2 JANUARY 25 2012 motorsport-news.co.uk
IN THIS ISSUE
THE VOICE OF BRITISH MOTORSPORT ISSUE JA2805
“W e k no w w e need a b ig ste p u p i n pace”
P4 Williams targets performance gain with Bruno Senna
Jason Plato will lead the British firm’s tin-top return
TODT CALLS FOR PATIENCE WHILE FINDING NEW WRC PROMOTER
FIA head wants new agreement to not be a quick fix
LOEB TAKES THE
FULL MONTE AFTER LATVALA
French ace gets bid for ninth WRC crown off to a flier
Historic race and rally news
Insight:Formula Ford 1600’s future 20 Profile:David Stokes 22 WRC report:Monte Carlo 24 Insight:Ten years of the Radical SR3 28 Rally reports 29 Sporting Scene round-up 30 Karting round-up 32 Letters/Comment/What’s On 34 SUBSCRIBETOMOTORSPORTNEWS 36 Classified 37 Wanted:Sky Sports to consider taking on theWorld Rally Championship and launching Sky SportsWRC in HD...
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Ford’s Finn says he is still in the title hunt
Ja ri -Matti Latv ala said he wa s e ncour ag ed by his ear ly Ta rmac speed
McCalla Dan By
ByDanMcCalla Jari-Matti Latvala says he has faith in his ability to fight for this year’s World Rally Championship title, despite falling 28 points behind reigning champion Sébastien Loeb after just one round.
The Finn crashed out of the season-opening Rally Monte Carlo while leading last week, but reckons he can make up the lost ground. He said: “With the points system, you can climb back up quickly.”
On the back foot Latvala’s title hopes suffered a blow when he rolled out of the fourth stage of Rally Monte Carlo while leading. With the ACMopting not to implement the restart rules known as Rally 2 on the Monte (see separate
Solber g (r) took thir d p osition article, page 16), the 26-year-old was left on the sidelines. Latvala is 28 points behind Loeb, who scored the maximumwith his victory and Power Stage win. Despite the setback, Latvala firmly believes he can claw back the difference over the remaining 12 rounds and that the current points system helps. WRCdrivers now score 25 for awin, 18 for second and 15 for third and so on. There are also three points available for being fastest on the Power Stage
Latvala said: “With the old 10-8-6etc points system it would be difficult but this system gives us more chances to fight back.”
Latvala was also heartened that the strong form on Tarmac with which he finished last season was carried into this year. Hewas able to match Loeb on the early stages prior to his accident, and expects that to be the case throughout the year.
“I thought that we didn’t have a chance against Loeb, but we did a lot of preparation and I knew the car would be good in mixed conditions,” Latvala added. “If there’s snow and ice with studded tyres, that’s the kind of thing I like. But it was also a surprise on dry Tarmac that we were so close. So it gives megood confidence, but at the same time it’s annoying that what we built upwas destroyed with one mistake.”
Loeb savours Monte Loeb faced a tough battle on the snow-hit opening day of the event last Wednesday as he was pushed by Latvala. The Finn’s crash eased the pressure and allowed Loeb to savour the rest of the rally. With victory on the Power Stage to go with his overall success, Loeb claimed the maximumpossible 28 points and has a ten-point lead over Sordo in the title race.
Loeb said: “It was an incredible atmosphere on the Turini with all the fans, so I’ve been having fun. It was possible for me to stop and stay with eight titles, but for the moment I enjoy what I do, and I enjoy rallying, driving and fighting.” However, Loeb criticised the drawn-out format of the rally, which ran over five days in an attempt to bring back some of the endurance element for which the Monte Carlo Rally is famed.
Crews only tackled eight stages in the final three days and had a gap of 24 hours between stages when the Classified advertising: 0208 267 5355
motorsport-news.co.uk JANUARY 25 2012 3
despite disaster on opening round
Photos: LAT and mcklein-imagedatabase.com
ON BACK FOOT MONTE CRASH
POINTS FIAWorld Rally Championship After 1/13 rounds
1 Sébastien Loeb 28pts 2 Dani Sordo 18 3 Petter Solberg 15 4 Mikko Hirvonen 14 5 Evgeny Novikov 11 6 François Delecour 8
rally relocated from Valence to Monaco. OnSunday, there was only the 3.1-mile Power Stage.
Loeb said: “It’s not important to do long rallies – here we have five days. It’s important to make a good show on the television andmaybe with some live television, like we saw with IRC.”
New boys show pace Rally Monte Carlo was also the first opportunity for Petter Solberg and Mikko Hirvonen to try their new cars in competition, after their moves to Ford and Citroën respectively for the 2012 season.
Solberg especially impressed with third overall, his first-ever podium on the Monte, and dominated Saturday’s loops over the classic Col du Turini and Lantosque tests with three stage victories out of four. However, he was fortunate to escape a time penalty for speeding on a road section on Saturday evening as hemade his way back to service in Monaco. The 37-year-old received a suspended ban,
stage three with tests Lantosque to fortunate was he However,
on section road a on speeding made he as evening Saturday
Hirvonen:Quick in a DS3
DS3 a in Quick Hirvonen:
Latvala says his pace can overhaul the points deficit which will mean disqualification from the results of Rally Sweden if he commits another serious speeding infringement in his next six rallies.
TheNorwegian was surprised that he was able to get on the pace so quickly: “I’m much faster than I expected. I had one day of testing before the rally and one day last year, so I didn’t expect to just jump in and be fighting with Sordo and be very close to Loeb onmany stages. The pace on the first day was unbelievable and I surprised myself. It’s just up to me to get somemore kilometres in the car and then wewill see.”
Ford boss Malcolm Wilson was also very impressed, and said that Solberg could shake off his designated number two status and start a bid for the driver’s title if he continues his progress with the Fiesta WRC.
he if title driver’s the for bid a start the with progress his continues
“What we’ve seen is the the is seen we’ve “What
Loe b (r) took all the av ailab le points in the WRC opener experience he’s got,” Wilson told MN. “It’s things where you can’t be specific but where experience can be put into effect. It’s a great result for him, it’s his best result on the Monte, and Saturday’s pace goes to show what’s still possible for him.
the with deal us let and driving the that’s and set-up, the and stuff other
“We told him to concentrate on the driving and let us deal with the other stuff and the set-up, and that’s what he’s done. You never know what could happen. If he can continue to do performances like that then he’s going to be in a strong position.”
know never You done. he’s what can he If happen. could what performances do to continue a in be to going he’s then that like position.” strong
Hirvonen, meanwhile, finished finished meanwhile, Hirvonen,
fourth after one of his most most his of one after fourth on showings competitive competitive showings on asphalt for some time. He would have been in the
He time. some for asphalt the in been have would fight for a podium finish had he not suffered a broken brake disc on the second day of the rally, but recovered by setting three fastest stage times in aDS3WRCthat he says suits his asphalt driving style.
“I felt last year I was struggling with the Fiesta, even in dry conditions, but with the Citroën it feels really easy, so that’s good news,” said the 31-year-old Finn. “I’ve also learnt a lot this week about where to improve. This car is completely different and you can be very nice and smooth with it – it doesn’t even feel like you’re pushing it so hard. The times are coming, so I feel happy with it. It’s back towards myold driving style on Tarmac [before last year].”
Todt says new format was correct
FIA president Jean Todt defended the endurance nature of Rally Monte Carlo after some parties criticised its drawn-out five-day format.
The Wednesday-toSunday format was encouraged by the FIA, which wants events to break the mould and run varying itineraries, but caused extra costs to competitors taking part.
It drove away a number of would-be crews, especially in the Super 2000 WRC and Production WRC, which each attracted just three entries.
Todt said that the sense of adventure that the Monte’s return was bringing back into world championship rallying was a worthy cause of changes that received a mixed response.
“We are not in a world where everybody is happy,” said Todt. “In the rally world, we have a more democratic world and I’m sure a lot of people are fans of rallying and are keen to see a positive and constructive evolution of the sport.
“Unfortunately, you will not be able to make everybody happy. But what we can give to rallying is the proper roads, adventure, reliability and what is absolutely crucial is that costs are contained.
“Motor racing costs too much and it’s something we need to address. When you talk about changing things, you must make sure it’s positive for the show and that it is positive in the good way in terms of the cost.”
FIA PLEDGES PATIENCE OVER NEW PROMOTER ON PAGE 14
FIA PLEDGES PATIENCE OVER NEW PROMOTER ON PAGE 14