Your insight into the world of rallying, part #251!

Welcome to issue 251 of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, your favourite free source of rally entertainment!

To download this week’s issue, please click here:

As always, please enjoy this week’s read!

Yours in Rallying,

Evan Rothman (Editor) and Eva Kovkova (Photojournalist)

Hyundai set to return to the WRC

Hyundai is poised to return to the FIA World Rally Championship and has this week unveiled a rally-ready version based on the New i20 at the Paris Motor Show.

Following its withdrawal from motorsport in 2003, Hyundai’s long-term goal was to set up an in-house WRC team in Europe and develop a performance rally car, resulting in the WRC i20’s debut in Paris. Continue reading Hyundai set to return to the WRC

Citroën Racing announces major changes for 2013 and beyond

The leading team in the World Rally Championship has dropped an amazing bombshell at the Paris Motor Show today, with a somewhat telling yet vague press release. With changes to the team’s sponsorship and structure for 2013 and beyond, rally fans are left to decipher the news. Fear not, we still have The Loeb Show in action on a rally stage for a few more events yet!

Here’s the press release in its unedited form:
“Citroën Racing has outlined plans for its future involvement in motorsport in an announcement at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. Thanks to the partnership agreed with Abu Dhabi, the seven-time World Championship-winning team will continue to compete in rallying, entering three Citroën DS3 WRCs in 2013. The works team will feature the Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen crew for the entire season. As passionate and quick as ever, Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena will join them in a partial racing programme which is due to start at the Rallye Monte-Carlo. Continue reading Citroën Racing announces major changes for 2013 and beyond

Block and Gelsomino win 2012 Olympus Rally

Monster World Rally Team’s Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino overcame a challenging rally car field and extremely dusty conditions to win their first Olympus Rally and their second Rally America national event of the season.

Block and Gelsomino led the Olympus Rally from the very start winning all but one stage. The team drove a clean race dealing with dust through the first two stages before moving to first on the road for the remaining stages. Despite having less grip the Monster World Rally Team gained an advantage racing dust free to the finish.

“I haven’t been able to win this event in the past,” said Block, “so it feels really good to come back and get this one. The stages here feel like World Rally Championship roads.”

Subaru Rally Team USA arrived up at Olympus with a stunning new white livery celebrating four Rally America National Championships. Knowing that the Championship was in the bag they focused on just winning Olympus, and avenge a second place finish to Block at February’s Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. But the team fell behind early when they struck a large rock on SS4 that forced them to go through the stage with a damaged front corner, and thick dust hampered the driver’s quest to make up time on the Olympus Rally leaders and finished second overall.

Rockstar Energy Drink’s Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard made a special cross-country trip to compete against Block and Higgins, but the team experienced difficulties after they hit the same rock as Higgins. L’Estage dropped to fifth before pushing hard towards third place overall getting the points they needed to successfully defend their second overall position. In the process the Rockstar team also clinched their fifth North American Rally Championship.

Regrettably, two drivers from the Canadian Rally Championship who made the top five battle more interesting did not finish the rally. Last minute entry, Patrick Richard and Darren Garrod driving for Subaru Rally Team Canada, broke a driveshaft on the third stage. Richard was as high as fifth overall at the time of his retirement.

Can-Jam Motorsports’ Leonid Urlichich and Carl Williamson went off the road on SS8 and was unable to continue. It was a disheartening finish for Urlichich who was third overall at the time and ultimately lost his third place standing in the Championship.

The 2012 Super Production Championship was decided at Olympus after Lauchlin O’Sullivan from San Francisco, CA and Scott Putnam from Minneapolis, MN drove terrifically not only to get the single point he needed to clinch the title, but win the class at Olympus. O’Sullivan moves into third in the overall Championship standings to tie last year’s SP Champions, Travis and Terry Hanson, as the highest finishing SP Class car.

“Just needing a single point to get the SP Championship is a weird thing because you just need to start the event to win it,” explained O’Sullivan, “We worked very hard this season and the win makes it worth the effort.”

SP Class second place finishers, Byron Garth and co-driver Chrissie Beavis were unfortunately penalized on a technical infraction and was moved to fifth place in class. Mike Goodwin and Martin Brunley assumed second place and made the Rally America podium for the first time. 19 year-old Mason Moyle and John Hall rounded out the podium for their second one this year.

The Two-Wheel Drive Class was an absolute knock-down battle. Chris Duplessis and Alex Kihurani withstood challenges from Scion Racing and the Summit Rally team to secure Duplessis’ third 2WD National Championship. Early on Duplessis fell to third in class and then drove to a class win partly due to a penalty accessed to Summit Rally Team’s Will Orders and Toni Feaver, both from Australia.

Orders and Feaver almost made up the 2:30 minute penalty and was 57 seconds out with one more stage to go. But bad luck ended their day with a mechanical failure and the team was unable to continue.

Scion Racing’s Andrew Comrie-Picard and Jeremy Wimpey had a small shot at the 2WD title, but settled for second in the 2WD national championship. The team finished just 21 seconds behind Duplessis after an inspired drive that kept them in the title hunt the entire event.

Team O’Neil Rally School’s Ed McNelly and Ole Holter snatched third place both at the Olympus Rally and in the 2WD national standings – the first national podium for McNelly.

Will Hudson and Brian Szykowny won the Ray Damitio Regional Rally and John Nagel Regional Rally.

An unseasonal long dry spell hit the Northwest causing organizers to shorten the event to accommodate the landowners recreational use ban on the property where the roads were located. The first day began with four stages and saw a seven-hour break before the night stages began, and organizers only used a single 20 mile stage on the second day. Still, 72 cars began the event and it is the largest entry in Rally America’s history.

Gamba hangs his helmet up for 2012

It was a bitter retirement for Matteo Gamba at the recent Rally San Marino di Castrozza. At the start of the second leg of this Italian event, his Peugeot 207 S2000 would not start and the engine was dead. In seeking the cause for Gamba’s non-start, he and his technicians noticed that the car’s ECU wires were cut. The police were immediately informed, along with the event’s officials.

This is the statement released by the CSAI regarding the matter: “Matteo Gamba, due to an act of sabotage to his car on the night inside the overnight parc fermè, could not take off for the second leg of the 32nd Rally San Martino di Castrozza and Primiero.”

Gamba was forced to retire while first in the classification for privateer drivers and third overall in the Championship standings, just behind the two official Peugeot and Skoda crews. Gamba’s effort and results achieved during this year’s Championship are now compromised, and it is the foremost reason as to why he has decided to end his season early to avoid taking part in the final two rounds, the Sanremo and Costa Smeralda rallies.

In relation to this matter, ACI-CSAI decided to send all the documents to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office prior to the opening of an official investigation into the incident. ACI-CSAI is naturally available to the judiciary so that both shed light on this serious incident.

Your insight into the world of rally, part #250

Welcome to issue 250 of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, your favourite free source of rally entertainment!

To download this week’s issue, please click here:

As always, please enjoy this week’s read!

Yours in Rallying,

Evan Rothman (Editor) and Eva Kovkova (Photojournalist)

Rally Sliven to form part of exciting climax to IRC season six

This year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) is set for a thrilling climax with four events of the all-action series remaining including Rally Sliven, an exciting addition to the IRC schedule for 2012.

Following this week’s Prime Yalta Rally in Ukraine, where crews are currently completing their final preparations prior to the competitive action getting underway this Friday (14 September), the IRC will make its first visit to Bulgaria from 28-30 September.

Rally Sliven represents an intriguing prospect for IRC regulars and newcomers alike. New to the series for this season, the event is a mainstay of the Bulgarian national championship and part of the FIA European Rally Cups. It features technical asphalt stages in the mountains around Sliven, Bulgaria’s eighth largest city, with altitudes ranging from 250 metres to 1100 metres above sea level. Some runs feature an altitude variation of 600 metres. Two legendary downhill tests, Bulgarka and Stara Reka, are back on the itinerary for the first time in 20 years, while the popular Sliven superspecial stage, based in a park in the city, will attract thousands of spectators.

“Fans from throughout Bulgaria will gather around the stages and create a great atmosphere for the competitors, who will quickly find out how challenging the stages are,” said Atanas Chanev, the Deputy Clerk of the Course. “There are uphill sections followed by steep and technical downhill parts. Every stage has its specific grip and even on some stages the amount of grip changes in almost every corner. Rally Sliven will be the most interesting motorsport event in Bulgaria this year and a lot of people will come and be part of our debut in the IRC.”

Entries close on Thursday 20 September and more details are available at

Rally Sliven: key features
*Ceremonial start in Sliven on Friday 28 September
*Superspecial stage in host city, one of 13 asphalt runs over competitive distance of 197.32 kilometres
*Technical stages based in the mountains above Sliven, 300 kilometres from Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia
*Finishing podium at 14:30hrs local time on Sunday 30 September
*Day-by-day highlights and Inside IRC magazine programme on Eurosport

Rally Sliven is round 11 of the 13-event IRC season. The series concludes with Rallye Sanremo in Italy from 12-13 October and the Cyprus Rally based in Pafos from 2 – 3 November.