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Weekend Rally Round-Up – June 16

50-year old Jarmo Lehtinen replaced 40 year old Marko Salminen as M-Sport WRC driver Teemu Suninen’s co-driver in Sardinia.

25-year old Suninen was quoted on All Live as saying Lehtinen was older than his father!

Since his previous retirement from regular WRC co-driver activities, Lehtinen, who was until> recently Toyota Gazoo’s WRC manager, had been co-driving the Fiesta R5 run for Toyota Gazoo’s trainee driver Hiroki Arai.

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The FIA has announced they are considering event rotation as a solution to a critical congestion of events in the 2020 WRC calendar.

Event rotation was tried from 1994 to 1996 and proved very damaging for organisers in terms of relationships with commercial partners, local promotion and training of officials.

Thoughts about the technical specifications for the new 2022 World Cars were also outlined.

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The organisers for the so-called WRC “Promotional” event, non-championship Shell Helix Rally Estonia (12-14 July) expect the following WRC drivers to compete on their event: Elfyn Evans (Fiesta WRC), Esapekka Lappi (C3 WRC), Andreas Mikkelsen (i20 Coupe WRC), while Teemu Suninen is scheduled to make the competition debut of M-Sport’s Fiesta Mark VIII R5.

The ultra fast Rally Estonia is perceived to be good driver practice for August’s Neste Rally in Finland.

Strangely, Toyota Gazoo, the only WRC team whose rally workshop is in Estonia, have not declared an intention to compete on this event.

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There is a disappointing entry this year for the once prestigious Ypres Rally in Belgium (June 28-29), which previously attracted the cream of competitors in the European Championship.

This year the star entry is former WRC driver Craig Breen, this time in a Polo GTI R5, while Ole Christian Veiby is now to drive a Hyundai i20 R5, while veteran driver Freddy Loix is back once more in a Skoda Fabia R5.

Otherwise the main competitors will be the Belgian and the British rally championship competitors.

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The death has been announced of Jean-Pierre Champeau, one of the original patrons of Sebastien Loeb, 20 years after he lost his 24-year old rally driver son, Mark, in a rally car recce accident.

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It was after Mark’s accident that Jean-Pierre turned to support Sebastien.

Loeb said: “I will never forget everything you did for us. You have been a pillar, and much more, in our success with Daniel. Rest in peace Jean-Pierre”.

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On the occasion when M-Sport has announced their plans for new versions of their R5, R2 and R1 cars, Ford Performance’s Senior Manager Gerard Quinn, has said:

“Our Ford Fiesta line up in rally has now been totally refreshed with the introduction of the new Fiesta R1, R2 and R5 reflecting the most youthful product line-up available to compete with in rally in national and global competition.

“This is a living example of democratising our performance where privateers get to compete in and win championships around the world in a Ford.”

The line-up is as follows:

Fiesta R1 = 150bhp, Fiesta R2 = 200bhp, Fiesta R5 = 290bhp and Fiesta WRC = 380bhp.

There is still confusion over names as the name of the new Fiesta R5 is no different to the previous model, even though it is a completely new model.

Also, it is not widely realised that the 1.2 litre turbocharged Peugeot 208 R2 runs in a different class (R2C, with 50kg heavier minimum weight), while the 1.0 litre Fiesta R2 runs in the R2B class.

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2012 Rally Sardinia winner, Mikko Hirvonen, was at this year’s event, recalling the drama when his Fiesta was burned out in 2014.

He said that the incident was the second Fiesta fire – an earlier one had caused a development car to be burned out in testing, also in Sardinia.

FIA delays announcement of 2020 WRC calendar

Martin Holmes is widely considered as world rallying's most experienced, and most respected journalist. Martin covers the WRC, ERC and all major rally championships around the world.

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