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Alexandre Camacho, Skoda Fabia R5 (pictured above), from the Madeira Islands won the FIA European Rally Trophy final shoot-out at the asphalt Algarve Rally in Southern Portugal. This event was open to successful competitors from each of the ERT’s regional divisions in each of the series’ three car categories, the others being won by Russian driver Sergei Remennik (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) and Portuguese driver Miguel Correia (Renault Clio R3). The shoot-out was held as part of the final round of the Portuguese championship which was won by national champion Araujo Armindo’s Hyundai i20 R5. It has been announced that the final shoot-out of the 2019 series will be run at the Rallye International Valais in Switzerland. = = = = Czech private driver Vojtech Stajf (above)won the Manateq International Rally of Qatar, the first non Arabic driver to win a round of the FIA’s Middle East series since Bjorn Waldegard in a Toyota Celica Twincam Turbo in 1986. The already crowned champion favourite, Nasser Al Attiyah, retired early on when the left rear suspension failed on his Fiesta F5 (below). Stajf finished in second place in the series. = = = = The disastrous low level of entries in Rally Australia emphasises the unsatisfactory relevance of long-haul WRC events to the world championship sport. 29 entries were made for this event, two entries were rejected due to technical non-conformity and another two did not appear for logistical reasons. 25 starters were allowed to start in Australia, typical of the malaise of long-haul WRC rallying. Brazil in 1981 had the lowest ever number of WRC starters and with only one exception, the only European events which attracted fewer than 30 starters has been Monte Carlo 1997, a figure created by an artificially small number of crews who could be accommodated by the organisers on the final down-town stage. Argentina, Mexico, Jordan, USA, Ivory Coast, Cyprus have all suffered low entries in a similar way. The lowest entry for a European event in regular circumstances were the 31 starters in 2010 Rally GB. It is frustrating that WRC Promoters continue searching for other long-haul events while this low-event problem continues, though Rally Japan has always attracted far larger entries. = = = =

Sebastien Ogier only won two stages at Rally Australia, but won the world title. Photo: Peter Whitten

Information from Rally Australia:

This was the third year running that Thierry Neuville has finished second overall in the FIA World Drivers Championship. Ott Tanak was easily the fastest driver on the event with eight stage victories, while his two championship rivals, Neuville and Ogier, each only won two stages. Even though he missed eight stages, MRF driver Gaurav Gill was the fastest R5 driver on the event. Although he had been absent from the WRC for three years, Gianluca Linari’s second place in WRC2 was his best ever result in this category, achieved in his eight year old Subaru.

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