Catalunya : OMV Peugeot Norway - Preview
After three runs to the FIA World Rally Championship 2006 OMV driver Manfred Stohl is holding on to third place in the standings. This gives rise to expectations for the future even though the next two scheduled races, the Rally RACC
Catalunya Costa-Durada (March 23 to 26) and the Rally Corsica (April 6 to 9) will be held on tarmac. Not exactly the 33-year-old Austrian's favourite surface. He will still try his all to remain among the big 3 in the WRC before the beginning of the gravel season.
Taking a break in manufacturer championship
For the first time this season the OMV Peugeot Norway WRT will be competing with only one car. This is due to the fact that the team had only entered 12 rallies in the manufacturer 2-ranking at the end of entry in the middle of December 2005 – and FIA-regulation states that they can only score at these twelve rallies in 2006 in this particular system. But it had also been announced in December that Manfred Stohl would compete in all 16 rallies. Spain and Corsica will therefore be the first two rallies this year where Manfred Stohl will go solo in the OMV Peugeot Norway WRT and only be able to score in the driver's championship.
Training runs will be hard work
It was in 2001 when Manfred Stohl had last competed at a WRC event in Spain. Back then the course was still in the vicinity of Lloret del mar. Thus the OMV driver only knows one or two special stages of the current course. Which makes the training runs all the more important.
Stohl: “Ilka and I will have a lot of work ahead of us. We'll have to write completely new pace notes, since there won't be any reference points from previous years. But we are experienced enough to solve this problem, as well.” In 2001 Stohl drove a Fiat Punto in the 1600-class and lead in the Junior-WRC after seven special stages before dropping back due to tyre damage.
Fast and good grip
Even though tarmac might not be the Austrian's favourite surface, he is still looking forward to the Rally RACC Catalunya. “I know that the tarmac has a lot of grip there. The turn speed is supposed to be extremely high. You have to cut a very smooth line to be able to compete. But this should suit me,” explains the OMV driver. He trusts the basic set-up by Bozian Racing as far as the tuning is concerned (Stohl: “They have a lot of experience and will surely get it right.”). Last tests on tarmac will take place in Spain on March 20. They will be held on the former special stages of the Rally of Spain.
More points than Petter Solberg
Manfred Stohl's personal expectations remain realistic. The OMV driver wants to score in any case. Stohl: “With Bozian Racing, the Peugeot 307 WRC and the tyres by BF Goodrich I have make an absolutely competitive package. I plan to take advantage of this.” Stohl hopes to score more points than Petter Solberg (Nor/Subaru). This would suffice to defend his sensational position in the driver's ranking. His self-confidence should be up in any case. The Austrian has reached four special stage best times so far which makes him fourth in this statistic behind Sebastien Loeb
(Fra/Citroen), Marcus Grönholm (Fin/Ford) and Petter Solberg.
347 special stage kilometres on 16 special stages
The 42nd Rally RACC Catalunya will commence on Thursday (March 23) with a showstart at 20.00 in Salou. 16 special stages with a length of 346,43 kilometres are scheduled from Friday to Sunday (March 24 - 26). The overall length measures 1.376,14 kilometres. The finishing line will be crossed on Sunday ( March 26) at 14:56 in Salou.
This is Spain
Area: 504.782 sq km; Population: 40.341.500 inhabitants; Population density: 80 people per sq km; Capital: Madrid (4.060.000 inhabitants); Spain was founded in 1035 and has been independent since then. The rally takes place in Catalonia. Catalonia (biggest city: Barcelona) is one of the biggest regions of Spain with a population of six million inhabitants. Spain disposes of 658.203 kilometres of paved roads.
Press release OMV Peugeot Norway