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Italy (J) - 18-20 May 07

Posted: May 21, 2007 12:17 PM - 4712 Hits

Round 7 - 2007 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 2 - 2007 International Fiesta SportingTrophy

  • New Lead in World Championship as Gronholm wins in Sardinia
  • Gallagher increases Rookie Lead
  • Rally Team publicise search for Madeleine

Posted: May 21, 2007 12:17 PM

New Lead in World Championship as Gronholm wins in Sardinia
There’s a new leader in the World Rally Championship this weekend with victory for BP Ford’s Marcus Gronholm, Finland, over reigning champion Frenchman Sebastian Loeb of Citroen.

Donegal’s Shaun Gallagher meanwhile stretched his lead in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship “rookie” class to 16 points over his closest rival following a second place finish in the Citroen C2R2.

“This was a very difficult event in Sardinia with lots of loose gravel and some very fast stages,” said Gallagher. “I’m delighted to have finished safely in second and increase the lead overall in the Rookie class. It’s a great result for World Rally Team Ireland in our first year in the Championship

In his second win of the Championship to date, Gronholm found it difficult to match the pace of his chief rival, but Loeb’s error on the first stage of the day left him in a ditch unable to complete the test and giving the advantage to the Ford competitor.

Gronholm’s team-mate Mikko Hirvonnen finished in second place, moving Ford well up the rankings in the Manufacturer’s Championship. The big battle of the day was between Citroen’s Danni Sordo of Spain and Stobart VK M-Sport’s Henning Solberg, which saw Sordo edge adhead to claim his third podium finish of the season.

Rally Team publicise search for Madeleine
World Rally Team Ireland took the search for missing Madeleine McCann to the World Rally Championship in Sardinia this weekend, following a request from the McCann family for help.

Little Maddie McCann’s grandfather hails from St. Johnstone in County Donegal, close to the home of team driver Shaun Gallagher, so when the team were asked if they could help spread awareness of Maddie’s disappearance, they were only too willing to get involved.

“I’ve known members the McCann family for many years,” said team manager Tommy Mullen. “We’re in a unique opportunity this weekend with competitors and spectators from all over the world coming to Sardinia for the World Rally Championship that we can help get Maddie’s face known, spread the word on how people can assist in the search for her and contact the authorities if they have any information. Everyone wants to help bring her home to her family.”

The team had large posters on display in the service park and Shaun Gallagher’s car also carried a picture of Maddie for the weekend of the event. Additionally, flyers were distributed in the airports and towns of the north-west of the island.

  • Gallagher aims to keep lead in Sardinia
  • On the loose in Sardinia for MacHale

Gallagher aims to keep lead in Sardinia
Donegal’s Shaun Gallagher will be aiming to keep his leading place in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship, where he leads the “rookie” class, in Sardinia this weekend.

The World Rally Team Ireland driver is optimistic about his chances and enthusiastic about the event. “It’s a tough field,” said Gallagher. “All of the FIA Junior competitors have elected to compete in Sardinia, so we will be hoping to put in good times and maintain our lead in the Rookie Championship.”

Tough competition is likely, though, with the news this week that Peugeot works driver Brian Bouffier from France has joined the PH Sport Citroen team to compete in the event. He will compete in a Citroen C2R2, the same car as Gallagher.

Sardinia has switched to gravel surface, and the stages themselves are extremely fast, despite being tight and narrow. An additional challenge drivers will face is running order, given that the hot dry weather is likely to mean the first few cars will be displacing the top layer of dust for the follow-on cars to access the harder, grippier surface below.

On the loose in Sardinia for MacHale
Gareth MacHale and Paul Nagle will take to the narrow gravel roads of Sardinia this weekend as the 7th round of the World Rally Championship gets underway.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the MacHale team, with Gareth and Paul taking a sixth place in the Killarney International, just behind dad Austin. Aaron MacHale took top position in the Carlow Stages Rally this past weekend to go to the top of the Dunlop National Championship.

“Sardinia is a very exciting event. We finished 11th overall last year and are targeting a top ten finish this weekend. It’s going to be tough on the tyres, with very hard gravel, but if we keep the pace steady, we’ll bring it home safe,” said Gareth.

This event is one of the most abrasive and demanding on tyres in the World Championship, but the total number which can be used by drivers over the course of the event is the lowest in the championship. The eighteen stages of the rally take place over three days in the picturesque north-west of the island, the second-largest in the Mediterranean and the third-largest region of Italy.

Topics: ITALY 

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