There has been significant change for Spain's round of the World Rally Championship in recent years. First the move from the Costa Brava to the Costa Daurada on the other side of Barcelona in 2005, and now the move back to autumn in 2007. The event's nature hasn't changed much, however, with the wide, sweeping asphalt roads providing the fastest sealed-surface stages of the season.
The event is based in the Port Aventura theme park, in the town of Salou in the Tarragona region, and it's a great place to host a rally. The locals - weened on years of success for double champion and 26-times rally winner Carlos Sainz - really love their rallying, and show every ounce of their passion on the stages as they cheer, holler and wave their flags. With up-and-coming youngster Dani Sordo having won the Junior WRC crown in 2005 and now the number two driver for Citroen Total World Rally Team, they have a new star to pour their accolades on.
As we've said, the stages are among the fastest asphalt tests in the WRC, and racing technique can pay dividends here as drivers aim for smooth lines through the fast turns to maximise their speed. Corner-cutting is also a widely-used skill here, but this can drag gravel onto the road for the following cars and the second run through the stages, meaning that instant reactions are as important as well-researched pace notes for the particularly hazardous zones.
The Subaru World Rally Team has entered three Impreza WRC2007s for the thirteenth round of the 2007 World Rally Championship. The pairing of Petter Solberg and Phil Mills will drive car number seven, Chris Atkinson/Stephane Prevot will drive car number eight, while Xevi Pons/Xavier Amigo will be in car number 14.
The team has been testing twice since Rally New Zealand, spending two sessions of three days fine-tuning setup in Spain. Last week all three drivers had a day each on asphalt, and this week Petter and Chris have been gravel testing. Congratulations to Xevi Pons who got married to Sandra on Friday 21st September.
Richard Taylor, SWRT Managing Director
“Last week's asphalt test in Spain was encouraging and allowed us to continue to fine-tune the car and build on the improved pace we saw on the last tarmac event in Germany. With a very smooth surface the conditions in Spain suit us well, and we hope to take advantage of recent developments to finish with Petter, Chris and Xevi in points-scoring positions. Being Xevi's home rally, he has a substantial fan-following in Catalunya and will be pushing for his best result in a Subaru in front of his home crowd.”
Paul Howarth, SWRT Operations Director
“During the Spain asphalt test we managed to do a lot of running with each driver to work on the sealed surface setup that was competitive in Germany. Spain is a slightly lower grip rally than Germany, but as setup is generally the same we are expecting good pace. Weather conditions and choice of BFGoodrich tyres will be tricky to get right but crucial to performance.”
“The asphalt test last week in Spain was generally positive for us and gave us the chance to continue development of our asphalt performance. We have made some more progress with the handling of the car, and are eliminating problem areas. I hope that we can take another step forward in Spain. As a team we know the pace is there on asphalt, so I am hoping for a good result next weekend.”
“I'm looking forward to getting back to asphalt again. The test went well, and we have had the chance to do a lot of fine-tuning. We were quick in Germany, and after the test I feel more comfortable still with the car. We're going well on asphalt, and I hope we will continue this pace in Spain. Being a very smooth surface, you can lean on the car more through the corners, so high-speed confidence and stability is important. I'm looking forward to it and think we can continue improving the speed of the car with more stage wins.”
“It's a very exciting time for both myself and Xavier as it is our first Rally Spain with the Subaru World Rally Team, and I am hoping for a great showing in front of the fans. I am sure their enthusiasm and excitement will help us with a strong result. I know the fans are looking forward to the rally, and to thank them for their support I want to do well at home.”
other sources of news/info
http://www.rallyracc.com/2007/ingles/index.asp <---Rally Catalunya website
http://www.rallytorrents.com/ <----usually the event shows up a week later