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Loeb flies to 50th WRC win

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Loeb flies to 50th WRC win Powered By Docstoc
					EVERY MONDAY – AROUND THE MOTORSPORT WORLD

                                       Loeb flies
F1 >> MotoGP >> WRC

                                       to 50th
                                       WRC win
                                       Exclusive Interview
week.com
Issue No 037   Monday March 16, 2009
                                       with the Rally Legend




SHOCK AND AWE
   Rivals stunned as BrawnGP shakes up F1 order
F1 >> MotoGP >> WRC

                                       ISSUE 036                                             MARCH 16, 2009

                                         FULLY GREEN


week.com
                                           Informing
                                        motorsport fans
                                        world-wide – and
                                        not a single tree
EDITOR: WILL BUXTON                       destroyed to
will@gpweek.com                               do it!
MotoGP Editor: Michael Scott
michael@gpweek.com
Rally Editor: Martin Holmes
martin@gpweek.com
Production Editor (Australia):
Andrew van Leeuwen
production@gpweek.com
Assistant: Cedric Dufour
IT/Design (Australia)
Jayne Uthmeyer
design@gpweek.com
Photography
Sutton Motorsport Images
www.sutton-images.com
Keith Sutton keith@gpweek.com
Publisher
Chris Lambden
publisher@gpweek.com

Published by:
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SE Asia, Australasia
                                     >> WRC: WHILE YOU WERE AWAY 3
                                     Big chages too for the off-road gladiators: but no change at
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                                     the top – Loeb sets a new WRC win benchmark
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                                                                                                            3
Brawn pace has rivals wo
THE pace of BrawnGP’s new
BGP001 car has created an
                                   first two days in Barcelona, the
                                   BGP001 was quickest on the
                                                                         mileage on the car, the BGP001
                                                                         has surpassed the expectations
                                                                                                             is that it is a good car, that it
                                                                                                             is a good engine, it is a good
unexpected twist at the end of     final two days of the test, and       of rivals and critics alike.        group and I think we will be the
the winter testing period, as      yesterday continued to astound           Rubens Barrichello believes      surprise of the year.
the established order in the       the establishment by topping          that BrawnGP can be the               “The car is competitive and
sport has been left amazed by      the first day of the very last pre-   surprise of the year.               although the team changed
the team’s apparent speed and      season test in Jerez.                   “I believe in myself and Jenson   name, we’ve learned a lot from
reliability straight out of the       The BGP001 has run                 being top of the list among         the mistakes we made last
box.                               consistently and reliably in its      the drivers – although I can        year. Now we are a very well
  Following the last-minute        five days of public testing so        see plenty of good drivers in       prepared group and I wish that
bailout of the former Honda        far, with Rubens Barrichello          Formula One – and the team          will show in results.”
Racing F1 Team by Team             amassing 102 trouble-free laps        did a fantastic job to produce         While the team itself is
Principal Ross Brawn, the new      in day one at Jerez to add to the     a good car,” he told the Official   trying to keep expectations
Mercedes-engined BGP001            427 tours amassed by himself          Formula 1 Website.                  in check, its rivals have
car was only ready in time to      and Jenson Button in Barcelona          “Right now, all I say would       made their feelings over its
take part in the final two pre-    last week. With the BrawnGP           (only) mean that I would put        competitiveness clear. Both
season testing sessions of 2009.   team concentrating on                 myself under pressure for the       Felipe Massa and Fernando
Setting top three times in its     reliability, race sims and putting    first races. All I can confirm      Alonso have described the





                                                                                                                >> F1 NEWS

worried
  BGP001’s pace as “unreachable”,
  and on the day that Jenson Button
  topped Jerez testing, he finished
  the day 2.5 seconds ahead of
  reigning world champion Lewis
  Hamilton’s McLaren.
    Although this year’s pre-season
  testing has been difficult to read
  given the new aerodynamic
  regulations, introduction of KERS
  and slick tyres, the widely held
  belief before the launch of the
  BGP001 had been that the team
  most likely to upset the applecart
  of McLaren/Ferrari dominance
  would be Toyota, with BMW and
  Renault also in serious contention
  for competitive results. BrawnGP’s
  apparent pace however has added



                                        Is McLaren in trouble?
  an extra element of confusion and
  intrigue to the forthcoming season,
  as the new regulations look set
  for a greater shake-up of the order
  than anyone was expecting.             DESPITE protestations from outgoing               able to run, using the same power plant as
                                         team boss Ron Dennis that McLaren’s               McLaren. Lewis Hamilton has had two recent
                                         testing pace was no cause for alarm, his          excursions off track in testing, showing just
                                         successor Martin Whitmarsh and Mercedes           how hard the world champion has been
                                         engine chief Norbert Haug have admitted           pushing the MP4-24.
                                         that the team and its MP4-24 is facing a            “This shows how competitive Formula 1 is,”
                                        “performance shortfall.”                           said Haug. “Brawn GP has done a remarkable
                                            The major problem for the team is an           job and has been fastest in Barcelona for
                                         apparent lack of downforce, and although          one lap as well as over a race distance. Our
                                         the car’s overall balance is said to feel good    performance is not yet where it should be,
                                         in the hands of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki         but we will work very hard to improve it.”
                                         Kovalainen, it lacks the grip of many of its         McLaren will run from Monday to Thursday
                                         rivals.                                           this week in Jerez. The team had planned
                                            While Ferrari has admitted its biggest issue   to run from Sunday but ultimately delayed
                                         going into Melbourne is the question of           by one day. “We’ve got some new bits out
                                         reliability, McLaren has no such worries with     in Jerez and will be running them over the
                                         its Mercedes engine and in-house KERS unit        four days of the test,” a team spokesman told
                                         running effectively. For McLaren by far the       GPWeek. “There’s no particular reason for
                                         greatest concern will have been to see just       the delay, it’s just to give us an extra day of
                                         how much faster the BrawnGP car has been          preparation.”




                                                                                                                                             
    FROM THE
    PUBLISHER                        KERS confirmed, but
                                     Renault really wants
    2009 hasn’t started off as any
    of us would possibly have
    imagined it was going to
    when the F1 circus departed




                                     another title
    from Brazil in November.
       Yes, things were getting
    tight, but nobody could
    have imagined the scale
    of cut-backs which has hit
    international motorsport
    contenders – such as
    Honda (F1) , Suzuki and
    Subaru (WRC) and Kawasaki
    (MotoGP) – all of whom have
    pulled out of their respective
    involvements.
       With all this going on,
    January and February were
    quite gloomy months ...
    where would it all end?
    What other forms of racing
    would be caught up in the
    financial malaise which
    began in the US, has hit
    Europe and the UK hard,
    along with SE Asia and
    Australasia?
       That same uncertainty
    has hit the publishing
    world ... advertising budgets
    have been cut and there
    are publishing houses
    around the globe bracing
    themselves for a tough ‘09.
        In the past few weeks,
    though, there have been
    good news stories – the
    stunning arrival of BrawnGP
    on the scene has hit F1 like a
    thunderbolt. And the bizarre
    thing is, most of what has
    been achieved to date has
    been with Honda money!
    Shame they’re not going to
    be (overtly) around to enjoy
    it.
       And today is another. Yes,
    GPWEEK is back, in time
    for the F1 (and MotoGP)
    season kick-offs. The band
    is back together and ready
    to rock – when all is said and
    done, it i going to be one
    INTERESTING year! ... and
    you’re along for the ride!
                     Chris Lambden


                                                                                                             >> F1 NEWS
Renault tech guru expects Fernando to win races in 2009
THE Renault F1 Team has confirmed to            one after the other in succession. And        changes which have taken place since the
GPWeek that it will start the 2009 season       since we’ve had it on the car we’ve really    end of the 2008 season, he was confident
with KERS units fitted to its all-new R29s.     had very little problem with it.              that 2009 would see Renault fighting not
   Executive Director of Engineering Pat          “We will run it in Australia, I’m sure of   only for wins but for the Formula 1 World
Symonds told GPWeek that the system             that already. We believe obviously that       Championship, a view apparently shared by
was now suitably reliable and granted the       it’s a positive performance advantage         two-time world champ Fernando Alonso.
team a sufficient performance advantage         otherwise we wouldn’t be running it.            “I think [fighting for the championship] is
to make its use worthwhile from the             Reliability we are happy with because a       very, very realistic. The last couple of tests
outset of a season which he claims could        lot of the stuff was run on dynos and what-   have been very, very encouraging. Winter
see the French team fighting not only for       have-you before it went on the car. We’re     testing is very difficult to read, probably
wins, but for the title.                        certainly happy with safety and we’ve         more so this year than most because of
   Symonds admitted that the initial period     worked very hard on that so, all in all, I    odd things like McLaren running an old
of learning with the new-for-2009 Kinetic       think it echoes the strength of some of the   wing and who’s running KERS and who
Energy Recovery Systems had been                guys we’ve got here at Renault.               isn’t… all these additional variables that
trying for his engineers, but that a rapid        “They took a brand new project, had to      make it more difficult.
turnaround at Christmas had changed the         learn a lot of new technologies because         “But I have to say I am confident with
team’s outlook over its usability.              there was no-one here who knew                where we are, and there’s still more to
  “Prior to Christmas I would have said         anything about high-powered electronics,      come. I am genuinely, although the
there was very little chance of us running      and they’ve learned it and excelled with it   problem is everyone says this so it just
it in Australia,” he confirmed, “and I really   I think.”                                     sounds like bullshit doesn’t it, but I really,
couldn’t have put a date on when we were           Symonds also admitted that despite         really believe that we are there and we
going to run it, but over Christmas the         winter testing being harder than usual to     will be fighting for the wins… and so does
major problems were solved very quickly         gauge thanks to the massive regulation        Fernando.”

            I’m confIdent wIth where we are. I really belIeve we wIll be
            fIghtIng for wIns, and so does fernando
                                                                                                                     – PAT SYMONDS




                                                                                                                                          7
            Short
            Straights             Complete Group Test Establishes New
  n Ron Dennis has
opened a new exhibition at
London’s Science Museum,
entitled “Fast Forward:
20 Ways F1 is Changing
Our World.” Entry to the
exhibition is absolutely free,
so for anyone who lives in,
near or is just planning on
visiting London before April
2010, we suggest you make
a B-line for what promises to
be a fascinating day out at
the Science Museum.
www.sciencemuseum.org.uk
  n Bernie Ecclestone has
given the clearest indication
yet that he has reservations
that the British Grand Prix
will retain its place on
the Formula 1 Calendar.
Speaking to The Guardian
he admitted that so many                                           THE first and ultimately only   to run their new cars in
countries wanted to hold                                           winter test at which all ten    public, and the results made
races that there weren’t                                           Formula 1 teams ran their       interesting reading.
enough dates available to                                          2009-spec cars has seen            It was the Brawn GP duo
host them. “We need a date,”                                       the new BrawnGP squad           of Rubens Barrichello and
he said. “We're going to be                                        emerge as the fastest of the    Jenson Button who finished
in trouble if we do have                                           contenders, but raising just    the test on top, with best
Donington."                                                        as many questions as it did     lap times of 1:18.926 and
  n The future of the                                              provide answers.                1:19.127 respectively, as
French Grand Prix appears                                             Coming at the end of         Williams’ Nico Rosberg
to rest on the success of a                                        a winter in which new           completed the top three at
new circuit, which French                                          aerodynamic regulations,        the end of the four day test
Authorities plan to build in                                       potential use of KERS and       with a best of 1:19.774. If the
Lins-Les-Mureaux, North                                            difficulties in getting to gripsgap from the Brawns to the
East of Paris. The 4.5km track                                     with the new Bridgestone        Williams was a shock, it was
will cost over 100 million                                         slick tyres have made it nigh   nothing to the gap to the
Euros and will be built by                                         on impossible to tell the fast  2008 title rivals. Although
Apex, the construction                                             from the slow, last week’s      Felipe Massa finished the test
company responsible for the                                        four day test in Barcelona      in an overall fifth position
Dubai Autodrome. The track                                         saw Toro Rosso and BrawnGP      and best of the Ferrari drivers,
should be ready for 2011.                                          become the final teams          his best lap of 1:20.168
There will be no French                                                                                          was over a
Grand Prix in 2009.                                                                                              second off
    n Robert Kubica has
                                         Combined test times Barcelona 9-12 March                2009            both BrawnGP
                                                                                                                 drivers, while
predicted that the 2009-                                                                                         Lewis Hamilton’s
spec front wings may cause        1    Barrichello      BrawnGP                       1:18.926
                                                                                                                 McLaren best
havoc at the first corner in      2    Button           BrawnGP                       1:19.127                   of 1:20.869 put
Melbourne. “The tricky thing      3    Rosberg          Williams                      1:19.774                    him almost two
about it is that you can’t        4    Glock            Toyota                        1:20.091                   seconds behind
see its outer edges from the      5    Massa            Ferrari                       1:20.168                   Barrichello.
cockpit,” he said. “I’m looking   6    Kubica           BMW                           1:20.217                      Perhaps even
forward to seeing what            7    Raikkonen        Ferrari                       1:20.314                   more worrying
happens in the first corner                                                                                       for McLaren
                                  8    Heidfeld         BMW                           1:20.338
at the Australian Grand Prix.                                                                                    was the fact
                                  9    Vettel           Red Bull                      1:20.576
I can imagine that we will                                                                                       that Hamilton’s
                                  10   Alonso           Renault                       1:20.664


                                                                                                    >> F1 NEWS
w F1 Order



                                   Di Grassi Dominates GP2 Test
                                   LUCAS di Grassi has            Ricard on the first day for
                                   dominated the first of         Super Nova, leading Lucas
                                   two pre-season GP2             di Grassi and GP2 Asia
                                   Series tests, topping          championship leader Kamui
                                   two of the three days at       Kobayshi of Dams.
                                   Circuit Paul Ricard with         The second day saw the
                                   the newly named Fat            teams make use of the
                                   Burner Racing Engineering      2A layout which utilises
                                   team. Di Grassi, who has       the long back straight, to
                                   moved from 2008 team           configure engine mapping
                                   champions Campos               and low downforce set-
team-mate Heikki Kovalainen
                                   to Racing Engineering,         ups on the car. It was the
finished the test bottom of
                                   mirroring the exact move       two Racing Engineering
the pile, and unable even
                                   which brought Giorgio          cars that led the way
to compete with the times
                                   Pantano the 2008 drivers’      on day two, with Pastor
of the similarly Mercedes-
                                   title, has signalled his       Maldonado, who has joined
engined Force India of Adrian
                                   intent on the 2009 title       ART Grand Prix alongside
Sutil.
                                   early, and the performance     Nico Hulkenberg for 2009,
   Toyota again shone under
                                   of his new team-mate Dani      finishing narrowly behind
Timo Glock’s guidance, with
                                   Clos will give the team        the duo.
the German setting the
                                   confidence that it can hit       The third and final day
fourth best overall time,
                                   the ground running in          saw the teams take to the
while BMW was the only
                                   2009.                          short 2D configuration, and
team other than Brawn and
                                     All teams were able to run   di Grassis again led the field,
Ferrari to get both drivers
                                   the latest upgrades on their   this time from his 2008 team-
into the top ten overall after
                                   GP2 cars, which included       mate Vitaly Petrov in the
four days of running.
                                   new engines. Built on the      Campos car. The top three
   This week sees the final
                                   existing engine block          was completed by Andi
test of the winter, although
                                   and crankshaft, the 2009       Zuber who has signed to
not every team is able to run
                                   engine features completely     race for Giancarlo Fisichella’s
as most have used up their
                                   new cylinder heads and a       FMS team in 2009.
winter testing allocation. On
                                   new top half in order to         So while di Grassi left the
the first day, the BrawnGP
                                   improve the cooling of the     test with perhaps the most
team picked up where it
                                   cylinders and thus provide     to smile about, it is fans of
had left off last week with
                                   an increase in sustained       GP2 who once again have
Barrichello topping the
                                   power. This will allow the     much to look forward to.
times from Alonso’s Renault
                                   teams to improve the           The three days of testing
and Williams tester Nico
                                   use of the engine power        saw some incredibly close
Hulkenberg in third. McLaren
                                   curve, and will deliver an     times, with sessions often
will join the test tomorrow.
                                   additional 25hp over the       ending with all drivers
   As always with winter
                                   entire rev range.              within a few seconds of the
testing it is difficult to draw
                                      It was Spaniard Javier      best laptime.
too much from the times,
                                   Villa who used this              Only one test remains in
although the noises coming
                                   increase in power to the       the pre-season, with the 13
from some of the top teams
                                   best effect, setting a new     teams due to run for three
suggests that BrawnGP really
                                   GP2 lap record on the          days in Barcelona from
is as fast as its times suggest.
                                   3D configuration of Paul       March 23-25.

                                                                                                             9
>> F1 NEWS




Senna Still Focussed on F1 Future
BRUNO Senna has told                 other than winning the GP2          the right route to take.”
GPWeek that his sights are still     championship in 2009 would            Senna will test for Mücke
set on a future in Formula 1,        have made sense for the             Motorsport’s DTM Mercedes
after missing out on a 2009 F1       Brazilian, and with all major       squad at Hockenheim this
debut with the BrawnGP team.         seats in the championship           week as he continues to weigh
   Senna, the 2008 GP2 Series        filled Senna confirmed that, to     up his 2009 options.
runner-up, had tested for            his mind, endurance racing
the Honda Racing F1 Team             presented one of the best
over the winter in the hope          opportunities for a move to F1
of moving up to F1 in 2009,          in 2010.
but with Jenson Button and             “The main objective for the
Rubens Barrichello retained          test and negotiations is to
at BrawnGP and no other F1           go and do the 24 Hours of Le
options left open this year,         Mans. We’re still looking at the
the Brazilian has switched           Le Mans Series as well, and now
his attentions to alternative        we’re looking at the pros and
championships in a bid to            cons of doing this. But for sure
maintain his development as a        it’s interesting and outside GP2
driver.                              I think it’s the best preparation
   Senna’s first days behind         for F1 considering that the
the wheel of a racing car in         Series runs mostly on grand
2009 came last week in a Le          prix circuits.
Mans test at Circuit Paul Ricard,      “I’d like to thank the guys
where the Brazilian was given        from Oreca and especially
the opportunity of driving           Hughes [de Chaunac, Oreca
Oreca’s Courage LC70.                Team Founder] for giving me
  “It was a very different           the opportunity to test with
experience to anything I’ve          them. They were satisfied with
done so far,” he told GPWeek.        how the test went, and I was
  “We worked on things that          really pleased not just with
were different to my single-         how the test went but also
seater experience such as            with the team. They are a really
long runs, using the same            great team, very professional
set of tyres for an hour or so,      and with a great team spirit
maintaining consistency and          and their drivers are very much
dealing with traffic ¬– because      into team-work rather than
with the different classifications   just beating each other which
of car on track it was a bit like    is vital for endurance racing. It
an open test at Donington Park       was very interesting for me and
from my F3 days.”                    I think everything is moving
   Having finished runner-up in      forward very well. We just have
the 2008 GP2 Series, nothing         to make sure that this will be

10
11
Stoner: only racing will
answer the wrist question                            CASEY Stoner’s dominant                  even extended endurance tests, and
                                                     performance at both the pre-             was still concerned about the injury.
                                                     season test sessions – by almost           “The wrist has responded quite well,”
                                                     a second in the second round at          he said.
                                                     Qatar – masks the fact that the            “It’s not as painful as it was at
                                                     2007 World Champion still has            Sepang, even though the mobility
                                                     questions about the strength and         still hasn’t improved much.
                                                     endurance of his left wrist.               “We’ll have to see how it feels at
                                                       Stoner complained of wrist             circuits with harder braking, and
                                                     pains in the first tests at Sepang in    more left-hand corners, which is
                                                     February, triggering strong rumours      where I struggle the most.”
                                                     that he might require further               Stoner’s problems started in the
                                                     treatment, and might possibly miss       latter part of last season, when
                                                     part or even all of the season.          repairs to an old scaphoid fracture in
                                                       At the Qatar circuit in March he       his left wrist started to come adrift.
                                                     was rampant on lap times, and his        He was able to complete the season,
                                                     team made light of the rumours.          adding two more wins, but went
                                                       But the Australian has yet to          under the surgeon’s knife directly
                                                     complete a full race simulation or       after the last race.




 Arabian Nights see Stoner line drawn in sand
 THE second round of pre-       second-placed Jorge Lorenzo       and 1.8 seconds slower than        and the new tyres.
 season tests – cut back from   (Fiat Yamaha), who qualified      Lorenzo’s pole time last year.        Both Suzuki riders
 five to three in response      on pole at Losail last year.         Times were close behind         (Capirossi was sixth) had the
 to the credit crunch – saw       Comfortingly for his rivals     Lorenzo, with Rossi third,         same comment: that their
 Casey Stoner and the radical   perhaps, conditions at the        then Chris Vermeulen’s Suzuki,     new machine lacks straight-
 new Ducati Desmosedici         track were poor, with rain        and Nicky Hayden a pleasing        line speed.
 claim a demoralisingly large   rendering the first of three      fifth as he gets to grip with         New factory Honda rider
 lap time advantage over the    floodlit night tests useless,     the Ducati.                        Dovizioso was eighth behind
 rest of the pack.              and lap times relatively slow.       Hayden is concerned that        privateer de Puniet; but both
   Riding the new carbon-       Stoner’s 1’55.744 was six         the reduced practice time          Toseland (Tech 3 Yamaha)
 fibre framed bike with the     tenths off his own race record,   (cut by one-and-three-quarter      and Melandri (Hayate) were
 addition of an experimental                                      hours each weekend) will           more than three seconds off
 swing-arm in the same                                                 make his position more        the pace, placing 16th and
 material, Stoner was                                                    difficult as he adapts to   17th.
 0.989 seconds                                                                      the new bike
 faster than




12
                                                                          >> Moto GP news

Pedrosa may not
make season start
DANI Pedrosa may miss                  “The objective is to try and
the opening of the MotoGP            be fit. I have fallen many times,
season after the factory             and I always fought back, and
Repsol Honda rider was               I will do it again,” said Pedrosa,
injured again in a crash in          after describing how “in the
official tests at Qatar.             beginning it will be tough
   The Spaniard suffered left        trying to give the skin and
arm and knee injuries in             knee some elasticity.”
the high-sider spill, on the           “When I arrived the knee did
second of three nights under         not look very good, but the
floodlights at the desert circuit.   operation went well, and I am
   Flown home to Barcelona           pleased,” he said.
for surgery, Pedrosa had a              Pedrosa was leading the
titanium screw inserted to           World Championship last
mend the fractured arm, and          year when he crashed at the
was discharged on Saturday,          German GP, with injuries
March 7.                             sustained spoiling the rest of
   The left knee was not             his season.
broken, but surface damage
complicated the issue. The rest      Footnote: Pedrosa missed
of the three-hour operation          Saturday’s public launch of
was devoted to a skin graft to       the Repsol team, leaving new
his knee. Pedrosa has been           team-mate Andrea Dovizioso
told that he must not bend the       to be star of the show. Dani
knee for at least four weeks.        addressed his home Spanish
   This clearly rules him out        crowd via a video link.
of the final round of tests, at
Jerez in the last weekend of
March, and makes him a very
doubtful starter for the
first race at Qatar
two weeks later.




                                                                                        13
           HIGH
           SIDES
   n Sete Gibernau has
been given a clean bill of
health for the Jerez tests,
after suffering ligament
problems at the Sepang
outing in February and
missing the Qatar sessions.
“I am really excited about
getting back on the bike
again,” the comeback rider
said. One-time Rossi rival
Gibernau has been out for
two years, but returns on a
satellite Ducati.

  n The Hungarian GP,
new on the calendar for
2009, has been formally
cancelled at the request
of the organisers. The
September 20 event will
not be replaced, cutting the
credit-crunch calendar to
17 rounds. The organisers         Colin Edwards riding on bridgestones
blamed construction delays
to the new Balatonring
circuit due to bad weather,
as well as financial
concerns, and requested a
                                Bridgestone switch “painless” so far
postponement until 2010.
                                THE switch to Bridgestone          be enough to cover all             … I have a much better feeling
   n Racing legend Geoff        tyres for this year’s radical      conditions have so far proved      with the Bridgestone tyres.”
Duke, the oldest surviving      new single-tyre rule has gone      groundless, except in the case       Bridgestone’s development
World Champion on a Gilera,     smoothly at early tests, with      of mixed conditions. With no       manager Tohru Ubakata said: “I
joined the newest, 250 title-   riders switching off Michelins     intermediate tyres available,      am happy about the results at
holder Marco Simoncelli, at     able to start adapting and set     half-wet surfaces continue to      Qatar, as it shows that just two
a ceremony at Monza last        good lap times without too         present a problem.                 specifications can cover a range
Thursday to celebrate the       much delay.                           Long-time Michelin user Colin   of difficult conditions.”
Italian marque’s centenary.       At the same time, the            Edwards described the switch         The new compounds on test
Duke, who turns 86 on           Japanese tyre company              as “painless”; while fellow        were aimed at development for
March 29, won three of his      has pledged to continue            Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo         2010, when the company hopes
four 500cc titles on a Gilera   development, after bring           was second only to Stoner at       to make tyres with an even
four. The name is now part      experimental tyres to Qatar        Qatar tests, after a massive       wider operating range. For 2009,
of the Piaggio stable, run as   tests, to extend the tyres         improvement on the final day.      said Ubakata, “we are now in a
part of Aprilia.                already impressive working         It was not so much due to          position to make more precise
                                range.                             setting improvements, he said,     compound selections for each
  n Kawasaki’s new                Fears that only two              but “mainly I have adapted and     coming GP this season.”
MotoGP machine, the             compounds would not                found a way to be comfortable
Hayate, is not the only bike
to undergo a name change.

                                    ADVERTISE in GPWEEK
The Maxtra 125 has also
been rebadged – as Haojue,
in line with production
bikes made by the Chinese
factory. Copyright to the
                                    to access a HUGE
Maxtra name was belatedly
claimed by a French                  global audience
company.

1
                                                                                    >> Moto GP news




  Marco Melandri is the new Hayate rider




Hayate: the Kawasaki that dares not speak its name
THE last-ditch rescue plan        rather than losing an entry      one-rider team, but there      placing last at the Qatar tests.
after Kawasaki announced          from the grid.                   will be no development from    But with the option of sitting
the factory’s withdrawal            It rescues Melandri, who       the factory. Withdrawal from   out the year, the former 250
from MotoGP now seems             had signed for the factory       racing had been for economic   champion elected to race
assured, after Marco              after his disastrous 2008 with   reasons, the factory had       instead.
Melandri agreed to race the       Ducati. But John Hopkins has     said, although poor results      Hopkins has been silent
renamed ZX-RR machine             been left out in the cold.       were also thought to be a      about the new team, while
after testing it at Qatar.          So too has the Kawasaki        contributory factor. But the   negotiations are in progress
  The deal was brokered by        name. One condition imposed      factory continued to test      concerning the termination
Dorna in negotiation with the     by the Japanese was the          their revised 2009 machine,    of his contract with Kawasaki.
team and with the Japanese        name change – to Hayate,         even before the deal was       Strong rumours have linked
factory, with the Spanish         Japanese for “Hurricane”.        concluded.                     the Californian with a possible
series promoters believed to        Kawasaki will service and        Melandri dragged his feet    move to World Superbikes, if a
have given financial backing      maintain machines for the        about the decision, after      place can be found for him.



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                                                                                                                                1
            SPECIAL

                                   Single tyre a success in Cy
            StAGES
     2003 FIA World Junior
     n
Champion Brice Tirabassi
won the first round               The revolutionary decision        because the tarmac stages
of the Spanish gravel             to force four-wheel-drive         were littered by sharp stones.
championship, the Rally           cars to run gravel tyres on       Tarmac tyres are less stiff and
Tierre de Palma del Rio, in a     the asphalt stages at Rally       not so reinforced.
Subaru, by just 2.9 seconds       Cyprus turned out to be a           “I am happy with the
from the reigning champion        success.                          way things went generally,
Xavier Pons.                         Pirelli’s rally tyre manager   however.”
                                  Mario Isola said: “The tyres         One unexpected factor
  n Johnny Gemmell won            performed very well, but          relating to tyres came
the Tour Natal, opening           obviously the level of            into play. This was when
round of the Total South          performance was lower             Sebastien Loeb left for the
Africa Rally Championship,        than tarmac tyres on tarmac.      stages with already used
at the wheel of a Toyota          On the matter of tyre wear,       tyres, which came as a
Super 2000, ahead of Charl        consistency and integrity         surprise to many.
Wilken’s Subaru Group N           of the tyre we did not have          Isola, “The FIA’s rules say
and two VW Super 2000s.           any problems – it was all a       you must have fitted new
The event was run in the          successful experiment.            tyres when you leave the
Scottburgh region.                  “We don’t want to               service park only when you
   n Hermann Gassner              encourage this concept,           are using tarmac tyres. On
Junior, son of the reigning       but this was a very special       this occasion, of course,
German champion                   situation. We tried to find       they were using gravel
Hermann Senior, won his           a solution that was good          tyres! Therefore nobody was
first DRM championship            for the manufacturers,            obliged to start with new
event at the ADAC Bayern          acceptable for the FIA and        tyres.
Rallye Oberland in a              the organisers, and which           “It was interesting to see
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.         did not change the character      the different strategies
His codriver was 20 year          of the rally.                     the various crews adopted.
old Kathi Wustenhagen.              “I think mixed surface          Some people started with
                                  rallying is interesting,          new tyres, some took up the
  n The organisers of Rally       something coming back             offer to fit new tyres at the
New Zealand have agreed           from the past, but we prefer      refuelling halts, some people
to help their country's Pirelli   to have the right tyre on the     drove the full loop with just
Star Driver competitor Mark       right surface.                    four tyres, like Sebastien
Tapper contest Argentina            “We think there were no         Loeb did.”
and Australia. These events       tyre failures on the four-
are part of Mark's secondary      wheel drive cars, maybe            Contrast: the near-intact gravel
quest to tackle the FIA           just one puncture all day.        tyres on Sebastien Loeb’s car
Production Car WRC, four          We had more problems              (top) after three tarmac stages;
rounds of which are already       with the Juniors, who were        right, the Suzukis were less
part of the PSD prize.            allowed to use tarmac tyres,      forgiving...




                                                    Santa Rosa
                                        AdiosArgentinian view to be lost
                                        Spectacular
                                        A condensed route for             Championship rally, but         then the Skoda team were
                                        Rally Argentina in 2009           which also entails long and     eliminated by a bizarre
                                        means that drivers will no        tiring road sections for the    accident when a heavily-
                                        longer have the pleasure          crews.                          laden truck crashed into
                                        of seeing Santa Rosa de              The loss of the stages in    their cars in 2001.
                                        Calamuchita.                      the Santa Rosa region will        It was also the highly-
                                          Santa Rosa is a small town      serve as a break from the       emotive place where Juha
                                        south of Cordoba, where           traditions of this rally – it   Kankkunen scored his
                                        there is a network of special     was near Santa Rosa that        penultimate career victory
                                        stages that have frequently       Ari Vatanen suffered his        after an argument about
                                        been featured on the World        near-fatal accident in 1985;    team orders in 1999.
1
                                                                                                          >> WRC news
yprus                                   A British Rally Star – at last
                                       Ulsterman Kris Meeke             Peugeot UK-backed 207 Super         Carlo. We were under a lot of
                                       became the first British rally   2000 run by the Kronos team         pressure when we went to
                                       driver since 2006 to win a       is a fantastic step for me”, Kris   Brazil!”
                                       major championship event         said.                                 British success in
                                       when he won the Curitiba           “We plan to enter around          international rallying has
                                       Rally (Mar 6/7) in Brazil.       nine of the 12 events in the        been at a lower ebb since the
                                          This event was the second     series but our crash in Monte       halcyon days of Colin McRae
                                       qualifying event in the IRC      Carlo looked like being a big       and Richard Burns, and it was
                                       series, the Eurosport backed     set-back. Happily Kronos had        Colin’s brother Alister who
                                       championship kicking off with    a spare car, the one which was      was the last major British rally
                                       Rallye Monte Carlo, which Kris   used when Juho Hanninen             winner, when he won the
                                       led in the early stages before   won Rally Russia last year,         Zulu Rally in South Africa in
                                       crashing.                        and then Sebastien Ogier            2006, the first event qualifying
                                         “Our programme with the        used when he won Monte              round of the IRC.




                                                                        VW on the fence
  Major Decisions Coming                                                Following speculations
                                                                        about VW's possible future
                                                                        in rallying, Competition
                                                                                                            company's first goal is Dakar
                                                                                                            2010.
                                                                                                              "Then we can think about
  The FIA’s World Motor Sport         Rally Challenge competition.      Chief Kris Nissen recently          other activities! VW has given
  Council expects to end once           The exact specifications to     commented that World                no thought to running diesel
  and for all the endless in-         distinguish the new-formula       Rallying retains its attraction     cars in the WRC, but it makes
  fighting about future World         World Rally Cars from the         because of the chance to            sense to downsize the engine
  Rally Car rules when it meets       existing S2000 cars are to be     identify and prove the              sizes – for instance use a 1.6
  on Thursday (19 March).             announced, together with          reliability of your products in     litre turbocharger engine in
    Hot favourite formula is          the transitional plans for the    public.                             future.”
  something largely based on          changeover of the formula, due      As to current plans, VW is           Nissen identified what he
  the current normally-aspirated      at the start of 2011, but the     in no position to become            sees is necessary in the WRC:
  Super 2000 cars, which are run      new style WRCars are not now      involved in rallying before         proper world wide promotion
  side-by-side with turbocharged      expected to feature the bolt-     2012, because such a move           and TV coverage, a workable
  Group N cars, and which form        on turbochargers requested by     would demand at least a             calendar and 3-5 year stability
  the basis of the Intercontinental   manufacturers.                    two-year lead time, and the         in technical regulations.
                                                                                                                                           17
             5 MINUTES WITH ...

                                          SEBASTIEN LOEB
Cyprus at the weekend provided the 50th – yes, 50th – WRC win for the amazing Monsieur
Loeb. He reflected on the weekend with MARTIN HOLMES
Records come to 35 year-old, five-times
World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb at
regular intervals. His latest, however, was
something quite special – his 50th World
Rally Championship victory is an amazing
achievement – especially when compared
with the 30 victories of his nearest
challenger, Marcus Gronholm.
  Victory on Cyprus was additionally
special on account of the unknown
challenges involved with the mixed-
surface stages and, more than that, the
special single-tyre regulation.

GP WEEK: How much were you conscious
of the chance of gaining your 50th WCR
win here?
SEBASTIEN LOEB: For sure it was a nice
thought but it did not really prey on            One of many – Loeb receives his GPWEEK Rally Driver of the Year Award (voted by F1 and
my mind. I just got on with the usual            MotoGP stars) from Rally Editor Martin Holmes.
preparation for the rally.
   We had already won the first two rallies        The balance of our C4 WRC is still very           For me it has been some time since
of the season but this one was more              good with this set-up, but we were aware          we last met on a personal level, and if his
specific event in a different way to the         that we will need to look after our tyres to      Subaru is working well and he is feeling
first two rallies this year had been. We         avoid punctures. It will probably be nice for     good, maybe we have yet another fight.
just hoped we would still be competitive.        the spectators to see the cars sliding, but I
During my career we have always taken            don’t think it will be all that stimulating for   What do your think about the proposed
one rally at a time.                             the drivers.                                      new World Rally Car regulations?
   When we beat Carlos Sainz’s record of                                                           A four-wheel drive car will work better if it
26 wins I could not believe we could have        What were your tactics for winning this           has a turbocharger. A Super 2000 that is
gone much further. That seemed only a            event?                                            normally-aspirated will not have a lot of
few days ago. In my mind the strongest           The fact that we were starting the weekend        torque and therefore will not be so nice to
memory was Monte Carlo 2002, which I             on asphalt wouldn’t encourage us to attack,       drive as the World Rally Cars we are driving
thought had won, then we didn’t. …               either, because what will be the point in         at the moment.
                                                 being first overall on Friday evening?               On the other side, this is a difficult time
Did the challenge of two different surfaces        That will mean facing road sweeping duty        for everybody, manufacturers included.
on the same event present a problem?             on the next day’s loose surfaced stages.          Perhaps the most important thing at this
No. I was happy to hear that we would have         That said, this is not a strategy we will       time is to protect the championship and
a day of tarmac rallying in Cyprus. In fact, I   be able to afford to adopt because we             take what steps we can to attract more
would have liked the whole event to be run       would be starting the weekend first on the        manufacturers.
on tarmac!                                       road, unable to measure our performances             In this way, maybe just the normally-
  The tarmac stages are very nice, for me        against our rivals.                               aspirated Super 2000 cars may be the best
nicer than the gravel stages. It would have        Our objective was therefore to build up         solution. This is not the moment for the
been nicer to drive them on slick tyres, but I   as big a lead as possible on the opening day,     drivers to decide what the cars should be
respect that the decision to use gravel tyres    which we managed to do.                           like if, for the manufacturers, these new
was a matter of budget.                                                                            rules are better for them.
  Maybe at this time it is more important to     Will you be happy to see Marcus Gronholm
save money. It’s a shame to have only done       competing again in Portugal?                      Are you planning to continue to be part of
things by half. The single tyre regulations      Yes, very happy, for different reasons. Just      rally sport if the rules are changed in this
meant we would be competing on asphalt           to have his name back on the entry list is        way?
with ill-suited brakes, tyres and suspension.    great.                                            Why not?
1
>> WRC CHAT




         19
 Racing On – as F2 proves to be a real Cinderella
                                      yet. It’s not just been F1 tests –   championship of which I am           development and says that after
opinion



                                      there have been all manner of        fond and which has proved            minimal running it is already
                                      other championships going            such a good proving ground           quicker than F3 and getting
                 WIll                 on, from GP2 Asia to A1GP…           for today’s F1 stars.                close to World Series pace.
                 Buxton               and then there have been the            I was therefore surprised            But what’s even more
                 GPWeek Editor        launches.                            and pleased to be invited to         astonishing is that a full budget
                                        One of the best, to my             the F2 launch, and more than         for a year of F2, which has as its
 CAN it really be four months         mind, happened fairly close          impressed with what I saw.           top prize a Super License and
 since we last brought you            to home just a few weeks ago.        Flanked by Sir Frank Williams,       F1 test with Williams, is half the
 an issue of GPWeek? Believe          On a pretty windy and cold           Patrick Head and Jonathan            price of a season’s budget for
 it or not, that’s exactly how        March morning, Brands Hatch          Palmer, the visionaries behind       the BTCC. Half!
 long it has been, and I’ve           buzzed with excitement as the        the winning tender, the 2009            While I truly don’t think
 really missed it. The world’s        media centre, swollen with           F2 car was unveiled to the           it will ever rival GP2 for
 changed an awful lot in that         international press, awaited the     world’s press and ran around         speed, spectacle, or for the
 time, and Formula 1 has been         launch of a new championship.        the Brands Hatch Indy circuit        preparation of its drivers for
 no exception. Nobody’s been            When the FIA first                 without complaint. It’s a pretty     F1, F2 nevertheless has a very
 impervious to the credit             announced its intention to           little thing, and makes a great      important place in the current
 crunch, and it’s going to be         launch Formula 2, I will fully       noise. A full grid of them will      hierarchy of international
 a tough year for us all. Hell,       admit that I didn’t think the        make a great spectacle.              motorsport. In these financially
 even the drivers have had to         idea would ever see the light           And quite incredibly, they’ve     uncertain times, a competitive
 take pay cuts.                       of day. It just didn’t seem          kept to their costs. A full season   championship at a level in
    With limited winter testing,      possible that for a few hundred      in F2 will cost around £200,000      between F3 and GP2 for that
 it’s been a quieter off season       thousand pounds, one could           (US$280,000). Stephen Kane, a        kind of money is astonishing.
 than usual. That’s not to say it’s   run a race car at F1 feeder level.   former single seater driver who         I honestly never thought F2
 been completely dead… just             I was worried, above all           I personally have always rated       would become a reality, but
 ask the photographers! They’re       else, that this was a political      highly but who today plies his       now that it’s here I’m really
 all completely pooped, and           ploy to try and unsettle             trade in British Touring Cars,       glad that it has. I’m looking
 the season’s not even begun          Bernie Ecclestone’s GP2, a           has been tasked with the car’s       forward to the first race already.




 20
                                                                                        >> GPWEEK OPINION




 Superbikes a greater threat than ever?
                                      protracted death of the 500          usually by circumstances. But    cost the presence of Kawasaki,
opinion




                                      two-strokes. One by one,             he had pride of place in World   though a semblance remains.
               MIChaEl                countries had switched their         Superbikes. And he stayed on     And the whole atmosphere is
               SCott                  top national titles to Superbikes,
                                      or something very similar. A
                                                                           to become a major hero and
                                                                           four times World Superbike
                                                                                                            pervaded with gloom, as test
                                                                                                            sessions are cancelled and
               MotoGP Editor
                                      lack of machine availability had     champion.                        track time slashed. Any air of
 THE MotoGP season stretches          made this almost inevitable.           To British fans, this meant    confidence of two or three
 ahead into the future. So            The 500cc GP class became            one thing: Superbikes were       years ago is firmly in abeyance.
 too does the start date to           increasingly isolated: racing in     the more important series,          And the Supers? Thriving.
 the series. When the circus          an ivory tower.                      and GP racing was a thing        Aprilia and BMW have both
 does finally get going, in the         Inevitably, this diverted          of the past. Arguments were      joined in this year, while
 middle of April, Formula 1           a slew of riders away from           quite fervent at the time;       Kawasaki’s quasi-factory team
 will already have done two           GPs. Previously their progress       sometimes almost came to         is still going. The exciting new
 races. More to the point,            would have led inexorably            blows. I personally stayed       Aprilia is already running near
 World Superbikes will have           towards the 500cc class. Now         true to the old religion, and    the front, too, ridden by a pair
 completed three rounds.              they found themselves on             kept proclaiming the seniority   of MotoGP rejects, Max Biaggi
    By now, in fact, they have        production-based Superbikes.         of GPs. I found myself often     and Shinya Nakano.
 already had two: in Australia        Whether they liked it or not.        vilified for it.                    Plus, to keep the USA on
 and Qatar. And some typically          Most of them didn’t: Grand            MotoGP fought back from       side, there is new hero Ben
 close racing has seen the            Prix racing remained the             its position of dwindling        Spies (above). Like Fogarty, his
 emergence of an instant new          Holy Grail, at least within the      relevance. Most crucial          MotoGP aims were thwarted;
 hero, as US champion Ben             paddocks.                            was Dorna’s switch to            he is in Superbikes by default.
 Spies (Yamaha) surges ahead            It wasn’t quite the same           990 four-strokes in 2002,        The way things are going now,
 on wins, though not yet on           for the fans, however. Their         which realigned grand prix       for him and for the two series,
 points.                              loyalty went where the riders        motorcycles with the real two-   will he ever want to leave?
    It doesn’t feel right. It feels   actually were, rather than           wheeled world. This brought         Economics are the bottom
 as though the senior series          where the riders might have          in two new manufacturers,        line, and will be the deciding
 is on the back foot. And as          wanted to be.                        Ducati and Kawasaki, and for     factor, should the battle
 though we may already have             All this coincided with a          a while the old order was re-    between the two series
 started another war between          remarkable career – of Carl          established. Superbikes were     become serious.
 MotoGP and SBK.                      Fogarty. The hard-faced              definitely second string.           Only then will the question
    The last time this happened       Englishman commanded an                The new economic strictures    be answered: Is MotoGP
 was in the mid-1990s.                army of fans. His own GP plans       have come at a bad time for      racing a luxury we can simply
    One trigger was the               were thwarted repeatedly,            MotoGP, however. And have        no longer afford?
                                                                                                                                          21
22
                                                               >> F1 INSIGHT




Out of the Sinking
The arrival of BrawnGP at F1 testing has been spectacular – can the once-despondent
former Honda team pull off the biggest upset in decades? WILL BUXTON thinks so




                                                                                      23
      Will Ross Brawn, left, get
        to reap the rewards for
        Honda’s (and his) early
            start on an ‘09 car?
      Rubens Barrichello, right,
       already has. Two weeks
     ago he could barely have
          dreamed of being at
        Barcelona, never mind
       topping the test times ...




2
                                                                                                            >> F1 INSIGHT




T
         WO weeks ago, the future of the         a dog… it was at its first test as I recall.    a technically minded genius and the kind of
         team formerly known as Honda            The season, once it had begun, started to       man manager that the heavy heads at the
         Racing was uncertain. The two most      snowball into a nightmare of substantial        team needed to pick them up and return an
         viable and reportedly interested        proportions, and so the very smart decision     element of pride to their work.
parties in taking over the squad had pulled      was taken to scrap all thoughts of putting        And then came December 5. Honda’s
out and all that remained as an option was       a concerted effort into salvaging 2008, and     decision to pull out of Formula 1 was
the much-vaunted and widely debated              just concentrate instead on 2009. The new       sudden and immediate. And it begged a
management buyout                                regulations would take a lot of brain-power,    huge question. Why now? Why, after having
   But in the space of ten days the team,        so why not give it everything the team had      put all their eggs into the basket of the 2009
which at one very recent moment was              at its disposal?                                championship, did they just decide to chuck
threatened with being disbanded, now finds         And that’s exactly what they did.             all that hard work and money into the bin
itself being lauded as potentially unbeatable!     All efforts were put into creating a 2009     and walk away?
   Could it be, could it really be, that Ross    F1car which would put Honda at the front          Sure, Honda had not turned over the
Brawn and his new F1 team are about to pull      of the pack, and finally cement the team        number of car sales it had wanted, but
off one of the most incredible turnarounds       into the lofty position on the top step of      they’d suffered nowhere near as badly as
in the history of Formula 1? The general and     the podium it had only achieved once since      some of their auto-manufacturing rivals.
perfectly genuine feeling at present is that     taking full ownership of BAR.                     The truth was far deeper seated in that
yes… they really could.                            With Ross Brawn on board, the team had        initial purchase of the squad from British
   It’s been a tough old winter for the          the visionary at its helm that it had lacked    American Tobacco. Wise paddock sages will
staff at Brackley. The HRF1 Team figured         since the long-ago departed David Richards.     tell you that Honda never really wanted
out early on in 2008 that the RA108 was          Not only was Brawn a brilliant tactician, but   to own an F1 team, but had
                                                                                                                                            2
                                                                                                                   Barrichello, left and above righ
                                                                                                                Button (right) have set the F1 worl
                                                                                                                                          hot laps




            been left holding the baby after    was cheaper to fund part of the team for        the 2009 car that the design process would
no suitable candidates could be found           a year than to make everyone redundant,         have been heavily advanced by this stage
for its purchase after BAT pulled out. So it    and partly because Honda may yet wish to        anyway.
plugged along, ploughing money into a           rejoin F1 in an eco-friendly future.              All we know for sure is that by the time
project for which it had no real heart. The        As the deals were being done behind          BrawnGP was announced on March 5 and
embarrassment caused back at home               the scenes and the paperwork filed to turn      the BGP001 was rolled out on the Stowe
in Japan by its failure to shine was only       HRF1 into BrawnGP, Brackley had continued       circuit at Silverstone on March 6, the team
compounded when Super Aguri turned up           to operate as normal. A deal had been           had at its disposal an incredibly neat, tidy
and used their old car to beat them. The        done with Mercedes to take their engines        and refined car for Jenson Button and
economic crisis gave Honda the perfect          onboard for 2009. While the Merc engine         Rubens Barrichello to drive, both ex-Honda
exit strategy… although once again Honda        fitted best with the gearbox at Brawn’s         boys being kept on for the new season.
found itself looking for someone to take        disposal, there would be no room for the           It’s one of the prettiest cars on the 2009
over the team, subsequently turning down        Honda KERS unit, and so, from early on in       grid. There is not an ounce of fat on the
all the seemingly sensible options available.   2009, what would have been the RA109 was        BGP001. Its design is so intricate, so clever.
   Exactly how Ross Brawn funded his take-      redesigned to fit a Mercedes engine and         But would it work?
over of the team remains unclear. What we       await the announcement of the new team             Four days of testing in Barcelona have
understand to have happened is that Bernie      owners.                                         given us the following statistics. Rubens
Ecclestone, after having a reported $100           As testing began, the team was able to       Barrichello and Jenson Button racked
million deal to save the squad turned down,     watch with interest as each team launched       up a total of 427 laps, without any
freed up some of the revenue owed to            its cars. Exactly how much influence was        major reliability issues. They completed
Honda from TV rights and race fees.             taken from the new cars as they hit the track   race distances, ran qualifying sims and
  The rest of the cash, so the rumours go,      is uncertain, for the team formerly known       Barrichello set the fastest lap of the test.
came from Honda itself partly because it        as Honda had spent so much of 2008 on              Incredible, doesn’t quite sum it up.

2
                                                                                                               >> F1 INSIGHT




ht with a Brawn engineer, and
 ld back on its heels with some
 – and some quick long runs ...




       But it’s only testing, isn’t it? Everyone     team until it found a new owner. One would      been to check reliability and run up mileage,
    plays games. BrawnGP was just on a low           assume then that the development costs          he described himself as “extremely pleased,”
    fuel set-up in a bid to get sponsors involved,   of fixing the rear end to take a Mercedes       and that his aims had been “successfully
    weren’t they? Or… were they?                     engine would have been included in those        achieved.”
       Felipe Massa reckons that, at present,        costs.                                             There’s one more test planned for
    BrawnGP in race trim is “unreachable.”             The F1 rumour mill is awash with stories      BrawnGP, which takes place in Jerez this
    Fernando Alonso, too, reportedly said that       of companies who may or may not become          week. While we won’t know just how
    Brawn’s pace was “unreachable.” The two-         involved with the BrawnGP team … most,          competitive the car and the team will be
    time F1 world champion puts this down to         seemingly, because their colour schemes         until practice kicks off in Australia in a
    the gestation period of the BGP001:              seem to fit well with the simple and striking   fortnight, for a first run the BGP001 has
      “The truth is that they have a car that        white, black and yellow of the BGP001.          shocked the establishment.
    Honda began working on in 2007 to use            But Brawn may not need to bother with              On the balance of first impressions, and
    in 2009. And that's evident in its design,       corporate bullshit this year. It may be able    given the extent to which the hitherto
    because it's a very elaborate car, with          to just go out and race and only worry          confirmed competitive order of Formula 1 is
    different shapes than the rest," he divulged.    about finding sponsors for 2010. After all,     starting to worry about their form, BrawnGP
    And he’s spot on.                                Honda managed to race for two years with        may be on the verge of something amazing.
       After all, why would Brawn need to attract    no sponsorship but a massive bogey on the          And wouldn’t it be ironic if after the
    sponsors? If the rumours are correct, Brawn      side of its F1 car.                             colostomy bag full of mistakes that Honda
    has his operating budget for 2009 with             But what of Ross Brawn himself? As            made during its time in Formula 1, its final
    the complete design process of the BGP           matter-of-fact as we have come to               decision in pulling out of Formula 1, when
    having been absorbed by Honda and thus           expect, his understated confidence at the       it had at its disposal a car which may just be
    costing the new team relatively little, if not   performance of the car is ominous. Citing       set to challenge for regular race wins, was to
    nothing, as Honda was set to fully fund the      that the intention of the test had simply       be its greatest mistake of all.

                                                                                                                                                27
Brave
  New
World
F1 – and the world – is a
different place since the
cars left Brazil in November.
WILL BUXTON catches up
on the ever-changing world
of F1 …




2
                                                        >> F1 INSIGHT

B
          ELIEVE it or not, it’s been four         While their withdrawal stunned the
          months since the last issue           wider sporting world, it was met with
          of GPWeek hit the web, and            firm commitments to Formula 1 by
          in the world of Formula 1 an          almost every other manufacturer. But
awful lot has changed.                          while the other teams stood firm, it
   Our 2008 season review spoke much            was now obvious that immediate
of the financial belt-tightening which          change was needed to the financial
would have to occur over the winter, but        infrastructure of the sport. No longer
nobody could have imagined that the             could F1 exist on excess. No longer could
global economic meltdown which has              teams support staff numbers in excess
affected each and every one of us in            of 700 people, with unlimited budgets.
recent months would hit so fast and cut         The finances just couldn’t support such a
so deep.                                        decadent sport. Things had to change.
   Not a month had passed after the                The first move towards meaningful
end of the F1 season before Dietrich            change came at the Monaco Business
Mateschitz had bought Gerhard Berger’s          Forum in mid-December when the
50% stake in Toro Rosso, meaning that           newly formed Formula One Teams’
Red Bull once again held complete               Association (FOTA) met with the FIA to
ownership of two Formula 1 teams. But if        discuss the future.
that was a slight shock, what came next            The discussions and agreements
rocked the sport.                               reached were said to have been “beyond
   On December 5, Honda announced               all expectations” and on December 12
it was pulling out of Formula 1 with            the FIA announced plans for immediate
immediate effect.                               cost cuts which would see a 30 percent
   With the world’s economies in freefall       drop in expenditure in 2009. In-season
and every car manufacturer reporting            testing was to be banned, wind tunnels
drops in sales, Honda used the turndown         over 60 percent in scale were to be
to legitimise its sudden withdrawal, but        outlawed and engine life was to be
there were many within the sport who            doubled to just eight units per car per
felt the decision had not had its basis so      season.
firmly planted in the global economic              In the meantime, moves were going
situation as Honda would have them              on behind the scenes to find Honda
believe. It was widely known that the           a new buyer. Both David Richards at
company had been looking for a way out          Prodrive and Sir Richard Branson of
for some time, and the money worries of         the mighty Virgin emerged as likely
the world seemed a very neat excuse for         candidates for an external
Honda to quit and save face.                    takeover, but both men’s interest




Yes, no: Honda made noises about 2009 during testing late last year, then pulled the pin ...
                                                                                          29
          ultimately came to naught. From       towards this goal when the USF1 Team           Buemi to Toro Rosso and holding onto
        early on in the new year, it had        announced its intention to enter F1 in         Bourdais in place of the impressive
   become clear that the only salvation         2010. Viewing the global climate as an         Takuma Sato who tested for the squad, the
for the team formerly known as Honda            opportunity rather than a hindrance, an        Swiss is the only rookie in the field.
lay with a Management Takeover, headed          American F1 Team seems a viable prospect,         Bruno Senna held out all winter for the
by Ross Brawn and Nick Fry, and the             and one hopes that their preparations go       second seat at Honda/BrawnGP, but lost
world, along with Jenson Button, Rubens         well over the next 12 months.                  out in the end to Barrichello who stays on
Barrichello, GP2 Vice-champion Bruno              But apart from the politics and              for his 15th season in Formula 1.
Senna and over 700 staff, held its breath.      economics, there was the small matter of         And then there are the management
   Meanwhile, the economic turndown             testing and the launch of a new breed of       changes. Mike Gascoyne and Collin
was hitting sponsorship. With banking           F1 car.                                        Kolles have left Force India, while Luca
giants RBS caught at the centre of                BMW was the first team to reveal its         Marmorini has departed Toyota, citing
the global financial scandal, Williams          2009-spec challenger and, with new             the reduction in engine development as
announced that it would be looking for a        regulations limiting aerodynamics              leaving him with minimal challenges in
new sponsor in 2011 after RBS announced         and insisting on a massive front wing          the sport.
it would pull out of the sport after its deal   and very thin but high rear wing, BMW            And then there’s Ron Dennis. The
with the team finished at the end of 2010.      tester Christian Klien summed up the           rumours had been circling for some time
Meanwhile Renault’s title sponsor ING also      thoughts of every self respecting F1 fan       that he would walk away from F1 if and
announced it would be pulling out of the        by declaring the new car to be quite           when Hamilton took the title, and while
sport a year earlier than RBS, at the end of    possibly the “ugliest” F1 car he’d ever laid   his decision had little to do with that fact,
the 2009 season.                                eyes on!                                       his departure is sure to have some impact
   But then, finally, a bit of good news.         But as testing went on, and more teams       on the team. McLaren has been left in the
   On March 5 BrawnGP was launched as           launched their 2009 challengers, the           capable hands of Martin Whitmarsh, a
the Management Takeover of Honda was            new look F1 started to become normal           man who has been such a capable deputy
confirmed. A day later the BGP001, fitted       and, day I say it, quite pretty. God is most   to Dennis for so many years and who
with a Mercedes engine, took to the track       certainly in the detail with the 2009 cars     deserves his promotion thoroughly.
for a shakedown and Formula 1 had its           and, with a blank sheet of paper it’s been       So that’s pretty much where we are.
tenth team.                                     fascinating to see the different design           It’s been a rocky few months, but we’re
   With the FIA announcing long term            approaches the teams have taken.               still here. Testing has given us a confused
cost cutting plans to further help the            The driver line-ups have remained            look at the current powerbase in Formula
sport from 2010 onwards, including              relatively unchanged, with just Vettel –       1 and, with a completely new grid of cars
standardised non-competitive parts              switching ships from Toro Rosso to Red         from a new set of regulations, the 2009
(including KERS), FIA President Max             Bull – conducting the majority of the          season promises to be a thriller.
Mosley expressed his hope that Formula 1        team’s winter running after Mark Webber           With costs coming down, and the FIA
might see 12 teams in the not-too-distant       was hit by a 4x4 whilst cycling through        and FOTA working in tandem to ensure
future. Quite incredibly, even within the       Tasmania on his annual charity challenge.      the sport’s long-term financial stability,
economic turndown, one step was taken             With Red Bull promoting Sebastien            the future looks bright for Formula 1.
30
                                                            >> F1 INSIGHT




Got the blues: Williams, above, will lose its RBS sponsorship at the end of the season, just one
of the signs that the economy is hitting Formula 1 hard. Other changes in the F1 world include
a reduced role for Ron Dennis, left, and Mercedes engines for Force India, below. And then
there are the unelegant, yet somehow beautiful, new aero bits and pieces ...




                                                                                              31
32
                                                                         >> MOTO INSIGHT

Lean, but still mean ...
Budget cuts, less testing, and fewer races – everything in MotoGP is a little smaller in
2009, although the fight for the title will still be huge. By MICHAEL SCOTT


                                   M
                                                  OTOGP’S closed season       behind, and looking for the fluke.
                                                  has been a bit different      The abbreviated calendar is the
                                                  from usual. The series      result of a false start in Hungary. The
                                                  that will begin at Qatar    Lake Balaton circuit will not be ready:
                                   on April 12 has been facing up to hard     bad weather is taking the blame, but
                                   times, along with the rest of the world.   financial uncertainty is another major
                                   It has emerged considerably leaner, in     factor. This race was to have replaced
                                   all sorts of ways.                         the short-lived Chinese round.
                                      The biggest cut has been in terms          More money saving is behind the
                                   of track time, both at race weekends       drastic cut in track time, affecting all
                                   and with testing severely cut back. The    classes. The moves were ratified at
                                   calendar is down by one race, to 17.       a special February summit meeting.
                                   The MotoGP grid has shrunk by one          Pre-season testing had already been
                                   manufacturer with the departure of         slashed. Now the usual post-race
                                   Kawasaki. But grid numbers have been       testing days at a number of tracks have
                                   maintained at 18. And, unless there are    also been cancelled. Factory teams may
                                   more shocks to come, we’ll all soon be     test, but not with regular riders, and
                                   going racing.                              only to develop next year’s equipment.
                                      What a relief it will be, from the         Race weekend mileage has also been
                                   gloom and doom. And, so far at any         cut: Friday morning sessions are no
                                   rate, there has not been a significant     more; while the usual hour for MotoGP
                                   sponsor drain. The reverse, in the case    has been cut back to 45 minutes. The
                                   of the satellite Yamaha team, Tech 3,      smaller classes have similar reductions.
                                   which has inherited Monster soft-drink        From the midpoint, the Czech
                                   backing after several unsponsored          Republic GP, numbers of machines will
                                   years                                      be restricted – each rider getting five
                                      The biggest technical change is         bikes for the remaining eight rounds.
                                   the switch to a single tyre supplier.      More restrictions will follow next year.
                                   Bridgestone now supply the whole             The aim is to increase engine life,
                                   grid. This hands some advantage to         cutting costs directly by eliminating
                                   those already experienced with the         the one-engine-per-race practice now
                                   Japanese rubber. That apart, important     almost universal. A side effect is that
                                   things have generally stayed the same.     revs have been limited: the satellite
                                      The main protagonists of last year      Honda teams now have pneumatic-
                                   are all back in the same teams as last     valve-spring engines like last year’s
                                   year. This means Rossi and Stoner set      factory prototype, but are limited to a
                                   to rejoin battle; Pedrosa and Lorenzo      mere 18,200rpm, not much more than
                                   ready to upset the duet.                   the steel-spring engines.
                                      We also have Dovizioso and Toni Elias     The regulations will drive a further
                                   on factory bikes, and the usual cast       wedge in between the haves
                                   of would-be heroes snapping along          and the have-nots. Riders, for




                                                                                                                   33
Who’s the fastest of them all? There’s no question that Valentino Rossi will challenge for
the title, main pic, but the Suzuki riders are already questioning the speed of their new bike,
above. And there are big questions about whether Dani Pedrosa, below, will even be fit for
the first race. Nicky Hayden will be fit, right, but will he be fast?




3
                                                                                                >> MOTO INSIGHT




           example, adapting       royal for the title.                 possibly the first race or two. A   for more speed, and unless it
         from Michelin to             Rossi turned 30 during the        big blow to his hopes. Especially   comes they’ll be working very
  Bridgestone (including           break. Nobody believes for           with the added pressure of          hard for slender rewards once
Dovizioso and Lorenzo) will        a minute it will slow the Fiat       comingman Andrea Dovizioso          again.
be doubly hampered by the          Yamaha rider down. But this is       in Hayden’s old place alongside       Some satellite teams are at
lack of testing and set-up time.   the last year of his contract and,   him in the Repsol Honda pit.        least as strong as the fourth
Similarly, teams lagging behind    while publicly equivocal, he has     The “P” in Pedrosa stands for       factory. Tech 3’s Colin Edwards,
technically will now have even     privately aired the thought it       Pressure.                           another rider with the end in
less time in which to catch up.    may be his last. He surely has          Lorenzo has the Bridgestone      sight, was quicker to adapt to
   Kawasaki’s withdrawal came      little left to prove … except that   hill to climb, but was making a     Bridgestones than team-mate
as a shock. The axe fell at the    he can go out still at the top.      fair fist of by the end of Qatar    James Toseland, and the Texan
end of the year, the factory       Always and still the man to beat.    tests. He can expect no help        always bears watching. Gresini
citing financial reasons. This     And very ready to race.              from team-mate Rossi: the wall      Honda has a full factory bike
triggered frantic lobbying            Stoner, at the other end of       down the middle of the pit          for Elias, who needs to add
both by Dorna, anxious not to      his career, may not be so. There     installed last year, when each      consistency to his spirited style.
lose a factory, and the former     are still questions about the        used different tyre brands, will      And plenty of people will
Kawasaki teamsters, anxious        Marlboro Ducati man’s left           stay there this year.               be watching Sete Gibernau,
to keep their jobs. A rescue       wrist. An old fracture spoiled          American eyes will be on         making a comeback after two
package saved new rider Marco      his end of 2008, he underwent        Nicky Hayden as the 2006 World      years away, on a satellite Ducati.
Melandri but not last year’s       immediate surgery, but at            Champion strives to evade           Once, Sete raced with Rossi. Can
often-injured incumbent John       February and March tests he felt     the hoodoo that has stricken        he do so again?
Hopkins, who was contracted        it was far from fully recovered.     previous number-two factory           There remains one last round
for this year.                     There was even talk he might         Ducati riders. In tests he was      of official tests before the
   Kawasaki will provide an        not make the season at all. Or is    struggling to match up to rookie    season begins in earnest … at
upgraded motorcycle … but          he just playing games.               satellite Duke riders Mike Kallio   Jerez in the last weekend in
not any identity. The team will       There’s no faking Pedrosa’s       and Niccolò Canepa. If hard work    March. The results there could
be called Hayate (Hurricane):      problems. Honda’s top man            has anything to do with it, that    prove crucial, and it’s the last
this is the Kawasaki that dare     crashed at Qatar tests, and          situation won’t last too long.      chance to get things right. Two
not speak its name.                sustained fractures to his left         Suzuki returns with another      weeks later, racing proper starts
   Grid-fillers aside, there is    wrist and leg. He will definitely    round of upgrades and strong        in Qatar and Japan, before
plenty to look forward to. There   miss final tests at Jerez in the     test times. But both Capirossi      commencing the European
is every promise of a battle       last weekend in March, and           and Vermeulen were calling          grind in earnest.
                                                                                                                                           3
     Since
     Just like F1 and MotoG
     MARTIN HOLMES loo




3
                                                                                                  >> WRC INSIGHT


e we last met ...
 GP, a lot has changed in the last few months for the World Rally Championship.
oks back at what’s changed and what has stayed the same

     L
              IFE has been hectic on the WRC       event, while Cave had only passed his        has been the selection of an official
              front …                              driving test the week before the event! It   World Championship Promoter, which
                Citroen became World Rally         was also Subaru’s debut win in the PCWRC     was announced on the eve of the
              Champions for the fourth time at     category for their new hatchback ‘N14’       opening round of the 2009 World Rally
     the final round of 2008, the Wales Rally      version Impreza.                             Championship.
     GB, and Sebastien Loeb, who was already         The global economic situation was            This work will now start in 2010, not
     proclaimed Driver’s champion, went on to      given as the reason for the withdrawal of    2011 as specified in the original job tender.
     win the championship rallies in Britain and   the official world championship teams        The Promoter was named as ISC, the
     then, in 2009, in Ireland and Norway.         of both Subaru and Suzuki. Although          company which already worked as the
       On Wales Rally GB, his final appearance     Subaru had introduced its new 2008 S14       championship’s commercial rights holder,
     as a Red Bull team driver, Austrian Andreas   model in mid-season it did not produce       so this will be an extension of the work in
     Aigner clinched the Production Car World      as much performance improvement over         which they were already engaged.
     Rally Championship, while Sebastien           their previous model as hoped, while           The Pirelli Star Driver selection process
     Ogier had already been crowed 2008            Suzuki withdrew after many changes in        started off in 2008 as an individual project
     Junior World Champion.                        management. Ironically the performance       in each of the four regional divisions of
       The 2008 season ended dramatically          of Suzuki’s SX4 WRC cars in the 2008         international rally sport, using different
     in Wales, after the event had been            series had exceeded all expectations,        ways to choose which driver would gain
     postponed from the first to the second        considering the severely limited resources   the prize drives on six rounds of the 2009
     week in December. Wintry weather had          under which the team operated.               world championship.
     arrived in the meantime and created             Subaru, however, continues to                The African series went very smoothly,
     dramatic conditions, with ice and snow.       be strongly represented in world             won by South African VW Polo Super 2000
     Ford’s chances of retaining the Makes title   championship rallying through their          driver Jon Williams; the Asia Pacific series
     evaporated when Mikko Hirvonen rolled,        Group N activities, while official Suzuki    used a complicated Shoot-Out but the
     but Ford’s guest driver Valentino Rossi did   Sport Europe team cars continue to           unequivocal winner was New Zealander
     well to finish 12th and 17 year-old Tom       compete in the JWRC series.                  Mark Tapper.
     Cave won his class by a quarter of an hour.     The most important recent FIA                The European system was
       It was Rossi’s third appearance on a WRC    rallying decision over the winter months     bolstered by incorporating




                                                                                                                                          37
           candidates from both the             the 12 events are to run in the first half      the new Citroen Junior team. Main drivers
         Nacam and Codasur series and           of the year. Three countries return to          in this team are Zimbabwean Conrad
the selection process involved interviews       the world championship after extended           Rautenbach and Russian Evgeniy Novikov,
as well as driving performance. Its two         absences, Cyprus and Australia come back        while on a one-off basis in Rally Ireland
winners were named as Martin Semerad            after three years away, while Poland is         Australian Chris Atkinson drove. The team
from the Czech Republic and Jarkko              represented again in the series for the first   also run their protege driver Sebastien
Nikara from Finland. The fight for the          time since 1973! As explained elsewhere,        Ogier but as a non-championship
Middle East series award continued for          Cyprus has become the first rally to take       competitor.
many weeks into the new year, and the           up the FIA’s renewed invitation to run dual
winner was named as the Cypriot driver          surfaces stage surfaces (some days asphalt
Nick Thomas. All six drivers have their first   other days gravel), the first time world
outing on the world championship rally in       championship rallies have had this format
Portugal.                                       since Sanremo in1996.
  There are some specific but major               Currently two full manufacturers (M1)
changes for the 2009 World Rally                teams have entered the championship
Championship:                                   this year: BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT and
  The number of qualifying rounds has           Citroen Total WRT.
been reduced from 15 to 12, under the              It had seemed there would only be two
FIA’s event rotation system. The qualifying     subsidiary Manufacturer team (M2) entries,
rallies for the 2009 calendar are more          Citroen Junior and Stobart VK M-Sport
European-based than usual, with just two        Ford. The FIA then decided that single car
rounds (Argentina and Australia) counting       entries would now be permitted and this
as ‘long haul’ events.                          allowed the Argentine-based Munchi’s
  There is also an unusual front-heavy          team to become the fifth registered team.
balance to the series, whereby eight of           The main team novelty of the year is
3
                                                                                                   >> WRC INSIGHT

                                        Lightening Loeb!
                                        Round 1 – Ireland




                                        IRELAND opened the championship in                better to use on the puddle-strewn country
                                        a wonderfully and quite typically Irish           roads than regular racing tyres.
                                        fashion – with water lying everywhere!              The climax of the rally was a most exciting
                                          There were already concerns over the date       televised round-the-town stage in Donegal
                                        on which the event was to be held and tyre        Town, but there really was nothing other
                                        suppliers Pirelli were required to prepare        drivers could do to beat Sebastien Loeb who,
                                        a tyre which would be suitable should the         even when the conditions eased on the final
                                        precipitation turn to snow.                       day, still continued to use his snow tyres.
                                          Then the extraordinary happened … teams           Ford’s hopes were dashed when the early
                                        found that the special Pirelli snow tyres were    rally leader Jari Matti Latvala went off the road.



                                        Round 2 – Norway
Good for one, bad forthe other:
Ford lost the title in Wales last
year, top left, while Sebastien Loeb
wrapped it up for Citroen, above.
During the off-season, both Subaru,
above left, and Suzuki, below, pulled
the pin on WRC involvement.




                                        ROUND 2 was Rally Norway, held in the             when his black and silver car made fastest
                                        snows that epitomise the joy of winter            time on the opening stage, a superspecial in
                                        rallying.                                         Oslo. Dominating the event was too much to
                                          The main focus of attention was on the          expect but he finished sixth, despite various
                                        Solberg brothers. Henning was once again          problems including a sticking throttle. It was
                                        in the orange Focus but it was touch-and-go       a super effort considering the age of his car.
                                        whether Petter would take part. In the end           While Loeb went on to win once again,
                                        he had the chance to drive an eight-year          the event was also noted for Skoda’s new
                                        old Citroen Xsara World Rally Car, still fitted   Fabia S2000 PCWRC category win on the
                                        with an active transmission system – banned       first appearance of this type in world
                                        from newer rally cars. It was a big rush to       championship rallying, finishing ahead of the
                                        prepare the team, but everything came good        orthodox Group N cars.

                                                                                                                                               39
Super-Seb
Super-Seb
50 wins for Loeb, Hirvonen again the bridesmaid; Solberg super for third.
MARTIN HOLMES was there




0
>> WRC Cyprus




            41
S
         UPERHUMAN Sebastien Loeb              Rally Norway, Subaru’s rallying exile          agreed with the remarkable idea that
         leapt further than ever into          Petter Solberg once again drove his black      gravel tyres should be used throughout!
         uncharted career territory when       and silver eight-year old Xsara, (looking      Drivers complained to the FIA, who then
         he celebrated his 50th World          visually dull in comparison with the newer     redirected their concerns back to the
Rally Championship victory in Cyprus,          C4s) and his storming drive in the later       people who agreed to this idea … their
20 more than his nearest rival, Marcus         stages of the event really brought a sense     bosses!
Gronholm.                                      of fun to the occasion.                          In the battles between the subsidiary
  On the first mixed surface World Rally in      After finding the challenge of the asphalt   Citroen and Ford teams, Petter Solberg’s
13 years, the Frenchman also mastered a        stages difficult to master on the Friday,      remarkable third place stole the headlines
controversial single-tyre rule. Competitors    Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen drove as hard as         but Matthew Wilson drove strongly to
had to use gravel tyres, even on asphalt       he dared later in the event, bearing in        resist the challenge of Sebastien Ogier,
stages.                                        mind he needed to have a top finishing         who went off the road on the final stage.
  Sebastien pulled out an early lead           position. Eventually he got ahead of Loeb’s    There were promising performances from
which stood him well later on, when            teammate Dani Sordo, who was then also         both Evgeniy Novikov, who on the second
he drove gravel stages in unfavourable         passed by Solberg, but in the end Citroen      day was holding fifth place, and Conrad
conditions, as first car on the road.          scored 16 championship points from this        Rautenbach, who finished sixth.
Changing conditions made the gravel            event, where the odds had been strongly in       The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team
roads tricky. Ford’s number two driver Jari-   favour of Ford, who scored 10. The effect of   had an early disaster, when a local driver
Matti Latvala slid off the road for over 20    Latvala’s problems was evident.                swung his vehicle into the path of the
minutes, and two of the three Citroen            There was never-ending debate before         approaching Focus of Henning Solberg.
Junior drivers retired after going off the     the event concerning the tyre regulations,     Henning missed all the opening day’s
road as well. Latvala’s misfortune was a       but rally organiser Takis Kyriakides leapt     activities.
terrible blow for Ford’s championship          at the FIA’s offer to run a mixed surfaced       Munchi’s driver Federico Villagra had a
hopes but opened the door for the              event (asphalt on Day 1, gravel on Days 2      consistent event to finish seventh, ahead
privateer Xsara WRC of Petter Solberg to       and 3).                                        of Khalid Al Qassimi, who was badly
score the first non-works podium for a          “Not all our roads are strong enough in       delayed by handbrake problems. Citroen
driver in over three years.                    bad weather for double usage, especially       Total now lead BP Ford by 48 points to
  Citroen came to the rally resplendent        when we were to run Production Car             32, while Sebastien Loeb leads Mikko
in a new colour scheme and revised             and Junior category, and the mixed             Hirvonen 30 to 22.
corporate logos and really looked exciting,    formula meant that nearly all the gravel         In three weeks time the teams meet
but there were no technical developments,      stages need only be used once.” Teams          again in Portugal, an all-gravel event and
either for them or their rivals at Ford.       however complained that this involved          another rally where, in theory, Ford should
  After an exciting but rather frustrating     extra cost to bring additional freight and     do well.
2
                                                                                                    >> WRC Cyprus




                                                                             Tributes for the
Backwards in leaps and bounds: Jari-Matti Latvala spent a bit of time off
course in Cyprus, above, leaving the door open for Petter Solberg to score
                                                                             Super Champ
a surprise podium in his old Xsara, below. Matthew Wilson, bottom, was       Daniel Elena – Loeb’s co-driver
slow on the tarmac, but fast on the gravel.                                  Sebastien is a very good man. He always wants to win. When
                                                                             he finds he is losing you have some problems – he is not very
                                                                             happy at all.

                                                                             Olivier Quesnel – Citroen boss
                                                                             I am really proud at what Sebastien and Daniel have achieved
                                                                             for themselves and for Citroen.

                                                                             Petter Solberg – Long-time rival
                                                                             I really take my hat off to you, my friend. Your achievement is
                                                                             absolutely unbelievable. You are a nice guy; you have a good
                                                                             team around you; you have a real 110 percent passion for what
                                                                             you do. You are going to stay in the history books for quite
                                                                             some time. It takes a lot to get things right to win even one
                                                                             event.

                                                                             Mikko Hirvonen – Title rival
                                                                             People ask if I could ever score 50 wins. All I can say is that it is
                                                                             much more easy for me to score 50 second places! The most
                                                                             amazing thing is to consider in how short a period of time it has
                                                                             taken him to achieve these wins.

                                                                             Patrik Sandell – PCWRC winner
                                                                             Sebastien must be the best rally driver for the past 100 years.
                                                                             I don’t think I could ever be as good as him, but hopefully if I
                                                                             keep going I might be able to win the championship one year.
                                                                             If anyone ever says I am as fast as Sebastien, I would be very
                                                                             honoured!

                                                                             Martin Prokop – JWRC winner
                                                                             It is interesting that Sebastien went right to the top after
                                                                             learning the sport in the small category cars. He shows all of us
                                                                             just what is possible to do, I don’t think I could ever be as fast as
                                                                             him, but we will always try!

                                                                                                                                               43
           PACE

                                 Variety is the spice ...
           NOTES
  n New FIA rules allow
single team entries in the
World Championship. This
enables the Munchi’s team         CYPRUS Rally chief Takis Kyriakides
to qualify for Manufacturer’s     explained how the opportunity to use
points.                           mixed surfaced rallies was offered by the
  n Most important                FIA last year, and was taken up because
technical developments            of the inherent limitations offered by the
were the newly                    traditional gravel stages in Cyprus.
homologated changes to             “The decision to go ahead with asphalt
the N14 hatchback-version         and gravel stages was made when the FIA
Subaru Impreza cars.              decided that our event this year would count
  Although drivers                for both the PCWRC and the JWRC cars, as
appreciated the improved          well as the normal WRC championship,” he
driver characteristics,           said.
the frustrating power-             “We knew that the usual style of double-
loss characteristics in hot       usage of gravel stages would create damage
conditions frustratingly          to the tracks which would be unacceptable to
continued.                        competitors. So we ran three asphalt stages
                                  on the Friday twice, and then all the gravel.
  n Its difficult to define       With one exception, which were used on the
what counts as a privateer,       other days, they would only be run once.”
but perhaps the most recent



                                Everlasting corners
privateer overall podiums
in WRC include Toni
Gardemeister at the 2006
Rally Monte Carlo in a Xsara.
  Other good results            BECAUSE the tarmac stages were             “I have been talking non-stop all
include Gigi Galli’s third      much faster than the gravel ones,         weekend,” he remarked.
place in Argentina that year,   the rally was won at a much                 Jarmo Lehtinen, Mikko
and Mikko Hirvonen’s third      higher average speed than usual.          Hirvonen’s co-driver added: “I had
place in Spain in 2005.           But the slow stages, and the fact       made about 340-350 pages, and I
  n This was Sebastien          that all except one of them were          had re-written about 230. You have
Loeb’s 116th World Rally        run only once, made for a very            to do that because the roads are
start, giving an amazing        heavy life for the crews.                 bumpy and you cannot write the
winning average of 43             Patrik Sandell’s co-driver Emil         notes neatly when you are driving
percent.                        Axelsson had 433 different pages          along. The first day of recce took 15
  His first win was in          of pace notes …                           hours!”


                                Sandell likes running with the bulls
Germany 2002, meaning
that he has averaged around
seven wins per season ...
Petter Solberg’s Xsara first
                                PATRIK Sandell was almost                drying out we were able to catch
started its competition life
                                overwhelmed by the                       back again.
before Loeb started his
                                performance of the Red Bull                “It was only down to my driving
professional driving career!
                                team Skoda Fabia Super 2000,             that we were not leading at
  n Curious pre-recce           in which he is contesting the            the end of the asphalt stages.
error for Sebastien Ogier       Production Car World Series this         It was difficult to discover just
meant he tried to take          year, the first private team to be       how much you can push the car.
the wrong turning down          entrusted with this car.                 When I discovered you could go
a stage. He retraced his           Victory in Cyprus was his             sideways into the corners I was
steps and drove about 5km       second in two outings.                   immediately faster.
with no pace notes. At an         “We now know that the car is             “The car is amazing. With
equivalent stage of his         already competitive on winter            Super 2000s you have to push
career, Sebastien Loeb took     rallies, asphalt and gravel,” he said.   maximum all the time, almost
a wrong turning on a road         “Compared with Araujo’s                go back to basics, every straight,
section (Turkey 2003) and       Mitsubishi we found we missed            every corner – you have to
had to retire, having run       out a bit when it was slippery and       concentrate on improving
out of fuel.                    traction was critical; when it was       everything you do.”

                                                                                                       >> WRC Cyprus

    Close, but not close enough
    PORTUGESE driver Armindo                    achievement for these cars which
    Araujo drove a measured rally               were only homologated less than
    in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX,            three months earlier.
    leading the Production category               Campedelli started well but
    from the start until the start of           then was struck with a series of
    the penultimate stage.                      rear differential problems which
      He was consistently 15-30                 gave the chance for the two
    seconds in front of the Skoda               new-version Subarus of Nasser
    Super 2000 of Patrik Sandell, right,        Al Attiyah and Toshi Arai to
    who resisted the temptation to              challenge for third place. Troubles
    pressure Araujo.                            struck both cars.
      But with one stage to go,                   The Qatari driver had the sort of
    Araujo had gearbox troubles and             overheating problems which he’d
    dropped back to second and                  hoped the newly homologated
    handed victory in the category to           modifications would have
    Sandell.                                    prevented, Arai struggled
      After earlier winning the PCWRC           with a broken driveshaft, but
    category in Norway, this was                they finished third and fourth
    the Swede’s second such victory             respectively.
    of the season, an astonishing




                                                Prokop takes Junior honours
                                                THIS was the first occasion this year in         the first day and lost a lot of time, while his
                                                which a world championship rally counted         Polish team-mate also lost time with a flat
                                                for both the PCWRC and the JWRC.                 tyre.
                                                  Martin Prokop, registered in both                The JWRC cars were allowed to use racing
                                                categories, elected to drive in the less well-   rather than gravel tyres on the asphalt
                                                supported JWRC sector, where his only            stages, but this was far from an ideal decision.
                                                challengers were the Suzuki Sport Europe         They suffered serious tyre wear problems
                                                drivers Aaron Burkart and Michal Koscuiszko.     generally, largely on account of extensive
                                                This was truly an event the Japanese team        corner-cutting by the four-wheel drive cars
                                                will want to forget.                             which liberally covered the special stages
                                                  German driver Burkart punctured twice in       with stones.

s             CYPRuS
     1 Sebastien Loeb
       Daniel Elena
                            Citroen
                         4:50:34.7s
     2 Mikko Hirvonen          Ford
       Jarmo Lehtinen        +27.2s
     3 Petter Solberg       Citroen
       Phil Mills          +1:49.4s
     4 Dani Sordo           Citroen
       Marc Marti          +2:26.3s
     5 Matthew Wilson          Ford
       Scott Martin        +6:41.0s
     6 Conrad RautenbachCitroen
       Daniel Barritt    +11:11.9s
     7 Federico Villegra       Ford
       J Perez Companc +13:18.5s
     8 Khalid Al Qassimi       Ford
       Michael Orr         13:44.1s
      Points: Loeb 30, Hirvonen 22, Sordo 17,
      H Solberg 10, P Solberg 9, Wilson 8.


                                                                                                                                                    4

                                                                >> GPWEEK PArting Shot




“Cinqante” – just another day in the office for the legendary Sebastien Loeb as he reels of his 50th World Rally victory ...
 Photo: Sutton Motorsport Images – www.suttonimages.com

                                                                                                                               47

				
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