RALLY: 54th Network Q Rally of Great Britain, 1998 Rd 13 WRC
20 November 1998The final round of the 1998 World Rally Championship, the Network Q Rally of Great Britain, will not only decide the Drivers World Championship, but also the Manufacturers Championship. The Drivers championship will be fought out between Toyotas Carlos Sainz, and Mitsubishis Tommi Makinen. With both drivers tally of World Championships totalling two, one of them will move one step closer to Juha Kankkunens record total of four World Championships.
Meanwhile Toyota, a previous champion for Manufacturers, will be trying to deny the small Ralliart team their first Manufacturers title. Didier Auriol, with Denis Giraudet, will be Carlos rear gunner, while Richard Burns and Robert Reid will be looking forward to a better finish to the event this year after a great battle with McRae and Grist last year was thwarted near the end by a puncture early into a long stage.
Subaru will have an interesting event, running a car for the event favourite, Scot Colin McRae, with Welshman Nicky Grist calling the notes. Colins younger brother Alister moves into the second seat formerly occupied this year by Piero Liatti, leaving Fabrizia Pons free to co drive for Finnish Legend Ari Vatanen in a third Prodrive Subaru. Aris car will be a little different to the others, using a true sequential shift as distinct from the familiar H pattern semi automatic normally associated with the Prodrive cars.
Both Juha Kankkunen and Bruno Thiry will have their last drives for Ford, who will wave good bye to the Escort name after the rally, to Focus on next years challenges. SEAT will again have two WRC cars as well as their W2L Ibizas, and they will be driven by Harri Rovanpera, with Welshmen Gwyndaf Evans and Howard Davies having a run in the big league for their home event.
The event this year has a different name due to the changes to the governing body of motorsport in Great Britain. The RAC has been sold, and wishing to be differentiated from the road assistance program they had just sold, the governing body will now be known as the Motor Sports Association (initials often used after RAC in the past). This brings to an end a 53 event series that has used the same name the RAC Rally.
The rally itself sees changes to the stages at Cheltenham racecourse, with the whole stage now visible from the huge grandstands, while the Silverstone stages now total five on the same day, with the stage now dedicated to the great Roger Clark. There are some changes to the stately home stages on Sunday, including one at he home of ex F1 team owner, Lord Hesketh, while on Monday there is one new Welsh stage. Servicing will be mostly under cover on Sunday at Builth Wells while at Donington the organisers have tried to replicate the excitement of the famous Australian Bunnings jumps and watersplash, at night!
Total distance: 1,892.38 kms Stages: 28 (one run four times, three run twice, one used twice in opposite direction.) Stage distance: 380.30 kms Stage surface: mostly gravel Stages in darkness: nine