A round-up of the stories that are making the news in the WRC today:
- Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen believes that Rally Australia’s new Nambucca stage, to be run twice on Saturday, is the most difficult challenge of the event. The 49.9km monster is the longest test of the rally and was created by linking two stages last run in 2011. After completing the recce alongside substitute co-driver Paul Nagle, Mikkelsen [pictured] said the new test stood out.
“The rally features three very different days. The first is really, really, technical, the second is much more open, with quite nice roads and the final day is super fast inside the forests. But I must say the really long stage, Nambucca, stands out. In particular it has a small section maybe five or six kilometres long, which is really narrow over crests and then goes uphill. For me, that’s the trickiest section of the rally.”
- Subhan Aksa’s participation in Rally Australia hangs in the balance after his car developed an engine problem during this morning’s shakedown. The Indonesian, who drives a Ford Fiesta R5 in the WRC 2 category, was on his first pass when trouble struck. “We were 4km into the stage when suddenly we heard some noises coming from the engine and then lost power,” he told wrc.com. “We slowed down and cruised to the finish, and that’s where we saw that the engine was leaking oil and water.”
The car was trailered back to Aksa’s spot in the M-Sport service area, where engineers are inspecting the 1600cc turbo unit. “At the moment we don’t know what happened so they’re going to take it out and see what’s wrong,” Aksa explained. “We have until 1830hrs to get it sorted. For now it’s a mystery. It was our first pass, so we were sailing through, not really pushing, and I know we didn’t hit anything.”
- New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon has revealed he has almost no spare parts to get his Skoda Fabia through Rally Australia if something goes wrong. The 2011 Production Car World Champion is aiming to win the WRC 2 category in Australia and already has his work cut out battling the latest RRC and R5 specification cars in his non-turbo Super 2000 Fabia. This afternoon Paddon, who is the only competitor here in a S2000 car, said a lack of budget meant he only had a limited number of replacement parts at his disposal.
“Basically we have no spares for the weekend, so that means on the rougher sections it’ll be a fine balance between trying to go fast and looking after the car,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of uni-balls and rose joints, and little bits and pieces, but no suspension arms or gearboxes or diffs, so we’re going to be very, very careful.”