Rd.8 Wales Rally GB

Production Car World Rally Championship
 
30 Nov. to 2 Dec. 2007

PREVIEW

Title Showdown Set For Wales

29 November 2007
Copyright © STI 
Although chief protagonist in the 2007 Production car championship Toshi Arai won't be in attendance, this weekend could see the Japanese ace take his second world championship title in the hotly-contested P-WRC.

Contestants who will be battling the stages in their SUBARU Imprezas include Patrik Flodin, Evegeniy Vertunov, Mirco Baldacci, his brother Lois Baldacci, American sensation Travis Pastrana, Leszek Kuzaj, David Higgins and Spyros Pavlides. The main aim for all eight of these drivers will be to finish ahead of Toshi's main rival Gabriele Pozzo in his Mitsubishi.

Wales is an event that promises constantly changing grip levels, making for an ongoing level of uncertainty throughout the entire three days. Weather too, plays a hugely important part in determining the outcome here; and with this weekend's forecast suggesting rain across the three days, this will be a crucial factor also.

As for who can come away with the laurels on Sunday afternoon, it's difficult to determine until the stages are actually underway. There are undoubtedly some strong contenders within the IMPREZA ranks though, and local man David Higgins must surely be considered amongst them.

Others who immediately come to mind include Patrik Flodin, Mirco Baldacci, Leszek Kuzaj if he makes it to the finish - he'll be pushing hard here after his disappointment two weeks ago in Ireland; and we may even get a wild surprise from Travis Pastrana. It's his first time here, so finishing will be an achievement - as it is for any first-timer to these highly demanding stages.

George Donaldson

STI Group N Project General Manager:
"The conditions we experienced on Monday's pre-event test were very much as we expect them to be on the competitive stages this weekend. Throughout the day, I have to say I was queried on a number of occasions by many of the drivers as to whether the slippery conditions experienced were indicative of the weekend's stages, to which I had to reply; "Yes, probably even more so." And to the question: "Will the stages get as rough as the test road is now at the end of the day? - "Actually, it will be much rougher."

Copyright © STI 
"The drivers who have not competed on this event before are, I think, in for a bit of a shock, and the drivers that do know what they're in for have certainly got their memories refreshed. Rain is forecast for part, if not all, of the event, so the drivers will have their work cut out for them - of that there is no doubt. They can expect the roads to become increasingly difficult as the event goes on, with deeper and more challenging ruts that they'll have to stay inside of, or if they pop out, it could be all over in a flash.

"All of them are up for the job. I think we have some serious challengers for this event - certainly David Higgins, deputizing for the TaCK team; Patrik Flodin of course, Mirco Baldacci, Evegeniy Vertunov. Another driver who cannot be discounted despite this being his first visit is American Travis Pastrana. He's gained a good deal of experience on the American events, which are very demanding so we can expect him to be challenging hard.

"The roads here are fabulously wide and fast, while slippery with varying grip levels. Even on a very short stretch of road, there can be no grip at all in the braking area and then the corner itself has heaps of traction, making the judgment of the driver as they come into the corner a vital factor. In the test, the SUBARU seems to have shown itself to be able to handle the changing conditions; but it remains to be seen of course whether the weather will be wet and tough for the whole weekend.

"Toshi has the chance to win the championship this weekend - in absentia - but his only challenger Gabriele Pozzo is fully capable of challenging for glory. He's in very good company with five or six other drivers - I'd say that there are six drivers capable of winning this rally..."

We can expect quite a few phone calls from Toshi throughout the course of this, the final weekend of the 2007 P-WRC season.