‘Hollywood’ Solberg starts his new job in Rallycross 2013

Former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg – known throughout the world as ‘Hollywood’ due to his spectacular showman style – is about to give the green light to the latest chapter of his career at the opening round of the 2013 FIA European Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom this weekend.

But for Petter, who won his world title in 2003, it’s more a question of going back to his roots. The Norwegian started off his career in rallycross, thrashing various old Volvos first around his parents’ farm, and then when it got more serious, around the rallycross circuits of Scandinavia.

Petter’s challenger for 2013 – a hand-built, state-of-the-art Citroen DS3 Supercar, which uses plenty of WRC technology – couldn’t present a bigger contrast from those early days. Neither could the slickly-promoted nine-round championship, which benefits from Monster backing this year not to mention a multi-million television and live audience, with promotion from global media firm IMG.

It wouldn’t be Hollywood without a drama though, and Petter and his hand-picked team faced a race against time to prepare their challenger in time for round one at Lydden Hill in Great Britain this weekend: a historic venue that is synonymous with rallycross.

“We’ve had to do everything ourselves, from raising the finance to building the car, so we were still putting the finishing touches to the car the week before our first event before we went testing,” said Solberg. “I put a hundred per cent passion into everything I do, but honestly, I can’t remember working so hard or feeling this excited about the start of a season for a long time. It feels very special and absolutely right to be doing this: it’s where my roots are and a sport where you are really close to the fans, which always inspires me. I tell you: this car is quite something!”

And for once, that’s an understatement. With around 600 horsepower, four-wheel drive and six-speed sequential gearbox, Petter’s Citroen DS3 Supercar can accelerate from 0-100 kph in nearly the same time as a Formula One car. On gravel.

“Driving this car is a really special feeling: it’s like having a rocket strapped to your backside,” added Petter, after testing the car for two days in France. “What I love most about it is that you can put on a really spectacular show. It’s going to be a lot of fun, but at the same time there’s a very serious objective this year. We had a lot of work to do at the test in France but it went well and now we feel prepared. Of course you never know how you’re going to get on until you go up against everyone else but we’ve got a good base to work from and I’m very happy. Now we just have to hope for good weather and lots of spectators this weekend!”

The drivers go head-to-head in a series of heats at each round to determine the winner, with 15 permanent drivers plus a selection of one-off ‘wildcards’ contesting the season.

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FREE rally eMagazine – download here!

Welcome to issue 274 of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, your favourite free source of rally entertainment!

To download this week’s issue, please click here: https://handbrakeshairpins.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/hh-274.pdf

For ANY back issues, please send a request to subs.hhmag@gmail.com and we will gladly send you the PDF files.

As always, please enjoy this week’s read!

Yours in Rallying,

Evan Rothman (Editor) and Eva Kovkova (Photojournalist)

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Solberg gives the green light to a new life in RallyCross

In record time former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg and his team has built a unique carbon-fibre car for RallyCross. The 38-year-old and his crew worked round the clock for two weeks to get the car ready in time for the first round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship in England, even sleeping in the workshop some. Now there is some important testing to carry out to prepare the brand-new carbon monster for a massive fight against some tough rivals.

Late on Monday, the car finally left Petter Solberg RX Team headquarters in Torsby, Sweden, for a test venue in France just outside Paris. The build of the car took exactly two weeks and one day, with the team working for at least 17 hours every day. Sleep was in short supply – and now there is the all-important test in France to get through. “It’s essential to get the car set up exactly the way we want it before next weekend’s races,” said Solberg before heading off to Paris.

The chassis and rollcage was made by Ingvar Gunnarsson Motorsports in Sweden, while Solberg’s chief engineer Simon Levett led the build of the car along with Petter Solberg himself. Bespoke parts have come in from all over the world, while a number of completely new solutions have been devised at home in Torsby. The bodyshell is made of carbon fibre, and lightweight materials have been used as much as possible inside the car. Everything is tailor-made and specifically customised to Petter’s Citroën, and this of course takes time. “So far it’s been absolutely amazing, with Simon Levett and our mechanics driving things forward. I feel so lucky to have such a fantastic team around me,” added the Norwegian. The team also recruited British engine guru Julian Godfrey to build the powerplant, which puts out nearly 600 horsepower.

The chosen test venue this week is the Circuit de l’Ouest Parisien Rallycross track, west of Paris. Once testing is over on Thursday, the Petter Solberg RX Team only has a three-hour drive to Calais and the ferry across the English Channel. Round one of the FIA European Rallycross Championship takes place at Lydden Hill in Wootton, between Dover and Canterbury in Kent, next Sunday and Monday. A new adventure begins, as Petter has never before taken part in the Supercar RX class. He can’t wait to begin.

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SS1 and a scratch time: In-car with Robert Kubica in the ERC

Robert Kubica took to his first rally of 2013, the European Rally Championship’s Rally Ilsas Canarias El Corté. He claimed eight fastest stage times before he crashed out. Watch this video!

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

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Your insight into the world of rally, part 273.

Welcome to issue 273 of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, your favourite free source of rally entertainment!

To download this week’s issue, please click here: https://handbrakeshairpins.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/hh-273.pdf

For ANY back issues, please send a request to subs.hhmag@gmail.com and we will gladly send you the PDF files.

As always, please enjoy this week’s read!

Yours in Rallying,

Evan Rothman (Editor) and Eva Kovkova (Photojournalist)

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Robert Kubica turns his F1 eyes to ERC this weekend

New FIA European Rally Championship recruit talks about his rallying switch and the challenge ahead of this weekend’s ERC Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés…

Q: Welcome to the ERC Robert. What made you choose rallying when you had options in circuit racing?
RK: “I’m attracted by the very big challenge in front of me. It’s huge, one of the biggest, if not the biggest challenge of my life. Every rally will be a new discovery – and I might do more European championship rallies than currently planned – and that gives you more excitement. Also I’m a big fan of rallying from, following on the internet or watching on Eurosport. I was always looking to these guys and very soon I will be the guy doing those stages so it’s a really nice feeling for me.”

Q: Given what happened to you in your accident were you not put off driving rally cars again?
RK: “Unfortunately in motorsport accidents can happen. I don’t wish that something similar happens to other people but we have seen worse accidents in motorsport. Somehow my big passion to motorsport overall, including rallying, helped me a lot in these past two years to keep me focused to keep working and improve my condition.”

Q: Did you always believe you’d come back and compete in international motorsport again?
RK: “I would prefer to still be an F1 driver but my passion has led me to this programme and this is my focus although I cannot say how long for. One and a half year ago, if somebody told me I would be announcing a big programme with Lotos, Citroën and Michelin in the European championship and WRC I would not believe it. Normally I’m not an excited guy but when I am at the start of the stage it will be a huge excitement, particularly for the first rally in Canarias because it’s the first high-level challenge for me after the crash.”

AUTO - RALLYE DU VAR 2012

Q: What’s your target for this season?
RK: “Definitely I need to learn and that’s why I need to keep in my mind I’m not on the race track, I’m in rallying, I’m on the stage, I have a lot to learn, I’m new to this sport. It will take time I know it but I have to take advantage of this opportunity that I have this season to learn as much as I can.”

Q:Have you marked out any long-term career plans?
RK: “In some way I still hope to come back to where I was, that’s definite. It’s a bit strange because I’m coming from Formula One and suddenly what was all my life stopped in one second. Now I know, I knew it always, but now I appreciate more that there’s nothing better in life than doing what you want to do. I had a great opportunity to be an F1 driver but on the other hand I have a great opportunity to become a rally driver with a very good programme. I can do a good job and provide excitement. Maybe not straight away results but excitement and somehow I can give something back to the people who have supported me.”

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BRC events make positive impact on UK economy

Everybody welcomes a good news story, so economic impact studies carried out during two of last year’s MSA British Rally Championship events make welcome reading in the continuing financial climate.

Independent studies were carried out in 2012 by the town councils supporting the Ulster and Yorkshire rallies, concluded that both events provide a significant economic boost to the local communities, business, travel and leisure industries. Taking into account both surveys, which captured spectators and teams, an average attendance of over twenty thousand people induced the local economies by £1.75m over a rally weekend. Based on this evidence, seven rounds of the BRC project a benefit to the UK economy of over £12m.

The latest report to be issued by Rally Yorkshire which was the final round of last year’s championship determined that out of the attendance 63% were by those aged between 25 and 59, a third were female and 61% of the visitors were from outside of the local region staying for an average of three nights and for 20% of spectators it was their very first rally.

All of these contributed to a direct economic impact of actual money spent £1,021,735 for the UK economy as a whole and £976,735 for the local economy. Induced economic impact, that is the continuing effect of the actual money spent through the economy, averaged at £1,524,237 for the UK economy as a whole and £1,450,339 for the local economy.

Championship manager Mark Taylor said: “Information like this is invaluable to the events and the sport as a whole which is why we have made it a requirement for the each of the BRC events to work in partnership with the local authorities to carry out independent surveys in 2013.

“It is just fantastic to know that the events that make up the BRC raise in the region of £12m for the UK economy, providing much needed income to local communities and businesses in this difficult economic period.

“This information is so vital in ensuring that rallying in the UK is valued both by the local community, the authorities that help host the events, the sponsors and fan base. I firmly believe reports such as these will play a vital role in sustaining the future of the sport, especially when we start to emerge from this recession. I think the local motor clubs and thousands of volunteers who give up their valuable time should be extremely proud of their contribution.”

The first rally of the 2013 MSA British Rally Championship season is fast approaching. Rally North Wales takes place over the weekend of 6/7 April and is based in Welshpool, where the town council has been instrumental in making Friday afternoon’s ceremonial start a real attraction; proving once again the value of this type of event to the economy.

For more information on the MSA British Rally Championship visit www.rallybrc.co.uk.

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

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