“Tommi, maybe you are stretched too far...”
How are you my friend? Not so good if what I hear from around the service park is true. It really does suck when three key members of your team decide to leave you in the lurch. I know you are ridiculously busy, so I guess you just hadn’t got round to telling Jarmo Lehtinen that Mr Zotos (Michael, technical director) had jumped ship? No worries, I told him for you.
Listen Tommi, you have to be just a wee bit concerned about this. You need all the good men you can get. But it’s clearly very challenging to set up a new team, run the team, design the car, build the car and then test the car all by yourself.
Can I respectfully suggest that maybe you’re stretching yourself a touch too far?
You know there is practically no one else in the world with your understanding of how to engineer, test and set up a World Rally Car. It’s so good to see you putting so much time and effort into that side of things.
But, a successful world rally team needs to be just that. A team. There is so much more you need to do to be ready for Monte Carlo in January and at times it probably feels like there just aren’t enough weeks in the year.
Here’s what I’d do Tommi: I’d take a look at how the old boys did it way back when. Malcolm Wilson has built M-sport into a powerhouse of the motorsport world by leading the company from his office. I can’t remember MW doing much testing and development, he trusted his boys to do that. But my goodness, he was always, unarguably, the boss of the operation.
You can say the same for David Richards. He surrounded himself with enormously talented boys and girls and success rapidly followed.
You deserve rapid success Tommi. I know you have a fiery temper at times. But when you’re as dedicated, passionate and driven as you are, that’s understandable. Well, to me it is. Maybe not the folk that work for you though.
So here’s another suggestion. You carry on with the testing and development work, but get someone in to help with the everyday running of the business. Someone who knows how you work, who knows how the Japanese work, who knows the WRC inside and out, who has a hide as thick as a rhino, who can take the inevitable tongue lashings that will come his way, and who at the end of the day will respect that you are and always will be the boss.
If what I was told by another respected journalist that “the ship is slowly sinking” is true, then you might need to make some urgent phone calls. You are, and will always remain, in my mind a God, Tommi. Sometimes even the Gods call on mere mortals to help them out.
Good luck my friend.
Gus Greensmith grinned, looked down at the timesheets, and grinned some more.
He wasn’t leading the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, but you couldn’t tell.
“It’s fantastic, isn’t it…” he said. “Look at that, three British drivers at the top of the leaderboard.”
It was impossible to argue. The Brits certainly gave an exceptional account of themselves in Poland.
“These stages are so fast,” Greensmith added, “but there are places where I’m coming into the corner telling myself: ‘Don’t lift! Jon [Armstrong] and Osian [Pryce] won’t be lifting here!’ And we’ve kept it flat. It’s been an amazing battle with them.”
Unfortunately for Greensmith, he didn’t get the opportunity to convert that pace into a win when a wheel bearing problem slowed his progress through Saturday.
“This is the second event in succession I’ve lost the win because of a parts problem,” he said. “I know the pace is some consolation, but I’m here to win; nobody remembers second.”
Armstrong’s rally looked to have gone south on day two with an electrical problem costing him time – but his real loss came when he was baulked by a slower car late in the day.
Round one winner Pryce had struggled to find his feet on Friday, but getting up earlier than ever to watch the DVD of all Saturday’s stages before breakfast on day two paid dividends. The Welshman blitzed the roads up close to the Russian border, winning all but one of the day’s long stages.
Just like the main field, Sunday brought the real drama, with many tyres knocked off rims in the final day opener. Pryce was the highest profile casualty, forfeiting his lead to Armstrong.
In the end it didn’t matter. Armstrong celebrated a hardearned and worthy win, while Pryce stayed second and scooped the big prize ( see Rally News).
The much-anticipated WRC2 battle delivered in Poland, with Esapekka Lappi overcoming a steadier start than usual to ease his factory Skoda past the similar machine of Teemu Suninen on Saturday evening. A final-day puncture cost him the win, while Suninen’s co-driver Mikko Markkula suffered a heartstopping moment when a mistake on the recce sent them the wrong way at a junction. A quick U-turn sorted the job and allowed them a well-deserved second successive class win.
Elfyn Evans was second. The Welshman was unbeaten on Saturday morning, but struggled to match his rivals elsewhere. Nobody had an answer to Pontus Tidemand’s day one pace, but he ruled himself out with a broken steering arm on Friday.
Simone Tempestini took his second successive Junior WRC win in his DS 3 R3T.
Andreas Mikkelsen (Nor)/anders Jaeger (NOR) Ott Tanak (Est)/raigo Molder (EST) Hayden Paddon (NZL)/JOHN Kennard (NZL) Thierry Neuville (BEL)/ Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Jari-matti Latvala (FIN)/ Miikka Anttila (FIN) Sebastien Ogier (Fra)/julien Ingrassia (FRA) Craig Breen (Irl)/scott Martin (GBR) Mads Ostberg (NOR)/OLA Floene (NOR) Eric Camilli (FRA)/ Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Teemu Suninen (Fin)/mikko Markkula (FIN) Lorenzo Bertelli (Ita)/simone Scattolin (ITA) Stephane Lefebvre (Fra)/gabin Moreau (FRA) Henning Solberg (NOR)/ILKA Minor-petrasko (AUT) Yazeed Al-rajhi (Ksa)/michael Orr (GBR) Valeriy Gorban (Ukr)/volodymyr Korsya (UKR) Dani Sordo (ESP)/MARC Marti (ESP)
Organiser: ALMC Motor Club When: July 3 Where: Trim, Co. Meath Championships: Triton Showers National Rally Championship, MSA Asphalt Rally Championship, Midlands East Rally Championship Stages: nine Starters: 84
In fine conditions Donegal Fiesta WRC crew Declan and Brian Boyle regained their winning form by taking a strong triumph on the Smartpart ALMC Stages.
Tipperary’s Roy White, with James O’brien co-driving in his Fiesta WRC, put in a very well-judged drive to take second and retain their commanding lead in the Triton Showers National Rally Championship, while Steve Simpson was the top MSA Asphalt series finisher in seventh overall. Damian Cole, 15th on the day, still leads the series.
On the opening 8.15-mile Lionsden stage it was Peadar Hurson in his Subaru who set fastest time, with Boyle 0.5s down. Niall Maguire was third and White was fourth. Desi Henry was a last-minute entry with his Skoda Fabia R5 and he held fifth, despite clipping a chicane and damaging a mudguard. Steve Wood was a fine sixth in his Subaru.
At service following stages two and three Boyle had moved into a 15s lead over Hurson, with White a scant 0.8s further back. White seemed to be caught on the hop slightly at the start of stage two and didn’t have his Fiesta WRC in gear. Weather conditions were fine, although the drivers still reported slippy patches, caused by dust rather than damp for a change.
Hugh Hunter was driving a new-to-him Impreza WRC S12b and he reckoned he was on the wrong tyres. He held seventh place but was soon to retire after an accident.
An early retirement was Stephen Mccann in his Subaru following an off. There were a few other mishaps causing some minor blockages for the later numbers, but thankfully there were no reports of anything too serious. Damian Cole, a regular frontrunner in the MSA Asphalt series, was slowed by a misfire in his Fiesta WRC’S engine, thought to be down to coil packs.
There was a major battle at the back end of the top 10 for two-wheel-drive supremacy. Ashley Field in his Darrian was showing a clean pair of heels to the top Ford Escort drivers. Frank Kelly, Trevor Mulligan, Jack Newman and Chris
Top seeds Carl Hawkins/ Paul Taylor emerged as clear winners of the Maple Garage Beaver Rally after their closest rivals slipped up.
At the three-quarter mark Richard Hunter/gary Evans held a narrow lead but a missed code board, and the subsequent fiveminute penalty, dropped them to fourth at the Finish.
Hawkins/taylor therefore headed home Chris/trevor Faulkner by a final margin of over two minutes.
Phil Burton/sam Collis ended up three minutes down in third having taken fastest time on both of the tests at the completed the route. However, they had also missed a board in the first half and thus missed out on victory.
John Leckie/sion Mathews completed the top five, while Martin Betts/ Richard Hage, another crew challenging for the lead, finished sixth after problems on the last road section of the night.
The rally attracted a quality entry, but there was a sparse number of starters in the Semi-expert and Novice classes.
Organiser: When: Where: Championships:
It was a weekend to forget for the Brits as Formula E bid a sad farewell to its London round of the calendar.
With Battersea not appearing on the Formula E calendar for 2016/17, the Brits may have said goodbye – at least for next season – to London.
The surprise package of the weekend was Oliver Turvey. The NEXTEV TCR driver was running third in the first race, but he crashed out with three laps to go.
“I got hit by Vergne a couple of times and he drove straight into the back of me in Turn 11,” Turvey told MN. “It’s done some damage on the rear wing and the rear diffuser is all damaged. The car didn’t behave quite the same. I braked and locked the rears, didn’t make the corner. The car didn’t feel the same after I got hit. It’s a shame to have contact when you’re the car in front and you’ve defended the position but they drive straight into you.”
On Sunday Turvey found himself moving backwards with a lack of race pace despite pushing hard, after setting what he called “one of my best laps ever” in qualifying. A late puncture after hitting the wall relegated him to 10th overall. He had a parting message for his rivals for next year: “If I can perform at this level with the right package I’m sure we can challenge for wins and championships.”
Another driver who would have been on for a top five finish over the weekend was Mike Conway, but a battery problem on Sunday meant his Venturi was off the pace.
“We had a faulty battery, two shutdowns in a row,” explained Conway. “We were ahead of Stephane [Sarrazin, team-mate] at that point so it could have been an easy top five, maybe top three if things had gone a bit better.”
Suffering the worst weekend of the Brits was arguably last year’s biggest hero, Sam Bird. He had a stuck-open throttle on Saturday in his first DS Virgin car and then ran out of energy in the second. He then lost all power in Sunday’s race and retired.