Petter Solberg to attack RallyCross flat-out for 2013!

The 2003 FIA World Rally Champion is creating his own RallyCross team to compete for further titles in 2013. Both in the series he and his team decide to tackle, as well as a heavy pursuit for Gold in the 4 Global X Games that are slated for this year.

“It feels a bit like getting back to my roots” Petter says. “My motorsport career started with RallyCross. I earned Silver medals in RallyCross and Hill Climb in Norway in 1994, Gold the two following years. Back then, in 1996, I actually considered the European RallyCross series for my longterm future but it turned out that Rally would pull me in. I devoted 15 years of my life to rally before calling an end to it in December last year. Some of the best years of my life.”

“I have received many offers to drive in various forms of motorsport, cars and teams since our announcement. However, I feel that the opportunities that the two major series are presenting from here on out starting in 2013 is the most progressive and coolest sport. It’s a place where I can be myself. Once again I can work closely with my sponsors, be very close to the fans, have my own team of qualified people, and be my own boss. It’s a great mix. Where else could I remain in a powerful awd turbo which is more or less a WRC car aside from the extra 300hp, and have between 5 and 8 others around me spitting fire as well?! That to me is just too hard to pass up.”

Petter goes on to say “RallyCross is a perfect automotive action sport. It has close fights between powerful cars, It’s an arena sport, it’s very accessible, and it’s easy to follow with plenty of racing throughout the day all in one place. Understand this, it is quite a show to be seen and heard! I really want to become a Champion at least one more time in my career! You know me; I am a showman and I want to make some noise. RallyCross will fit me perfectly.”

When it comes to current RallyCross series, to be at the top leaves you with two very viable choices that are both running a proper calendar with all of their events broadcast live as well as highlight packages in certain international markets. Out of Europe, you have IMG rejuvenating the deeply historic European RallyCross Series (Now called “RX”) which consists of 10 stops around Europe with very solid competition and a great plan to produce very fun event weekends for the fans and sponsors. On the other side, out of America, you have the Global RallyCross Series which is run by a good group as well and directly connected to ESPN. Very solid competition there as well, vs some good friends like Ken Block and Travis Pastrana just to name a few. Great people. The GRC consists of a 10 round schedule which spreads events across the USA as well as 4 X-Games stops in Brazil, Barcelona, Munich and the closer in Los Angeles. Full time GRC drivers/teams are automatically included in invites to each X Games and specific invites will be given to drivers/teams from the European RX series.

Solberg is currently building a Citroën DS3 RallyCross car, which will not be ready for at least another month. During this time of preparation, we will continue discussions, and explore both series for the best fit, and best global broadcast packages. Our fans have followed us all around the world and continue to do so. We want to make sure that they have as easy an opportunity as possible to continue following Petter in to the next phase of his Motorsport career.

The new Team including members, sponsors, and livery will be presented at a later date.

Opening Rounds for both Series are as follows:
European RX –
England March 30 – April 1 2013

Global RallyCross –
X Games Brazil May 11-12 2013

About Petter Solberg:
Age: 38 years
Residence: Monaco
Born: Spydeberg in Norway
Car: Citroën DS3
World Rally Champion: 2003
SILVER: 2002, 2004 & 2005
BRONZE: 2010
Victories: 13 (Wales 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, Cyprus 2003, Australia 2003, Corse 2003, New Zealand 2004, Greece 2004, Japan 2004, Sardinia 2005, Sweden 2005, Mexico 2005).
Podium finishes: 52 (13-15-24).
Career: Ford (1999-2000), Subaru (2000-2008), Petter Solberg WRT (2009-2011), Ford (2012)

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Your insight into the world of rallying, part 266

Welcome to issue 266 of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, your favourite free source of rally entertainment!

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As always, please enjoy this week’s read!

Yours in Rallying,

Evan Rothman (Editor) and Eva Kovkova (Photojournalist)

Cover 266

Higgins and his Subaru literally fly in the snow

David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew tackled this past weekend’s Sno*Drift Rally, the opening round of the 2013 Rally America series. Finishing second place overall behind Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X), this Subaru Rally Team USA pairing shone in their new colours on this snowy roads.

Here’s an in-car video of a massive jump!

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Peugeot prepares the 208 Type R5

After an initial shakedown test in December, development work on the Peugeot 208 Type R5 continued last week with a four-day programme attended by Irish driver Craig Breen. Breen was signed up by the French marque for its Rally Academy, and is joined by Jeremi Ancian and Stephane Lefebvre, and the Irishman has the promise to bring new awards and accolades to Peugeot Sport.

The 208 Type R5 returned to a gravel test stage near Riboux, in the south of France, for a four-day workout. The official Peugeot Rally Academy driver Craig Breen took over from Bryan Bouffier for last week’s session at the wheel of Peugeot Sport’s latest hot hatch.

Craig Breen: “It’s great to have tested the 208 Type R5. It handles really well and I believe its two chief strengths are its brakes and gearbox. The conditions were difficult at times yet its braking performance was exceptional and I felt very confident. As for the gearbox, it is very easy to use and gear shifts were impecccable! I like the engine, too. It’s got incredible torque. You could feel the car improve run after run, so it’s been quite an exciting week!”

Alexis Avril, Technical Manager: “December’s test was essentially a shakedown, but this week we started to get some real development work done and that has provided us with an indication of the areas where we need to take our work next. Despite the changeable weather, we covered a high number of kilometres and we have already started to explore different technical solutions.”

The Peugeot Rally Academy was created along the lines of its successful racing driver development programme, the RCZ GT Academy. Ancian and Lefebvre, the top two finishers in the 2012 Volant 207 contest in France, will take part on six and four rounds of the European Rally Championship (ERC) respectively with Ancian piloting a 207 S2000 and Lefebvre at the wheel of a 208 R2.

The third recruit, who has signed as a Peugeot Sport factory driver, is Craig Breen. The young Irishman and current S2000 World Champion will enter eight ERC rounds in a 207 S2000 in tandem with helping to develop Peugeot’s all-new 208 Type R5.

Bruno Famin, the Peugeot Sport Team Principal, said: “With the Peugeot Rally Academy, we are taking another step forward in terms of the support we provide to the winners of our promotional formulas. The 208 Rally Cup [in France] has all the required elements to be a great sporting success, with the 208 R2 which is already a leading car, a varied calendar and the unrivalled concept of offering a ‘drive’ to the winner. I am confident that Craig will confirm all the good things that have been said about him in this year’s ERC, and I can’t wait to see how our winners will fare alongside him. There is no pressure on them to achieve results. It’s all about accumulating experience for these young drivers; we’re not fighting for the championship.”

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Habig to fly the Basil Read colours in South Africa in 2013

The start of a new championship rally season is almost like resetting a chess board and this year is no different. CEO of the Construction Giant, Marius Heyns, has confirmed that Jan Habig will be flying the Basil Read colours in the Ford Fiesta S2000. “Jan runs an extremely professional team and Basil Read will continue with the sponsorship for the 2013 rally season,” said Marius. “The exposure we have had throughout the 2012 season has been phenomenal, and our association with the Jan Habig Rally team has been to our mutual benefit,” he added.

“As a team we are excited about the 2013 season, and especially the news that we will rally under the Basil Read banner in our Ford Fiesta S2000,” said Habig. More exciting is the fact that all the co-sponsors Castrol, Ford SA and Babcock have all been confirmed for the 2013 season. “There is also the possibility of one more sponsor coming on board, and the announcement will be made within the next few days” added Jan.

“The fact that we finished in a strong fourth overall on the 2012 South African Championship despite the fact that we were forced to take a 0 point score on the Cape Dealer Rally as the date clashed with our participation in the Basil Read Ford in the World Rally Championship event in Wales,” Habig said. “This year we are way ahead of schedule when comparing timelines, as the Fiesta was still tied up in customs this time last year, but this year we well on our way in the preparation of the Ford, possibly having it ready to test in the next week or two,” he added. “Valuable experience gained on the Wales Rally of Great Britain as part of the of M-Sport has no doubt benefitted us, and now that we have the time to apply some of this knowledge to the Ford Fiesta S2000, I believe we will see an even better result. My team of technicians are also now more ofé with the requirements of the car, and also know what my expectations are. This in itself has been a huge learning curve for the team,” he added.

Habig will be paired with Robbie Paisley, who is confident that the Basil Read Ford Fiesta will be a force to be reckoned with in the 2013 SA Rally Championship Series.
“Basil Read have also made full use of the rallies to entertain guests in this very unique manner, and will continue to do so during the 2013 season.” said Mr Heyns.

“Rallying in this country has become more and more competitive, and Jan had top 4 finishes in every event, taking 2nd in the treacherous PE Volkswagen Rally, and this consistently good performance saw the pairing claim that fourth spot on the championship. The car was always meticulously prepared, and Basil Read are proud of the connection between ourselves and Jan who has continually ensured that Basil Read get the best possible exposure on rallies, keeping the public well informed on the Jan Habig Rally Website.

“It will be a tough and exciting season as Toyota have prepared new cars for Leroy and Johnny, and Volkswagen have improved the performance of their cars,” said Habig.

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Jari-Matti Latvala and Car Control

Volkswagen Motorsport’s Jari-Matti Latvala is world-renowned for his rallying skills, his speed and his determination. In the FIA WRC Rallye Monte Carlo earlier this month, the “Flying Finn” exited prematurely from the rally battle after an “off.” However, he did impress in the all-new Volkswagen Polo R WRC.

Check this YouTube video…

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Loeb vs Ogier: The fight is on!

Of course the hottest rivalry on the WRC Rallye Monte Carlo was that between Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier. Here’s a video comparison of the two French WRC stars in action.

Who is the fastest? According to stage times, that honour belongs to Loeb for now. It is interesting to see how they tackle the same sections differently.

Handbrakes & Hairpins is a FREE weekly eMagazine. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and entertainment from the world of rallying.

Rally Monte Carlo 2013