01.11.97 - RALLY AUSTRALIACarlos Sainz snatched the lead from Colin McRae on the final stage of the third day. The Scot will go into the last day in Perth two seconds behind the Spaniard. McRae said: "We have pushed hard all day but Carlos has set an incredible pace and we have been at a disadvantage running at the head of the field. I'm looking forward to Sunday's Bunnings stages but we're going to have a tough battle on our hands. It's going to be another tight event."
Positions after stage 20: (end of leg two) hr min sec 1 C Sainz Sp Ford 3:02.43 2 C McRae GB Subaru 3:02.45 3 R Burns GB Mitsubishi 3:03.13 4 D Auriol Fr Toyota 3:03.19 5 T Makinen Fin Mitsubishi 3:03.36 6 P Bourne NZ Subaru 3:08.02 7 E Ordynski Aus Mitsubishi 3:09.19 8 N Bates Aus Toyota 3:09.26 9 F Loix Bel Toyota 3:10.02 10 R Sufan Arg Toyota 3:16.22 02.11.97 - RALLY AUSTRALIAColin McRae kept his world title hopes alive after edging out Tommi Makinen to seal a vital victory in Perth. McRae will be crowned champion next month if he wins the RAC Rally and Makinen finished out of the points. If that happened, the pair would both finish on 62 points, but McRae will take the title after having five championship wins to Makinen's four. The super Scot said: "Now I just have to give it everything I have got in the RAC Rally."
Final positions hr min sec 1 C McRae GB Subaru 4:05.31 2 T Makinen Fin Mitsubishi 4:05.37 3 D Auriol Fr Toyota 4:05.52 4 R Burns GB Mitsubishi 4:06.10 5 P Bourne NZ Subaru 4:13.23 6 E Ordynski Aus Mitsubishi 4:14.55 7 F Loix Bel Toyota 4:15.26 8 N Bates Aus Toyota 4:16.59 9 R Sufan Arg Toyota 4:24.34 10 H Rovanpera Fin Seat 4:30.27 DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP Points 1 T Makinen Fin Mitsubishi 62 2 C McRae GB Subaru 52 3 C Sainz Sp Ford 47 4 K Eriksson Swe Subaru 28 5 P Liatti It Subaru 24 Manufacturers 1 Subaru 104 2 Mitsubishi 82 3 Ford 81 03.11.97 CHAMPION WORLD DRIVER RANKINGS November 3 standings: Points 1 M Schumacher Formula 1 1002 2 J Villeneuve Formula 1 957 3 J Gordon NASCAR 903 4 A Zanardi CART 887 5 P de la Rosa Formula Nippon 833 = D Jarrett NASCAR 804 7 G de Ferran CART 751 8 HH Frentzen Formula 1 693 9 A Menu Brit Tour Cars 691 10 B Schneider Grand Touring 673TOURING CARS:- The Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship is to introduce changes to its race-day format next season in a bid to increase the sport's appeal. The double race format will be retained but the idea of single qualifying laps to establish grid positions is to be borrowed from the IndyCar series. All drivers will be given just one official timed lap to claim positions. The first race of a meeting is to be shortened while the second will be up to 25% longer than past rounds.
05.11.97 - F1The Government has dropped plans to ban tobacco sponsorship in Formula One. They will instead work with the sport's governing body for a global reduction of tobacco advertising at its events. Tobacco companies have invested a huge amount of money in the sport, with teams such as Williams and Jordan aided by such deals. There had been fears that a ban could lead to the British Grand Prix being axed as sponsors would be unhappy at their names being covered on the cars.
The Government has been warned against "adopting one rule for one sport and one for another" after scrapping plans to ban Formula One tobacco sponsorship. President of snooker's governing body Lord Archer believes other sports, such as his own, golf, rugby league and darts, should be treated the same. "We have contracts until 2001 with tobacco comanies and must now assume that the Government will allow us to honour those contracts. That is the least we would expect."
FIA president Max Mosley says Formula One may become self-regulatory to reach a compromise with the European Union over a proposed tobacco sponsor ban. "We are willing to assist in achieving a reduction in tobacco sponsorship of Formula One," said Mosley. "We could do this by our own regulations. We could require by regulation that no driver carry on an overall or helmet any form of tobacco advertising." He confirmed a European ban might force the sport to abandon Europe for Asia.
Niki Lauda believes Formula One should introduce a system of yellow and red cards for offenders. It comes after Michael Schumacher collided with Jacques Villeneuve in Jerez and was called up to see the FIA. Ex-world champion Lauda believes the FIA should appoint a referee with the power to caution or expel offenders. "Imagine they had both gone off and Schumi had won the title by a point only to lose it in Paris on November 11," he said. "It would be nonsense."
The French Grand Prix could be re-instated on the 1998 calendar. FIA president Max Mosley met the French Sports Minister to clarify a law over access of TV cameras. "The difficulty consists in resolving the demands of a great world championship and the rights to information," revealed Mosley. The problem arose after a French court said all French stations were entitled to broadcast the race, going against the FIA's exclusive rights deal.
06.11.97 - F1The FIA's meeting with Michael Schumacher over the collision in Jerez has been switched to London because of the French Lorry drivers' strike. In a statement, the FIA said: "Because of the current situation in France, the meeting scheduled for November 11 in Paris has been moved to London." Schumacher collided with Jacques Villeneuve in the final race of 1997 as the Canadian went to overtake him. The German went off and later admitted the move was an error of judgement.
07.11.97 - F1State prosecutor Maurizio Passarini has called for the manslaughter charges against Frank Williams over the death of Ayrton Senna to be dropped. The Williams boss now seems certain to be cleared of any legal action resulting from Senna's crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994. Charged alongside Williams were team technical director Patrick Head and former designer Adrian Newey. Passarini has called for the pair to be found guilty. They deny the charge.
Maurizio Passarini's call for the manslaughter charges against Frank Williams to be dropped are just a recommendation and could be over-ruled. Magistrate Antonio Costanzo is entitled under Italian law to ignore the move and find Williams guilty. Williams was charged following the death of driver Ayrton Senna at Imola three years ago. Six men were charged and could be fined if found guilty but it is unlikely they would be jailed.
Michael Schumacher has said that he expects to be punished by the sports governing body over his collision with Jacques Villeneuve at Jerez. Ferrari star Schumacher told RTL television: "I think I will be punished one way or the other." The German driver said he expected to be either fined or docked points. Schumacher added: "I regret it for the Ferrari team and for the fans as their great hopes were finally dashed because I made a mistake."
Italian driver Jarno Trulli has signed a two-year deal with the Prost-Peugeot Formula One team. Trulli impressed while filling in for the French team last season after Olivier Panis suffered a broken leg in a crash at the Canadian Grand Prix.
08.11.97 - F1Formula One is reeling from allegations that top British constructors Williams and McLaren colluded to arrange the end of this year's European Grand Prix. A shock report in The Times newspaper claims that the race in Jerez - where Jacques Villeneuve clinched his world title - had a contrived result. They claim to have tapes of broadcasts between pit crews and drivers in Jerez. It alleges that Williams and McLaren team officials orchestrated the order of the first three cars over the line.
The Times allegations surrounding the result of the European Grand Prix are sure to spark an inquiry by the sport's governing body, the FIA. Jacques Villeneuve was overtaken by Mika Hakkinen and McLaren team-mate David Coulthard on the last lap. The newspaper alleges that the Williams and McLaren teams agreed to stage that finish but they have not commented. Formula One Constructors' Association chief Bernie Ecclestone told The Times: "This is hard to believe."
10.11.97F1:- Michael Schumacher faces the FIA on Tuesday to explain his collision with Jacques Villeneuve in the season's last Grand Prix in Jerez. The pair's cars clashed on a corner ending the race for the German while Villeneuve went on to win the title after finishing third. Schumacher could be fined and banned for one or more races if he is found guilty of dangerous driving. The FIA have also called the Williams and McLaren teams to the hearing.
DRIVERS RANKINGS:- Rising star Pedro de la Rosa has taken third spot in the Champion Spark Plug World Driver Rankings after his Formula Nippon win at Suzuka on Sunday. The Spaniard can now only be caught by NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, who must finish in the top three at Sunday's Winston Cup in Atlanta to beat him. Michael Schumacher has already clinched the number one spot despite not winning the Formula One Championship. Jacques Villeneuve, who won the F1 title ahead of Schumacher, is second.
Driver ratings (November 10) Points 1 M Schumacher Formula 1 1002 2 J Villeneuve Formula 1 957 3 P de la Rosa Formula Nippon 937 4 J Gordon NASCAR 903 5 A Zanardi CART 887 6 D Jarrett NASCAR 804 7 G de Ferran CART 751 8 HH Frentzen Formula 1 693 9 A Menu Brit Tour Cars 691 10 J Alesi Formula 1 673 == B Schneider Grand Touring 673 11.11.97 - F1Michael Schumacher is free to race in the 1998 World Championship after he escaped a ban at the hearing into his crash with Jacques Villeneuve in Jerez. However the FIA did think his actions were deliberate and decided to wipe out his points and second place finish in this year's Championship. It means that Heinz-Harald Frentzen is now the 1997 Championship runner-up. Schumacher had been expected to be fined at the very least after the clash in the season's final Grand Prix.
FIA president Max Mosley said banning Michael Schumacher for next year would have not have been appropriate after taking away the German's 1997 points. "If we banned him for next year it would not be a deterrent," he said. "A driver would risk being thrown out the following year if they had already clinched that year's title. It's still a very serious matter and it's a major penalty we have imposed. He did the wrong thing but the evidence points to him reacting instinctively."
Michael Schumacher accepted his punishment from the FIA after they wiped out his 1997 points but did not ban him for next year. "I admit I made a mistake and I accept the penalty," he said. "It is a tough decision for me to lose second place in the Championship as for Ferrari to have that means something. The last couple of weeks have been difficult as I had been confident of winning the title going into the race, and to miss out is not easy to take."
The Williams and McLaren teams have been cleared of allegations of fixing the result of the Jerez Grand Prix. Williams driver Jacques Villeneuve seemed to allow the two McLaren cars through on the final lap of the race as he won the world title. It had been alleged this was a reward for the McLarens keeping out of the way of the Canadian during the race. But FIA president Max Mosley said he was satisfied there was no such arrangement between the teams.
13.11.97F1:- British American Tobacco has refused to confirm that it is in the final stages of buying the Tyrrell Grand Prix team. It had been reported that BAT were set to pay a total of £300m over five years to purchase and run the team. The company were also said to have signed Canadian world champion Jacques Villeneuve to drive for them in 1999. However, a spokesman said: "It is just a continuation of the speculation which has surrounded BAT for some time and we cannot confirm anything at the moment."
F3:- Tom Coronel took provisional pole position in the first qualifying session for Sunday's Macau Grand Prix.
TOURING CARS:- Britain's Steve Soper took provisional pole for Sunday's Avco Guia race.
15.11.97 - TOURING CARSPeugeot have confirmed that Paul Radisich will drive a 406 in the 1998 Auto Trader Touring Car Championship. Radisich, twice World Cup Champion, will join 1992 BTCC champion Tim Harvey ensuring that Peugeot make their strongest assault ever. "This is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for me," said Radisich. Mick Linford, Peugeot's Motorsport manager enthused: "Quite simply there are no two better drivers to realise the 406's potential in 1998."
16.11.97 F3 - MACAU GRAND PRIX Result of Sunday's 27-lap race: hr min sec 1 S Ayari Fr 1:09:22.240 2 P Gay Fr 1:09:33.791 3 E Bernoldi Brz 1:09:36.228 4 M Webber Aus 1:09:48.891 5 A Couto Mac 1:09:50.697 6 O Servia Sp 1:10:09.294 7 S Sarrazin Fr 1:10:20.994 8 B Collins Eng 1:10:24.482 9 D Crevels Hol 1:10:26.290 10 S Martino Arg 1:10:34.100 TOURING CARS:- GUIA RACE Sunday's final result: hr min sec 1 S Soper GB 1:09:48.837 2 M Krumm Ger 1:09:56.468 3 C Kwan HK 1:10:57.671 4 A Nakaya Jpn 1:11:01.867 5 F Engstler Ger 1:11:23.454 6 M Ramos Por 1:12:55.828 7 C Chi Wah HK 1:11:25.236 8 G Ong Sing 1:11:49.632 18.11.97 - F1McLaren driver David Coulthard admitted he was upset when his team ordered him to allow Mika Hakkinen to pass him and win the European Grand Prix last month. The Scot said he was set to win the race at Jerez before the command came through from the pits to allow the pursuing team-mate Hakkinen through. "I was disappointed. There had been no discussion before the race that that situation may have been a possibility. But Mika deserved the win...and it is a team sport," said Coulthard.
Imola magistrate Antonio Costanzo will give his verdict on the death of Ayrton Senna sometime around December 15-17, it emerged on Tuesday. Frank Williams, Patrick Head, Adrian Newey and three race officials all face manslaughter charges after Senna's fatal crash at the 1994 San Marino GP. The trial resumed on Tuesday with the summing up of the last defence cases. A State prosecutor recommended earlier this month that Williams and the race officials be cleared of the charges.
19.11.97F1:- Goodyear have announced they are pulling out of Formula One at the end of next season. The Wolverhampton-based tyre company saw their six-year monopoly ended by Bridgestone last season but still supplied all the leading teams. They are now likely to try to switch to the Japanese firm for 1999 even though Michelin could be back in the sport. A Goodyear spokesman said: "Rule changes imposed for 1998 are a major factor in our decision."
TOURING CARS:- Paul Radisich has not renewed his contract with Ford for the 1998 British Touring Car Championship. Andy Barratt, brand manager for Mondeo/Motorsport, Ford Motor Company, said: "Obviously we are sad to see Paul go. We have a number of options for Ford's 1998 driver line-up but are not yet in a position to comment."
NETWORK Q RAC RALLY>br> This year's event is the 14th and final round of the 1997 FIA World Rally Championship and the cream of the crop on the rallying circuit have entered. Subaru driver Colin McRae will lead the British challenge on Sunday, along with Nissan's newly-crowned Mobil 1 British Rally champion Mark Higgins. McRae's brother Alister and Gwyndaf Evans are also in the starting line-up. The field includes no fewer than eight past or present world champions and 10 winners of the RAC Rally.
Britain's Colin McRae could claim the World Rally Championship on home turf if he triumphs in the RAC Rally, which begins and ends in Cheltenham. He kept alive his title chances by winning this month's Rally Australia but Tommi Makinen still has the edge. He is 10 points ahead of McRae, who must win and hope his rival finishes out of the top six to take the crown. "Now I just have to give it everything I have got," said McRae. "To have a fight like this is just fantastic."
Finnish rally legend Ari Vatanen was confirmed as a late entry to the event and he is out to show he has lost none of his skills. Vatanen won the RAC Rally in 1984 and confirmed: "I am as fast as ever and am out to prove it." His co-driver will be Roger Freeman, who guided ex-Formula One driver Martin Brundle through his RAC debut in 1996. "I have a huge amount of respect for Ari so it is an exciting opportunity," said the Warrington-based lawyer.
Colin McRae and brother Alister will be joined by father Jimmy in the event. A five-times British Rally champion - between 1981 and 1988 - Jimmy is set to drive a works Hyundai Accent. Citroen, Saab, Proton, Saab and Skoda are some of the 21 different makes of car competing in Cheltenham. A record 13 manufacturer teams have entered. Twenty-four countries are represented, including China, Oman, Russia, Poland, Kenya, Latvia, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia.
The RAC Rally attracted 220 entry candidates, with 160 going to the start, plus reserves. The Government asked for the 1967 rally to be called off because of fears over the spread of Foot and Mouth disease. Hannu Mikkola holds the record for most RAC Rally wins with four - 1978, 1979, 1981 and 1982. If Tommi Makinen and Colin McRae finish level on points in this year's World Championship, the Scot would take the title because he has had more wins.
Top starters (number order): 1 T Makinen/S Harjanne Fin Mitsubishi 2 R Burns/R Reid GB Mitsubishi 3 C McRae/N Grist GB Subaru 4 K Eriksson/S P'mnder Swe Subaru 5 C Sainz/L Moya Sp Ford 6 J Kankkunen/J Repo Fin Ford 7 D Auriol/D Giraudet Fr Toyota 8 P Liatti/F Pons It Subaru 9 M Gronholm/T R'tiai Fin Toyota 10 B Thiry/S Prevot Bel Ford 11 A Vatanen/R Freeman Fin/GB Ford 12 G De Mevius/J Forti Bel Ford 14 M Kamioka/K Gormley Jpn/GB Subaru 15 K H'lwczyc/M W'lwski Pol Subaru 16 A Navarra/R Casazza It Subaru 17 Y Sakurai/R Morgan Jpn/Ire Subaru 18 M Higgins/P Mills GB Nissan 19 S Blomqvist/B M'nder Swe Skoda 21 A McRae/D Senior GB V'kwagen 22 G Evans/H Davies GB Seat Past winners: 1996 Armin Schwartz Ger 1995 Colin McRae GB 1994 Colin McRae GB 1993 Juha Kankkunen Fin 1992 Carlos Sainz Sp 1991 Juha Kankkunen Fin 1990 Carlos Sainz Sp 1989 Pentti Arikkala Fin 1988 Markku Alen Fin 1987 Juha Kankkunen Fin 1986 Timo Salonen Fin 1985 Henry Toivonen Fin 1984 Ari Vatanen Fin 1983 Stig Blomqvist Swe 1982 Hannu Mikkola Fin 1981 Hannu Mikkola Fin November 22 Network Q RAC Rally show 1000-1800 November 23 (11 special stages = 36.95 miles) Start Cheltenham racecourse 0725 SS1 Cheltenham 1 (2.39 miles) 0728 SS2 Blenheim (3.43) 0903 SS3 Silverstone 1 (5.55) 1021 SS4 Silverstone 2 (5.55) 1034 SS5 Millbrook 1 (2.96) 1212 SS6 Millbrook 2 (2.96) 1223 SS7 Beechdale Saab Woburn (2.75) 1252 SS8 Sil'stone Superspecial (1.21) 1419 SS9 Donington 1 (3.86) 1629 SS10 Donington 2 (3.86) 1640 SS11 Cheltenham 2 (2.43) 1836 Cheltenham in 1936 November 24 (7 special stages = 98.75 miles) Cheltenham out 0500 SS12 Radnor (11.59 miles) 0725 SS13 Hafren (24.52) 0952 SS14 Pantperthog (9.57) 1232 SS15 Dyfi (14.84) 1302 SS16 Gartheiniog (9.29) 1337 SS17 Sweet Lamb (18.05) 1606 SS18 Myherin (10.89) 1654 Cheltenham in 2116 November 25 (8 special stages = 106.49 miles) Cheltenham out 0500 SS19 St Gwynno (8.54 miles) 0706 SS20 Tyle (6.59) 0733 SS21 Hutchings of Rhondda (22.54) 0809 SS22 Resolfen (28.63) 1003 SS23 Rheola (15.46) 1147 SS24 Argoed (5.60) 1302 SS25 Margam (16.81) 1321 SS26 Cheltenham 3 (2.32) 1614 Cheltenham finish 1621 20.11.97INDYCAR:- Bobby Rahal, the three-time IndyCar champion, will retire as a driver at the end of the 1998 season. Rahal is the oldest competitor in the CART series at 44.
F.PALMER AUDI:- The 1998 Formula Palmer Audi campaign will consist of 16 races spread over 12 events from April to November. Eight events will be a single 35-mile race and another eight will be 25-mile double headers. Richard Tarling, who was second in the Formula Ford world finals, will be the first driver to start testing in the discipline in March.
Jonathan Palmer has appointed Bill Harris as operations manager of the new Formula Palmer Audi programme. Harris was with McLaren, where he spent the last three years co-ordinating the F1 GTR race programme.
22.11.97DRIVERS RANKINGS:- Michael Schumacher has been declared the number one driver in the Champion Spark Plug world rankings, despite his controversial Jerez collision. He lost his second place in the world championship after the incident. However, panel chairman and ex-Formula One driver John Watson said: "The FIA decision only affected Schumacher's position within the world championship. That is not relevant to the rankings. They are dependent on race results. They were not affected by the ruling."
November 21 standings: Points 1 M Schumacher Formula 1 1002 2 J Villeneuve Formula 1 957 3 P de la Rosa Formula Nippon 937 4 J Gordon NASCAR 903 5 A Zanardi CART 887 6 D Jarrett NASCAR 844 7 G de Ferran CART 751 8 M Martin NASCAR 702 9 HH Frentzen Formula 1 693 10 A Menu Brit Tour Cars 691NASCAR:- Mark Martin overcame a wet track to take pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Thunder Special Suzuka exhibition race. The American, who has won 22 Winston Cup races, clocked one minute, 2.279 seconds on the circuit.
RALLYING:- Juha Kankkunen has signed a two-year contract with Ford that will keep him on the FIA World Rally Championship circuit until the end of 1999. Bruno Thiry, who drove for Ford in 1995 and 1996, has signed a one-year deal. Ford have agreed an option for 1999.
23.11.97 - NETWORK Q RAC RALLYColin McRae made the perfect start in his bid to land the World title as he led the field after the first day. McRae finished nine seconds ahead of Finn Juha Kankkunen after the pair swapped places during the day. The Scot needs to win the Network Q RAC Rally and hope title rival Tommi Makinen finishes out of the top six. Makinen, who is suffering with 'flu, dropped back to ninth at one point but he moved into the points in sixth place with a late flourish at Donington.
Colin McRae was quietly satisfied with his first day lead but he admitted the presence of championship leader Tommi Makinen was always on his mind. "Everyone played safe today and I am sure we'll see a charge tomorrow, especially from Tommi," said McRae. "I can't keep thinking about what Tommi's doing. I need to win and I am totally focused on doing that. I am pleased to be leading and things are going as well as they could but the rally only starts in earnest tomorrow."
Standings after special stage 11 (end of first day) Hr:mn:sec 1 McRae/Grist Subaru 0:37.45 2 Kankkunen/Repo Ford 0:37.54 3 Auriol/Giraudet Toyota 0:37.55 4 Burns/Reid Mitsubishi 0:37.59 5 Sainz/Moya Ford 0:38.02 6 Makinen/Harjanne Mitsubish 0:38.06 7 Gronholm/Raut'nen Toyota 0:38.07 8 Liatti/Pons Subaru 0:38.20 9 Thiry/Prevot Ford 0:38.23 10 Mevius/Fortin Ford 0:38.36SS1 (Cheltenham racecourse) British amateur champion Marcus Dodd and Saku Vierimaa of Finland upstaged Tommi Makinen and company. The pair completed the stage only five seconds slower than Colin McRae and Nicky Grist.
SS2 (Blenheim) Colin McRae had his lead cut to two seconds as Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya moved into second spot. Kenneth Eriksson was forced to drop out with engine trouble. Tommi Makinen was listed as having incurred a penalty of 2 mins, 50 seconds for late arrival at a stage, but this ultimately turned out to be no more than a computer error.
SS3 (Silverstone 1) Juha Kankkunen edged Colin McRae out of the lead as thick fog made for awkward driving conditions.
SS4 (Silverstone 2) Kankkunen pressed home the advantage as he moved seven seconds clear of McRae, who has slight tyre trouble. Title leader Tommi Makinen, who has slipped back to eighth place, has smashed a fog light and is reported to be feeling unwell with a touch of 'flu. Makinen complained afterwards: "There was more traffic at Silverstone than for a Grand Prix!"
SS5-6 (Millbrook) Juha Kankunnen retains lead but by the end of the second Millbrook stage, McRae had cut his advantage to just two seconds. Makinen drops one place to ninth.
SS7 (Beechdale Saab Woburn) McRae back on top again as he makes a great start in his bid for the championship title. Makinen still ninth and the 'flu-ridden driver said: "I'm not too happy watching the opposition. I should be pushing harder."
SS8 (Silverstone Superspecial) McRae still in front but he said: "I haven't enjoyed today - the stages have been very fast but a lot of them are narrow. I'm thinking of everyone's safety. I'd prefer the rally to be in the forests."
SS9 (Donington 1) Tommi Makinen tried to ignore his running fever as he made a charge back up the leaderboard. Colin McRae kept out in front after winning the stage, but Makinen was only just slower and crucially he is now back up joint sixth position.
SS10 (Donington 2) McRae now 15 seconds clear of Juha Kankkunen but Makinen is back up to sixth place on his own. Makinen claimed he was unsuited to the pathfinder's role but these were his best stage results of the rally do far.
SS11 (Cheltenham) Tommi Makinen consolidated his place among the points in the sixth position as he finished the day 21 seconds behind McRae.
24.11.97BRITISH GTs:- The Privilege GT Championship will make its first ever visit to the continent next year after Spa-Francorchamps was added to the 1998 list of venues. The Belgian race will be the penultimate round of the series and will take place on September 26-27.
NETWORK Q RAC RALLY
Colin McRae regained a share of the lead at the end of a dramatic day when he drew level with Richard Burns. McRae, who started out in front before spinning off in the opening stage and dropping back to eighth, finally clawed his way back on stage 18. He finished up with the same time as Mitsubishi driver Burns, though McRae will lead off on the final day. Title rival Tommi Makinen, who needs to finish in the top six to clinch the championship, is back in sixth place.
Colin McRae took a low-key approach when asked to assess his championship chances going into the final day. McRae, who needs to win the Network Q RAC Rally and hope Tommi Makinen finishes out of the top six, does not expect to be crowned champion. He said: "I've forgotten about Tommi... he's driving well within himself and he can get the point he needs. I don't think it will happen, but you never know. I'm just concentrating on winning this rally, not the title."
Colin McRae will be the first man out on Tuesday and he must hope to avoid a repeat of Monday's disastrous start. "We were annihilated by having to go out first this morning," he said. "Everyone had the benefit of running in daylight, but I couldn't see a thing. I tried various combinations with the lights, but lost concentration, slipped wide and ran into a ditch. Apart from that, the day went pretty well. I felt really confident with the car and the stages."
Richard Burns said he was happy to have at least a share of the lead going into the final day's rallying. Mitsubishi driver Burns, who can help teammate Tommi Makinen deny Colin McRae the title, said: "We took a few chances in the last couple of stages. It feels good to know we've still got the lead. I'll go flat-out tomorrow and I'm on a completely free rein." Makinen, who has been hit by 'flu, said: "I still don't feel very good but we're back in the championship race."
John Leckie and co-driver Graham Lewis were taken to an Aberystwyth hospital after crashing during stage 13. Organisers at rally headquarters in Cheltenham said Leckie's Ford Sierra Cosworth had been badly damaged in the incident which aborted the stage. Both men were taken to hospital. Leckie has suspected chest and spinal injuries and Lewis has a minor head injury. Four other drivers and a spectator also suffered injuries in separate incidents on a treacherous second day.
Standings after special stage 18 (end of day two) Hrs:min:sec 1 McRae/Grist Subaru 2:13.43 = Burns/Reid Mits'shi 2:13.43 3 Kankkunen/Repo Ford 2:14.59 4 Sainz/Moya Ford 2:15.28 5 Gronholm/Raut'nen Toyota 2:17.23 6 Makinen/Harjanne Mits'shi 2:17.42 7 Liatti/Pons Subaru 2:18.55 8 Mevius/Fortin Ford 2:19.42 9 Vatanen/Freeman Ford 2:23.21 10 H'owczyc/W'lawski Subaru 2:24.00 11 A M'hini/B M'hini Ford 2:24.39 12 A McRae/Senior Volkswagen 2:25.02 13 Rovanpera/S'ander Seat Ibiza 2:27.08 14 Higgins/Mills Nissan 2:27.39 15 Head/Thomas Renault 2:28.23 16 Rowe/Beech Renault 2:28.26 17 Dodd/McAuley Ford 2:28.40 18 Kamioka/Gormley Subaru 2:28.47 19 Harrki/Mustalahti Mitsubishi 2:28 59 20 Climent/Romani Mitsubishi 2:29.11 21 Easson/Cook Mitsubishi 2:29.19 22 R'berger/Francois Mitsubishi 2:30.46 23 Duckworth/B'field Subaru 2:31.28 24 Jones/Evans Mitsubishi 2:31.38 25 S Sim'ite/R S'ite Ford 2:31.44 26 Porter/Mole Mitsubishi 2:32.05 27 Hill/Rabbett Mitsubishi 2:32.43 28 Singh/Oh Proton 2:33.17 29 Sakurai/Morgan Subaru 2:33 23 30 Wearden/Agnew Honda 2:33.57 31 Svan/Olsson Opel 2:34.42 32 Bengry/Fosbrook Mitsubishi 2:34.43 33 Richards/Fred'sen Mitsubishi 2:35.51 34 Redhead/Thomas Subaru 2:36.27 35 P Wal'son/L W'son Mitsubishi 2:36.42 36 Al-Wahaibi/H'man Mitsubishi 2:36.51 37 Bell/Spooner Mitsubishi 2:37.45 38 Panton/De Mercado Toyota 2:38.10 39 Wetton/Haigh Mitsubushi 2:38 33 40 Smith/Wynn Ford 2:38 42 41 Foster/Faraday Ford 2:39.16 42 Smith/Kitson Ford 2:39.35 43 Gunn'ham/Boyles Subaru 2:40.10 44 G Adam/G Adam Ford 2:40.26 45 Jardine/Mckenzie Ford 2:41.13 46 Cox/Griffiths Vauxhall 2:42.02 47 Perrott/Mansell Vauxhall 2:42.37 48 Sharpe/Bevan Peugeot 2:42.46 49 J McRae/Arthur Hyundai 2:43.46 50 Wood/Waterfall Saab 2:43.50 Two-litre World Cup positions: (after leg two of three) Hrs:mins:sec 1 A McRae/Senior V'wagen 2:25.02 2 Rovanpera/Sil'der Seat 2:27.08 3 Higgins/Mills Nissan 2:27.39 4 Head/Thomas Renault 2:28.23 5 Rowe/Beech Renault 2:28.26 6 Wearden/Agnew Honda 2:33.57SS12 (Radnor) Thick fog in Radnor proves costly to Rally leader Colin McRae as he spins off the road and slips to eighth place. Richard Burns becomes new race leader and ominously for McRae, title rival Tommi Makinen takes over fourth spot.
SS13 (Hafren) McRae produces a superb drive to claw his way back to third spot behind Burns as he records the fastest time. Tommi Makinen, McRae's world title rival, slips back to sixth place.
SS14 (Pantperthog) McRae continues his charge when he again sets the fastest time of the leading contenders. He now moves to within 37 seconds of Burns as the top three begin to close up. Sainz holds on to second place.
SS15 (Dyfi) Superb driving ensures McRae closes the gap further with ten seconds to spare. The Scot is now just 27 seconds behind but title rival Makinen moves back up to fifth place.
SS16 (Gartheinog) Burns and Makinen are given penalty points after late arrival at Dolgellau. Burns is given a ten second penalty after routine rear suspension check and Makinen 20 seconds after work on an output flange.
SS17 (Sweet Lamb) McRae continues to make up ground on Burns and now Makinen is down to sixth place again.
SS18 (Myherin) McRae completes a remarkable day by joining Burns in the lead. Makinen finishes the day sixth.
RAC HISTORIC RALLY Standings after 17 stages: Hrs:min:sec 1 Brookes/Hamilton Porsche 1:28.43 2 J & R Trajbold Porsche 1:33.17 3 S & J Kristiansson Porsche 1:34.35 4 Kynaston/Bulley Sunbeam 1:34.51 5 Hoyle/Tello Mini 1:37.05 6 Russell/Pulleyn Ford 1:38.45 7 Tice/Drake Austin 1:39.05 8 Sellberg/Hageman Volvo 1:39.25 9 Samuel/Phillips Volvo 1:40.03 10 Skittrall/Millns Volvo 1:40.31 25.11.97 - NETWORK Q RAC RALLYColin McRae has cruised to his third Network Q RAC Rally but it was not enough to secure a second world title. McRae lost a share of the overnight lead early on the final day as Richard Burns streaked clear but when he had a puncture, McRae roared on to victory. The Scot kept his part of the title bargain but championship leader Tommi Makinen denied him a glorious double. The Finn needed to end up in the top six and when he came home sixth, he retained his championship crown.
Colin McRae was happy to bask in the glory of his RAC Rally triumph despite missing out on the world title. He said after clinching his victory at Cheltenham: "There were lots of ups and downs. The support here was incredible and it's a nice event to win. It looked like being a good battle with Richard Burns but when he got the puncture it became a bit easy. I was disappointed but also relieved. We were quite confident anyway...I'm sure we would have got it."
Final standings after special stage 26 (End of third and final day) Hrs:min:sec 1 McRae/Grist Subaru 3:54.31 2 Kankkunen/Repo Ford 3.57.18 3 Sainz/Moya Ford 3:58.24 4 Burns/Reid Mitsubishi 3:59.30 5 Gronholm/Raut'nen Toyota 4:00.43 6 Makinen/Harjanne Mitsubishi 4:01.31 7 Liatti/Pons Subaru 4:03.11 8 Vatanen/Freeman Ford 4:11.59 9 A McRae/Senior Volkswagen 4:14.27 10 Rovanpera/S'ander Seat Ibiza 4:17.34 11 A M'hini/B M'hini Ford 4:18.06 12 Duckworth/B'field Renault 4:21.51 13 Climent/Romani Mitsubishi 4:22 12 14 Easson/Cook Mitsubishi 4:23.27 15 Kamioka/Gormley Subaru 4:25.24 16 Jones/Evans Mitsubishi 4:26.22 17 Sakurai/Morgan Subaru 4:28.38 18 Singh/Oh Proton 4:29.06 19 Porter/Mole Mitsubishi 4:30.34 20 Head/Thomas Renault 4:33.13 21 Head/Thomas Renault 4:33.13 22 P W'sson/L W'sson Mitsubishi 4:33.54 23 Wearden/Agnew Honda 4:34.24 24 Svan/Olsson Opel 4:35.06 25 Richardt/F'riksen Mitsubishi 4:35.28 26 Hill/Rabbett Mitsubishi 4:35.45 27 Bengry/Forsbrook Mitsubishi 4:36.36 28 Panton/De Mercado Toyota 4:36.43 29 Redhead/Thomas Subaru 4:39.02 30 Cox/Griffiths Vauxhall 4:45 21 31 Smith/Wynn Ford 4:45.40 32 J McRrae/Arthur Hyundai 4:51.10 33 Perrott/Mansell Vauxhall 4:51.31 34 Joel/Wood Ford 4:51.35 35 Higgins/Kennedy Seat 4:51.36 36 Wh'hurst/Atherton Vauxhall 4:52.46 37 G Adam/G Adam Ford 4:52.57 == Robson/Bowman Vauxhall 4:52.57 39 Wood/Waterfall Saab 4:53.54 40 Woodhead/Ward Mitsubishi 4:55 11 41 Dobberkau/Dorl Opel 4:57.35 42 Littler/Jones Vauxhall 4:57.52 43 Middleton/Morgan Peugeot 4:58.11 44 Wedgbury/Neale Honda 4:59.23 45 Bristow/Mitchell Mazda 5:00.22 46 Davies/Dyson Ford 5:00.51 47 Hookway/Brown Peugeot 5:02.31 48 Holfield/Grinrod Mitsubishi 5:02.59 49 Cooper/Belbin Ford 5:03.09 50 Jasper/Edwards Ford 5:03 33 51 Pelli/Angelino Nissan 5:03.54 52 Jeloudov/Timk'sky Ford 5:04.21 53 C Barber/M Barber Vauxhall 5:04.54 54 Anderson/Kemp Peugeot 5:06.09 55 Andrew/Whitaker Vauxhall 5:06.36 56 Harper/Reger Rover 5:07.08 57 Takaski/Hamada Nissan 5:07.11 58 Thomas/Douglas Vauxhall 5:07.33 59 Chapman/Foy Vauxhall 5:07.36 60 Fois/Wiseman Ford 5:09 09 61 Dyas/Morris Toyota 5:10.56 62 Bean/Nolan Vauxhall 5:12.24 == Pre'well/Saunders Vauxhall 5:12.24 64 Robathan/Pugh Subaru 5:13.57 65 Heath/Ashfield Subaru 5:14.03 66 D Nutt/S Nutt Vauxhall 5:14.11 67 Johnson/Flynn Proton 5:14.43 68 Griffiths/Jones Citroen 5:14.54 69 Larcombe/James Vauxhall 5:15.27 70 Gaillard/Epalle Renault 5:15 43 Two-litre results: (after end of Rally) Hrs:min:sec 1 A McRae/Senior V'wagen 4:14.27 2 Rovanpera/Sil'der Seat 4:17.34 3 Head/Thomas Renault 4:33.13 4 Wearden/Agnew Honda 4:34.24 5 Svan/Olsson Opel 4:35.06 6 J McRae/Arthur Hyundai 4:51.10 FINAL DRIVERS STANDINGS 1 T Makinen Fin Mitsubishi 63 pts 2 C McRae GB Subaru 62 3 C Sainz Sp Ford 51 4 J Kankkunen Fin Ford 29 5 K Eriksson Swe Subaru 28 6 P Liatti It Subaru 24 7 R Burns GB Mitsubishi 21 8 A Schwarz Ger Ford 11 MANUFACTURERS' STANDINGS 1 Subaru 114 pts 2 Ford 91 3 Mitsubishi 86SS19 (St Gwynno) Richard Burns regains the lead from Colin McRae in the opening stage on the final day of the Rally. McRae trails 17 seconds behind the leader with Juha Kankkunen retaining third spot.
SS20 (Tyle) Despite recording the fastest time, and clawing back three seconds, McRae is still 14 seconds behind the leader. McRae's world title rival Tommi Makinen retains sixth spot.
SS21 (Hutchings of Rhondda) McRae regains the lead when Burns suffers a punctured tyre which costs him nearly five minutes. Kankkunen takes over second spot with McRae holding a two-minute lead as Burns tumbles to fourth place.
SS22 (Resolven) On the longest stage of the Rally, McRae stretches his lead even further over Kankkunen and looks set to win. Makinen retains sixth spot however, to boost his world title hopes.
SS23 (Rheola) McRae stays well clear of Kakkunen and now holds a lead of two-and-a-half minutes over the Finnish driver. Burns records the fastest time for the stage but it is little comfort after the earlier puncture ruined his hopes.
SS24 (Argoed) Just two stages remain and although McRae is driving a perfect race, the world championship is slipping away. Makinen, still cruising in sixth place looks ready to lift the crown.
SS25 (Margam) McRae increases his lead even further and is almost home and dry barring any accidents on the final stage. Makinen holds a lead of almost a minute and a hažf over Piero Liatti in sixth and should retain his world crown.
SS26 (Network Q Cheltenham) McRae roars to victory in the Rally to record his third win in four years after missing out on last year's event. Makinen duly finished in sixth place to retain the world championship title.
27.11.97 - F1The European Commission has claimed that Formula One chiefs were "bluffing" with their threat to move to Asia if there is a ban on cigarette sponsorship The 15 EU nations are expected to vote on a tobacco advertising ban next Thursday, a decision that could rob F1 of its biggest sponsors in Europe. Organisers of F1 have iÓdicated that a ban on tobacco advertising would force them to withdraw from European GP's. "We don't believe there would be a mass exodus," said an EU spokesperson.
28.11.97 - F1The Belgian Grand Prix faces the axe after the country's parliament approved a law banning all tobacco advertising and sponsorship, from January 1999. The Belgium race tÚaditionally takes place at Spa-Francorchamps and the circuit is much loved by the drivers. Race organiser Andre Maes said: "In view of what has been said, the FIA may have to stick to their position and scrap the race in the near future." The FIA have said an EU ban could mean races being held in America and Asia.