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Rallye Catalunya - Costa Brava
Round 4 of the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship
22 - 25 March 2001

Official FIA Press Release

Fourth round of the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship. This is a momentous event for two reasons. Firstly the arrival of Citroen as a registered contender in the FIA Manufacturers Championship, secondly the first round of the FIA's new cost limiting Super 1600 championship.

The first clear asphalt rally in the championship, similar in format to previous years but with many detailed changes to stages. Once again, in order to provide just one Service Park location each day, this rally has the longest road sections of any World Championship event, apart from the Safari. Although every stage is to be repeated, reconnaissance will be difficult. Ford co-driver Nicky Grist has calculated over half of the route this year needs new pacenotes, mostly on account of being run in the opposite direction. This year the event does not count for the National Rally championship. There are only six private Spanish competitors on the entry list. This is the first asphalt World Championship Rally where only two types of tread pattern are allowed, even though the stages in the two separate areas where the rally are held have considerably different style of surface.

Current standings are that Tommi Makinen in four points ahead of Carlos Sainz, with Harri Rovanpera a further six points behind. The Manufacturers' standings are set out below, while the Group N category cannot be published awaiting confirmation of positions after Portugal.


Tommi Makinen, Car 7 and Freddy Loix, Car 8
Andrew Cowan, Chairman of Ralliart Europe, said that the team had made a total of nine days' testing just for this event. He added: "Freddy Loix's transmission failure in Portugal may have been due to mud in the clutch housing, because this also occurred in post-event demonstrations, the day after the event in similar conditions." Loix's car has not yet been examined to confirm the reason.

FORD MOTOR COMPANY Ltd. (2nd - 20 points)
Carlos Sainz, Car 3, Colin McRae, Car 4, Francois Delecour, Car 17
Main technical innovation is a new design of sumpguard, aimed at reducing rideheight. Ford made a bold decision to nominate both their types of tread patterns for dry-weather conditions. The theory is that each pattern was ideally suited to different parts of the route. Tread pattern cutting will adequately cater for wet conditions. McRae's engine failure in Portugal was found to be a consequence of an ECU malfunction.

Piero Liatti, Car 9 and Alister McRae, Car 10
There has been little time following their successful debut appearance of the WRC2 in Portugal. Asphalt testing of the new model was due to start two days before reconnaissance, in the hands of guest driver Liatti. Liatti has gained three podium finishes at Catalunya already to his credit.

SUBARU WORLD RALLY TEAM (4th - 7 points)
Richard Burns, Car 5, Petter Solberg, Car 6, Markko Martin, Car 18
New cars for Burns and Martin, his Monte-Carlo car for Solberg. David Lapworth, SWRT Principal: "The decision to run only three cars here and in Argentina is based solely on logistics. We hope to have full four-car teams for the next four gravel events".

SKODA MOTORSPORT (5th - 6 points)
Armin Schwarz, Car 11 and Bruno Thiry, Car 12
Sporting director Pavel Janeba: "Main news for Catalunya are the significant improvements to the engines. The latest version is being tested the week before the event and all being well, identical units will be fitted for the rally." Thiry will leave Catalunya to go the same day to Kenya for pre-Safari testing.

TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL (6th - 4 points)
Marcus Gronholm, Car 1 and Didier Auriol Car 2 Also entered Gilles Panizzi (car n°. 16).
Two big challenges: Peugeot has never won this event before, and the reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm, has never achieved a podium finish on asphalt. Rovanpera's retirement after leading the Portugal Rally has been found to have originated by excessive water pressure inside the engine, which caused a radiator leak and eventual engine failure.

Philippe Bugalski, Car 14 and Jesus Puras, Car 15
Welcome the return of a famous name in the Championship ! It is 15 years since this manufacturer was last present at the top level of the sport, but there is no doubt about their sincerity. The team has carried out no less than 21 000 km of test work since the start of the this project in March 1999, during which period the project had been suspended for five months. The official name for the car is now Xsara World Rally Car - and not Xsara T4 by which it had previously been known. Jesus Puras is reported fit after withdrawing from the Portugal Rally following his accidents in reconnaissance.

Group N championship: regular Group N include Gustavo Trelles, Gabriel Pozzo and Marcos Ligato but not reigning champion Manfred Stohl who has entered Super 1600 instead. Other top drivers include Natalie Barratt (with her spare car after her accident in Portugal) and Stig Blomqvist (with a new car) even though this does not count for the Teams' Cup. Other drivers: SEAT are present with two ex-works Cordoba World Rally Cars (Salvador Canellas Junior and Marc Blazquez). Roger Feghali, reigning rally champion of Lebanon drives a Mitsubishi Group N After the massive nine car entry in Portugal, there will only be two Toyota Corolla WRCs on this occasion - the young Finn Janne Tuohino and the 1999 Team's Cup champion Luis Climent.

By introducing this new category, the aim of the FIA is to reduce, particularly for younger drivers, the daunting aspect of initial financial outlay. FIA President Max Mosley said "For me the most important problem in motor sport is money. This formula helps negate the temptation for drivers to invest in their cars in order to overcome shortcomings in their talent. I personally would like to see all grass root rallying to be for one-make championships, for this reason."
The 1600 series is for drivers, not manufacturers. Works teams are not allowed to compete, but manufacturers have specially to develop and then homologate the cars, and are permitted to attend events as suppliers of spare parts. There are six events, three on asphalt and three on gravel, the majority coming later in the season. Drivers must participate in all six or risk a penalty from the FIA. A total of 23 drivers are expected to make the start line in Spain.
Four models have been homologated so far and are eligible for use by Super 1600 drivers at Catalunya. Most cars (for example Citroen Saxo, Ford Puma and Fiat Punto) are de-tuned versions of existing Kit Cars and are largely rally-ready, while the Peugeot 206 has been developed upwards from a standard production car and needed initial development work. Proton and Suzuki are expected to be available for Super 1600 use in the near future.
Cost control is the most notable aspect to the project. The total cost of a car must not exceed USD100,000, and the total sum of all components bought separately must be less than USD115,000. The underlying concept of the formula is to encourage younger drivers, and it is notable there are four drivers 21 years or younger, but also entered are 41 year old Patrick Magaud, former works Citroen driver, and Manfred Stohl.

Official FIA Press Release
Friday, 2nd March 2001

Round three of 14 in the FIA World Rally Championship, Round two of six in the FIA Teams' Cup. After two highly specialised events this year, this event is widely regarded as the first representative round of the World Championship. Held on gravel roads in Portugal, ranging from rocky sections in central Portugal to sandy stages further north, the rally provides a traditional challenge to temper outright speed with avoiding damage from potentially car breaking tracks. Fierce conditions during the winter meant that many roads were badly damaged so very little useful pre-rally testing has been carried out in Portugal this year. Nearly all pre-event testing up to now was carried out in Spain instead.

There is a new headquarters location at Europarque, Santa Maria da Feira, south of Porto, but the rally route itself is essentially similar to before.

This will be the final World Championship Rally before the arrival of Citroen! All the other six registered teams are to be present. The positions in the FIA Manufacturers' series are given below. Three drivers (Tommi Makinen, Carlos Sainz and Harri Rovanpera) jointly head the FIA Drivers' series, in Group N neither of the joint leaders Olivier Gillet or Stig-Olov Walfridsson have entered: top placed contender here will be Manfred Stohl. Under the FIA rules all the competitors in Teams' Cup must take part. Here they will be headed by Henrik Lundgaard (10 points) and the veteran Stig Blomqvist (6).


Tommi Makinen, Car 7 and Freddy Loix, Car 8
Chief engineer Bernard Lindauer: "This will be the first chance to accurately evaluate the progress of our car, particularly after fitting the new rear suspension. For this rally we have developed this further, with new rear uprights and wishbones, designed to give more travel on the rebound. We anticipate that legs one and three, where there are often deep ruts, will provide the usual challenge for wheel travel and rideheight." New car for Makinen.

Carlos Sainz, Car 3 and Colin McRae, Car 4
Also entered Francois Delecour, Car 17
This will be Ford's first official rally entry for the Focus WRC on gravel with Pirelli tyres. Their two days of testing in Portugal, according to project engineer Gunther Steiner, "Proved little, but at least we know we have good water-proofing!" New cars for Sainz and McRae. McRae is planning to use a mechanical, rather than electronic, gear change system.

SKODA MOTORSPORT (3rd - 6 points)
Armin Schwarz, Car 11 and Bruno Thiry, Car 12
The earlier bad weather damage is expected to lead to rough roads for the event. Schwarz said "Rough roads could be good for Skoda! I do not I think I have seen conditions in Portugal so bad for the last ten years. Our concentration on shock absorber testing might prove to have been very important." Thiry enters his fourth event for Skoda with a record to maintain. He has scored world championship points on each previous occasion!

Kenneth Eriksson, Car 9 and Alister McRae, Car 10
Welcome to the second-generation Accent WRC. Full details will be announced at a launch on Tuesday evening before the event in Porto. Alister McRae had a high speed accident in testing last week in Spain in a brand new car. Fortunately neither he nor test codriver Ian Grindrod were hurt, but the car was destroyed. The official name for the new car is unusual, it is called WRC2.

SUBARU WORLD RALLY TEAM (5th - 4 points)
Richard Burns, Car 5 and Petter Solberg, Car 6
Also entered Markko Martin, Car 18 and Toshihiro Arai, Car 19
First time since Sweden 1996 that Subaru has entered a four-car team! First appearance for Japanese driver Arai in a works specification car. Will Arai and Australian codriver Glenn Macneall be ready for the rally? They have recently been processed by the Prodrive 'Human Performance' advisers. Both driver and codriver are expected to appear in a new slim line style! New cars for Burns and Solberg.

PEUGEOT SPORT (0 points)
Marcus Gronholm, Car 1 and Didier Auriol, Car 2
Also entered Harri Rovanpera, Car 16
Three car team. Third driver Rovanpera has been told "No team orders but, please, finish ahead of non-Peugeot drivers!", said team manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas. Each team driver has had two days testing, the cars have no technical novelties. A total of seven 206 WRCs have been entered, more than ever before. All four privately run cars will be in identical specification. "This will provide a good comparison between the drivers..." added Nicolas. Latest Peugeot driver to enter the world series is Kris Princen, winner of the recent Boucles de Spa. Special note: Nicolas won this rally as a Renault Alpine driver in 1971, 30 years ago.

FIA inspection for the Xsara T4 World Rally Car homologation was due this week. Homologation is due to be issued on 1st March. Philippe Bugalski and Jesus Puras have been busy this week testing in Spain, ready for Puras' entry at the Mediterraneo European Championship all asphalt rally near Alicante, on 3rd March. This will be the first competition appearance of the definitive version of this car. Bugalski and Puras are then to contest Portugal as part of their on-event experience programme with Saxo Kit Cars.

The inclusion of this event as the second round of the FIA Teams' Cup guarantees a strong international second-level entry of drivers with World Rally Cars. On the entry list are no fewer than nine Toyota Corolla WRCs - all of which are privately run! Part-time official driver Gilles Panizzi this time drives a Peugeot for HF Grifone. TTE were testing this week at Arganil, with one day for each of the drivers they are supporting. Teams' Cup leader Henrik Lundgaard is on new ground: "I have never rallied in Portugal before, Halkidikis was my only previous all-gravel event. That day of testing for me was very important." The Allstar drivers Hamed Al Wahaibi and Frederic Dor have each done two days testing near Fafe. Reason for Al Wahaibi's late retirement in Sweden, when lying second in Teams' Cup, was due to clutch problems which blocked the gearbox, the originating cause still not known.

Main news from Group N: codriver Daniel Stillo is fully recovered from the illness which forced him to withdraw from Monte-Carlo and will make his first event as Gabriel Pozzo's codriver, in Portugal. The Italian driver Gianluigi Galli will not start. His competition licence has been suspended by his national federation until 26th March following illegal recceing carried out in Sweden.

This is Tommi Makinen's 100th entry on a World Championship Rally. In this period of time he has won no fewer than 21 world championship rallies and gained four World titles. He is the ninth driver to reach this level of experience. His first World Rally appearance was in 1987, when his challenge for the lead in Group N ended with a spectacular accident. He is currently the longest serving member of any team, now in his seventh season with Mitsubishi.

The Saturday schedule was recently brought forward by 30 minutes to enable all the Championship drivers to tackle the last stage in comparable conditions, before the onset of dusk in potentially dusty air.

Last weekend the weather changed for the better. Finally the sun was seen in North Portugal again but earlier this week more rain arrived... Nobody knows what it will be like for the rally! In the past weeks the local authorities have been repairing the roads. All the roads have been made passable in time for the start of reconnaissance and work is now in hand to make them in as good quality as possible before the event.
The International Swedish Rally
Round 2 of the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship 8 - 11 February 2001
The next event in the FIA World Rally Championship is the Rally of Sweden which starts next Thursday.

Official FIA Press Release
Friday, 2nd February 2001

A wintry event held in Sweden on gravel forest tracks covered with ice or snow, but paradoxically one of the fastest rallies in the World series. First event to qualify for the new-style Teams' Cup.

To counter the effect of global warming, all the special stages are held above a line 75km north of the rally headquarters, Karlstad. This line by coincidence happens to be the 60th parallel!

Six of the seven registered teams will take part, only Citroen is missing. Not only have 12 nominated crews been entered, but official teams have entered another four as well. More tactical 'musical chairs' regarding driver nominations: Thomas Radstrom invited as guest driver for Mitsubishi. This time Petter Solberg rather than Markko Martin is second driver to Richard Burns at Subaru.

Tommi Makinen (car n°.7) and Thomas Radstrom (car n°.19). Also entered Freddy Loix (car n°.8).

This is the first time Ralliart has officially run a three-car team on a world championship rally and Radstrom's first drive in Mitsubishi, although co-driver Tina Thorner has been involved with them in many successful activities, including cross-country rallies and Group N World Championship rallying. Team manager George Donaldson: "Only six extra technicians in addition to the usual 18 will be required, plus equipment. Having a third car does not operation."

FORD MOTOR COMPANY (2nd - 6 points)
Carlos Sainz (car n°. 3) and Colin McRae (car n°.4). Also entered Francois Delecour (car n°.17).

A fortnight before the event, Ford had a three-day joint Portugal and Argentina Rally test in Portugal, when Carlos Sainz lost almost two days work because of bad weather. Colin McRae's Monte-Carlo throttle problem astonished M-Sport engineers. The same system has been used constantly in Indycar racing without trouble! First event for former Ralliart team manager Phil Short in on-event work with M-Sport.

SKODA MOTORSPORT (3rd - 5 points)
Armin Schwarz (car n°.11) and Bruno Thiry (car n°.12).
Five days were spent testing in Portugal after Monte-Carlo. Two of last year's cars will be used in Sweden. Pavel Janeba, team's sporting director said: "There has been a wonderful spirit in the team since Monte-Carlo, when we had been lying third on the final day."

Kenneth Eriksson (car n°.9) and Alister McRae (car n°.10).
Possibly the last official appearance for the first generation Accent WRC. Twenty-one years after he first tackled the Swedish, an event he has won three times, this will be Kenneth Eriksson's first rally of the year. The team will confirm future plans at a Press Conference in Karlstad on Wednesday evening.

Marcus Gronholm (car n°.1) and Didier Auriol (car n°.2). Also entered Harri Rovanpera (car n°.16).
First anniversary of debut win for 206 WRC. First rally for Harri Rovanpera in Peugeot (first test was in Sweden in mid-January). Monte-Carlo follow-up: the water pump which stopped Marcus Gronholm's car had never failed before during many years of Supertourism racing or 306 Maxi Kit Car rallying...

Richard Burns (car n°.5) and Petter Solberg (car n°.6). Also entered Markko Martin (car n°.18).
The failure of the cars at Monte-Carlo of both Richard Burns and Markko Martin have been assigned to the same cause - faulty ignition coils. Prior to the recce, Markko and Petter are making last-minute testing at Syssleback, close to the long stage 4: earlier Petter and Toshihiro Arai have been at Chateau Lastours making suspension testing with Cyprus and Acropolis in mind.

AUTOMOBILES CITROEN (0 points) (not competing on this event)
Citroen has spent ten days testing in Kenya with Philippe Bugalski and Thomas Radstrom, before Radstrom's return for pre-Swedish preparations with Mitsubishi.

FIA Teams' Cup explained
This year only six events count towards the FIA Teams' Cup, of which this is the first. In previous years all the World rallies qualified for this series, but drivers could only enter seven rounds which had to be nominated beforehand. Manufacturers are banned from entering, competitors must take part in all six events, competing drivers are automatically given 2nd priority seeding and therefore have preferential starting positions. Originally 13 entries were anticipated but one has since withdrawn. The remaining 12 come from Poland, Denmark, Sweden, two from Britain, Greece, Czech Republic, Oman, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Finland. Two entries will run Group N cars, the other 11 World Rally Cars, including four Toyotas and Subarus, a Ford and a Peugeot.

Top second seeded driver (non-works entry) is Henning Solberg, brother of Petter in the first of seven Corolla WRCs expected to start, five run by Asterhag from Sweden and two by Step 2 from Italy. Toni Gardemiester drives the same HF Grifone Peugeot he had at Monte-Carlo. The Swedish will see the first appearance of private Hyundai Accent WRCs on a World rally. They are to be driven by the Kolberg (not Solberg!) brothers from Norway. First of five World rallies planned this year by 25 year old Corolla WRC driver Janne Tuohino, who momentarily led the Network Q Rally of Great Britain last year. First Toyota drive for Tapio Laukkanen, who has the only full specification Corolla WRC on this event. Only 18 of the 75 entries have two-wheel drive cars, the most notable being reigning national champion Jonas Kruse (Renault Maxi Megane).

In Group N, the top three seeds are Swedish (Kenneth Backlund, Stig-Olof Walfridsson, and for the first time in a rally Group N car, the 92/93 outright winner Mats Jonsson), all expected to use standard rather than new-regulation gearboxes. Of the top international competitors in this category, only the Italian Gianluigi Galli is due to start. Last year's category winner Jani Paasonen appears in a Focus WRC for the first time. Another new FIA rule means that the latest Group N Mitsubishis can now use 16 inch wheels, availing their drivers of the latest winter tyre technology from World Rally Car design, which was not possible last year.

Tribute to Stig Blomqvist! Thirty years ago, before the World Championship began, Stig won the Swedish Rally for the first time. His total of seven victories over the years on this event makes him the most successful driver on any event which counts for the World series. This will be Blomqvist's 32nd Swedish Rally. Since the start of his career he has only missed three events: 1965 (the first winter Swedish Rally), 1998 and 2000.
Don't be confused. Despite many successes for drivers Bengt and Bertil in the '60s, the Celica driver Lasse Soderstrom is no relation! Lasse, however, has been a regular competitor in recent years in European championship rallycross.

Snow is forecast this weekend, just before reconnaissance starts. Clerk of Course Bertil Klarin: "We hope this will give all our visitors the sort of welcome we like to offer!"
The first round of the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship begins on the 18th of January in Monte Carlo.
Official FIA Press Release

The 2001 season again features 14 rounds, of which five (including the Mediterranean event in Cyprus) are outside Europe. Four of the events are on asphalt roads, the remaining ten (including the wintry Swedish Rally) on gravel. The championship regulations remain largely unchanged, so that registered World Championship manufacturers must again contest every event, except for teams which have recently entered the series. These teams (Skoda, Hyundai and Citroen) are allowed to enter progressively more events over a three season introductory period. Seven teams have again been registered for the championship. For this year SEAT have withdrawn from the series but have been replaced by Citroen, who plan to contest four events in 2001. All championship teams except Mitsubishi and Skoda expect this year to enter extra team cars from time to time. These drivers will be eligible for Drivers' but not Manufacturers' championship points. Drivers do not have to enter every event to qualify for their championship. Main changes within the FIA World Championship framework this year come with the two ancillary series: the Teams Cup which now is limited to six specific qualifying events, and the all-new low-cost younger driver Super 1600 series, again over six specific rounds.

(2000 World Champions, 2001 Drivers: Marcus Gronholm, Didier Auriol and Gilles Panizzi)
Peugeot will start the new season with an unchanged design, with a lighter weight car due to appear in mid season. Main driver change is Auriol's arrival to take over from Francois Delecour as regular team mate to world champion Gronholm: details of programmes to be announced in Paris on 12th January. Panizzi will also enter some events with the works team, and others in a car run independently by HF Grifone, who start the season running Toni Gardemeister at Monte Carlo. HF Grifone hope to run 206 Maxi cars in the Super 1600 series as well.

(2nd in 2000, 2001 Drivers: Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz and Francois Delecour)
While McRae and Sainz remain the two regular team drivers entering all fourteen events, the Frenchman Delecour has also been promised ten rallies in total, including the first seven in the series. Thereafter the other three events will be decided on the current situations in the drivers' championship. The third variant Focus World Rally Car (called the Focus RS) is due to start competition immediately at Monte Carlo. Puma Kit Cars will be prepared for use in the Super 1600 series.

(3rd in 2000, 2001 Drivers: Richard Burns, Petter Solberg and Markko Martin)
The season starts with a new version Impreza which features a four door body, but which is mechanically similar at this time to the two door 2000 version. Full team plans will be announced at Monte Carlo, but already confirmed is that Burns and Solberg will do the full season, Martin will enter at least the first 12 rallies. Plans for Juha Kankkunen are still unannounced. Also, the FIA Teams Cup champion driver Toshihiro Arai is expected to enter ten selected events with a fully works specification car in 2001.

(4th in 2000, 2001 Drivers: Tommi Makinen, Freddy Loix, Thomas Radtrom)
There is a new team manager George Donaldson, replacing Phil Short - and TWO new types of car due this year! The first (to appear at the Monte Carlo) features improvements to the engine and most importantly revised rear suspension design. The second, due to appear at Sanremo, will be the first design from Mitsubishi to take full use of freedoms permitted under World Rally Car rules. For the first time, Mitsubishi will run a third car with Thomas Radstom at the Rally of Sweden. Radstrom has been nominated for manufacturer points instead of Loix.

(6th in 2000, 2001 Drivers: Alister McRae, Kenneth Eriksson and Piero Liatti)
The team is to enter 13 of the 14 rounds (only the Safari will be missed). McRae is to enter all 13, Eriksson their nine gravel events, Liatti all four asphalt events and two others as well. The current version Accent is to be used for the opening rounds of the series, there are to be improvements with engine specification to come in a revised version later in the year. The team has a new team manager - Mark Busfield.

(7th in 2000, 2001 Drivers: Armin Schwarz and Bruno Thiry)
Main change for 2001 is the appointment of Thiry as second driver to Schwarz, instead of Luis Climent. Skoda plan to enter 12 of the 14 rounds, missing only New Zealand and Australia. So far as the Octavia World Rally car is concerned, the team start the season with the existing second-generation version, with engine modifications to come in middle of season.

(New Entry, 2001 Drivers: Philippe Bugalski, Jesus Puras and Thomas Radstrom)

Citroen, who have been active for many years in national championship rallies, start their world rally car project with a four-round programme in 2001. This comprises Cataluna, Acropolis, Sanremo and Corsica - three asphalt and one gravel rally. Regular drivers continue to be Bugalski and Puras, while Radstrom will work as a gravel road specialist. The team also expect to gain extra experience on a range of rallies outside the world championship. Recent appointment: team manager will be former co driver Michel Perin. In addition to their
World Championship activities, Citroen is active in supporting private drivers in the new FIA Super 1600 series.

Corolla World Rally Cars will continue to be seen on world championship rallies run by a new company called Step 2 which is associated with HF Grifone and run out of neighbouring premises close to Genoa, Italy. Step 2 start off at Monte Carlo running a car for Piero Longhi. Later they plan to run Abdullah Bakhashab in the FIA Teams' Cup. The Swedish Toyota team run by Leif Asterhag has no current plans to be active in world rallies this year.

Mitsubishi drivers again look like dominating the FIA Production Car Cup. All the top drivers expect to run most of the season with Lancer Evolution VI models with left hand drive version Evo VII cars not available until mid season. Top drivers planning a season include 2000 champion Manfred Stohl, four times champion Gustavo Trelles, the Italian Gianluigi Galli, while from Argentina the two cars from Cordoba Rally Team will continue with 21 year old Gabriel Pozzo, but this year 23 year old Marcos Ligato replaces Claudio Menzi. They will again compete with the Italian team Top Run. 1984 world champion Stig Blomqvist is planning various entries in a Mitsubishi and has also been entered by David Sutton (Cars) Ltd in the official Teams Cup. Champion Manfred Stohl's programme is not yet fixed, but he is cautious about the new Group N technical regulations. "Main uncertainty is the consequence of the new stronger gearboxes. They will be more expensive, though driving should be more fun. We do not yet know how this will affect the casings, the clutches and the driveshafts, and (before Christmas) testing has not yet started. Maybe it will be better to stay with the old system at this time."

Sufficient registrations were received by the FIA before the 15th December deadline to guarantee the series will run in 2001. First of the six Teams Cup qualifying events will be the Swedish. A definitive list of qualifying teams is to be published in 15th January, a week after entries close for the Swedish.

SUPER 1600
Deadline for registrations (10 minimum) must be received by 1st February, in time for the first qualifying round (Catalunya Rally). Cars expected to feature in the series include Citroen Saxo, Peugeot 206 Maxi and Ford Puma. The first prototype Peugeot 206 Maxi was first run in mid December, prepared for 2002 rules.

Extract from Official FIA Press Release
- 2001 Calendar
- 2001 Driver Lineup

As usual, the World Rally Championship season starts not on the 1st of January - but within hours of the end of the final round of the season before! First team testing for the next season was Ford, anxious to gain experiences with their new tyre suppliers Pirelli. Their work began less than 48 hours after the end of the Network Q Rally of Great Britain! This year the first major new-driver test was with Peugeot in North Sweden on Wednesday 8th December, when Didier Auriol was seen for the first time in a Peugeot. New-car tests centred around Subaru's four-door car and modifications to the Ford and Mitsubishi cars.

Peugeot Sport
First test was 3-7 December, at Kall north Sweden, when they introduced the 206WRC to Didier Auriol. Then there was a two-part pre-Monte Carlo test in Spain, then near Grenoble in France. Early in January will come another Monte Carlo test, followed in the second week with another test in Sweden. Auriol's experiences sitting in a car adapted for the much taller Marcus Grönhölm were surprisingly straightforward. "They did not have even to adjust the seat position: the only change was to the angle of the pedals". The weather in Kall was however unseasonably warm - plus five degrees. The 1994 FIA World Champion was in good humour. "It is really nice working for the first time in Iberia in 15 years with a French team but there are always surprises. The first person I was working with was the test engineer Mario Fornaris - an Italian!" Meanwhile the first prototype 206 Maxi has been tested for the FIA Super 1600 series.

Ford Martini Racing
Four tests have been held so far! First was run 28th and 29th November at Espinelves, near Vic in Spain, with both Sainz and McRae, as a first experience for the official team cars with Pirelli tyres. Second test 4-7 December near Grasse, two days each driver, the first time with the 2001 specification engine. For the third test near Gap 12-15 December there were high hopes of wintry conditions - but there were none! More Pirelli asphalt test work was carried out instead. On 19th December a four day pre-Swedish test was run at Kall, after original tests planned for Torsby were abandoned because of weather. So far the new team driver Francois Delecour has not driven the car, but this will probably happen during the planned pre-Monte Carlo confirmation test to be be held 10-13 January. Meanwhile engine work on the Super 1600 Puma should enable in-car testing end of January. Development engineer Philip Dunabin explained: "we are progressing straight to the 2002 rules with a 60mm induction chamber rather than avail ourselves of the provisional 2001 rules using individual restrictors. At present it seems the Super 1600cc rules will cost us about 5bhp compared to our 2000 engines."

Subaru World Rally Team
Three days after the end of the Network Q Rally of Great Britain (29-30 November) saw Subaru active in Finland, tyre testing in readiness for the Swedish Rally, with Kankkunen and Solberg, with a 2000 series car. From 4-12th December the team tested the 2001 car for the first time, firstly on asphalt with Martin near Barcelona, then in Andorra with Burns and Solberg, later on gravel in the Cardona area with Solberg and Martin. Testing specifically for Monte Carlo began on 14 December on snow and ice in secret locations in France with Solberg, followed (on 18th December) with a three day asphalt test with Burns. The new four door car met with Burns' approval: "the car feels taut and well balanced."

Malboro Mitsubishi Ralliart
Although their team driver line-up is unchanged for 2001, the main development work has been to test the new pieces specifically authorised by the FIA World Council for use from the start of 2001 - notably the lightweight flywheel parts and revised rear wheel arches which allows longer wheel travel. There has so far been no test with the newly authorised lightweight crankshaft engine by Ralliart Europe. Monte Carlo tests were carried out in various locations in France from 4-12 December with firstly test driver Lasse Lampi then they move to a location south of Grenoble, then further south with Loix. Then the team moved to ovaniemi in North Finland for four-day pre-Swedish testing which started on 18th December with Lampi for the first two days, then with Makinen. Note: when the new modifications were allowed by the FIA, two particular conditions were imposed: the same modifications had to appear on the full World Rally Car due to appear later this year, and the team undertook to be active in the World Championship till the end of 2003. For Group N private testing by suppliers has begun with the new gearbox internals for the Lancer Evolution but these have not yet been tested in cars.

Hyundai World Rally Team
In addition to making preparation for Monte Carlo and Sweden, there were two particular tasks: firstly introducing Piero Liatti to the Accent WRC, secondly continuing work for development of the second-generation Accent due for mid-season. From 3-6 December the team were at Col de Bleyne and Roquesteron in South France (first two days Alister McRae, last day Liatti), then from 16-20 December at Kall in Sweden (three days Eriksson, two for McRae). Unsatisfactory weather conditions has forced the team to make plans to return to France for three days 4-6 January. At Kall the weather was more representative than for earlier teams - it was down to -13 degrees! On both tests the team not only concentrated on chassis set-up but also testing developements to the engine due to be homologated later on. MSD Team Principal David Whitehead "it was very wet the first time Piero drove the car. He commented that the engine needed more development which is already in hand, but was happy with the chassis. His recent experiences with both Subaru and Ford means he can set useful standards to which we should aim."

Skoda Motorsport
The team started their 2001 activities on 28th November, with a media day in Czech Republic when they gave their new team member Bruno Thiry his first chance to drive a second generation Octavia World Rally Car. First serious testing work for 2001 started 4-8 December at Kall, North Sweden: first half of the week with Armin Schwarz, second part Bruno Thiry. Asphalt testing will be in South France from 16-20 December. Thiry had once rallied an Octavia before - when he finished fourth on the 1999 Network Q Rally of Great Britain, in the first version Octavia. On his first impressions, Bruno commented: "the car has substantially changed since I last drove for Skoda, especially the handling and balance. More improvements still need to be made to the engine!" The team is to return to France Jan 4-8.

Citroen Sport (New Contender)
Latest work with the Citroen T4 World Rally Car was carried out week 12-15 December near Barcelona in Spain on asphalt, to test the aerodynamics affected by the new design of nose. Bugalski and Puras were driving the car. Meanwhile at Chateau Lastours Sebastian Loeb was testing the prototype four-wheel drive Saxo T4, a non-turbocharged car aimed at French championship competition, while engine work is continuing on the Saxo FIA Super 1600 championship car.

The next FIA Rally Update will appear in early January: this will highlight the changes in each World Championship team and their individual programmes. The regular pre-event Updates will then continue, the first one to be issued on Friday 12th January. Happy Christmas, a prosperous and safe New Year.

2001 World Rally Championship Calendar
Jan 18-21 Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo
Feb 08-11 The International Swedish Rally
Mar 08-11 TAP Rallye De Portugal
Mar 22-25 Rallye Catalunya Cost Brava - Rallye De Espana
May 03-06 Rally Argentina
May/Jun 31-03 Cyprus Rally
Jun 14-17 Acropolis Rally, Greece
Jul 19-22 Safari Rally Kenya
Aug 23-26 Neste Rally Finland
Sep 20-23 Propecia Rally New Zealand
Oct 04-07 Rallye San Remo - Rallye D'Italie
Oct 18-21 V-Rally Tour De Corst - Rallye De France
Nov 01-04 Telstra Rally Australia
Nov 22-25 Network Q Rally of Great Britain

Driver lineup for 2001
Peugeot Sport
- Marcus Gronholm
- Didier Auriol

Ford Martini Racing
- Colin McRae
- Carlos Sainz
- Francois Delecour

Subaru World Rally Team
- Richard Burns
- Petter Solberg
- Markko Martin

Malboro Mitsubishi Ralliart
- Tommi Makinen
- Freddy Loix

Hyundai World Rally Team
- Kenneth Eriksson
- Alister McRae
- Piero Liatti

Skoda Motorsport
- Armin Schwarz
- Bruno Thiry

Citroen Sport
- Philippe Bugalski
- Jesus Puras
- Thomas Radstrom

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