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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Next Round 7: Brother Rally New Zealand 21-24 June



For rally drivers, New Zealand comes very close to rallying nirvana. The sweeping, rollercoaster roads and lush green scenery will look very familiar to anybody who has seen The Lord of the Rings, filmed entirely on location in New Zealand. There is a magical atmosphere to the whole country and its return to the World Rally Championship calendar in 2012 following a one-year absence is keenly anticipated.

The stages consist mainly of fast and cambered smooth gravel roads in spectacular valleys amid breath-taking scenery, while some asphalt sections will feature on the competitive route.

Official Website: rallynz.org.nz/

Listen Live: worldrallyradio.com/

Watch Speed TV(USA): speedtv.com//filter/program/wrc



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I just read that the event will be broadcast live on NZ tv, skysports? Does anyone have confirmatoin of this and if so, a link to watch it? Does sopcast have an NZ skysports channel?
 

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was this part of the 3 wrc events on speed tv deal?
 

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1 hr show 11:00 pm Sunday and a replay sometime early Monday morning.
 

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I just looked at the itinerary , Day 1 actually is about 1/3 of the rally, making their chosen starting position actually matter (where as most of the other rallies had them running 1 stage , and then reseeding)

:) woohoo... Peter is far enough behind that a Win won't put him into a championship position.. so hopefully he can win this one. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Latvala leads way in NZ qualifying

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala set the pace today in the qualifying stage for this weekend's Rally New Zealand.

Latvala completed the 5.06 kilometre Inland Road test in 2 minutes 31.86 seconds, putting him 0.37 seconds up on his former team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen. Latvala will now get first choice of start position for the opening day.

“I had a very good feeling. We did a little modification to the rear diff and I was more comfortable with the car, we were using hard tyres in the morning so the times were not so good but we used the softs now,” Latvala remarked.

Hirvonen added: “I made one small mistake but overall I was really struggling on the shakedown to find a good setup and rhythm, but that [the qualifying stage] was awesome. The last couple of corners were just perfect. I really enjoyed it.”

Petter Solberg meanwhile was third, 0.17 seconds off Hirvonen, followed by Sebastien Loeb and Thierry Neuville, the latter standing in for Nasser Al-Attiyah and competing under the Qatar WRT banner.

“I tried to get the feeling; we haven't driven since Greece but the feeling is still good. No problem, maybe a small mistake but Mikko did a very good time,” Solberg said.

Behind, Ott Tanak took sixth for the M-Sport Ford WRT, with Dani Sordo, Jari Ketomaa, Evgeny Novikov and Manfred Stohl rounding out the top ten.

Drivers will now select their start positions in a few hours time. Rally New Zealand then begins proper on Friday, with SS1, the 11.18 kilometre Te Hutewai 1 test, starting at 08.28 hours [local time].


Rally New Zealand: Qualifying stage:

1. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC 2mins 31.86secs M
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +0.37secs M
3. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +0.54secs M
4. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +0.89secs M
5. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +1.09secs M
6. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +1.27secs M
7. Dani Sordo Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC +1.37secs
8. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2.08s
9. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +2.32s M
10. Manfred Stohl Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +5.79s M
11. Ken Block Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +5.91s
12. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +6.41s
13. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +19.90secs

all times unofficial

click: crash.net/world+rally/news/181034/

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Rivals split on start order choice in NZ

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala has chosen to run 13th in the order on the opening day of Rally New Zealand, a different strategy to his key rivals.

Latvala got first pick of position after he was quickest in the qualifying stage [see separate story - here]. He then opted for a position as far down the order as possible so as to avoid having to clean the road. Mikko Hirvonen was next up to choose after being second quickest in qualifying, but with the possibility of rain, he elected to run at the head of the pack, a choice mirrored by Petter Solberg and Sebastien Loeb, who will run second and third respectively.

“The plan was that obviously as we are [heading] south tomorrow there is more gravel on the top surface than ever before. I know it's winter and there is still a risk with the rain but I still believe when you do 200 stage kilometres and it will be dry at some point so I think the road will need cleaning, so that's why we want to be further back. I'm not so scared about starting so far back,” Latvala explained.

The full starting order for the 13 priority seeded drivers is as follows:


Rally New Zealand: Day 1 running order:

1. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC M
2. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC M
4. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
5. Dani Sordo Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC
6. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta RS WRC
7. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
8. Manfred Stohl Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC
9. Ken Block Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC
10. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC
11. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC
12. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC M
13. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M

click: crash.net/world+rally/news/181035/


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Ken Block says World Rally Championship format hurts privateers

Ken Block says the current World Rally Championship regulations are hampering his chances of developing as a driver.

The American Gymkhana star is only competing on three WRC rounds this season. This year the day one running order on gravel rallies is set by allowing the fastest drivers from qualifying to have first choice of their road position. Block was only 11th quickest in New Zealand qualifying on Thursday so is likely to be among the drivers running in the worst of the dusty conditions on Friday's opening loop of competition south of Auckland.

"I'm facing the fact that I'm coming here to sweep roads for factory drivers," said Block. "The FIA is putting private drivers in a scenario that hurts private drivers. Other championships try to promote all the competitors and when one driver is winning a lot they might even put more weight on that car, but here they put everything in favour of the factory guys."

Block said he would not let his position on the road hinder his enjoyment of the stages.

"There will be a substantial amount of sweeping tomorrow," said Block, "but it is what it is and I'm going to just go out and enjoy myself. I love this country and these roads."

Block is no stranger to New Zealand, having contested four rounds of the New Zealand Rally Championship in 2007.

"I had a great time that year," he said. "I was driving a Group N car and wanted more experience - and we don't run Group N in America. I finished on the podium on my fourth event, which was a good achievement given how specialised these roads are."

click: autosport.com/news/100522

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Ken is complaining about sweeping the roads??? He is running ninth with only 1 driver in the top 8 starting behind him.
 

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Uhm... did block forget if he wants to pick a better starting position , all he has to do is qualify better?

anyone else wondering if he only said that, to make a story, promote his sponsors (though not listed in the article) ??
 

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I just looked at the itinerary , Day 1 actually is about 1/3 of the rally, making their chosen starting position actually matter (where as most of the other rallies had them running 1 stage , and then reseeding)

:) woohoo... Peter is far enough behind that a Win won't put him into a championship position.. so hopefully he can win this one. :)
 

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I have always rooted for him. From when he used to win, to the dark days of his Subaru always failing, to his privateer days, and now - I feel like he's the best shot to beat Loeb.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Friday

SS1: Latvala's choice pays off




Jari-Matti Latvala's choice of a lowly spot in the Brother Rally New Zealand start order proved absolutely correct on Te Hutewai, stage one of the event.

Amid fears of rain for Friday's opening day, both works Citroen drivers and Ford's Petter Solberg had opted to go early in the running order for leg one - contrary to usual practice in New Zealand where the roads tend to be among the most dusty of the season for those opening the stages.

With Friday dawning dry and clear, Latvala found 13th place on the road to be ideal, and came through to win the stage by 2.8 seconds over Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen and 3.5s over the #1 Citroen of Sebastien Loeb.

But Latvala's main concern at the end of the stage was the plight of his team-mate Petter Solberg, who was the only one of the frontrunners to opt for hard rather than soft tyres, and lost 18s, leaving him seventh.

"I know there are a couple of places where I went wide but it's OK. I'm more worried about Petter losing so much time on this stage," said Latvala. "I hope he won't suffer like that anymore. It's very difficult now for Petter on the next stage."

click: wrc.com/news/nz ss1




Overall 18. 43 K. BLOCK 8:18.4 +1.0 +40.0

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SS2: Hirvonen charges clear

Mikko Hirvonen surged into the Brother Rally New Zealand lead on stage two, Whaanga Coast, as road conditions turned in Citroen's favour after Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala's stage one win.

While Latvala chose to run at the tail of the World Rally Car field in the day one starting order, the Citroens and the second Ford of Petter Solberg are all early in the running order, having anticipated rain.

Although everything had gone Latvala's way on stage one, Whaanga Coast brought more dampness and mud, and that meant first man on the road Hirvonen was able to stretch out a 10.9-second lead over Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb and 11.5s over erstwhile leader Latvala - despite not being entirely happy with the stage.

"There was a lot more loose gravel on the road than in the recce," said Hirvonen. "There was so much of that now in the fast section."

Loeb, third on the road, reported that the surface was already getting more difficult in Hirvonen's wake.

"For sure we need the soft tyre in the morning, it's getting very muddy," said Loeb. "Mikko was 10s faster than me and part of that was because he's first on the road and it's getting muddy behind. I've done a good stage, it's OK."

click: wrc.com/news/nz ss2



Overall 17. 43 K. BLOCK 30:49.7 +3.4 +2:16.7

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SS3: Loeb fights back



The tense early battle for the Brother Rally New Zealand lead took another twist on stage three, Te Akau South, as Sebastien Loeb went quickest and inched closer to his Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen.

As had been the case on the previous stage, the roads were wet and muddy in places, meaning running early in the order was no disadvantage for the Citroens - but neither was it really damp enough to harm Jari-Matti Latvala's pace as the Ford driver came through at the tail of the World Rally Car field.

Loeb was quickest by 1.7 seconds over Latvala and 3.4s ahead of stage-opener Hirvonen, bringing the world champion to within 7.5s of his rally-leading Finnish team-mate. Latvala is only 2.3s further back in third.

There was a change for fourth place as Thierry Neuville lost several seconds when he spun his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen. That error by Neuville and a quick time from the Russian elevated Evgeny Novikov into fourth, ahead of his M-Sport Ford team-mate Ott Tanak.

Frustration continued for Petter Solberg (Ford) on his hard tyres, as another relatively slow time left him still seventh in the overall order. The Norwegian is running 19s ahead of Dani Sordo's Prodrive WRC Team Mini, which is also having a tough time on the harder rubber.

There a major change in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship, as leader P-G Andersson retired, handing the lead to Haydon Paddon.

click: wrc.com/news/nz ss3




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SS4: Citroen duo take charge

Mikko Hirvonen's lead over his Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb was down to just 3.9 seconds after stage four of Brother Rally New Zealand.

A second straight stage win for Loeb on Te Akau North saw the world champion almost halve his team-mate's advantage as the battle at the front became an all-Citroen affair.

The duo benefited from road conditions being wet enough to make their gamble of running early in the start order worthwhile. Jari-Matti Latvala and Ford preferred to go late, but so far this morning that has not worked out. Unhappy with his car's handling, Latvala dropped to 16s off the lead by the end of the morning loop.

M-Sport Ford's Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tanak are still fourth and fifth, as Qatar World Rally Team Citroen driver Thierry Neuville struggled with very worn tyres by the time stage four came around, and is now beginning to feel pressure from Petter Solberg (Ford) behind him.

Both PROTONS have now retired, so Hayden Paddon is a lonely Super 2000 World Rally Championship leader in 10th place overall.

click: wrc.com/news/nz ss4



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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
SS5: Loeb piles on the pressure



Sebastien Loeb reduced his Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen's Brother Rally New Zealand lead to just 1.5s as he set the fastest time on stage five, the repeat of the Te Hutewai stage.

With some predicting that stage five would be the least wet of the loop, Hirvonen's position as first on the road had the potential to be costly as he cleared the loose surface from the top of the roads, but he only lost just over 2s to Loeb.

The world champion did not think there was a big cleaning effect yet, though, and was more concerned about how he would keep his soft tyres intact to the end of the day.

"I don't know if it's cleaning or not, but for sure it's hard for the tyre," said Loeb. "It will not be easy on this loop. You can do nothing, you have to drive on softs in these conditions."

Third-placed Jari-Matti Latvala was also slightly quicker than Hirvonen, but remains 15s off the lead and said he was saving tyre life for later in the afternoon.

"I think we were losing a bit to Loeb, but we also need to think about the tyres," said Latvala. "The long stages are now more important."

Both Ford World Rally Team entries are now on soft tyres after Petter Solberg's disastrous hard tyre choice this morning. The Norwegian was immediately on the pace following his tyre change at service, and has already reclaimed sixth from Thierry Neuville.

It was much closer straight away," said Solberg. "It was a very tough morning, I must say. Now I'll try and get into the rhythm properly."

click: wrc.com/news/nz ss5



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SS6: Hirvonen gets some space

Mikko Hirvonen's stunning speed on the final part of the famous Whaanga Coast stage allowed him to rebuild a 7.6-second lead in his Brother Rally New Zealand battle with Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb.

The reigning world champion had been edging ever closer to Hirvonen with a string of fastest times on the preceding three stages.

But as had been the case in the morning, Hirvonen had the edge on Whaanga Coast, particularly its concluding section, and by the end of the stage he had been able to turn his tiny 1.5s lead into a slightly more comfortable 7.6s cushion. All Loeb could do was admire his team-mate's efforts.

"Mikko was again very fast at the end. I don't know why," said Loeb. "I can't match his speed there."

Hirvonen ended the stage on a concerned note, though, as he feared that the improving weather would start to penalise his position at the head of the start order.

"It has been drying a lot more than we expected," the Finn admitted. "If the next two stages are like that we could be in a little bit of trouble."

But he added: "I am having so much fun and this is a really great battle with Seb to be exchanging times back and forward like we are."

Third-placed Jari-Matti Latvala lost 10s to Hirvonen on the stage, and is now 25s off the lead, but the Ford man expects to reduce that gap over the final two Friday stages.

"I tried to save the tyres," Latvala explained. "The next two are the important ones - the long and fast stages."

click: wrc.com/news/nz ss6



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SS7: Disaster for Latvala



Jari-Matti Latvala's bid for Brother Rally New Zealand victory appears to be over after a mistake on the second run through Te Akau South cost him four minutes and dropped his Ford Fiesta RS WRC from third to ninth place.

The Finn was trying to push to catch the leading Citroens on the two Te Akau stages after saving tyres earlier in the loop, but became entangled in a fence after a 'cut' on the inside of a corner went wrong. Latvala needed help from spectators to get going again, and eventually finished the stage 4m47s behind the leaders.

Sebastien Loeb was fastest on the stage, responding to his rally-leading Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen's stage six pace by taking three seconds out of the Finn's lead on Te Akau South. The gap between the two Citroens is back down to 4.6s going into the final stage of leg one.

Latvala's error has elevated M-Sport Ford driver Evgeny Novikov to third place, but the Russian will have to keep an eye on flying works Ford World Rally Team driver Petter Solberg, who moved ahead of Novikov's team-mate Ott Tanak on stage seven and is now within 19.2s of third.

Thierry Neuville (Qatar Citroen), Dani Sordo (Prodrive Mini) and Armindo Araujo (Portugal Mini) occupy positions six, seven and eight, while behind the delayed Latvala a battle for 10th is brewing as Monster Ford driver Ken Block raises his pace and closes in on Brazil World Rally Team's returnee Manfred Stohl. Super 2000 World Rally Championship leader Hayden Paddon is close behind the two Ford World Rally Cars but is now nursing gearbox issues.



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SS8: Loeb fastest

Sebastien Loeb has snatched the lead of Brother Rally New Zealand by winning the final stage of day one, the repeat of Te Akau North.

Driving a Citroen DS3 WRC, Loeb was 7.8s faster than Petter Solberg’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC with Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen 8.6s down on the eight-time world champion.

It means Loeb now leads overall by 4.0s heading to the end of day service in Auckland. Hirvonen, meanwhile, said his soft-compound tyres were badly worn and lacked grip as a result.

Spain’s Dani Sordo was the leading MINI driver in fourth with M-Sport Ford privateer Ott Tanak fifth fastest, despite a moment, and the recovering Jari-Matti Latvala sixth quickest for Ford.

Suspected driveshaft problems for Manfred Stohl allowed Ken Block to snatch 10th overall, while Thierry Neuville felt he lost time getting caught behind Thierry Neuville.

New Zealand hero Hayden Paddon completed the stage but is concerned whether or not his Skoda Fabia S2000, which has clutch and gearbox issues, will be make it back to service in Auckland.



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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Friday wrap:

Sebastien Loeb leads his Citroen Total World Rally team-mate Mikko Hirvonen by 4s in a Citroen DS3 WRC following the first full day of action at Brother Rally New Zealand, round seven of the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship.

Ford World Rally Team’s Jari-Matti Latvala was lying third until the Finnish driver collided with a fence on stage 7 and lost over four minutes trying to get his Ford Fiesta RS WRC back on the road. The incident saw Latvala drop back to ninth.

“I’m really, really disappointed. I can’t remember being this disappointed for a long time,” explained a disheartened Latvala.

“It was a combination left-right corner, but everyone had been cutting there so I went for the cut as well and the cars in front must have made a hole on the inside and the front-right wheel touched the hole and spun the car into a wire fence. The wire went into the front wheel and we couldn’t move anywhere. We had to wait until the farmer came with some side cutters but by that time I had lost four minutes," added the 27-year-old.

Team-mate Petter Solberg had an equally troubled day after the Norwegian lost over a minute this morning after opting for hard compound Michelin tyres. He finishes the day fourth overall.

“The soft tyre choice was definitely the best for this morning, and my choice to run second on the road seemed to work well given the road conditions,” explained rally leader Loeb. “But there is still a long way to go and tomorrow’s stages are more technical than today. The long stage tomorrow [Girls High School] has a lot of camber, and it is high speed. This is not an easy rally but we will see what happens tomorrow.”

After a trouble-free day in an M-Sport run Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Russia’s Evgeny Novikov is third. Team-mate Ott Tanak is fifth in a similar car, 7.7s adrift of Solberg in fourth.

Competing in New Zealand for the first time, Thierry Neuville is sixth for the Citroen Junior World Rally Team. The Belgian driver reported problems with his pacenotes led to a spin during stage 3 but a drama-free afternoon saw Neuville finish the day 31s behind Estonia’s Tanak.

MINI WRC Team’s Dani Sordo struggled to find grip after a wrong decision to use hard compound tyres on the opening loop, but a clear afternoon pass saw the driver move up into seventh.

Another driver to fall foul of the wrong tyre choice was America’s Ken Block. Block was disappointed with the choice, and struggled further being out of the Ford Fiesta RS WRC since Rally Mexico. But a change to soft compound tyres for the afternoon loop saw the American win a day-long battle for 10th place with Austria’s Manfred Stohl.

click: wrc.com/friday wrap


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Friday PWRC wrap:

Argentina's Marcos Ligato is leading the FIA Production World Rally Championship category on Brother Rally New Zealand following a faultless performance at the wheel of a Subaru Imprea WRX STI.

Six out of eight stage wins helped Ligato carve a 1m40.1s lead over Sweden’s Ramona Karlsson. Karlsson and co-driver Miriam Walfridsson - the only all-female duo competing in New Zealand - proved their ability behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X to snatch the remaining two fastest stage times.

“Everything is finally going okay for us,” said Ligato at the end of day one. “We’ve had a lot of problems on the first two rallies this year, and everything finally seems to be going better with the car. Certainly, there is still a long way to go but if we keep going like this then we should be able to keep hold of our lead.”

Despite losing time on the opening loop due to a turbo problem on his Lancer Evolution IX, Valeriy Gorban holds third. With current series leader Benito Guerra not nominating the fifth round of this year’s PWRC as one of scoring events, Gorban will be eager to hold onto a podium position in order to close in on Guerra in the championship standings.

read more: wrc.com/PWRC friday wrap

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Damn you Petter, why did you have to try out Hard compound tires... Its almost like the ford boss forces him to pick the wrong tires once per rally... (or maybe the tire choice freedom needs to be revoked)
 

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Oooh i like that combo ! (though i don't have high hopes of them winning) Petter has the talent to beat Loeb on any 1 given stage. But he has bad luck (driving style maybe? too hard on his gear?) . Seems he's good for at least 1 big mistake per rally. whether that's wrong tire choice, or an Off. its usually something.

Its hard to be as consistent as loeb .

Mads is awesome .. wonder how much faster he would be in a manufacturer's Ride ? (top 5 maybe? maybe 4?)
 

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I'm wondering the same thing. I don't like being out of the loop.....

Edit: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120604/wrc/120609939

Lack of sponsorship, funding it seems. If the rumors of JML moving to VW next year are true, I can see solberg/mads as the top ford squad.
Yeah, thats what i was thinking. I dont know if Ostberg wants to leave his situation, but Ford team is the natural place to go.
 
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