First event: the Cyprus Rally (18-22 June 2003)
Protrak World Motorsport Management (PWMM), the UAE-based motor sport consultancy and preparation company behind 31-year-old Hampshire driver Justin Dale’s programme in the Middle-East Rally Championship, has signed an agreement with Milton Keynes-based Motorsport Developments Limited (MSD) to run a customer-specification Hyundai Accent WRC3 for Dale and 33-year old Sussex co-driver Andrew Bargery on selected rounds of the 2003 World Rally Championship.
"We’ve talked to a number of WRC teams since the beginning of the year," said Dale’s manager Mark Taylor, "and we’ve gone for the MSD deal for a number of reasons. One of the most important is that MSD is probably the only company that provides its customers with cars of similar specification to its current works cars, so eventually, when he gains more WRC experience, Justin will be able to judge his own performance against the works Hyundai drivers."
PWMM’s MSD-supported Accent will be sponsored by Dubai-based The House of Cars Group and Sony (UK), and Dale’s first WRC event will be the Cyprus Rally on 18-22 June 2003, the seventh round of the Championship. He will also tackle the Rallye Deutschland (23-27 July); Rally Australia (3-7 September); the Sanremo Rally (1-5 October); the Catalunya Rally (22-26 October); and Wales Rally GB (5-9 November), and take part in the reconnaissance runs of other WRC events. The team is due to start testing shortly, and is expecting to launch the car and its new livery to the media at a shakedown during the next four weeks.
"We’re very pleased to be involved with Protrak and Justin Dale," added MSD general manager Paul Risbridger. "This is a commercial deal, but we’re going beyond a normal customer programme by encouraging a new breed of driver into our team to groom them for the future. Justin is just the sort of person we’re looking for – someone we want to work closely with and who will be good for the team’s own development.
"The car will be the latest Hyundai Accent WRC3, and we’ll run it alongside the works cars. It’s one of the current cars, and of almost identical specification to Armin’s and Freddy’s. We run a completely open and honest policy here, and our customer cars are generally the same as the works cars, except perhaps when we’re introducing new components – in which case we’ll let the customer know the situation. We’re looking forward to working with Justin, and we’re sure he’ll go well."
"Competing at this level is tremendously expensive," concluded Taylor, "and if you’re not careful, a rally programme can start haemorrhaging money. It’s therefore important for us to put together a deal that will enable Justin to gain experience at World Championship level, but for a fixed budget. With this in mind, MSD and Hyundai have been able to offer us exactly what we want, so we’ll now wait to see how the relationship develops."
Protrak World Motorsport Management is now looking to secure some extra budget to enable Justin and Andrew to gain some extra ‘match practice’ before Cyprus, and it hopes to enter the MSD Hyundai in the forthcoming South Sweden Rally later this month.
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