30 Jul 09
FIA Stewards have retrospectively excluded Production Car World Rally Championship leader Nasser Al-Attiyah from the Acropolis Rally of Greece after deciding his car's engine did not conform to Group N technical regulations.
Al-Attiyah finished second in the P-WRC category in Greece to hold a four point series lead with just the two rounds in Australia and Great Britain to go.
But the results of the rally, which finished on 14 June, were always subject to a post event inspection of the engine fitted to Al-Attiyah's Subaru Impreza. And today in Finland Stewards reconvened to discuss the findings, and hear from Al-Attiyah's team representative Ken Skidmore and David Lapworth the technical director of Prodrive - the firm which built the engine.
The investigation centred on modifications made to the crankshaft in Al-Attiyah's car which had been machined by Prodrive in order to make it better balanced. Lapworth said the machining was regarded by Prodrive as 'normal servicing' and was therefore completely legal.
However the Stewards disagreed and concluded that the part had been modified and was not in conformity with the technical regulations. The Stewards added that they understood and agreed with Skidmore that the machining was not the fault of the entrant (Barwa Rally Team), or Al-Attiyah himself.
An appeal has been lodged against the Stewards decision, which means that for now the championship standings are unchanged and Al-Attiyah still leads the series. However if the Stewards decision is upheld, Portugal's Armindo Araujo will move into the series lead, six points clear of Nasser. Both Al-Attiyah and Araujo have one more qualifying round left this season.
If the Stewards decision is upheld Patrik Sandell, Eyvind Brynildsen, Martin Prokop and Toshi Arai will also have mathematical chances of winning this year's P-WRC title.