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Happy 81st Birthday to rally drivers, Rauno Aaltonen from Finland, and Rosemary Smith from Ireland, who were both Guests of Honour in this year’s Race Retro exhibition in Britain.  

Also in attendance was Paul Easter who towards the end of his own co-driving career competed four times on the RAC Rally with Aaltonen. 

Rosemary Smith won a most important championship victory for Hillman on the 1965 Tulip Rally.

Rauno Aaltonen and Rosemary Smith

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Sad news is the passing through illness of Colin Wilson, former FIA WRC Rally Media Delegate, Chief Press Officer for the British Grand Prix and Lombard RAC Rally.

He worked with Cars & Car Conversions Magazine including coordinating their successful rally championship and Rally Sport. 

He was a successful amateur rally co-driver who competed with Andy Dawson and Jimmy McRae, and whose greatest competition success was second place on the 1984 Circuit des Ardennes in Belgium in a Nissan 240RS with Pentti Airikkala.  

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Two new drivers have been announced for the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior team participating in the 2019 FIA European championship.  

20 year old Swedish driver, Elias Lundberg, and the Belgian, Gregoire Munster, will form part of the team. 

ADAC Opel drivers have won the ERC Junior championship for the past four years. 

Jari Huttunen Opel Adam

The Opel Adam R2

Opel announce they plan to replace the existing Opel Adam R2 model with an upgraded Opel Corsa R2 in 2020.

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A 1-2 result for VW Polo GTI R5 cars in the hands of Kris Princem and Cedric Cherain, headed five Skoda Fabia R5s on the Belgian championship Haspengouw Rally.

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Hyundai Motorsport team driver, Dani Sordo, comfortably won the Portuguese championship Serras de Fafe Rally in an i20 R5, winning all but one stage. 

Top Portuguese driver, Ricardo Teodosio (Skoda Fabia R5), was second. Pedro Meireles retired with steering trouble after rolling his VW Polo GTI R5 the day before. 

Dani Sordo (seen here with Alain Penasse) was penalised 10 seconds after hitting a hay bale on a stage in Portugal. Photo: Martin Holmes Rallying

Dani Sordo (seen here with Alain Penasse). Photo: Martin Holmes Rallying

Meanwhile, Loeb’s decision to enter the Tour de Corse (WRC round 4), as part of his limited programme this year means that Hyundai will drop Andreas Mikkelsen for that event.

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The final winter rally in the national Norwegian rally championship, the Numesdalrally, was cancelled for weather reasons. 

A shortened sprint rally won by Fiesta R5 driver, Anders Grondal, was held instead.

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Abarth is reported to be planning an upgrade on the 124 Rally R-GT car with changes to the engine with better low end performance and transmission, aimed at making gear shifting faster.

There is also to be a new one-make Abarth Rally Cup in the FIA European Rally Championship.

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For the first time in his 27 year career, Nasser Al-Attiyah, is due to rally a Volkswagen – a Polo GTI  R5 – this year.  

Autotek Motorsport are to run this car in the Middle East Rally Championship opening round in Qatar in the second weekend March.

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