ATTACK REWARDED WITH NINTH PLACE
DENNIS KUIPERS IS CONTINUING IN THE SAME VEIN FOLLOWING HIS HISTORIC FIFTH PLACE IN FRANCE. IN THE RALLY DE ESPANA THE FERM DRIVER, WHO WAS GOING FOR TENTH PLACE, MANAGED TO SECURE AN IMPRESSIVE NINTH (AND TWO WRC POINTS).
Friday’s opening day of the rally in the seaside town of Salou was on gravel (“the dust hung in the air for so long that at times I literally couldn’t see a thing”) The other stages - including the Power Stage – were battled out on asphalt.
In their quest for WRC points Dennis Kuipers and Frederic Miclotte gave it their all on the perfect Spanish roads. The second day opened with the monstrously long, 45.97 kilometre, El Priorat stage. “You need to be fully concentrated for around twenty minutes.
Difficult? Well, it is a fantastic stage full of variety, so mostly it’s a real pleasure.”
On the second appointment with this stage the FERM pair were paving the way for their top 10 finish for an impressive eighth time. On Saturday lunchtime tenth place was in sight and Dennis and Fred moved into attack mode. “The plan was to already be in tenth place by the Saturday evening, but Matthew Wilson was going for it big time too”, explains Dennis Kuipers.
So the RACC Rally de Espana had a thrilling finale. Six stages gave Dennis Kuipers and Frederic Miclotte the time to transform the 25.9 seconds by which they were trailing Ford colleague Matthew Wilson into a lead. The decision was made in the course of the second to last stage, once the difference had been reduced to 7.7 seconds. Wilson went off the road and had to abandon due to damage to the front suspension.
The furious attack gave the FERM team a decisive tenth position. Then it was Sebastien Ogier’s who stranded and this lifted Dennis and Fred into ninth place. “Today only one thing counted: attacking. We seriously went for it. I am happy that it worked out”, says Dennis Kuipers. For the eighth time the FERM Power Tools World Rally team obtained an outcome in the manufacturer’s championship with 10 points. “Such a tremendous final day with ninth place as a result is a fabulous reward for us after two days of attack”, concludes a happy Frederic Miclotte. (
Rally of Spain
PARADISE FOR KNIGHTS OF ASPHALT
The Rally of Spain has been the territory of asphalt specialists since 1991. The mix of one day gravel and two days asphalt has added an attractive ingredient, but what really counts on the slippery Catalan roads is the ability to drive in a clean line.
A glance at past winners reveals a lot. They include asphalt drivers like Gilles Panizzi and Philippe Bugalski, but also names like Carlos Sainz. ‘El Matador’ started off as a circuit racer and perfectly put his circuit style into practice in his home rally.
The gravel opening highlights the nature of the asphalt roads: completely flowing and breathtakingly fast, just as if they’ve been implanted from the circuit. For success the WRC drivers must attack flat out in every bend, without losing sight of the straight line.
“The transition from gravel to asphalt means we have to flip a switch in our mind’, explains co-driver Frederic Miclotte.”Asphalt requires a completely different driving style and the notes follow each other in quick succession because of the high speeds.”
The event in Catalonia is renowned for the thousands of passionate rally fans who watch the stages from the roadside. Besides Formula One, Spanish sports enthusiasts have warmly embraced the WRC. It was not only Spain’s Dani Sordo who got loud applause. Dennis Kuipers also received a standing ovation during the Power Stage. Victory in that Power Stage went to Kris Meeke, a milestone for Mini.
Once again the fastest man was Sebastien Loeb. The Citroen driver chalked up his seventh victory in Spain. Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) finished second to retain a chance of the world title. Third place went to teammate Jari-Matti Latvala. (source: FERM Rally World)
FERM Rally Fact
The Rally of Spain is the season’s only mixed event. The WRC drivers have been battling on both gravel and asphalt since last year. “The first day the Ford Fiesta RS WRC is in gravel configuration, then it’s adjusted to asphalt specifications,” explains Dennis Kuipers. After Friday’s final stage the mechanics rapidly set to work on the FERM Ford to make the car suitable for driving on asphalt in only 75 minutes. It was a formidable operation requiring work that included fitting Reiger shock absorbers and springs, support arms, stabilisers, brakes, rims and Michelin tyres. “Driving on two surfaces in effect means we’re driving two different cars”. The Ford for asphalt is lower down, banks less and has a harder chassis for optimum roadholding on the slippery roads. (source: FERM Rally World)