Handbrakes and Hairpins Issue 08
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A Corsican Hat-Trick For Citroen and Loeb Sebastien Loeb cruised around Corsica to another consecutive tarmac rally win. So far this season the Frenchman has proved victorius at each asphalt rally. Loeb now moves two more points closer to his arch rival, only four separate him from BPFord World Rally Team’s Marcus Gronholm. The weather stayed dry all week giving the teams a chance to race heads up throughout the event. At first it looked as if the Ford Focus RS of Gronholm had the speed, but by the afternoon of Day One Loeb had dialed in the Citroen C4 and slowly pulled away. By the end of Day Two he was 30 seconds ahead of Gronholm.
Second was the best Gronholm could have hoped for in the WRC Rally of France. For Dani Sordo, the Finn’s second place was a dreaded outcome. The Citroen driver had set out to repeat last weekend’s success by giving the team a one, two finish. The gap in points between the top two would have been reduced to a mere two. On today’s final stages Sordo pushed as hard as he could, winning all but one stage on the way. Sadly, never fully recovering from day one handling problems, the Spaniard was never able to catch Gronholm. The six pints earned in third still go towards the team’s fight to claw up to Ford’s top spot, something the young driver should be pleased about.
After the usual suspects round out the top three things get a little more interesting. Lately it’s been a given that Mikko Hirvonen would be somewhere placed in the top five. Unfortunately this time he crashed out on the first day, soldiering on far down in the rankings. This handed the fourth spot to Francois Duval, another name typical to the top five, especially a tarmac event like here in France. Yet our story doesn’t end there, gremlins attacked the Belgians gearbox yesterday, forcing him to retire overnight. Thus privateer team Stobart Motorsport’s Jari-Matti Latvala inherited the position. Latvala fought hard all weekend to advance up the order, passing former world champion Petter Solberg on the way.
Solberg had to settle for fifth while his Subaru teammate Chris Atkinson finished the rally with sixth to his name. The last two points paying positions went to Jan Kopecky and Xevi Pons respectively. With three more rallies to go the battle is close and intense. Two of them are on gravel including Rally Japan which is next on the list in two weeks time. The other gravel event is the season finale in Wales, UK. Rally Ireland is sandwiched between them and is the final tarmac event, a win almost certain to go to Loeb if everything goes right. Final Results of the WRC Rally of France: 1. S. Loeb/D. Elena (Citroën C4) 3 h 28 min 31,5 s 2. M. Grönholm/T. Rautiainen (Ford Focus) + 23,7 s 3. D. Sordo/M. Martí (Citroën C4) + 44,3 s 4. JM. Latvala/M. Anttila (Ford Focus) + 2 min 30,5 s 5. P. Solberg/P. Mills (Subaru Impreza) + 2 min 42,1 s 6. C. Atkinson/S. Prevot (Subaru Impreza) + 3 min 53,8 s 7. J. Kopecky/F. Schovanek (Skoda Fabia) + 8 min 02,9 s 8. X. Pons/X. Amigo (Subaru Impreza) + 9 min 34,2 s 9. H. Solberg/K. Menkerud (Ford Focus) + 10 min 12,2 s 10. A. Bettega/S. Scattolin (Ford Focus) + 18 min 20,8 s
“This has been a fantastic day for me and a very important mark in my career,” grinned Latvala. “This is my best performance and best result on asphalt so far but the most important thing is my improvement on asphalt driving. I have been concentrating very hard on driving better, more controlled and less aggressive, and it really has been working. We came here with a lot of confidence from Spain which helped with our car set-up to start the rally. In Spain I was over three minutes behind the winner and now I am just over two behind, so the improvement is easy to see. I didn’t concentrate on beating Petter today, I wasn’t getting any of his split times, but just wanted to drive well and give my best performance. This has worked and I’m so pleased with this rally.”
Manufacturers’ Championship standings: 1. Ford, 179 points 2. Citroën Total, 147 pts 3. Subaru, 71 pts 4. Stobart, 64 pts 5. OMV Kronos Citroën, 39 pts 6. Munchi’s, 6 pts. Drivers’ Championship standings: 1. M. Grönholm, 104 points 2. S. Loeb, 100 pts 3. M. Hirvonen, 74 pts 4. D. Sordo, 45 pts 5. P. Solberg, 38 pts 6. C. Atkinson, 29 pts 7. H. Solberg, 28 pts 8. JM. Latvala, 24 pts 9. F. Duval, 12 pts 10. T. Gardemeister, 10 pts
Suzuki Sport’s WRC Debut: The dream has begun for Suzuki, as the SX4 World Rally Car of Nicolas Bernardi and his co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin crossed the start ramp of the Rallye de France - Tour de Corse: the very first event of Suzuki’s world rally adventure. This year, the Japanese manufacturer competed on the asphalt roads of Corsica with Bernardi and Fortin, before tackling the gravel roads of Great Britain with Sebastian Lindholm and Tomi Tuominen. During the morning before the event, the SX4 WRC had its first taste of action at the shakedown test stage near Ajaccio: a last-minute opportunity to finalise settings and refine the car before the competitive stages started. The newly-formed Suzuki World Rally team, consisting of 25 people in Corsica, spent the weekend learning to work together under competitive conditions for the first time. As well as a life-size test for the car, this year’s two rallies will also be a test for the team. Nobuhiro Tajima, team principal of the Suzuki World Rally Team, commented: “Our team is Japanese, but there are lots of people all over the world working very hard for us now. We are newcomers, so our aim to is to get more experience from this rally and have some feedback for the future. Finally,the adventure has begun!” The Suzuki SX4 WRC crew of Nicolas Bernardi and JeanMarc Fortin were delighted to reach the finish of their car’s debut event. The aim for them on this rally was to continue the development programme on asphalt, and throughout the three days of the Rallye de France the team has been able to sample a wide variety of asphalt conditions.
The car re-started under the super rally system on Day Two , having been halted by an unforeseen fuel injector problem on Day One. It ran without major problems throughout Day Three’s four stages, totalling 112 competitive kilometres, although Bernardi was slowed by a hydraulic-related gearshift problem, which meant that the car was sometimes reluctant to change gear. Nonetheless he brought it safely to the finish, having collected vital data that will be essential for development in the future. Suzuki World Rally Team driver Nicolas Bernardi enjoyed the final day behind the wheel of the SX4 WRC, on roads that he has some experience of from the past. He said: “We’ve been able to confirm a number of things we have discovered from our previous test programme and formulate some very clear ideas about the right direction for the future. During the afternoon we had a problem that affected the gearshift, but it did not stop me from enjoying these fantastic roads!” The team has done what it set out to do in Corsica, learning some valuable lessons that will contribute to the future development of the SX4 WRC. Nobuhiro Tajima, team principal of the Suzuki World Rally Team, commented: “We’re very pleased to get our all-new car to the finish of this event, which was our main objective here. Today’s hydraulic problem was a small inconvenience, but it is all part of the process of testing. This experience has taught us a lot, and we now have several ideas about how we will work on fine-tuning the development of our car..” The Suzuki World Rally Team’s next event will be the all-gravel Rally Great Britain, round 16 of the World Rally Championship, from November 30 - December 2. Sebastian Lindholm will drive the SX4 WRC, co-driven by Tomi Tuominen.
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Fuel Stop: News Briefs Sainz To Don His Helmet Once More!
Carlos Sainz is set to make a return to driving a World Rally Car late next month at the Rally Shalymar, a round of the Spanish Championship. ‘El Matador’ will drive a Skoda Fabia WRC prepared by the Czech team CRT-Skoda.
The former champion will follow in the footsteps of his illustrious compatriots Didier Auriol and Colin McRae when he gets behind the wheel of the Skoda Fabia WRC, and will be hoping to adapt quickly to the Czech machine.
Sainz visisted the team at the WRC Rally Catalunya to congratulate Jan Kopecky on his excellent 5th place on Rallye Deutschland earlier this year, but also to touch base with the team and learn about his new car.
Rally Shalymar takes place from 24th November. Handbrakes and Hairpins will be folowing his progress closely on this event!
In rallying, pace notes are used to accurately describe the route to be driven in extreme detail. Used in the World Rallying Championship, its effectiveness cannot be argued.
have forgotten it by the time the feature is encountered. Again, this pacing is something that comes with practice and development of teamwork. Often the co-driver will need to “get inside the driver’s head”, and re-read notes that he thinks might have been forgotten, or for emphasis. Sometimes the driver might even ask for some notes again. The co-driver must also match up the notes to the actuality of the route being driven - it is easy to lose one’s place, and incorrect notes can be more dangerous than no notes at all. Re-synching the notes with the actual route after a loss can be tricky, depending on the terrain. A good codriver will always seek to prevent this happening.
Pace Notes: Deciphering The Hieroglphyics
Pace notes dictate the general route to be taken, in terms of corners, T-juctions, hairpins and yumps, as well as all notable features of the route that might affect the way it is driven at high speed are included. These details include the distance between each feature, the degree/severity of the upcoming bends, features such as adverse camber, crests, blind rises, surface type and conditions, potholes and special instructions to the driver. These notes are written down in the greatest of detail, in shorthand and read out loud to the driver THREE corners ahead in WRC. Around the world, some national championships provide the rally teams with a set of pace notes, and rules ban recce runs. This means that the pace notes handed out by the organisers are usually the only ones permitted ot be used. On some events, the organisers have handed out pace notes to the crews and allowed the driver and navigator to drive the stages to enhance the quality of the pace notes. This makes of rsafer rallying and for faster driving. I found the following pace notes for a short stage: MC1 100 KL2 100 KR2 200 SQL 100 KR4 50Y!->R2+ (D/C!) 100 +SQR 400 F->CR->KL4 100 MC2 Put into English it means: From Main Control 1 (start), 100 metres straight to a kink left, severity 2 100 metres, kink right severity 2 200 m, square left (90°) 100 m, kink right severity 4 50 m, yump (caution!) into immediate right hand bend severity 2 tightens (caution, don’t cut [the corner, due to hazard on the inside]!) 100 m, oversquare right 400 m, flat (maximum speed) into crest into kink left severity 4 100 m to Main Control 2 (finish) When these pace notes are read to the driver, the co-driver will translate the hieroglphyics into full words and sentences. The co-driver will read the notes at such a pace that the driver will always have enough to go on, but not so far ahead that he will
Here Petter Solberg’s co-driver Phil Mills translates a bit of the language that’s used by professional rally drivers and co-drivers... Pace notes from Acropolis Rally 2004: SS4 / SS7 Pavliani: 1. Start, 30, Keep left over a crest into short 4 right plus opens, 60, crest and 6 right plus and don’t cut short 6 left minus. 2. 60, line into 2 right minus over a bump tightens to a hairpin over a ditch. 3. Into 6 left long opens over a crest, 30, 6 right into 3 left plus long don’t cut tightens to 1, into a short 1 right plus and short 2 left minus tightens at junction (junction 2 at 0.6kms) 20. Translation: 1. Start, drive 30 metres then keep left over a crest into a fast fourth gear right-hand corner, accelerate for 60 metres to a crest, then stay in the middle of the road for a sixth gear left hand corner in half throttle. 2. Drive 60 metres, keep to the left hand side of the road for a second-gear right-hand corner, which tightens very badly over a bump, at the same time brake hard for a hairpin over a drainage ditch. 3. Accelerate flat out into a sixth-gear long, left-hand corner over a crest, drive 30 metres then into a sixth gear right-hand corner, brake hard for a third gear left-hand corner in half throttle. Stay in the middle of the road for their are some bad rocks on the inside, and then brake as it tightens to first-gear, immediately changing direction into a fast, first-gear right-hand corner. Then accelerate into a second-gear left-corner past a junction (junction No 2 in the road book at 0.6 Kms), carry on for 20 metres.
This Week’s Favourite Rally Car: Peugeot 205 T16
The Peugeot 205 T16 shocked the rally world when it dominated the 1984 Tour de Corse rally for the first two days, before pilot Ari Vatanen lost control while driving through a puddle and crashed. What fascinated some rally observers was the completely different approach taken by Peugeot compared to that of Audi Motorsport; the 205 T16 had four-wheel-drive and about 450 hp, but it had a space frame, mid-engine layout, a design that was later adopted by many competitors. Peugeot’s first Group B car was homologated in early 1984 and was loosely based on the roadgoing Peugeot 205. The 205 T16, so called because of the Turbo and 16 valves cylinder head, resembled the 205 on the outside but that is about where the resemblence stops. The 4 cylinder engine was moved from in front of the driver to right behind him where the rear seats used to be. The drive changed from front wheel to all wheel drive. To cope with different circumstances the amount of power on the front and rear wheels could be altered by the use of a changeble epicyclic gear train. The 205 T16 was impressive to spectators, and frightening to competitors - it won on its third outing, the 1984 WRC 1000 Lakes Rally. The follwoing year, 1985, was dominated by Peugeot, despite losing their lead driver Ari Vatanen in a nearfatal crash in Argentina; Vatanen hit a washout at high speed and rolled many times, during which his seat mountings broke.
Vatanen was out of competition for over a year, but returned to win the prestigious Paris-Dakar rally and the Pikes Peak Hillclimb in America. Vatanen’s teammate Timo Salonen picked up the reins and comfortably won the driver’s title, bringing Peugeot the constructor’s championship in the process. The final event of 1985, the RAC rally in England, presented a new challenge for Peugeot. Lancia, Ford, and Rover introduced new and improved machinery, plus Audi had recently debuted the S1 Quattro, so Peugeot countered with a lightweight and more powerful 205, dubbed the Evolution 2. Despite heavy competition throughout 1986, Peugeot once again won both titles, this time with the young Juha Kankkunen fending off the challengers. The 1986 season was a devestating season for the Group B class. A Ford crashed out on a spectator stage killing three and injuring dozens. At Corsica Toivonen’s Lancia Delta S4 was sent sliding down a hillside and crashed into some trees killing both Toivonen and his co-driver. The FIA decided to cancel Group B for the 1987 season. The final season saw Peugeot once more win both titles. After Group B the Jean Todt-run team focussd on the Paris - Dakar, Pikes Peak and Le Mans. Within five years Peugeot had won all aforementioned events at least once. Jean Todt now very successfully runs Ferrari’s F1 team.
Past Masters of WRC: Ari Vatanen
Ari Pieti Uolevi Vatanen (born April 27, 1952 in Tuupovaara, Finland) is a Finnish rally driver turned politician and Member of the European Parliament. Vatanen was born and grew up in the rural town of Tuupovaara in eastern Finland. His debut year in professional rallying was in 1970, and he became World Rally Champion in 1981 with Ford, at the wheel of an Escort RS1800. He has won the Paris-Dakar Rally three times with Peugeot, in 1987, 1989 and 1990, and again with Citroën in 1991. With Peugeot, he has also won the famous Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, after Peugeot stopped participating in the World Rally Championship series in 1986, due to the demise of Group B Rally. Peugeot used the lessons learnt from its 205 T16 to create the 405 T16. With at least 600bhp, huge aerofoils, four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering, the talented Vatanen took the car up the hill in record time, his efforts being captured in the award-winning short film “Climb Dance”. Close to death after a major accident on the 1985 Argentinean Rally, whilst driving a Peugeot 205 T16, Ari spent 18 months winning a personal health battle over serious injury and depression, heightened by his irrational and un-founded fear that he had contracted AIDS from an infected blood transfusion. He made a complete recovery and his return to motorsport in 1987 saw him go on to win the Paris-Dakar Rally mentioned above and he become the centre of controversy when his car was stolen whilst leading the same rally in 1988. From 1979 until the end of 1981, Vatanen was co-driven, in the Escort RS1800, by David Richards, who went on to become chairman of Prodrive, the Banbury based motorsport team and one of the most influential figures in British (and Worldwide) motorsport. His autobiography ‘Every Second Counts’, detailing his life and career up until that point, was published in 1988 (SAF Publishing, ISBN 0-946719-04-7) and instantly became a best seller. Following his years of working with a French rally team, in 1993 he settled in southern France where he bought a farm and a winery. He soon developed an interest in politics, and in 1999 he was elected to the European Parliament from the list of the conservative Finnish National Coalition party, despite continuing to live in France. The issues he has worked on include car taxation, traffic policies, development aid, and agricultural policy. In 2004 he was re-elected, this time from the list of the conservative French Union for a Popular Movement. His hunger for motorsport had not left him completely however, and Vatanen joined Nissan in the Paris-Dakar in 2003, finishing 7th. He drove in 2004 and 2005 for Nissan as well. In 2007 he made another attempt with Volkswagen, but retired on Stage 7.
WRC Statistics: Nationality: Finnish Active years: 1974 - 1998, 2003 Teams: Ford, Opel, Peugeot, Subaru, BMW, Mitsubishi World rallies: 101 Championships: 1 (1981) Wins: 10 Podium finishes: 27 Stage wins: 527 Points: 518 First world rally: 1974 1000 Lakes Rally First win: 1980 Acropolis Rally Last win: 1985 Swedish Rally Last world rally 2003 Neste Oil Rally Finland