s e k a r b d Han &Hairpins
2009 Edition 92 August
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he wor your insight into t
Ford and Hirvonen fight back with win!
inside this week:
M-Sport launches Fiesta R2 rally car
Interview with Patrik Sandell
Contents / Issue 91 Welcome to H&H! News • • • • • •
Change to SA’s Off-Road calendar Wilson reflects on “dream weekend” Vettel to join WRC? Raikkonen has rally fever after Finland Rantanen impresses WRC bosses Quesnel admits fears ahead of Finland
Welcome to issue 92 of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, your FREE weekly insight into the world of rallying! This week’s issue had to be scaled back... In the pursuit to bring the very latest and most entertaining reading to you, the week’s issue ballooned to near on 30 pages! However, I reigned in my enthusiasm and will feature this news in next week’s issue.
Features • Patrik Sandell: The Interview
The X Games 15, featuring the Rally America hotshots, was an exciting event, but you will have to wait another week to read about it... It will be worth the wait! Chatting to Patrik Sandell this week ranks amongst my most memorable moments in my career: the humble and highly-talented rally driver answered my questions in an EXCLUSIVE interview! Turn to page 10 to read the 2006 Junior World Rally Champion’s thoughts and opinions.
Event Reports • • • • •
All Tar extravaganza in Western Cape Vos takes charge of title fight Martin Prokop wins J-WRC 2009 Hirvonen impresses in Finland Basso storms to victory in Madeira
This past weekend’s WRC Rally Finland was as nail-biting as expected, and with a new Drivers’ Championship leader the next three rounds of the Championship will be exhilarating, to say the least. As always, I hope you enjoy this week’s exciting edition! Yours in Rallying, Evan Rothman
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The world’s latest rally news SEND YOUR TEAM’S NEWS, PRESS RELEASES OR UPDATES TO EVANROTHMAN@GMAIL.COM!
David Higgins to contest Super One karting series in 2010
massive savings in terms of travel and accommodation, and this also applies to competitors from KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and the Cape regions.
Rally star David Higgins is aiming to contest a full year in the Super One kart championship in 2010 as he continues to develop the talents of his karting protege Luke Hughes.
“From previous years there is still a good infrastructure at Carnival City that can quickly be put into place.”
Higgins has always been a firm believer in the benefits of karting to any motorsport career, and is already contesting multiple kart events this year alongside a full time attack on the Chinese Rally Championship.
The event will be organised by award winning race director Adri Roets and a team of handpicked officials. Roets has been chief organiser for many years of the Sun City 400, which for the last two years has been voted event of the year in the Absa Off Road Championship.
“I mainly do it for fun and as a good way to keep your skills sharp between rallies, but I still like to win and be on the best kart possible,” said David. “Luke and myself have done a deal to drive the new Arrow X1 kart this year, with the help of Walker Racing. The kart is not commonly used in the UK yet, but we have direct contact with the factory for support.” David has worked with Luke for a few years now, seeing him through multiple Cadet championships before he made the step up to MiniMax last year. “Luke is using the new kart to good effect in the Formula Kart Stars championship this year, where he is lying fourth in the MiniMax class,” said David. “I used it for the first time at Whilton Mill recently. With very little time on it we were on the same pace as the frontrunners. We’re very impressed with both the kart’s performance and the factory input.” David and Luke are planning to do the O Plate event at Shenington in September, and to do the full Super One championship next year if it fits around the Chinese Rally Championship calendar which David has already committed to. The boys are sponsored by the Forest Experience Rally School, Global Tiles, Facum, Cobra and Neo Oils.
Change to South Africa’s Off-Road calendar of events There has been a late change to the Absa Off Road Championship calendar with the Highveld 400 to replace the Limpopo 400 on 28 and 29 August. The Highveld 400 will be round six of the Absa series with the event based at Carnival City on the East Rand. Off road officials said the decision to cancel the Limpopo 400 and replace it with the Carnival City race was based on economic considerations. “The Limpopo 400 did not have a sponsor and with the majority of national competitors based in Gauteng and neighbouring provinces, it made sense to switch the race to Gauteng,” said MSA Off Road Car Racing Commission president Richard Schilling. “A Gauteng based event will provide for
The Highveld 400 will also incorporate a round of the Northern Regions Off Road Car Racing Championship and a round of the North West Challenge. It is expected the event will follow in the footsteps of the recent Sun City 400, and will attract an entry of more than 100 competitors in the Production and Special Vehicle categories. Schilling added that drawing on previous Carnival City 400 events, Roets had already identified and mapped out a provisional route. This will be fine tuned over the next fortnight. “Previous Carnival City 400 events provided for some tough and interesting racing,” said Schilling. “This year will be the same and we are looking forward to a successful and challenging event.” With the season now into the home stretch the Highveld 400 will be followed by the Toyota Dealer 400 in Mpumalanga on 2 and 3 October, and the season ends with the RFS Magalies 400 based at Tarlton International raceway on 6 and 7 November. - Credit: www.saoffroadracing.co.za
M-Sport announces price for all-new Ford Fiesta R2 Rally Car M-Sport has announced the price and full specification of the new Fiesta R2 rally car conversion kit. The R2 conversion kit is designed to fit to the standard 1,6-litre 3-door Ford Fiesta Sport (Zetec S in the UK and Ireland) road car. Fifty kits will be available from M-Sport from 1 September and will be priced at £18,995 + VAT and delivery. These are available for immediate order and for more information contact Kate Rhodes on email@example.com. The R2 rally car took part in another successful drive day at Rally Finland on Thursday as part of the Europe-wide tour that has already seen it visit Belgium, Poland, Turkey, Spain, Slovenia and Italy. There will be further drive days throughout August in Estonia, Latvia, Ireland, the UK, Austria, Germany and France. The
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Fiesta R2 rally car is targeted at competitors in the Fiesta SportTrophy series, as well as in regional rally championships. - Credit: m-sport.co.uk
no one better. I have plenty to do in F1, but who knows maybe one day I will compete in the WRC - I wouldn’t mind doing some drives in the future.”
Wilson reflects on “dream weekend” in WRC Rally Finland
Loeb, meanwhile, said he had been impressed by the performance of Ferrari F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen in Finland, even though he failed to finish after rolling his car into a ditch on Saturday.
The boss of Ford’s rally team, Malcolm Wilson, has praised the efforts of his drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala on Rally Finland, saying their first and third places made it a ‘dream weekend’ for Ford. Rally winners Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen won by 25,1sec to extend their lead in the FIA World Rally Championship to three points with three rounds remaining. It was Hirvonen’s third straight rally win and Ford’s fourth consecutive victory of the 2009 season. Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila joined their fellow Finns on the podium by claiming third in their Focus RS WRC. Latvala also topped the top speed chart by winning the penultimate special stage at a remarkable average of 131,56kph. The results enabled Ford to close the gap on the leaders Citroen in the manufacturers’ world title fight to 14 points, and capped a perfect week in which Ford announced it would extend its commitment to WRC for a further two years into 2010 and 2011. “It’s been a dream weekend for Ford,” said Wilson. “After the results we’ve had it’s something else to build on for the remaining part of the season. Both drivers did exactly what we were looking for.” Wilson summed-up Hirvonen’s performance as ‘absolutely outstanding’. “Without question, it was his best drive,” he said. “Every stage he was always consistent. It was a big step even from last year, to the point where he said he was taking fewer risks this weekend than last year when he finished second. I think that’s a message to Sebastien - there’s a little bit more still to come.” Wilson said that his second driver, Jari-Matti had driven superbly in difficult circumstances. “I can’t remember anybody else being under as much pressure going into a world championship rally - particularly their home event. So to come on the podium is a great turnaround from where we were in Poland.” Gerard Quinn, Ford of Europe’s senior manager for motorsport said: “Victory in the country that is regarded as the spiritual home of rallying is a tremendous achievement. Four consecutive wins in conditions ranging from the blisteringly fast roads in Finland to the rock-strewn tracks and searing heat in Greece demands a blend of strength, speed and reliability from both man and machine and I look forward to us challenging in Australia next month.” - Credit: wrc.com
Another F1 driver considering WRC Red Bull Racing Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel has expressed a desire to follow Kimi Raikkonen’s lead and tackle a round of the World Rally Championship. Vettel travelled to Finland this weekend and met up with Citroen Total World Rally Team drivers Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo, before heading out to the stages to witness the action of the fastest round of the WRC. “This is my first time at the World Rally Championship and it’s been fascinating,” said the German. “It is high speed and it’s nice to be out at the stages to watch it, although unfortunately I’m not driving! “It is nearly as quick as F1, but with no run off and on gravel. I was able to get some advice from Sebastien Loeb, and there is
“I thought he was really good,” said Loeb. “He was only one second per kilometre off the pace of Juho Hanninen, and the best drivers in his category, and to do that here in Finland, on his first time, that’s not so much - so I’m sure he was confident. “It’s important if you want to do this kind of rally to have good notes, and he stayed on the road until yesterday when something happened, but it can happen to anybody. I was surprised - he was driving really fast,” he added. - Credit: wrc.com
Raikkonen crashes out of Finland Living up to his ‘Iceman’ nickname, Kimi Raikkonen shrugged off his last stage roll in Finland today as ‘part of the sport’ and said his World Rally Championship debut had been good fun. Despite engine problems today, Raikkonen was placed 15th overall when he crashed his Abarth Grande Punto S2000 on a left-hand corner, 3km from the start of the day’s final stage, the 29,29km Vaarinmaja (SS19). The car rolled into a ditch and although crowds of spectators managed to drag it back onto the road it was too badly damaged to carry on. Minutes after the accident, Raikkonen said the crash was the result of putting his car in the wrong position on the approach to the corner. “I knew that place but I came in with too wide a line,” he said, “I thought we were going to go wide but then, unfortunately, there were a lot of rocks and when I hit them the car went over.” “I thought we wouldn’t finish the rally because we had too many problems with the engine! But it was good fun and nobody got hurt. It happens - it’s part of rallying,” he added. Back in the Service Park, Raikkonen’s co-driver Kaj Lindstrom told wrc.com he was proud of what Kimi had achieved. “He proved he has the speed, which before the rally nobody knew for sure,” he said. “Getting to the finish of the rally was the main thing here, but with the engine in such a bad shape we knew, realistically, that wasn’t going to happen. “Kimi wasn’t overdriving to compensate for the engine, it was all down to being on the wrong line on a very tricky corner - the same one which caught out Mads Ostberg.” Lindstrom confirmed that the extent of the damage ruled out a SuperRally return on Sunday. He also said more rallies with Kimi were a possibility but wouldn’t be drawn on when and where. - Credit: wrc.com
Citroen Racing boss admits to concerns ahead of WRC Rally Finland Citroen Racing director Olivier Quesnel has admitted that of the last four rallies in the 2009 World Rally Championship calendar, Finland was the one he feared the most. Quesnel revealed his pre-event concerns after his driver Sebastien Loeb came off second best to championship leader Mikko Hirvonen at the weekend, in a reversal of the result in 2008. Eight points for Loeb, however, means he heads to the next
round in Australia only three behind Hirvonen, with his chances of defending his 2008 world title still very much alive. A fourth place for Dani Sordo, meanwhile, kept Citroen in the lead of the manufacturers’ standings, 14 points ahead of Ford. With the exception of the brand new rally in Australia, Loeb has won each of the final four rounds of the 2009 series before, but Quesnel said that despite a victory there last year, the specialist event in Finland was the one which gave him the most concern. “This is the one we feared the most,” admitted Quesnel. “I think it’s fair to say that we were beaten by the best man on the day. Seb and Daniel’s performance cannot be faulted, however, while Dani’s result means that we have only dropped three points in the Manufacturers’ standings.” While his World Rally Team drivers had to settle for second best, Quesnel praised the efforts of the Czech Republic Junior category driver Martin Prokop. “I’d like to congratulate him on securing the title - and the C2 Super 1600’s second consecutive crown in the J-WRC,” he said. - Credit: wrc.com
Matti Rantanen impresses in first drive for Munchi’s team in Finland Rantanen the Munchi’s team star in Finland Munchi’s Ford team leader Federico Villagra picked up a manufacturers’ championship point for finishing 11th overall on Rally Finland, but the star of the Munchi’s show in this occasion was guest driver Matti Rantanen who took his best ever result on a World Rally Championship event. After impressing with a seventh-place finish on his home rally last year, Rantanen had set himself high standards for this year’s event and wasted no time in making his mark on the field, driving a Munchi’s team Ford Focus RS WRC. Following a tenth place finish on the Super Special Stage on Thursday night the Finn and co-driver Mikko Lukka put their local knowledge to good use to scythe through the field. By the end of the first day Rantanen had moved up to fifth place overall with only the factory team drivers in front of him. His early stage times on Saturday morning were affected by a misfire at low revs as he dropped behind Henning Solberg, but this problem was fixed at the first service and by the end of the longest day of the rally the young Finn had recovered to finish the day in the same position that he started. With Sebastien Ogier pushing him for fifth place there was no let up on Sunday morning. A big moment on SS21 saw Rantanen caught out by a slow corner in another ultra-fast section of Finnish road, but again he recovered to take a foursecond advantage into the final two stages of the day. With Ogier challenging hard, the Finn managed to cling on, holding a nerve-jangling 0.3 second advantage at the end with a stunning third place on SS23 Ruuhimäki, the final stage of the rally. “My result last year was great but this one really tops it,” said Rantanen. “I started to think I should be closer to the top
drivers but I have to remember that the four people above me are full-time professional rally drivers. I found it difficult on the second day and I felt we were a bit too sideways in some of the stages and lost some time on the loose gravel. The car that M-Sport provided for me has been fantastic and we hardly changed any settings all rally. But the fight with Ogier on Sunday was exciting and it was a really great feeling to come out on top.” Having sat out the high-speed tests of Rally Poland, Villagra had an uphill struggle ahead of him to adapt to the ultra-fast Finnish roads after his last WRC outing on the Acropolis Rally, one of the slowest on the calendar. With limited experience of the crests and corners of the Finnish stages the seven-time Argentine Champion lacked the knowledge to push hard on the first pass of the stages. He drove a largely trouble-free rally to finish 11th overall. “This has been a very difficult rally but we are happy to finish with no problems and get another year’s experience of competing here,” said Villagra. “Experience counts for a lot and when I made my pacenotes for this rally I thought they were fine. But the top drivers really know the lines here, especially over the crests, and I have to adjust to it a bit more. It’s difficult to find the exact speed for the corners and I’m struggling more on the first pass with this. “We came here from Rally Acropolis and it’s a shame we didn’t compete in Poland as it may have helped us to adjust to the high speeds,” he added. - Credit: wrc.com
David Higgins to contest Super One karting series in 2010 A jury comprising representatives of the media, the Czech Republic’s motor sport governing body, BFGoodrich and Kronos Racing has selected Czech driver Martin Prokop to drive the BFGoodrich Drivers Team Peugeot 207 S2000 on the 2009 Barum Rally Zlin (August 21-23), round eight of this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge. Martin Prokop, who recently wrapped up the 2009 Junior World Rally Championship title in Finland, has been named to drive the BFGoodrich Drivers Team Peugeot 207 S2000 on this month’s Barum Rally Zlin. The 26-year old received 15 votes to finish ahead of the four other finalists, namely Jaroslav Orsák (two votes), Jan Èerny, Jaromir Tarabus and Eva Vykydalová. The Czech governing body received 26 applications for the drive. “It’s an honour to have been chosen to drive this car in my country’s colours on the Barum Rally. I would like to thank all those who voted for me, and I will do everything in my power to be worthy of the BFGoodrich brand in the Czech Republic,” declared Martin Prokop following the decision’s announcement. Jacques Morelli (BFGoodrich’s IRC Programme Manager): “After being represented by Sébastien Ogier on the Rallye MonteCarlo and by Thierry Neuville in Belgium, the third port of call for the 2009 BFGoodrich Drivers Team programme promises to be another exciting event. Martin Prokop is quick on all types of surface. He is very experienced, too, which he showed by
sewing up the 2009 Junior crown in Finland.” In order to familiarise himself with the Kronos Racing-prepared Peugeot 207 S2000 and with BFGoodrich’s range of tyres, Martin Prokop will attend a special test on Monday August 10. - Credit: rallybuzz.stagetimes.com
Marcus Gronholm wins Killeri Special Stage RallySprint in Finland Former world champion Marcus Gronholm drove again onto podium in Jyvaskyla, this time in a special rallysprint competition on Saturday. Killeri Rallysprint took place on the same two kilometer Killeri track, which hosted the WRC event´s super special stage. In Killeri Rallysprint two cars run on adjacent lanes in each heat. All competitors first participated in qualifying runs against the clock. The fastest eight from each category then proceeded into elimination run-offs, with the winners eventually pitched in a duel in the finals. In the finals Gronholm drove against the four time national champion Tomi Hallia. -It´s always nice to win in Jyvaskyla. This was fun and the competition was exciting. I didn´t make any mistakes so this was a very positive surprise, said Gronholm. - Credit: rallybuzz.stagetimes.com
Petter Solberg to miss WRC Rally Australia to focus on Rally Spain With the closing date for entries being today, the decision had to be made and sadly the Petter Solberg World Rally Team will not enter the event. - We decided today that we will not attend the Rally Australia. It is our opinion that we will not be competitive enough to challenge for a podium, instead we will use the time to prepare in the best way for the two remaining events, Spain and Wales, and also continue working on our plans for next season, explains Team Manager Ken Rees. – We think it is better to put all our effort into preparing for the two last events of the season. The next event for Petter Solberg World Rally Team will be Rally of Spain, 2 – 4 October 2009. - Credit: pettersolberg.com
United States Rally Championship points standings update United States Rally Championship Points Standings have been updated at: www.usrallychampionship.com
MML Sports to debut EVO X at prestigious RallyDay event MML Sports Ltd has confirmed that it will be present at this year’s RallyDay, one of the year’s most important events for rally fans. Not only will the company be displaying both its Group N Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX rally car and the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 World Rally Car, it will also have its full event support structure in place to allow rally fans a genuine insight into the operation. Mitsubishi rally cars have always been a major part of RallyDay, this year held at the Castle Combe racetrack in Wiltshire on Saturday 19 September. However, this will be the first time MML Sports has had an official presence, since the company was only formally created in December last year, from the core of the successful Mitsubishi works rally team. Both the MML Sports Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX Group N rally car and the Lancer WRC05 will be at the show, demonstrating the two extremes of development of the venerable Lancer model. The EvoX Group N car will be the latest version, incorporating the recent engine, damper and body developments and will be the same specification as the car which reigning British Rally Champion Guy Wilks will have driven on the car’s second competitive outing in Latvia just three weeks before. The Lancer World Rally Car will also be the same specification as that used by reigning Hungarian Rally Champion Csaba Spitzmuller as he defends his title against no less than five other, more recent, world rally cars in his home series. The driver of both MML Sports’ cars on the day is to be confirmed but it is widely expected to be one with considerable experience of not only rallying but also, Mitsubishi rally cars. The company will also be treating RallyDay as a live event and as such will have its full complement of support and technical hardware in place, giving rally fans the chance to see what a manufacturer-style team looks like in action. Commenting on the news, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said: “I am delighted that MML Sports is able to support this year’s RallyDay by attending the event and running two of the most evocative rally cars from recent years. “Although we have seen Mitsubishi rally cars at RallyDay in recent years, this will be the first time that MML Sports has officially demonstrated its range and we are excited about having both cars at the event, as well as the full support infrastructure. “We will be confirming who will drive the cars in the near future. However, in the meantime, we have several rallies between now and RallyDay, including the next outing for the EvoX, so we hope to be at Castle Combe with a class-winning car by September.” For more information on the event, go to www.Rallyday.com. - Credit: rallybuzz.stagetimes.com
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World Champion picks BNT Mason Motorsport for PWRC drive in OZ
Audi Museum to display Ur-quattro in special exhibition of Group B cars
The BNT Mason Motorsport Team of Richard and Sara Mason will return to World Championship rallying in September, after being asked by the 2006 Production World Champion, Nasser Al-Attiyah to take his Production World Rally Championship (PWRC) entry at WRC Rally Australia.
To celebrate its centenary, the Audi brand is looking back on an exciting rally era. In a special exhibition entitled “The Cornering Wizards: Group B Rally Cars” which takes place from August 12 to October 31 2009 at the Audi museum mobile in Ingolstadt Germany. Audi Tradition is displaying no fewer than 12 rally cars from the 1983 to 1986 period – with a collective power output of more than 5,000 bhp!
Al-Attiyah has a clash of events in early September and is committed to driving in a round of the Cross Country World Championship for VW as teammate to the legendary Carlos Sainz. “From our past successes in both our previous PWRC outings [2nd in 2006 and 3rd in 2007 at Rally New Zealand] and our performance last year, I guess this means we are now being seen as worthy of helping out some of these top international teams,” said Richard. “It is even more pleasing when you consider that they have gone for us from here in New Zealand ahead of some very good Aussies who, I’m sure would have been pretty keen to get the drive in their own round of the World Rally Championship....”
1983 to 1986 were among the most thrilling years in rallying, the Group B cars in particular have lost nothing of their appeal. The new special exhibition at the Audi museum mobile provides what is probably a unique overview of the cars of this period, with the successful Audi quattro rally cars confronting their rivals of yesteryear. The so-called “Ur-quattro” is there too: the Audi quattro Rallye A1 Group B (340 bhp) dating from 1983 that created a sensation with super-fast lady Michèle Mouton at the wheel. Hannu Mikkola, the “Flying Finn”, took the world rally champion’s title in the same year with this car.
“Greg Horne from BNT has been instrumental in helping us put together the funding for this addition to our original programme for this year, and for that we are extremely grateful.
Also on display is the Audi quattro Rallye A2 Group B (360 bhp) from 1984. In this car it was the Swedish driver Stig Blomqvist’s turn to take the world championship in 1984, with the manufacturer’s title going to Audi. Then there is the Audi Sport quattro Rallye Group B (420 bhp) from 1984, affectionately nicknamed “Shorty” on account of its reduced wheelbase. This car suited rally star Walter Röhrl to perfection. And last but not least, this collection of cars would not be complete without the legendary Audi Sport quattro S1 Group B (476 bhp), the ultimate evolutionary version in this group.
“We all left Mystery Creek [WRC Rally New Zealand] last year with a very empty feeling after being forced to retire on the last day when we had such a commanding lead, so this is an awesome chance to ‘set the record straight’ at the earliest opportunity.”
Eight competitors’ cars round off the special exhibition, including the Peugeot 205 Turbo and Renault R5 Turbo, an MG Metro 6R4 and Lancia’s Delta S4 and 037 Rallye. Together with photo documentation and film material, they provide a picture of that dramatic period in which rally cars learned to fly.
“And, hopefully, another good [PWRC] result for us, where we take points off his closest rivals, will play a significant part in helping Nasser become the PWRC Champion for the second time...”
A change in the rules of rallying in 1983 led to a downright explosion in Group B cars’ power outputs. The new ruling allowed manufacturers of these rally cars more design freedom than ever before. And they didn’t need asking twice: highly tuned engines developing well over 500 bhp soon appeared, and were capable of accelerating the cars from a standing start to 100 km/h in scarcely three seconds. The drivers at the wheel of these potent packages, which needed extensive spoilers to keep them from taking off altogether, seemed to have no problems in taming them. Not surprisingly, the 1983 to 1986 seasons were the most exciting era ever encountered in rally car racing.
The Masterton Flyers will take their trademark bright yellow BNT Subaru across the Tasman and will run as Car 50 for AlAttiyah’s Qatari Barwa Rally Team.
Rally Australia will run from September 3rd - 6th, on roads in northern New South Wales that have never been used for rallying before, so no-one will have any ‘Home Town’ local knowledge or previous experience to give them any advantage. “We understand that the roads to be used are very similar to what we have here, although without the severe camber for which our roads are world famous, but they are predominantly fast and smooth - definitely not Car Breakers.. “We always seem to go well on new stages, which speaks volumes for the quality and accuracy of the pace noting system Sara and I have developed. So with all that in mind, I think we should be able to put up a pretty good showing..,” “With all that has happened here this season and the last few Rally NZ’s, we are VERY keen to see what we can do at another overseas [WRC] round. Especially as this time, unlike [WRC Rally] Japan in 2007, we will be in our own car, which we obviously know so well.” “We seem to thrive on being part of the whole ‘WRC’ thing, it really does seem to bring out the best in us,” concluded the double New Zealand Rally Champion. To keep up to date with BNT Mason Motorsport’s progress www.richardmason.co.nz - Credit: rallybuzz.stagestimes.com
Rally entrants had to cope with difficult terrain and extremes of weather: icy temperatures in Sweden, heat and dust in Kenya, rough, loose-surfaced tracks in Greece. Fans trekked by the hundred thousand to the rally routes, for an opportunity to hear the incredible sound of the engines and to stand in the clouds of dust thrown up by the cars as they hurtled past, often only a few centimetres away. Spectators could scarcely have wished for closer contact with their motor-sport heroes. But all too often, limits are there to be infringed. The power race indulged in by the manufacturers and inadequate awareness of accident risks on the part of the rally organisers resulted before long in tragic accidents. In 1986, Group B was replaced for safety reasons by a new ruling, and an epoch that had influenced the sport of rallying more than any other was over. - Credit: rallybuzz.stagetimes.com
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PATRICK SANDELL THE INTERVIEW
HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS brings its enthusiastic readers an exclusive interview with the 2006 Junior World Rally Champion and current Production World Rally Championship contender, Patrik Sandell. EVAN ROTHMAN speaks to the Swedish rally star... Patrik began his rallying career at the age of 17, in an Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk 1. In his own words, Patrik says that he and his father spent more time in the garage than on the Special Stages trying to get the car ready after the crashes... This has, however, taught Patrik his limits, and enabled him to explore his driving talents. After stepping up to a more sophisticated cars, he started challenging for Swedish National Rally Championship title to join other elite drivers. In 2004, he joined forces with co-driver Emil Axelsson. Together they started to work more intensely to fulfill their dreams of becoming World Rally Champions! H&H: Driving in the world’s most prestigious rallies and competing with the world’s best rally drivers and co-driver must be your dream come true. What are your thoughts and feelings whenever you climb into your rally car? Patrik: It’s a perfect one! This is my life, and I love it. Every time I think that, I am a very happy boy that can do what I love as a living.
H&H: What are your memorable rallying moments so far this year? Patrik: When we won the first rally in Norway, with new car and new team. That feeling was just perfect! H&H: What has been your best moment in your rally career so far? Patrik: It must be when we won the JWRC title in 2006 after a real drama. We have had a good debut season with great results, but on the last day of the last rally we went off road. On the same stage our biggest rival to title also went off road. We managed to get the car to the finish on a tow truck. Everything was nerve-wracking, but thanks to the regulation we ended on fifth place, which was enough to be awarded JWRC Champion! H&H: How do you see your season pan out? Patrik: Good. Okay, I have done one mistake, and went off the road in Portugal and we had some engine problems in Greece, but that is also a part of the game. H&H: What do you prefer to do when you have a day off? Patrik: Then I load the trailer with my Polaris snow mobile and
go for a trip to the mountains. The combination of freedom, speed and the absolute silence from nature is relaxing and gives me the maximum energy. H&H: What´s your best tip to young rally drivers? Patrik: The most important thing is to realise that you can only affect your own situation and your own times. Don’t care about the others and always do your own rally to 100 percent! Hopefully it’s enough to stand on the top of the podium – and in the end it’s all about believing in yourself… and your codriver! H&H: Which is your favourite rally? Patrik: I got two – Finland & Jämtrallyt! The rally in Finland is always a challenge, with the superfast stages and the incredible atmosphere. You have to be in the right mood for this rally. When you go absolutely flat over the jumps – then, again, it’s just to believe in yourself. Jämtrallyt is the local summer rally and it’s always amazing to compete on the stages where I’m born and raised as a rally driver. H&H: Your most unforgettable flying experience? Patrik: On the Saturdays’ last stage in New Zealand 2008 Emil read “big crest keep middle”, but our speed was a bit higher than expected – without warning we just took off… I thought we never gonna’ land. Luckily we had the right line and landed on the road, realising that the next corner was coming quickly. But from now on I feel safe, knowing that I got my wings… H&H: Do you interact with the drivers often? Do you have any friends in rallying, or is it as competitive as Formula One? Patrik: I have almost all my friends in the WRC. Its like a big family and everyone is helping everyone. H&H: Who do you respect in rallying and in the WRC? Patrik: I respect Sebastian Loeb. He is the perfect driver. And, as a person I like Peter Solberg; he knows what the spectators want to see and he delivers. H&H: The pressures and expectations on you must be enormous… Patrik: Its not so bad; the biggest pressure is from myself, and that is to become World Champion one day. H&H: There is great talent rising up through the ranks in world rallying. Who do you think will be the next star rallying fans and competitors should look out for? Patrik: Patrik Sandell H&H: What makes a rally driver a rally driver? What characteristics do rally drivers possess that other motor sport competitors don’t? Patrik: In rallying you have to have a bit of everything: you have to be stupid, smart, aggressive, tame. its a big mix… H&H: It must be a busy office to sit in, the driver’s seat of your rally car. Can you tell us about your rally car? Patrik: I’m driving a Skoda Fabia Super 2000, and that is the car of future. I’m sitting in a Recaro seat, and the only things I have to focusing on my side is the steering wheel, gear shifter, and the pedals. And then just Believe in Myself… H&H: You have a great driving style. What tips can you offer young rallying drivers in terms of setting quick and consistent stage times? Patrik: You have to find your one driving style that is fitting you and the car. The S2000 is a car you really have to push and that suits me perfectly. I like to go maximum all the time! H&H: What was your main motivation in entering rallying? What are your career aspirations? Patrik: I love the speed, and the feeling that you are controlling a situation that normally is not possible to control. H&H: What are your predictions for the 2009 season? Patrik: I hope to win the PWRC. H&H: What is your favourite event on the? And, why? Patrik: I love rallying on snow, so I must say Sweden and Norway. Its a perfect feeling to go sideways at 160km/h between the snow banks… H&H: The glory days of the current WRC cars are numbered. From 2010, they will be running S2000+ rally cars. What are your views on this? You have already gained so much experience in an S2000, will we be seeing you on the WRC podiums more often? Patrik: For me, the changes in the regulations are really good for everybody. I hope that we can see some more manufactures coming into the sport. And, for me personally, its perfect because I have already driven S2000 for two years… - IMAGES: patricksandell.com
ALL TAR EXTRAVAGANZA AT KILLARNEY RACE TRACK
IMAGES BY ERICA SOUTHEY AND ERIC JOSEPH
The Dayco All Tar Rally has a sizzling line up of Rally, Clubmans and GTi cars that are set to do battle on 7 - 8 August at Killarney Race Track. The organisers, that also include SWMC, CPMCC, WPMC and WBMK organisations and clubs, received a whopping 35 entries that are sure to provide plenty of action, WRITES ERICA SOUTHEY. It’s Handbrakes and Hairpins all the way! The rally runs over two days with documentation and scrutineering taking place on the evening of 6 August 2009. Day One will consist of various Special Stages, with two stages rounding off Day Two. Last year’s event generated a frenzy of interest from the non-rally disciplines, and they requested the rally be opened to Clubmans and GTi competitors once again this year. Attendance by spectators showed great support. The tight corners, quick transition from tar to grass to tar, and short straights, will test the skills of the crews and most of all the cars. National competitors J-P. Damseaux and Andy HaighSmith opted out of this rally due to the upcoming Osram Rally. Damseaux said that this event is too close to the national and would put a lot of strain on the drivetrain of the Total Evolution Toyota RunX, and regarding the National Championship he said: “My main aim is to finish and get a result.” The Mitsubishi “Yellow Submarine” Lancer will be there with Ashley HaighSmith and Hilton Auffray in command of the controls. Current leader in the driver’s category of the Western Cape Regional Rally Championship in the AWI Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, Mike Nathan said that he will keep an eye on his closest opponents, Thorsten Pey/Mark Palmer (BMW 325i) and Clubmans’ entrant Ian Long. When asked about how he was going to approach this rally in a car that is not track friendly he said: “The car is not 100 percent ready – we damaged the gearbox, clutch and turbo at the last rally,” said Nathan.
He added that he will make the car as light and nimble as possible. This rally is not quite what the car is used to, and in order to capitalize and gain advantage he will go on the brakes late as possible. A track racing fundi and expert, Nathan and navigator Craig Jacobs have their work cut out. Jacobs said: “We will win on swings and lose on the roundabouts.” Jacobs returns to face this rally after he and Johan Kotze rolled due to Kotze not paying attention to what he was instructing. He said that what will make the rally very interesting is that although the disciplines are different Clubmans also chase time like rally crew whereas, GTi competitors are already set-up for track. After a disappointing Malmesbury event Llewellyn Jones hopes to finish the Dayco All Tar Rally. At time of interview, Jones and navigator Craig Gray were hard at work preparing their Volkswagen Golf for its next battle. Jones is set on finishing the rally: “We are going to keep it neat, tidy and keep good lines.” He said he learned a hard lesson from the previous rally and endeavours to go through hairpins smoothly and not break another CV joint. On what he most looks forward to, he stated: “We are going to have close racing and I will be able to see my opponents since we are on track. Mixing of the categories is great.” For those caught between rally and rugby, there will be the CPMCC “Rollbar” to watch the rugby on TV. Come and support the rally competitors in this All out battle on Tar to see who comes out Rally whizzes after pulling Handbrakes going through Hairpins.
IMAGES BY MARTINPROKOP.COM
WINS J-WRC 2009 CROWN
Martin Prokop drove his Citroen C2 S1600 to a convincing victory in this past weekend’s Rally Finland, a round of the Junior World Rally Championship (J-WRC), to clinch the prestigious title WRITES EVAN ROTHMAN.
Hailing from the Czech Republic, Martin Prokop has this season dominated the Junior World Rally Championship (J-WRC), the fast-paced two-wheel category. In Rally Finland, Prokop enjoyed a trouble-free run at the steerign wheel of his Citroen C2 S1600, winning his category by a whopping 55,5s from Finnish wild card entry of Kalle Pinomaki in his Renault Clio R3. Making his world rally debut at this event in 2005, Prokop was overwhelmed with emotion at the end of the final stage. “Wow! It’s incredible, a big dream for me - the biggest moment in my life!” Prokop joins a select group of previous champions that includes WRC factory team drivers Sebastien Ogier (winner in 2008), Dani Sordo ( winner in 2005) and Sebastien Loeb (winner in 2001). At the end of the event, Prokop said he was glad his extensive experience had finally paid off with his first title. “We’ve been
fighting for this for five years,” he said. “We got close last year and in 2007 but this year we were finally ready for it. “I could perhaps have won the series with two reasonable results here and in Spain but we took the decision to push here instead - and here we are. We have a lot of experience on this rally and I though if I couldn’t do it now something is wrong,” he added. Prokop’s major title challenger thsi year was Michal Kosciuszko (Suzuki Swift S1600), and he finished in third place on this his final event of the season. His podium result means he is able to hold second place in the J-WRC standings on a total of 42 points to Prokop’s 46. German driver Aaron Burkart finished fourth in the J-WRC category and, with 35 points and one round still to go, remains the only driver capable of toppling Kosciuszko from second place in this year’s series.
HIRVONEN CELEBRATES IMPRESSIVE WRC WIN IN FINLAND
The Flying Finn just couldn’t be beat this weekend. Celebrating his 29th birthday on Day One of the WRC Rally Finland Mikko Hirvonen charged to his first WRC victory on home soil, WRITES EVAN ROTHMAN. Despite a brave and concerted challenge from the Citroen Total World Rally Team, the defending World Rally Champions Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroen Total C4 WRC) were not able to find the pace and rhythm that brought them success in last year’s running of the event. So determined was Hirvonen that after he gained the lead of the rally on SS2, he never once looked as if he would relinquish the lead and posted ten fastest stage times in the process. “I’ve watched this rally since I was a kid and now I have won here myself and joined so many of the sport’s legend who have won here,” said Hirvonen. “It’s such a fantastic sensation
to win my home rally that I can’t put my feelings into words. It has been such a great weekend for the team that there will be big celebrations tonight. I felt in control throughout the rally.” Hirvonen now adds his name to the long list of Finnish rally champions that tasted victory on home soil. He is now three points clear of Loeb, with only three events remaining this season. Loeb has worn the WRC Drivers’ Championship crown since 2004; this year’s title fight could see a new WRC Champion emerge, as this event has shown that Hirvonen has the ability and fortitude to beat Sebastien Loeb in a straight fight. For rally fans, this means both drivers will be
in full-attack mode for the final three rounds of the 2009 Championship. The WRC Rally Finland, regarded as the spiritual home of rallying, saw 90 crews take to the fast and flowing gravel roads of this the ninth round of twelve of the WRC Championship. With sunny skies overhead, five hundred thousand spectators lined the roller-coaster roads to cheer for their favourite rally crews. And fans were not disappointed as these WRC drivers proved their skills and mastery over the stomach-churning jumps, fast bends, and highlighted their ability to concentrate fully for extended periods while at full throttle, and the co-drivers showed their pin-point accurate pace notes to full effect here. It was Jari-Matti Latvala (BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team) who topped the speed chart by winning the penultimate special stage at a remarkable average of 131,56km/h. Few of the 23 gravel speed tests covering 345,15km fell below a 120km/h average, and even when heavy rain fell on the morning of Day Two speeds remained high as the rock hard road surface softened to provide even better grip. The 2009 WRC Rally Finland was not for the faint-of-heart! As predicted in last week’s issue of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, Loeb and Hirvonen duelled for the top spot of the podium. Loeb’s challenge was not enough to reel in the handful of seconds needed to leapfrog Hirvonen; only 25,1sec separated the two WRC crews, but at WRC Rally Finland a mere couple of seconds has decided rally winners in the past. The Citroen boys, however, never once gave up the fight and pushed Hirvonen all the way to the finish line. “I would have preferred to have won, but there was little I could do about the result this weekend,” admitted Loeb. “Mikko put in a flawless run on his home event after being on the limit from start to finish. We’ve dropped another two points in the title chase, so it looks like it’s going to be a close-run thing to the end.” “I can’t go any faster,” said Loeb. “Mikko has a small advantage because he is running first on the road and he is also depositing a thin layer of mud on my line. I can see where he is putting his wheels and he is going very quickly indeed. I am, too, but not quite as quickly…” Jari-Matti Latvala and his co-driver Miika Anttila (BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team) impressed his team too: by the end of the rally this pairing of Flying Finns were hassling Loeb and Elena for second spot, forcing Loeb to defend his position. Latvala was able to sink his competitive teeth into this event, as he duelled with DanI Sordo and Marc Marti (Citroen Total C4 WRC) throughout the rally. Sordo was placed in third for much of the event, as Latvala aimed for a strong, trouble-free event. On Day Two, Latvala suffered from the ill effects of food poisoning resulting in him losing a few seconds more to Sordo. However, on Saturday’s afternoon stages Latvala attacked and drove with the confidence that highlighted his breathtaking ability. He was able to overtake Sordo on the final day of the event, as the Spaniard was unable to respond to Latvala’s increased pace and was forced to settle with fourth place overall. Sordo’s consistency, and ability to read an event like a Chess master, has set him out as the best second driver this season and is also why he is currently lying third in the Drivers’ title fight to help Citroen lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship campaign. “It’s a shame we didn’t manage to hold on to third place,” rued Sordo, “but there were times when we succeeded in rivaling with the drivers who were fighting for victory. More than anywhere else, experience is vital here in Finland and I feel I progressed to a higher level on this year’s event.” Rising Finnish star, and former double World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm’s protoge, Matti Rantanen and co-driver Mikko Lukka, wowed spectators in his Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team debut this past weekend. A trouble-
free rally saw them climb to fifth overall on Day One, and the young pairing held on to claim the position as theirs come the end of the fast-paced event. In doing so, he pipped Junior World Rally Champions Sebastien Ogier/ Julien Ingrassi (Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC) by 0,3sec.
One, but was forced to retire from this gruelling event. Now with an uprated engine, he has shown that he will be a force to
On their first participation in the Rally Finland at the wheel of the C4 WRC, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have finished sixth after setting a fastest time on day two. This excellent result underlines the progress made by the Citroën Junior Team since the start of the 2009 season. After setting a fastest time in SS18, Ogier and Ingrassia ended Rally Finland in sixth place overall. The last two drivers to have set a fastest time in Finland on their debut there with a top-category car were Didier Auriol and Carlos Sainz in 1988. Jari Ketomaa was the cat among the proverbial pigeons this past weekend, as he pushed his privateer Subaru Impreza WRC to seventh place overall. Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin (Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team Focus RS WRC) claimed eighth place overall, after a conservative start to the event. On Day Two, Wilson was able to settle into a steady rhythm to move into eighth position and was able to maintain the position to the end to secure his first WRC point in Finland.
be reckoned with in the remaining rounds of the WRC calendar.
Khalid Al Qassimi and his BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC powered to ninth position overall, highlighting this driver’s improving talent behind the wheel of his powerful Focus RS WRC.
There are three rallies remaining, three points in the title fight and two contenders and one title: the World Rally Championship can never be lambasted for being predictable and boring!
Juho Hanninen (Skoda Fabia S2000) pushed the more powerful WRC cars to the way to the finish line with his S2000-spec machine. Hanninen, who has once again shown his speed and ability amongst the world’s best drivers, is make WRC bosses take note. With more such impressive performances, this young driver could find himself in a WRC seat next season... The popular Stobart VK Ford M-Sport pairing of Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud struggled for pace on the opening day of competition. On Day Two they moved into fifth place, but damaged their car’s front suspension at a hairpin bend that resulted in their retirement from the event. The pairing did, however, restart the event on Day Three under SupeRally regulations, and finished 30th overall. Brother Petter Solberg and co-driver Phil Mills (Citroen Xsara WRC) were running with the frontrunners for much of Day
BASSO STORMS TO VICTORY IN MADEIRA
IMAGES BY IRCSERIES.COM
Giandomenico Basso has won his third Rali Vinho Madeira for Abarth after a thrilling duel with local hero Bruno Magalhaes, which ended with just 3.5s between them after 21 stages. Basso joins two other men – Americo da Silva Nunes and Pierro Liatti – in the record books of three-time winners, and puts himself into contention for the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge title. “It was fast, nervous and exciting,” said a clearly delighted Basso. “The team has been working hard and the car was strong. This event is very special to me, and to make my third win here after losing on the last stage last year is fantastic.” No less delighted to be runner-up against the IRC frontrunners, Magalhaes was equally effusive. “It’s a great honour for me to be able to perform so strongly among such great drivers,” he said. “It was a long rally, very tense at the finish
but second place really feels like a win to me.” It was championship leader Kris Meeke who took first blood in Madeira with a storming drive through the streets of Funchal to claim Thursday evening’s superspecial by 0,9 seconds. Yet when the rally headed out into the green and mountainous roads around the island, Basso’s experience paid off and he delivered a string of eight fastest stage times to go clear by the end of Leg One.
That advantage was much-needed however, because Portuguese driver Bruno Magalhaes was within striking distance throughout in second place. When Basso hit gearbox problems he was forced to go slow, fearing a spin would prove costly without reverse gear, it allowed both Magalhaes and Meeke to take stage victories from him. At the start of Day Two Basso had a fresh gearbox on board his Grande Punto, but it was his teammate Luca Rossetti who set the pace, running in fifth position and taking two stage wins. Then on SS16 Rossetti’s run came to a dramatic halt as he crashed out, promoting Meeke to fifth. Basso and Magalhaes then traded fastest stage times, although defending IRC champion Nicolas Vouilloz won SS18 to close up on third-place runner Alex Camacho after Basso lost 10sec with a spin. Nevertheless the positions were static even though the speed advantage ebbed and flowed from driver to driver. “We started a little slow, though we were trying to go fast,” said Vouilloz. “I’m not really happy about the weekend but the car was good today and we were able to drive to the maximum.” Thanks to a huge number of privately-entered 207 S2000s, Peugeot managed to fill eight of the top ten positions. A rallylong duel between Meeke and Freddy Loix was one of the most entertaining battles that raged throughout the event for fifth place – and may well prove pivotal for the championship. Going in to Madeira, Meeke held a six point advantage over Loix. The single point at stake in such a hard-fought series spurred a fantastic competition for fifth place, which Meeke ultimately won. Now the Briton has 34 points, Jan Kopecky has 29 and both Loix and Basso have 27. “This is a very, very special rally,” Meeke said. “To come here for the first time and win would be impossible, the top four guys were incredible and to be just over a minute behind after three hours is amazing. The points you win on a bad weekend are the ones that count the most.”
For Loix, however, there was clear disappointment: “We hadn’t made all our preparations before we came here so Day One was spent on the setup – and by the time we got that right
everyone had gone!” he said. “We had to keep the pressure on Meeke but he did a great rally and that’s another point to him.” Behind them came three more Peugeots – Miguel Nunes, Corrado Fontana and Michal Solowow respectively. The all-new Proton Satria Neo of Guy Wilks finished the event in 10th place overall, the team electing to focus on developing the car once it became clear that a points scoring result was not achievable. Skoda also failed to increase its score in Madeira, despite the presence of Maurin in a Skoda Italia-prepared Fabia S2000. His challenge was thwarted on the road section to SS13 when, having lost his brakes, Maurin was powerless to avoid an accident which forced major repairs to be made overnight and restarting under superrally regulations well outside the points. In the 2WD Cup Manuel Villa scored his second win of the season for Abarth in his Punto S1600. The Spaniard was able to contain the threat from his biggest rival in the series, Denis Millet’s turbochared Peugeot 207, to take a resounding win. FINAL IRC Rally Madeira CLASSIFICATION: 01) G. Basso (Abarth Grande Punto S2000) - 03h 09m 55,4s 02) B. Magalhaes 9Peugeot 207 S2000) + 03,5s 03) A. Camacho (Peugeot 207 S2000) + 41,7 04) N. Vouilloz (Peugeot 207 S2000) + 49,4s 05) K. Meeke (Peugeot 207 S2000) + 01m 21,9s 06) F. Loix (Peugeot 207 S2000) + 01m 28,4s 07) M. Nunes (Peugeot 207 S2000) + 04m 57,9s 08) C. Fontana (Peugeot 207 S2000) + 05m 50,6s 09) M. Solowow (Peugeot 207 S2000) + 07m 29,9s 10) G. Wilks (Proton Satria Neo S2000) + 10m 40,8s
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