17 Jan 08
Organisers of the Junior and Production Car World Rally Championships have accepted a total of 44 entries for the 2008 season and say they are on course to surpass last year’s record entry.
In P-WRC all the 28 available places have been taken up - for the first time ever. Among the leading contenders are the two most recent champions, Toshi Arai (2007) and Nasser Al Attiyah (2006), as well as Fumio Nutahara, Mirco Baldacci, Andreas Aigner, Juho Hanninen, Martin Prokop and Travis Pastrana. Other noteworthy entries include Patrik Sandell (in a Peugeot S2000) and 17-year old Evgeny Novakov. A total of 17 nationalities are represented including, for the first time, India.
Entry lists published this week by the FIA reveal which six of the eight events in the series have been nominated by each entrant. The Acropolis Rally in Greece has turned out to be the most popular, with every entry except one including this rally in its schedule. Wales Rally GB is the next favourite. The lists also reveal that a high proportion of entries have come from teams, as opposed to individual drivers - a facility which allows drivers to be swapped from one event to another.
In J-WRC there are 16 entries so far but, as was the case last year, more are expected to join before the final cut-off in mid-March. Martin Prokop, Patrik Sandell and Jan Molder return and head the entries for Citroen, Renault and Suzuki respectively. So far, five drivers are provisionally eligible for the Rookie Classification, and for the first time there are official entries from the national federations of France and the Netherlands who will formally contest a Nations classification. J-WRC competitors much nominate six rallies from a choice of seven. This year, the joint favourites are Spain and Italy, closely followed by Finland, which is also a round of the P-WRC.
The first round of the P-WRC is February’s Swedish Rally, while the J-WRC season kicks off three weeks later on Rally Mexico.