Next weekend sees two major Neste Rally Finland trial events. Firstly, the cross-Baltic Sea national championship Rally Estonia, and at the same time the Auto-Glym Rally in Finland. Rally Estonia has grown into being the most popular rally in the Baltic states and this year has attracted entries from WRC drivers Craig Breen, Ott Tanak and Hayden Paddon. The event runs between Otepaa and Tartu. Auto-Glym Rally is based at Tampere and uses stage run on previous years on the “1000 Lakes” Rally. Both events are run on stages even faster and less undulating than those traditionally found on Finland’s WRC event, but provide good training. Leading WRC competitors entered on this event include OC Veiby, the two Japanese trainee drivers Arai and Katsuta, Dennis Radstrom, Jean-Baptiste Fransceschi, and Enrico Oldrati. Last year Thierry Neuville won the Auto-Glym Rally (pictured top). = = = = The FIA Middle East Rally Champion, Nasser Al Attiyah, finished second on the all-asphalt Rally of Lebanon, behind local driver Roger Feghali, but Al Attiyah further strengthens his lead in the 2018 series. His nearest challenger, Vojtech Stajf, finished fifth. = = = = Close finish at the French championship Rallye du Rouergue, when Quentin Gilbert extended his penultimate stage lead of 0.1 seconds to beat fellow Fabia R5 driver Pierre Roche by 2.9 seconds! The car of French Champion, Yoann Bonato, dramatically failed to fire up in pre-event parc ferme. = = = = A dramatic end to Rally Casentino, run in central Italy, came when the leader, Luca Rossetti, retired on the final stage and gifted victory to fellow Fabia R5 driver Alessandro Re. Invited foreign drivers included eighth placed for British drivers Chris Ingram (his first four-wheel drive event on asphalt), and Rhys Yates who finished 15th after punctures, while Finnish driver Emil Lindholm was tenth. = = = = Sixth round of the All-Japan Rally Championship saw the third successful victory for Subaru WRC STi driver Toshi Arai. Four more rounds are to come. Last weekend’s Sammy ARK Rally was held around Chitose airport in Hokkaido, the venue for the final time a WRC rally was run in Japan. Currently Arai leads the series with four events to go. = = = = Mitsubishi Evo X R4 driver, Carl Tundo, won his third successive Kenyan championship rally at the KMSC Rally in Eldoret. = = = = Mexican driver Ricardo Trivino and his Spanish co-driver, Marc Marti (pictured above), have pulled further ahead in the FIA regional Nancam championship when they finished second overall in last weekend’s Rally Baie des Chaleurs in Canada. Their Citroen DS3 R3 finished second overall. Three of the five qualifying rounds this year are held in Mexico, though the next event is in Venezuela. = = = = The French preparation company Oreca, licensed to develop cars for the new R4-Kit formula, report that official authorisation for the project was issued on April 1st. The conversion kit homologated by the FIA comprises 800 pieces which are designed to be installed in any small size production car, as selected by the competitor, similar to the Maxi Rally system in Argentina. The kit will cost Euros 108,000, plus tax. It is claimed that running costs for a R4-Kit Car is half the cost of running an R5 car. The first R4-Kit are expected to be used in competition in Renault Clio, Toyota Etios, Hyundai i20 and Dacia cars. = = = = Cautiously better news from Portugal is that their champion rally driver, Carlos Vieira, has left intensive care after his accident on the Vidreiro Rally. The Hyundai Portugal team driver continues to recover from his serious injuries a month ago.
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