A failed wheel bearing halted Jari Matti Latvala when he was leading Finland’s Autopirtti Classic rally in his Toyota Celica ST165.
His co-driver was his old Toyota teammate, Juho Hanninen.
In the end BMW 325i E36 cars took the top three places. Seventeen of these cars were entered.
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British fans have been showing mounting excitement that the devolved Welsh government has followed the rest of Britain in allowing road closures for motorsport, with particular reference to the route for the 2018 Wales Rally GB (WRGB).
While the Promoters of the WRC nowadays discourage the once popular very long special stages, the new legislation gives considerable scope for closing short stretches of road and joining up roads in nearby forests to provide greater choice of medium length routes.
While this legislation focuses attention on closing public roads and provides the opportunity to provide asphalt stages, the WRGB is mindful that FIA WRC guidelines restricts the opportunities of including fully asphalt stages within qualifying rounds defined as gravel events.
WRGB route manager, Andrew Kellet, is currently striving to find a route which will take full advantage of the new opportunities.
68 years ago there were three closed road asphalt special stages on the 1960 RAC Rally, all run in Scotland (one about 20 miles south of Cape Wrath), but subject to prevailing rules imposing the then obligatory average speed limits on stages.
On these stages the majority of top competitors gained no benefit because they beat the “bogey” time for the stage, but on the gravel surfaced closed road stage, the legendary Monument Hill stage, only one competitor beat the bogey time.
That was Erik Carlsson in a Saab, who won the event.
Andrew Kellitt, Wales Rally GB route manager. Photo: Martin Holmes
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Second round of the Latvian championship, the Rally Sarma, was won by the Russian Nikolai Gryazin.
16-year old Oliver Solberg finished second in his class after a spin.
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Hyundai Motorsport are reported to be planning to enter four cars on the Rally of Portugal, the sixth round of the 2018 WRC.
They are hoping to create a fairer balance of championship opportunities this year for their two part-time WRC drivers, Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon.
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29 year old Lorenzo Bertelli had been hoping to compete on the 2018 Swedish Rally, but has been forced to withdraw due to “unforeseen and unpostponable work commitments”, despite already having tested the car assigned for him.
Last year he was able to enjoy driving a 2017 specification Fiesta WRC on three rounds of the WRC.
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No sooner had Volkswagen Motorsport released details of their plans for their Polo R5 that a Polo N5, built under Spanish national regulations, has been announced.
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Didier Auriol has shown an interest in contesting more WRC rounds. Photo: Martin Holmes
1994 World Rally Champion, Didier Auriol, for 11 years a resident in Madagascar and due this year to turn 60 years old, has been quoted by local sources as hoping to compete in “one or two” more rounds of the WRC.
This follows fan fever centred on twice world champion, Marcus Gronholm (50 years old last week), wondering if Marcus will enter the 2019 Neste Rally, making a one-off comeback at the age of 51, just as fellow WRC champion Finns Hannu Mikkola, Ari Vatanen, Juha Kankkunen and Timo Salonen did.
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