16 SEPTEMBER 28 2011 motorsport-news.co.uk
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MEEKE: MINI WILL BE FAST IN FRANCE
Northern Irishman says team is buoyed by recent speed
POINTS World Rally Championship After 10/13 rounds
1 Sébastien Loeb 196pts 2 Mikko Hirvonen 181 3 Sébastien Ogier 167 4 Jari-Matti Latvala 116 5 Petter Solberg 110 6 Mads Østberg 56
Meek e ( ri ght) is re ad y t o t ackle last thr ee WRC ro unds
ByDanMcCalla Kris Meeke believes the Mini John Cooper Works WRC’s hot form in Germany means both he and teammate Dani Sordo will be in the fight with Ford at Rally France this weekend.
The Prodrive-run machines caused a stir on Rally Germany last month, setting some impressive time for what was the car’s debut on asphalt. Sordo, a renowned Tarmac expert, set times close to the factory Fords andmade the most of the Blue Oval’s troubles to take third place. With Rally France base Strasbourg just 95 miles away from German host town Trier, the roads on the two rallies are very similar to drive, giving great hope to the Mini drivers that their German form can be replicated.
“Germany has given us a lot of optimism as regards our speed and Dani’s podium was brilliant for the whole team,” said Meeke, who has set encouraging times on each of his three WRCappearances so far but has retired with mechanical problems each time. “France is similar terrain to Germany albeit not as unique. There’s not much distance as the crow flies from Trier to Strasbourg so it’s in the general area but we have to be encouraged by Germany. Whether we can achieve another podium is a tall order, because Germany is a rally Dani knew very, very well. Hopefully we can show the same pace but it won’t necessarily be the case.” Despite the fact that the factory Mini operation didn’t travel to Australia for the most recent WRCevent, Meeke said that the team hasn’t put any upgrades onto the John Cooper Works since Germany.
“Unfortunately we have nomore developments on the car from Germany so we’re exactly the samemachine but we had good pace there and we know the Citroëns are in a league of their own at the moment.”
The presence of the Minis on the last three rounds of this season – France, Spain and Rally GB–means that the squad is a fulltime participant in the world championship from now on. Meeke says that the whole operation will now try to step up its performance as it tries to deal with the intensity of testing and development on top of a rally every third weekend.
“We’re eager to keep getting into rallies but from here on in we’re going to be flatout,” said the 32-year-old Ulsterman, “Next year we starting a full championship and we’re doing the last three rallies this year. It was so frustrating sitting and watching Rally Australia but from now on it starts to get busy.” Additional reporting by Sean Moriarty
Asphalt pace is one of the keys to Mini’s future success
Starts: Friday September 30, 0700hrs, Strasbourg Zénith Finishes: Sunday October 2, 1450hrs, Strasbourg Zénith Competitive distance: 216.33 miles Stages: 23 Entries: 66 2010 winners:Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Citroën C4 WRC) Support championships: Super 2000 WRC (ten crews), WRC Academy (17 crews)
LEADING ENTRIES NO. DRIVER
1 Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MON) Citroën DS3WRC 2 Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Citroën DS3WRC 3 Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Fiesta RSWRC 4 Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Ford Fiesta RSWRC 11 Petter Solberg (NOR)/Chris Patterson (GBR) Citroën DS3WRC 37 Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP) Mini John Cooper Works WRC 52 Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Mini John Cooper Works WRC 6 Mads Østberg (NOR)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Ford Fiesta RSWRC 5 Matthew Wilson (GBR)/Scott Martin (GBR) Ford Fiesta RSWRC 54 Evgeny Novikov (RUS)/Denis Giraudet (FRA) Ford Fiesta RSWRC
Wilson says roads will be improved
Wilson says efforts to stamp out corner-cutting will improve asphalt event Stobart Ford ace Matthew Wilson says that efforts by Rally France organisers to minimise the cuts through corners on the all-asphalt event should help level the playing field on this weekend’s rally. Rally organisers are expected to place bales and other objects on the insides of corners, in a bid to stop the huge amounts of gravel and mud that were dragged onto the stages by cutting cars last year. This will reduce the massive advantage that drivers running first on the road enjoyed last year.
“When you’re first on the road it’s no problem but even to the point of third on the road it makes a massive difference,” said Wilson. “If it makes it a little bit more equal throughout the field it should be better. The cleaner path through the rally would have been quite phenomenal I would think because the roads were just like gravel roads [for us last year]. Hopefully there shouldn’t be as much mud and gravel on the road which should maybe make a bit more like a Tarmac rally than a gravel rally.”
HOW BOGIE WRAPPED UP THE BRITISH TITLE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> PAGE 24
The Strength of Experience
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out flat go to had “I
“I had to go flat out – but I made it” Neuville’s Sanremo, p27
WRC TO GET QUALIFYING RUNS
Urban events will be held to determine start order
WRCdrivers will compete in a one-shot qualifying session on the shakedown stage of gravel rounds next year, to determine the road order for the opening day of each event. After two practice runs on the test, drivers will get one timed run, with the fastest getting first pick of road position, followed by the second-fastest and so on. The session will be contested by all Priority One and Two drivers – effectively all WRCcars and S2000 machines not involved in the SWRC.
Petter Solberg World Rally Team chief Ken Rees backed the plans, and said that using urban superspecial-type courses would turn the sessions into real fan spectacles. “In Portugal we went to Lisbon andmade a day of it, and the response we got from the fans was huge,” he said. “Thursday is awasted day at the moment so anything that makes it more exciting is a plus. The organisers have problems sometimes finding stages for shakedowns and superspecials that are representative of the rest of the rally. But a lot of the time, people whowant to test already have by then, so this stage doesn’t necessarily need to be representative.”
In other World Motor Sport Council decisions, individual rally organisers will be allowed to choose whether to use SupeRally on their events or not this year. This is mostly expected to be utilised by ‘endurance’ events such as Rally Argentina, where moving damaged cars from base to base would pose some logistical problems.
The 13-round calendar was also ratified, with Rally Italy inserted as the penultimate round on the weekend of October 18-21. Rally GBwill run on September 13-16.
PLANET RALLY PLANET PLANET
FLAT-OUT WORLD NEWS
Robert Barrable decided against competing on Rally Sanremo at the weekend so that he could clock up some test miles in his Skoda Fabia S2000 ahead of
Rally of Scotland...P-G Andersson will return to the Proton Motorsports team for Rally of Scotland, joining Alister McRae in the Anglo-Malaysian team’s brace of Satria Neo S2000s... WRCAcademy star Molly Taylor will contest Rally of Scotland in her own Ford Fiesta R2...Turkey’s Burcu Cetinkaya will return to international rallying after a year away on Rally of Scotland, piloting a Skoda Fabia...
Photo: World Rally Pics
Bumper entry for S2000 on Rally of Scotland
Rally of Scotland has received almost double the number of entries for next week’s running of the IRC round compared to last year’s event. A total of 38 crews will take the start at Stirling Castle onOctober 7, compared to just 21 last year. An impressive 18 Super 2000 cars have been entered (see sidebar), as well as a host of top Group Ndrivers including David Bogie and Jarkko Nikara. The Perth-based rally has benefitted from offering 1.5 times normal IRC points as it is the penultimate round of the season, and clerk of the course Iain Campbell says rally fans will witness a close fight for victory in the Trossachs next weekend.
“The entry this year shows the impact that the extra points on offer has had on the battle for IRC honours,” he said. “But it has also shown that the hard work the team has done in years one and two is starting to pay off as the reputation of the event grows. Anyone in the top six has a realistic change of winning the rally.”
Hänninen will lead S2000 ranks
S2000 ENTRIES RACMSA Rally of Scotland,October 7-9
Skoda Fabia:Jan Kopecký, Freddy Loix, Juho Hänninen, Andreas Mikkelsen, Toni Gardemeister, Karl Kruuda, Patrik Sandell, Robert Barrable, Jonny Greer, Matthias Kahle, Burcu Cetinkaya Peugeot 207:Bryan Bouffier, Thierry Neuville, Guy Wilks Ford Fiesta:Craig Breen, Alastair Fisher Proton Satria Neo:P-G Andersson, Alister McRae
Ford will run its factory Fiesta RSWRCs in this black livery on Rally France this weekend, after huge support for the paintjob from fans on the team’s Facebook page. The Blue Oval first used the alternative colours on a Tarmac test in France back in June, and was never originally intended to be seen in competition
Fans can watch Rally France on the internet
WRCfanswill be able to watch 14 hours of live Rally France coverage for free this weekend on the series’ official website.
Championship promoter North One Sport is running the online feed as an initial test, ahead of a potential roll-out next year, as revealed byMotorsport News in the spring (MN,March 9). The coverage will feature amix of onboard and helicopter shots from the stages, and interviews.
The feed will be active between 1200hrs and 1900hrs UK time on Friday, and between 1145hrs and 1830hrs on Saturday, meaning viewers will get to see the afternoon loops of stages, interviews from the following services and the end of day press conference on each day. North One Sport chief Simon Long warned that the pilot nature of the feed means viewers shouldn’t expect a seamless show: “We have made a significant investment to get the project to this stage and it’s exciting that we are now ready to try and turn the theory into reality. However it’s important to make clear that this is a trial first and foremost and we expect to learn a great deal.”
motorsport-news.co.uk SEPTEMBER 28 2011 17
VIEW FROM THE WORLD STAGE
JERRY WILLIAMS“MaybeMouton is a breath of fresh air”
Having just flown home a fortnight on, I’m still dazed by two moments during Rally Australia. One was a TV show, the other, some eminently sensible comments from an FIA high-up.
First the box: early one evening, Aussie telly showed a race, followed by a Destruction Derby... featuring combine harvesters!
The Derby was deadly serious, with a dozen vividly-painted farm Goliaths in each heat, their drivers sporting personalised race suits and helmets. Competitors formed a circle around a field before going flat out at each other. Believe me: several 20-ton harvesters slamming together at 20mph make for a shuddering impact. One combine’s front wheels – puny adornments, like a T-Rex’s front legs – were swiped clean off and the recovery tractor mercilessly dragged it out of the arena. I sat there, open-mouthed in amazement. Given the evident mass popularity of such outlandish events, how can the staid old WRC really spread its wings? Far too much American influence, I reckon, in the field of Australian ‘sports entertainment’! Now, on to the FIA and who was it surprising me with their level-headedness? Michèle Mouton, that’s who.
First, there was the question of hard compound tyres being dangerous on muddy, rain soaked dirt roads. When the drivers sought a rule change to counter this, Michelin rally manager Jacques Morelli commented, perhaps foolishly, that they could slow down. Mouton effectively said that was a ridiculous idea and promised to push for a second choice of compound.
Then we had the perennial question of how to fit both Oz and NZ into the championship. Citroën team manager Sven Smeets reckoned whichever was the weaker should be voted out. The FIA’s rally manager seemed much more measured. “Hmm,” she told a colleague: “It’s difficult: maybe we should do three years on one, then three years on the other.” Not perfect, I agree, but it’s one of the better suggestions I’ve heard. For me, we mustn’t lose either event and maybe both ends of the season would be best. But Mouton’s view at least shows she’s thinking things through. Frankly, over the years we’ve been more used to high-handedness and intransigence from the governing body. Maybe Michèle is a breath of fresh air after all and deserves due respect. So: on one event: mad, crazy TV and real common sense from the FIA. It’ll take time to get over that!
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