Al-Attiyah retires in Jordan, Al-Ketbi wins

Nasser Al-Attiyah in action in the Jordan Rally before his unfortunate retirement from the event - Picture by M-Sport.

The Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) held its third round in conjunction with the WRC Jordan Rally. The logistical nightmares suffered by the WRC teams (through no wrongdoing or poor planningby the organisers or teams) saw the rally’s Day One action cancelled.

Day Two (which effectively became Day One) saw the MERC competitors struggle for supremacy, but it was Nasser Al-Attiyah (Ford Fiesta S2000) finish the first day with a resounding 10min 442.3sec lead over his rivals. Continue reading Al-Attiyah retires in Jordan, Al-Ketbi wins

Subaru steps up participation in IRC

Jose Barrios/Amaranto Martel (Subaru Impreza WRX STi) - Picture by IRC Series.

Subaru will enter a brace of Impreza WRX STIs, conforming to the new R4 technical regulations, on selected rounds of this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge for respected Japanese drivers Toshi Arai and Fumio Nutahara.

Arai, 44, will begin his programme on next month’s Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc before entering July’s Sata Rallye Acores, the Mecsek Rally in Hungary in mid-September, October’s RACMSA Rally of Scotland and the IRC season-closing Cyprus Rally in November.

Forty-seven-year-old Nutahara, meanwhile, will contest three events: Azores, Barum Czech Rally Zlin and Scotland. Both drivers will use Yokohama tyres.

The R4 regulations have been developed by the FIA, motorsport’s world governing body, to increase the competitiveness of Group N cars against the pacesetting Super 2000 machines. This has been made possible by allowing weight saving, improved cooling, enhanced engine performance and modified suspension.

Subaru’s participation in the IRC dates back to 2010 when it registered as an official manufacturer for the first time. As part of its involvement in the series, the company launched the Subaru Individual Award to support Subaru customers contesting the IRC.

Arai made his IRC debut on last June’s Geko Ypres Rally in an Impreza. Nutahara tackled his first IRC event on Barum Czech Rally Zlin last August in a Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer.

Henning Solberg records 100th start

Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor - Picture by WorldRallyPics.

A career at the pinnacle of any sport is challenging to maintain. To be at the forefront of your sport is yet harder. After several years in the cuthroat World Rally circus, a sense of humour is needed to balance the pressures, hardships and successes: no other personality in the World Rally Championship can match that of Henning Solberg.

The Norwegian rally ace, brother to 2003 World Rally Champion Petter, started the Jordan Rally, over a decade after his WRC debut, to mark his 100th such rally. Continue reading Henning Solberg records 100th start

Financial bonanza for Dundee area of KwaZulu-Natal

Hannes Grobler/Hennie ter Stege - Picture by Motorpics.

The historically rich area of Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal is in for a financial bonanza with the running of the Atlas Copco 400, round three of the Absa Off Road Championship, on May 20 and 21.

It is estimated that centres hosting events in the Absa championship benefit from a financial injection of between R2 to R2.5 million. The Atlas Copco 400 is a selected event where a round of the KwaZulu-Natal regional championship will be run in conjunction with the national race, and around 80 teams will converge on Dundee and surrounding areas. Continue reading Financial bonanza for Dundee area of KwaZulu-Natal

Snyders claims maiden S1600 win

Christoff and Celeste Snyders - Picture by Evan Rothman.

This the second round of the South African Rally Championship, held at rhe SASOL Rally, was yet another nail-biting, dramatic and high-speed round of the Junior Championship.

The brother-and-sister Snyders pairing (Volkswagen Polo S1600) won the Super 1600 Class, battling with Port Elizabeth’s Morne Janse van Rensburg/Rikus Fourie (GC Diesel Volkswagen Polo Vivo S600) and Craig Trott/Robbie Coetzee (Team Total Toyota RunX S1600). On the final gravel stage, in the heat of battle, Janse van Rensburg crashed out of the event to hand a somewhat more comfortable win to the Snyders’ crews. They now also lead the South African Junior Rally Championship. Continue reading Snyders claims maiden S1600 win

WRC to investigate revision to running order rules

Petter Solberg/Chris Patterson - Picture by Petter Solberg World Rally Team.

News reported on all this week in the WRC is that of running orders. According to Autosport, with their sources high up in the FIA, the running order could revert to the pre-2008 system.

The road sweeping phenomenon, most prevalent in loose surface events, sees the leader on the event suffer a handicap as they effectively sweep the racing line clean of loose gravel and stones to leave behind a quicker line and more traction.

Pre-2008, the running order system saw the top 15 classified crews run Days Two and Three in reverse order based on their classification at the end of Days One and Two. Currently, crews start Day One according to Champinship standings with Days Two and Three running orders are based on the previous days’ overall classification.

Team tactics now rule at the end of each day’s stages, as they jostle for the ideal road position for the following day. The FIA is now reported to be contemplating a return to the pre-2008 system to avoid such strategies.

An alternative suggestion from Petter Solberg on is to determine the start order for Day One by a random draw amongst the top 15 drivers. This system was used on the 2001 Rally Australia where Colin McRae was late to arrive at the draw and was forced to run first on the road!

Reid takes the Classic Crown at Quit Forest Rally

“The car ran faultlessly”, a jubilant Stewart Reid exclaimed after finishing on top of this year’s classic score sheet in the first round of the ARC last weekend.

Reid, who runs SR Automotive in Kippa Ring a suburb of Brisbane, is “living the dream” of driving one of rallying’s most iconic rally cars.

Reid’s RS1800 is the same specification as the RS 1800 of WRC World Champion Mikko Hirvonen and is built by leading specialists, Historic Rallysport in the UK. Continue reading Reid takes the Classic Crown at Quit Forest Rally