WRC

Rallye Sanremo: Hyundai preview

Hyundai looking for points boost on Sanremo tarmac finale. Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crews Armin Schwarz/Manfred Hiemer and Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets next week head to Italy for the final tarmac round of the 2002 FIA World Rally...

Hyundai looking for points boost on Sanremo tarmac finale.

Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crews Armin Schwarz/Manfred Hiemer and Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets next week head to Italy for the final tarmac round of the 2002 FIA World Rally Championship, Rallye Sanremo, from 20-22 September.

The team driver line-up for its swansong asphalt outing of the year was in question in the wake of Armin Schwarz and Manfred Hiemer's horrific accident on Rallye Deutschland. The German crew are now fit and healthy to contest the next event -- Armin Schwarz, who fractured two ribs, undertook intensive treatment during the last two weeks and has made a remarkable recovery. Co-driver Manfred Hiemer experienced bruising only which healed after a few sessions of physiotherapy.

Speaking from Germany where he has been receiving treatment from long-term physiotherapist and osteopath Siegfried Hornikel, Armin commented, "I'm feeling really good now. I have been having about 8-9 hours of treatment a day and I have also been riding my home bike which made me feel a lot better. Siegfried will come to Italy to continue the treatment at every possible opportunity - I am looking forward to getting back into the car and returning to a regular fitness schedule again."

Adding to his comments, Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team doctor Paul Trafford said, "Armin's physiotherapist has achieved amazing results with Armin. He has been treated using magnetic therapy which promotes healing and salt water therapy to increase shoulder blade movement over the broken ribs. I am amazed he has such a good range of movement with no pain, but both Siegried and I are confident Armin is fit enough to get back in the rally car."

Belgian team-mates Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets who finished Rallye Sanremo fourth overall in both 1996 and 1999 and fifth in 1997, are looking forward to the last tarmac event of the year. "I had a fantastic feeling with the car in Germany and I was really surprised with my times, especially as it was an event with which I had no experience, and the boys in front had done it before," said 31-year-old Loix. "I have a lot more experience in Sanremo than Germany with some good results in the past and I am confident I can do the same times as we were setting in Germany. I have a good feeling and it's about time we took some more points!"

Key Issues

According to Sven Smeets, co-driver to Freddy Loix, "The main point of consideration in Sanremo is the tyres. The rally is earlier this year than it has been in recent years so Autumn may not have set in yet, so there shouldn't be as many leaves and dirt on the roads which will be better.

"It is very important that you have good weather information as sometimes you are choosing your tyres as late as an hour before the stage. It may be blue sky and sunshine at the service park in Imperia but the weather in the mountains can change very quickly and sometimes be quite foggy. If it's dry you have lots of grip -- the road can be quite abrasive but not as aggressive as Corsica. But in the wet it can be quite slippery. Basically with the right tyre you win time but with the wrong tyre you can lose a lot of time.

"Spectators have been an issue in the past as the stages are all close together and repeated so it is easy for people to have a day out but it means that crowds just get bigger. But if the organisers make the same arrangements as last year then it will not be a problem."

The Rally

All stages in Sanremo are repeated -- some twice and some a further two times in reverse. The first leg takes crews into the mountains northwest of the Imperia service park for 147.25 kilometres of competition. The first three stages of the day are repeated in the afternoon, run in the same direction as the morning. The two stages sandwiched in between are repeated on leg two, again sandwiched between a duo of stages, which are situated not far north of the rally HQ base Sanremo. Leg two covers 150.57 competitive kilometres. The third and final leg consists of four timed tests over 88.02 kilometres which is again, two stages repeated. Sanremo is GMT +2 hours.

-hyundai-

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Freddy Loix , Armin Schwarz , Sven Smeets