The pupils at Buckinghamshire’s Stowe School had something to take their minds off lessons yesterday when Protrak World Motorsport Management, the company behind Hampshire driver Justin Dale’s 2003 World Rally Championship programme, unveiled Dale’s new mount – a latest-specification Hyundai Accent WRC3 built and supported by Milton Keynes-based Motor Sport Developments Limited (MSD). The car is sponsored by Dubai-based The House of Cars Group, Sony’s PlayStation 2, and Michelin Tyres, and Dale (31) will be joined – as always – by his regular Sussex co-driver Andrew Bargery (33).
After a presentation to the press, sponsors and other guests, Protrak and MSD headed off to Drive & Survive’s training facility at nearby Enstone, where the team undertook a thorough shakedown of the new car. Dale was understandably upbeat about his future WRC career, which will start with the Cyprus Rally (18-22 June) and continue with 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). He will also take part in the reconnaissance runs on other WRC events to help him gain experience for a full season in 2004 or 2005.
"Since I first drove a rally car, I’ve had a burning ambition to succeed at World Rally Championship level," he said. "Protrak and the other sponsors have given me that opportunity and I’ve now got the chance to prove myself against the best drivers in the world. The Accent looks great and will be the ideal car to cut my teeth on, and the MSD management and technicians have been superb with their support and advice."
"At last we’re ready to get the new team up and running," added Paul Risbridger, MSD’s general manager. "We know Justin’s got the talent and personality to become an important part of our future development, and we’ll be looking after him to make sure that gets the maximum experience out of this year. We’ll run him alongside Armin (Schwartz) and Freddy (Loix), our two works drivers, and see how he goes. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him and Protrak."
Protrak’s managing director, Mark Taylor, is now looking for opportunities to give Justin and Andrew some pre-Cyprus ‘match practice’, and has entered them in the forthcoming South Swedish Rally later this month (23-24 May) where they will start at No.14.
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