your FREE weekly HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS e-magazine, or if you’d like to share this with a friend please send me your e-mail address to evanrothman@gmail.com or to my mobile at 083 452 6892.

Contact H&H: Subscriptions - subs.hhmag@gmail.com News - news.hhmag@gmail.com Features - features.hhmag@gmail.com Editorial Info - evan.hhmag@gmail.com Evan Rothman - evanrothman@gmail.com All content copyrighted property of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, 2007-9


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The world’s latest rally news SEND YOUR TEAM’S NEWS, PRESS RELEASES OR UPDATES TO EVANROTHMAN@GMAIL.COM!

Snijers gets Volkswagen Polo S2000 for IRC Ypres Rally in Belgium! Legendary Belgian driver Patrick Snijers will chase his fifth Belgium Ypres Rally victory at the wheel of a Volkswagen Polo S2000. The 51-year-old, who finished fifth on the event last year in a BFGoodrich Drivers’ Team Peugeot 207, will drive for Rene Georges Rally Sport on the asphalt event, round five of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), which runs from 18 -20 June. Rene George Rally Sport engineer Jack de Keijzer said: “Patrick has been looking to use a Super 2000 car on Ypres. We were in contact with him last year about driving our Polo, but in the end he won the chance to drive a Peugeot 207. For sure he can aim for a top five finish, although he is already thinking only about a podium.” De Keijzer confirmed Snijers would complete a two-day test alongside his new team-mate Francois Duval at an undisclosed venue in Belgium in the build-up to the rally. Duval will drive a Skoda Fabia S2000. “It is very important Patrick and Francois are both well prepared for this opportunity,” said de Keijzer. - CREDIT: www.ircseries.com

Loix confident of reclaiming IRC lead Freddy Loix believes he can still win this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge despite losing the title initiative to Kris Meeke on the Sata Rally Acores earlier this month. Loix led the standings prior to the IRC’s inaugural visit to the Azores but slipped two points behind Meeke following his fourth place finish on the island event. However, Loix is the favourite to win his home event, the Belgium Ypres Rally, next month, a result he reckons will reinvigorate his title challenge. “I am in a better position than I was 12 months ago before taking on Ypres, my favourite event,” said Loix, who finished runner-up to Kronos Racing team-mate Nicolas Vouilloz in last year’s standings. “It’s going to be a big fight to win the championship and it’s going to be very close, just like it was last year.” Loix, who has won the Belgium Ypres Rally on five occasions, is also confident that working with new co-driver Frederic Miclotte will increase his chances of claiming the coveted drivers’ crown.

“The adaptation to my new co-driver went perfectly in the Azores and that has made me more confident for the rest of the season,” said Loix. “But I have to be consistent and make sure I score points in every round.” - CREDIT: www.ircseries.com

F1 driver Kubica has bought a Skoda Fabia WRC for upcoming rally! Robert Kubica, a diver for the BMW F1 team, has bought a World Rally car, and is rumoured to be considering entering a round of this year’s WRC championship. The 24-year-old’s new mount is a Skoda Fabia WRC, formerly rallied by Czech driver Jan Kopecky. Reports say Kubica made the purchase for “private tests and fun.” But, rumours insist he may be planning a professional outing this year at the WRC round in his native Poland following next month’s British Grand Prix. Ferrari F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen also has an interest in rallying, having participated in two events so far this year. - CREDIT: www.rallybuzz.com

Peugeot IRC team expects big fight with rival Skoda in 2009

Kronos Racing boss Marc van Dalen is bracing himself for a big battle for Intercontinental Rally Challenge honours with the factory Skoda outfit. Van Dalen’s team runs the Peugeot 207 Super 2000s of Freddy Loix, Kris Meeke and Nicolas Vouiloz. It is also responsible for the BFGoodrich Drivers’ Team entry on selected rounds of the series. Although Kronos-run drivers have claimed victory on three of the four rounds run so far this season, defeating Skoda on two occasions in the process, van Dalen expects the threat posed by the works Skoda drivers Juho Hanninen and Jan Kopecky will intensify as the season progresses. “Skoda is a very good team with two good drivers so I am sure we will continue to have a big fight with them,” said van Dalen. “We’re going to Rally Russia but we are also studying the possibility of participating on the Belgium Ypres Rally, which will be an additional event to what we originally planned,” said Skoda team manager Pavel Hortek. - CREDIT: www.ircseries.com

THE LATEST NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF RALLYING

Featuring European rally championships, British rally championships, Rally America events, international rally results and videos, as well as S2000 and WRC news.

www.rallybuzz.com


Meeke prepares for UK public appearance at motorsport show

it and I did my first Ypres Rally when I was 23. I was second overall for a time in front of all these guys so it is a tradition for me to always try and do this rally.” Van den Heuvel said running seven cars in Ypres would not be a problem for this team. “We are used to dealing with 11 cars on Dutch championship rallies so it is not a concern for me,” said van den Heuvel. - CREDIT: www.ircseries.com

Latvala swaps generations to make Ford Escort rally debut BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver Jari-Matti Latvala will swap his state-of-the art Focus RS World Rally Car to drive a Mk 2 Ford Escort RS1800 in a historic rally in his native Finland this weekend.

Fans of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge living in Great Britain will get an early taster of what’s in store on the RAC MSA Rally of Scotland, the final round of the IRC in November, when Kris Meeke appears at The Rally Show, a two-day rallyorientated festival in the country from June 6/7. Meeke, who leads the IRC standings by two points, will be performing a series of demonstration runs in his Peugeot UKbacked 207 S2000. The occasion will mark the first time the 29-year-old from Northern Ireland will have driven his Kronos Racing-run Super 2000 car on British soil. “We’re delighted he’s coming to The Rally Show,” said Malcolm Neill, the event director. “Kris is a very talented driver and the fact he is leading the IRC makes this a real honour. It’s also going to be fantastic to see his Peugeot 207 Super 2000 car in action. It makes a great sound and will be terrific for the fans.” Meeke has won two of the four IRC rounds held so far this season. His co-driver Paul Nagle, from the Republic of Ireland, will also be appearing at the event, which is held on Tarmac roads within the grounds of the Chatsworth stately home in the county of Derbyshire. - CREDIT: www.ircseries.com

Van den Heuvel to enter IRC! Jasper van den Heuvel will contest three rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge this year, starting with next month’s Belgium Ypres Rally. The 30-year-old Dutch driver is also planning to enter Barum Rally Zlin in Czech Republic in August before tackling the series finale, the RAC MSA Rally of Scotland, in November. Van den Heuvel will drive a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X for his van den Heuvel Motorsport team, which could field as many as seven cars on the asphalt event. “I want to show the Evo 10 is quick on what is, for me, the fastest rally in Europe and not just against the other Group N cars but the Super 2000 cars as well,” said van den Heuvel. “I have a long history with this rally. My father used to drive on

Twenty-four-year-old Latvala will be the biggest name at the start of the Lahti Historic Rally (29 - 30 May), the fifth round of the FIA European Historic Rally Championship. Latvala is a huge fan of rallying’s history but has never before driven an Escort, one of the sport’s most successful cars, in competition. Latvala will be co-driven in the two-litre BDGengined, rear-wheel drive Escort by Asko Sairanen, with whom he competed in Rally Finland in 2006. “My father bought the car and I agreed to drive it on the rally for fun,” explained Latvala. “The Escort was the greatest rally car of the 1970s, before I was born, and this will be the first occasion that I have driven a rally in one. I hope to have a little time to test the car next week before the rally starts. It’s huge fun driving rear-wheel drive cars and I’m looking forward to getting the car sideways and putting on a good show for the fans in the forests. “Some of my rally heroes, drivers like Hannu Mikkola, Ari Vatanen and Bjorn Waldegård, drove Escort Mk2 cars in the 1970s and 1980s so it will be a big thrill for me to follow in their footsteps. It would be fantastic to win but my priority is to have some fun,” he added. The Ford Escort made its competition debut in 1968, beginning one of the finest chapters in the Blue Oval’s rallying history. In its various guises, the Escort has won thousands of times around the world and, 41 years after its launch, it is still adding to its roll of honour in countries far and wide. The rally is based in Lahti, in the heart of Finland, and comprises 135km of competition over two days. Ninety-five cars have entered and it is the only round of the European Historic Championship based on gravel roads.

Novikov impresses in Sardinia! After a rally that confirmed the potential already seen in their first three outings with the Citroen Junior Team, Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt finished in fifth place on the Rally Italy-Sardinia, round six of the 2009 FIA World Rally Championship this past weekend.


Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt held fifth from the opening day, and once more proved themselves to be consistent and competitive on the final day. They held onto their hard-won place to score their first points of the year at the end of a tough event. Novikov said: “It was an extremely difficult rally but our Citroen C4 WRC was perfect all weekend and we made no mistakes.” The up-and-coming Russian was fifth on only his fourth-ever event in a World Rally Car, aged just 18 years, eight months and five days. “Fifth place is an excellent result for us,” he commented. “I’m really happy. From now on, I simply want to improve!” In recognition of his outstanding performance, Evgeny Novikov was awarded the Abu Dhabi Spirit of the Rally prize. - CREDIT: www.rallybuzz.com

Prokop in contention for J-WRC title! Martin Prokop put himself right back in Junior World Rally Championship (J-WRC) title contention by winning the twowheel drive category of Rally Italy-Sardinia in a Citroen C2 S1600, reported www.WRC.com. Last year, fuel problems cost Prokop the chance to challenge the eventual winner, Michal Kosciuszko, but this year, despite a less than smooth ride, he came out on top in the same battle. Prokop began the event’s Day Three’s 86 competitive kilometres 16,6 seconds adrift of Kosciuszko’s Suzuki Swift, but on the opening stage he attacked hard to narrow the gap to 2,5 seconds. He took the lead from his Polish rival on the next test, SS14, but never got to a position where he could relax and back off. Overcoming adversity is something Prokop knows a lot about, and today was no exception. Just when it looked like a noseheavy landing and an overheating engine for Kosciuszko on SS15 might give some breathing space, Prokop’s car developed a clutch problem that threatened to stop him reaching the finish at all. In the end, however, a determined push though the final stage earned Prokop the win by 13.2 seconds from Kosciuszko and his second 10-point haul of the season. Aaron Burkart (Suzuki) finished a distant third, more than eight minutes behind Kosciuszko. “This has been the hardest race of my life,” said Prokop. “I decided I wanted to win here before the rally started, but soon after we got hit with penalties, lost time, and it got very tough. It was the same story on Saturday - we’d push hard and then lose the time with penalties and problems. Today we were going like hell. I’ve never pushed so hard and I don’t want to do it again - it was too dangerous - but if we want to be champions we have to win every rally. We cannot be second.” Today’s win moved Prokop to third in the Junior Championship standings, eight points behind series leader Kosciuszko and two behind Burkart in second place. “We are not leading the championship, but Michael has done more rallies than me this year,” said Prokop. “Now I need to the finish the season strongly.” - CREDIT: www.wrc.com

Al-Attiyah wins P-WRC thriller! Former Production World Rally Champion Nasser Al-Attiyah took a sensational win in the P-WRC category in Sardinia this weekend after snatching victory from Patrik Sandell on the last stage., reported www.WRC.com. Skoda Fabia S2000 driver Patrick Sandell had started Sunday’s final day with a class lead of 23,5 seconds over Al-Attiyah, but after the second stage his Subaru driving rival had chipped the gap down to 9,5 seconds. The battle continued at a furious pace over the next few stages, with Sandell holding a 4 second advantage going into the final, decisive stage. But after a sensational last ditch effort, it was Al Attiyah who emerged the winner, by a margin of 1,5sec. The result was his second consecutive P-WRC victory of the year, and puts him the lead of the standings on 31 points, two clear of Armindo Araujo in second place and three ahead of Sandell in third. Sandell said he had given everything he had through the last stage, and was the first to congratulate his rival at the finish control. “After the win in Argentina we wanted to get top three here, but I think having an Italian as co-driver really helped me!” said Al Attiyah. “We tried lots of different things this rally - sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t - and it was difficult to keep up with Sandell’s Super 2000 car. But on the last stage we found our confidence and on the start line I said to Giovanni, okay, let’s do it.” After a busy year of competition in 2008, Al Attiyah said winning the P-WRC was now one of his main priorities this year. “Last year I did a lot of races in various FIA championships, but this year I have only the Middle East championship and the P-WRC. I want to concentrate on these, so now we want a good result on the next race in Greece.” - CREDIT: www.wrc.com

Loeb loses his winning feeling The extraordinary run of wins from Sebastien Loeb came to an end in Sardinia this weekend, where the team had to console itself with fourth place for Loeb and 22nd for Dani Sordo. Loeb and his co-driver Daniel Elena had actually completed the final stage in third place but soon after were handed a twominute time penalty which dropped them back a spot. “The stewards judged that Daniel had taken off his harness belt too soon when the crew stopped to change a wheel on SS11,” explained team director Olivier Quesnel. “That said, they took into account the fact that it wasn’t dangerous because they were driving slowly at the time. We accept the decision.” “I am obviously disappointed that our winning streak has come to an end, but it had to happen one day,” acknowledged Loeb. - CREDIT: www.wrc.com


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S E R U T A E F th Africa is ready to please! car

•09: Rally of nSoinu Tennessee; Ford Fiesta criaalll yVehicle title lead •10: All actioon increases his grip on Spe k Rally! •11: Hutchis holds on to win BRC Jim Clar •12: Higgins on top of world in Sardinia! •13: Latvala

Here HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS goes behind-the-scenes, into the pit garages, into the team offices, to bring you the most interesting and in-depth feature articles.


Rally of South Africa is ready to please competitors and spectators! The 35th Rally of South Africa to be held on 12/13 June in Mpumulanga will once again be a crowd pleaser in spite of having lost its title sponsor of the last ten years, TOTAL. Diether Kok, one of South Africa’s most experienced Clerks of the Course, is once again in charge of the organisation of the Rally. The Rally of South Africa 2009 will be somewhat toned down from its previous glory days when it was a round of the African Rally Championship, but in spite of this Kok’s organising committee is set to make it as challenging for the competitors as any of its predecessors. The rally will start in Ermelo at noon of Friday 12 June and will finish there again the next day, Saturday 13 June. It will consist of 13 special stages in its traditional hunting grounds of Warburton and Panbult in Mpumulanga. The special stage distance will be approximately 200 km of good gravel roads. Kok said that the rally will once again this year feature a new stage. It will be stage 7 and will be called Taaibosch in the Amersfoort Road area. The 13 special stages will include the now traditional longest special stage on the national rally calendar, the Jessievale stage of 60, 22 km. It will be held in Warburton and will be the

last stage of the first day of the rally. The first day will consist of three stages only, but they are the longest of the event with a special stage distance of about 96km. The Rally of South Africa will finish with two super special stages in Ermelo on Saturday afternoon. The super special stage was specially built for the event in Ermelo some two years ago and has proved to be a crowd pleaser. Kok said that the rally, the fourth round of the Sasol South Africa National Rally Championship is being presented thanks to a grant from Motorsport South Africa’s Rally Commission. The Rally Commission is responsible for administering and presenting the annual rally championship. “Losing TOTAL as a sponsor came at an inopportune time. In spite of all our best efforts we could not find a replacement sponsor which would have been a miracle at best in these difficult economic times”, Kok said. In order to assist to keep the costs of competitors down, the organisers have decided to have the scrutinizing and documentation for the rally on the Friday morning prior to the 12 o’clock noon start. “In spite of the financial difficulties that competitors also have to cope with, we are confident that we will have the full support of competitors for the event given its past popularity”, Kok said. Kok has been Clerk of the Course of this event since 1983 with the exception of 1999 and 2000, when the rally was held in Cape Town. It is being organised by a committee of the Sports Car Club of South Africa, Pretoria Branch. - SUPPLIED. IMAGES BY MOTORPICS.


All action in Tennessee! Ford Fiesta rally car The excitement is building in anticipation of the next round of the United States Rally Championship (www.usrallychampionship.com). The second round of the United States Rally Championship (USRC) is Rally Tennessee this weekend. In spite of the economy, the number of teams entered exceeds the number of entries in the previous running of the event.

Rally Tennessee is a 192km all-tarmac event that follows the first round of the Championship – Rally New York USA – also an all-tarmac event, which was won by Block/ Gelsomino driving a Subaru Impreza WRX STi. The United States Rally Championship is unique in the United States in that it encompasses the only two all-tarmac events. After Rally Tennessee, the Championship will continue with five gravel rounds: Idaho Rally International, Rally West Virginia, Gorman Ridge Rally (California), Prescott Rally (Arizona) and the final round the International Rally New York. Most rounds of the championship allow for reconnaissance of the rally course and pacenoting. Notable entries are the two-time United States Rally Champion Seamus Burke with Eddie Fries, the 2007 Champion Co-Driver, in Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, and Thomas Lawless, the 2005 United States Rally Champion with Irish co-driver Brian Sharkey also in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. Other notable and fast entries consist of a slew of Irish hot shoe teams of Martin Donnelly and Stephen Duffy, Enda McCormack and Bernard Farrell, Michael O’Leary and John O’Leary and Daniel O’Brien with Brendan McCabe. Also, David and Tammy Allan, Scott Wilburn with Aaron Crescenti and William Petrow, the winner of Production Cup at Rally New York USA, with a new codriver Jeremy Neyhart. The previously announced entry of Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino has not materialized. In two-wheel-drive, the crews of note are Joshua Wimpey and Jeremy Wimpey, the 2007 United States Rally Championship runner-ups, Dan Brosnan with Shane McCann, the winners of two-wheel-drive category at Rally New York USA, Evan Moen and Joshua VanDenHeuvel, Thomas Barton and Brian Barton, and Simon Wright with Kieran Wright. The United States Rally Championship, now in its fifth season, is taking bold steps to make national competition more affordable and accessible to a larger number of rally teams. This is the third season of the new Championship structure that minimizes or, for many teams, eliminates the need for repeated cross-country travel during the Championship season by providing competition on each side of the country. The final round of the Championship at the end of the year counts both in the Atlantic Division and the Pacific Division and together with the results from all previous rounds decides the top spots in the Championship. The highest-scoring six teams from the USRC Pacific Division are eligible for the coveted cash travel subsidies totaling $12,000 to attend the final round in New York. - SUPPLIED.

An all-new Ford Fiesta R2 rally car, based on the top-selling Ford Fiesta road car launched earlier this year, was unveiled at the WRC Rally Italy-Sardinia this weekend. Designed to replace the hugely successful Fiesta ST rally car, the new vehicle is targeted at competitors in the Fiesta SportTrophy series around the globe, as well as in regional rally championships. The Fiesta R2 will conform to the latest FIA regulations and satisfy strong customer demand for an exciting yet affordable point of entry into rallying. The development bodyshell for the R2 project was revealed by M-Sport at the Autosport International Show in the United Kingdom in January 2009. As one of Europe’s biggest motorsport shows, the project generated great interest and excitement from potential competitors and the public alike. Work on the base design of the car, the result of successful engineering co-operation between MSport and Ford, is now almost complete and engineers are undertaking a comprehensive test programme in readiness for a proposed homologation date of 1 July 2009. The five-speed Fiesta R2 rally car is based on the Ford Fiesta Sport (Zetec S in the UK and Ireland) using the 1,6-litre Ti-Vct 120PS (1 598cc) base engine as in regular production. It is built from a standard conversion kit developed by M-Sport. The kit to convert the car to rally specification includes engine parts to increase the engine performance including pistons, conrods, camshafts, valve springs, injectors, airbox, air filter, spark plugs and a sump baffle kit. The gearbox has been replaced for a sequential shift unit with a limited slip differential, along with upgraded brakes and Reiger suspension. Beyond these specific items, the intention is for the car to use many standard components from the Ford Fiesta and other Ford road vehicles to reduce costs for the competitor. Standard conversion kits will be available from M-Sport or an appointed national sales outlet. The knowledge gained from the world-title winning Ford Focus RS WRC has been transferred to the creation of the Fiesta R2 under the leadership of M-Sport’s Principal Engineer Chris Williams, who was also responsible for the success of the Fiesta ST, which sold in 27 different countries. Last month M-Sport announced the development of a S2000 Fiesta for competition at the sport’s highest level. These two vehicles, the S2000 and the R2, will create a complete ladder of opportunity for rally competitors to graduate from grass roots level to WRC using Ford vehicles. M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson said: “The development of this car has created a lot of excitement over the past few months and I’m delighted that we have now been able to unveil the Fiesta here in Sardinia. There’s no doubting that the R2 has large boots to fill: the GpN Fiesta ST is still achieving frequent class wins around the world and has finished as high as 25th overall in the WRC, an amazing feat for a small car. The experience and knowledge that our engineers have gained with the ST has been key in developing the R2 into a more ‘sophisticated’ car, whilst it has inherited the basic strength and reliability that made the ST so popular – and all at a lower cost than other competing manufacturers.” - SUPPLIED. A full feature on this exciting Ford Fiesta R2 will be available for your reading interest in next week’s edition of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS.


Hutchison increase his grip on Special Vehicle title lead A third straight victory on the Nissan Sugarbelt 400 has seen former champions Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann increase their lead in the Special Vehicle category in the Absa Off Road Championship.

Hutchison and Bergman, in the Motorite Revo1 4x4, strolled to victory on the KwaZulu-Natal event and finished nearly five minutes ahead of Herman and Wichard Sullwald in the Sullwald Racing Zarco. It was a win that saw Hutchison and Bergmann, who designed and built the Revo1 4 x 4, open up a 35 point lead at the top of the Special Vehicle and Class A championships. A steady third place on the Nissan Sugarbelt lifted the father and son pair of Nick and Ryan Harper, in the Atlas Copco BAT, into second place in the two championships. The Harpers move ahead of Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson who ran into a litany of problems in KZN. Fourth in the overall championship are Class P leaders Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout in the Adenco BAT. The Cape based brothers scored their second win of the season on the Nissan Sugarbelt. Behind the Bezuidenhout’s two crews are tied in fifth place. Kallie and Quintin Sullwald move into the top five after their best result of the season, and are locked together with Limpopo crew Naeem Moosajee and Mohammad Moultson, in the Tyre Rack Jimco, who also had a tough time of it in KZN. The top three in the overall championship stay the same in the Class A standings. Here, however, the Hutchison/Bergmann lead over the Harpers is 22 points with Whitehouse/Carlson a further four points adrift. The Class B championship is a tight affair with only three points separating two Cape Town crews. Bes Bezuidenhout and son Deon, in the Adenco BAT, have a slight advantage over Derrick du Toit and Ian Palmer, in the Orange Tree BAT, who grabbed a second on the Nissan Sugarbelt 400. Third in Class B are the Makenete brothers, Katleho and Andrew, in an ageing Zarco. Despite problems on both the Adenco 400 and the KZN event, the brothers hung in to pick up valuable points. The Bezuidenhout brothers have an early hold on Class P. They have a 21-point cushion over Johan van Staden and James Rossouw, in the KEC BAT, who have been the revelation of the season so far Eastern Cape 400 winners Jan and Hendrik Kraaij are third in the Class P stakes. A broken gearbox on the Nissan Sugarbelt was a setback for the former Class B champions. The next event on the calendar is the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, a highlight of the season, in Botswana from 19 - 21 June. - SUPPLIED.

IMAGES: MOTORPICS


Higgins holds on to win BRC Jim Clark Rally! Another cracking MSA British Rally Championship counter ended this Saturday in Kelso, with Mark Higgins and Bryan Thomas hanging on to win the Jim Clark International Rally after seventeen nail-biting stages.

Higgins’ record-breaking fifth BRC victory on Borders asphalt came after Championship leader Keith Cronin suffered a puncture on Friday night, but his comeback from a two minute deficit was very nearly successful, as Higgins struggled with a car that was intermittently on three cylinders and without an effective centre differential. The gap was down to 2,6 seconds at the service before the final loop of four stages, where Pirelli TEG Sport’s temporary repair to the differential’s electronics worked. This allowed Higgins to not only stop the haemorrhage of time, but take a handful of seconds back from Cronin who spun, adding to Higgins’ advantage. As the crews headed for the new Duns town centre stage, everyone held their breath, but only a catastrophe could have stopped Higgins, his title hopes rekindled by an eventual 11,4 second winning margin. Cronin still leads the BRC, but the gap is down to just two points with Higgins’ home Rally Isle of Man next. British Teams’ Rally Championship: 2008 Pirelli Star Driver Adam Gould took a fine first podium with Seb Marshall, the Bristol youngster certain hat even more improvement is possible in the Pirelli TEG Sport-run prize Impreza. Team principal Lynn Newby was delighted with the result which puts the Carnforth outfit in the lead of the MSA British Rally Championship British Teams’ Rally Championship. Pirelli Star Driver: Revolution Wheels rally team crew Euan Thorburn & Claire Mole were gutted to have a driveshaft break on the penultimate stage, forcing them to crawl round in front of the youngster’s home town crowd in Duns and dropping them behind Gould but just ahead of Alastair Fisher and Barry McNulty. The disappointment was soon forgotten though, as his excellent pace throughout the weekend earned him the third place in the 2009 Pirelli Star Driver final. BRC Classes: Rally 3: In the classes, Finnish duo Matti Rantanen and Mikko Markkula drove an excellent first complete tarmac event to win Rally 3 in their distinctive yellow Renault Clio. Their only problem was a power deficit to the similar car of Tom Walster, who took second despite early set-up problems. Rally 2/Citroen Racing Trophy/British Junior Rally Championship: Rally 2 and victory in the Citron Racing Trophy went to Irishman Marty McCormack and co-driver Phil Clarke, taking a cheque for 3000 Euros for their troubles in the unmarked C2R2 Max. McCormack now leads the MSA British Junior Rally Championship too, Craig Breen retiring on Saturday. Their event went without incident, unlike runner up Jason Pritchard/ Andrew Edwards who nearly didn’t start after hitting a post in the pre-start car park. Rally 1/Swift Sport Cup: Rally 1 and the Swift Sport Cup were won by another local driver, Gordon Nichol with co-driver Emma Morrison. Their opposition was decimated after all the other crews hit trouble, although only two retired. This did not detract from excellent stage times from the dominant Scot. - SUPPLIED. IMAGES BY JAKOB EBREY PHOTOGRAPHY.


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Latvala on top of the world in Sardinia!

IMAGES: CITROEN RACING, BP FORD MEDIA, STOBART MOTORSPORT

We’ve reached the halfway point of the 2009 World Rally Championship, and this weekend’s rally was the first to NOT feature a Citroen C4 WRC on the top step of the winners’ podium. With sheer determination it was the young Finn Jari-Matti Latvala and his co-driver Miika Anttila that brought their BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC to its first win in 2009, WRITES EVAN ROTHMAN.

Latvala’s triumphant display of speed was also his second WRC victory, and was also his team’s first one-two result since WRC Rally Japan in November 2008. His team-mate Mikko Hirvonen did all in his power keep the mighty Citroen C4 WRC of Loeb behind him, but was unable to reel in his younger team-mate Latvala on the final day of the event. Once Hirvonen had managed to gain the upper hand over Loeb, he tried his best to chase down Latvala. However, the hanging dust on the final stages of the event thwarted Hirvonen’s plans of attack. He is still in search of his first win this season. Surprising was Latvala’s confidence in pushing the car to its limits this past weekend. After his severe crash in WRC Rally Portugal, the brave Latvala has clearly recovered and is once again back to his lightning-quick pace of old. It was from the very first stage that Latvala showcased his intentions: he


blitzed the rest of the field to lead Day One overnight with a handy 40sec cushion. On Day Two, Hirvonen reduced that gap to nine seconds, but Latvala was able to win the rally with a 29,4sec advantage. The competitors tackled 17 speed tests covering 347,12km over narrow, flowing and rough gravel tracks near Olbia during three days of the event. Allied with searing temperatures, which topped 35ºC, the conditions placed big demands on cars, crews and Pirelli’s Scorpion tyres. WRC Rally Italy-Sardinia proved to be a hard weekend not only for Loeb, but for Hirvonen too. Hirvonen and his co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen both suffered fevers throughout the weekend, but despite this they were posting fast stage times. Had it not been for the dust problems on the final day, the two Fords would have battled it out in classic WRC style. A welcome return to the podium were Petter Solberg and Phil Mills (in a privateer Citroen Xsara WRC). With an upgraded Xsara for this event, Solberg hassled Loeb’s newer and more powerful C4 throughout the event to great cheer from the many rally fans and spectators lining the stages. “It’s been a good event,” said Solberg. “We have done a lot of good stages. In Argentina we missed third place. I’m quite happy now. It’s too bad for Sebastien, but it’s nice to be here. It was a good fight with Sebastien. When I woke up this morning, I was ready and it was good to be fighting again. We had good first two stages, then we had a problem with the steering after service. I fixed it after the first stage and then we were on the limit on the last two. There was nothing more we could do, it was great for Phil and me.” A battle royal between Loeb and Petter Solberg ended prematurely when Loeb was handed a stiff twominute time penalty at the beginning of Day Three. Loeb suffered a puncture on SS11 on Day Two, dropping him two seconds behind the Norwegian rally ace. With the time penalty, it effectively handed third position overall to Solberg. “I am obviously disappointed that our winning streak has come to an end, but it had to happen one day,” admitted Loeb. “At least people will stop talking about a possible grand slam this season, which is something I have never given a thought to myself. Our problems this weekend prove that nothing can be taken for granted in this championship which is turning out to be as challenging as ever. We need to keep on

working to try to turn the tables on our rivals in Greece.” Teenager Evgeniy Novikov and co-driver Dale Moscatt brought their Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC home in fifth place overall, to give this ever-improving crew their best WRC performance to date. Behind them finished Matthew Wilson (Stobart VK MSport Ford Rally Team) in sixth place, Mads Ostberg (Adapta World Rally Team) and Henning Solberg (in the other Stobart entry). Loeb’s team-mate Dani Sordo suffered frustrating technical problems all weekend, with his turbocharger resulting in the Spaniard dropping out of points contention. With the number of spare turbos available for Sardinia and the upcoming Greek rally restricted, the Citroen Total World Rally Team decided to switch Sordo’s engine to normally-aspirated mode. “Our engine was cruelly down on power, but we still managed to have fun down the downhill bits,” said Sordo. “It was important to reach the finish. We succeeded, and that means two extra points for Citroen in the Manufacturers’ World Championship.” In the all-important Drivers’ Championship standings, Loeb is still number 1 on 55pts. His biggest rival, Hirvonen, has now climbed to second place overall, with 38pts, to move seven points ahead of Sordo in third place. Citroen still dominates the Manufacturers’ standings with 29 points separating them from the BP Ford squad. The WRC 2009 enters its second half next month when the action heads to the gruelling and punishing tracks of Greece. The new base of Loutraki hosts the gravel Acropolis Rally of Greece on 11 - 14 June. This is an event where Loeb is expected to win, but will the now re-juvenated Ford squad lose their momentum? • South African Jon Williams, in his second outing as part of the Pirelli Star Driver scheme, finished a highly commendable 30th overall, one of only two of the five drivers to have reached the finish line. Well done, Jon!

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