Tuesday 29 November 2011

BTCC Extends Point system.

More of these drivers will score points next season in BTCC

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship has revealed its extended points scoring system for 2012.

From next season, the top 15 finishers in each race will score outright championship points. The 15 highest-placed independent runners will also score in the Independents Trophy.

Previously, only the top ten in both championships were awarded points. The outright HIQ Teams Championship and Independent Teams Trophy will also be similarly altered.

BTCC Series Director Alan Gow commented: “Fundamentally, the new system doesn’t really change that much as we’ve maintained the same spread of points between the top-ten placings as before. However, what this does is to give drivers outside of the top ten something extra to go for and is thus an extra reward for their efforts.”

The 2012 BTCC season, featuring ten rounds at top race circuits across the UK, will commence on the weekend of 31 March-1 April at Brands Hatch in Kent.
BTCC Points-scoring System 2012
1st: 20 points 6th: 10 points 11th: 5 points
2nd: 17 points 7th: 9 points 12th: 4 points
3rd: 15 points 8th: 8 points 13th: 3 points
4th: 13 points 9th: 7 points 14th: 2 points
5th: 11 points 10th: 6 points 15th: 1 point

+ 1 additional point will be awarded to the driver who starts on Pole Position for the first race of each meeting.
+ 1 additional point will be awarded to the driver setting the Fastest Lap in each race. If two or more drivers achieve the same fastest lap time each will be awarded one point.
+ 1 additional point will be awarded to each driver who is classified as the race leader (on crossing the start-finish line) during each race. Only one point is awarded to each driver who has led each race, irrespective of how many times that driver has led that race.

Independent Drivers & Teams TrophiesPoints for drivers are awarded as per the outright Drivers Championship (bonus points are not scored. Points for teams are awarded to each team’s highest-placed finisher only as per the outright Drivers Championship points system (bonus points are not scored).

HiQ BTCC Teams Championship
Points are awarded to each team’s two highest-finishing cars in each race (provided each car is classified as a finisher in the official results). Points are awarded as per the outright Drivers Championship (bonus points are not scored).

BTCC Manufacturers/Constructors Championship
Points are awarded to a maximum of two cars per registered manufacturer/constructor in each race (provided each car is classified as a finisher in the official results). Each manufacturer/constructor must nominate their two cars prior to 5pm on qualifying day. Points are awarded as per the outright Drivers Championship (bonus points are not scored).

Friday 25 November 2011

Roger Albert Clark Rally Ready to go at Croft

Some impressive machinery on show. We think that's a Saab on the far left.

a Ford Escort
There is now little more than a week to go before the Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire plays host to one of the world’s premier events for historic rally cars – the superb Roger Albert Clark Rally – on Saturday 3 December.

The R.A.C, named after Seventies British rallying great Roger Clark, recreates the Lombard RAC Rallies of old and a time which many believe were motor rallying’s glory years. For tens of thousands of enthusiasts the charismatic event has become an annual road trip as they follow its route – this year from Friday 2 to Monday 5 December – and competitive timed stages in North Yorkshire, Northumberland, Dumfries & Galloway and Cumbria. Furthermore, it is traditional for many public to stop and wave to the crews as they pass along main roads en route to each stage.

Two of those spectacular stages – along with a major service area that will enable the fans to get a close-up look at the cars as they are worked on – will be held at Croft Circuit, just outside Darlington on the Saturday (3 Dec).

another Ford Escort
The competing cars will start to arrive at Croft as drivers and their navigators ‘clock in’ to the service area from 3.32pm. The two stages – each a ‘double run’ of the full Croft race track – will commence at 4.10pm and then 4.24pm. It means spectators will see the cars pass four times with the enticing prospect of two or three ‘live on stage’ at the same time.

Tickets will cost just £10 (payable on the gate) with FREE admission for children aged 15 and under. For more information visit the new-look Croft Circuit website www.croftcircuit.co.uk or call the Circuit Office on 01325 721815.

The 70-strong entry is full of iconic Sixties, Seventies and Eighties models of car with Lancia Stratos, Lancia Fulvia, Saab 96, Talbot Sunbeam, Hillman Avenger, Porsche 911s, plus Ford Escort MKIs and MKIIs all listed.

yet another Ford Escort
Among the top names are 2010’s and 2009’s respective winners, Belgium’s Stefan Stouf and Gwyndaf Evans (also a former British Rally Champion), plus newly-crowned back-to-back British Historic Rally Champion David Stokes. Also watch for Phil Collins – himself another top ex-name from the British Rally Championship and co-driven, notably, by Nicky Grist who navigated Finland’s Juha Kankkunen to the 1993 World Rally Championship title and who then went on to form a six-year partnership with the legendary Colin McRae in the WRC.

More locally, Beverley’s Guy Smith – the winner of the world-famous Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race in 2003 – is also entered as are Tim Pearcey (Harrogate), Tim Mason (Bradford), Steve Perez (Chesterfield), Charlie Taylor (Northallerton) and Dave Hemingway (South Elmsall). All are among the UK’s top historic rally drivers, while numerous others from the North East region are also on the entry list.

Porsche 911 in "Not a ford Escort" shocker.
After dazzling regional and national TV, print, radio and on-line media during a preview event at Croft earlier this week, Smith, who these days commutes to America to race sportscars, commented: “Croft will make for a very exciting addition to the R.A.C Rally’s route and it’s great to see it included in such a prestigious event – one thing I really like about this event is the interaction between the drivers and the public. This is also the only stage we face on asphalt as all the other stages are on gravel tracks in the forests so I hope, with my circuit racing background, I can put in some quick times. But it’s something of a star-studded entry list and getting near the top ten times just at Croft will be quite an achievement.”
Might be a Lancia.

Another of those to entertain the media this week was Taylor, who has twice previously finished fourth outright on the R.A.C. He said: “It’s very important that Croft, which is home to motor sport in the North East, is part of the R.A.C route. I think it’s going to make for a really spectacular stage for the public, particularly with the views from the spectator banking – they overlook the first few corners and I expect there to be a lot of sideways action through there.”

anyone know what this is? Oh, it's another Ford Escort!
Reigning Historic Rally Champion Stokes, a Ford team-mate to Roger Clark in the Seventies, was also present for the media preview having set off at 4.00am from his home in Gloucestershire to meet the media! He added: “Croft makes it that bit more accessible and convenient for the public at large to come and see what the fuss is all about with proper viewing and catering facilities. We’ll be hitting some serious speeds here and with the great noise these cars make and the fact we’ll have the headlights on at dusk it’ll make for a really magical atmosphere.”

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Mazda races to success in Britcar Production

The sun sets on a successful season for the MX5 GT

Brilliantly unfussy and distinctive livery makes the MX5 stand out
Mazda’s MX-5 GT car finished the Britcar Production GTN Championship season on a high this weekend at Brands Hatch with a race pace that placed it ahead of rivals Porsche, Ferrari, Lotus, Ginetta and Marcos.

Finishing fifth overall and second in class from 21 competitors, the MX-5 GT car was only beaten in its class by a 400bhp BMW M3 and ran at a competitive GT4 pace around the Brands Hatch Indy circuit.

Regular drivers Mark Ticehurst and Owen Mildenhall qualified in damp conditions with a mid 50 second lap which put them second in class on the grid, during the two hour race they completed 129 laps, averaging 77.82mph.

Slick pit work is essential to all endurance racing.
The MX-5 GT car at Brands Hatch was the new 2012 development version, complete with a new lightweight chassis and gearbox, lower roll cage, new front splitter and rear diffuser for improved aerodynamics. The weight has been reduced by 50kg over the previous car and lowered by 20mm to give it better aerodynamic performance, better grip and more stability through the corners, which combined with the car’s legendary handling, fuel economy and light tyre usage, makes this an ideal endurance car.

Mazda finishes the race season with the lightweight Mazda MX-5 GT car ranking fourth overall in the championship and second in class, while the Mazda MX-5 production race car is fourth in class and seventh overall.

The Mazda MX-5 production race car - driven by Mike Wilds, Former F1 Driver and Major James Cameron of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment who raced with Mazda at the Britcar 24hr Race in October - finished second in class at Brands Hatch this weekend.

Britcar Production always has varied grids - the MX5 fits right in!
“Throughout this year’s race season the MX-5 GT car has been subject to ongoing developments which has made the MX-5 GT an ideal GT4 endurance car which is competitive against Porsche, Lotus, Ginetta and Marcos. In just a year we have achieved fourth overall in the championship, three podiums and second in class overall. This is testament to professional motorsport company, Jota Sport - who designed and developed the MX-5 GT car - and the MX-5’s agility, reliability and handling,” comments Graeme Fudge, PR Director, Mazda UK.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Hard Luck Jason!

Jason Pritchard taking on the Great Orme stage in his Subaru Impreza
Jason Pritchard was denied in his quest of securing his best ever finish in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) this weekend. A calamitous error of judgement by officials and marshals meant he was forced to retire during Stage 16 at the start of the Sweet Lamb. A ‘jump’ on the stage, which also ruined fellow Welshman Elfyn Evans Rally, should have been brought to all drivers’ attention on approach, however this didn’t happen and Pritchard’s previous good form over the first two days unfortunately counted for nothing.
Jason Pritchard was going great guns in the Wales Rally GB, until his North Road Garage backed Subaru Impreza landed in the dangerous hole on Stage 16 and ended his attempt to record his best-ever result in his home Rally. Pritchard was 18th overall and 3rd in the Production World Rally Championship (PWRC), and when he was forced to retire, 2nd place was very much in his sight:
“I’m distraught that we couldn’t finish the race, I understand how testing this sport is and understand the consequences of driving at the speed we do, but this shouldn’t have been allowed to happen. We had been warned throughout the rally about dangerous landings after the jumps and we approached these stages in a controlled manner, however there was no warning about the situation on stage 16 – you only have to look at how myself and the other drivers went out to see that the marshals should have been slowing us down – it was crazy!”
Pritchard who was joined by co-driver Dale Furniss escaped the incident unhurt and Furniss also used his initiative to warn other drivers about the hole by waving the cars to slow down as they approached the jump, it was clear that his actions had saved a number of cars from following Pritchard’s fate but unbelievably Furniss was told he shouldn’t be slowing the drivers down:
“Dale reacted like anyone would’ve, he jumped out and warned approaching drivers to slow down, something the marshals should’ve been doing – I can’t believe they told him to stop the warning – we would’ve made it to the Sunday and the finish if someone was warning us.”
This year's Wales Rally GB included a considerably revised route compared to previous years - following a Ceremonial Start in Llandudno, Thursday’s stages were on the spectacular winding cliff-face road around the Great Orme headland on the North Welsh coastline - a stage not used on the event for 30 years. The 1150-mile Rally ventured southwards with the high speed action on many of Wales' most renowned forest stages and the event culminated with a Ceremonial Finish in Cardiff on the Sunday.
Pritchard made steady progress throughout the first few days, the start on the tarmac during the Great Orme stage was understandably cautious but Pritchard made good time through the gravel stage on the Friday which saw him finish the day 4th in the PWRC. On Saturday the 23-year-old from Builth Wells really stepped up a gear and made great progress throughout the morning and he moved up to 3rd place, with 2nd place a real possibility as he put pressure and gained time on the top two drivers:
“I was feeling very relaxed during Saturday’s stages, we were really up on the pace and I could feel myself getting quicker as the day progressed. That’s why it hurt so much to go out the race in the manner that we did.
“2011 has been quite unlucky and this incident kind of summed up how it’s gone. However, I’m taking the positives from how we finished the year and I know that I would’ve secured my highest finish this weekend if I hadn’t had the incident. 2012 is going to be a big year for me and I’m confident that my level of performance will only get stronger and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel again.”
Pritchard is planning to keep busy and intends to finish the year by working closely with his Communications team and external designers to build a new website that will be capable of holding blogs and video footage, allowing fans and the media to get closer access to the young Welshman. The website launch, expected to be before Christmas this year, will also co-inside with a new logo as Pritchard updates his look and feel away from the car

Friday 11 November 2011

Formula Renault BARC looks forward to 2012

Formula Renault BARC is an excellent learning series for young drivers
Organisers of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship are delighted to reveal an exciting and expanded 14 round calendar for the 2012 season which will feature, for the first time, a pair of triple-header events designed to give drivers maximum track time and value for money.

Off the back of its most successful and high-profile campaign yet, a point underpinned by 2011 champion Dino Zamparelli earning a spot in the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, the increasingly prominent junior single-seater category is striving to continue its terrific momentum.

Each race meeting will be a two-day affair with the provisional 2012 schedule set to commence at Snetterton 200 Circuit in Norfolk, over the weekend 7th/8th April, with the first of the triple-header events. The second of those will take place five weeks later at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent on 12th/13th May.

After a seven week sojourn, the action will resume at the massive FIA British Truck Grand Prix event at Donington Park National Circuit in the East Midlands on 30th June/1st July for rounds seven and eight – in front of an anticipated 20,000-plus spectators.

From there, the next stop will be the category’s annual visit to Croft in North Yorkshire on 21st/22nd July for rounds nine and 10 before a six-week break prior to the penultimate event of the season at Rockingham in Northamptonshire on 1st/2nd September. The venue for the final two rounds of the campaign, and the date of the event, remains unconfirmed at this stage.

After close consultation with team representatives and the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC), Championship Promoter Simon North says the provisional calendar has been widely welcomed and the introduction of triple-header events is an important step for the burgeoning category.

“We’re delighted to be in a position to announce our provisional calendar well in advance of the New Year as it gives teams and potential drivers maximum time to prepare for the championship”, commented North, “With the addition of two triple-header events, an increase in races from 12 to 14 and an excellent selection of circuits we really feel this is potentially our best ever calendar.

“Protyre Formula Renault BARC enjoyed a fantastic season this year, the championship battle was one of the best we’ve witnessed and the standard of racing was particularly high. We’re hopeful with this provisional calendar now in place, it will enable the teams to sign early deals and will give them the best opportunity possible to attract new drivers to the championship.”

Steve Lynch, team manager of leading Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship squad Fortec Motorsport, MGR Motorsport team principal Mark Godwin and Scorpio Motorsport team boss Jon Pettit are all very happy with the 2012 calendar – in particular the increase to 14 rounds and the introduction of triple-header events.

“The idea of triple headers at the start of the season and the increase in track time is obviously good news and the rest of the calendar also looks good”, said Lynch, “I’d still like to see a BTCC supporting round on there, as we had this year, and if that can be secured it’ll be great. We’ll definitely continue in Formula Renault BARC next year, we’re committed to it as it’s a great series for young racers.”

Godwin added: “It’s really good for the championship having triple headers at the beginning of the season, it’s good to give young drivers coming in as much track time and experience as possible early on so I’m very pleased to see that.

“I’m happy we’ll be at the FIA truck event at Donington – the truck meet there this year was good and we had a big crowd which is important. Although BARC is a club series, it’s being taken much more seriously now. The fact (Dino)
Zamparelli is in the McLaren Award means it’s a championship drivers are looking at more and more.”

Pettit commented: “I like the calendar a lot, having Donington and Rockingham on there is great and Croft is a fantastic track for the drivers so I’m happy to see that on there. I am disappointed to lose Thruxton but if we can get on the TOCA (BTCC) package again at the end of the year that’ll be great.

“It’s good news the calendar has expanded to 14 races without the additional cost of going to another track. We had a good crowd at the truck meeting at Donington last season so I’m pleased we’ll be there again. Although BARC is still a club championship, the driver level is above that in my opinion and for people to see that at a big event like the trucks is very important.”

Along with headline sponsor Protyre, the championship is additionally supported by ELF, Michelin and NGK Spark Plugs. All dates and venues specified remain provisional and are subject to change.

Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship – Provisional 2012 Calendar
Rds 1/2/3: 7th/8th April - Snetterton 200 Circuit, Norfolk
Rds 4/5/6: 12th/13th May - Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, Kent
Rds 7/8: 30th June/1st July - Donington Park National Circuit, Leicestershire
Rds 9/10: 21st/22nd July - Croft Circuit, North Yorkshire
Rds 11/12: 1st/2nd September - Rockingham Motor Speedway, Northamptonshire
Rds 13/14: TBC - TBC

Thursday 10 November 2011

Jason Pritchard takes on home event

Jason Pritchard hopes that he can continue his fantastic form from the past month as the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) comes to Wales this weekend. Wales Rally GB will be another test for the talented driver but with home advantage on his side, confidence is high from the 23-year-old Welshman.

Jason Pritchard will start this year’s Wales Rally GB in a confident mood in his North Road Garage backed Subaru Impreza after strong showings in Scotland and Tempest over the past month.

Pritchard who will be joined by co-driver Dale Furniss has produced two stylish drives to clinch first place in group N and 12th overall at the Rally of Scotland and he also won his class and finished 3rd overall in the Tempest Rally last weekend.

“I’ve been delighted with how I’ve driven during the last two events; the car’s been fantastic and this has been matched by the excellent work from my team at North Road Garage. However, it will all count for nothing if we can’t get a good result here in Wales. I’m so proud to be competing in Wales and even more so because the Central Service Park is in my hometown
Builth Wells.”

This year's Wales Rally GB includes a considerably revised route compared to previous years - following a Ceremonial Start today (Thursday 10th November) in Llandudno the opening action is on the spectacular winding cliff-face road around the Great Orme headland on the North Welsh coastline - a stage not used on the event for 30 years.

Over the next three days the 1150-mile event will venture southwards with the high speed action on many of Wales' most renowned forest stages interspersed with a Central Service Park at Builth Wells. The event, and the 2011 World Rally Championship, will culminate with a Ceremonial Finish - and the crowning of this year's WRC Champion - in Cardiff on the Sunday (13 Nov).

The forests of Wales will be reverberating to the sound of over 160 rally car engines from today onwards and Pritchard will be hopeful of bettering his 20th finish last time the WRC was in Wales:

“We were delighted with the last WRC here in Wales, if I can produce a similar performance I’ll be delighted but I’m always aiming to improve and there is no better place to deliver than on the world-stage and amongst some of the world’s best drivers.

“I can’t wait to get started, my preparation leading up to the event has been excellent and I’m ready and raring to go, it’s a long event so concentration is crucial, I need to be fast and up there throughout the next three days to really finish the year on a high.”

Friday 4 November 2011

Daniel Lloyd is a Scholar!

 After a day of demanding evaluation at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone on Monday (31 October), 19 year-old Daniel Lloyd has been selected as the winner of 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Scholarship.

Lloyd, from Huddersfield, was chosen from four Scholarship finalists for the prize, which is topped by a massive £80,000 contribution to his Carrera Cup GB budget for 2012. In a unique initiative, the identity of the winner was unveiled on-line at 10:00 today (4 November) via Origin.

Lloyd was overjoyed when he watched the video clip and discovered that he had been selected.
“It really does mean everything to me to win the Scholarship,” he said. “I’ve never been so happy in my life. It is a huge deal; I’ve put so much effort into this and I’m so happy it has paid off. It has been a horrible week waiting for the result, and I was very emotional when they announced my name.

“I really can’t stress how much this will change my life and career. Ever since I started racing on the BTCC package when I was 15, I always looked up to the Porsche Carrera Cup and thought it was what I wanted to do. Without the Scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to do the Carrera Cup next season, so it really does mean the world to me.

“To get to where I am today has been a real team effort and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my parents,” he continued. “It will mean everything to them as well; they are very supportive and they’d love to see me succeed in the Carrera Cup.”

“The four finalists were all excellent candidates,” said Marion Barnaby, Championship Manager Porsche Carrera Cup GB. “It was a very tough decision for the judging panel, but Daniel impressed in all areas and I believe he will be a very worthy 2012 Scholar.”
We think that Porsche have miscaptioned this photo, it's clearly a
Modern Art sculpture!

The four finalists – Daniel Lloyd, Tom Ingram, Ollie Millroy and Jody Fannin - completed a rigorous evaluation process, including driving the latest 450 hp 911 GT3 Cup race car on the Silverstone National circuit. They also were put through panel interviews, media assessment and a daunting programme of fitness testing.

The Porsche Carrera Cup GB is the fastest single marque racing Championship in the UK, and supports the British Touring Car Championship.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

First ever Historic Kart World Championships to be held at Donington Park.

We haven't featured kart racing on Overdrive - maybe it's time we did? - Much less historic kart racing. Which is an area of historic racing fast gathering pace. It seems strange at first to think of historic karts, but that's to dismiss karting as a whole as a sport just for kids learning racing with little importance beyond that, the fact is that Karting is an important motorsport, and fully deserves to have it's past and historic vehicles represented.

They may look a little odd, but the racing is no less competitive.
The 2012 Donington Historic Festival has been chosen as the venue for the first-ever Historic Kart World Championships, giving classic motorsport fans even more to enjoy on May 5th and 6th as some 150 historic karts, including machines originally campaigned by Graham Hill and Ayrton Senna, join the action on a specially laid-out circuit using the Donington GP Loop.

The inaugural Donington Historic Festival, in 2011 – a major landmark in the resurgence of this hugely-popular East Midlands circuit – was characterised by truly spectacular racing action featuring over 300 historic race cars and drivers from around the world. The addition of the karts, and around 200 kart drivers from the USA, Australia, New Zealand and all over Europe, to the Festival’s thrilling mix of sportscars, single-seaters, classic saloons and mighty Group C cars should ensure that the 2012 event raises the bar even higher.

Festival organiser, Duncan Wiltshire, said, “We are delighted that the British Historic Kart Club has selected the Donington Historic Festival as the stage for the inaugural Historic Kart World Championships. One of our key aims has always been that the Festival offers a wealth of racing excitement and entertainment for spectators, and the karts will really add to that, bringing former World and British Champions, and some very special machines.”

Tickets on sale in plenty of time for Christmas
Tickets for the 2012 Donington Historic Festival – which would make great Christmas gifts – go on sale on November 4th. Advance ticket prices have been held at the family-friendly levels set in 2011, at £18 for an advance one-day ticket and £30 for an advance weekend ticket. On-the-gate prices will be £25 per day and £40 weekend. Children aged 16 and under are admitted for free. From November 4th, tickets can be bought via www.doningtonhistoric.com and through the 24-hour ticket hotline 0844 873 7355.

Small karts, big excitement
Among the stars already entered for this world-first is British Historic Kart Club Patron, the veteran racing driver Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams, who will race one of his father’s creations, a 1959 Fastakart/Villiers. Karting legends scheduled to appear include the 1967 World Karting Champion Edgardo Rossi (Switzerland) and 1978 World Champion Lake Speed (USA), plus former British champions Reg Gange Jnr, Bill Longden and Bob Phair.

Going kart racing in an open face helmet is NOT reccomended!
There will also be a strong contingent of lady competitors, including the current European Champion, 100cc vintage, Tania le Couilliard, British Champion 250cc classic, Claire Atkinson and the Dutch racer Miranda van Middendorp.

Significant karts taking part include the 1959 Progress in which Graham Hill won the first-ever kart race held in the UK. This will compete alongside the famous front-engined Del-kart/Suzuki that was part of the Donington Collection for thirty years; both karts racing for the first time in several decades. Ayrton Senna’s World Championship DAP kart – last raced in 1979 by the great man himself – will compete for Classic Class 1 honours, while former champion Peter Burgess will pilot the Martin Hines-built Burgess Special Zip/ Bultaco.

There will also be demonstration laps by some rare machines, including the very first kart ever made by Art Ingels and the Biagi 701/Bultaco, the creation of 1961 Scottish champion Paul Biagi.

For further information and Festival tickets please visit www.doningtonhistoric.com

Wales ready to welcome WRC

Wales Rally GB and it's associated national event
covers nearly the entire length of the country

The biggest prize in motor rallying will be won in the UK in less than two weeks time when France’s Sebastien Loeb and Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen go head-to-head for the FIA World Rally Championship crown in one of the most challenging events of the year – the season finale, Wales Rally GB, from 10-13 November.

Loeb, competing for Citroen Total World Rally Team, has emerged as the most successful rally driver in history with seven consecutive World crowns in the past decade. But Hirvonen, who drives for the UK-based factory Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, could be about to end the seemingly invincible Loeb’s reign at the top.

The Frenchman will arrive in Wales with a slender eight-point lead over the Finn – but with 25 available for a win the game is very much still on. Furthermore, an increasing number of rival crews – including those from iconic British manufacturer MINI – will be challenging for victory on some of the world’s most daunting forest stages. There is no doubt the WRC season is all set for a highly dramatic and unpredictable finish.

Meanwhile Loeb knows a second-place result in Wales will effectively secure him an eighth straight title but, with three bonus points on offer during the event’s concluding Power Stage on the final day of action (Sun 13 Nov), he won’t be relaxing behind the wheel of his Citroën DS3 WRC. The 37-year-old from Alsace, who has won the last three Wales Rally GBs, commented: “If Mikko is winning I have to be second with some good points from the Power Stage. For sure I will try to fight with him and not to be behind. It’s a very open situation and it’s not easy. We will have to fight hard in GB. We know it can be very difficult so we will see what happens. It will be interesting.”

Hirvonen almost pipped Loeb to the WRC crown in Wales in 2009, only for his car’s bonnet to smash into its windscreen. Two years on Hirvonen can expect great support from his on-form team-mate Jari-Mari Latvala. The ‘flying Finn’ now has much more experience and, having pushed Loeb for the win in Spain two weekends ago before backing off and allowing Hirvonen to finish second, could play a crucial role in the title outcome.
“Of course Jari-Matti did me a big favour in Spain, which was really nice and gives me a chance to fight again in GB,” said 31-year-old Hirvonen, who achieved victory in Wales in 2007 with the same Cumbrian-based M-Sport operation which prepares his Fiesta RS WRC. He added: “It’s going to be a tough one. Everything needs to be perfect. The only thing I can do is win the rally and the Power Stage as well. In previous years I have always had really good pace there so I believe that will be the same this year. We will have a good fight. I just need to make sure the bonnet pins stay closed.”

Equally Loeb’s team-mate, fellow Frenchman Sebastien Ogier, is likely to play a similar tactical supporting role for Citroën. Although only in his second full WRC season Ogier is equal on five wins with Loeb so far in 2011. And maverick Norwegian Petter Solberg, one of only two drivers to have previously won the event four times (2002-03-04-05), is another they all need to watch in his Citroën DS3 WRC.

However many of the hugely enthusiastic spectators will surely be rooting for the MINI World Rally Team and its pair of Mini John Cooper Works WRCs, prepared by the Banbury-based Prodrive organisation that previously achieved WRC glory with the likes of Colin McRae and Richard Burns. The famed British marque has not been represented in top-level rallying since the Sixties but what an impact its 2011 cars, driven by Spaniard Dani Sordo and Northern Irishman Kris Meeke, have had already. In just five appearances Sordo has achieved four strong points results and almost won a month ago in France. Meeke, in his debut WRC season, was a fine fifth two weeks ago in Spain and, on terrain he knows well, could cause a real upset on his home event. Indeed a British driver has not won Rally GB since Burns’s triumph in 2000 and MINI’s only previous victory on the event was in 1965 (with Rauno Aaltonen in a Mini Cooper S)!

Other stars to look out for include former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen and YouTube hero Ken Block – both are sure to be crowd favourites and in huge demand from autograph hunters.

It all adds to up to a fitting season finale for the reinvigorated WRC which, looking to the future, is entering its most exciting chapter for years with the re-installation of the classic Monte Carlo Rally on its 2012 calendar plus the arrival of MINI as well as German manufacturer VW in 2013 to add to the competition.

Simon Long, CEO of WRC promoter North One Sport enthused: “It’s going to be a thrilling and nail-biting end to what’s been a very dramatic first season for the dynamic new-look WRC with the latest technical regulations and live TV ‘power stages’. Now we’re all set for a thrilling finale in the notoriously tricky and treacherous Welsh forests...

“As well as the duel for the world championship the return of MINI on home ground is certain to generate even more interest and intrigue – more so as the team has already underlined its intentions by scoring two podium results from its first six starts. Which ever way you look at it we’re in for a dramatic climax to 2011.”

Meanwhile this year’s Wales Rally GB includes a considerably revised route compared to previous years – following a Ceremonial Start on the Thursday (10 Nov) in Llandudno the opening action is on the spectacular winding cliff-face road around the Great Orme headland on the North Welsh coastline – a stage not used on the event for 30 years. Similarly, there is a return later that day to the Clocaenog forest stage, last part of the route in 1996. Over the next three days the 1150-mile event will venture southwards with the high speed action on many of Wales’ most renowned forest stages interspersed with a Central Service Park at Builth Wells. The event, and the 2011 World Rally Championship, will culminate with a Ceremonial Finish – and the crowning of this year’s WRC Champion – in Cardiff on the Sunday (13 Nov).

FIA WRC Drivers’ Championship (after 12 of 13 rounds)
  1. Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Citroen DS3 WRC 222
  2. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 214
  3. Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Citroen DS3 WRC 193
  4. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 146
  5. Peter Solberg (NOR) Citroen DS3 WRC 110
  6. Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 70
  7. Dani Sordo (SPA) MINI John Cooper Works WRC 57
  8. Matthew Wilson (GB) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 53
  9. Henning Solberg (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 44
  10. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Citroen DS3 WRC (FIN) 34

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Lotus works on BTCC Engine Project

A BTCC Turbo Engine : Jason Plato loves these.

A comprehensive British Touring Car Championship engine ‘flow-test programme’, that will result in establishing each turbo engine’s baseline boost pressure for next season, is currently being conducted independently by Lotus Engineering utilising its extensive resources and expertise.

The work is being processed through the championship’s Engine Technical Review Panel – every engine builder involved in the Dunlop-backed BTCC is an active member of the ETRP. The panel is headed by independent Chairman, Clive Dopson, an internationally renowned automotive engine/powertrain consultant.

BTCC Series Director Alan Gow commented: “The purpose of this programme is not to make every race engine perform in exactly the same way – it’s only right that the best engineering, the best design, the best teams and, of course, the best drivers still see their efforts related to their on-track performances.

“No, the test programme is simply to reduce any wide performance variances resulting from significant differences in the fundamental port/valve designs of the original production engines. It will identify and quantify those that produce superior airflow through the cylinder head and those that don’t, in order that their baseline turbo boost pressure is set accordingly.

“Thereafter, during the course of the season, a strict mathematic calculation – based on a rolling average of each model’s qualifying and lap times over a set number of events – will determine if any further changes should be made to their respective boost levels.

“This will have the virtue of being an entirely clear, definitive procedure which utilises a set calculation and methodology to adjust any significant performance imbalances, based on the qualifying/race lap times achieved by each model. Over the next few weeks we will, of course, be defining the parameters more precisely, once we have validated all the data.

“The important thing is that our teams have unanimously agreed to both the process of the flow-testing and to the introduction of the boost-adjustment calculation method during the season, as they all very much recognise the huge positive benefits it will have for everyone.”

The BTCC’s championship and race success ballast system remains in place and unaltered for next season.

However, from 2012 the top 15 finishers in each BTCC race will score points (previously only the top ten scored). This will apply to all of the BTCC Drivers, Independent Drivers, HiQ Teams and Independent Teams championships. This revised points system will be announced at a later date.