WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2012

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VM kalendern 2012 VM kalendern 2013
17-22 jan Monte Carlo *, ** » Läs mer
9-12 febr Sverige ** » Läs mer
8-11 mars Mexico *  
29 mar 1 apr Portugal ** » Läs mer
27-29 apr Argentina *  
25- 27 maj Grekland *
22-24 jun Nya Zeeland *, **  
2-5 aug Finland ** » Läs mer
24-26 aug Tyskland *
13-16 sept Storbritanien, Wales ** » Läs mer
4-7 okt Frankrike ** » Läs mer
18-21 okt Italien *
1-4 nov Spanien *, ** » Läs mer
 
= Rallyt pågår
 
 
* = GrN-VM
 
 
** = SWRC
 
18-20 jan Monte Carlo
8-10 febr Sverige
7-10 mars Mexico
12-14 april Portugal
3-5 maj Argentina
31 maj-2 juni Grekland
21-23 juni Italien
2-4 aug Rally Finland
TBC Rally Tyskland
13-15 sept Australien
4-6 okt Frankrike
25-27 okt t Spanien
15-17 nov England
   
   
   

 


12-12-19 Ramona släpper playsida med Solidtango
I dag släpper Sveriges snaabbaste kvinnliga rallyförare Ramona Karlsson Playsidan ”VM-resan” där vi får hänga med bakom kulisserna från den unika VM-satsningen i rally från 2012.

På VM-resan får vi följa med Ramona Karlsson och Miriam Walfridsson på deras allra första VM-äventyr som pågått under 2012. En resa som innehöll alltifrån hysteriska fans i Mexico till en olycklig bilbrand i Nya Zeeland som satte stopp för deras andraplats i VM.
- Det har verkligen varit en jättehäftig och spännande säsong, men nu lägger vi VM-äventyret bakom oss för den här gången, säger Ramona, och fortsätter. Att samla allt videoinnehåll på en playsida känns som ett bra avslut när jag ser fram emot nya utmaningar och förhoppningsvis kan presentera ett nytt spännande projekt inom kort.
- Att en rallystjärna som Ramona Karlsson väljer Solidtango som sin leverantör för livesändningar, video och nu även Playsida, är vi mycket stolta över och sporrar oss i utvecklingen av Solidtango. Precis som för Ramona är det plattan i botten som gäller för hela teamet bakom plattformen, avslutar Johan Lundqvist grundare av Solidtango.

Ta del av hängivnaa fans i Mexico: http://vmresan.solidtango.com/video/mexico-den-langa-versionen-309 eller bilbranden på Nya Zeeland: http://vmresan.solidtango.com/video/nya-zeeland-272 och alla andra videos: http://vmresan.solidtango.com
12-12-18 Rätt hjälmbärare ska hjälpa Volkswagen till WRC-titeln
Känner du till Franc Rimière? Ska man tro motorsportlegendaren Jacky Ickx så var denne man absolut ovärderlig för Ickx framgångar i motorsportvärlden på 1960- och 1970-talet. Ingen annan kunde sköta om hans hjälm så bra som Franc. Det är möjligt att någon ställer sig skeptisk till Jacky Ickx utsaga – men faktum är att Volkswagen nu söker en ny framgångsrik hjälmbärare till sitt WRC-team!

Lovorden vet inga gränser när Jacky Ickx väljer att hylla fransmannen Franc Rimière för hans sätt att sköta om den forne racingstjärnans hjälm. Ickx, som bland annat vunnit Le Mans sex gånger och dessutom slutat tvåa i Formel 1, arbetar idag som motorsportambassadör för Volkswagen.

I en film avslöjar han nu hemligheten bakom sina framgångar. Och det står helt klart att Franc Rimière har en viktig del i dessa. Franc kom till exempel på genidraget att ändra höjden på hjälmöverlämnandet till 112 centimeter. Det gav den ideala vinkel på 15 grader vid överlämnandet till föraren. Han kom dessutom på ett helt eget steg för att på bästa sätt gå fram till föraren och lämna hjälmen.
– De detaljerna har spelat en nyckelroll i framgången, fastslår Jacky Ickx i filmen.

Volkswagen, som går in i WRC med helt nyutvecklade Polo R WRC, 2013 har nu insett vikten av att ha rätt hjälmbärare till sitt rallyteam. Därför söker man nu en ny medarbetare av Franc Rimières kaliber – man vill helt enkelt ha ingen mindre än världens bästa hjälmbärare. Redan till Monte Carlo-rallyt som går i januari hoppas man ha lyckats med sitt uppdrag. Den som utses får vara VIP-gäst och en del i Volkswagens rallyteam under rallyt. Tävlingen pågår till 4 januari.

Den som känner sig manad kan söka tjänsten på sajten www.rallytheworld.com Där laddar man upp en representativ bild av sig själv, för att visa att man faktiskt är världens bästa hjälmbärare.

Filmen om Jacky Ickx och Franc Rimière finns att beskåda här: www.rallytheworld.com/en/#/holder/ol-video-helmetholder
12-12-04 Ford wishes Solberg well as Norwegian bows out of WRC
Ford has paid tribute to Norway’s Petter Solberg after he announced today (Tuesday) that he will not compete in the FIA World Rally Championship in 2013.

Solberg and co-driver Chris Patterson drove for Ford World Rally Team in the WRC in 2012, achieving four podium finishes and 44 stage wins in their Fiesta RS World Rally Car on their way to fifth in the championship.

Solberg first drove for Ford at the beginning of his WRC career in 1999 and 2000, before returning to the team in 2012.

Ford Racing senior manager Gerard Quinn said the sport would be poorer for the 2003 world champion’s departure: “Petter has been a charismatic and popular member of the service park for over a decade, and we are sure that motorsport has not seen the last of him. All of us at Ford wish him every future success,” he said.

“It will be strange to begin a WRC season with no Petter Solberg in the service park, and I will miss him on a personal as well as a professional level,” added M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson. “When we first signed him back in 1999, he was a fresh-faced youngster with a lot of potential and equally a lot to learn, and when he returned to Ford more than a decade later as a world champion, it was like he had come home.

“It was a pleasure to have Petter in the team this year and we are delighted to have shared in some of his many successes in rallying. We wish him well for the future,” he concluded.
12-11-05 Ingen start i Spanien – men Ramona ser framåt
Till helgen avgörs den sista tävlingen i Rally-VM, Rally RACC i Spanien. Ramona och Miriam måste tyvärr avstå tävlingen på grund av en ej ännu avslutad försäkringsprocess.

I VM i Nya Zeeland låg Ramona och Miriam på en 2:a plats, men under andra tävlingsdagens sista sträcka tog rallybilen plötsligt eld och brann upp. Sedan dess har det varit en lång och utdragen process med försäkringsbolaget, som ännu inte är avslutad. Detta innebär att Ramona ännu inte fått ersättning för den förlorade bilen, och har därmed inte budget till att komma till start.
- Det känns självklart jättetråkigt. Jag förberedde mig för ”worst case scenario” genom att teckna en brandförsäkring, men uppenbarligen så blir detta en betydligt längre process än vad jag räknat med, säger Ramona besviket. – Nu blir det fortsatt fullt fokus på att lösa detta så snart som möjligt, samtidigt som jag jobbar med tillförsikt inför 2013 års säsong då vi har spännande planer. Exakt vilka planer vill inte Ramona avslöja ännu. – Det är lite för tidigt ännu, eftersom ingenting är klart. En dag i taget, och i första hand måste vi lösa sviterna efter branden. Det enda jag kan lova är att jag kommer att jobba stenhårt och målmedvetet för att sitta i en rallybil snart igen, säger Ramona.
12-11-03 Viva La Vida (and Rally de España)
‘Ciao everyone,
‘Bruno at WRC Team MINI Portugal here! We’re all set to tackle Rally de España, the final round of this year’s World Rally Championship. It might be the last event on this year's calendar, but as always we're approaching it head on with maximum focus!

‘I’ve competed in Spain as a Team Manager four times and I’ve got some good memories. One of the best is from 2009 when we were running the Pirelli Star Driver Programme and Jarkko Nikara (who was weened on the Finnish gravel) got his first ever Group N podium on Tarmac with us. It was a big satisfaction for everyone to see a young driver start to realise his potential with our team.

‘Rally de España is unique in the WRC calendar, because it's the only event which runs on mixed surfaces. That means high pressure when we do the set-up switch Friday night! There will be a lot to change after the Day One gravel ready for the Day Two Tarmac. We have a one hour fifteen minute service and everyone needs to be 100% committed and concentrated. What needs to be changed? The most obvious things are tyres and rims, but also the gearbox, differential, dampers, springs, anti-roll bars, brakes and under body protection like the sump guard. The surface change change also means the drivers have to adapt their driving style overnight.

‘Chris has an idea of the rally’s Tarmac stages from previous outings, but his last time competing in Spain was in 2008, so he’s never tackled the mixed surface version of the event. He’s ready for pretty much anything though after he and Stéphane were crowned FIA Asia Pacific Rally Champions last week at Rally China. We’re very proud of him – it’s a great result and well-deserved.

‘While Chris was hightailing it around the world to scoop his first ever international title, we were in the workshop making some changes to his MINI. Just between us, we have a small problem in the team. None of us are ever satisfied! ;-) Within about a minute of getting MINI’s best result on gravel this year at Rally Italia Sardegna, our minds had turned to Rally de España. Now, we’ve used Chris’ (very precise) post-event feedback to evolve some non-homologated parts for Spain and are waiting to see how they go on the test!

‘Meanwhile Paulo and Edu contested Rally de España last year and they’re really looking forward to getting back in Porquinho Verde. Paulo’s made great progress on Tarmac during the reason and little-by-little he’s becoming more comfortable on it. Who knows, we might even see him fulfil his dream and claim that elusive Top 10 he’s been after all season. Here’s hoping!

‘We’re testing on Monday so Chris and Paulo can both find the best set-up for their MINIs for the rally. Then it's all systems go to get ready for the Qualifying Stage and our first ever Ceremonial Start in Barcelona. One of the best things about Rally de España is the huge numbers of spectators on the stages and I imagine Barcelona will be packed out too! As well as the MINIs, we’ll be there cheering the start of the last PWRC round for our sister team Ralliart Italia. We really hope that one of our boys, Benny or Michal, will claim the world title next weekend, but I don’t want to speak too soon!

‘In keeping with Rally de España’s mixed surfaces we’ve decided to do ‘mixed voices’ updates so you’ll hear from other team members during the week. Never fear though, I’ll be back on Sunday for the final wrap-up. ?

‘For now that’s all from me, but stay tuned - there’s a lot more to come.

‘Arrivederci,’
Bruno
12-11-02 Ford aims high with Fiesta at world championship finale in Spain
Ford aims to end its official participation in the FIA World Rally Championship on a high note next week when the 2012 season comes to a close in Spain. After the decision to stop its factory team at the end of the year, Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila and team-mates Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson have targeted a successful finale at Rally de España (8 - 11 November).

Ford has already secured second in the manufacturers’ championship with the Fiesta RS World Rally Car. The destination of the title and the runner-up placings in the drivers’ series have already been decided, but both Ford pairings are involved in a three-way battle for third. Thirteen points cover the trio, with a maximum 28 available from Spain.

Rally de España is based in the Costa Daurada holiday resort of Salou, south-west of Barcelona, and is one of the most varied rounds of the season. Traditionally a pure asphalt fixture over smooth and flowing roads in the Tarragona region, it has evolved into a mixed surface event in recent years with the introduction of gravel speed tests.

Friday’s opening leg is 90 per cent gravel, with several short asphalt sections included. The most demanding challenge will be the 44.02km Terra Alta special stage which includes three surface changes. Latvala and Solberg’s Fiesta RS WRCs will be prepared to full gravel specification for the day, after which the team will convert them to asphalt trim for the final two legs.

The sealed surface roads are fast and can be compared to a race circuit in their characteristics. They are smooth, often abrasive and can become slippery as drivers cut corners to save vital tenths of a second, dragging stones and dirt onto the surface.

Latvala is nine points ahead of Solberg in the points standings and the 27-year-old Finn is confident after what he described as his best asphalt performance en route to second in France last month. He finished third in Spain last year, his best result there from eight starts.

“It’s a dream of mine to win an asphalt rally and I’ve always thought that Spain could give me the best opportunity,” he said. “But to be able to challenge I must be in a good position after the opening day on gravel. A strong first leg will give me a platform from which I can go out and do my best over the last two days on asphalt.

“The roads are smoother and wider than elsewhere in the series. They’re well used by the public so they’re maintained to a high level. A lot of repair work has been done to ensure there are far fewer places where we can cut corners, there are only a couple of stages where this is possible now. Cutting drags a lot of dirt onto the roads and so this means conditions are more even for all of us.

Latvala completed more than 200km of testing on Wednesday in mixed conditions. “It was damp and cool in the morning and full dry later in the day. It was good experience because the rally is later in the calendar than normal and those are the type of conditions that we will likely encounter,” he added.

Solberg has plenty of Spanish experience, the 37-year-old Norwegian preparing for his 11th start. His best result was in 2010 when he finished second. He is buoyed by a 250km asphalt test on Tuesday, which he described as ‘the best test session of the year’.

“I really enjoyed the work we did and it’s given me extra confidence for the rally,” he enthused. “My target is clear – to go there and try to win. That’s more important to me than chasing a medal for finishing third in the championship. If I take third in the points, then that’s a bonus, but a gold medal for winning the rally would mean more than a bronze in the championship.

“It’s the final round and both titles are decided, so there will be a lot of people with nothing to lose who will be pushing hard. It’s a great rally and the asphalt is fast and smooth. It’s the closest the WRC comes to competing on a race circuit. Mixed surfaces bring something different to the series, but I’m not keen on gravel and asphalt in the same stage. It should be one or the other,” said Solberg.

Team News

* As both loose surface and asphalt stages are used, Michelin will have Latitude Cross gravel tyres and Pilot Sport asphalt rubber available. Latitude Cross tyres will be used for Thursday’s qualifying and Friday’s opening leg. Drivers have 14 hard compound and eight soft compound covers available, and can use a maximum of 15. For the final two all-asphalt legs, 20 Pilot Sport tyres can be used from a selection of 18 hard and 16 soft compound covers. Teams are not allowed to hand-carve additional cuts into the tyres and each car can carry two spare wheels.

* Six private crews will drive Fiesta RS WRCs. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team has entered two cars for Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk and WRC debutants John Powell / Michael Fenell. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson will compete for Adapta World Rally Team and Daniel Oliveira / Carlos Magalhaes will represent Brazil World Rally Team. Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hruza will crew the Czech Ford National Team car and the Fiesta RS WRC entries are completed by Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor. Both Prokop and Novikov will be run by Autotek Motorsport and will use DMACK tyres.

* Eight crews are entered for the final round of the Ford Racing-backed FIA WRC Academy. The title was won at the previous round in France by Elfyn Evans / Phil Pugh but four crews will battle it out in Fiesta R2 cars for the runner-up spot - Brendan Reeves / Rhianon Smyth, José Suárez / Cándido Carrera, Pontus Tidemand / Stig Skjaemoen and John MacCrone / Stuart Loudon.

Rally Route
Most of the route is familiar from the past two years, but innovations for 2012 include a Barcelona city centre start ceremony on Thursday evening and a special stage on Salou seafront on Friday. Salou’s PortAventura theme park hosts the single service park and the action spans the Tarragona region. After Thursday morning’s qualifying, drivers journey into Barcelona for the start in the Plaza de la Catedral. Friday’s opening leg west of Salou is 90 per cent gravel and includes a new test early in the morning and a short mixed surface evening stage along the town’s seafront. The second asphalt leg heads north-west and contains two passes over the 45.97km El Priorat test, one of the longest of the season. The final day is closer to Salou and includes the Power Stage, with bonus points on offer to the fastest three drivers. Competitors tackle 18 stages covering 405.46km in a route of 1391.73km.

RALLY DE ESPANA
ROUND 13 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
8 - 11 November 2012
Thursday 8 November: Qualifying
QS Emprius de Salou 2.94km 10.00
Start Plaza de la Catedral, Barcelona 19.30

Friday 9 November: Day 1: Salou - Salou
Start PortAventura 06.15
SS1 Gandesa 7.00km 07.45
SS2 Pesells 1 26.59km 08.10
SS3 Terra Alta 1 44.02km 09.19
Serv A PortAventura (30 mins) 11.32
SS4 Pesells 2 26.59km 13.35
SS5 Terra Alta 2 44.02km 14.44
SS6 Salou 2.00km 17.00
Serv B PortAventura (flexi 1hr 15 min) 17.15
Finish PortAventura 18.30
Total 150.22km

Saturday 10 November: Day 2: Salou - Salou
Serv C PortAventura (15 mins) 07.00
SS7 La Mussara 1 20.48km 08.00
SS8 El Priorat 1 45.97km 09.15
SS9 Riba-roja d’Ebre 2 14.20km 10.26
Serv D PortAventura (30 mins) 12.36
SS10 La Mussara 2 20.48km 13.51
SS11 El Priorat 2 45.97km 15.06
SS12 Riba-roja d’Ebre 2 14.20km 16.17
Serv E PortAventura (flexi 45 mins) 18.12
Finish PortAventura 18.57
Total 161.30km

Sunday 11 November: Day 3: Salou - Salou
Serv F PortAventura (15 mins) 07.00
SS13 Riudecanyes 1 16.35km 07.50
SS14 Santa Marina 1 26.51km 08.51
SS15 La Serra d’Almos 1 4.11km 09.47
Serv G PortAventura (30 mins) 10.47
SS16 Riudecanyes 2 16.35km 11.52
SS17 Santa Marina 2 26.51km 12.53
SS18 La Serra d’Almos 2 4.11km 13.49
Serv G PortAventura (10 mins) 14.42
Finish Salou 15.02
Total 93.94km
Rally total 405.46km

12-10-21 The Italian Job
'Yep, it's Katie at WRC Team MINI Portugal.
'And this is it - my final press release on the final day of Rally d'Italia.

'We might have only run two stages totally 16.48km today, but we've managed to pack in plenty of excitement!

'First off, we changed Atko's set-up last night. As I mentioned earlier in the week, between Rally GB and Rally d'Italia Motorsport Italia evolved certain non-homologated parts on the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman WRC. Chris had a good feeling about these evolutions after the test, but hadn't had the chance to test them in conditions representative of a rough second pass. With that in mind we went for a 'safety' set-up yesterday afternoon. This perhaps wasn't the best choice and last night we found ourselves 3.9 seconds behind Ogier, needing to pull a rabbit out of the hat to reclaim fifth position. So back on with the new parts!

'Fast-forward to this morning and Chris was fifth fastest through SS15, the opening stage of the day. Back in the mix! Unfortunately, his pesky French rival drove his socks off and slipped through fourth quickest, one second faster than Atko. Atko's new 5.3 second deficit was going to be difficult to make up on an 8.24km stage, but he headed into the last stage determined to give it his best.

'Unfortunately, a great first split was followed by a puncture 3km into the stage. He didn't stop to change the tyre, but suffered a time loss of nearly one minute! Fortunately, Atko's lead over Mikkelsen was enough to hold sixth and earn him eight more WRC points. This also marks MINI's highest gravel finish of the season. Hooray for Atko!

'Paulo finished 19th overall and was delighted to have completed every stage of the rally (road section problems Friday night aside!) No big dramas for Paulo today, but a big smile when he made it back to service. Meanwhile, Atko’s successful pass through Rally d’Italia maintains his perfect record of stages started-completed in a MINI.

'So, what happens now? Well we scatter to the four winds for a couple of weeks. Chris and Stéphane are heading straight to China for the final round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Championship – good luck boys, we know you can win the title! Paulo and Edu return to Brazil and the rest of us immediately set to preparing for Spain.

'But… before that we have the Ceremonial Finish and our debrief. I mention the debrief, because it’s an essential part of the rally weekend. The engineers get as much feedback from the drivers as possible, but it’s also key for me.

'As quite a close team, everyone tries to understand every part of the operation. As a comms person, it’s important to have a technical understanding of what’s happening at any moment. That doesn’t mean I can read data logs or advise on technical strategy, but it’s my job to communicate technical feedback to everyone outside the team and make it as easy to understand as possible. Hence the role of the debrief!

'Lucky for me our Team Manager Bruno (who often doubles as Chief Technician during service!) also takes the time to explain what’s happening in real time as the mechanics make it happen. Of course the boys need to be careful. If they give me too much information, I might start offering my technical advice, which could be a disaster!

'On that note, I’ll leave you. Have a safe journey home. I hope you enjoyed the rally and to see everyone supporting Atko out in China. See you in Spain.'

Katie
12-10-21 Solberg heads Ford 1-2 in Power Stage finale at Rally Italia
Ford World Rally Team finished first and second in the final Power Stage speed test at Rally Italia Sardegna today to claim maximum bonus points. Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson edged out Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila by just 0.2sec in a Fiesta RS World Rally Car battle for top spot, which saw the Ford duo almost five seconds quicker than their closest rivals.

The Power Stage results brought some happiness for the official Ford squad after a disappointing weekend. Solberg finished ninth and Latvala 12th after both incurred heavy time penalties when they retired from the second leg of this 12th and penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

After three days of tough competition over narrow and rocky tracks in the hills around the north of the Mediterranean island, today’s final leg was a short and sharp affair. It was focused around two passes over the 8.24km Gallura speed test, north-west of the rally base in Olbia, before competitors journeyed to Porto Cervo for the finish ceremony.

Solberg, who fell from second after crashing into a rock on Friday, and Latvala, who dropped down the order after hitting a gatepost the same day, concentrated their attentions on the Power Stage. Bonus points were on offer for the fastest three drivers, but it quickly became an all-Ford duel.

Latvala was fastest over the first two sectors of the stage to head Solberg by 0.2sec, but the 37-year-old Norwegian overturned the deficit in the final sector to win the test.

“After retiring on Friday, there was only one thing on my mind and that was winning the Power Stage,” said Solberg. “Yesterday I drove carefully because I had nothing to gain, but today I was determined to take maximum points in the Power Stage. I knew it would be tight between myself and Jari-Matti because he also wanted to win, and I’m happy to take something away from this weekend.

“It was possible to win this rally but I made a mistake on Friday and that was disappointing for me and the team. It’s time to forget this rally and think about the final round in Spain,” he added.

Latvala is focused on ending his career at Ford on a high in Spain. “I’m pleased I’ve had the opportunity to regain my confidence over the last two days after my accident. That was important, because I want to be ready for Spain. Sardinia is one of my favourite rallies and I had every chance to fight for an overall win but it went wrong. I will put this to the back of my mind,” said the 27-year-old Finnish driver.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson said the Power Stage result would prove a confidence boost for both drivers. “To finish first and second means both gained something from the weekend, and that will help their preparations for Spain. Neither enjoyed a good rally, but our young private drivers took advantage and they really stepped up to the mark here,” he said.

Ford Racing senior manager Gerard Quinn said: “At the end of a week in which Ford announced its exit from the WRC, it was extremely disappointing to see the early exit of Jari-Matti and Petter from the rally. Conditions proved tricky, as the many top drivers that hit trouble can testify. It’s positive to see the Fiesta RS WRC finish in podium positions in the hands of privateer drivers Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak. I’m confident this is a glimpse of the future stars of WRC.”

News from other Ford teams
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team duo Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor and Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk claimed a superb second and third in Fiesta RS World Rally Cars. Second equalled Novikov’s best result, while third marked a first WRC podium for Tänak. Adapta World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson finished fourth, despite a puncture in the final test. Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hruza overcame a host of problems to take eighth in the Czech Ford National Team car.

Next round
The final round of the championship takes drivers to Rally de España, a mixed gravel and asphalt event which is based in Salou on 8 - 11 November.

Final positions
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 3hr 23min 54.9sec
2. E Novikov/I Minor RUS Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 25min 15.5sec
3. O Tänak/K Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 26min 16.0sec
4. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 27min 37.8sec
5. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 3hr 28min 22.4sec
6. C Atkinson/S Prévot AUS Mini John Cooper 3hr 29min 17.1sec
7. A Mikkelsen/O Floene NOR Skoda Fabia S2000 3hr 30min 07.4sec
8. M Prokop/Z Hruza CZE Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 33min 24.2sec
9. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 33min 47.2sec
10 L Pedersoli/M Romano ITA Citroen DS3 3hr 44min 30.5sec

Drivers
1. S Loeb 244pts
2. M Hirvonen 198pts
3. M Østberg 137pts
4. J-M Latvala 133pts
5. P Solberg 124pts
6. E Novikov 87pts

Manufacturers
1. Citroen Total WRT 413pts
2. Ford WRT 281pts
3. M-Sport Ford WRT 170pts
4. Citroen Junior WRT 72pts
5. Adapta WRT 71pts
6. Qatar WRT 71pts

Stage Times
Stage 15: 1. Østberg 6min 25.0sec; 2. Solberg + 2.1; 3. Latvala + 4.5; 4. Ogier + 4.9; 5. Atkinson + 6.3; 6. Novikov + 10.1.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 3hr 17min 29.8sec; 2. Novikov + 1:25.2; 3. Tänak + 2:18.7; 4. Østberg + 3:35.2; 5. Ogier + 4:22.3; 6. Atkinson + 4:27.6; 9. Solberg + 10:04.0; 13. Latvala + 24:28.2.

Stage 16: 1. Solberg 6min 13.4sec; 2. Latvala + 0.2; 3. Neuville + 4.7; 4. Novikov + 7.1; 5. Hirvonen + 11.7; 6. Tänak + 14.1.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 3hr 23min 54.9sec; 2. Novikov + 1:20.6; 3. Tänak + 2:21.1; 4. Østberg + 3:42.9; 5. Ogier + 4:27.5; 6. Atkinson + 5:22.2; 9. Solberg + 9:52.3; 12. Latvala + 24:16.7.
12-10-20 Veni, Vidi [and we hope to have] Vici [by tomorrow]
‘OK release No. 4 and I’m still Katie, still with WRC Team MINI Portugal and still reporting on Rally d’Italia.

‘I have a new idea for today’s release. I believe we should all work to our strengths. It’s my job to take on board what everyone in the team has to say and communicate it. So, after I’ve given a brief overview of the day, I’m going to share some words from Stéphane Prévot and Paulo Nobre on the highs and lows of their days.’

THE RECAP
‘Chris set out in fifth, determined to hold onto his Top 5 spot. His MINI John Cooper Works Countryman WRC was on much better form and he had more confidence to push. The set-up still needed a few tweaks before he could go all out, but his times were strong and consistent.

‘He was successfully tracking down then fourth-placed Ogier throughout the morning. Unfortunately, the hunter became the hunted as Ostberg in sixth started the day on fire, clocking stage win on stage win and with them eating into Chris’ advantage. This pattern continued until on SS12 just as Chris got passed Séb, Mads passed Chris. So it was all change to end up in the same position!

‘Frustratingly, on the third corner of SS14, Chris’ then hit a bank with the rear of his MINI, which cost him vital time and let Ogier sneak back ahead of him by 3.9 seconds. One thing’s for sure – tomorrow will be a battle for fifth. With the S2000 being suited to the first downhill part of tomorrow’s Gallura stage as well as the quick twists and direction changes that follow, Chris needs to find something special to reclaim the advantage!

‘Meantime, Paulo’s misfortune on both the Qualifying Stage and last night’s road section home shouldn’t taint the fact that he’s successfully completed every stage so far of a tough rally. It’s a challenge for any driver to master the Sardinian gravel, but let’s not forget it’s also Paulo’s first time!

‘So all is well in camp Motorsport Italia at tea-time, sorry, final service, and I think it’s high time you heard from someone else!’ ?

STEPHANE PREVOT
“It’s been a frustrating day. Something doesn’t feel right in the car, but we can’t work out exactly what. Then finally we clipped a bank on the third corner of SS14 and it cost us around 15 seconds – which we really needed to stay ahead of Ogier! The main problem seems to be that on rougher stages like SS14, we loose some chassis control and without too many kilometres under our belt, we sometimes end up testing the car on the stages! Anyway, we’re happy to be in sixth and hope to make it home safely again tomorrow.”

PAULO NOBRE
“After SS10, we stopped as always on the road section to have a drink, take our helmets off and breathe. We saw some guys on motorbikes approach us. One of them came in our direction. I was ready as always to talk and take photos – like I am with all fans! The guy gave me a thumbs up sign, so I moved towards him and as I got closer I thought, ‘Wait I know you from somewhere!’ He lifted his visor and I immediately saw it was Sébastien Loeb!! We chatted for two or three minutes and then I headed off the stage and he zoomed off on his motorbike. It was incredible - I really didn’t expect that the best driver ever would come to me and just ask about my day and how my rally was going, but I can tell you, it made my day!”

‘That’s all for now from another sunny day Rally d’Italia.’ ?
Katie

12-10-20 Ford duo leave dramas behind during clean run in Sardinia
Ford World Rally Team avoided the dramas that afflicted the squad yesterday to enjoy a clean run through today’s third leg of Rally Italia Sardegna. With hopes of a top result ended after Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson and team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila both crashed, they avoided trouble in the penultimate leg to hold ninth and 15th respectively.

Both restarted their Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Cars with time penalties after retiring from this 12th and penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship yesterday. With little to chase in terms of overall results, caution was the name of the game. However, Latvala still displayed sufficient pace to win the penultimate speed test and claim four second fastest times.

Today’s action covered traditional Rally Italia Sardegna territory in the scenic forests south-west of the event base in Olbia. Competitors tackled two identical loops of three narrow gravel special stages covering 115.92km. Sunshine ensured dry conditions, but loose gravel made driving slippery for the early starters, before rocks thrown up during the first pass made the tracks rough this afternoon.

Solberg restarted in 10th after retiring from second, and admitted that he struggled for motivation. His primary aim was to entertain the fans and the large crowds gathered in the hills enjoyed the 37-year-old Norwegian’s displays. He warmed to his task this afternoon with a second and two third fastest times, climbing to ninth overall in the penultimate test.

“Yesterday was such a big disappointment for me and the whole Ford team, and that carried over into today,” said Solberg. “It was a hard day because I had nothing to gain and I felt low. But I wanted to drive for the fans, who have always been so supportive here. I was very careful and didn’t push at all. My pace was faster this afternoon, but it’s tough to drive after losing a podium like that.”

Latvala’s main focus was to rebuild his confidence after a tough two days. He was under no pressure and the 27-year-old Finn enjoyed driving on one of his favourite rallies. After restarting in 25th, he climbed to 18th during the first loop of stages and moved up a further three positions this afternoon.

“My motivation today was to try to regain the good feeling I had during qualifying on Thursday, but which I lost during the first two legs,” said Latvala. “I didn’t enjoy either leg so today I tried to relax and have fun driving a great car over some great roads. The final round in Spain contains gravel roads during the first day so it was important to get my confidence back on the surface.

“I was careful when it was rocky and tried to push a little harder when it was smoother. I experimented with the tyres and damper settings and after the troubles of the first two legs, I enjoyed a good day,” he added.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson reflected on an improved day for the squad. “It was good to see that Jari-Matti regained his pace and confidence, which was important before Spain, and while Petter struggled this morning, he raised his speed this afternoon. Ford’s private drivers enjoyed another fantastic day, with Mads Østberg climbing back to fourth and Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak doing exactly what I asked of them,” he said.

News from other Ford teams
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team duo Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor and Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk remained second and third in Fiesta RS World Rally Cars. Neither had any problems, although Novikov lost a handful of seconds when he spun in stage 11. Adapta World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson were the men on the move. They won four stages to climb from seventh to fourth. Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hruza had another tough day in the Czech Ford National Team car. They lost time this morning with a spin and a front right puncture, before going off the road briefly this afternoon. They remain eighth.

Tomorrow’s Route
The final leg is a short and simple affair. After leaving Olbia at 08.30, drivers head north-west to twice tackle the 8.24km Gallura test, before the finish ceremony in Porto Cervo at 12.45. The second pass comprises the Power Stage, with bonus points on offer to the fastest three drivers.

Leaderboard after Day 3
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 3hr 10min 51.7sec
2. E Novikov/I Minor RUS Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 12min 19.9sec
3. O Tänak/K Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 13min 12.3sec
4. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 14min 40.0sec
5. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 3hr 15min 22.2sec
6. C Atkinson/S Prévot AUS Mini John Cooper 3hr 15min 26.1sec
7. A Mikkelsen/O Floene NOR Skoda Fabia S2000 3hr 16min 57.9sec
8. M Prokop/Z Hruza CZE Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 20min 10.6sec
9. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 21min 06.7sec
10 K Kruuda/M Järveoja EST Ford Fiesta S2000 3hr 21min 48.3sec

Stage Times
Stage 9: 1. Østberg 17min 39.4sec; 2. Latvala + 2.3; 3. Tänak + 5.4; 4. Hirvonen + 14.1; 5. Atkinson + 18.3; 6. Novikov + 21.7; 8. Solberg + 28.1.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 2hr 14min 19.0sec; 2. Novikov + 1:17.2; 3. Tänak + 2:09.6; 4. Ogier + 3:52.9; 5. Atkinson + 3:59.1; 6. Østberg + 4:31.9; 10. Solberg + 10:29.7; 23. Latvala + 25:14.9.

Stage 10: 1. Novikov 9min 12.9sec; 2. Østberg + 1.2; 3. Latvala + 4.0; 4. Tänak + 5.1; 5. Hirvonen + 6.6; 6. Mikkelsen + 9.9; 7. Solberg + 10.3.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 2hr 23min 38.5sec; 2. Novikov + 1:10.6; 3. Tänak + 2:08.1; 4. Ogier + 3:59.1; 5. Atkinson + 4:03.5; 6. Østberg + 4:26.4; 10. Solberg + 10:33.4; 21. Latvala + 25:12.3.

Stage 11: 1. Østberg 10min 18.2sec; 2. Latvala + 3.7; 3. Hirvonen + 5.5; 4. Tänak + 6.0; 5. Mikkelsen + 8.1; 6. Atkinson + 11.8; 9. Solberg + 13.9.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 2hr 34min 02.2sec; 2. Novikov + 1:18.7; 3. Tänak + 2:08.6; 4. Ogier + 4:06.5; 5. Atkinson + 4:09.8; 6. Østberg + 4:21.0; 10. Solberg + 10:41.8; 18. Latvala + 25:10.5.

Stage 12: 1. Østberg 17min 12.6sec; 2. Latvala + 1.9; 3. Solberg + 6.4; 4. Hirvonen + 16.6; 5. Neuville + 17.2; 6. Novikov + 17.6.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 2hr 51min 31.4sec; 2. Novikov + 1:19.7; 3. Tänak + 2:12.6; 4. Østberg + 4:04.4; 5. Atkinson + 4:19.7; 6. Ogier + 4:22.0; 10. Solberg + 10:31.6; 18. Latvala + 24:55.8.

Stage 13: 1. Latvala 8min 57.4sec; 2. Solberg + 1.4; 3. Østberg + 4.2; 4. Neuville + 5.7; 5. Novikov + 8.0; 6. Hirvonen + 9.4.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 3hr 00min 38.2sec; 2. Novikov + 1:18.3; 3. Tänak + 2:14.1; 4. Østberg + 3:59.2; 5. Atkinson + 4:22.6; 6. Ogier + 4:27.9; 9. Solberg + 10:23.6; 17. Latvala + 24:46.4.

Stage 14: 1. Østberg 10min 02.6sec; 2. Latvala + 1.3; 3. Solberg + 2.3; 4. Neuville + 6.9; 5. Hirvonen + 10.9; 6. Ogier + 13.5.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 3hr 10min 51.7sec; 2. Novikov + 1:28.2; 3. Tänak + 2:20.6; 4. Østberg + 3:48.3; 5. Ogier + 4:30.5; 6. Atkinson + 4:34.4; 9. Solberg + 10:15.0; 15. Latvala + 24:36.8.
12-10-20 La Dolce Vita… Or is it?
'Hello again and if you’re still reading at this point in the week, yes I’m back with more insights into life in WRC Team MINI Portugal at Rally d’Italia.

'Today’s been a mixed bag. Atko finished the day in fifth, which is undoubtedly great. If he holds the position it would mark the highest gravel finish from a MINI John Cooper Works Countryman WRC this season. Check him out!

'However, things still aren’t quite right with his MINI. A damaged antiroll bar support spotted and changed at midday remote service in Sassari (more later) was originally found guilty. However, it was proven innocent when Atko’s problems persisted this afternoon.

'Never to be defeated, everyone had their thinking caps firmly on as they awaited the crews return from the afternoon loop. And I have confidence in the boys. If there’s a solution to be found, they’ll find it. Watch out when they do, because Atko’s ready to tear up the gravel!

'Even with mechanical problems, Atko’s done a great job so far this weekend. His reduced car control led to one spin on SS8 where the rear of his MINI clipped a hay bale and the car stalled before he retook to the stage. However, otherwise he’s driven pretty faultlessly. That’s something we’ve come to expect from our Aussie friend! I think it’s fair to say he’s hardly put a foot wrong since he first hopped into a MINI.

'While many others fell by the wayside, Paulo successfully completed the day’s stages and was edging ever closer to that elusive Top 10 finish he’s been seeking all season. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. Radiator damage following a tough landing over a jump in the stage caused him to retire on the road section home. We’re now waiting for the car to return with the recovery vehicle to find out if Paulo will be able to restart tomorrow under the Rally 2 regulation.

'And that’s it for now folks – another day, another challenge and let’s hope tomorrow’s an even better one! The only thing I’d like to mention before I sign off is the fantastic experience we had at Remote Service today. 6am in the Olbia Service Park this morning and it was raining pitifully. Off the boys went on their soft tyres and off we set to Sassari. Fast forward five hours to 26 degrees blistering heat in Sassari, tyres worn down to be almost treadless and hundreds of fans (mainly under 10 years old!) waiting to great the crews.

'After a long and tiring morning loop, this was perfect to raise morale and put a smile on all the crews (and our) faces. So…a BIG thank you to everyone who came and please do stop by and see us in the Service Park if you make it down to Olbia over the weekend!

'That’s enough from me. Buon appetito, buona serata, buon lavoro and anything else in between!
'Bye for now,
Katie'
12-10-20 Double disappointment as Solberg and Latvala crash out in Italy
Ford World Rally Team endured a double disappointment at Rally Italia Sardegna as both cars crashed into retirement during today’s second leg. Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson retired from second in their Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car after hitting a rock, following the demise of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila who went out earlier when they struck a gatepost.

Both crews will restart this 12th and penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship tomorrow. Solberg will incur a 10 minute penalty following his retirement, while Latvala will carry a 25 minute penalty into the penultimate leg of this four-day event.

After last night’s quickfire opening leg, today’s competition covered six speed tests and 117.36km of competition. Drivers initially headed south of the rally base in Olbia, before heading to the north coast for new tests near Sassari. Three stages this morning were repeated this afternoon after which the rally returned to Olbia after the longest leg of the event.

Conditions were slippery after overnight rain and all the top drivers opted for Michelin’s soft compound tyres for the morning loop. The narrow gravel tracks were extremely slippery and a string of front-runners were forced out, while those that escaped dramas had to manage their tyres carefully as the rocky roads took tyre wear to the limit.

Solberg began the day in third and was second on the opening two stages to climb to second overall. The 37-year-old Norwegian settled for a cautious drive through the morning’s final test to reach the Sassari service zone 25.8sec behind leader Mikko Hirvonen.

“We expected tyre wear to be high because the roads were abrasive,” said Solberg. “However, the wear in the second stage was greater than we thought. I knew the final test would be difficult, so I was cautious over the initial downhill section to preserve the rubber as much as possible. But the next uphill section was very hard because I didn’t have enough grip.”

Hard compound rubber was the natural choice for the afternoon tests, and Solberg closed on Hirvonen with another second fastest time. However, just 1.4km from the end of the penultimate test he was sidelined after striking a rock, the impact damaging his car’s front left suspension and breaking the cross-member.

“I was happy with second and Chris and I decided we wouldn’t push, so I changed my driving style accordingly,” explained Solberg. “In a slow left corner the front wheel hit a rock on the inside. It was quite a shock because the rock wasn’t marked in my pace notes. The impact broke the cross-member and there was nothing more I could do.

“I was driving neatly so as not to take risks and to look after my tyres. Ironically if I had been driving faster then the car would have been more sideways going into the corner, and I probably wouldn’t have hit the rock,” added Solberg.

Latvala restarted in sixth and the 27-year-old Finn climbed to fourth in the opening stage. However, a bizarre incident early in the next test brought about his retirement.

“It was a new stage and my plan was to take back time following my puncture yesterday,” he said. “I came to a slippery downhill section on a hard surface and braked late for a tightening left corner. The car went wide and over a rock. When I came back onto the road I noticed steam from the radiator. I spoke with Miikka and looked over to his side to see if there was a warning light on the dash.

“When I looked back to the road I realised I couldn’t stop in time for the next right bend. I aimed the car straight ahead into a field but hit a gatepost, and the front right of the car was too badly damaged to continue. It was my mistake. I became distracted by the radiator issue and lost concentration. I should have focused on the driving and left Miikka to check the dashboard.

“Yesterday I made an error with my start position and broke a wheel after hitting a rock, and then this happens today. This is one of my favourite rallies and I’m disappointed at the way I made the mistakes,” admitted Latvala.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson described the day as a ‘huge disappointment’. “We paid the price for two errors. Both will restart tomorrow and the aim will be for both drivers to bring their cars to the finish on Sunday so that we can maintain our record-breaking run of manufacturers’ points finishes,” he said.

News from other Ford teams
It was a great day for M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, with Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor winning two stages as they climbed from seventh to second in a Fiesta RS World Rally Car. Team-mates Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk enjoyed a troublefree day to move from ninth to third. Adapta World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson held third, but a broken driveshaft left their car in two-wheel drive only this afternoon and the Norwegian driver slid to seventh. Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hruza overcame a tough day in their Czech Ford National Team car to hold eighth. They lost time with a spin this morning and engine problems and a front left puncture this afternoon.

Tomorrow’s Route
The third leg journeys into traditional Rally Italia Sardegna territory in the scenic forests south-west of Olbia. Competitors restart at 08.00 for two identical loops of three stages covering 115.92km before returning for the final overnight halt at 18.45.

Leaderboard after Day 2
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 1hr 56min 25.5sec
2. E Novikov/I Minor RUS Ford Fiesta RS 1hr 57min 35.1sec
3. O Tänak/K Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS 1hr 58min 43.8sec
4. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 2hr 00min 01.2sec
5. C Atkinson/S Prévot AUS Mini John Cooper 2hr 00min 20.4sec
6. A Mikkelsen/O Floene NOR Skoda Fabia S2000 2hr 01min 05.8sec
7. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 01min 11.5sec
8. M Prokop/Z Hruza CZE Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 03min 38.5sec
9. K Kruuda/M Järveoja EST Ford Fiesta S2000 2hr 04min 51.7sec
10 P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 06min 41.2sec

Stage Times
Stage 3: 1. Hirvonen 18min 16.2sec; 2. P Solberg + 2.8; 3. Latvala + 3.6; 4. Østberg + 4.1; 5. Tänak + 24.8; 6. Novikov + 25.8.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 56min 16.4sec; 2. P Solberg + 15.6; 3. Østberg + 36.5; 4. Latvala + 44.6; 5. Novikov + 1:15.9; 6. Tänak + 1:55.1.

Stage 4: 1. Hirvonen 10min 45.9sec; 2. P Solberg + 0.2; 3. Novikov + 2.5; 4. Østberg + 6.9; 5. Tänak + 7.1; 6. Ogier + 8.6.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 1hr 07min 02.3sec; 2. P Solberg + 15.8; 3. Østberg + 43.4; 4. Novikov + 1:18.4; 5. Tänak + 2:02.2; 6. Atkinson + 2:51.1.

Stage 5: 1. Ogier 10min 16.1sec; 2. Novikov + 7.0; 3. Kruuda + 11.2; 4. Hirvonen + 12.5; 5. Atkinson + 15.5; 6. Prokop + 16.5; 8. P Solberg + 22.5.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 1hr 17min 30.9sec; 2. P Solberg + 25.8; 3. Østberg + 1:05.6; 4. Novikov + 1:12.9; 5. Tänak + 2:07.9; 6. Atkinson + 2:54.1.

Stage 6: 1. Novikov 10min 27.6sec; 2. P Solberg + 2.3; 3. Østberg + 2.5; 4. Tänak + 4.3; 5. Hirvonen + 4.7; 6. Atkinson + 12.9.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 1hr 28min 03.2sec; 2. P Solberg + 23.4; 3. Østberg + 1:03.4; 4. Novikov + 1:08.2; 5. Tänak + 2:07.5; 6. Atkinson + 3:02.3.

Stage 7: 1. Novikov 9min 41.8sec; 2. Tänak + 7.0; 3. Hirvonen + 7.7; 4. Ogier + 12.6; 5. Mikkelsen + 23.3; 6. Kruuda + 25.1.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 1hr 37min 52.7sec; 2. Novikov + 1:00.5; 3. Tänak + 2:06.8; 4. Østberg + 2:24.1; 5. Ogier + 3:11.9; 6. Atkinson + 3:25.3.

Stage 8: 1. Hirvonen 18min 32.8sec; 2. Novikov + 9.1; 3. Tänak + 11.5; 4. Ogier + 23.8; 5. Atkinson + 29.6; 6. Mikkelsen + 32.8.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 1hr 56min 25.5sec; 2. Novikov + 1:09.6; 3. Tänak + 2:18.3; 4. Ogier + 3:35.7; 5. Atkinson + 3:54.9; 6. Mikkelsen + 4:40.3.
12-10-20 Rally d’Italia: More Than Just Pizza and Pasta
'Hello again ladies and gents, Katie here and ready to report back on what WRC Team MINI Portugal’s been getting up to so far at Rally d’Italia.

'Lesson 1: Finding something to say about what you’ve been doing that’s interesting enough for a press release is harder than it looks.

'But… I’ll give it a go. Sunday and Monday we went testing with Chris and Paulo. Sunday - very successful. Chris found a good set-up and pace based on some evolutions Motorsport Italia has made to non-homologated parts of the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman WRC. It was warm and dry (which are – fingers-crossed – the predicted conditions for the rally). The test location was picturesque, absolutely spectacular (yes that is an irrelevant detail in terms of performance!) Paulo was happy too and ready for Day Two.

'Monday - not so stellar. Torrential rain and continually changing conditions meant set-up changes made based on one run weren’t necessarily relevant by the time the crews tested them on the following run. Even worse for a communications person – terrible mobile phone signal! That was a shorter day. However, all data is always useful to the engineers and the conditions Monday have given the crews a feeling for how the Spanish gravel stages will be if the heavens open over Salou. We just hope that our Monday test won’t be representative of Rally d’Italia’s conditions!

'Zoom through Tuesday and Wednesday – recce: check; car prep: check; scrutineering: check; hundreds of other miscellaneous jobs: check. And onto the action.

'Thursday - this morning offered clear skies and dry conditions (big sigh of relief!) and Atko hopped into his MINI and out onto the Qualifying Stage for Free Practice. He finished eighth on the Qualifying Stage despite starting tenth on the gravel, not bad, not bad. Unfortunately, Paulo had a run-in with a tree and was unable to register a time. Next for Atko - quick round of media activities – filming with WRC TV, start order selection in the town hall, FIA Pre-event Press Conference, quick movie for the Clark-Atko outrageous-dos collection (for more, see youtube.com/motorsportita and then…ALL SYSTEMS ARE GO.

'Things didn't go quite right for Chris when he took to this afternoon's stages. There was a loss of grip and car control, which didn't give him the same confidence he'd had this morning on the Qualifying Stage. Even so, he came home a strong eighth and the boys are trying to source and fix the problem as I write. Let's hope that tomorrow he can get a good rhythm. Fingers-crossed!

'Meanwhile, the mechanics did a super job fixing Porquinho Verde for SS1. Paulo bounced back from his accident this morning ready to give today's two stages his best shot. And that he did. He's never competed in Rally d'Italia before and found the two stages this afternoon complex and challenging, especially SS2 as the dark set in fast! But he made it safely through and back to service.

'And... breathe, that's all for now. :-)
More tomorrow!'
Katie

12-10-20 Solberg settles into third after solid start for Ford in Sardinia
Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson headed Ford World Rally Team’s challenge in Rally Italia Sardegna after tonight’s quickfire opening leg. They lie third in a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car, while team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila hold sixth after hitting a rock and damaging a front wheel.

Solberg was 13.9sec from the lead as competitors returned to the rally base in Olbia. Latvala’s time loss left him 42.1sec from top spot, with three more days of competition remaining in this 12th and penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Latvala and Solberg were first and second in qualifying this morning, earning them the priority pick of start positions for tonight’s two gravel speed tests covering 56.28km.

Latvala opted for first in the order, gambling that the disadvantage of running first on slippery loose gravel would be outweighed by avoiding hanging dusk in the still evening air and completing the second special stage before darkness fell.

Solberg opted for third and the 37-year-old Norwegian had a troublefree run through both tests. “I’m satisfied with tonight. There was a delay before the start of the second stage and we didn’t have time to fit the extra lights to the car. It wasn’t too bad, but it was quite dark in the forest sections and it was tricky to pick the correct braking points,” he said.

Latvala expected to lose time on the loose gravel during the first pass, and the 27-year-old Finn was fifth, 15.3sec from the lead. He was confident of regaining time in the second pass but clipped a rock 10km after the start and drove the remaining 18km with a broken wheel, losing almost 30sec.

“It happened at a left corner, which had some bedrock on the inside,” he explained. “I was faster into the bend than the first pass and I turned in more. I knew there was a rock, but with the extra speed I couldn’t avoid it. The impact broke the wheel and the air came out of the tyre. But to drive for so long like that and lose less than 30sec is amazing. It proves how strong Michelin’s tyres are.

“The gamble of running first on the road didn’t pay off because the conditions weren’t as we expected. Once the loose gravel had been swept away, it was damp beneath, and that offered good grip to everyone,” added Latvala.

News from other Ford teams
Adapta World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson were on course for second fastest time in the opening stage until they hit a stone near the finish and bent a steering arm on their Fiesta RS WRC. They made repairs after the test and safely completed the second test to lie fifth. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor are seventh, two places ahead of team-mates Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk, who regretted choosing hard compound tyres. Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hruza completed the top 10 in their Czech Ford National Team car.

Tomorrow’s Route
The second leg is the longest of the rally and covers new stages along the north coast. After leaving Olbia at 07.00, drivers tackle the Monte Lerno test, famed for its spectacular jump, before two new stages near Sassari. After a short service in the town, they repeat the two tests before a second pass through Monte Lerno. Drivers return to Olbia for an overnight halt after 117.36km of action.

Leaderboard after Day 1
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 37min 59.1sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 38min 00.2sec
3. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 38min 13.0sec
4. T Neuville/N Gilsoul BEL Citroen DS3 38min 25.3sec
5. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 38min 32.6sec
6. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS 38min 41.2sec
7. E Novikov/I Minor RUS Ford Fiesta RS 38min 50.3sec
8. C Atkinson/S Prévot AUS Mini John Cooper 39min 28.0sec
9. O Tänak/K Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS 39min 30.5sec
10 M Prokop/Z Hruza CZE Ford Fiesta RS 39min 47.3sec

Stage Times
Stage 1: 1. Loeb 19min 09.4sec; 2. Hirvonen + 1.4; 3. P Solberg + 10.1; 4. Østberg + 11.3; 5. Latvala + 15.3; 6. Neuville + 17.0.

Stage 2: 1. Hirvonen 18min 49.7sec; 2. Loeb + 0.3; 3. P Solberg + 4.1; 4. Neuville + 9.5; 5. Novikov + 19.4; 6. Østberg + 22.5; 7. Latvala + 27.1.
Overall: 1. Loeb 13min 07.4sec; 2. P Solberg + 1.0; 3. Hirvonen + 1.7; 4. Latvala + 4.1; 5. Ogier + 11.9; 6. H Solberg + 16.0.
12-10-18 Toppförare till Volkswagen inför World Rally Championship
Volkswagen har knutit ännu en toppförare till sig inför FIA World Rally Championship nästa år. Jari-Matti Latvala; som tidigare varit knuten till Fords fabriksteam; och hans kartläsare Miikka Anttila kommer att köra en Volkswagen Polo R WRC i Rallye Monte Carlo i januari 2013.

Den 27-årige finländaren, som anses vara en av världens snabbaste och mest erfarna rallyförare, har haft sju WRC-segrar och avslutade säsongen 2010 som tvåa i världsmästerskapen och bibehöll därmed titeln som den yngste rallyvinnaren någonsin i WRC.
- Vi är mycket stolta över att ha värvat Jari-Matti Latvala, som är en av de mest framstående WRC-förarna idag. Jag har känt Jari-Matti sedan hans tidiga rally-år och jag har följt hans utveckling noga. Han kommer att bli en bra tillgång i vårt team, säger Jost Capito, som är chef för Volkswagen Motorsport. Det faktum att en toppförare tror på vår verksamhet och bestämmer sig för att byta till vårt team, är en motivationshöjare för alla i teamet. Sébastien Ogier och Jari-Matti Latvala utgör en utmärkt förarduo för vår Polo R WRC- debut i World Rally Championship 2013, avslutar Capito.
- Jag är väldigt glad att få köra Polo R WRC i World Rally Championship. Volkswagen-teamets beslutsamhet i denna satsning övertygade mig att acceptera utmaningen. Tiden hos Ford har varit väldigt värdefull för mig och jag är tacksam för deras stöd under de senaste åren. Jag ser samtidigt flytten till Volkswagen Motorsport som början på något nytt och jag har tagit det här beslutet för att komma ett steg närmare mitt mål – att bli världsmästare tillsammans med Volkswagen, säger Latvala.

Latvala har rally i blodet och har sedan tidig ålder haft stöttning från sin far som kört rally i Finland under många år. Vid åtta års ålder körde Jari-Matti bil för första gången och en kort tid senare började han övningsköra på en frusen sjö. När han var 17 år deltog han för första gången i World Rally Championship i Engelska Rallyt.

Innan Jari-Matti anslöt sig till Fords fabriksteam 2008, hade han hunnit med 52 WRC tävlingar i bilar av olika märken. Han firade sin första WRC-seger i Svenska Rallyt 2008 och har sedan dess kammat hem ytterligare sex segrar. Under 2011 vann han fler sträckor än någon annan förare och slutade som fyra i världsmästerskapet.

Hittills har Latvala deltagit i 115 WRC-tävlingar, stått på prispallen 31 gånger och samlat ihop 612 WRC-poäng.
12-10-15 Ford to Withdraw as a title sponsor from the FIA World Rally Championship after 2012 Season
Ford of Europe today announced that it will withdraw from the FIA World Rally Championship as a title sponsor after the 2012 season.

The company said it made the decision as part of a review of its European business in the current difficult economic environment.
“Ford has a long and proud history in the WRC and this was not an easy decision,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe. “At this time, however we determined that it was better for the company and the Ford brand to reduce our commitment to the WRC and deploy our resources in other areas.”

Ford’s long-term rallying partner, UK-based M-Sport, plans to continue competing in WRC with the Fiesta. Ford is in discussions with M-Sport to provide continued vehicle and engineering support, including for the recently announced Fiesta R5 for the new-for-2013 WRC-2 series, and the Fiesta R2 for grass-roots national and regional driver programmes.

“We have great respect for M-Sport and Malcolm Wilson, who have run the Ford WRC team since 1997, and there is no organization with more expertise and commitment to winning,” de Waard said. “Working together, we have reached a point where the Ford Fiesta has become the car of choice in rallying, and we want to see this continue in the future.”

Ford also said it wished to thank its rallying fans, drivers, the FIA, and its many WRC partners, including team main sponsors BP and Castrol, for their support and commitment.

Said Malcolm Wilson, managing director of M-Sport: “I would like to thank Ford of Europe for their enthusiastic support and the faith shown in the team over the past 16 seasons. We understand that tough decisions have had to be made and look forward to continuing our strong technical partnership into the future.”

12-10-15 Ramona och Miriam måste avstå Rally Italien
Ramona och Miriam måste avstå det inplanerade VM-rallyt Rally d’Italia Sardegna som startar i helgen. Anledningen är den plötsliga och förödande branden som hände i Rally Nya Zeeland, och en försäkringsutredning som fortfarande pågår.
- ”Bilen är brandsförsäkrad, men på grund av den långa frakttiden hem till Sverige och de brandinspektioner som rutinartat har gjorts av försäkringsbolaget, så har det dragit ut långt på tiden”, säger Ramona som ännu inte har fått svar på vad som orsakade branden.
- ”Givetvis är vi oerhört besvikna. Jag har jobbat varje dag och in i det sista med stark förhoppning om att få ett avslut innan Italien, men tyvärr har vi inte fått det. Eftersom vi ligger ”en bil back” i budgeten så har vi helt enkelt inte ekonomisk täckning för att komma till start” säger Ramona, som istället ser framåt.
- ”Vi jobbar vidare och hoppas situationen hinner lösas innan Rally Spanien. Det är väldigt kort om tid dit, men vi hoppas verkligen kunna komma till start i sista VM-deltävlingen innan vi avslutar 2012 års säsong. Samtidigt så ser vi fram emot nästa säsong, och jobbar målmedvetet och med tillförsikt inför 2013.

12-10-13 Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again!
'So, hello! My name is Katie and I run Motorsport Italia’s communications. Well, this is novel - being on the other side of the press release lens! After exposing everyone else, it’s now my turn to try and bring Motorsport Italia to life for you.

'The task is simple – all I need to do is prove that our work is fascinating (and motivating, yes motivating is a good word), the people are unfailingly charming and we have an existence that dreams are made of. No problem, let’s get started right away.

'On event I work up to 20 hours a day, potentially in -30 degrees, torrential rain or up to my knees (slight exaggeration there) in mud. We all bicker chronically and constantly about the best plan of attack and we rarely manage to squeeze in a holiday or even time off at the weekend! BUT (and that’s a very big BUT – note the capitals), I love it. ?

'It’s been an ‘interesting’ period for the team between Rallye de France and Rally d’Italia. Firstly, we only had one week to prepare gravel spec cars for Chris and Paulo. That’ s a challenge in itself; switching the anti-roll bars, brake system, dampers, springs, upright pins, rims, air duct and diff settings (yes, somebody with far more technical expertise than me did supply that list! ;-))

'But as you probably know, we’ve also had some big news: MINI will cease its works involvement in the WRC from 2013. We’ve all enjoyed working with MINI, so it’s a real shame, but I can confirm that we have three clear objectives for the rest of 2012:

Fulfill our obligation to MINI. At the start of the season, we were charged with the responsibility of homologating the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman WRC and homologate it we will. This will give all our MINI family members the chance to compete with the car on a customer rallying basis. Our integrity as a team is important to us and we always see our promises through so… Let’s go Atko! Get your MINI into gear and let’s show everyone what you (and we) are made of!

Support our sister team Ralliart Italia. We really hope to see Benny Guerra or Michal Kosciuszko scoop the PWRC world title either here or in Spain. They’re currently first and second in the Championship standings, so… we’re right behind you, boys!

Confirm a project for next season. Everyone’s seen the team grow throughout this season and we believe we have a strong future in motorsport (and are utterly addicted! ;-)), so… watch this space!

'That brings me to my latest challenge: Rally Italia Sardegna, Motorsport Italia’s home event and my first time in Sardinia. Not knowing anything about the event from past experience, you’ll be learning at the same time as me! Stéphane’s back on board the MINI next to Atko, our 01B’s on its gravel début, Paulo and Edu are ready to raise the roof and adrenalin is pumping.

'One of the great things about our crews is that they’re totally integrated in the team. Paulo can put a smile on anyone’s face even after the most grueling of days and ‘arrive and drive’ is Chris’ idea of a nightmare – he’s on top of everything, giving detailed development feedback, getting involved in technical discussions and masterfully tackling any PR activities thrown at him (however crazy!)

'And that’s what makes the team. Everyone’s pushed to the limit with an unbelievable number of tasks to handle, but nobody wants to let the operation down. A big advantage of having a tight team is that decisions are made quickly and acted upon even quicker!

'Everyone knows that I could write (and talk) forever so I’ll give you a little respite now before we kick off on Thursday.

'Until then,
Katie
12-10-12 Ciao Means Goodbye But Also Hello...
'Ciao a tutti,
'A flash press release always means important news and I believe this is a verdict you've all been waiting for.

'It has been a pleasure working with MINI and being their official representative in the WRC this season. However, BMW / MINI will not be continuing in the World Rally Championship as a factory after this 2012 season. This decision is disappointing, but none of us should forget that MINI has achieved some great things since its comeback.

'Of course a highlight for us was Chris Atkinson finishing fifth in Germany on his first ever WRC event with WRC Team MINI Portugal. One thing I can assure you is that it would be a pleasure to work with Atko again on any motorsport project. And let's not also forget the excitement of running Paulo and Porquinho Verde - never a dull moment, that's for sure!

'Our partnership with MINI has been successful and enjoyable both working on the WRC and events like MINI United and Red Bull X Fighters.

'Now we are focused on the future and looking ahead positively to our next challenge.

'As always, we'll keep you updated on what happens next!

'Ciao, Bruno
12-10-12 Ford’s drivers bid to blow doors off rivals on The Italian Job
Ford World Rally Team enters the final gravel round of the world championship season in Italy next week eager to extend its strong run of form. One win and two second places in the last three rallies with the Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car means the squad journeys to Rally Italia Sardegna (18 - 21 October) looking for an explosive finale to its loose surface campaign.

The men in form are Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, who won the previous loose surface round in Wales last month to add to career-best performances on asphalt in Germany and France. Strong pace from Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson has only been rewarded with third in Wales, but both want to sign off their gravel seasons in style on the Mediterranean holiday island of Sardinia.

And both have what it takes to win this 12th and penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Latvala claimed his second world rally victory here in 2009 while Solberg won the Italian fixture in 2004, his 10th success, when Sardinia hosted the WRC for the first time.

This year’s rally has moved from an early summer date to autumn for the first time since that inaugural 2004 event. However, while morning and evening temperatures will be cooler, daytime mercury levels are still expected to climb above 20°C and dust could hang in the late afternoon air.

The industrial town of Olbia is the rally base, nestled below the sparkling Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) and Porto Cervo, host to the event finish and exclusive holiday playground to the rich and famous. Most of the competition is held in the hills and forests west and south of the town, where superb scenery provides a captivating backdrop to the action in the speed tests.

The roads have a hard base covered by a sandy surface, which is usually swept away during the first pass to leave ruts and rougher conditions when cars tackle the stages for a second time. They are generally fast but also narrow, and bushes, trees or rocks frequently mark the edge of the road rather than a verge or a ditch.

The exceptions are the new stages near Sassari in leg two, an area in which Latvala tested last year. “They are wider and smoother than the other stages. Their character is more like the roads in Finland, without the big jumps, so there’s more room in which to position the car,” explained the 27-year-old Finn.
“The usual stages have a thin layer of fine gravel on the surface which makes them slippery for the first pass. The team has always been strong in Sardinia and after making a step forward in pace at the last gravel rally in Wales, I’m confident of another strong result,” he added.

Latvala believes the pressure for points has been removed with both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles decided on the previous round in France. “That changes the situation for the final two rallies. Chasing wins has been obviously been a target throughout the season but points finishes no longer have any real meaning, so victories are our only real goal now,” he said.

Despite extending to a fourth day, the rally is one of the shortest WRC encounters since the series began in 1973 with just over 306km of competition. As a true sprint event, Solberg realises the value of ensuring he is in the right place for the first leg.
“The roads are very sandy in some places,” said the 37-year-old Norwegian. “That means Thursday’s qualifying is important because it will be essential to have a good start position for the opening day. If it’s dry it will be better to start further down the order and there just aren’t the kilometres to make up time lost during the first leg because of a bad start position,” he explained.

“The team goes into this rally full of confidence on gravel after the win in Wales. We improved the balance and suspension on the Fiesta before that event and the changes improved performance. But the characteristics of the two rallies are totally different, and the only comparison is that they are held on loose surface roads. However, the roads in Sardinia are fantastic and I will push hard,” he added.

Team News
* Michelin’s Latitude Cross gravel tyres will be used by the Ford drivers, and will be available primarily in hard compound. Drivers have 35 hard covers, although 10 soft compound tyres will also be available in case of wet weather. A total of 35 can be used during the event. Teams are not allowed to hand-carve additional cuts into the tyres and each car can carry two spare wheels.
* Four privately-entered crews will also campaign Fiesta RS WRCs. Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk and Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor are nominated by M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson represent Adapta World Rally Team and Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hruza crew the Czech Ford National Team car.

Rally Route
Olbia remains the heart of the rally and the Isola Bianca cruiser terminal hosts the main service park. However, much is new with a fourth day of competition, new stages along the island’s north coast, a remote service zone in Sassari and the return of Porto Cervo to host the finish ceremony. Thursday’s opening day comprises two passes over a single stage south of Olbia. The second leg includes two new tests near Sassari, which hosts remote service after the first of two passes through the stages. The third day heads into more traditional territory in the scenic forests south-west of Olbia, before a very short final leg comprising just two runs over a single stage north-west of the town. The second pass forms the Power Stage with bonus points for the fastest three drivers. Competitors journey into the heart of the Costa Smeralda for the finish ceremony in Porto Cervo after tackling 16 stages covering 306.04km in a route of 1241.45km.

RALLY ITALIA SARDEGNA
ROUND 12 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 18 - 21 October 2012
Thursday 18 October: Qualifying and Day 1: Olbia - Olbia
QS Telti 3.75km 10.35
Start Olbia 15.00
SS1 Terranova 28.14km 16.13
SS2 Terranova 28.14km 18.16
Serv A Olbia (flexi 45 mins) 19.30
Finish Olbia 20.15
Total 56.28km

Friday 19 October: Day 2: Olbia - Olbia
Serv B Olbia (15 mins) 07.00
SS3 Monte Lerno 29.68km 08.43
SS4 Castelsardo 14.12km 11.34
SS5 Tergu - Osilo 14.88km 12.24
Serv C Sassari (15 mins) 13.28
SS6 Castelsardo 14.12km 14.46
SS7 Tergu - Osilo 14.88km 15.36
SS8 Monte Lerno 29.68km 17.50
Serv D Olbia (flexi 45 mins) 19.30
Finish Loutraki 20.15
Total 117.36km

Saturday 20 October: Day 3: Olbia - Olbia
Serv E Olbia (15 mins) 08.00
SS9 Coiluna - Loelle 29.35km 09.28
SS10 Monti Di Ala’ 14.49km 10.35
SS11 Monte Olia 14.12km 11.37
Serv F Olbia (30 mins) 13.05
SS12 Coiluna - Loelle 29.35km 14.48
SS13 Monti Di Ala’ 14.49km 15.55
SS14 Monte Olia 14.12km 16.57
Serv G Olbia (flexi 45 mins) 18.00
Finish Olbia 18.45

Total 115.92km
Saturday 21 October: Day 4: Olbia - Porto Cervo
Serv H Olbia (15 mins) 08.30
SS15 Gallura 8.24km 09.20
SS16 Gallura 8.24km 11.00
Serv I Olbia (10 mins) 11.58
Finish Porto Cervo 12.45
Total 16.48km
Rally total 306.04km

12-10-04 Shakedown Not Stirred
'Bonjour tout le monde,
'It's Céline here again and I'm going to tell you all about the first few days here at Rallye de France with WRC Team MINI Portugal.

'Well, for me and Romain (our chef - pictured below) it was a pretty busy beginning to the week as we had to set everything up to be prepared to begin our service to the team Tuesday lunchtime.

'We left our base in Lyon on Sunday morning and after 450km on the road with our truck, Romain and I finally got to Strasbourg and we immediately started working. We set up the kitchen and the hospitality and since Monday we've been working on preparing the first meals for the team.

'We've been working quite hard everyday to make sure we're ready to give the team little moments of happiness during their busy rally days. For us each meal is like a Special Stage and we run three stages per day (fortunately only one loop!) At the moment we have been doing a good job and we've always nailed our Time Controls. ;-)

'Everyday we prepare a selection of cold starters and salads, one pasta dish (what else for an Italian team!) with a different sauce and a hot main course with sides. Also we do a couple of desserts and a selection of cheeses - actually we're particularly proud of our cheese board and everybody in the team seems to appreciate it.

'Our job is pretty straight-forward until the proper beginning of the rally when we have to start taking care of our beloved crews as they all have different tastes and follow specific diets.

'I have to say Chris eats very healthy food and likes to stay light - especially at lunch when after he has to get back in the car quickly. He is a fish-lover, his favourite meal when he's on event is fish and veggies - which helps him get the energy he needs to tackle the stages without being too filling.

'I still don't know what Glenn's tastes are but I'll be soon discovering that. By the way if you want to know more about him, check out the Q&A he did before the rally on Motorsport Italia's website.

'Paulo's diet isn't very complicated but - as I mentioned before - he has a one particular culinary predilection which is nice, succulent, well cooked fillet steak. He also enjoys an 'omelette à la française' the way Romain cooks it with the eggs still a tiny bit raw. He's very specific on his favorite drinks too - he drinks a lot of mixed fruit juices and his breakfast is always a cold chocolate milk drink.

'Edu is quite easy-going, he eats pretty much anything - and I hate to say it, but co-drivers are generally easier to please than drivers. ;-)

'We now know all the different tastes so it's quite easy to make the crews happy and Romain is always prepared to anticipate the drivers and co-drivers needs.

'Romain is great to work with, he's been my colleague for a year now and despite being very young he's a very talented chef. I trust him 100% and the team seems really to appreciate his cooking which is very important!

'As far as Rallye de France is concerned I'm hearing that weather conditions are crucial here - if they are bad like in 2010, the roads will be wet and dirty and they will become like those on some of the gravel events the team does during the season - which explains why the Finns came through so strong that year. The weather forecast for this weekend says there's a chance of rain (and boy has today proved that!) so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens on the stages. I'm sure Chris and Paulo will have great rides and they'll make the team proud.

'The drivers went through Shakedown this morning to make the final touches to their set-up for the event. After lunch they had a quite busy afternoon of official PR activities. The competition itself also started this evening as the crews went through the first Super Special Stage here at Rallye de France - a 3.63km test in Strasbourg's city centre.

'We're now ready to serve dinner, tonight the chef's proposal is Aubergine lasagna, gnocchi with blue cheese, 'diot' a special French sausage and chocolate and banana cake for dessert. I really hope the team will enjoy it! :-)

'I'll be back tomorrow with more updates.

'Stay tuned and à demain!'
Céline
12-10-04 Pontus Tidemand redo för start i Rally France
I helgen så körs Rally France som är den femte av sex deltävlingar i 2012-års WRC Academy. Det är den andra tävlingen som avgörs på asfalt i årets junior-vm mästerskap, där den första var Rally Tyskland där Pontus fick utgå redan på första sträckan med tekniska problem med bilen.
- Det var riktigt tråkigt att det tog slut så tidigt, men så är sporten ibland. Men nu hoppas jag vi har gjort slut på all otur för i år, berättar Pontus

Som förberedelse inför Rally France så körde Pontus tillsammans med kartläsaren Stig-Rune Skjaermoen Rally Vosgien ingående i Franska Mästerskapen, men ännu en gång så grinade oturen Pontus i ansiktet och rallyt var redan över efter ett par kilometer på andra sträckan efter ännu ett tekniskt problem.

Men tack vare god hjälp av talangutvecklingsbolaget EVEN rally som stöttar Pontus i hans satsning mot toppen i rallyvärlden så gavs det en möjlighet att köra Belgiska Mästerskapen förra helgen med en liknande bil som i WRC Academy, en Ford Fiesta R2.
- Det var en riktig nyttig genomkörare, vi kom i mål och fick mycket erfarenhet av asfaltsvägar. Resultatet blev en tredjeplats i klassen men vi körde på ett däck som inte var ultimat för de förhållande som var på detta rallyt, men eftersom det är det enda sorten vi får bruka i VM så vi försökte göra allt så lika som det som väntar oss denna helgen, förklarar Pontus

Redan under torsdagskvällen startar Rally France med en publiksträcka i centrum av Strasbourg. Tävlingen fortsätter sedan med ytterligare 15 specialsträckor under fredagen och lördagen med en totallängd på ca 35 mil SS innan första WRC Academy ekipage går i mål vid nio-tiden på lördagskvällen.
- Jag känner mig bra förberedd och målet är såklart att vara med i toppen, men det är stenhård konkurrens om pallplatserna i WRC Academy i varje deltävling och flera av de andra förarna har kört denna tävling förut så det kommer bli stenhårt, avslutar Pontus
12-09-29 Vive la France (et MINI)!
'Salut everyone,
'My name is Céline Grasland the Hospitality Manager at WRC Team MINI Portugal, and I'm proud to be your guide through the team's adventures at Rallye de France, the upcoming round of the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship.

'Being French - I'm from Bretagne the north-western part of the country - Rallye de France is quite special to me so I'm really happy to be updating you on our progress during the event and seeing what we can achieve on French soil. I'm sure Rallye de France will represent a completely new challenge for the team. It is only the second full-Tarmac event of the season and the third event with Atko but everyone seems positive and I'm confident we'll do a great job.

'For the catering staff, preparations for an event begin well in advance. We start by working out the menus for the week as we need to provide something different but equally tasty every single day! After that we place orders at our suppliers - we generally bring everything from France because we're sure of the quality of the products ;-). It's also way more practical than shopping on site, because we can't always find everything we need in every country.

'The logistical part of the job takes more or less a week and as soon as we have received the products we load our truck and off we go. We drive to all the European events and I'm quite often the 'chauffeur' while the boys sleep. ;-) I even drove all 1500km to Finland by myself - boy was that a journey to remember!

'We start to feed the team on Tuesday and we serve all meals until lunchtime Sunday, totalling eleven meals. The team isn't huge, but even so we work with very large quantities. To give you some idea, on a rally week we cut about 60 kilos of potatoes, 25 kilos of tomatoes and use 12 kilos of fillet steak - which everyone in team enjoys very much, especially Paulo and our engineer Tomo! ;-)

'WRC Team MINI Portugal is a multi-cultural team so it's not always easy to meet everybody's tastes, but with the majority of team members being Italian, pasta and espresso are products we use a lot of. We cook about 30 kilos of pasta per week and get through around 10 kilos of coffee - the boys (and girls!) love to take a break with a nice coffee and (lots of) biscuits.

'Being a girl working a male-dominated environment isn't always easy, but I have a very strong personality and - just occasionally - a bad temper as well so it's not easy for men to work with me either. ;-) My job is very physical, the hours are very long and I spend most of my day moving heavy stuff, standing up or cooking so I really don't need the gym when I get back home - my job is the only sport I need to do!

'It's for sure a hard job but it's my passion, I couldn't do anything else. The good relationships I've created with the other team members make me forget how tough the job is - after all we're a MINI Family. ;-)

'When I'm not on rallies my life is still pretty busy as I'm working on on other projects with the company I work for . This summer we covered the Tour de France where we followed the race and had to change cooking location every day. In winter we do the Trophée Andros - the French ice racing championship - where this season a certain Alain Prost won his third title! It's always nice to see French drivers at the top of international motor sport - and there's quite a few at the moment... :-) We also worked on the European rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship and cater for television companies in the Ligue 1 - the first division of the French football Championship.

'To be honest the rally world is my favourite, I've been working in the WRC for three and a half years now and it has slowly became my passion. When you 'taste' rallying is difficult not to fall in love with it! I started in this environment by chance coming from something completely different. I studied hotel management for six years and then I worked in casinos for a few years as a 'croupier' but now that I've landed in the world of rallying I don't want to work on anything else.

'The team is heading to Rallye de France now for a two day test to prepare for the event and for a big assault next weekend. I'll be back during the rally week with more updates from the WRC Team MINI Portugal Service Area in Strasbourg.

'Sportivement, Céline
'PS: Just to tie you over until the action starts next week, here's what I've been glued to recently on You Tube - an awesome video of Colin Clark's ridealong with Atko in GB. Enjoy.'
12-09-28 Ford keen to carry momentum into Alsace asphalt adventure
The final all-asphalt round of the FIA World Rally Championship season in France next week allows Ford World Rally Team the opportunity to further improve its sealed-surface performance. Twelve months after the squad first showed the Fiesta RS World Rally Car’s pace on its least-favoured surface at Rallye de France, the team returns eager to build on a series of podium results.

After leading Rallye Monte-Carlo in January before securing third with Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson, Ford held a comfortable second and third during Rallye Deutschland last month before Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila eventually claimed a career-best second.

This year’s Rallye de France (4 - 7 October) provides a tougher challenge. The Alsace-based event, round 11 of 13, contains almost 70km more action than in 2011 and nearly half the competitive distance is new. Strasbourg, nestled on the German border between the Vosges mountains to the west and the Black Forest to the east, remains the rally hub for a third year.

The Vosges feature strongly in the route as the opening two legs take in speed tests there. The roads vary hugely, blending narrow and bumpy sections through forests with fast and wide parts where speeds top 200kph. In contrast, vineyard tracks and three street venues in the regions towns and cities offer a totally different challenge.

As always on asphalt, accurate tyre selection will play a huge part. A combination of early autumn and the unpredictability of the weather in the mountains means rain is a distinct possibility. Precise forecasting from Ford’s weather experts and data on conditions from the team’s route note crews, who drive the special stages before the competitors, will be vital in picking the correct tyre compound.

Latvala prepared for the rally with a day’s single-seater race car training from sports car and ex-Indy Car driver Didier André at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit in France on Wednesday. André, who finished fourth in the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours, worked with Latvala on braking and driving lines before the Finn journeyed to Alsace for a two-day test in a Fiesta RS WRC, which ends tomorrow.

“The weather was mixed which meant I had the advantage of driving on both dry weather slick tyres and wet rubber,” explained 27-year-old Latvala. “I was happy about that because I had to adapt my usual driving line in the rain and that’s something I can use in rallying. When you come across a ‘black top’ shiny surface in stages, you must take a different line to avoid it.”

Latvala, who finished fourth in 2010 and 2011, starts the rally full of confidence after victory in Britain earlier this month and second in Germany in the previous round. “Good results provide confidence and I had strong speed in France last season. I would like to challenge for the top placing. I’m a realist and know how hard that will be on asphalt, but that’s the target,” he said.

“The stages are a mix, quite similar in that respect to the rally in Germany, but the characteristics don’t change as much. There are long corners in the mountains while the French vineyards are wider than those across the border and follow more of a natural line. They’re generally quite grippy and set-up is always a compromise for the different types of road,” added Latvala.

Solberg has a Rallye de France win to his name, having triumphed in 2003 when the event was based on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. His best result in Alsace is third in 2010.

“The roads are quite fast and the surface is good, so tyre wear won’t really be a problem,” said the 37-year-old Norwegian. “The only issue surrounding tyres is understanding the weather and ensuring we make the correct compound choice. It’s not easy, but if conditions are changeable the right tyre options can make the difference between winning and losing here.

“Our speed on the previous asphalt round in Germany was strong. I expected the car to be fast, and it was. I hope we can maintain that progress and be faster still in France to give the fans something to cheer. The crowds have been huge since the rally moved to Strasbourg. There’s a great atmosphere surrounding the event and that’s something that I certainly feel,” added Solberg.

Team News
* Michelin’s Pilot Sport asphalt tyres will be used by the Ford drivers and will be available in hard compound for dry conditions and soft compound for wet or cold weather. Each driver has an allocation of 24 hard and 20 soft tyres, and can use a maximum of 25 during the rally. Teams are not allowed to hand-carve additional cuts into the tyres and each car can carry two spare wheels.

* Six privately-entered crews have also entered Fiesta RS WRCs. Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk and Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor are nominated by M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson represent Adapta World Rally Team and Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hruza crew the Czech Ford National Team car. Daniel Oliveira / Carlos Magalhaes have been entered by Brazil World Rally Team while French duo Julien Maurin / Nicolas Klinger will drive in their home round.

* The rally also incorporates the fifth and penultimate round of the Ford Racing-supported FIA WRC Academy. Eight young drivers will campaign identical Fiesta R2 cars over the opening two legs of the main event. The series is led by Elfyn Evans / Phil Pugh.

Rally Route
The rally is again based at Strasbourg’s Zénith concert arena but has undergone big changes. The action covers four days, the competitive distance is almost 20 per cent longer and nearly 44 per cent of the stages are new, including two previously-unused tests. A new street stage in Strasbourg, which finishes outside the European Parliament, starts the action on Thursday afternoon. The opening two legs have been switched from 2011, so the first full day heads deep into the Vosges mountains for high altitude tests near Colmar, which hosts a short service midway through. It ends with a street test in Mulhouse. The second leg offers a massive 192.80km of competition through vineyards and mountains closer to Strasbourg, including two passes of the daunting 43.45km Pays d’Ormont. The short final day journeys north and includes two runs through the streets of Haguenau. Drivers tackle 22 tests covering 404.14km in a route of 1404.89km.

ROUND 11 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
4 - 7 October 2012
Thursday 4 October: Day 1 Strasbourg - Strasbourg
Start Strasbourg City 16.25
SS1 Strasbourg 3.63km 16.30
Serv A Strasbourg Zénith (15 mins) 17.03
Finish Strasbourg Zénith 17.18

Friday 5 October: Day 1 (continued) Strasbourg - Strasbourg
Serv B Strasbourg Zénith (15 mins) 07.45
SS2 Hohlandsbourg - Firstplan 1 28.67km 09.23
SS3 Vallée de Munster 1 22.16km 10.06
SS4 Soultzeren - Pays Welche 1 19.93km 11.22
RSZ C Colmar (15 mins) 13.15
SS5 Hohlandsbourg - Firstplan 2 28.67km 13.56
SS6 Vallée de Munster 2 22.16km 14.39
SS7 Soultzeren - Pays Welche 2 19.93km 15.55
SS8 Mulhouse 4.65km 18.35
Serv D Strasbourg Zénith (45 mins) 20.18
Finish Strasbourg Zénith 21.03

Total 146.17km
Saturday 6 October: Day 2 Strasbourg - Strasbourg
Serv E Strasbourg Zénith (15 mins) 07.30
SS9 Massif des Grands Crus - Ungersberg 1 18.16km 08.38
SS10 Pays d’Ormont 1 43.45km 09.36
SS11 Pays de la Haute Bruche 1 24.04km 10.47
SS12 Klevener 1 10.75km 11.45
Serv F Strasbourg Zénith (30 mins) 13.15
SS13 Massif des Grands Crus - Ungersberg 2 18.16km 14.38
SS14 Pays d’Ormont 2 43.45km 15.36
SS15 Pays de la Haute Bruche 2 24.04km 16.47
SS16 Klevener 2 10.75km 17.45
Serv G Strasbourg Zénith (45 mins) 18.48
Finish Strasbourg Zénith 19.33
Total 192.80km

Sunday 7 October: Day 3 Strasbourg - Strasbourg
Serv H Strasbourg Zénith (15 mins) 07.50
SS17 Vignoble de Cleebourg 1 17.08km 09.23
SS18 Bischwiller - Gries 1 7.95km 10.46
SS19 Haguenau 1 5.74km 11.16
SS20 Vignoble de Cleebourg 2 17.08km 12.44
SS21 Bischwiller - Gries 2 7.95km 14.07
SS22 Haguenau 2 5.74km 14.37
Serv I Strasbourg Zénith (10 mins) 15.37
Finish Strasbourg Zénith 16.00
Total 61.54km
Rally total 404.14km
12-08-27 Tufft Rally Tyskland för WRC Academy-svenskarna Tidemand och Åhlin
I helgen avgjordes det tyska VM-rallyt i trakterna kring den historiska staden Trier. I JVM-klassen, WRC Academy, stod de svenska landslagsförarna Fredrik Åhlin och Pontus Tidemand redo att ge sig ut på de krokiga och utmanande asfaltsvägarna. För Pontus del dog dock hoppet om en bra placering redan på den första sträckan då höger drivaxel gick av, och Fredrik fick kasta in handuken på rallyts andradag då kroppen sa ifrån och han fick tillbringa resten av dagen på sjukhuset i Trier.

Fredrik Åhlin och hans kartläsare Morten Abrahamsen har haft en tung säsong fram till det tyska VM-rallyt. De kom dock ordentligt laddade till Tyskland efter en seger på hemmaplan i Rally Killingen.
-”Efter min vådliga vurpa i Finland så kändes segern i Killingen som ett bevis på att vinnarkänslan var på väg tillbaka-” berättar Fredrik. -”Vi åkte dock på några incidenter under fredagens inledande sträckor. Motorhuven flög upp på rutan två gånger och vid det andra tillfället så sprack framrutan, och det här sinkade oss en del så klart, därför blev det inga direkta topptider på rallyts första dag-” fortsätter Fredrik.
Fredrik skadade sin högerarm i den spektakulära olyckan i det finska VM-rallyt, och han har fortfarande smärtor i armen, vilket gjorde det svårt för honom att använda handbromsen genom hårnålarna i Tyskland. -”Ja tyvärr så var väl det ytterligare en orsak till att topptiderna uteblev-” säger Fredrik.

På lördagen slog dock illamåendet och yrseln till och det resulterade i att Fredrik var tvungen att bryta.
-”Jag kände redan på morgonen att kroppen inte svarade fullt ut. Jag mådde illa och kände mig matt. Redan efter förstasträckan så spydde jag-” berättar Fredrik vidare. -”På den nionde sträckan – Panzerplatte Baumholder så bara svartnade det. Jag tuppade av och spydde om vartannat, så Morten fick köra bilen tillbaka till servicen och jag fick åka direkt till sjukhuset-” berättar Fredrik.
-”Jag vet inte vad det berodde på, det kan vara sviter av kraschen i Finland, eller en vattenbakterie, eller något annat. Blodtrycket var ordentligt lågt i alla fall och nu ska jag gå till botten med det här-” avslutar Fredrik som nu är på väg tillbaka till Sverige för att göra en grundlig kontroll på sjukhuset i Karlstad.

Pontus Tidemand, som i Tyskland hade kartläsaren Emil Axelsson i högerstolen såg fram emot att köra sitt allra första asfaltrally i WRC Academy.
-”Det var väldigt lärorikt och intressant på rekognoseringen att se hur krävande och svåra vägarna är. Det kommer nog att bli tufft att vara med i topp i det här rallyt eftersom vi inte har kört tävling eller test på detta underlag tidigare-” spådde Pontus innan start. -”Men jag ska ändå göra allt jag kan för att nå en bra placering-” berättade Pontus.

Men redan på den första sträckan så försvann hoppet om en framträdande placering för teamet. Fem kilometer från mål gick höger drivaxel av och Pontus och Emil tvingades bryta för dagen.
-”Jag tyckte det gick helt okej under första sträckan tills drivaxeln gick av och enligt split-tiderna var vi med i toppen tidsmässigt. Jag bara rullade in i mål de sista kilometerna innan vi parkerade och tävlingen var förstörd-” berättar en besviken Pontus.

Drivaxelbrottet innebar fem missade sträckor under fredagen och gav teamet 25 minuters tidsstraff.
-”Vi låg ju hopplöst efter när vi startade om på lördagen-” berättar Pontus. -”Jag körde mest för att lära mig vägarna och se hur noterna fungerade, och det var nästan omöjligt att vara med och kriga om topptider på sträckorna då de andra redan kört in sig på underlaget och byggt tempo hela dagen innan-” berättar Pontus.

Pontus som slutade på en andraplats i Finland fick nu nöja sig med en slutlig sjätteplats i Tyskland.
-”Det är som det är, bara att ladda om till nästa deltävling i Frankrike. Det positiva vi kan ta med oss härifrån är att vi var bra med på split-tiderna innan vi bröt, och att vi ändå fått lite erfarenhet av vägarna i Tyskland-” avslutar Pontus.

-”Ja det blev ingen direkt lyckad helg för grabbarna i Tyskland-” säger rallylandslagets förbundskapten Anders Dawidson. -”Jag vet hur mycket tid och kraft som de lägger in i sina rallysatsningar och det är ju frustrerande att de inte får visa sin kapacitet fullt ut-” säger han.

-”För Fredriks del är det bara att hoppas att det inte är något allvarligt. Han kan ju ha fått i sig något olämpligt med maten i Tyskland, eller så kanske det är sviter efter hans krasch i Finland? Hur som helst så ska han genomgå en ordentlig hälsokontroll nu och efter det så får vi förhoppningsvis klara besked. Nu blev det tyvärr ytterligare ett rally för Fredrik där han tvingades bryta, och även om han blixtrar till under de återstående två VM-rallyna så har han tyvärr små möjligheter att nå en framstående slutplacering i mästerskapet-” säger Anders.

-”För Pontus del ser det lite ljusare ut. Med lite stolpe in i Frankrike och Spanien så har han kanske möjlighet att klättra upp till en slutlig pallplacering i alla fall-” säger Anders.

I JVM-tabellen parkerar Pontus på en sammanlagd femteplats med sina 49 poäng, och Fredrik befinner sig på en nionde plats med sina 11 poäng.

WRC Academy-klassen vanns av den brittiske föraren Elfyn Evans. Nästa VM-rally avgörs i Frankrike den 4-7 oktober.

Poängställning WRC Academy 2012– Junior VM, efter fyra av sex VM-rallyn:
Pos. Driver / Points
1. Elfyn Evans 98
2. Brendan Reeves 63
3. Alastair Fisher 53
4. Jose Suarez 52
5. Pontus Tidemand 49
6. John MacCrone 42
7. Timo van der Marel 31
8. Christopher Duplessis 16
9. Fredrik Ahlin 11
10. Joao Silva 10
11. Ashley Haigh-Smith 4

FIA WRC Academy 2012
Vodafone Rally de Portugal: 29 Mar - 01 Apr 12
Acropolis Rally: 24 - 27 May 12
Neste Oil Rally Finland: 02 - 04 Aug 12
ADAC Rallye Deutschland: 24 - 26 Aug 12
Rallye de France - Alsace: 04 - 07 Oct 12
Rally RACC-Rally de Espana: 08 - 11 Nov 12
12-08-26 Latvala seals asphalt best to claim second for Ford in Germany
Ford World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila claimed a career-best result on asphalt when they finished second in Rallye Deutschland today. Driving a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car, the Finns overcame demanding conditions in the Mosel wine region to secure their best finish in the FIA World Rally Championship since victory in Sweden in February.

Team-mates Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson finished 11th in a similar Fiesta RS WRC. They held second until retiring yesterday morning after hitting a rock and damaging the car’s suspension. They restarted today with time penalties and earned a points-paying finish in the manufacturers’ series.

This ninth round, based in Trier in south-west Germany, marked the first pure asphalt fixture of the season and the characteristics of the speed tests changed constantly. Bumpy narrow vineyard tracks, which zig-zagged across the hillsides, contrasted with concrete kerbstone-lined roads in the Baumholder military area, which are more accustomed to hosting tank training exercises.

Drivers tackled 15 special stages covering 1113.59km during the three-day event and the notoriously inclement weather also played its part. After high temperatures during the opening leg, colder weather and rain brought an extra challenge as drivers grappled not only with slippery roads, but also the dilemma of whether to opt for Michelin’s hard or soft compound tyres in the changing conditions.

Latvala was frustrated after choosing soft settings on his Fiesta RS WRC during Friday’s opening morning but after switching to a harder set-up, the 27-year-old Finn won two stages and ended the leg in third. Unexpected rain surprised all the front-runners early in the second leg and Latvala dropped 30sec after locking his brakes in the wet, overshooting a bend and becoming stuck in a field.

He dropped to fifth, but immediately recovered to second after a blistering performance over the marathon Panzerplatte stage in Baumholder. With a large time gap to the leader and a comfortable advantage over his pursuers, Latvala took no risks yesterday afternoon and eased through today’s final leg, comprising three stages and 65.89km, to secure second.

“It feels great to finish on the podium on asphalt and I’ll take great confidence from my best result on this surface,” he said. “This rally hasn’t been kind to Ford over the years so it’s a boost for everyone in the team. It was a hard event but we showed that the pace of myself and the car on asphalt continues to improve.

“The distance between ourselves and the winner was two minutes so we need to remain realistic and understand that there is still work to do. But I feel sure that we will be able to challenge for victory again on the remaining two asphalt rounds,” added Latvala.

On his first traditional asphalt event in a Fiesta RS WRC, 37-year-old Solberg was immediately on the pace. He ended the opening leg in second, but the Norwegian’s hopes of a strong result ended yesterday morning when he slid wide on a tightening left bend and hit a rock. Although he tried to continue, the damage was too great to complete the stage.

He restarted today under Rally 2 regulations and won the second stage, but his disappointment could not be disguised. “It would have been fantastic for the team to have finished second and third, but the car snapped away and once I hit the rock, it was all over. Until then my rally went extremely well. The testing and hard work that we put in improved the car on this surface and I was delighted with the pace,” he said.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson said the result was a ‘big confidence boost’. “We were disappointed with our performance on the last round in Finland, so to come to an asphalt rally, where we’ve traditionally struggled, and be so competitive is pleasing. I was disappointed Petter went off but encouraged by the pace of both drivers, and I’m confident for the future on asphalt,” he said.

Ford Racing senior manager Gerard Quinn said: “Our drivers acknowledge that asphalt is their least favourite surface, so this weekend was always going to be tough. From the outset a podium was our objective and we achieved that. I’m happy with the performance of both drivers, although obviously disappointed for Petter. Considering we haven’t competed on asphalt since the opening round, I’m satisfied with a podium.”

News from other Ford teams
Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson brought Adapta World Rally Team’s Fiesta RS WRC into fourth. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk completed the final stage in ninth but were withdrawn at the final service. The car was damaged after crashing out yesterday and his retirement will allow the team to fit replacement parts for the next asphalt rally in France in October. Team-mates Evgeny Novikov / Nicolas Klinger retired after today’s opening stage with a broken rear differential. Daniel Oliveira / Carlos Magalhaes finished 24th in the Brazil World Rally Team car after losing time earlier in the event when they went off the road and broke a driveshaft. Elfyn Evans / Phil Pugh claimed their third consecutive victory in the Ford Racing-supported FIA WRC Academy to open a 35-point lead in the series with two rounds remaining.

Next round
The championship returns to gravel next month when Wales Rally GB moves forward from its traditional date as the final round. The event is based in Cardiff from 13 - 16 September.

Final positions
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 3hr 41min 52.4sec
2. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 43min 52.5sec
3. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 3hr 44min 23.8sec
4. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 45min 16.8sec
5. C Atkinson/S Prévot AUS Mini John Cooper 3hr 51min 02.8sec
6. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 3hr 51min 43.2sec
7. A Mikkelsen/O Floene NOR Skoda Fabia S2000 3hr 54min 15.1sec
8. N Al Attiyah/G Bernacchini QAT Citroen DS3 3hr 54min 42.8sec
9. D Sordo/C Del Barrio ESP Mini John Cooper 3hr 56min 09.7sec
10 M Arzeno/R Jamoul FRA Peugeot 207 S2000 3hr 57min 12.1sec

Drivers
1. S Loeb 199pts
2. M Hirvonen 145pts
3. P Solberg 104pts
4. M Østberg 102pts
5. J-M Latvala 87pts
6. E Novikov 55pts

Manufacturers
1. Citroen Total WRT 320pts
2. Ford WRT 197pts
3. M-Sport Ford WRT 115pts
4. Qatar WRT 59pts
5. Citroen Junior WRT 54pts
6. Adapta WRT 49pts

Stage Times
Stage 13: 1. Loeb 19min 45.6sec; 2. Latvala + 9.7; 3. Hirvonen + 12.6; 4. Tänak + 13.7; 5. Østberg + 15.5; 6. Sordo + 15.8; 8. P Solberg + 26.6.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 18min 37.4sec; 2. Latvala + 1:52.6; 3. Hirvonen + 2:25.3; 4. Østberg + 3:23.3; 5. Atkinson + 8:16.8; 6. Ogier + 9:08.7; 12. P Solberg + 21:02.6.

Stage 14: 1. P Solberg 19min 40.3sec; 2. Østberg + 1.2; 3. Sordo + 3.6; 4. Tänak + 5.5; 5. Latvala + 9.1; 6. Loeb + 9.9.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 38min 27.6sec; 2. Latvala + 1:51.8; 3. Hirvonen + 2:29.2; 4. Østberg + 3:14.6; 5. Atkinson + 8:59.6; 6. Ogier + 9:42.8; 12. P Solberg + 20:52.7.

Stage 15: 1. Loeb 3min 24.8sec; 2. Hirvonen + 2.1; 3. Mikkelsen + 6.8; 4. Al Attiyah + 7.5; 5. Neuville + 7.8; 6. Ogier + 7.9. 7. Latvala + 8.2; 14. P Solberg + 13.6.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 41min 52.4sec; 2. Latvala + 2:00.1; 3. Hirvonen + 2:31.4; 4. Østberg + 3:24.4; 5. Atkinson + 9:10.4; 6. Ogier + 9:50.8; 11. P Solberg + 21:06.4.
12-08-26 Maximum Achievement
'Hello everyone,
'Maxi the MINI here for the last time! - I'm so excited because we just finished fifth overall at ADAC Rallye Deutschland. It was three tough days of competition, 15 special stages a lot of hard work but also loads of fun with Chris, Stéphane and the team. 368.63km of special stages later and we clocked the best result achieved by WRC Team MINI Portugal so far and Chris' highest finish ever in Germany. Not to mention that we clocked the fifth time overall in today's Power Stage.

'Not to brag (too much) but I was the top MINI finishing the rally this weekend. I'll try not to mention it too often to the other MINIs in the workshop back in Italy but I think I'll probably get away with mentioning it (and my Top 5 finish) once or twice.

'I'm really proud that I was part of Chris and Stéphane's success this weekend, they are a great pairing - well we're more like a trio, really - and I felt a connection with them from our very first outing together.

'I think that they like me too, today I heard Chris saying that I was fantastic this weekend. I think we make a perfect match and I already can't wait to compete again. Although, I'll have to wait about a month as my next event will be Rallye de France. I'm having a rest and keeping my Tarmac set-up whilst one of the boys will head out to Wales Rally GB with Chris ready for the rougher gravel. I said that they can copy my livery and put it on the GB car if they want.

'Today we cruised through the last three stages and made sure we didn't make any mistakes and kept our position. Of course we could have been a bit faster, but the conditions today were especially tricky due to the heavy rain so we decided to take it easy!

'When Chris came to get me at Parc Fermé this morning he was quite chilled and said to me: 'Come on Maxi, let's do it!' He always knows how to cheer me up and boost my confidence.

'When we got to the finish of the last stage - Circus Maximus - Chris was all smiles, it felt so good to see him happy. We scooped a very good result together and I'm sure there's still a lot more excitement to come. He said to me: 'There you go, Maxi! Fifth on your first rally and my best result ever here in Germany. You did an amazing job all weekend - and in return, I made sure there wasn't a scratch on you so you'll look pretty for your photos on the finish ramp!'

'Wow, going over the final ramp was really awesome and I could sense Chris was very excited too.

'Tomorrow I go back to Italy together with my friend Porquinho Verde. I'm a bit sad because I already miss Chris loads, because he's heading halfway round the world to Australia, but I'll see him in about a month and I'm already counting down the days.

'This weekend was really special and it was an honour to be your host - I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! Chris asked me to thank you all for the great support he has been given and to say that he can't wait for Wales Rally GB.

'Bye for now!'
Maxi

Final Overall Classification – Rally Finland
1.S. Loeb (FRA)/ D. Elena (MCO) Citroen 3:41:52.4
2.J.M Latvala (FIN)/ M. Anttila (FIN) Ford +2:00.1
3.Hirvonen (FIN)/ J. Lehtinen (FIN) Citroen +2:31-4
4.M. Ostberg (NOR)/ J. Andersson (SWE) Ford +3:24.4
5. C.Atkinson (AUS)/ S. Prévot (BEL) MINI +9:10.4
6.S. Ogier (FRA)/ J. Ingrassia (FRA) Skoda +9:50.8
7.A. Mikkelsen (NOW)/ O. Floene (NOR) Skoda +12:22.7
8.N. Al-Attyiah (QAT) - G. Bernacchini (ITA) Citroen +12:50.4
9.O. Tanak (EST)/ K. Sikk (EST) Ford +13:01.3
10.D. Sordo (ESP)/ C. Del Barrio (ESP) MINI +14:17.3
12-08-26 Besviken Pontus sexa i Rally Tyskland
Redan på första sträckan av ADAC-Rally Deutschland så var allt hopp på en bra placering för Pontus över. Fem kilometer från mål gick höger drivaxel av och Pontus fick bryta den fjärde deltävlingen av WRC Academy direkt första dagen.
- Jag tyckte det gick helt okej under första sträckan tills drivaxeln gick av och enligt split-tiderna var vi vi med i toppen tidsmässigt. Jag bara rullade in i mål sista kilometerna innan vi parkerade och tävlingen var förstörd, berättar Pontus

Med fem missade sträckor under fredagen fick Pontus och kartläsaren Emil Axelsson ett tidsstraff på 25 minuter inför andra dagen och låg då hopplöst långt efter täten.
- Jag körde helt utan någon attack under lördagen, körde mest för att lära mig vägarna och se hur mina noter fungerade. Sen så är det nästan helt omöjligt att vara med och kriga i toppen när de andra hade byggt tempo hela dagen innan, säger Pontus

När bilarna gick över mållinjen på lördag kväll så slutade Pontus på en sjätte plats, vann gjorde Elfyn Ewans före Jose Suarez.
- Det är bara att försöka ladda om inför nästa deltävling i Frankrike. Enda positiva vi kan ta med oss från denna tävlingen är att vi var bra med på split-tiderna innan vi bröt och att vi ändå fått lite erfarenhet av vägarna här i Tyskland, avslutar den 21-åriga Landslagsföraren Pontus Tidemand
12-08-25 A Maxi Adventure
'G'day everyone (my Australian is getting better and better day after day)

'Maxi here, once again live from ADAC Rallye Deutschland to tell you all about the second day of the event and I am SO excited. We're in fifth overall!! It was a tough day though - Chris and I have seen all the possible weather conditions today. We had pouring rain, sun, wind, you name it we tested it. We didn't get bored, that's for sure!

'We set off pretty early this morning from Parc Fermé and after going quickly through the Service Park off we went to the stages. As soon as we got to the start of SS7 it started pouring and as we're still trying to nail our rhythm, Chris decided to take it easy and avoid risks. We got through SS8 with no troubles and after that we headed to Remote Service.

'As at Remote the boys can only carry out limited checks, I knew that we had to be cautious in the first two stages to make sure I got there in top form.

'Soon came the time to head off to the stage I was really looking forward to tackle - the legendary 46km Panzerplatte. Gosh, it was amazing but at the same time really demanding. You have to respect stages like that otherwise you'll be in big trouble. I saw other cars parked up for a rest, but Chris didn't have that in mind! I enjoyed it a lot and I Chris did too. He says that even if it's so long it goes in no time at all as there's always something happening and it's loads of fun.


'After such a stage I pampered myself with a proper service - as I mentioned before this is one of the moments of the day I enjoy the most. The mechanics taking care of me are really good, they know me almost better than I know myself - it's incredible what they can do in such a limited amount of time.

'You might have noticed that my friend Porquinho Verde came back to the Service Park before everybody else. The thing is that Paulo had to fly back to Brazil for personal reasons. Nothing to worry about though, you'll see them both very soon at Wales Rally GB.

'I heard my Team Manager Bruno saying very nice things about me at the End of Day Press Conference, I'm a shy MINI so when I'm paid compliments - even if you can't see it because my livery is black - I blush, but I love it too! ? Chris pays me a lot of compliments but I'm getting used to it and I have to say I can only say great things right back at him!

'We've gone through the most difficult part of the rally in my opinion - of course tomorrow we still have three stages and we have to stay focused but I'm very happy with what we achieved so far. I'm so proud that we're lying in fifth at the end of this big day and tomorrow I'll do everything I can to make sure we get to the finish.

'Well, that's all for today, it was a long day and Chris, Stéphane and I need to relax and rest so we're ready for tomorrow.

'See ya',
Maxi the MINI
12-08-25 Latvala marches into second as going turns tough in Germany
Ford World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila ended the second leg of Rallye Deutschland in second after a day of drama and attrition. Although the Finns encountered difficulties of their own in their Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car, they avoided the serious troubles that sidelined other front-runners to end the penultimate day’s action almost 30sec ahead of their nearest rivals.

Team-mates Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson were one of five crews from the top 10 leaderboard to fall foul of the demanding Baumholder military area, east of the rally base of Trier. Second-placed Solberg hit a rock and the rear suspension damage to his Fiesta RS WRC was too severe to carry on.

Today’s leg of this ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship was expected to be the toughest of the three-day event – and so it proved. Drivers tackled two identical loops of three asphalt speed tests covering 164.90km over vineyard tracks on the banks of the Mosel river, narrow lanes in the Saarland countryside and daunting kerbstone-lined roads at the tank training area.

With dry weather forecast this morning, Latvala, Solberg and all their rivals opted for Michelin’s hard compound tyres. However, rain unexpectedly fell in the opening 26.54km test among the grapes. The hard rubber was unsuited to the cold and wet asphalt and the Ford duo lost more than 20sec to leader Sébastien Loeb, who started earlier and enjoyed drier conditions.

Both fitted their soft compound spare tyre to the right rear of their Fiesta RS WRCs for the following special stage. With improved grip, Solberg retained second but Latvala dropped 30sec after being caught out by the wet roads and slipped to fifth overall.

“My car was set-up for dry conditions, but it was too hard so we softened the settings before the start,” explained 27-year-old Latvala. “However, I hit some water running across the road before a bend and locked the brakes. The car went straight on into a field and became stuck on the wet grass. I had to manoeuvre backwards and forwards several times before I could continue.”

Both Ford drivers then switched to soft compound tyres for the monster 46.54km Arena Panzerplatte test in Baumholder. Latvala was second fastest to vault to second. However, in doing so he displaced 37-year-old Solberg, who was sidelined around 30km after the start.

“It was my fault,” admitted Solberg. “In a long left corner, the back of the car began to slip and I couldn’t hold the slide. The rear right hit a rock and although we tried to carry on, unfortunately the damage was serious and when the wheel came off we had to stop.

“It’s disappointing because my speed was good and I was so careful all weekend not to make any mistakes. I’ll restart tomorrow and hopefully I’ll be in a position to challenge for bonus points on the final Power Stage,” he added.

With a large gap to the leader and a comfortable advantage over third-placed Mikko Hirvonen, Latvala took the safe option of soft tyres for the first two repeated stages this afternoon as rain again threatened. He consolidated second before switching to hard rubber again for the second pass over the abrasive Panzerplatte test, in which he missed fastest time by just 0.7sec.

“I wanted to play safe and chose the soft tyres in case it rained again,” explained Latvala. “It rained before the stage but the test itself was dry. It cost me a few seconds but nothing like the time I would have lost on hard tyres if it had rained.

“I liked both Panzerplatte stages. I enjoyed the fight for fastest time but I’m disappointed not to have been quickest on at least one of them. I missed out by 0.8sec in the first pass and 0.7sec in the second pass after more than 46km! Having dropped to fifth this morning, I’m happy to be in second. The car was fast enough to allow me to fight at the front, but I lacked consistency at times,” he added.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson was again encouraged by his team’s asphalt pace. “Both drivers showed good speed and this is the most competitive we’ve been in Germany. It’s encouraging for the remaining asphalt rounds. It was disappointing to lose Petter when in a strong position, but I’m confident Jari-Matti can secure his place tomorrow,” he said.

News from other Ford teams
A clean run for Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson enabled the Adapta World Rally Team duo to climb from eighth to fourth in their Fiesta RS WRC. That position was the property of M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk, who excelled to win two stages this afternoon before retiring in the final test after losing a rear wheel when they hit a kerb. They will restart tomorrow under Rally 2 regulations in ninth. Team-mates Evgeny Novikov / Nicolas Klinger are 31st following yesterday’s retirement, their only issues being two overshoots. Daniel Oliveria / Carlos Magalhaes are two places further back in the Brazil World Rally Team car after losing time this morning with a broken driveshaft.

Tomorrow’s Route
The final leg is short and sharp. After an 08.00 restart, competitors tackle two passes over the 30.76km Dhrontal test in the Mosel vineyards before the final 4.37km Power Stage around the streets of Trier. The finish ceremony takes place at the city’s historic Porta Nigra gate at 15.45.

Leaderboard after Day 2
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 2hr 58min 51.8sec
2. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 00min 34.7sec
3. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 3hr 01min 04.5sec
4. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 01min 59.6sec
5. C Atkinson/S Prévot AUS Mini John Cooper 3hr 05min 50.8sec
6. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 3hr 07min 02.4sec
7. A Mikkelsen/O Floene NOR Skoda Fabia S2000 3hr 09min 12.2sec
8. N Al Attiyah/G Bernacchini QAT Citroen DS3 3hr 09min 43.8sec
9. O Tänak/K Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 11min 34.9sec
10 M Arzeno/R Jamoul FRA Peugeot 207 S2000 3hr 11min 55.3sec

Stage Times
Stage 7: 1. Loeb 15min 25.2sec; 2. P Solberg + 21.4; 3. Latvala + 25.4; 4. Sordo + 41.4; 5. Neuville + 45.6; 6. Hirvonen + 1:07.4.
Overall: 1. Loeb 1hr 37min 43.2sec; 2. P Solberg + 41.8; 3. Latvala + 54.8; 4. Neuville + 1:20.1; 5. Sordo + 1:28.1; 6. Hirvonen + 1:56.3.

Stage 8: 1. Sordo 5min 51.3sec; 2. P Solberg + 2.0; 3. Loeb + 2.2; 4. Tänak + 3.8; 5. Østberg + 4.6; 6. Hirvonen + 5.8; 30. Latvala + 36.3.
Overall: 1. Loeb 1hr 43min 36.7sec; 2. P Solberg + 41.6; 3. Sordo + 1:25.9; 4. Neuville + 1:26.7; 5. Latvala + 1:28.9; 6. Hirvonen + 1:59.9.

Stage 9: 1. Loeb 27min 31.9sec; 2. Latvala + 0.8; 3. Hirvonen + 5.1; 4. Østberg + 8.6; 5. Tänak + 14.6; 6. Novikov + 25.4.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 11min 08.6sec; 2. Latvala + 1:29.7; 3. Hirvonen + 2:05.0; 4. Østberg + 2:47.9; 5. Tänak + 2:48.7; 6. Sordo + 3:57.0.

Stage 10: 1. Tänak 15min 12.1sec; 2. Sordo + 2.1; 3. Loeb + 5.4; 4. Hirvonen + 5.9; 5. Østberg + 7.3; 6. Latvala + 14.2.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 26min 26.1sec; 2. Latvala + 1:38.5; 3. Hirvonen + 2:05.5; 4. Tänak + 2:43.3; 5. Østberg + 2:49.8; 6. Sordo + 3:53.7.

Stage 11: 1. Tänak 5min 31.5sec; 2. Loeb + 0.2; 3. Østberg + 3.6; 4. Sordo + 3.8; 5. Latvala + 3.9; 6. Hirvonen + 4.4;
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 31min 57.8sec; 2. Latvala + 1:42.2; 3. Hirvonen + 2:09.7; 4. Tänak + 2:43.1; 5. Østberg + 2:53.2; 6. Sordo + 3:57.3.

Stage 12: 1. Loeb 26min 54.0sec; 2. Latvala + 0.7; 3. Hirvonen + 3.0; 4. Østberg + 14.6; 5. Novikov + 26.3; 6. Atkinson + 46.0;
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 58min 51.8sec; 2. Latvala + 1:42.9; 3. Hirvonen + 2:12.7; 4. Østberg + 3:07.8; 5. Atkinson + 6:59.0; 6. Ogier + 8:10.6.
12-08-24 Maximum pressure
'Hello everyone,
'It's me Maxi - your favorite MINI - again!
'Wow, this was what I call a nice day out on the stages. Chris and I had a fantastic day together - I really enjoyed every minute of it. To be fair I was a bit nervous this morning when we set-off from the Service Park as I was going to compete against the other cars for the first time, but I could feel Chris was chillaxed to the max so I tried to go with the flow.

Anyway, we got to the start of SS1 and I was nervously awaiting our start time but as soon as Chris and Stéphane put their helmets on, fastened their seat belts and Stéphane started the count down for the kick off I could feel the adrenaline start to rush and I couldn't wait to get going. Five, four, three, two, one and off we went! Corner after corner the feeling with Chris got better and better and even though he had to play football with a loose bottle that was rolling under my pedals we finished the stage with a good time and I heard him saying on the radio that he was very happy with how I did out there. :-)

'With the baptism of fire over I was much more relaxed and I even started to enjoy the view - the landscape here in Germany is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. There are so many vineyards around here - I know Tomo is a proper wine connoisseur so I'm waiting for him to take me out for some wine tasting later in the week. I reckon any time now he'll build up the courage to ask.

'After three stages we headed back to Trier for Service - I love service! I like the stages too but during service I'm the star and the boys pay me some much attention. I've told you before I'm a liiiittle bit of a diva, but you know, this is my moment. ;-) Anyway, Chris and I did a good job on the first loop so there wasn't anything broken and I only had to go through routine checks.

'Unfortunately my mate (yep, I'm picking up on the Australian) Porquinho Verde wasn't as lucky - Paulo made a small mistake and PV hit a bank with the rear and damaged the suspension. Nothing to worry about though, the boys already fixed it and he's ready to go tomorrow for some more action!

'Chris hasn't competed in a Tarmac rally for three and a half years so he's biding his time waiting to find his rhythm, but we did the best we could today and we're improving together stage on stage. I'm really proud of him (and of myself too to be completely honest!) I heard him saying that his aim for the weekend is being between sixth and tenth position, we're in ninth at the moment so it's all good!

'I love Chris, he's a real professional and a fantastic person and he really knows how to treat me (and if he isn't sure Stephane's always there to advise him!) I feel like I've known them forever even if in reality we've only met last week.

'This afternoon we went for another run in the vineyards and our rhythm started to get better, maybe tomorrow we'll push even harder. After all I'm a positive car and I don't give up easily.

'The day is finished now. We got back to service again and my mechanics ran a thorough check on me to make sure I'm on top form for tomorrow. Now I'm all nice and shiny ready to rock tomorrow on another day of MINI adventures!

'That's all for today, I really need my beauty sleep over in parce ferme (I'm kind of hoping I'll be parked near to either PV or that nice red MINI), but I'll be back tomorrow with more stories from ADAC Rallye Deutschland!

'Bye now', Maxi
12-08-24 Ford finds good legs in German vineyards to lie second and third
Ford World Rally Team made a strong start to Rallye Deutschland to hold second and third after today’s opening leg. In this first pure asphalt round of the FIA World Rally Championship season, Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson lie second in a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car, with Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila third in a similar car.

Latvala won two of the afternoon’s three speed tests over tricky vineyard tracks on the banks of the Mosel river, north-east of Trier. The Ford duo are separated by just 9.0sec with two days of competition remaining in this ninth round of the series.

Drivers tackled two identical loops of three special stages covering 137.84km. Although the narrow tests were familiar from previous years, they were used in the opposite direction, ensuring accurate pace notes were crucial. The bumpy but fast tracks, linked by sharp hairpin bends, zig-zagged across the hillsides among the grapes and overhanging vines made it hard for drivers to pick out corners.

Despite overnight rain, conditions were dry and Solberg opted for Michelin’s hard compound Pilot Sport tyres all day. The 37-year-old Norwegian powered into second in the opening test and completed the morning loop just 13.1sec from the lead. A similarly strong pace this afternoon kept Solberg firmly in second and he ended a troublefree day 20.4sec from top spot.

“My experience of driving the Fiesta RS WRC on asphalt is relatively small, so I’m still getting used to the car on this surface,” he said. “Considering that, I’m very happy with my performance. I could have pushed harder, but it was important to establish a good feeling and not take too many risks. You have to be smart here.

“I lost a few seconds but this morning but this afternoon was perfect and the car was fantastic. Tomorrow is a long day with some difficult stages so it will be important not to do anything crazy,” added Solberg.

Latvala had a mixed morning, the 27-year-old Finn lying third but regretting a soft set-up on his Fiesta RS WRC that did not provide the stability he wanted. He opted for a diagonal mix of hard and soft compound tyres for the opening test, which was slippery and muddy in the first third. However, in drier conditions later in the stage, the soft rubber became too hot, allowing the car to move around.

He switched to hard tyres for the rest of the morning and despite his wish for stiffer settings, he completed the loop only 5.7sec behind Solberg.

“I knew the first 8km in the opening stage were slippery,” said Latvala. “Although I lost some seconds towards the end, I’m glad I tried the hard-soft mix because it gave me confidence in the muddy section. The set-up was too soft generally although I was able to make small changes during the loop which improved the feeling.”

With a harder set-up, Latvala showed the Fiesta RS WRC’s asphalt speed this afternoon. He won the first and last tests, but admitted they weren’t without risks.

“When I was fastest in stage four, I had two lucky escapes when I was off the road and almost ‘lost’ the car. Afterwards Miikka and I agreed it was time to calm down otherwise we wouldn’t finish the rally. I tried to find a comfortable feeling, but eased off too much, braked too early and didn’t realise how much time I was losing. I found a good compromise on the last stage and was fastest again.

“Tomorrow is the key day of this event and I’m looking forward to the long stages at the Baumholder military land. I enjoy those roads,” added Latvala.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson was delighted with two stage victories. “It’s hugely encouraging,” he said. “To be second and third, and to be so close to a man who has dominated this rally eight times in the last nine years, feels like leading. Both drivers are within striking distance, with the most difficult stages in the rally still to come.”

News from other Ford teams
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk lie seventh, despite missing junctions twice this morning and once this afternoon. Just 10.8sec behind in eighth are Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson in Adapta World Rally Team’s Fiesta RS WRC, the Norwegian driver missing a junction in the opening stage and suffering brake problems this morning. M-Sport Ford’s Evgeny Novikov / Nicolas Klinger retired in the opening stage after hitting a wall and damaging the right rear of the car. They will restart under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow. Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hruza retired in stage three when, after a puncture, their Czech Ford National Team car caught fire later in the stage and burned out. Daniel Oliveria / Carlos Magalhäes damaged the rear of their Fiesta RS WRC after going off the road in the same test and they, too, retired.

Tomorrow’s Route
The second leg is the longest and most difficult. It includes more vineyard tracks, fast roads through the Saarland countryside and two passes over the daunting 46.54km Arena Panzerplatte test at the Baumholder military area. After leaving Trier at 07.00, drivers face two identical loops of three stages covering 164.90km, before returning for the overnight halt at 20.22. Competitors have two short remote service zones in Birkenfeld before the Panzerplatte tests as well as a 30-minute service in Trier which splits the two loops.

Leaderboard after Day 1
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 1hr 22min 18.0sec
2. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 1hr 22min 38.4sec
3. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS 1hr 22min 47.4sec
4. T Neuville/N Gilsoul BEL Citroen DS3 1hr 22min 52.5sec
5. D Sordo/C Del Barrio ESP Mini John Cooper 1hr 23min 04.7sec
6. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 1hr 23min 06.9sec
7. O Tänak/K Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS 1hr 23min 35.9sec
8. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 1hr 23min 46.7sec
9. C Atkinson/S Prévot AUS Mini John Cooper 1hr 24min 52.8sec
10 S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 1hr 25min 54.6sec

Stage Times
Stage 1: 1. Loeb 14min 42.9sec; 2. P Solberg + 5.2; 3. Hirvonen + 8.7; 4. Latvala + 9.1; 5. Neuville + 9.9; 6. Tänak + 15.8.

Stage 2: 1. Loeb 14min 19.7sec; 2. P Solberg + 4.4; 3. Latvala + 6.9; 4. Neuville + 7.9; 5. Tänak + 8.8; 6. Sordo + 9.6.
Overall: 1. Loeb 29min 02.6sec; 2. P Solberg + 9.6; 3. Latvala + 16.0; 4. Neuville + 17.8; 5. Hirvonen + 22.3; 6. Tänak + 24.6.

Stage 3: 1. Loeb 12min 19.5sec; 2. Latvala + 2.8; 3. P Solberg + 3.5; 4. Hirvonen + 5.7; 5. Sordo + 7.5; 6. Neuville + 7.7.
Overall: 1. Loeb 41min 22.1sec; 2. P Solberg + 13.1; 3. Latvala + 18.8; 4. Neuville + 25.5; 5. Hirvonen + 28.0; 6. Sordo + 34.9.

Stage 4: 1. Latvala 14min 31.7sec; 2. Loeb + 1.8; 3. Neuville + 2.4; 4. P Solberg + 2.5; 5. Sordo + 7.8; 6. Østberg + 11.6.
Overall: 1. Loeb 55min 55.6sec; 2. P Solberg + 13.8; 3. Latvala + 17.0; 4. Neuville + 26.1; 5. Hirvonen + 39.3; 6. Sordo + 40.9.

Stage 5: 1. Loeb 14min 09.9sec; 2. P Solberg + 5.1; 3= Sordo, Hirvonen + 5.3; 5. Neuville + 6.9; 6. Tänak + 9.7; 7. Latvala + 12.7.
Overall: 1. Loeb 1hr 10min 05.5sec; 2. P Solberg + 18.9; 3. Latvala + 29.7; 4. Neuville + 33.0; 5. Hirvonen + 44.6; 6. Sordo + 46.2.

Stage 6: 1. Latvala 12min 12.2sec; 2. Loeb + 0.3; 3. Sordo + 0.8; 4= P Solberg, Neuville + 1.8; 6. Hirvonen + 4.6.
Overall: 1. Loeb 1hr 22min 18.0sec; 2. P Solberg + 20.4; 3. Latvala + 29.4; 4. Neuville + 34.5; 5. Sordo + 46.7; 6. Hirvonen + 48.9.
12-08-23 Pontus Tidemand asfaltsdebuterar i Rally-VM i helgen
På fredag startar den fjärde deltävlingen i 2012-års WRC Academy. De 12 stycken Junior-VM ekipagen skall köra två dagar av VM-deltävlingen Rally Tyskland som körs i Moseldalen runt historiska staden Trier i södra Tyskland. På plats finns 21-åriga landslagsföraren Pontus Tidemand tillsammans med Emil Axelsson som kartläsare.

Totalt skall det köras 12 stycken specialsträckor på en totallängd av 30 mil på svårbemästrade asfaltvägar med skiftade underlag, det är till och med betong som underlag på en del av sträckorna som körs runt militärområdet Panzerplatte.
- Det har varit väldigt intressant och lärorikt på rekognoseringen att se hur krävande och svåra vägarna är. Detta liknar ingenting som jag kör förut och det är ju faktiskt mitt första asfaltsrally i VM, berättar Pontus.

Med en andra plats i senaste deltävlingen i Finland, en tredjeplats i premiären i Portugal och en nolla i protokollet i Grekland då Pontus bröt med ett mekaniskt fel när han låg på andra plats så ligger Pontus på en fjärde plats i sammandraget i WRC Academy.
- Det kommer bli riktigt svårt att vara med i topp denna tävling, det är flera av de andra förarna som är riktigt snabba på asfalt och vi har inte kört någon tävling eller test innan på detta underlag. Man måste vara realist och inse att jag är här för att lära men självklart skall jag göra allt för att vara med i toppen och kämpa, avslutar Pontus
12-08-23 Maxi-mum Scrutiny
'Hey everyone, it's Maxi the MINI here. Or, I should say, 'G'day, mate!'.
'I speak a fair few languages - after all I need to, MINIs need to be at home all over the world and I've got the life of a globe trotter ahead of me! I can tell you though - I need to brush up on my Australian. I wasn't totally sure why Chris said the other day, 'We're going off like a frog in a sock, Maxi' (I didn't even know frogs wore socks!) Anyway, he seemed happy when he said it so I didn't want him to know I have no clue! I'll try to remember it and use it myself to make him feel at home.

'Now let me tell you what I've been up to since I last wrote. Yesterday morning was scrutineering - and you should have seen the way those scrutineers were looking at me. They couldn't take their eyes off me! In fact, it's lucky Chris was out on recce or he could have got quite jealous...

'Last night I got a slap-bang-whallop, shiny new livery (modelled below by...me!). I know it might seem like I'm always paying myself compliments, but to be objective... It's REALLY cool. I heard lots of people talking about it this morning. Although...our bodywork and stickers guy, Wally, didn't seem so keen on being my friend after he spent five hours applying it during the night. That's a real shame, because I considered that quality time together! I guess it was just a one night thing though.

'Chris, Stéphane and I headed out on shakedown this morning. Boy oh boy I can't wait for the rally. It felt like I was flying, but Chris says that when we're using soft tyres not hard ones we'll go even faster. Porquinho Verde came out on shakedown with us with Paulo and Edu. He looked like he was having a great time! Although - and I'm not being fickle at all, because PV's my best friend - I also spotted another MINI out there. A nice red one whose driver seems to be friends with Chris - it's like a whole MINI family! :-) He was going pretty fast too, so it'll be interesting to see how he does on the rally. I'll try to pay attention to what he does - never hurts to compare notes. After all the better we all run, the better for the competition!

'I really like my engineer Tomo and the mechanics. It's great they give me whatever I need! Literally anything I want. I'm so spoilt and I love it! I know I shouldn't push the boundaries too much, but I wonder if they'd oblige if I asked for grapes and a reed fan... Hmm, maybe I'll save that for GB...

'More or less I'm just pretty happy. I love being in the limelight and here in Germany people are always looking at me, taking my photo and asking me to pose with Chris. Actually I've got this sneaky suspicion that when people come to see Bruno and Tomo to 'chat' more often than not it's just an excuse to talk about me, but I would never tell the boys that!!

'Anyway, that's all for now, I'm off to prepare myself for Chris' big welcome at 18h then the Ceremonial Start. I can't wait to take Chris up on the ramp and see the fans.

'Ciiiiaaao', Maxi the MINI
12-08-20 Lyckat asfaltstest idag för Ramona
Idag körde Ramona och Miriam det officiella asfaltstestet som arrangerades strax utanför Trier.
- Jättebra möjlighet att få lära känna de tyska vägarna, och framför allt att känna på det ”nya” underlaget då vi aldrig kört asfaltsrally tidigare. Det gick bättre och bättre för varje omgång, så det var både positivt och lärorikt. Bilen går riktigt fint, vi har fått till riktigt bra inställningar – och fått mycket god hjälp av Mikael på Trendab som åkte ner för testet för att se över mjukvaran för motor och diffar, säger Ramona.

Imorgon börjar Ramona och Miriam med rekognosceringen som pågår till och med onsdag.
- Detta ska bli riktigt kul, vi ser verkligen fram emot vår asfaltspremiär! Säger Miriam
12-08-18 Maxi-mum Focus
Hello everyone,
My full name is MINI Countryman John Cooper Works WRC 01B, but my friends call me Maxi, because you name it, I've got it, a carbon extension on my bonnet, bigger bumpers, fenders and rear wheel arches than a regular MINI. That makes my width a whopping 1820mm plus I have plenty of extra power from my engine, turbo and mapping. Not to brag, but it's true!!

It's fair to say, I'm pretty popular with boys. The boys at WRC Team MINI Portugal - my team - certainly pay me a lot of attention. There are girls in the team too, which is nice, because they know what it's like to work in such a testosterone-fuelled environment! ;-)

I'm not stupid. I know that Chris (the boys call him 'Atko', but I like 'Chris') competed with other cars before. It isn't about the past though, it's about the future! He 100% committed and you know it isn't just about having a relationship, it's about finding the right one. Just between you and me, I'm quietly confident that this is it! A bit like Chris and Stéphane really. It's incredible how much they trust each other and how intuitively they work together. I feel really lucky to compete with them.

Chris and I have decided to be very open with each other from the start. He says if I do something wrong he'll tell Bruno and Tomo. I said, if he does something wrong, I'll leave the stage! Anyway, to be honest, I overheard Chris saying to Bruno that I have a fantastic chassis and he immediately felt at ease with me! ;-)

Of course, I have friends back in the workshop in Italy - I live in Italy at the moment, although I'm not Italian by birth. They tell me all sorts of stories! There's a green MINI, Porquinho Verde, who's a lot of fun. He tells hilarious tales about his driver Paulo. He says everyone loves Paulo and Paulo loves everyone! He's here in Germany with me and I'm glad we'll be doing the rally together, because although I'm 100% focused on the job in hand, I have noticed that he's got a kind of cute livery...

Then there's the other black cars. They look pretty much like me, but - and I'd never say this to them - I think I've got a nicer front bumper than the 01As (and a few more horsepower!)

Earlier today Chris, Stéphane and I went testing with the team. I have to say, I love the Tarmac! I get bigger tyres and stronger brakes, which increase my corner speed and the G-force. It's the most amazing sensation!

I'm a little bit nervous about my first outing at ADAC Rallye Deutschland's Shakedown next Thursday and going head-to-head with everyone else on the stages Friday morning, but Chris is as calm as ever. He says there's no need to panic, we're in this together and we just have to do our best!

So... Here we go. I'll let you know what happens.

Bye for now,
Love, Maxi the MINI
12-08-18 Rallytjejerna gör comeback efter otäck brandolycka
Under förra deltävlingen i Rally-VM i Nya Zeeland kunde det ha gått riktigt illa för den svenska tjejduon Ramona Karlsson och Miriam Walfridsson. Som enda tjejekipage i Rally-VM var de snudd på nära att ta hem sin första pallplats i Rally-VM , då de låg på en trygg andraplats. Men plötsligt tog rallybilen eld, blev snabbgt övertänd och tjejerna fick kasta sig ur bilen i farten. Rallybilen gick inte att släcka utan brann upp framför ögonen på dem. Men nu är de tillbaks.

Sedan Ramona och Miriam kom hem från Nya Zeeland har teamet jobbat stenhårt för att komma tillbaks till nästa VM-deltävling i Tyskland. Och nästa vecka står tjejerna i startgropen igen.
- Vi gav oss tusan på att vi skulle vara tillbaks till Tyskland igen. För bara några veckor sedan var vi utan tävlingsbil, och vår situation var verkligen upp-och-nedvänd kan man säga. Men tack vare ett fantastiskt stöd av framför allt vår chefsmekaniker Mikael Gustafsson och vår sponsor Mitsubishi kunde vi snabbt lösa en ny bil som Mikael nu har iordningställt och preparerat, säger Ramona.

Det har varit jobb in i det sista för att få alla bitar att falla på plats, och det har varit intensiva dagar för teamet. – Men vill man så går det! Det känns skönt att nu kunna andas ut efter mycket intensiva dagar. Det återstår en del jobb när vi kommer hem för att lösa resten av de praktiska och ekonomiska bitarna, men huvudsaken är att vi nu är på väg till Tyskland och att vi kommer till start! säger Ramona positivt.

Rally Tyskland innebär Ramona och Miriams allra första asfaltstävling, och har ryktet att vara et tufft, tekniskt och utslagsgivande rally. Start och mål är i Trier, och vägarna består av 100% asfalt. – Det blir ett nytt underlag för oss, så det ska bli både lärorikt och spännande. Det skiljer sig en hel del jämfört med att åka på grus, säger Miriam. Under förra VM-tävlingen bevisade tjejerna att de fått upp farten ordentligt, och var med och slogs uppe i världstoppen. Inför Rally Tyskland är tar tjejerna det säkra före det osäkra med sin målsättning. – Eftersom asfaltsrally är helt nytt för oss, är det svårt att förutspå våra chanser jämfört med de som är mer rutinerade. Vi får helt enkelt se hur det går, men givetvis siktar vi på att vara med och kriga i den övre delen av fältet, säger Miriam.

Tidschemat ser ut enligt följande för Ramona och Miriam:
Måndag: Test
Tisdag – Onsdag: Rekognosering
Torsdag: Shakedown
På fredag morgon startar rallyt, och målgång är på söndag eftermiddag. På wrc.com finns både webradio och liveresultat, och ramonarallying.com uppdateras både inför, under och efter rallyt.
12-07-27 The boys are back in... Jyväskylä!
‘Ciao a tutti’ and ‘Olá a todos’,
‘We’re Max Pelucchi and Marco Moreiras and we’ll be your hosts during Neste Oil Rally Finland next weekend, taking you behind the scenes with WRC Team MINI Portugal as we tackle a new exciting round of the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship.

‘For the first time WRC Team MINI Portugal’s columns will feature two ‘voices’, so that we can keep you up-to-date with what's happening on both cars (and because we were fighting about who got to invite you to share the life of a No. 1 mechanic on event)! Today, each of us will tell you a little bit about himself, his career, his role in the team and what advice we’ll give to the crews for Rally Finland – let’s hope they’ll listen. ?

Max
‘I’m Massimo Pelucchi but everybody calls me Max, I’m Italian and –I’m the No.1 on Armindo Araújo’s MINI.

‘I’ve always been a big fan of motorsport cars, especially rally cars, and working in this business was always one of my dreams. I graduated in mechanics – specializing in motorsport – and I started working in a garage where I stayed for a year until I saw a very interesting classified ad in a local newspaper.

‘Ralliart Italia – the sister company of Motorsport Italia – was looking for a mechanic. I applied, I got the job and that’s how I started. I joined the team in January 2004 and - like everybody else - I started doing simple and easy jobs but my responsibilities quickly started to grow.

‘It’s now seven years that I’ve been working as a No.1 mechanic, first in the Italian Rally Championship, then in the PWRC with Armindo and since last year at the top level of the sport with the MINIs. I feel very privileged as I have fulfilled my dream to work in the WRC and have had the fortune to get to work with colleagues like Bruno and Roby from the very start – we’ve made a lot of memories together!
‘Preparation for Rally Finland started a long time ago at the Motorsport Italia workshop. We run meticulous checks on the MINIs to make sure they are perfect and nothing has been left behind. After each rally we take the whole car apart, we clean it thoroughly and check every bit and piece before we put everything back together. If everything goes well and we don’t find any problems, it takes two mechanics from five to seven days and a lot of hard work to get this done.'

Marco
‘Enough about Max, it’s my turn! I’m Marco from Portugal, I’m the team’s Chief Technician I’m the No.1 mechanic on Paulo Nobre’s car – our beloved “Porquinho Verde”. I only started my adventure with Motorsport Italia and WRC Team MINI Portugal at the beginning of this year when I was invited to join the team by Team Manager Bruno and by Team Coordinator – and my old friend – another Marco. I immediately fell in love with the project and I left behind quite a lot to be in Monte-Carlo with the team from what would have been my sixth Dakar – two in the race truck and three as Chief Mechanic – through the Cross Country World Cup which I had worked on for five years, including two victories (whoop, whoop) to the development of the X-Raid MINI.

‘My passion for motorsport started very early as Rally de Portugal used to run very close to my home town, I used to go and watch the beautiful night stages near Sintra and the next morning – 5km from my house – I still remember hearing the noise of the legendary Group B cars. That sound is still very clear in my mind, I remember very well that I even used to grab my dad’s legs because I was scared of the cars – little did I know where I’d be only a few years later! ?

‘After that, the passion started to grow and I started very soon to work in a rally driver’s workshop near my house. I still remember my first job, which was taking the stickers off the competition car - the next day I couldn’t feel my fingertips! So after school - note: my mother never allowed me to quit school (luckily!) - I used to go straight to the workshop and that’s how everything began. Between circuit racing, rallies and cross country, here I am, so many years later. Time really flies and I will celebrate 20 years in the business in September.

‘As we’re getting ready for Rally Finland today, one of the most fascinating rounds of the WRC with fast roads, breath-taking jumps and great fans…we couldn’t ask for more! Fighting with the “Flying Finns” won’t be easy as they are at home but we’ll do our best, giving a lot of love, attention and good care to prepare our amazing MINIs and always trying to perform at the highest level.

‘As Chief Technician I’m really happy with the growth of the team. It has been a long ‘walk’ for all of us due to the tight calendar but we’ve always given 100% in what we’ve done so far. The relationships inside the team are fantastic and I feel I should thank the whole team for all the efforts, brotherhood and strength to help our MINI family grow!'

‘We’re going back to work now, even though we just arrived in Finland we’ve still got a lot to do and we have to prepare for the test on Monday. You’ll hear from us next week and we’ll keep you up to speed with blow-by-blow details during Rally Finland.

‘Stay tuned'
Max and Marco
12-07-27 Ford’s sprinters aim to be quick out of the blocks in Finland
Sprinting will not just be the preserve of the planet’s best athletes next week when Ford’s rally aces journey to Finland for the fastest round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Finnish fixture is one of the shortest in the series’ history and Ford World Rally Team’s drivers know its increased intensity will push the emphasis even further towards pure speed.

Rally Finland (2 - 4 August) is affectionately known as ‘The Finnish Grand Prix’ as drivers do battle through the Scandinavian forests at average speeds of up to 135kph. The 2012 version will be a sprinters’ paradise with just 303.52km of competition, the least scheduled for a WRC round since accurate records began.

Such is the pace in the country regarded as rallying’s spiritual home, that after 500 WRC rounds since the series started in 1973, eight of the 10 fastest rallies have been in Finland.

Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila know exactly what is required to succeed. The Finns won on home ground in 2010 and finished on the podium in each of the last three seasons. Team-mates Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson are eager to gatecrash the Finns’ dominance of their home rally. The Norwegian driver finished second in 2003 and third the previous year.

“This is a sprint in the truest sense,” said 27-year-old Latvala. “The pace is such that time differences are small and if you make a mistake there’s no opportunity to regain the seconds lost. Every error is magnified. Pre-event testing is more important here than elsewhere because you must start the rally 100 per cent happy with the car set-up and feeling,” added Latvala, whose two-day test ends today.

Latvala and Solberg’s Fiesta RS World Rally Cars will carry a special one-off livery highlighting Ford’s EcoBoost engine technology as part of a worldwide initiative in August across Ford’s motorsport programmes.

The 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that powers the rally cars draws on the knowledge of Ford’s advanced EcoBoost technology, which provides increased fuel efficiency and decreased emissions on its latest production vehicles. The livery will also feature on cars in other disciplines, including the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series and the Chinese Touring Car Championship.

Rally Finland is one of the jewels in the WRC crown. It comprises a mix of hard, wide and fast roads combined with narrower, technical sections and huge crowds will pack the forests to view the action.

The characteristics of the smooth gravel speed tests make this one of the most difficult events in the calendar. The blisteringly fast roads are littered with roller-coaster, stomach-churning jumps, which frequently hide bends over the crests.

They demand extreme bravery from the driving seat and pinpoint accuracy in the delivery of pace notes from the co-driver. It is essential to select the correct line before ‘take-off’ to ensure maximum pace through the following curves. Finns who nurtured their careers on roads of this nature have an advantage over ‘outsiders’ who require many years’ experience to fully adapt to the driving style.

“When you approach a big jump at 180kph it’s essential to kill the speed before take-off,” said Latvala. “If the speed is too high, the aerodynamics will force the back of the car down and the front, which is lighter, will rise. The tactic is to brake, perhaps drop a gear, and accelerate full throttle over the jump. Braking over the jump itself means the suspension isn’t free and the landing could be bad.”

The final leg brings the return of the classic Ouninpohja test, run to its full 33.01km distance for the first time since 2007. Regarded by many as the best special stage in the sport, the first 23km are held over wide, fast roads with many huge jumps, before a spectacular hairpin bend sends competitors back into the forest on narrow, more technical sections.

Solberg set the stage record in 2005 and the 37-year-old Norwegian is happy to see it back on the schedule. “The rally will be decided over those roads. It’s incredibly demanding and difficult. It’s not so technical in the traditional sense, especially on the wide roads. But the speed is so high that if your line isn’t correct over the jumps, it’s easy to make a mistake which can end your rally,” he said.

“It’s an amazing feeling to complete that stage knowing you have driven as well as you could. Relief, happiness, confidence – they’re all feelings you experience when you have mastered Ouninpohja. Without doubt, it’s the best stage in the entire championship,” added Solberg, who was bubbling with enthusiasm after completing what he described as one of his ‘best-ever’ tests on Wednesday.

Team News
* Michelin’s Latitude Cross gravel tyres will be used by the Ford drivers and 40 of these will be available in soft compound only. Teams are not allowed to hand-carve additional cuts into the tyres and each car can carry two spare wheels.

* Eight privately-run Fiesta RS WRCs are entered. Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk and Evgeny Novikov / Denis Giraudet are nominated by M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, while Adapta World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson return after missing the previous round. Monster World Rally Team’s Ken Block / Alex Gelsomino make their third WRC start of the year and Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hruza crew the Czech Ford National Team car. Three Finnish crews complete the list, Jari Ketomaa / Mika Stenberg, Matti Rantanen / Mikko Lukka and Sebastian Lindholm / Timo Hantunen. Thirty-nine of the 86 entered crews will drive Ford cars, spanning 19 different nationalities.

* The rally marks the third round of the Ford Racing-supported FIA WRC Academy. Eleven young drivers will campaign identical Fiesta R2 cars over 17 of the rally’s 18 stages. The series is led by Britain’s Alastair Fisher / Daniel Barritt.

* The full 2012 Ford World Rally team merchandise range is now available following the launch of the new clothing series. Featuring T-shirts, polo shirts, fleeces and shell jackets, the range appears mainly in Ford motorsport blue, with white and black kinetic design panels. A limited edition range of merchandise will also be launched to celebrate the EcoBoost livery in which the team’s Fiesta RS WRC will compete. Sneak previews will appear on Ford’s WRC social media channels.

Rally Route
Route modifications have brought an itinerary that again journeys south to Lahti, but includes two full days around Jyväskylä, which hosts the single service park at its Paviljonki exhibition centre. Virtually all the locations are familiar, but some stages will be used in a reverse direction to keep crews on their toes. After an early afternoon start on Thursday, competitors convene at Lahti’s picturesque harbour before tackling three stages as they return to Jyväskylä. A long day on Friday covers territory mainly west of the city before ending with a super special stage at the Killeri trotting track. The final leg includes classic tests south-west of the rally base near Jämsä. It closes with two passes over Ouninpohja, the second pass comprising the Power Stage with bonus points on offer to the fastest three drivers. An evening finish awaits in Jyväskylä after 18 stages in a route of 1625.69km.

RALLY FINLAND ROUND 8 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
1 - 4 August 2012
Wednesday 1 August: Qualifying
QS Ruuhimäki 4.62km 19.30
Thursday 2 August: Day 1: Jyväskylä - Jyväskylä
Start Paviljonki 13.30
SS1 Koukunmaa 13.68km 17.23
SS2 SSS Jokimaa 2.00km 19.00
SS3 Mynnilä 14.22km 20.50
Serv A Paviljonki (flexi 45 mins) 22.35
Finish Paviljonki 23.20

Total 29.90km
Friday 3 August: Day 2: Jyväskylä - Jyväskylä
Serv B Paviljonki (15 mins) 06.30
SS4 Urria 12.75km 07.42
SS5 Jukojärvi 22.29km 08.39
Serv C Paviljonki (30 mins) 10.05
SS6 Mökkiperä 1 11.38km 11.28
SS7 Palsankylä 1 13.92km 12.14
SS8 Lankamaa 1 23.06km 13.32
Serv D Paviljonki (30 mins) 14.45
SS9 Mökkiperä 2 11.38km 16.08
SS10 Palsankylä 2 13.92km 16.54
SS11 Lankamaa 2 23.06km 18.12
SS12 SSS Killeri 2.06km 20.00
Serv E Paviljonki (flexi 45 mins) 20.30
Finish Paviljonki 21.15
Total 133.82km

Saturday 4 August: Day 3: Jyväskylä - Jyväskylä
Serv F Paviljonki (15 mins) 07.00
SS13 Surkee 1 14.95km 07.56
SS14 Leustu 1 21.94km 08.54
Serv G Paviljonki (30 mins) 10.07
SS15 Surkee 2 14.95km 11.18
SS16 Leustu 2 21.94km 12.16
Serv H Paviljonki (30 mins) 13.29
SS17 Ouninpohja 1 33.01km 15.37
SS18 Ouninpohja 2 33.01km 18.00
Serv E Paviljonki (10 mins) 20.03
Finish Paviljonki 21.00
Total 139.80km
Rally total 303.52km
12-07-03 Ford överväger att avbryta WRC satsning efter 2013. Satsning på IRC lockande
Ford överväger att efter nästa att säsong avslutats avbryta sin satsning på WRC och istället satsa på att köra i det konkurrerande mästerskapet IRC(Intercontinental Rally Challange). Det är beskedet att en ny promotor för WRC inte är på gång som har fått Ford på andra tankar.

"FIA måste inse att vi är ett halvår ifrån nästa års säsongs start och en promotor är inte tillsatt än" säger Ford Europas motorsportchef Gerald Quinn
- "Det tog förra promotorn(North One) två år att sätta sig in i arbetet, och beskedet i från i fredags är mycket oroande och har stor inverkan på Fords syn på WRC. "

Ford är knutna till WRC till och med nästa säsong och har funderingar på att till 2014 byta till det Eurosport promotade mästerskapet IRC
- "IRC är ett klassiskt exempel på hur ett mästerskap ska skötas. IRC har genom TV, media och socialamedier nått ut till en bredare publik och får på så sätt en större exponering. Det är ett framåtriktat och framgångsrikt sätt att arbeta på"
- "Men misstolka inte detta. Ford är helt och hållet knutna till WRC till och med 2013, och jag hatar tanken att bryta upp med WRC, men som situationen ser ut så kommer vi att efter nästa års säsong titta på möjligheterna för framtiden, och IRC är ett alternativ. Säger Gerald Quinn.
www.swerallynews.weebly.com
12-06-25 Ramona och Miriams egna ord om branden
Imorgon flyger Ramona och Miriam hem till Sverige igen efter det abrupta slutet av Rally-VM i Nya Zeeland, som slutade i en brand. Efter två tredjedelar av rallyt låg tjejerna på en trygg andraplats efter Argentinaren Marcos Ligato, och med cirka tre minuter ledning före Aksa från Indonesien. Taktiken var att köra med säkerhetsmarginal för att säkra 2:a-platsen under de sista milen som återstod. Men så hände det som inte fick hända. Plötsligt började bilen brinna mitt på sträckan, och Ramona och Miriam fick kasta sig ur i farten. Här följer en sammanfattning av rallyt, och med tjejernas egna ord om vad som hände.

Fredagens etapp var en ordentlig utmaning för hela teamet. Med 20 mil SS, och enbart en 15 minuters remoteservice som serviceuppehåll, gällde det att både köra snabbt och säkert. – En remoteservice innebär att vi och mekanikerna enbart får serva och laga eventuella skador på bilen med de reservdelar vi har med oss i rallybilen, förklarar Miriam.

Tjejerna lade in ett högt tempo från start, där de genast lade sig i toppen av VM-fältet. Med topptider på varje sträcka, varav två sträcksegrar, fick de äntligen ett kvitto på deras kapacitet. – Det var en helt fantastisk känsla. Mekanikerna har gjort ett fantastiskt jobb med vår Mitsubishi EVO X som fungerar perfekt, och vi hittade ett högt med samtidigt säkert tempo där vi inte tog några risker. Ramona och Miriam tog sig i mål efter fredagens etapp på en trygg andraplats, 1.40 efter Argentinaren Marcos Ligato, och 40 sekunder före Ukrainaren Valeriy Gorban. Taktiken under lördagen var att bevaka andraplatsen, vilket de gjorde med marginal. Inför lördagens sista sträcka hade de cirka tre minuter ned till tredjeplatsen då Gorban gjorde en avåkning och Subhan Aksa från Indonesien istället tog över pallplatsen .
– Nu visste vi att om vi bara tog oss i mål med ett stabilt tempo och samtidigt höll koll på Aksa, så skulle 2:a-platsen vara vår.

Men så hände det som inte fick hända. Efter cirka 4 kilometer in på dagens sista sträcka började bilen plötsligt att brinna kraftigt.
- Först kände vi en enorm värme i bilen. Miriam vände sig bakåt och såg att hela bakdelen av bilen stod i flammor, och skrek till mig att det brinner. Inom loppet av någon sekund kom lågorna in i kupén och vi var omringade av eld. Vi var tvungna att kasta oss ur bilen i farten, varefter rallybilen fortsatte in i en jordvall och brann upp, berättar Ramona.
- Sekunderna innan vi såg varandra, och visste att vi båda var okej, kändes som timmar. Det var en enorm lättnad. När vi sedan vände oss om och såg bilen som fullständigt var i lågor, var vi glada och än mer lättade att vi hade klarat oss så bra som vi gjorde, säger Miriam, som klarade sig undan med en lätt stukad fot efter att ha fastnat i störtbågen och släpats med en bit på vägen. Ramona fick en mindre och lättare brännskada, men annars mår tjejerna under omständigheterna bra.
-Vår Mitsubishi är utrustad med den allra bästa säkerhetsutrustningen, samt att vår personliga tävlingsutrustning är av högsta standard, så vi klarade oss väldigt bra, säger Ramona
- All cred till Ricardo Trivinio med co-driver Alex Haro som var först på plats efter olyckan, och till ambulans- och räddningsmän som blixtsnabbt kom till plats med helikopter, säger Ramona och Miriam. Orsaken till branden är ännu oklar. Ramona och Miriam flyger hem till Sverige imorgon och har redan börjat arbeta inför nästa VM-tävling.
– Detta ska inte få sätta käppar i hjulet för vår fortsatta satsning. Vi är självklart otroligt besvikna över att blivit totalsnuvade på vår första pallplats i VM, men vi måste ta med oss det positiva mitt i denna bedrövelse. Vi är jättenöjda med vår prestation, och den kan ingen ta ifrån oss.

Nu ska vi bara lösa den praktiska biten, vi tar en dag i taget och kommer att jobba stenhårt för att sitta i en rallybil så snart som möjligt igen, säger Ramona och Miriam.

12-06-24 The Finish but not the End
'Hey everyone,
'It's Tomo again this will be my last column here at Rally New Zealand. It was a great weekend for WRC Team MINI Portugal with both drovers successfully completing every stage! Armindo finished the rally in the Top 10 in 8th earning himself four WRC points and Paulo brought his MINI home safely in 17th place overall.

'After two long drives to Remote Services on the first two days, it was great to enjoy a quiet day in Auckland's main Service Park and I have to tell you we had a fantastic view of the city skyline. Today's stages were based north of Auckland and the itinerary included two runs through a Tarmac Super Special Stage at the city's World Memorial Museum.

'We're getting used to the rain now, and it was well-predicted last night! Today Armindo had a mix of two used soft tyres on the right side of his MINI and two new soft tyres the left side. Choosing to fit the tyres side-to-side aims to keep the balance between the front and the rear of the car. Paulo's MINI sported four used soft tyres still in good condition and reported that the Puhoi stage (SS17) was particularly slippery. Armindo's task for today was keeping Ken Block behind him and then waiting to see if any crews in front had a problem. This strategy worked well and we bagged 8th place after Tanak rolled on the penultimate stage. We had a trouble free rally and it's a real testament to the team that after three hard events the cars ran like clockwork. Armindo's confidence grew and his times were the most competitive of his MINI career on gravel, which is a real bonus going into the next event, Rally Finland. In Finland the roads will be in complete contrast to New Zealand but grip levels can be similar.

'I had the benefit of being supported by George Corfield for the week. George specialises in working with engine activity, fits in very well with the team and has a lot of experience. He also worked on the development of MINI WRC so can really give good insight into how to prepare the car best for an event!

'One of my favourite memories of this week for the team was getting to see our Team Manager Bruno fishing on a MINI [pictured above] in the middle of Auckland's harbour, a real treat! :-) Although, the professional highlight of the event for me was getting both cars to the finish without problems. It's been a busy run, with Rally Argentina, then MINI United followed by the Greece test, Acropolis Rally and Rally New Zealand coming thick and fast. We had to re-shell a car in the Service Park in Greece after an accident on the test ruled out using the car on the rally. This was a real feat and showed that the team has real depth in being able to react quickly and effectively to unpredictable situations. Most people didn't even notice this occurred other than the few people who spotted a bodyshell arriving on a transporter late on Tuesday afternoon prior to the rally. For this reason I'm really delighted that the guys at MINI New Zealand gave all the mechanics and myself a traditional Maori friendship token to mark the hard work that's gone in since the start of the season, especially over the last few months. Often mechanics are the unsung heroes of a rally operation!

'It was great to be back in New Zealand, it's a truly beautiful country. It was nice to drive around the North Island, the service in Raglan, refuels and Whangarei were a pleasure to visit. New Zealand has stunning views, the weather at this time of year makes it all the more special - watching huge clouds roll in across the rugged landscape you often think you could be in Wales and then you are reminded you aren't when you spot a huge prehistoric fern! Magic!

'For now it's time to pack up the containers for the sea freight and await the cars coming out of Parc Ferme so we can prep them for their long flight back to Europe. Today I've already sent the setup sheets, damper and transmission specs for the Tarmac test in San Remo where we have some good roads which mirror conditions in Germany. In no time at all, Rally New Zealand will be a fond memory!

'Thanks for following WRC Team MINI Portugal's adventures over the weekend and stay tuned for more behind the scenes stories!

'Cheers and best wishes, Tomo

Final Overall Classification – Rally New Zealand
1.S. Loeb (FRA)/ D. Elena (MCO) Citroen 4:04:51.2
2.Hirvonen (FIN)/ J. Lehtinen (FIN) Citroen +29.6
3.P. Solberg (NOR)/ C. Patterson (GBR) Ford 1:36.4
4.E. Novikov (RUS)/ D. Giraudet (FRA) Ford +2:13.6
5.T. Neuville (BEL)/ N. Gilsoul (BEL) Citroen +2:42.4
6.D. Sordo (ESP)/ C. Del Barrio (ESP) MINI +3:03.1
7.J.M Latvala (FIN)/ M. Anttila (FIN) Ford +4:52.9
8.A. Araújo (PRT)/ M. Ramalho (PRT) MINI +9:36.4
9.K. Block (USA)/ A. Gelsomino (USA) Ford +10:30.3
10.M. Stohl (AUT)/ I. Minor (AUT) Ford +11:26.3
...
17.P.Nobre (BRA)/ E. Paula (BRA) MINI +31:53.5
...
35.A. Dalstein (FRA)/ Y. Lavigne (FRA) Mitsubishi +2:37:02.8

2012 FIA Drivers' Championship Standings
S. Loeb 145/ M. Hirvonen 107/ P. Solberg 90/ M. Ostberg 80/E. Novikov 55 / J.M. Latvala 54/ M.

12-06-24 Elsewhere end of Day quotes Rally New Zealand Day 3
Ken Block, Monster World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (9th)
“I am happy to have finished with a good result. The stages here really are awesome and I have had such fun driving them – these really are some of the best stages in the world.”

Manfred Stohl, Brazil World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (10th)
“We achieved what we aimed for – to finish – and the championship point just makes it even better. Having not competed for five years, you forget just how fantastic this rally is and I have really enjoyed competing here this weekend.”

Jari Ketomaa, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (11th)
“It was really slippery on the first stage this afternoon [SS19], but I am happy to have made it to the end. We had a few problems with punctures and some small set-up details earlier in the weekend, so for sure the result could have been a little better. But the stages here are fantastic.”

Maciej Oleksowicz, Ford Fiesta S2000 (26th)
“We have had a pretty eventful weekend. I pushed the Fiesta [S2000] to the limit but we made it to the end which proves just how strong the car is! To finish on the podium again [in the S-WRC], despite our problems, is fantastic!”

Louise Cook, Ford Fiesta ST (27th)
“It hasn’t been the easiest of rallies for us. This being our first time to New Zealand we struggled a little with the pacenotes and I haven’t felt 100 per cent all weekend. But to make it to the end is a great result and I have loved every second of competing on these stages.”

Yazeed Al Rajhi, Ford Fiesta RRC (28th)
“We had some troubles earlier in the weekend but we made it to the finish for fourth place and some good points [in the S-WRC]. The stages here have all been really nice and really good fun to drive.”
12-06-24 Novikov first of the privateers as heartache strikes Tänak
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov secured fourth place overall at the 2012 Brother Rally New Zealand today. Never out of the top-ten, the youngster continually challenged the works drivers in terms of stage times and proved himself to be one of the most exciting young talents in the World Rally Championship. Elsewhere however, there was heartache for team mate Ott Tänak who was forced to retire from the event on the penultimate stages.

Taking in 61.33 kilometres of competitive stages not used since the 1990s, the final day of competition saw a mature drive from Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet as the pairing consolidated their fourth place and ‘best of the rest’ status. Despite his composure behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Novikov set an impressive pace over the morning loop. Making the most of Michelin’s soft option tyres in the muddy conditions, the 21-year-old posted the second fastest time over both Brother Puhoi 1 (SS18) and the short asphalt test on SSS Auckland Domain 1 (SS19).

A faultless run followed over the afternoon loop and a string of top-ten stage times saw Novikov secure fourth place overall with almost half a minute in hand to his nearest rival, 24-year-old Belgian Thierry Neuville. Scoring vital points for both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships, Novikov now lies fifth in the overall standings – one point ahead of Ford World Rally Team’s Jari-Matti Latvala – with M-Sport Ford World Rally team third.

Elsewhere however, there was heartache for Tänak and fellow countryman Kuldar Sikk on SS20. The Estonian had been running strongly in fifth place, and with a string of competitive times over the morning loop – including a second fastest time just 0.6 seconds adrift of stage victory on SS16 – was keeping rival Neuville at bay.

However disaster struck on the afternoon loop when the 24-year-old was caught out behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC on a fast section six kilometres into SS20. Going off the road, both crew members were unharmed but the incident put an untimely end to the duo’s event having been on course for a strong fifth place.

Evgeny Novikov (4th) said:
“The roads were very fast today and the conditions have been very difficult, but our tyre choice has worked very well again so I am pleased with that. Even the smallest mistake can cause the car to roll in these sorts of conditions so we decided not to push today. Fourth place is a very good result for us and I have really enjoyed the stages all weekend.”

Ott Tänak (DNF) said:
“Everything went well this morning. Thierry [Neuville] was going really well, but we set some good times and were able to keep him behind us. Unfortunately, I was caught out on a really fast section this afternoon [six kilometres into SS20] and we went off the road.

“I was trying to push as we lost a lot of time to Thierry on that stage over the morning loop. He was on softs for the afternoon, and we were on hards, so I knew I had to try hard. Unfortunately, the New Zealand camber caught us out.

“Obviously I am very disappointed. Now I just need to concentrate on Finland where hopefully we can finish with a strong result.”
12-06-24 Solberg secures podium place for Ford at Rally New Zealand
Ford World Rally Team drivers Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson claimed their fourth podium of the season when they finished third in Brother Rally New Zealand today. Driving a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car, they battled up the leaderboard after losing time early in the three-day rally and climbed to third in the FIA World Rally Championship driver standings.

Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila finished seventh in the squad’s other Fiesta RS WRC. They held a comfortable third until late in the opening leg when they dropped more than 4min 30sec after their car slid into a fence and became tangled in wire. The Finns claimed maximum bonus points for winning the final live TV Power Stage today, with Solberg taking second.

This seventh round of the 13-event season was based in the middle of the southern hemisphere’s winter. Temperatures were mild but heavy rain showers ensured tyre selection for the fast and flowing gravel speed tests around Auckland was always tricky, as teams strived to find the perfect balance between Michelin’s hard and soft compound rubber in rapidly changing conditions.

New Zealand’s smooth but heavily-cambered North Island roads are regarded as among the best in the championship. Drivers enjoyed 413.94km of competition over 22 special stages in the lush, rolling farmland as the championship celebrated its 500th round since its launch in 1973.

Solberg lost time on Friday morning when the team mistakenly opted for hard compound tyres in cool and damp conditions. The 90sec time loss dropped the 37-year-old Norwegian to seventh, but he recovered to fourth by the end of the day. Solberg moved into the top three early yesterday and was the fastest driver through the second leg, but the time gap to those ahead remained big and he eased through the final day to consolidate third.

“We came here with a good car and a big opportunity but unfortunately Friday’s mistake ended our hopes of a win,” admitted Solberg. “That was sad for the team, but a podium is still a good result. The key today was to stay calm to secure third, and taking bonus points in the Power Stage was a good ending.

“We need some luck and make sure we’re fully prepared for the next rallies to try to secure that elusive win at last. The speed of the car is fantastic and everyone in the team is pushing hard for victory, so I’m confident it will come soon,” he added.

Latvala was fastest in qualifying and after leading initially, the 27-year-old settled into third. However, his victory hopes ended late on Friday when his car hit a hole and spun into a fence. Although there was no damage, some wire became wrapped around a wheel and the car was unmoveable until the crew used some clippers to cut it free.

The incident relegated Latvala to ninth, but he climbed to eighth yesterday and moved up another place today, despite intermittent rain making conditions tricky over the seven stages covering 61.33km. With no chance of a podium, Latvala also took the opportunity to test some revised differential settings on his Fiesta RS WRC.

“Today I started to regain my speed and confidence and I’m happy to earn bonus points for winning the Power Stage,” he said. “I struggled on Friday and after my spin I focused on testing. That brought some good ideas for the next round in Finland. Looking at the points, I have no chance for the drivers’ championship now but the main thing will be to keep fighting for victory on every rally.

“It’s good that the summer break is here and I can try to relax and come back with a refreshed spirit for the second half of the season. I want to analyse everything that has happened so far this year, get rid of any negative thoughts, and move forward,” added Latvala.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson praised Solberg’s recovery drive. “We made a mistake with the tyres on Friday which proved expensive, but he fought back well to finish third. Of course, it’s disappointing to come away with just third, especially after Jari-Matti was fighting for a win. We have the speed from the car and drivers, but we need to put together the pieces of the jigsaw to convert our pace into victories. I’m confident we can do that in the second half of the year,” he said.

Ford Racing senior manager Gerard Quinn said: “On a weekend where tyre choice was critical and the weather made for challenging driving, I’m satisfied to finish this rally and close the first half of the season with a podium. Jari-Matti’s Power Stage win and Petter’s second place also brings valuable points in the drivers’ championship. Our team now has a six-week break before Rally Finland, in which we’ll concentrate on preparing a strong challenge for the second part of the season.”

News from other Ford teams
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov / Denis Giraudet finished fourth in their Fiesta RS WRC, 37.2sec behind Solberg. However, team-mates Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk rolled into retirement three stages from the finish as they tried to hold off a charging Thierry Neuville. Monster World Rally Team’s Ken Block / Alex Gelsomino finished ninth in only their second outing of the season. Brazil World Rally Team’s Manfred Stohl / Ilka Minor completed the leaderboard in 10th in Stohl’s first world rally since December 2007. Jari Ketomaa / Mika Stenberg finished 13th.

Next round
The series pauses for a six-week break before the second half of the championship begins with Rally Finland, which is based in Jyväskylä on 2 - 4 August.

Final positions
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 4hr 04min 51.2sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 4hr 05min 20.8sec
3. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 06min 27.6sec
4. E Novikov/D Giraudet RUS Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 07min 04.8sec
5. T Neuville/N Gilsoul BEL Citroen DS3 4hr 07min 33.6sec
6. D Sordo/C Del Barrio ESP Mini John Cooper 4hr 07min 54.3sec
7. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 09min 44.1sec
8. A Araujo/M Ramalho PRT Mini John Cooper 4hr 14min 27.6sec
9. K Block/A Gelsomino USA Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 15min 21.5sec
10 M Stohl/I Minor AUT Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 16min 17.5sec

Drivers
1. S Loeb 145pts
2. M Hirvonen 107pts
3. P Solberg 90pts
4. M Østberg 80pts
5. E Novikov 55pts
6. J-M Latvala 54pts

Manufacturers
1. Citroen Total WRT 237pts
2. Ford WRT 144pts
3. M-Sport Ford WRT 103pts
4. Qatar WRT 47pts
5. Citroen Junior WRT 42pts
6. Adapta WRT 27pts

Stage Times
Stage 16: 1. Neuville 4min 13.6sec; 2. Tänak + 0.6; 3. Latvala + 1.1; 4= Solberg, Sordo + 2.5; 6. Loeb + 2.9.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 32min 08.4sec; 2. Hirvonen + 10.5; 3. Solberg + 1:32.9; 4. Novikov + 2:03.8; 5. Tänak + 2:21.5; 6. Neuville + 2:44.3; 8. Latvala + 4:56.2.

Stage 17: 1. Neuville 10min 22.6sec; 2. Novikov + 4.7; 3. Sordo + 5.1; 4. Latvala + 6.0; 5. Loeb + 6.4; 6. Solberg + 6.9.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 42min 37.4sec; 2. Hirvonen + 15.8; 3. Solberg + 1:33.4; 4. Novikov + 2:02.1; 5. Tänak + 2:23.2; 6. Neuville + 2:37.9; 8. Latvala + 4:55.8.

Stage 18: 1. Sordo 1min 44.0sec; 2. Novikov + 1.4; 3. Solberg + 1.8; 4. Tänak + 2.1; 5. Loeb + 2.6; 6. Latvala + 3.3.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 44min 24.0sec; 2. Hirvonen + 17.4; 3. Solberg + 1:32.6; 4. Novikov + 2:00.9; 5. Tänak + 2:22.7; 6. Neuville + 2:39.0; 8. Latvala + 4:56.5.

Stage 19: 1. Sordo 1min 41.7sec; 2. Loeb + 2.7; 3. Stohl + 3.0; 4. Neuville + 3.8; 5. Tänak + 3.9; 6. Novikov + 4.6; 7. Latvala + 4.7; 13. Solberg + 6.9.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 46min 08.4sec; 2. Hirvonen + 20.9; 3. Solberg + 1:36.8; 4. Novikov + 2:02.8; 5. Tänak + 2:23.9; 6. Neuville + 2:40.1; 8. Latvala + 4:58.5.

Stage 20: 1. Neuville 10min 22.2sec; 2. Loeb + 1.8; 3. Latvala + 2.1; 4. Solberg + 3.7; 5. Hirvonen + 6.2; 6= Novikov, Sordo + 6.4.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 56min 32.4sec; 2. Hirvonen + 25.3; 3. Solberg + 1:38.7; 4. Novikov + 2:07.4; 5. Neuville + 2:38.3; 6. Sordo + 3:03.5; 7. Latvala + 4:58.8.

Stage 21: 1. Latvala 3min 58.6sec; 2. Solberg + 2.1; 3. Sordo + 2.5; 4. Novikov + 2.7; 5. Hirvonen + 4.0; 6. Loeb + 4.2.
Overall: 1. Loeb 4hr 00min 35.2sec; 2. Hirvonen + 25.1; 3. Solberg + 1:36.6; 4. Novikov + 2:05.9; 5. Neuville + 2:40.8; 6. Sordo + 3:01.8; 7. Latvala + 4:54.6.

Stage 22: 1. Latvala 4min 14.3sec; 2. Solberg + 1.4; 3. Loeb + 1.6; 4. Sordo + 2.9; 5. Neuville + 3.2; 6. Hirvonen + 6.2.
Overall: 1. Loeb 4hr 04min 51.2sec; 2. Hirvonen + 29.6; 3. Solberg + 1:36.4; 4. Novikov + 2:13.6; 5. Neuville + 2:42.4; 6. Sordo + 3:03.1; 7. Latvala + 4:52.9.
12-06-24 P-G Andersson tvåa trots superrally i Rally New Zealand - klättrade upp till andra plats i VM-tabellen
Per-Gunnar "P-G" Andersson och hans co-driver Emil Axelsson slutade tvåa i VM-rallyt på Nya Zeeland i helgen. I och med den placeringen klättrar de även upp till andra plats i VM-tabellen för Super 2000 bilar.
- "Det var inte riktigt så här vi hade tänkt oss det hela" skrattar P-G "Men med tanke på att vi fick utnyttja superrallyregeln både på fredagen och lördagen är jag jättenöjd med en andra plats".

I fredags tvingades de bryta rallyt i ledning efter en notmiss:
- "Det var helt vårt fel. Vi missbedömde helt enkelt en nog under rekogonseringen. Jag vet inte när eller ens om det hänt förut" säger P-G besviket. "Vi hade bedömt det som en vänster 4 minus, men i själva verket var det en vänster 3".

De startade om under lördagen och avancerade upp från andra plats till fjärde plats. Men på lördagens sista sträcka tvingades de kasta in handduken igen:
- "Det var inget speciellt som hände. Vi fick lov att stoppa med trasig styrarm" berättar P-G.

Under fredagens sträckor var det inga som helst draman för svenskarns som åkte och bevakade sin andra plats efter Hayden Paddon.

Mer info, hittar du på www.pgandersson.se. Där vi följt rallyt sträcka för sträcka

Rally New Zealand, Super 2000
1. Hayden Paddon (NZ) 4:20:17.4
2. P-G Andersson 4:53:37.1 +33:19.7
3. Maciej Oleksovicz (PL) 5:03:55.3 +43:37.9
4. Yazeed Al Rajhi (Sa) 5:10:02.5 +49:45.1
Komplett resultat: http://www.wrc.com/swrc/results/2012/brother-rally-new-zealand/stage-times/

VM-tabellen efter fyra deltävlingar:
1. Hayden Paddon (NZ) 62 poäng
2. P-G Andersson 43 poäng
2,Craig Breen (GB) 43 poäng
4. Majicej Oleksowicz (PL) 41 poäng
5. Yazeed Al Rahji (Sau) 22 poäng
12-06-23 More MINI Adventures Halfway Round the World
'Hello everyone,
'Here we are again at the end of another day at Rally New Zealand with both cars safely parked in Parc Fermé ready for the start of the last leg of the rally tomorrow. Armindo is still in the Top 10, in 9th overall, while Paulo finished the day having climbed to 18th position.

'The day began once again with tyre choice, but today it was an easy one. Armindo used both sets of soft tyres yesterday, so the choice for today was basically made for us. Most crews went with hard tyres with only Paulo, fellow MINI driver Dani Sordo and Petter Solberg going with softs in the morning. We had to try to maximise the grip for Armindo with small adjustments to the dampers to make the behaviour of the MINI more progressive. Unfortunately Armindo lost some time in the first stages of the day. Some of this could be attributed to Armindo holding back until he was confident in finding a good rhythm due to the combination of the hard tyre and patchy drying conditions. However, he was also cautious because he could also hear a noise from the left rear damper top mount on the road section to SS11 - the second stage of the day. Fortunately, this didn’t cost any time in the stage technically and the boys did a great job in repairing it at Remote Service in Whangarei.

'We actually carry a sort of metal super glue in the MINI for these situations. The temporary repair held for half the afternoon but finally let go again late in the day. Luckily again it didn’t cost time in the stages - it was more of an annoyance and Armindo managed to finish the day unperturbed. As soon as he got back to the main Service Park in Auckland for tonight's Flexi-Service, new parts were fitted to replace the damaged ones in the first four minutes of the 45 minute service.

'Paulo had a great day enjoying the challenging northern stages. We trimmed the MINI's height slightly for the second pass through Mitatai Girl School 2 (SS15) and only effected routine maintenance this evening.

'To be sure we had every eventuality covered, the part that troubled Armindo was also checked on Paulo’s car as a precaution and both MINIs are now all set for tomorrow.

'During the service this evening we start to have a round-up of our weather information. This includes satellite imagery and forecasting as well as people near the stages. Whilst we are expecting a lot of rain tomorrow we haven't made any chassis changes to react to it in tonight's service. We’ll do this tomorrow as it only takes 3-4 minutes to change anti-roll bars and damper settings and we will then just do the job once as accurately as possible when we are more confident of the conditions instead of trying to second guess.

'On most occasions I will discuss matters like tyre choice with Bruno - WRC Team MINI Portugal's Team Manager. Whilst he may be a team manager he has a good understanding of what is sensible and not. When you are in the Service Park and time is ticking away, your judgement can get clouded or you try to take too many factors into account. It’s then Bruno that will stand quietly and make his choice - which often turns out to be correct! There is also the financial implication to consider. The tyres we use on rallies are expensive so we always try to be sensible. If we can be sensible regarding our tyre usage then we can sometimes save some budget that can be used elsewhere to better effect. This could be an extra day's testing for example and this is where Bruno’s experience really comes into play. All I want to do as an engineer is spend money on tyres, testing, development springs, different brake pads and anything I can think of that might make the driver go faster. It’s Bruno I have to ask if we can buy them! ;-)

'I'm really glad both MINIs made it through another day here in New Zealand, it's a great achievement! With both cars serviced and ready for tomorrow it's time for me and the rest of the team to relax a bit. Me and some other team members will go for a wine tasting tonight, to try some of the fantastic wines they have here in New Zealand. We won't be too late though and we'll not taste too many because tomorrow we have the third and last day of competition waiting for us. I'm really looking forward to it, let's see how the weather plays out...

Bye for now,'
Tomo
12-06-23 Ramona tvingades bryta efter brand
Ramona och Miriam tvingades att bryta på lördagens sista sträcka, då deras bil plötsligt började brinna. Båda tjejerna tog sig ut och mår bra.
Innan detta inträffade, låg de på en säker andraplacering.
Mer information kommer senare.

12-06-23 Elsewhere end of Day Quotes Rally New Zealand Day 2
Ken Block, Monster World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (10th)
“Today has definitely been better than yesterday. We are having to do a little bit of sweeping but it is generally not too bad and I am still really enjoying the roads – I love being here!”

Manfred Stohl, Brazil World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (11th)
“After five years away from the sport I forget just how amazing this rally is! The roads are so impressive, I am enjoying it so much. I will never forget how to drive a a rally car quickly, but I am struggling to trust my pacenotes 100 per cent and get to the limit. But I am here to finish so I don’t intend to try and find that limit!”

Jari Ketomaa, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (13th)
“There are a few small things that mean we are not quite as fast as I would like to be. We need to tweak the chassis set-up slightly and I need to get a little more confidence behind the wheel. Hopefully I can get a little faster tomorrow, but the roads are fantastic!”

Louise Cook, Ford Fiesta ST (28th)
“I am really struggling with the pacenotes. We only had an hours sleep last night as we were up checking them! It is so hard to make notes first time for such a specialist event and I am still not feeling 100 per cent either! Still, I am enjoying the challenge and happy to be here in New Zealand.”

Maciej Oleksowicz, Ford Fiesta S2000 (30th)
“I had a really slow roll on the first stage [SS9] which was really frustrating. After the accident yesterday and then this today the rally is becoming very difficult. I thought Portugal was difficult but this is proving to be equally as difficult for me! Nevertheless, I can’t believe how strong the Fiesta [S2000] is – I have done my best to damage it and it is still going well.”

Yazeed Al Rajhi, Ford Fiesta RRC
Al Rajhi suffered from an off over the afternoon loop. The team are currently assessing the damage sustained to his Fiesta RRC and the Saudi Arabian will hopefully restart under Rally 2 tomorrow.
12-06-23 M-Sport Duo continue to impress down under
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak continued their strong showing over Day 2 of Brother Rally New Zealand today. Never out of the top-ten and challenging the four works drivers on individual stage times, the youngsters lie 4th and 5th respectively; strengthening their status as the World Rally Championship’s next generation of rally victors.

Heading to the northland region for 143.01 kilometres of competitive stages in the Whangarei and Kaipara districts, M-Sport’s youngsters rose to the challenge once more. With a second remote service – this time based in Whangarei – demanding a mature and composed drive, both Novikov and Tänak showed some strong pace whilst maintaining focus and keeping their Ford Fiesta RS WRCs out of trouble.

Despite losing their podium position to a resurgent Petter Solberg, Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet kept their own over the morning loop. Setting the third fastest time through the 23.22 kilometers of Brother Mititai 1 (SS10), the Russian was just 0.7 seconds adrift of pacesetter Jari-Matti Latvala and his first stage win in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

Continuing his strong drive over the afternoon loop, the 21-year-old showed his pace once again with another third fastest time through Wapu Gorge (SS12) – less than a second adrift of eight-time world champion Sébastien Loeb – and increased his advantage to team mate Tänak to more than 20 seconds going into the final day of competition.

Displaying real maturity, Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk were back to their best. Keeping their Ford Fiesta RS WRC on the road, the duo also displayed some real pace over the morning loop with a fourth fastest time through the opening test (Batley, SS9) – just 2 seconds adrift of Mikko Hirvonen – and a fifth fastest time through SS10 (Brother Mititai 1) – just 0.2 seconds off the pace of rally-leader Loeb.

Tänak’s pace impressed further over the afternoon leg with a second and third fastest time over SS12 and SS13 (Waipu Gorge and Brooks) respectively. Despite suffering a spin on SS14 (Brother Mititai 2) – losing over 10 seconds – the 24-year-old set the eighth fastest time followed by another strong showing through the following stage to bring the gap to team mate Novikov down to just 21.3 seconds.

Looking to maintain their positions over tomorrow’s final day, M-Sport’s young guns head north of Auckland for 61.33 kilometers of stages not used since the 1990s and two passes of a short asphalt test at the city’s War Memorial Museum.

Evgeny Novikov (4th) said:
“We have had a good day, but and I haven’t been pushing 100 per cent. I took it a little steadier over the morning loop – which is where Petter [Solberg] passed me – but I am confident that I could have pushed a lot harder in some of those stages.

“We set some good times in the first half of the afternoon too, but I backed right off for the last two [stages] as they are quite tricky. Now tomorrow is all about being sensible and keeping our fourth place.”

Ott Tänak (5th) said:
“We have had a good day and set some good times. For us, this event is all about making it to the end so it is good to see that our times are still there without being totally flat out and on the limit.

“On SS14 we had a spin going into a fast right-hander which cost us about 10 seconds, but I am happy with our pace and feeling comfortable in the car so tomorrow we can look to push a little bit more.”
12-06-23 Solberg fastest for Ford in second day of Rally New Zealand
Ford World Rally Team drivers Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson were fastest over today’s second leg of Brother Rally New Zealand as they climbed to third place. They won two speed tests this morning in a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car, and maintained a strong pace throughout the afternoon to complete the day 6.0sec faster than their closest rivals.

Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila won one special stage this morning as Ford completed a clean sweep of fastest times in the loop. The Finns climbed to eighth in the process after yesterday’s time loss and remained there as they tested set-up options this afternoon, adding another stage win.

This seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship journeyed north of Auckland for seven fast and flowing gravel stages covering 143.01km in the Whangarei and Kaipara districts of North Island. Clear and sunny conditions this morning ensured the roads were surprisingly dry, but an afternoon rain shower provided a damper surface in sections of the penultimate test.

Solberg opted for Michelin’s soft compound tyres on his Fiesta RS World Rally Car this morning and despite the dry surface, they worked well in the cool temperatures. The 37-year-old Norwegian won both the first and last tests of the loop to move from fourth to third before competitors enjoyed the respite of a 15-minute service in Whangarei itself.

With harder compound rubber fitted to his Fiesta RS WRC this afternoon, Solberg maintained a strong pace to return to Auckland having stretched his advantage over fourth-placed Evgeny Novikov to 29.2sec.

“We set good stage times throughout the day without any crazy attacking,” said Solberg. “I simply kept a steady pace to stay in touch with those in front, because there was nothing to win and plenty to lose. The roads were more slippery and muddy than we expected this afternoon, and drier than we anticipated this morning.

“We have six good soft tyres left for tomorrow, but it we are to have any chance at all of catching those in front then we need proper rain. We need to be lucky so perhaps I should make a rain dance tonight! We’ll look at the situation after the opening stage but we’re not going to take the level of risk that we did at the last round in Greece, because a podium is important for Ford,” he added.

Latvala opted for hard rubber this morning and won the middle stage of the opening loop as he moved from ninth to eighth. With no realistic chance of climbing further on pace alone, the 27-year-old was happy to experiment with his car’s set-up and was fastest through the penultimate test.

“It’s difficult to see how I can move higher with big time gaps to those ahead,” said Latvala. “I wasn’t fighting with anyone, but concentrating more on the car’s set-up. Yesterday I didn’t have a perfect feeling with the car but we made a few set-up changes overnight and some more today. The feeling is coming back and I’m happy with the improvements.”

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson said both Solberg and Latvala enjoyed better days today. “Looking at just how close the times were, there could have been a good battle for the lead if Petter and Jari-Matti hadn’t lost time yesterday. Each won two stages and Jari-Matti tested revised differential settings given that he had no real prospect of catching anyone ahead.

“Tomorrow’s forecast is for heavy rain and so the result is still not decided. Rain would suit Petter as he still has a set of good condition soft tyres to use,” he said.

News from other Ford teams
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov / Denis Giraudet slipped behind Solberg to hold fourth in their Fiesta RS WRC, 21.3sec ahead of team-mates Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk. The Estonians survived a brush with a bank in stage 13 and a spin on the next test. Monster World Rally Team’s Ken Block / Alex Gelsomino remain 10th, and are now more than 70sec ahead of Brazil World Rally Team’s Manfred Stohl / Ilka Minor. Jari Ketomaa / Mika Stenberg are 13th.

Tomorrow’s Route
The final leg is based just north of Auckland and is the shortest of the weekend. Drivers restart at 06.40 and face two loops of stages, including two passes over the asphalt roads at the city’s War Memorial Museum. The final Power Stage test offers bonus points to the fastest three drivers. The finish is on the city’s waterfront at 15.30 after seven stages covering 61.33km.

Leaderboard after Day 2
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 3hr 27min 51.9sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 3hr 27min 58.3sec
3. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 29min 25.2sec
4. E Novikov/D Giraudet RUS Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 29min 54.4sec
5. O Tänak/K Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 30min 15.7sec
6. T Neuville/N Gilsoul BEL Citroen DS3 3hr 30min 39.1sec
7. D Sordo/C Del Barrio ESP Mini John Cooper 3hr 30min 57.8sec
8. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 32min 49.9sec
9. A Araujo/M Ramalho PRT Mini John Cooper 3hr 36min 13.0sec
10 K Block/A Gelsomino USA Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 36min 59.5sec

Stage Times
Stage 9: 1. Solberg 9min 45.3sec; 2. Loeb + 4.3; 3. Hirvonen + 7.0; 4. Tänak + 9.0; 5. Novikov + 9.6; 6. Sordo + 10.0; 7. Latvala + 10.5.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 17min 24.6sec; 2. Hirvonen + 6.7; 3. Solberg + 1:35.0; 4. Novikov + 1:36.3; 5. Tänak + 1:51.7; 6. Neuville + 2:25.1; 8. Latvala + 5:02.3.

Stage 10: 1. Latvala 12min 14.4sec; 2= Novikov, Neuville + 0.7; 4. Loeb + 1.1; 5. Tänak + 1.3; 6. Solberg + 1.9.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 29min 40.1sec; 2. Hirvonen + 8.5; 3. Solberg + 1:35.8; 4. Novikov + 1:35.9; 5. Tänak + 1:51.9; 6. Neuville + 2:24.7; 8. Latvala + 5:01.2.

Stage 11: 1. Solberg 15min 34.4sec; 2. Hirvonen + 3.0; 3. Latvala + 4.0; 4. Neuville + 7.5; 5= Loeb, Tänak, Sordo + 9.8.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 45min 24.5sec; 2. Hirvonen + 1.7; 3. Solberg + 1:26.0; 4. Novikov + 1:40.1; 5. Tänak + 1:51.9; 6. Neuville + 2:22.4; 8. Latvala + 4:55.4.

Stage 12: 1. Loeb 6min 34.2sec; 2. Tänak + 0.8; 3. Novikov + 0.9; 4. Solberg + 1.5; 5. Latvala + 2.2; 6. Hirvonen + 3.1.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 51min 58.7sec; 2. Hirvonen + 4.8; 3. Solberg + 1:27.5; 4. Novikov + 1:41.0; 5. Tänak + 1:52.7; 6. Neuville + 2:26.1; 8. Latvala + 4:57.6.

Stage 13: 1. Loeb 8min 00.7sec; 2. Hirvonen + 0.6; 3. Tänak + 2.1; 4. Solberg + 2.2; 5. Latvala + 3.0; 6. Sordo + 3.7.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 59min 59.4sec; 2. Hirvonen + 5.4; 3. Solberg + 1:29.7; 4. Novikov + 1:46.2; 5. Tänak + 1:54.8; 6. Neuville + 2:35.4; 8. Latvala + 5:00.6.

Stage 14: 1. Latvala 12min 13.6sec; 2. Loeb + 1.2; 3= Hirvonen, Novikov + 3.7; 5. Solberg + 5.2; 6. Sordo + 5.7.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 12min 14.2sec; 2. Hirvonen + 7.9; 3. Solberg + 1:33.7; 4. Novikov + 1:48.7; 5. Tänak + 2:15.9; 6. Neuville + 2:42.3; 8. Latvala + 4:59.4.

Stage 15: 1. Hirvonen 15min 36.2sec; 2. Latvala + 0.1; 3. Solberg + 1.1; 4. Loeb + 1.5; 5. Neuville + 6.4; 6. Sordo + 6.6.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 27min 51.9sec; 2. Hirvonen + 6.4; 3. Solberg + 1:33.3; 4. Novikov + 2:02.5; 5. Tänak + 2:23.8; 6. Neuville + 2:47.2; 8. Latvala + 4:58.0.

12-06-22 Elswhere, end of Day Quotes, Rally New Zealand Day 1
Ken Block, Monster World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (10th)
“I was happier this afternoon being on the soft tyres and I changed some diff settings which also helped. Hopefully we can continue to improve tomorrow. I am still really enjoying the roads here in New Zealand.”

Manfred Stohl, Brazil World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (11th)
“Today has been ok. We did not have such a bad day, but unfortunately at midday remote service we found a problem with the outer joint on the right rear corner. With no way to fix it [in the 15 minute service] we had to be careful to make sure we made it back to service this evening. Our aim for the event remains the same – to finish the rally.”

Jari Ketomaa, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (14th)
“Unfortunately we lost quite a bit of time this morning with two punctures but this afternoon was good. With DMack having nominated soft as the main compound for this rally we are in a strong position as all the Michelin runners only have 10 softs available. I hope this will be an advantage for us over the next two days. We will try our best!”

Louise Cook, Ford Fiesta ST (30th)
Despite suffering with flu and the challenges of adapting to a new car, Cook is enjoying the stages and going well in 30th.

Yazeed Al Rajhi, Ford Fiesta RRC
Issues with a damaged radiator forced Al Rahji to retire for the day. The team are working on repairing the car and the Saudi Arabian will hopefully restart under Rally 2 tomorrow.

Maciej Oleksowicz, Ford Fiesta S2000
Following an off, the team are working on repairing the car and Oleksowicz will hopefully restart under Rally 2 tomorrow.
12-06-22 Ramona och Miriam 2:a efter första dagen i Nya Zeeland
Efter rallyts första dag ligger tjejerna på en andraplats i PWRC, 1:40,1 minut efter ledaren M. Ligato och 37,7 sekunder före trean V. Gorban. Tävlingen har hitintills bjudit på övervägande snabba sträckor.
- Vi är jättenöjda, säger Ramona. Vi har klarat av rallyts tuffaste sträckor utan en skråma på bilen, och vi har kört i ett bra tempo utan risktaganden. På de sista specialsträckorna blev vi något hindrade av bilen som var framför oss, men förutom det har allting löpt på problemfritt. På SS 3 och SS 4 hade vi bästa tiderna i PWRC, och det känns positivt!

Nu laddar Ramona och Miriam om inför morgondagens rally, som kommer att bjuda på snabba sträckor med doserade vägar och femton mils körning
12-06-22 Consistency key for Tänak as Novikov secures third
Proving themselves to be two of the brightest young talents in the World Rally Championship (WRC), Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak reinforced M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s status as the leading privateers over the first day of competition at the 2012 Brother Rally New Zealand. Posting consistent top six times, both youngsters displayed speed and intelligence; making the right tyre choices and completing a faultless drive to lay third and fifth respectively at the end of Day 1.

Covering 209.60 competitive kilometres – over half the event’s total distance – the cambered stages south-west of the rally base in Auckland demanded constant concentration. Split by a remote service in Raglan, the M-Sport duo had to contend with the added challenge of having limited spares available for the short 15 minute service. Nevertheless, rising to the challenge, the pairing showed a sense of maturity which, teamed with their obvious pace, paid dividends on the Tasman Sea coastline.

Choosing to shod their Ford Fiesta RS WRC with Michelin’s option soft tyre over the morning loop, Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet proved that they had the intuition as well as the pace. With the muddy stages failing to dry, the young Russian’s decision proved pivotal. Getting into his rhythm, Novikov posted the fourth fastest time over the first run of Te Akau South (SS3) to leap-frog team mate, Tänak, for fourth.

Another faultless drive followed over the afternoon loop and, following a mistake from Ford World Rally Team’s Jari Matti Latvala, Novikov found himself in another podium position. Keeping up his consistency with two fifth and two sixth fastest times, the 21-year-old kept a resurgent Solberg at bay to maintain his third place come the end of Day 1.

With consistency key for Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk on their first venture to the New Zealand stages, the pairing kept their composure where the more experienced faltered. Making the correct tyre choices and keeping their Ford Fiesta RS WRC out of trouble, the Estonian duo posted consistent top six times over the morning loop – including a fourth fastest time over the first run of Te Akau North (SS4) – to secure fifth place and keep rival Thierry Neuville adrift with a 20 second advantage over the Belgian.

Embarking on the second pass, Tänak’s mature drive continued. Despite the drier stages resulting in a drop-off in performance from the soft tyre, the 24-year-old maintained his composure; mastering the difficult stages to secure fifth place. Although losing out to a charging Solberg in the works Fiesta RS WRC, Tänak benefited from Latvala’s mistake on SS7 and extended his lead over Neuville to more than half a minute.

Eager to keep the momentum and impress further, M-Sport’s young guns will head to the northland region tomorrow for 143.01 kilometers of competitive stages – split by a second remote service – in the Whangarei and Kaipara regions.

Evgeny Novikov (3rd) said:
“Things are going good. The morning stages were more slippery than I expected but everything is ok and I am happy with our pace.

“The tyres were not so good at the end of the day but I am happy with my position overall. It has been a good day and I made the right tyre choices. We will try to keep the same speed tomorrow, but we know Petter [Solberg] will be fast.”

Ott Tänak (5th) said:
“We had a big moment on SS4 going into a fast, sixth-gear right-hander which was quite muddy. We had a big slide, but apart from that it was a good morning. Some parts of the stages were more slippery than I had expected, but I really enjoyed the morning loop.

“We went for a big push on the last stage in the afternoon [SS8] but unfortunately the tyres wore a little more over the second pass – by the middle of SS7 they were getting quite worn.

“I am happy with my day. We have a good position so I will try to continue the same tomorrow.”
12-06-22 P-G Andersson fyra i VM-rallyt på nya Zeeland trots att han tvingades bryta i ledning
Per-Gunnar "P-G" Andersson och hans co-driver Emil Axelsson imponerade startki rally-VM på Nya Zeeland. De kammade imponerande nog hem de två första sträckorna före den mycket snabbåkande hemmaåkaren Hayden Paddon. Dessvärre hamnade de på sidan av vägen efter en avåkning på tredje sträckan och tog sig inte tillbaka på vägen:
- "Det var helt vårt fel. Vi missbedömde helt enkelt en nog under rekogonseringen. Jag vet inte när eller ens om det hänt förut" säger P-G besviket. "Vi hade bedömt det som en vänster 4 minus, men i själva verket var det en vänster 3".

Därmed kom de med för hög fart in i svängen och avåkningen blev ett faktum. De hamnade så illa till, att de inte tog sig tillbaka och tvingades kasta in handduken för första dagens rally.
- "Men bilen hade inga som helst skador så vi startar om imorgon igen" säger P-G (Vilket är i kväll klockan 23:13 svenk tid).

Det blev ett tungt rally även för de övriga Super 2000 förarna. Hayden Paddon är den enda som klarat sig utan problem. Protonteamkompisen Alister McRae fick fel på generatorn och tvingades bryta vid starten på fjärde sträckan. P-G och Emil ligger därmed fyra i rallyt, trots avåkningen.
- "Det var ju inte riktigt det här vi tänkt oss. " säger P-G "Men vi får ta nya tag och samla ihop oss och se till att vi avancerar uppåt i resultatet och tar så många VM-poäng vi kan".

Mer info, hittar du på www.pgandersson.se. Där kommer vi att följa rallyt, sträcka för sträcka

Rally-VM Nya Zeeland efter dag 1
1. Hayden Paddon (NZ) 2:15:20.0
2. Alister McRae (GB) 49:55.9 +25:25.2
3. Maciej Oleksovicz (PL) 2:43:23.8 +28:03.8
4. P-G Andersson 2:45:05.0 +29:45.0
5. Yazeed Al Rajhi (Sa) 2:55:43.7 +40:23.7

Komplett resultat: www.wrc.com/results/2012/brother-rally-new-zealand/stage-times/?stageno=8&category=swrc


12-06-22 On the Road Again!
'Hi everyone or 'Kia Ora' as the Maoris say,
'Tomo here again! So we’re at the end of Day One at Rally New Zealand and it’s been a good one for WRC Team MINI Portugal. Both Armindo and Paulo made it through a tough day of competition with Armindo coming home in eighth overall and Paulo in 20th.

'This morning my alarm went off quite early (5am!) and we started the day with quite a debate about tyres. After discussion with the engineers and Team Manager both Armindo and Paulo elected to use softs, which proved to be correct as all the stages were humid and wet after last night’s rain.

'After a quick breakfast and loading the vans with equipment most of the team headed down south to Raglan for the Remote Service while I stopped at the Te Akau refuel to catch up with our drivers after SS2, the first run of Whaanga coast. It’s the job of the engineer and No. 1 mechanic to try to be at all remote refuels. This is allowed within FIA regulations and is very useful because you get a chance to look the cars over, check tyre wear and also advise of any set-up changes required. Today both Armindo and Paulo were in good spirits and content with their times so no changes were made.

'Two more stages then the cars headed to the remote service point in Raglan and went well with both MINIs requiring only routine servicing. Due to the fact that the ambient conditions hardly changed soft tyres were again fitted for the second loop of stages. We analyzed engine data at lunchtime via the data cards removed from both crews data recorders. This samples all major parameters at up to 1000 times a second and also allows an element of chassis tuning via the sensors directly linked to the driver. These include front and rear axle speeds [road speed], steering wheel angle, accelerator pedal angle and brake pressures. It's a very useful record to allow us to compare drivers so that they can learn from each other's strengths and unlock some extra speed.

'Raglan remote is a famous location for all the teams, historically it has been more or less the last service of the rally, today it was the first. The service is on the town's airfield adjacent to the sea and you can see the waves crashing into the shore which adds some drama to the occasion. Also whilst trying to consider carefully the set-up and tyre choice you can often see the weather fronts coming in!

'With Remote Service done and after a nice packed lunch which kept us going for the rest of the day, it was back to the refuel once again for Max [Armindo’s No. 1 mechanic, pictured with me] and I to catch the crews after the second Whaanga Coast pass (SS6). Everything was OK, but Paulo needed to use some of his drinking water in the washer tank as he’d nearly exhausted his supply. No set-up changes were necessary, which confirmed we were near to ideal for Armindo and Paulo. However, looking at the tyres, as with all the Top 10 crews it looked like some static camber could be reduced (this is the angle of the wheel from the vertical when looking form the front of the car ;-)). The purpose of the angle is to try and maximise the tyres’ contact patch when cornering - too much and the tyre overheats on the inside, too little and the tyre overheats on the outside. This would be impossible on a standard car as it has a fixed parameter, but it will only take Max and the boys five minutes to tune at tonight’s service ready for tomorrow’s stages.

'With our detour via refuel, Max and I were the last members of the team to arrive at the Viaduct Events Centre Service Park back in Auckland. We immediately started preparing for the final flexi-service today and the mechanics have readied the spares in case any are needed. Normally it should be routine, but we need to expect the unexpected!

'Our MINIs are about to come in for service so I have better go and check on them. Tomorrow will be another long day as we have another Remote Service, this time we head up 150km north of Auckland to Whangarei but I'm really looking forward to another day of MINI adventures

'Stay tuned for future updates!'
12-06-22 Solberg leads Ford’s bid after tough opening in New Zealand
Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson fought back to the fringes of the podium at Brother Rally New Zealand after a difficult opening leg for Ford World Rally Team today. They lie fourth in a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car after a determined drive this afternoon helped offset a tough morning, when a wrong tyre selection dropped them down the leaderboard.

Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miika Anttila, who were fastest in qualifying yesterday, led initially in their Fiesta RS WRC. They were fighting hard in third until the penultimate speed test when they went off the road into a fence and lost more than four minutes. They lie ninth.

This seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship, and the 500th fixture in the history of the series, began last night on the shortest day of New Zealand’s winter when Auckland hosted the start.

The action began in earnest today when competitors journeyed south-west for two identical loops of four speed tests overlooking the stunning Tasman Sea coastline near Raglan. The 209.60km of competition covered some of New Zealand’s finest rallying roads, offering a mix of flowing cambered sections and twisty, technical tracks in the coastal rain forests.

The leg contained more than half the rally’s competitive distance and with just a 15-minute service, during which teams could only make repairs with spare parts carried in the rally cars, avoiding mechanical problems was essential. Cool temperatures and showers this morning gave way to drier conditions this afternoon.

The differing strategies regarding start position and tyre selection provided one of the major talking points. Solberg opted to start second of the leading drivers and the team opted to fit Michelin’s hard compound tyres to his Fiesta RS WRC for the opening loop. However, the roads were wetter than expected and 37-year-old Solberg dropped 90sec to lie seventh.

With more suitable soft compound tyres fitted for the afternoon, Solberg stepped up the pace and twice set second fastest times during the repeat pass over the stages. He ended the day just 8.3sec from third place.

“It could have been a better morning!” he said. “We made a decision as a team to choose hard tyres. We had to estimate how the conditions would be as the morning progressed, and we made a mistake. We had a good run this afternoon, trying to climb the leaderboard sufficiently to be close to the podium tonight.

“It will be tough to take time out of the guys ahead, although we have more of our soft compound tyre allocation remaining than they do. Hopefully it will rain tomorrow and Sunday so that we can make that count. But I will continue to push and try to climb back into the fight again,” added Solberg.

Latvala took a different strategy, the 27-year-old Finn opting to start last of the leading drivers, with the aim of capitalising on roads swept clear of slippery gravel by those ahead. Using soft compound tyres, Latvala was fastest on the opening stage and was never outside the top three as he reached the service break in Raglan in third. However, his hopes suffered a setback two-thirds of the way through the penultimate stage.

“I spun at a slow second gear corner,” he explained. “I saw that some drivers had taken a big cut so I tried to do the same. The front right of the car touched a hole and the car spun through 180 degrees. I was quickly back on the throttle but the car hit a fence and some wire wrapped itself around the wheel. The car wouldn’t move. I had to wait until a farmer came with some cutters to free the wire.

“I’m extremely disappointed. It feels as if nothing is working for me this year. I wasn’t pushing flat out, just driving at a rhythm with which I felt comfortable. I’ll start afresh tomorrow, with the aim of climbing back into the top six,” he added.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson admitted it ‘wasn’t the best of days’. “We made a team decision regarding Petter’s tyres this morning that turned out to be wrong, and paid the price. Jari-Matti was in the battle for the lead but he lost his victory chance when he cut a corner and went through a fence. We’ll try to keep the pressure on over the last two days and see what twists and turns there might be,” he said.

News from other Ford teams
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov / Denis Giraudet lie third in a Fiesta RS WRC, with team-mates Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk just 16sec behind in fifth. Monster World Rally Team’s Ken Block / Alex Gelsomino are 10th, despite a spin on the morning’s final stage. Block eased ahead of Brazil World Rally Team’s Manfred Stohl / Ilka Minor, who lost time this afternoon with a damaged right rear driveshaft. Jari Ketomaa / Mika Stenberg had a troubled morning after hitting a bank and puncturing a tyre in the opening stage, going off the road on the next test and stopping to change a puncture in stage 3. However, they recovered to hold 14th.

Tomorrow’s Route
The second day takes competitors north of Auckland into the Northland region for tests in the Whangarei and Kaipara districts. After restarting at 07.10, drivers tackle three stages before the respite of a 15-minute service in Whangarei. Four more tests follow before they return to Auckland for the final overnight halt at 19.48 after 143.01km of competition.

Leaderboard after Day 1
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 2hr 07min 35.0sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 2hr 07min 39.0sec
3. E Novikov/D Giraudet RUS Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 09min 06.0sec
4. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 09min 14.3sec
5. O Tänak/K Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 09min 22.0sec
6. T Neuville/N Gilsoul BEL Citroen DS3 2hr 09min 53.0sec
7. D Sordo/C Del Barrio ESP Mini John Cooper 2hr 10min 09.3sec
8. A Araujo/M Ramalho PRT Mini John Cooper 2hr 12min 11.9sec
9. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 12min 31.1sec
10 K Block/A Gelsomino USA Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 14min 00.3sec

Stage Times
Stage 1: 1. Latvala 7min 38.4sec; 2. Hirvonen + 2.8; 3. Loeb + 3.5; 4. Neuville + 8.4; 5. Tänak +10.3; 6. Novikov + 14.2; 7. Solberg + 18.0.

Stage 2: 1. Hirvonen 20min 51.8sec; 2. Loeb + 10.2; 3. Latvala + 14.3; 4. Neuville + 28.1; 5. Novikov + 29.3; 6. Tänak + 32.5; 7. P Solberg + 39.1.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 28min 33.0sec; 2. Loeb + 10.0; 3. Latvala + 11.5; 4. Neuville + 33.7; 5. Tänak + 40.0; 6. Novikov + 40.7; 7. Solberg + 54.3.

Stage 3: 1. Loeb 18min 21.9sec; 2. Latvala + 1.7; 3. Hirvonen + 3.4; 4. Novikov + 9.9; 5. Tänak + 18.0; 6. P Solberg + 23.0.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 46min 58.3sec; 2. Loeb + 7.5; 3. Latvala + 9.8; 4. Novikov + 47.2; 5. Tänak + 54.6; 6. Neuville + 58.8; 7. Solberg + 1:13.9.

Stage 4: 1. Loeb 17min 04.3sec; 2. Hirvonen + 3.6; 3. Latvala + 9.8; 4. Tänak + 14.7; 5. Novikov + 16.9; 6. P Solberg + 18.1.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 1hr 04min 06.2sec; 2. Loeb + 3.9; 3. Latvala + 16.0; 4. Novikov + 1:00.5; 5. Tänak + 1:05.7; 6. Neuville + 1:25.8; 7. Solberg + 1:28.4.

Stage 5: 1. Loeb 7min 33.5sec; 2. Latvala + 1.5; 3. Hirvonen + 2.4; 4. P Solberg + 3.3; 5. Novikov + 3.4; 6. Tänak + 6.0.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 1hr 11min 42.1sec; 2. Loeb + 1.5; 3. Latvala + 15.1; 4. Novikov + 1:01.5; 5. Tänak + 1:09.3; 6. Solberg + 1:29.3.

Stage 6: 1. Hirvonen 20min 41.3sec; 2. P Solberg + 4.7; 3. Loeb + 6.1; 4. Latvala + 10.0; 5. Novikov + 10.5; 6. Tänak + 19.8.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 1hr 32min 23.4sec; 2. Loeb + 7.6; 3. Latvala + 25.1; 4. Novikov + 1:12.0; 5. Tänak + 1:29.1; 6. Solberg + 1:34.0.

Stage 7: 1. Loeb 18min 09.9sec; 2. Hirvonen + 3.0; 3. P Solberg + 5.1; 4. Sordo + 6.0; 5. Neuville + 6.7; 6. Novikov + 7.9; 25. Latvala + 4:25.6.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 1hr 50min 36.3sec; 2. Loeb + 4.6; 3. Novikov + 1:16.9; 4. Solberg + 1:36.1; 5. Tänak + 1:39.5; 6. Neuville + 1:54.2; 9. Latvala + 4:47.7.

Stage 8: 1. Loeb 16min 54.1sec; 2. P Solberg + 7.8; 3. Hirvonen + 8.6; 4. Sordo + 10.5; 5. Tänak + 12.2; 6. Latvala + 13.0.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 07min 35.0sec; 2. Hirvonen + 4.0; 3. Novikov + 1:31.0; 4. Solberg + 1:39.3; 5. Tänak + 1:47.0; 6. Neuville + 2:18.0; 9. Latvala + 4:56.1.
12-06-21 Shakedown
Nu har Ramona och Miriam kört shakedown, och fick tredje bästa tid i PWRC en tiondel efter Gorban (Ukraina). Bästa tid i PWRC hade Kikireshko (Ukraina).
- Även om tävlingen inte avgörs på shakedown, så är det skönt när allting klaffar redan från början. Mekanikerna har gjort ett fantastiskt jobb med bilens inställningar, nu känner vi att vi har en bil som kommer att fungera bra på Nya Zeelands vägar. Och det var riktigt roligt och väldigt skönt att få komma igång, säger Ramona och Miriam.

Tidigt imorgon bitti (Nya Zeeland är 11 h före Sverige) startar tävlingens första bil, och det blir en lång dag. Över 20 mils specialsträckor väntar på tävlingsdeltagarna.

Tjejerna är laddade.
12-06-21 Ready, Set, Let's Go!
'Hey everyone,
'It's Tomo again and this time I'm writing live from Auckland. I arrived safe and sound on Saturday morning and I have to say it's great to be back in New Zealand. Being here feels a lot like a home-away-from-home - everybody speaks English, menus offer traditional English food (the pies in our hospitality are incredible!), they drive on the left like us and the weather which passes through four seasons in one day sometimes from torrential rain to bursts of beautiful sunshine is just as temperamental!

'I flew to New Zealand via Hong Kong and brought along 80kg of spare parts and equipment including the latest specification of gravel dampers for Armindo. It was impossible to ship these air freight as we are always improving details of both performance and reliability right down to the last minute.

'When we arrived after a marathon journey, we immediately set to unpacking the container from Argentina and setting up the service area. That done I moved onto checking fuel calculations for the rally. This is vital for two reasons. Firstly I have to ensure the car doesn't run out of gas! Secondly it affects the car's weight. The minimum weight is 1200kg without crew and 1350kg with crew. We're lucky - the combined weight of Armindo and Miguel is 132kg (very light!) so hitting our minimum weight target becomes a science - or rather an art! For an engineer preparing the car closest to the target is a big win! We add some extra weight to the MINI to ensure it meets the requirement at all times. If for any reason the car starts using more fuel pushing it below the minimum then we risk exclusion. It's quite a job accurately tracking car weight. Things we monitor include the crews' camel bag levels - Armindo and Miguel have three litres each and I get a bit angry if it isn't all drunk, because it can equate to 6kg and throw my weight calculation off. Equally, on an average loop there is around 3-4kg of tyre wear, but it can be more if the roads are very abrasive.

'Specific to New Zealand in terms of weight is mud accumulation. NZ can be bad for this, with some sections of the rally being quite wet and muddy it can add as much as 100kg. So when the crews stop to change their tyres they can be seen with home-made spatulas specifically designed to scrape the mud off as quickly as possible.

'One of my jobs at the beginning of the week was stage inspection. In New Zealand, the stages offer a fantastic challenge for the crews. The car needs to change direction quickly and it's an event where set-up is vital to clocking fast times. Changes to grip make things even harder - some corners can be quite muddy and then other have good grip. Weather just compounds the complexity! If it rains then road position is vital. Engineering staff work hard to get the most from cars and drivers, but there will also be intense weather monitoring as we try to predict when and where the rain will fall.

'At the end of a hard day's rally prep, it's necessary to wind down. For that reason I like to walk down to the Brewery pub for a beer. It's a stone's throw from the Service Park and is one of Auckland's oldest buildings. For serious beer tastings they even have their own dedicated room! After a good beer I like to grab something to eat and my favourite place is just a few hundred yards from the Service Park. It's called Angus Steak House :-)

'The FIA’s technical checks passed well yesterday, we had all the anti-tamper seals checked on the MINIs and spare parts and added seals to five sets of dampers. The cars were set-up according to both Armindo and Paulo’s comments after recce and anticipating the conditions of the Qualifying Stage. We looked at previous Rally New Zealands, particularly 2007 - the last time the cars were Michelin-shod as tyre choice will be critical this weekend due to the unpredictable weather conditions.

'Many other aspects of the car specification are weather dependent. If it becomes wet, the main set-up changes are to springs, anti-roll bars and dampers, which become softer. This helps to make the MINI more progressive for Armindo and Paulo and it’s easier for the drivers to predict levels of grip available. This is very important in the changeable NZ conditions when driving through patchy wet and muddy sections. We also shift the balance to the rear slightly so the rear of the car slides more easily than the front and the car turns into corners well. Everyone driving on the road has experience trying to get their car to turn on ice or snow in winter when all it wants to do is go straight on! The driver has a similar feeling to a lesser degree when he hits mud - what we don’t want to do however is go too far with the change, otherwise the car slides too much and a lot of time is lost. This is great for the spectators as it looks spectacular but in reality is very slow!

'Free practice and qualifying met expectations this morning. Armindo ran on hard tyres for the first run and switched to soft for the second, then stayed on soft for qualifying as this was the fastest tyre for the conditions. Paulo’s engineer this weekend, George [pictured with me above], specialises in engine calibration and tweaked the engine software to optimise the speed at which the turbo runs.

'Paulo ran on hard tyres for free practice and qualifying as he wanted to keep his limited stock of soft tyres for the rally. The cars are back in service now and we are going over them to check everything is as it should be for the rally tomorrow. Day One is a very tough leg with the largest of stage mileage. I do feel that the event may be decided by Friday evening but who knows, already this year we have seen extreme situations like in Portugal where multiple unexpected retirements proved that in rally really anything can happen!

Bye for now,'
Tomo
12-06-20 P-G och Emil tillbaka i Rally-VM - startar i Nya Zeeland i helgen!
Per-Gunnar "P-G" Andersson och hans co-driver Emil Axelsson är i år fabriksförare för Proton. Tillsammans med teamet satsar de i första hand på Asia Pasific serien, men startar även i de VM-rallyn som inte krockar med den serien. Senaste VM-deltävlingen de körde i år var Rally Sweden på hemmaplan. De kammade hem Super 2000-klassen och bjöd därmed Proton på sin första VM-seger.

I midsommarhelgen är det åter dags för VM-rally för svenskarnas del i Nya Zeeland. De startade där för tre månader sedan i Asia Pasific och drabbades då inledningsvis av en punktering som kostade dem ca en och en halv minut. Under rallyts gång körde de upp sig och slutade tvåa, bara 28,1 sekunder efter Chris Atkinson.

Tidigt i morse var VM-ekipagen färdigrekade:
- "Det här rallyt har inte riktigt samma vägkarraktär som sist" berättar P-G "Några sträckor är liknande, men den här gången bjuds det på snabbare vägar som svänger hela tiden. Ett riktigt häftigt rally!".

Inför rallyt har P-G och Emil hunnit med ett test på plats:
- "Bilen kändes riktigt bra. Jag tror Hayden Paddon blir farlig här på sina hemmavägar. Men jag lovar att vi ska göra vad vi kan!" lovar P-G.

Brother Rally New Zealand är ett grusrallyt som består av totalt 22 specialsträckor. Rallyt drar igång klockan 22:38 på torsdag kväll svenskt tid.

Mer info, hittar du på www.pgandersson.se. Där kommer vi att följa rallyt, sträcka för sträcka

Startlista SWRC Brother Rally New Zealand
31. Hayden Paddon Nya Zeeland
33. P-G Andersson Sverige
34. Alister McRae England
35. Maciej Oleksovicz Polen
36. Yazeed Al Rajhi Sadi Arabien

Tidsschema
( Svensk tid)
(Torsdag) Fredag 22 juni
22:28 SS1 Te Hutewai 1 11,18 km
22:51 SS2 Whaanga Coast 1 29,67 km
00:24 SS3 Te Akau South 1 31,82 km
01:07 SS4 Te Akau North 1 32,13 km
Service
03:33 SS5 Te Hutewai 2 11,18 km
03:56 SS6 Whaanga Coast 2 29,67 km
05:29 SS7 Te Akau South 2 31,82 km
06:12 SS8 Te Akau North 2 32,13 km
Service

(Fredag) Lördag 23 juni
Service
23:13 SS9 Batley 17,61 km
00:01 SS10 Brother Mititai 1 23,22 km
00:34 SS11 Girls High School 1 26,99 km
Service
04:02 SS12 Waipu Gorge 11,38 km
04:25 SS13 Brooks 13,60 km
05:08 SS14 Brother Mititai 2 23,22 km
5:41 SS15 Girls High School 2 26,99 km
Service

(Lördag) Söndag 24 juni
Service
22:08 SS16 Burnside/Wech Access 1 7,3 km
22:26 SS17 Puhoi 1 17,94 km
23:44 SS18 SSS Auckland Domain 1 2,05 km
Service
01:28 SS19 SSS Auckland Domain 2 2,05 km
02:36 SS20 Puhoi 2 17,94 km
03:09 SS21 Ahuroa 6,75 km
03:40 SS22 Burnside/Wech Access 2 7,3 km
Service
12-06-20 Sista reccen är körd!
Ramona och Miriam är nu klara med reccen i Nya Zeeland. Från och med i måndags har de alltså varit ute och skrivit sina noter på de dryga 40 mil specialsträckorna som ingår i VM-rallyt.
- Reccen har gått bra, det känns som att vi har fått till bra noter och en bra känsla för vägkaraktären. Det är generellt riktigt snabba och bitvis mycket doserade vägar, säger Ramona och Miriam.

Ikväll väntar en pressträff hos Andrew Simms, Aucklands Mitsubishi-återförsäljare, och imorgon körs shakedown. På fredag morgon startar rallyt och tjejerna är förväntansfulla.
- Detta ska bli riktigt roligt. Vi gillar vägarna skarpt. Får man till linjer och rytm så lär de vara en riktig njutning att köra på – men samtidigt med en hel del utmaningar.
12-06-18 Bra första test i Nya Zeeland
Ramona Karlsson och Miriam Walfridsson hade ett bra första test inför helgens Rally Nya Zeeland. På söndagen deltog man i ett officiell och hade chans att testa nya motorn inför starten på fredag. Det blev totalt drygt fyra mils testande för rallyduon.
- Det här är är en testväg som är känd för att vara en av Carlos Sainz favoritvägar här nere, berättar Ramona. Det är vägar som är mycket doserade vilket gör att man kan åka genom kurvorna med högre hastighet men detä r viktigt att hålla rätt linje. Testet var väldigt bra, bilen kändes bra direkt och det var nyttigt att få några mil och lite känsla för rallyvägarna här nere.

Nu väntar tre dagars recce där Ramona och Miriam ska sätta noterna för rallyt. Då får man också köra på rallysträckorna för första gången.
- Det känns riktigt bra, säger Miriam. Nu börjar vi reccen och det ska bli kul och spännande att se hur sträckorna ser ut. Vi ser fram emot att få till bra noter under de här tre dagarna!
12-06-16 Ramona och Miriam redo för Rally Nya Zeeland
Ramona Karlsson, Miriam Walfridsson och hela teamet är nu på plats i Nya Zeeland för Nya Zeelands VM-rally nästa helg. Ramona Karlsson ser fram emot att vara åter i rallybilen för säsongens tredje VM-rally och tror vägarna på Nya Zeeland kan passa dem.
– Det här är ett rally jag verkligen ser fram emot och vi är riktigt laddade, säger Ramona. Det är väldigt fina grusvägar som påminner lite grann om de finska rallyvägarna och det bör passa oss bra. Målet är att gå i mål och köra igenom hela rallyt. Det är några lokala förare anmälda i klassen som är snabba och kan vägarna bra men går vi i mål i topp-5 är vi nöjda.

Rallyhelgen inleds redan nu på söndag med ett officiellt test följt av tre dagars rekognosering. Ramona och Miriam har redan förberett sig väl.
– Vi har datorerna laddade med filmer från tidigare rallyn här och Miriam har också pratat med Emil (Axelsson, kartläsare åt P-G Andersson) och fått en del tips. Vi känner oss väl förberedda. Nu ska teamet montera nya motorn i bilen inför söndagstestet.

Rallyt inleds officiellt på fredag och består av 40 mil specialsträckor som körs fredag, lördag och söndag.

12-06-15 Looking ahead to Rally New Zealand
'Hi everybody,
‘I’m Richard Thompson – or 'Tomo' as my friends and colleagues call me – and I’m WRC Team MINI Portugal’s Engineer. I’ll be your guide on our latest MINI adventure as we head halfway round the globe for Rally New Zealand, one of my favourite rounds of the WRC where we’re aiming for the best result possible.

‘I come from a village south of Dalby forest in the north of England, which the then named Rally GB went through and I remember as a very young boy seeing cars pass our house and being serviced in the village, I thought it looked great and wanted to be a part of the sport as soon as I could. Soon a MINI (of course, what else?) come up for sale that needed some work, so I snapped it up! I spent hours with the A series engine found in the car in those days, fitting bigger valves, a rally camshaft, better pistons. I fitted to it a close ratio gearbox and a limited slip differential that made it really tricky to drive but had great traction! We went all over the country competing, the only limiting factor being the ability to pay for the fuel, tyres and entry fee… I did manage to win a local rally but knew I wasn’t going to trouble Ari Vatanen at any time in the near future!

‘While I might not have had my eye on a world title in the car, I certainly did out of the car and quickly dedicated myself to rallying in any shape or form. Now, as a Chief Engineer, my job for New Zealand started straight after Greece. I have to ensure we have the correct build specification for the cars and also the hardware to allow the drivers to go as fast as possible – the correct transmission settings, springs, dampers and anti-roll bars need to be specified as well as set correctly on both cars. We have a total of five sets of dampers for the two MINIs, this is for the whole of the event for the rally - a fixed maximum applied by the FIA - and spares need to be set to cover any expected changes in conditions. The event this year is run in their winter but can be quite dry as well as very wet obviously! It’s pretty fantastic to be involved with a manufacturer that meant so much to me as a youngster. I remember sitting in the newly completed MINI John Cooper Works WRC for the first time in the workshop and really feeling a warmth and affinity with the car! Then, last year whilst working in Italy I was even able to show my boyhood hero Sandro Munari who in 1977 won the then named World Cup for drivers around Piero Longhi’s MINI John Cooper Works which was a real honour.

I've been to Rally New Zealand a lot of times and have some great memories. One of the best is from 2006 when I was there working with Moto GP legend Valentino Rossi, it was amazing – what a fantastic guy! He loves rallies but hates getting up early in the morning. During recce, the recce mechanics would drive his recce car to the start of the stages, he would get up at the last possible moment and jump into a helicopter (!) the team had hired for him , fly to the start of the stage and then do the recce. Pace notes were also of secondary importance - if he found a nice view, he'd stop in the middle of the stage, take pictures, get back in the car and continue. It was good fun working with Valentino!


‘This time round after I touch down, I'll take half a day to get my bearings after 30 hours of travel, then I'll go and inspect the stages. It’s great to get out and see the conditions the drivers will encounter during the rally. As engineers we note each kilometre in detail. We register things like surface conditions, how hard the surface is, the diameter of the gravel and any clean lines. We also consider if the stages will rut badly, gradients and any other details that help to ensure we are as competitive as possible. This might include something as simple as noting phone service in or at the stage, which is essential to ensuring the crew gets the best technical backup possible.

‘In terms of differences with Rally Acropolis – our previous event – which was hot, dry and quite hard on the cars, New Zealand won’t be as tough on the crews as the ambient temperature inside the cars will be much lower than in Greece. The set-up won’t be too different, but the crews will need a slightly softer car, with less focus on sheer endurance. Also this year it will be probably colder, wetter and more slippery compared to other years so the drivers will have to focus on doing a good job on the recce to get pace notes as near to perfect as possible making careful notes of surface changes in particular. With Armindo / Miguel and Paulo / Edu having competed in New Zealand before, hopefully both crews will have a head-start on this. They’ll have also to spend time and energy on watching the recce videos carefully and get to know the stages. It will be a tricky event with a lot of slow turns, changes of grips and rough bits so a good preparation is the key to success! The drivers have to compete, almost straight away on one of the most difficult stages of the year, it’s name is Whangaa coast and will be run as SS2 and a second pass through the stage as SS6. It has seen some titanic battles over the years and is very enjoyable for the drivers - if they get it right that is! Watch out for the fantastic footage oftened filmed from a helicopter.

‘That’s all for now, I’ll be back live from New Zealand during the week to update you on the team’s progress at the rally.
12-06-15 Aoteroa Adventure awaits M-Sport Youngsters
A new challenge awaits Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak as the aspiring youngsters look to secure another strong result for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team on the gravel tracks of the World Rally Championship’s (WRC) 500th event at Brother Rally New Zealand next week.

Despite a year’s break in the calendar, Rally New Zealand has been a regular and popular fixture in the world series since its inaugural inclusion in 1977 – securing the WRC Rally of the Year award in 2001.

Famed for its high-speed stretches, technical corners and picturesque scenery, the smooth gravel roads will pose a fresh challenge for Novikov, who has contested the southern hemisphere event only once before, and Tänak who will be making his first venture to the stages this year.

Based in the city of Auckland – home to a third of the New Zealand population – this year’s event will include two remote services as the rally takes in much of what the Isle of the Long White Cloud has to offer. Traditionally a loose-surface event, the occasional stretch of asphalt will provide some thrilling on-stage action; and with two special stages through Auckland’s city centre, rally fans and spectators the breadth of the country will have the opportunity to take in the action for themselves.

In the midst of winter, inclement weather conditions are sure to play a pivotal role. Teamed with the importance of road position, tactical tyre choices and a need for consistency, M-Sport’s young guns will need to adopt all of their experience and composure as they look to tame the cambered gravel roads which are renowned as some of the best in the world. Nevertheless with the fast, flowing nature of the New Zealand stages suiting both drivers’ attacking driving style, the duo will be out to impress.

Following a stunning start to the season, Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet will be looking to reignite their assault on the WRC Drivers' and Co-drivers' Championships. The young Russian has come into his own this season with a string of record results behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC which he will be eager to replicate next week.

Having contested Rally New Zealand as part of the Production World Rally Championship (P-WRC) with a Mitsubishi Lancer in 2008, Novikov was on course for a second place finish on his debut at the event until mechanical problems forced an untimely exit. Back for 2012, the 21-year-old will be keen to make the added power in his Fiesta RS WRC count as he looks to display what makes him one of the most exciting young talents in the WRC.

Recovering well from early misfortune at last month’s Acropolis Rally, Tänak will be hoping to make the most of his regained confidence in New Zealand. With the emphasis on experience, the Estonian will be aiming to complete all of the event’s 22 stages and secure the maximum benefit from the event. Yet given his obvious pace and ambition behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, the youngster is sure to show his speed as he chases a strong points finish.

With fellow country-man Kuldar Sikk in the navigator’s seat, Tänak will be in good hands – Sikk securing fifth place overall on the 2008 edition of the event alongside another Estonian, Urmo Aava.

Evgeny Novikov said:
“I am feeling very good ahead of the rally and we are hoping that everything goes well. I have competed in New Zealand once before in 2008. It was a long time ago, but as I remember the stages are all really nice and very different from the others [in the championship].

“They are really fast which suits my driving style – they are really enjoyable to drive and you can drive to the maximum. We will have to see where our pace is when we get there, but the main thing for us will be to finish.”

Ott Tänak said:
“The feeling is good ahead of New Zealand. This will be my first time at the event, but I have heard that the stages are amongst some of the best in the season and I am very excited to compete there.

“The stages are mostly very fast and flowing. There are also very few rocks which makes it easier on the car and much easier for the drivers to drive as fast as they can – which I hope suits my driving style. We have had some good times on similar stages this year so the feeling is good.

“Having Kuldar [Sikk] in the car will also be an advantage as he has competed here twice before and it is always good to share in his experience. We will be looking for a good result, but first we need to find our pace and see how it compares to everyone else. We will try our best and hopefully get a good result for the team.”
12-06-14 Ford’s hard chargers prepared for close combat in New Zealand
Ford World Rally Team heads to Brother Rally New Zealand (21 - 24 June) next week with both drivers able to draw on past experience of how intense the fight for victory there can be. Both Jari-Matti Latvala and team-mate Petter Solberg have enjoyed the spoils of victory by just a handful of seconds after dramatic battles which were only decided in the final kilometres.

Latvala and Miikka Anttila won the most recent fixture there in 2010, emerging from the last speed test with a slender 2.4sec advantage after a thrilling four-car showdown. It is the fourth-closest finish in the history of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Six years earlier Solberg won by just 5.9sec following a similarly action-packed rally. Fittingly, both drivers clinched victory in the classic Whaanga Coast special stage, one of the sport’s iconic and most challenging venues.

Rally New Zealand, round seven of the 13-event WRC, is the last outing before a six-week break and the 500th championship encounter since the series began in 1973. Drivers regard the flowing gravel roads as among the best in the world and both 27-year-old Latvala and 37-year-old Solberg, partnered by Chris Patterson, list the event as one of their favourites.

The cambered roads around the North Island Maori-stronghold of Auckland are as smooth as a billiard table and positively entice drivers to attack. They wind through lush, green countryside and the scenery is as stunning as the roads, the picture postcard views over the Tasman Sea from Whaanga Coast being some of the finest of the championship.

Late June is the middle of winter in the Land of the Long White Cloud and rain will be a constant threat. Car reliability will be crucial, as the opening two legs offer just a 15-minute remote service midway through, in which teams can make repairs using only parts carried in the cars. This will be particularly true in the first leg which, at 209.60km, contains more than half the competitive distance.

“The first day will be tough because the stages are long and there is just one short service zone to make repairs if we have problems,” said Latvala. “We will have limited access to spare parts, so it’s vital to avoid mechanical issues. The famous Whaanga Coast stage will be run twice in the leg and it’s one of the most challenging tests in the championship. There are always dramas on those roads.

“It was the final stage in 2010 and to come out of there and find I had won the rally was a great, great moment after such a hard battle. Four of us had the chance to win but the stage caught out the three others. It is one of the sport’s great challenges.

“The roads are used daily by the public so they have a smooth, hard surface with a lot of camber. As you cross the camber through the flowing corners, it feels as though the car is dancing. It’s a great feeling and it’s hard not to attack over such wonderful stages. Because it’s mid-winter, the risk of rain is higher and the roads may not be quite as smooth as we have been used to,” added Latvala.

Solberg, too, has great respect for Whaanga Coast. “It’s a special place. It’s incredibly twisty and hugely technical towards the finish and a stage where the drivers come to the fore. It’s tricky, but a driver can really make a difference with a good performance through there,” said the Norwegian.

“It’s winter in New Zealand so there’s a good chance the temperatures will be low and rain is likely. That will make it hard to generate heat into the hard compound tyres, which will be our primary option for the rally. It’s the same for everyone and there’s nothing we can do about it, but the other side of the coin is that the Fiesta RS WRC works well with hard compound rubber.

“Looking back to the previous round in Greece, I knew the risks when I raised my pace by half a per cent on the final day and I made a mistake that was costly. But I could sense victory then. I want to win and I’m confident that victory will come very soon. New Zealand would be a great place for it to happen,” he added.

Team News
* Michelin’s Latitude Cross gravel tyres will be used by the Ford drivers and 35 of these will be available in hard compound. New-for-2012 regulations mean drivers will also have 10 soft compound tyres available if conditions are wet and muddy. However, only 35 units can be used in total during qualifying and the rally itself. Teams are not allowed to hand-carve additional cuts into the tyres and each car can carry two spare wheels.

* Five privately-run Fiesta RS WRCs are entered. Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk and Evgeny Novikov / Denis Giraudet are nominated by M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. Monster World Rally Team’s Ken Block / Alex Gelsomino will make their second WRC start of the season while Brazil World Rally Team will be present, but with team manager Manfred Stohl / Tina-Maria Monego making a one-off appearance. It will be Stohl’s first WRC outing since December 2007. The Fiesta RS WRC entries are completed by Finns Jari Ketomaa / Mika Stenberg.

* Latvala warmed up for the rally by winning the historic class in the POP Pankki SM-Ralli last Saturday. Latvala and co-driver Asko Sairanen took the class honours by more than five minutes in a Ford Escort RS Mk2 on the one-day event based at Lapua in western Finland.

Rally Route
The route returns to areas familiar to the drivers, but is centred around a new service park at the recently completed Wynyard Quarter on Auckland’s waterfront. After Thursday evening’s start ceremony, drivers journey south-west the following day to the Tasman Sea coastline for tests near Raglan, including two passes through Whaanga Coast. Raglan hosts a remote service midway through the leg. The second day heads to the Northland region for stages in the Whangarei and Kaipara districts, with another remote service in Whangarei itself. The final day is just north of Auckland, covering roads not used since the 1990s. It includes two passes over a short asphalt test at the city’s War Memorial Museum, as well as the final Power Stage, which offers bonus points to the fastest three drivers. Drivers face 22 stages covering 413.94km in a route of 1656.38km.

ROUND 7 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
21 - 24 June 2012
Thursday 21 June: Qualifying
QS Inland Road 5.06km 10.33
Friday 22 June: Day 1: Auckland - Auckland
Start Viaduct Events Centre 06.00
SS1 Te Hutewai 1 11.18km 08.28
SS2 Brother Whaanga Coast 1 29.67km 08.51
SS3 Te Akau South 1 31.82km 10.24
SS4 Te Akau North 1 32.13km 11.07
RSZ A Raglan (15 mins) 13.07
SS5 Te Hutewai 2 11.18km 13.33
SS6 Brother Whaanga Coast 2 29.67km 13.56
SS7 Te Akau South 2 31.82km 15.29
SS8 Te Akau North 2 32.13km 16.12
Serv B Viaduct Events Centre (flexi 45 mins) 18.45
Finish Viaduct Events Centre 19.30
Total 209.60km

Saturday 23 June: Day 2: Auckland - Auckland
Serv C Viaduct Events Centre (15 mins) 07.10
SS9 Batley 17.61km 09.13
SS10 Brother Mititai 1 23.22km 10.01
SS11 Girls High School 1 26.99km 10.34
RSZ D Whangarei (15 mins) 12.29
SS12 Waipu Gorge 11.38km 14.02
SS13 Brooks 13.60km 14.25
SS14 Brother Mititai 2 23.22km 15.08
SS15 Girls High School 2 26.99km 15.41
Serv E Viaduct Events Centre (flexi 45 mins) 19.03
Finish Viaduct Events Centre 19.48
Total 143.01km

Sunday 24 June: Day 3: Auckland - Auckland
Serv F Viaduct Events Centre (15 mins) 06.40
SS16 Burnside / Wech Access 1 7.30km 08.08
SS17 Brother Puhoi 1 17.94km 08.26
SS18 SSS Auckland Domain 1 2.05km 09.44
Serv G Viaduct Events Centre (30 mins) 10.34
SS19 SSS Auckland Domain 2 2.05km 11.28
SS20 Brother Puhoi 2 17.94km 12.36
SS21 Ahuroa 6.75km 13.09
SS22 Burnside / Wech Access 2 7.30km 13.40
Serv H Viaduct Events Centre (10 mins) 14.53
Finish Silo Park, Jellicoe Street 15.30
Total 61.33km
Rally total 413.94km

12-06-08 Duplessis takes Sprit of The FIA WRC Academy in Greece
As the FIA WRC Academy crews completed a pre-event test for the Acropolis Rally in Arthikia, Greece last month, Chris Duplessis’ winning personality saw him awarded the event’s Spirit of the FIA WRC Academy award.

With the test stage running alongside the Elementary School of Athikia, the school children had spent the morning drawing the colourful cars – with Duplessis’ bright orange DirtFish Ford Fiesta R2 proving a popular choice.

Driving alongside the school on his final run, the American slowed down to give the youngsters a ‘drive-by high-five’ – much to the delight of the excited school children.

Working at a rally school in his native America, Duplessis is well known for his charisma and compassion which makes him one of the most popular personalities in the feeder series; and his thoughtful actions on the Acropolis Rally only reinforce his status as a true ambassador for the sport.

Supported by Ford Racing in Europe and with control tyres from Pirelli, the WRC Academy crews will next tackle the challenging tracks of Neste Oil Rally Finland in August where Duplessis will be keen to build on his sixth place finish at the Acropolis Rally.

Having set the third fastest time over the penultimate stage in Greece, Duplessis – who is supported by Ford Racing US – is growing in confidence and will be keen to impress as he embarks on the event he has been looking forward to all year.

Chris Duplessis said:
“I love kids and to see them so excited to have the rally car driving by their school was awesome – they where yelling "rally, rally rally!’ One little girl had even drawn a picture of my DirtFish orange Fiesta. I really loved Greece – the food was great, the landscape was beautiful and the people were the nicest I have ever met.

“I am so excited for Finland now – it is the rally I loved watching growing up. The fans are crazy and there are loads of big jumps and flat-out roads – that is rallying at its best! We had a top three stage time in Greece and I would love to have more of that in Finland. I am still getting used to the car and finding my speed, but hopefully Finland will be my coming out party!”

12-05-27 Latvala takes podium in Greece as Solberg misses out on win
Ford World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila finished third in the Acropolis Rally of Greece today on their comeback from injury. Latvala climbed onto the podium in a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car after team-mates Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson crashed out of this sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship this morning while chasing victory.

Latvala returned to action after missing the previous round with a broken collarbone sustained in a training accident. Both the 27-year-old Finn and Solberg challenged for a win over boulder-strewn mountain roads, but a puncture for Latvala after he hit a bank in the penultimate leg and Solberg’s accident ended their hopes.

The rally lived up to its reputation as the toughest event in the calendar. Many drivers encountered mechanical problems on the rocky roads around the Gulf of Corinth, west of Athens. And, unexpectedly for a summer rally in Greece, heavy rain transformed the gravel tracks into a mudbath yesterday, generating treacherous conditions that drivers likened to driving on ice.

After the Ford duo finished first and second in qualifying, Latvala initially led the rally, which covered 22 speed tests and 409.47km of competition over four days. He fought tooth and nail with Sébastien Loeb, and Latvala was just 2.2sec behind his rival when he hit a bank and punctured a tyre yesterday afternoon. He had to stop to fit a spare wheel and fell to fourth.

With no pressure from behind and no opportunity to close on those ahead, Latvala took no risks over today’s final leg, comprising five special stages and 65.55km. He climbed to third when Solberg retired and claimed two bonus points after finishing second in the final Power Stage. He won 10 stages during the weekend.

“I need to be satisfied in one sense because I said before the rally that I wanted to finish on the podium and I did that,” said Latvala. “Of course, at the same time I’m disappointed because I could have won. It’s good to be back on the podium after a long time away but I need to push for wins now. That’s the only thing I can do.

“It’s quite incredible that once again I was leading the rally and looking good, but couldn’t convert it into victory. I’ve had too many setbacks like that this year and it’s hugely frustrating for the team. I need to iron out the little mistakes and I hope I can turn things round at the next event in New Zealand,” added Latvala, who lies fifth in the championship standings.

Solberg settled into third and when Latvala punctured, the 37-year-old Norwegian stepped up his pace. He won three consecutive stages yesterday afternoon to restart today just 10.2sec from the lead. However, his victory hopes ended in the opening test when he hit a bank.

“I approached a long left bend in a narrow downhill section,” said Solberg. “I hit the bank on the right of the road and then the car bounced into the bank on the opposite side. The impact knocked the left rear wheel off and that was it. I feel so sorry for the team because I wanted to win but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

“The plan was to push and try to take two or three seconds back on the first stage. I wanted to put pressure on Loeb, I had to try. After the opening 10km we were equal on time so I decided to push a bit harder. Until the accident my driving was perfect with no mistakes. It’s disappointing but I must look ahead to the next rally and stay positive,” added Solberg, who is fourth in the drivers’ points.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson admitted the outcome was a ‘disappointment’. “It was one of the most closely-fought rallies I can recall. We lost Jari-Matti from the battle for the lead but we had a second chance with Petter. To lose him was doubly disappointing. I’m pleased to see Jari-Matti on the podium on his return from injury and that he had no ill effects,” he said.

Ford Racing motorsport manager Gerard Quinn said: “Jari-Matti made a strong return after injury and a podium was the least he deserved given the pace he showed. The battle for the lead yesterday was thrilling. Petter, too, challenged for victory and on another day perhaps he would have taken the win. Rallies are won and lost in split second incidents and that’s something we saw today.”

News from other Ford teams
Adapta World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson were fourth in a Fiesta RS WRC and lie third in the drivers’ championship. They were one place ahead of the similar Czech Ford National Team car of Martin Prokop and Zdenek Hruza. Yazeed Al Rahji and Michael Orr took eighth in a Fiesta RRC, while M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak and Kuldar Sikk recovered to ninth after opening leg problems. Team-mates Evgeny Novikov and Denis Giraudet restarted today after retiring yesterday when a damaged radiator caused their car’s engine to overheat. However, the problem returned after a few kilometres and they stopped. Brazil World Rally Team’s Daniel Oliveira and Carlos Magalhaes retired in the opening stage of the morning.

Next round
The final round of the first half of the year takes the team outside Europe for the last time this season. Auckland hosts Rally New Zealand on 21 - 24 June, a gravel event on the country’s North Island.

Final positions
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 4hr 42min 03.3sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 4hr 42min 43.3sec
3. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 45min 08.1sec
4. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 48min 19.7sec
5. M Prokop/Z Hruza CZE Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 49min 49.8sec
6. T Neuville/N Gilsoul BEL Citroen DS3 4hr 51min 44.7sec
7. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 4hr 55min 03.2sec
8. Y Al Rajhi/M Orr SAU Ford Fiesta RRC 5hr 02min 15.5sec
9. O Tänak/K Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS 5hr 05min 22.2sec
10 A Alkuwari/N Arena QAT Mini John Cooper 5hr 10min 43.8sec

Drivers
1. S Loeb 119pts
2. M Hirvonen 89pts
3. M Østberg 80pts
4. P Solberg 73pts
5. J-M Latvala 45pts
6. E Novikov 43pts

Manufacturers
1. Citroen Total WRT 194pts
2. Ford WRT 121pts
3. M-Sport Ford WRT 91pts
4. Citroen Junior WRT 42pts
5. Qatar WRT 37pts
6. Adapta WRT 27pts

Stage Times
Stage 18: 1. Latvala 12min 42.0sec; 2. Loeb + 0.9; 3. Hirvonen + 6.7; 4. Østberg + 11.0; 5. Tänak + 14.8; 6. Neuville + 20.8.
Overall: 1. Loeb 4hr 08min 55.9sec; 2. Hirvonen + 1:57.7; 3. Latvala + 4:43.7; 4. Østberg + 7:49.8; 5. Prokop + 8:34.1; 6. Neuville + 10:59.3.

Stage 19: 1. Loeb 8min 13.7sec; 2. Østberg + 2.3; 3. Latvala + 3.1; 4. Hirvonen + 3.5; 5. Neuville + 9.6; 6. Tänak + 13.0.
Overall: 1. Loeb 4hr 17min 09.6sec; 2. Hirvonen + 2:01.2; 3. Latvala + 4:46.8; 4. Østberg + 7:52.1; 5. Prokop + 8:50.2; 6. Neuville + 11:08.9.

Stage 20: 1. Latvala 12min 39.6sec; 2. Østberg + 4.8; 3. Tänak + 5.7; 4. Neuville + 10.2; 5. Hirvonen + 17.0; 6. Prokop + 24.3.
Overall: 1. Loeb 4hr 31min 27.4sec; 2. Hirvonen + 40.0; 3. Latvala + 3:08.6; 4. Østberg + 6:18.7; 5. Prokop + 7:36.3; 6. Neuville + 9:40.9.

Stage 21: 1. Latvala 8min 09.7sec; 2. Østberg + 0.1; 3. Neuville + 1.1; 4. Hirvonen + 3.1; 5. Tänak + 3.3; 6. Loeb + 4.4.
Overall: 1. Loeb 4hr 39min 41.5sec; 2. Hirvonen + 38.7; 3. Latvala + 3:04.2; 4. Østberg + 6:14.4; 5. Prokop + 7:41.4; 6. Neuville + 9:37.6.

Stage 22: 1. Loeb 2min 21.8sec; 2. Latvala + 0.6; 3. Hirvonen + 1.3; 4= Østberg, Tänak + 2.0; 6. Neuville + 3.8.
Overall: 1. Loeb 4hr 42min 03.3sec; 2. Hirvonen + 40.0; 3. Latvala + 3:04.8; 4. Østberg + 6:16.4; 5. Prokop + 7:46.5; 6. Neuville + 9:41.4.
12-05-27 Elsewhere end of Day Quotes, Acropolis Rally Day 3
Mads Østberg, Adapta World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (4th)
- “Everything went as planned this afternoon. We finally got some good feeling with the car after we changed the brake master cylinder in the last service. The car felt quite different, so maybe there was something with that all weekend because the car felt very strange from time to time and we had to make quite a few set-up changes – but now the car felt good.
- “It has been a tricky event and the off on Friday was not good. But apart from that I think we have done exactly what we planned to do. The result in the end is not so bad at all really so I am happy with that.”

Martin Prokop, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (5th)
- “The weekend was very good for us with no mistakes. The car was good – we had a few problems with the anti-roll bar but the rest was ok. This type of rally means it is very tough to bring the car to the end so I am very happy – it is another fantastic result for us.”

Yazeed Al Rajhi, Ford Fiesta RRC (8th)
- “This afternoon’s stages were quite nice. I tried to push a little bit, but was careful not to make any mistakes. We made it to the end and it was a great job for me and for the team. I have learnt a lot on this rally – about driving in rough surfaces and with lots of changeable weather making the roads really slippery – so I take a lot of good experience from this event. It really was a great result for us.”

Spyros Pavlides, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (12th)
- “We took it really quite slowly over the last stage [SS22] – I made sure I avoided every rock and every stone just to make it to the end. I am glad we are here, our position is not bad at all and I really enjoyed the rally. I could not say any more – the team and everyone were fantastic and it has been a brilliant weekend!
12-05-27 Strong recovery sees Tänak take points in Greece
Embarking on the 58th Acropolis Rally’s shortest day of competition, Ott Tänak recovered well to secure ninth place and vital points for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team to retain their third place as the leading privateers in the World Rally Championship Manufacturers’ standings.

Contesting 65.55 km close to the rally base in Loutraki, Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk embraced the rough terrain behind the wheel of their Ford Fiesta RS WRC to make it into the top-ten. Following the retirement of Daniel Oliveira and team-mate Evgeny Novikov, the Estonian found himself having to contend with the loose surface once again as he sought out a clean line with his early road position. Yet despite being disadvantaged running as the third car on the road, Tänak excelled to secure his position with a fifth and sixth fastest time respectively.

Returning for the final tests, Tänak impressed once more with a third fastest time over Aghii Theodori 2 (SS20) and a fifth fastest time through the 11.37 km of New Pissia 2 (SS20) – just 3.3 seconds adrift of pacesetter Jari-Matti Latvala and 1.1 seconds up on eight-time world champion Sébastien Loeb.

Elsewhere however, there was disappointment for Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet. Despite setting some impressive stage times over the first two days of competition, the duo were unable to translate their speed into points as the initial damage to their radiator on Day 2 resulted in engine damage on SS18. Regrettably, with raising engine temperatures, the pairing were forced to retire their Ford Fiesta RS WRC from the event.

Nevertheless, thanks to the Russian’s strong performance over the opening rounds of the season, Novikov holds sixth place in the WRC driver’s standings.

Ott Tänak (9th) said:
- “This afternoon’s stages were ok with no dramas. It was still quite loose at the front but we did our best. On Saturday and Sunday we had quite a good run and were building our confidence with quite a good feeling in the car. It was more than a shame about Friday because we have been feeling really good over the last few days.”
12-05-27 All Home Safely
Ciao a tutti,
'It's Bruno again and this is my last column for the Acropolis Rally and for the season in fact, because as we head to New Zealand our Chief Engineer Tomo will take over as your guide!

'It was a weekend - or a week rather - of mixed fortunes I have to say, it feels like we've lived a season's worth of drama in one event! This is one of those rallies we'll all remember for how hard it was from the very beginning.

'After a rocky start to the week (in more ways than one!), this morning we all cleared our minds and started the day with a positive attitude trying to make the most of the remaining stages and use the experience for the rest of the season. Both crews aim for today was to cut a steady path through the stages to make sure they got their MINIs over the finish ramp. Despite the time loss due to Rally 2 penalties, Armindo made his way up on the leaderboard to finish in 11th place overall. For us as a team, there is a private satisfaction with this result. After coming to the Acropolis last year and retiring on Day Two, our main aim was to finish the event successfully this season and to have not one but two MINIs at the end is great.

'It was a rough event, there's no better way to describe it. However we tried to face its challenges as best as possible always learning something from our mistakes and misfortunes. For us we face every problem as a team and find a solution as a team, and more than anything that's been our strength this weekend.

'Tomorrow we head back to Italy to the Motorsport Italia headquarters and we'll have a busy couple of weeks preparing for Rally New Zealand. We'll be working very hard in the workshop to make sure our cars are spot on for the next event which we'll once again head to intent on securing the best result possible.

'That's all from me, despite everything it's been a fantastic Rally Greece.

'I hope you have enjoyed this MINI adventure as much as I have and I would like to thank you for the support the WRC Team MINI Portugal has been receiving here and from all over the world!

'A Presto!
Bruno De Pianto

Final Overall Classification – Acropolis Rally
1.S. Loeb (FRA)/ D. Elena (MCO) Citroen 4:42:03.3
2.Hirvonen (FIN)/ J. Lehtinen (FIN) Citroen +40.0
3.J.M Latvala (FIN)/ M. Anttila (FIN) Ford +3:04.8
4.M. Ostberg (NOR)/ J. Andersson (SWE) Ford +6:16.4
5.M. Prokop (CZE)/ Z. Hruza (CZE) Ford +7:46.5
6.T. Neuville (BEL)/ N. Gilsoul (BEL) Citroen +9:41.4
7.S. Ogier (FRA)/ S. Ingrssia (FRA) Skoda +12:59.9
8.Y. Al Rajhi ( / M. Orr (GBR) Ford +20:12.2
9.O. Tanak (EST)/ K. Sikk (EST) Ford +23:18.9
10.A. Alkuwari (QAT)/ N. Arena (ITA) MINI +28:40.5
11.A. Araújo (PRT)/ M. Ramalho (PRT) MINI +30:28.6
...
17.P.Nobre (BRA)/ E. Paula (BRA) MINI +59:10.2
...
32.H. Kaltsounis (GRE)/ A. Peridis (GRE) Opel +2:24:04.5

2012 FIA Drivers' Championship Standings
S. Loeb 119/ M. Hirvonen 89/ M. Ostberg 80/ P. Solberg 73/ J.M. Latvala 45/ E. Novikov 43/ M. Prkop 36/ N. Al-Attyiah 23/ S. Ogier 22/ T.Neuville 22...A. Araújo 7...A. Alkuwari 1
12-05-27 Akropolisrallyt krävde sin tribut – de båda svenska landslagsförarna bröt i WRC Academy
Det blev en tuff tillställning för de båda landslagsförarna Pontus Tidemand och Fredrik Åhlin när de skulle försvara de svenska färgerna i Akropolisrallyt i helgen. Båda förarna tvingades under rallyts sista dag att bryta.

Akropolisrallyt, som är den andra deltävlingen av sex i WRC Academy, anses vara en av de allra tuffaste i kalendern. Det extremt varma vädret och de steniga och hårda vägarna gör rallyt extra tufft för ekipagen. Det här kan de svenska två teamen i WRC Academy med absolut säkerhet nu skriva under på.

Den 21-årige landslagsföraren Pontus Tidemand tillsammans med sin kartläsare Stig Rune Skjaermoen, låg dock i toppen under rallyts två första dagar. Pontus inledde rallyt starkt och slog till med snabbaste tid på första sträckan.
- ”Det var en bra början på en riktig tuff tävling, jag kände mig fram lite under första sträckan och fann ett bra tempo. Men det är ett överlevnadsrally, så det gäller att ta sig runt hel och hållen, speciellt under dag två då sträckorna är jättehårda mot bilen” sa Pontus efter första dagen då han med 3,9 sekunders marginal låg i ledning i klassen.

För den 20-årige landslagsföraren Fredrik Åhlin, med kartläsare Morten Abrahamsen, började rallyt inte lika bra. Redan på första sträckan började problemen för grabbarna.
- ”Allt flöt på bra och jag laddade fullt, men vid en hård inbromsning så sa det bara pang under bilen! Vi hade tyvärr slagit i en av de beryktade grekiska stenarna” berättar Fredrik sorgset.
- ”Och till råga på allt åkte vi på en punktering, och samtidigt började oljelampan att blinka. Under däckbytet såg vi att det läckte rejält med olja, tyvärr hade stenen slagit sönder oljetråget. Då tog vi beslut att bryta för dagen. Vi ville inte chansa på att köra vidare och kanske skada bilen ännu mer. Nä det var bara att bryta ihop och komma igen” berättar Fredrik.
- ”Det var ett klokt beslut att bryta i det läget” säger rallylandslagets förbundskapten Anders Dawidson. ”Det är klart mycket bättre att bita ihop och starta om dag två än att chansa och köra vidare med risk för motorras” säger Anders.
- ”Båda grabbarna visar ju kontinuerligt att de är snabba förare. Det är synd att vägarna i Akropolisrallyt är så tuffa mot bilarna. Det känns som om det mer blir en chansning på att bilen ska hålla ihop hela rallyt, än en ren förarprestation som till slut fäller avgörandet” säger Anders Dawidson.

Efter att etapp två avslutades på fredagen låg Pontus på en stark tredjeplats i klassen. ”Jag tog det medvetet lite lugnt för att verkligen ta mig igenom alla sträckorna. Jag körde snabbt men inte fullt eftersom det fanns så många stenar på vägen och det är bättre att köra runt dem än över dem” säger Pontus.

För Fredrik blev det några snabba sträcktider under dag två, men på sista sträckan slog en sten sönder växellådan.
- ”Jag är mest lycklig över hur Morten och jag lyckades reparera den skadade växellådan” berättar Fredrik. ”Jag tog min balaklava och tryckte in i hålet på lådan och sen hällde vi i vanlig motorolja. Man får ju ta vad man har. I värsta fall hade jag tryckt i ett paket margarin” säger Fredrik som sedan lyckades att ta sig hela vägen till serviceplatsen.

På rallyts sista dag tvingades tyvärr de båda svenska landslagsförarna att bryta.
- ”Jag kom bara ett par kilometer på sträcka elva så slutade bilen helt plötsligt att driva” berättar Pontus. ”Det var en av drivaxlarna som hade gått rakt av. Snopet! Just nu känns det fruktansvärt tungt eftersom vi verkligen har kört med insidan hela helgen och tagit det lite lugnare för att bilen skall hålla ihop på de dåliga vägarna. Nu är det bara att ladda om till nästa tävling i Finland och då är det bara vinst som gäller” säger Pontus.

Fredriks rally tog slut strax innan målgång på den sista sträckan. ”Jag lyckades pricka en liten stenhäll på insidan i en skarp kurva. Bilen gick upp på två hjul och höll på att tippa över. Jag fick ner bilen på alla fyra men då var det redan försent. Vi hade åkt av vägen och det tog i ordentligt i framvagnen och vi rullade ett varv framlänges nedför en slänt” berättar Fredrik.
- ”Det gick inte så fort. Vi fick lite plåtskador och efter lite fix och trix så tog vi oss upp på vägen igen och kunde för egen maskin ta oss tillbaka till serviceplatsen, igen. Nu glömmer vi det här, åker hem och kör många snabba mil med min egen Fiesta R2, åker sen till Finland och satsar på seger” säger Fredrik.
- ”Det blev en tuff tillställning för alla WRC Academy-ekipage i Grekland, inte bara för Pontus och Fredrik. Det var många som haltade över mållinjen. Precis som vi trodde. Nu hade vi stenarna och drivaxlarna emot oss, nästa gång blir det förhoppningsvis tvärtom. Nu är det bara för grabbarna att ladda om och förvalta det lite längre uppehållet till nästa deltävling på bästa sätt” avslutar Anders Dawidson.

WRC Academy Akropolis vanns av den brittiske föraren Elfyn Evans.
Nästa VM-deltävling för de två svenska landslagsförarna i WRC Academy blir Rally Finland, 2 – 4 augusti.

Poängställning WRC Academy 2012– Junior VM, efter två av sex VM-rallyn:
Pos Driver Total
1. Alastair Fisher 46
2. Elfyn Evans 38
3. Brendan Reeves 35
4. Jose Suarez 21
5. Timo Van Der Marel 18
6. Pontus Tidemand 17
7. John Maccrone 15
8. Fredrik Åhlin 11
9. Chris Duplessis 8
10. Joao Silva 4
11. Ashley Haigh-Smith 0
12-05-27 Elswhere Midday Quotes, Acropolis Rally Day 3
Mads Østberg, Adapta World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (4th)
- “This morning was quite ok. The first stage [SS18] was ok but we had a spin approximately half way through the stage. It was just a small mistake from me – the car over-steered into a right-hander just before we went into a left-hander. I could probably have done it, but instead I did a half-spin and reversed as I didn’t want to take the risk. Apart from that it has been good. The second stage [SS19] was good and we had a good rhythm.
- “This afternoon we will try and keep everything the same and just drive through the stages. They are quite enjoyable stages – it has been a tough weekend so it is nice to end with some nice stages where you can properly rally. I would like to push on the Power Stage also, so we will try to do that.”

Martin Prokop, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (5th)
- “The morning stages were pretty rough. Our man aim was to get through and keep the gap to Thierry [Neuville]. We will adjust the ride-height a little in service. Then it is just about getting to the end of the event for another good result.”

Yazeed Al Rajhi, Ford Fiesta RRC (8th)
- “The stages have been good. The first one [SS18] was a bit rough but I had a smooth drive. We are in a very good position now and I hope it continues to the finish. This afternoon I will try and push a little bit, but be careful also as this will be a fantastic result for us!”

Spyros Pavlides, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (12th)
- “The first stage [SS18] was a little rough towards the end, but the second one [SS19] was good. We almost set a top-ten time so I was happy with that. This afternoon we will just do the same. I am really enjoying the rally and the car is a real pleasure to drive.”

12-05-27 M-Sport Ford WRT Midday Quotes, Acropolis Rally Day 3
Ott Tänak (9th)
- “The stages were quite tricky this morning. Evgeny [Novikov] and Daniel [Oliveira] retired in front of us so we are again fairly early in the running order – the roads are very loose again and it is difficult with the traction but we did our best. We tried to keep the pace the same as yesterday and our times were ok.
- “At the moment the weather is pretty uncertain for the afternoon – we don’t know what it will do – but we will just do out best and carry on. Then if everything is ok we will try and push a little more for the Power Stage.”

Evgeny Novikov (DNF)
As a result of the damaged incurred yesterday, Novikov was forced to retire his Ford Fiesta RS WRC from the event on SS18.

12-05-26 Elsewhere end of Day Quotes, Acroplis Rally Day 2
Mads Østberg, Adapta World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (5th)
“The rain made the last few stages pretty interesting! On the last stage [SS17] it was raining quite heavily but there was a bit more grip there than on the previous one [SS16]. In some places towards the end [of SS16] there was no grip at all and I had to brake down into two gears lower than I normally would. There is a junction about one kimometre before the end and I had to brake about 50 meters earlier than I would normally – it was almost down to walking speed! You just have to smile really because it was the same for everyone.
- “Tomorrow we will be in quite a good start position which will make things a bit easier. We have always been early on the road this weekend which has made it difficult to set some good times, but hopefully tomorrow we can set some strong times – that is the plan.”

Martin Prokop, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (6th)
- “This afternoon was not so good because on the first stage [SS14] we lost the rear anti-roll bar again which made the car very unstable. It was not possible to go fast because this made the balance of the car very tricky. We were cruising through to the finish, but we are happy with this position – it is perfect.”

Yazeed Al Rajhi, Ford Fiesta RRC (9th)
- “For me the afternoon was a little tricky – especially with the rain on the last two stages [SS16 and SS17] which made them really slippery. I was surprised after maybe seven kilometers where there was a lot of mud on a twisty corner and I was lucky to make it through the stage to set a good time. On the last stage [SS17] we made the car a little softer and it went really well. Tomorrow is short day so we will try and keep the same level and take no big risks to make sure we finish the event.”

Spyros Pavlides, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (16th)
- “We set a good time on the second to last stage [SS16] but the conditions were ridiculous! As we started the stage it felt as though the storm was right on top of us. It was difficult, but we are here and we made up a couple of places so I can’t complain too much. If it is dry tomorrow we will try and keep up the pace and hopefully post some more good times.”

Daniel Oliveira, Brazil World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (22nd)
- “The afternoon stages were ok. But the second to last one [SS16] was really difficult and we went off. It was really slippery and we just carried a bit too much speed. But apart from that it was a good run with few mistakes. Tomorrow we will do the same – we have nothing to fight for so it is just about working on improving the pace and getting the experience of the stages without taking too many risks.”
12-05-26 Tänak climbs timesheets but disappointment for Novikov as the going gets rough
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak set some strong times over the second day of competition at the 58th Acropolis Rally. But whereas Tänak climbed the timesheets, there was heartache for Novikov – falling prey to the treacherous stages and having to restart under Rally 2 tomorrow.

Crossing the famous Corinth Canal, the second day of competition saw M-Sport’s youngsters embark on 149.56km with two identical loops of four stages. Based in the Peloponnese peninsula, the area’s natural beauty masks some of the roughest stages in the World Rally Championship (WRC). Littered with large rocks, the bumpy stages provided some demanding terrain with mixed fortunes for the M-Sport pairing.

Continuing what has been an impressive showing this weekend, Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet proved their pace over the morning’s opening tests. Setting successive top-five times over the opening two stages, the Russian was able to keep in touch with the four evenly-matched manufacturer cars ahead. But there was heartache on the first pass over Kefalari (SS12) as the ALM Russia supported driver suffered a damaged radiator. Losing water, this increased the engine temperatures and the 21-year-old chose to retire his Ford Fiesta RS WRC so as not to risk any further damage.

Elsewhere, Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk put the disappointments of yesterday firmly behind them. Rising to the challenge over the roughest day of competition yet to be seen in this year’s championship, the Estonian set a string of top-ten times over the morning loop to climb five places from 21st to 16th overall.

Embarking on the second loop, Tänak had to contend with further challenges as the previous pass exposed the treacherous underlying bedrock. With composure behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, the 24-year-old increased his pace to set a string of competitive times including a fourth fastest time through the torrential rain of SS15 – 3.9 seconds up on Portugal winner Mads Østberg – to lie 12th heading into the final day.

Ott Tänak (12th) said:
- “The first stage [SS14] was ok. It was quite smooth and for sure the tyres were wearing quite a lot but I really enjoyed it – we did our best and our times were pretty good too. The next stage [SS15] was very rough – I thought we could try and push a little but it was quite hard for the car so we slowed down a bit. Then on the third stage [SS16] it started to rain and was really muddy in places. It was quite tricky but we had no problems and took no big risks. Tomorrow we will just carry on the same as today: start slowly and pick up the pace as the day goes on.”
12-05-26 Both MINIs to restart final day at the Acropolis Rally
Hi again,
We all knew this was going to be a tough day but it ended up being eventful from start to finish for the WRC Team MINI Portugal squad. With both Paulo and Armindo's retirements from the day the mechanics had a lot of work to do to make sure both MINIs would be on top form and back for more action tomorrow. It's hard for a Team Manager to report when both of his crews have retired but that is rally and the only thing to do now is put today behind us and look forward to a fresh start in the morning.

The day started with four competitive stages, for a total of 74.78km, before the cars headed back to the Service Park in Loutraki. After being on the road all day yesterday, it was nice for the team to all be together and to have the chance to catch up with the fans and other teams in the service park, while always keeping an eye on the split times and tracking system. Of course, although we're always focused on our drivers, it's interesting to watch and see how all the other guys are progressing through the stages. On a tough rally like this one anything can happen after all – just like it did in Portugal earlier in the year. Ultimately, what everyone wants to see is a fantastic rally where the sporting competition is at as high a level as possible and everyone has the opportunity to drive to the best of their potential.

Unfortunately – it wasn't to be our day for that! As we were keeping track of the drivers' progress on the first stage of the day – Klenia Mycenae I – disaster struck 6.7km into the stage when Paulo's MINI's compression strut broke after an impact and he lost the front left wheel.

Meanwhile Armindo made his way through the treacherous morning stages not focused on sheer speed but on getting his MINI back to service in one piece - and so he did and - quite amazingly given the conditions - in top form! While the mechanics were working on his car, Armindo went for a ride around the service park on the signed custom made WRC Team MINI Portugal one-of–a–kind bike which is for auction to raise money for the Hellenic Society for Disabled Children. We're all very proud that our bike currently has the highest bid and we're very happy that we're helping to raise money for such a good cause.

As Armindo left for the afternoon loop, Paulo's car arrived back from SS10 and the guys started the three hours work session allowed by the Rally 2 regulations. They made repairs to the damaged wheel but they also checked the whole MINI over to ensure it was good to go for the last day of the Acropolis Rally.

Unfortunately more bad news came on SS15 – Ghymno 2 - the second stage of the afternoon loop when Armindo retired after damaging a compressor strut on the previous stage, which then broke, his front right wheel slowly becoming unusable. It was a real shame because Armindo had been nursing the car during the whole rally to make sure he would get to the finish on Sunday (ideally successfully completing every stage in the process!) To focus on the positive, the damage is limited and he will be able to restart tomorrow alongside Paulo.

Now I'm writing on my laptop while watching the service on Armindo's car. There is still some work to do to prepare everything for tomorrow morning and I'm quickly debriefing with the crews before we go back to the hotel, snatch just a little sleep and then head right on back to service for the third and final day of Acropolis Rally of Greece.

Ciao!
Bruno De Pianto


12-05-26 Solberg takes on Ford’s victory challenge as Latvala falls back
A thrilling second leg of the Acropolis Rally of Greece ended with Ford World Rally Team’s Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson lying second, just 10.2sec from the lead. They took on the squad’s bid for victory in this sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship when team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila fell back with a puncture after swiping a bank.

The excitement was present throughout as Latvala’s Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car fought tooth and nail for the lead with Sébastien Loeb. The gap between the duo fell to just 1.0sec before the 27-year-old Finn hit trouble. Then, as torrential rain transformed the rocky gravel roads into a mudbath, Solberg attacked to win the final three speed tests and halve the Frenchman’s lead.

Today’s competition was based in the beautiful mountains of the Peloponnese peninsula, across the famous Corinth Canal from the rally base in Loutraki. Two identical loops of four special stages covering 149.56km were on offer, placing further strains on man and machine over the roughest roads of the weekend.

As summer finally showed its face, Solberg was fast but cautious through the morning, after the team changed the entire rear assembly of his Fiesta RS WRC last night. He claimed two second and two third fastest times to hold a comfortable third, but after Latvala’s problem he set about eating into Loeb’s 21.9sec lead.

Conditions became treacherous as several centimetres of mud caked the boulder-strewn roads and competitors likened conditions to driving on ice with slick tyres. The 37-year-old Norwegian revelled on the slippery roads and a hat-trick of wins set up an appetising finale tomorrow.

“I made some small detailed improvements to the car and it made a huge difference,” said Solberg. “After losing 14sec on the first day and 10sec yesterday, to lie just 10sec from the lead tonight isn’t so bad. It will be a big fight tomorrow and I’m feeling confident. The stages will suit me and I really want to win.

“I was careful in the rough sections this morning but pushed hard everywhere else. I took no risks but the balance of my driving was good. I raised the car’s settings this afternoon and it was so rough in places that it was more a matter of surviving than performing. I didn’t push in those sections. There was no point in trying to be a hero, it was better to be clever,” he added.

Latvala enjoyed the best of the morning in his battle for the lead after set-up changes improved his feeling with the Fiesta RS WRC. He started 6.5sec from top spot, and two consecutive stage wins reduced the gap to a single second. He returned to the mid-leg service in Loutraki just 2.2sec behind his rival.

“In the rough sections I drove at 95 per cent and when conditions were better I went flat out,” said Latvala. “It was important to know when to be careful and when to attack. I knew I could go faster but I also knew that if I attacked too much and hit one of the big rocks, it could have been game over.”

His hopes of a win ended in the opening afternoon stage, following a puncture when he hit a bank. He stopped to fit the spare wheel and lost more than 3min 30sec, dropping to fourth. The incident also broke the car’s rear right brake calliper and Latvala drove the final three tests with only three brakes, losing further time but comfortably retaining fourth.

“It happened in a medium speed left corner,” said Latvala. “It was uphill and I went into it too fast. I thought if I carried more speed into the corner, I would be faster in the uphill exit. But the car touched a bank and the tyre soon started to come off the rim. It eventually came off completely and the rocky road broke the wheel, so I had to stop to change it. It was disappointing after such a big fight for the lead. It has been a disappointing year, but I will keep fighting.”

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson said it was a day of mixed fortunes. “We’re disappointed Jari-Matti fell back after such a close battle for the lead, but Petter enjoyed a superb day. He fought back superbly after his time loss earlier in the rally and he’s in a position to challenge for victory. I hope that on the toughest rally of the year, we can carry the fight to the end,” he said.

News from other Ford teams
Adapta World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson climbed from eighth to fifth in their Fiesta RS WRC, despite concerns over a noisy driveshaft this morning. They are one place ahead of the similar Czech Ford National Team car of Martin Prokop and Zdenek Hruza. As the attrition piled up, Yazeed Al Rahji and Michael Orr climbed to ninth in a Fiesta RRC. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak and Kuldar Sikk recovered to 12th after yesterday’s problems. However, team-mates Evgeny Novikov and Denis Giraudet retired when they suffered a damaged radiator and the high engine temperatures that followed caused the water pump to break. Elfyn Evans and Phil Pugh won the Ford Racing-supported FIA WRC Academy in a Fiesta R2, heading home Alastair Fisher and Daniel Barritt who retain an eight point lead in the championship.

Tomorrow’s Route
The final leg is the shortest of the rally and is based just outside Loutraki. After restarting at 08.30, drivers tackle two identical loops of two tests, before the final Power Stage, which offers bonus points to the fastest three drivers. The five stages cover 65.55km with the finish back in Loutraki at 15.30.

Leaderboard after Day 3
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 3hr 56min 13.0sec
2. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 56min 23.2sec
3. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 3hr 58min 04.9sec
4. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 00min 57.6sec
5. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 03min 52.7sec
6. M Prokop/Z Hruza CZE Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 04min 21.6sec
7. T Neuville/N Gilsoul BEL Citroen DS3 4hr 06min 52.4sec
8. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 4hr 08min 30.9sec
9. Y Al Rajhi/M Orr SAU Ford Fiesta RRC 4hr 15min 05.3sec
10 A Mikkelsen/O Floene NOR Skoda Fabia S2000 4hr 18min 21.6sec

Stage Times
Stage 10: 1. Loeb 11min 24.2sec; 2. Latvala + 1.1; 3. P Solberg + 3.2; 4. Hirvonen + 5.0; 5. Novikov + 14.3; 6. Østberg + 20.4.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 25min 25.5sec; 2. Latvala + 7.6; 3. P Solberg + 20.9; 4. Hirvonen + 51.0; 5. Novikov + 4:09.3; 6. Prokop + 5:08.3.

Stage 11: 1. Latvala 12min 38.0sec; 2. Hirvonen + 1.2; 3. P Solberg + 2.1; 4. Loeb + 2.5; 5. Novikov + 9.4; 6. Østberg + 22.5.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 38min 06.0sec; 2. Latvala + 5.1; 3. P Solberg + 20.5; 4. Hirvonen + 49.7; 5. Novikov + 4:16.2; 6. Prokop + 5:37.3.

Stage 12: 1. Latvala 13min 18.8sec; 2. P Solberg + 2.9; 3. Loeb + 4.1; 4. Hirvonen + 10.8; 5. Østberg + 19.9; 6. Neuville + 22.5.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 51min 28.9sec; 2. Latvala + 1.0; 3. P Solberg + 19.3; 4. Hirvonen + 56.4; 5. Novikov + 4:43.3; 6. Prokop + 6:03.7.

Stage 13: 1. Loeb 13min 02.9sec; 2. P Solberg + 0.8; 3. Latvala + 1.2; 4. Hirvonen + 9.7; 5. Østberg + 19.6; 6. Prokop + 24.3.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 04min 31.8sec; 2. Latvala + 2.2; 3. P Solberg + 20.1; 4. Hirvonen + 1:06.1; 5. Prokop + 6:28.0; 6. Østberg + 6:30.4.

Stage 14: 1. Loeb 11min 15.8sec; 2. P Solberg + 1.8; 3. Hirvonen + 5.7; 4. Neuville + 10.9; 5. Østberg + 12.8; 6. Tänak + 13.4; 30. Latvala + 3:24.4.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 15min 47.6sec; 2. P Solberg + 21.9; 3. Hirvonen + 1:11.8; 4. Latvala + 3:26.6; 5. Prokop + 6:42.4; 6. Østberg + 6:43.2.

Stage 15: 1. P Solberg 12min 36.7sec; 2. Loeb + 6.4; 3. Hirvonen + 6.7; 4. Tänak + 17.1; 5. Østberg + 21.0; 6. Neuville + 23.9; 8. Latvala + 36.6.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 28min 30.7sec; 2. P Solberg + 15.5; 3. Hirvonen + 1:12.1; 4. Latvala + 3:56.8; 5. Østberg + 6:57.8; 6. Prokop + 7:08.4.

Stage 16: 1. P Solberg 14min 07.7sec; 2. Loeb + 1.4; 3. Neuville + 26.6; 4. Hirvonen + 26.9; 5. Østberg + 30.4; 6. Tänak + 33.3; 7. Latvala + 36.3.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 42min 39.8sec; 2. P Solberg + 14.1; 3. Hirvonen + 1:37.6; 4. Latvala + 4:31.7; 5. Østberg + 7:26.8; 6. Prokop + 7:45.1.

Stage 17: 1. P Solberg 13min 29.3sec; 2. Loeb + 3.9; 3= Latvala, Østberg + 16.8; 5. Hirvonen + 18.2; 6. Tänak + 19.7.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 56min 13.0sec; 2. P Solberg + 10.2; 3. Hirvonen + 1:51.9; 4. Latvala + 4:44.6; 5. Østberg + 7:39.7; 6. Prokop + 8:08.6.
12-05-26 Dominant performance sees Evans claim maiden FIA WRC Academy Victory
As the FIA WRC Academy crews tackled the most challenging event of their careers at the 58th Acropolis Rally this weekend, it was Elfyn Evans (23) who came out on top to claim his maiden WRC Academy victory with a dominating seven out of a possible ten stage wins. The Welshman is known for his speed and mechanical sympathy – a mix which proved advantageous on the abrasive Greek stages. Alastair Fisher (23) claimed second place to maintain his lead at the head of the standings with Brendan Reeves (23) securing his second podium of the year finishing the event in third.

Supported by Ford Racing in Europe and with control tyres from Pirelli, the WRC Academy got underway with a 25km stage on Thursday evening with rookie Pontus Tidemand (21) setting the pace to take an early lead – 3.9 seconds up on Evans with Fisher a further 4.1 adrift in third.

Elsewhere however, the opening test spelled disaster for Sweden’s Fredrik Åhlin (21). Keen to translate his speed into a strong result on the Acropolis Rally, the youngster slid off the road after being distracted by an engine light following a heavy landing which damaged the sump on his Ford Fiesta R2. Åhlin’s mature approach saw him take advantage of the Rally 2 regulation rather than continuing and risking any further damage to his Fiesta.

The competition restarted on Friday morning with the WRC Academy crews contesting six stages including Greek classics, ‘Bauxites’ and ‘Drossohori’. The remote service in Itea posed a new challenge for the competitors – having to complete all six stages with only the spares in the rally car available for repairs. Thanks to his speed and mechanical sympathy, Evans dominated the day with a clean-sweep of stage victories that saw the Welshman assume control at the head of the standings.

With a good run over Elikonas 1 (SS4), Fisher got the better of Tidemand in their battle for second, leading the Swede by five seconds going into service. Unfortunately, having been going strongly in seventh, Dutch Federation (KNAF) supported driver Timo Van Der Marel (22) clipped a rock on SS4 which damaged the front wishbone on his Fiesta R2 forcing him to Rally 2 the following day.

Evans’ dominance continued over the afternoon to lead the series by 29.5 seconds at the end of Day 1. Getting to grips with the art of loose-surface rallying, asphalt specialist Jose Suárez (20) claimed the third fastest time over Bauxites 1 (SS5) to climb to fifth place in the overall standings – just 27.1 seconds adrift of Reeves going strongly in fourth.

Re-starting on Saturday morning, the crews contested four stages through the beautiful Peloponnese peninsula which masked the roughest day of competition in this year’s World Rally Championship (WRC). The going was tough, and the abrasive nature of the stages – littered with rocks and exposed bedrock – claimed a number of victims.

Amongst the unfortunate, and heart-achingly close to his second consecutive WRC Academy podium, Tidemand broke a driveshaft 5km into SS11. Also falling foul of the stages’ rough characteristics, fellow Swede Åhlin rolled his Fiesta on SS12 – forcing an untimely retirement after demonstrating some impressive speed over the morning’s opening stages.

The same stage saw heartache for Ashley Haigh-Smith (19) with a broken driveshaft on his debut as an official WRC Academy driver and there was further disappointment for João Silva. Having shown clear progression by setting the fourth fastest time over SS11, an impact to the exhaust saw the Portuguese driver damage the fuel tank of his Fiesta R2.

Elsewhere however, Evans claimed a further two stage victories to secure his maiden WRC Academy victory. Despite rolling his Fiesta R2 and losing over a minute on SS12, Fisher recovered well – with a broken windscreen – to secure second place and maintain his lead at the head of the series while a mature drive from Reeves saw the Australian stay clear of trouble to secure his second WRC Academy podium of the year in third.

Battling throughout the weekend, John MacCrone (23) pipped Suárez in a nail-biting battle for fourth place. The closing stages saw both drivers snatch a stage win - which marked the first WRC Academy stage victory for the Scotsman and Suárez's first on gravel - but it was MacCrone who came out on top by a margin of just 6.8 seconds. Claiming his first WRC Academy points, American Chris Duplessis (24) brought his Fiesta R2 safely home in sixth, with Van Der Marel recovering from yesterday’s issues to claim the final points in seventh.

With seven out of eleven Fiesta R2s making it to the end of the roughest event on the WRC calendar, the WRC Academy crews, and Ford Fiesta R2, impressed once again – raising to the challenges posed by the demanding terrain.

With four events remaining, the WRC Academy championship standings are closer than ever. Fisher’s second place saw him maintain his series lead with just an eight point advantage to Evans in second. Reeves lays a further three points adrift in third with Suárez fourth and Van Der Marel and Tidemand rounding off the top six.

Elfyn Evans (1st) said:
- “I am very happy and this event is definitely up there as one of my best results. It has been a difficult event and SS11 was probably the toughest stage I have ever driven but the Fiesta [R2] and Pirelli tyres have done fantastically well. It was very rough in places and we didn’t have a single puncture. If you saw the conditions I don’t think you would believe that they would be able to cope, so it is a real credit to Pirelli.
- “We had a really tough rally in Portugal so put a lot of work into preparing for Greece and everything has gone really well. Phil [Pugh] has been world class and I am very lucky to have him in the car.”

Alastair Fisher (2nd) said:
“We are very happy to finish second having been upside down! It was an enjoyable rally. The plan from the start was to get a podium so we achieved that and have scored some good points for the Championship. We rolled on SS11 on a very slow corner when the wheel got caught in a rut, so we were very lucky that we were able to maintain our position – it was tricky having to drive the last stages with a broken windscreen!”

Brendan Reeves (3rd) said:
- “We are happy to have finished with our second podium of the season. Last year we didn’t get a podium at all and this year we have two after two events and we have collected some important points for the Championship.
- “Overall the rally has been enjoyable but challenging. We have had some highs and lows, yesterday had some great stages and today it was just about getting through. Rhianon [Smyth] did a great job for our 50th event together and a podium finish was a nice way to celebrate that.”

John MacCrone (4th) said:
- “It feels good to have taken a stage win today. Jose [Suárez] was putting some pressure on us so we had to push for fourth position. It was really fun to push a bit more, especially on the fast stages this afternoon. I am committing to my notes and they were working well. If someone had told me we would finish fourth in the toughest event on the [WRC] Academy calendar I would happily have taken it and here we are!”

Jose Suárez (5th) said:
- “We are very very happy. Of course I would have preferred to finish fourth, but we are pleased with our times and we had no problems with the car. I am not sure what has changed since the last event, but everything seems to be working well for us.”

Chris Duplessis (6th) said:
- “Today was awesome and the Dirt Fish Fiesta [R2] was amazing. The M-Sport [WRC] Academy guys and Pirelli have put a great package together and we have done some of the roughest stages I have seen with no issues.
- “We opened it up a bit this afternoon and will hopefully get more consistent, fast times in the future. It felt easy to go at that pace and also good to set some quick times. We had a blast!”

Timo Van Der Marel (7th) said:
- “It has been a very difficult rally for us. Luck has been a real factor in this rally and not so much on our side. We had some problems yesterday and had to Rally 2, but we made it through safely today and got some important points for the Championship.”

Pontus Tidemand (DNF) said:
- “We started really well. We had a really good pace and made no mistakes. We should have got some really good points here, but the broken driveshaft means that we leave with only the one stage point from Thursday.
- “Of course I am very disappointed, but we will concentrate on Finland now where we should be strong and have a good chance of victory.”

Ashley Haigh-Smith (DNF) said:
- “The event was brilliant. Ok the no score is not what we wanted, but considering how difficult this rally is we can’t be too disappointed with our performance. I was gaining confidence with every stage and the notes were working really well. Our M-Sport mechanics were fantastic and now I am really looking forward to Finland.”

Fredrik Åhlin (DNF) said:
- “This has not been our weekend for sure. We had a mechanical problem on the first stage, and then today I made a mistake on the road. We have had so much bad luck this year and it almost feels as though it is just not meant to be.
- “But we have Finland next which will hopefully be my event. The stages should really suit me and we will be out for the win.”

João Silva (DNF) said:
- “I enjoyed the rally and you can see that our pace has improved since Portugal. We said that we wanted to be in the mid-field for this event and we have achieved that which is a positive. It was unfortunate that we had to retire, but this was a rough event and I was pleased with the car and our pace.”
12-05-26 Pontus Tidemand bröt sista dagen i Rally Greece
Efter en imponerande jämn och mogen körning låg 21-åriga landslags-föraren Pontus Tidemand tillsammans med kartläsaren Stig Rune Skjaermoen på en tredje plats i WRC Academy inför sista dagen.

Men redan på andra sträckan av de fyra avslutande sträckorna var Rally Greece, även känt som Akropolis-rallyt slut för talangen.
- Jag kom bara ett par kilometer på sträcka elva så slutade bilen helt plötsligt att driva. Det var en av drivaxlarna som hade gått rakt av. Just nu känns det fruktansvärt eftersom att vi verkligen har kört med insidan hela helgen och tagit det lite lugnare för att bilen skall hålla på de dåliga vägarna här nere , berättar Pontus

Även tvåan Alistar Fisher hade problem och rullade på samma sträcka men kom vidare med en minuts förlorad tid, men slutade ändå på en andra plats efter vinnaren Elfyn Evans.
- Målet med sista dagen var bara att köra igenom och låta de andra göra misstag, nu gick bilen sönder för mig istället och det är inget annat att göra att än att försöka ladda om nästa deltävling i samband med Rally Finland. Då skall vi inte köra för att ta oss igenom rallyt utan där är det bara vinst som gäller, avslutar Pontus


12-05-26 M-Sport Ford WRT Midday Quates, Acropolis Rally Day 2
Ott Tänak (16th) said:
- “This morning was quite ok and we had no dramas, but it is very loose running first on the road and there are no lines at all which makes it difficult to set any good times.
- “For sure we were not feeling 100 per cent confident this morning and we took it on the safe side. But we took it stage by stage and on the last one [SS13] we were a bit closer to the guys in front which was good.”

Evgeny Novikov
Due to the abrasive nature of the morning stages, Novikov lost water on SS12. This consequentially increased the engine temperature and the Russian chose to retire his Ford Fiesta RS WRC so as not to risk any further damage. The 21-year-old will hopefully restart under Rally 2 tomorrow.
12-05-26 Elsewhere midday Quatoes, Acropolis Rally Day 2
Martin Prokop, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (5th)
- “This morning was good, but I lost a bit of concentration on the third stage [SS12]. I was too wide on every corner and sliding too much so we lost a good 10 seconds on that fast section. But the rest was good. We were trying to hold Mads [Østberg] off in the morning, but now it is not possible – he has just been getting faster and faster.
- “We won’t change so much this afternoon as the car felt pretty good this morning. We will just do a few damper clicks to make it a little harder and maybe raise the car a little.”

Mads Østberg, Adapta World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (6th)
- “This morning was quite ok. We have just been focussing on trying to catch the two cars in front and we have done that now as we are really close to Martin [Prokop]. We have tried to push the pace a little, but it is very difficult with the start position. The roads are so loose up front and it is difficult to go fast. We have just been driving sensibly really and I am happy with that.”

Yazeed Al Rajhi, Ford Fiesta RRC (13th)
- “This morning has been ok but the second [SS11] and third [SS12] stages were really rough. I liked the last stage [SS13] a lot – it was a lot smoother than the others and I felt as though we could push a bit more. It is a very rough rally but I am happy with the pace we have been setting.”

Spyros Pavlides, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (17th)
- “This morning went fine apart from the last stage [SS13] where we had a spin and lost about 20 seconds. It was not as rough as I had expected and the car is handling everything well.

- “We have made up about 40 seconds on the guy in front of us this morning [Nicholas Fuchs]. We have about another 20 seconds until we catch him so that will be our aim in the afternoon.”

Daniel Oliveira, Brazil World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (23rd)
- “I am feeling a lot better this morning and the stages were good. We made a small mistake on the first one [SS10], but overall it was good. After not completing yesterday we are just relaxing and working on setting a good pace.
- “The three first stages were quite rough, but not so bad. We will have to see what they will be like this afternoon and we will try and do the same.
12-05-25 Two Remote Services and Two MINIs at the End of The Day
Ciao a tutti,
‘Bruno here again to tell you all about WRC Team MINI Portugal’s first full day at the Acropolis Rally. It was a tremendously long day and I’m so glad we got through it with both cars in once piece and everyone still smiling!

‘The teams’ alarms went off quite early this morning (about 4.45am!) Paulo’s MINI was the first car to leave the service park to head north at 6am immediately followed by Armindo’s. After first service and a quick breakfast it was time to pack up and head to Itea for Remote Service. Today’s itinerary featured five stages divided by not one, which is a big enough challenge, but two Remote Services in Itea. This meant the cars had to survive more than 100km of competition with only limited checks allowed. Everybody knows how tough the Acropolis is and if you can only carry on limited repairs to the cars, things suddenly become even more difficult – a small mistake can cost you a lot. Armindo and Paulo did a fantastic job as they both brought their MINIs dust-laden, but without even a scratch. This is no mean feat after running first and second on the road, hacking through the Greek dust and avoiding extreme boulders in incredible heat! Of course, Paulo being so good-natured, he reassures us that it’s a challenge wherever you are running on the road, so first or last you just have to dig in and do the best job you can. If first on the road is the biggest challenge, then he’s ready for it! As for Armindo, well for a long as we’ve been working together, I’ve never known him do anything other that take stock of the job in hand and get it done as professionally as possible!

‘Fortunately for the crews and us our hospitality guys were waiting for them as soon as they hit Itea ready for their very own refuel before they headed back out to recommence their battle against the rough and tough Greek stages!! After the second Remote Service the team made their way back to the main Service Park in Loutraki, where Armindo and Paulo retuned after completing three more stages – totaling 169.12km of Special Stages today. The mechanics checked both MINIs during Flexi Service to make sure they were spot on to tackle tomorrow’s stages.

‘My crews did a good job today, both of them completed the day without major problems facing extremely difficult conditions. I’m equally proud of the work the rest of the team carried out, everybody is working long hours and always giving their best. The fact that everyone in the team gets on so well and knows when to share a joke as well as when to knuckle down helps everyone a lot. We’re from around the world – Italy and Portugal of course, but also Brazil, Britain and Ireland and it’s really incredible to see how close everyone’s already become during the first half of the season, creating our own ‘MINI family’!
‘That’s all for today, tomorrow is another long day and there’s a lot more twists and turns to come – I’m sure! For now our focus is on survival, getting the best result we can and enjoying the fantastic Acropolis.


12-05-25 Elsewhere end of Day Quotes, Acropolis Rally Day 1
Martin Prokop, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (6th)
- “This afternoon was not too bad. The conditions were completely different to what we experienced this morning with more clean lines. But we had a problem with the car as we broke the rear anti-roll bar on the rear [on SS7]. The car was moving like a boat! And it was not possible to go fast really. So we lost some time to Nasser [Al-Attiyah] there.
- “Of course we are happy to be here without any bigger problems and other than that the car looks good so I’m feeling happy for tomorrow.”

Mads Østberg, Adapta World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (8th)
- “The car started to feel quite strange towards the end of the second to last stage [SS8] and we had a few moments out of nowhere – it felt as though the car was locking the back wheels under braking.
- “This was the same in the last stage [SS9]. I tried to drive a bit more aggressively and this felt good for a while, but about 15 kilometers into the stage there is a very narrow section and a short left hander followed by a 90 degree left – I don’t know if I caught the pacenotes a little late or if Jonas [Andersson, co-driver] was a little late, but I pressed the brake and the car went straight off the road.
- “We didn’t hit anything so it was no drama, but we went down into the loose sand and couldn’t get out. There were a few spectators there, but it took them a while to help us as I think they were a bit frightened to touch the car.
- “We got going in the end, but it was a bit stupid really. Even if the pacenotes were a little late, I shouldn’t have been pushing so much with such big gaps [to those in front and behind].”

Yazeed Al Rajhi, Ford Fiesta RRC (13th)
- “This afternoon was a lot better. We worked on the set-up but it is still not quite perfect. Tomorrow will be very rough and we will make some slight alterations to the suspension. But all in all it is good for me to be here – it is a really tough event and I like it a lot.”

Spyros Pavlides, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (17th)
- “This afternoon’s stages were fine actually. We had a much better run than this morning and I really enjoyed the last stage [SS9]. We will try and keep this speed up and push a little bit more tomorrow to get a couple more positions. For sure it is going to be difficult as the stages will be really rough, but we will try our best.”

Louise Cook, Ford Fiesta ST (40th)
- “The last stage [SS9] was quite rough as there were a lot of ruts and some big rocks so we took it fairly easy on that one as it was a bit hard on the old girl! But the repeat stages [SS7 and SS8] were pretty much the same as this morning. We had a good rhythm and felt as though we were making some good progress.”
12-05-25 Strong start for Novikov as Greek tradegy strikes Tänak
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak put in a strong performance in the early stages of the 58th Acropolis Rally, only to be blighted by cruel misfortune on the first full day of competition. Nevertheless, with a string of top-ten times, Novikov overcame his problems to hold a credible fifth place. Having to Rally 2 tomorrow, Tänak lays 21st at the end of Day 1.

Novikov showcased his speed in yesterday’s qualifying stage as a blistering time saw the young Russian separate the two works Citroëns – a second up on Mikko Hirvonen and just 0.3 adrift of eight-time world champion Sébastien Loeb. Elsewhere, despite damaging the right-front of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC on the final corner, Tänak did well to make it to the stage end to set the eighth fastest time.

The first stage of the event came with a 25km stage en route from the ceremonial start in Athens to the rally base in Loutraki where both Novikov and Tänak set competitive times to lay sixth and seventh respectively.

The rally restarted this morning and although the first full day of competition may not be deemed the most demanding in terms of stage difficulty, it proved a real challenge for the teams in terms of tactics. Faced with two remote services north-west of the rally base in Itea, M-Sport’s young guns had to find the right balance between speed and consistency as only the spare parts carried in the rally car were available to repair the cars throughout the day.

Rising to the challenge, Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet continued their strong showing over the morning loop. With two top-five times behind the wheel of their Ford Fiesta RS WRC, the pairing were able to leap-frog Rally de Portugal victor Mads Østberg for fifth place.

Despite incurring a spin and over-shooting a junction, Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk held their own over the morning tests. Building their experience over the stages, the Estonian pairing set consecutive top-ten times to lay seventh overall – 13.9 seconds up on rival Thierry Neuville.

Two stages followed, splitting the two remote services, with the M-Sport duo having a trouble-free run to maintain their fifth and seventh places respectively. But as the crews embarked on the day’s final loop, misfortune struck with Tänak being forced to retire from the day’s competition and Novikov falling foul to technical issues – albeit valiantly battling on to regain fifth place.

Suffering from a broken connector on the MAP sensor connector through SS7, Novikov lost time to fall behind both Østberg and Neuville. Bad luck struck again for the youngster on SS8 with a loose pin in the gear lever forcing the Muscovite to change gear with the linkage only. Undeterred, Novikov and Giraudet put the mechanical skills to good use again – fixing the lever with tape, wire and cable ties to set the fourth fastest time and regain fifth overall on the final stage of the day [SS9].

Elsewhere, a pacenote mix-up for Tänak saw the Estonian lose time through SS7. Despite making it to the end of the stage, the initial impact had damaged the rear wishbone of his Fiesta RS WRC, forcing the 24-year-old to Rally 2 tomorrow.

Evgeny Novikov (5th) said:
- “We had a couple of small problems this afternoon. On the first stage [SS7] we had a broken connection [on the MAP sensor connector] which lost us a lot of time. Then on the second stage [SS8] the pin that holds the gear lever in place came out and I had to change gear using the bottom of the lever which was hard work! We managed to fix it and had no problems through the last stage [SS9], so now tomorrow will be about maintaining our position and keeping the pace through the rougher stages.”
12-05-25 Latvala and Solberg come to the fore as the going gets tough
Ford World Rally Team won seven of the nine speed tests in the opening leg of the Acropolis Rally of Greece as both pairings ended today’s 706km marathon in the top three positions. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila won five stages to lie second, just 6.5sec from the lead, while team-mates Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson claimed two victories to hold third.

This sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship lived up to its reputation as the toughest in the 13-rally series as several top drivers encountered mechanical problems. But remarkably the top three are covered by less than 18sec after 194.36km of rough road competition in the mountains surrounding the Gulf of Corinth, west of Athens.

After last night’s opening special stage near the rally base in Loutraki, competitors endured almost 16 hours at the wheel today. The route took them around the Gulf to the coastal town of Itea before journeying back to Loutraki after eight more tests. They were allowed just two 15-minute service opportunities in Itea, during which only spare parts carried in the rally car could be used for repairs.

Latvala showed no signs of discomfort from the broken collarbone that forced him to miss the last round in Argentina. The 27-year-old Finn showed no signs of rust either, adding two more stage wins this morning in his Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car to last night’s opening victory. His only blemish came on the final stage of the loop when he stalled the engine and overshot a muddy junction.

The 10sec dropped in that incident cost him the lead and Sébastien Loeb extended his advantage over the next two stages as Latvala felt less comfortable on roads made muddy by yesterday’s rain. However, Latvala reduced the 10.1sec gap on the final three stages, being used for a second time, and two more wins brought the margin down to just 6.5sec.

“Apart from the overshoot, it was a good comeback” he said. “I had no pain in my shoulder, although I could feel my left arm was tired because it has less power. As I hadn’t competed for a while I was concerned I wouldn’t be fast enough, but those worries quickly disappeared. It was a good battle for the lead. It was more like fighting in Finland, where every tenth is important, than driving in Greece.

“When I missed the junction, I wasn’t prepared for it to be so slippery. When I braked the engine stalled and the car overshot the corner, but fortunately there was nothing to hit. It was surprisingly damp in places and I didn’t have enough traction. The tyres didn’t warm up quickly enough at the start of the stage but once they had heated up, I was able to pull time back.

“In the middle loop I carried two spare wheels and in hindsight perhaps one would have been better. Both stages contained plenty of uphill sections and I think the extra 25kg from a second spare made a difference. It’s normal to carry two spares in Greece because of the high tyre wear in the heat, but temperatures were cooler than usual and the tyres didn’t wear as much,” added Latvala.

Solberg was anxious to regain time lost following a poor tyre choice last night. After restarting in fifth he won the morning’s final stage to take third. However, he lost 10sec and a place after a massive impact with a rock in a compression which bent the rear suspension, broke a wheel rim and punctured a tyre.

“It was the biggest moment of my career in terms of shock,” explained Solberg. “I didn’t have the rock marked in my pace notes and I can’t say what happened because I don’t know. There was a massive impact, the car flew into the air and I thought my rally was finished. The boys did a fantastic job to repair it in such a short time and I’m sure they can complete the job tonight. It proves how strong the car is that it can survive an impact like that, and it’s encouraging with tomorrow’s rough stages ahead.

With the suspension straightened, the 37-year-old Norwegian added another fastest time in the final loop to regain third. “Considering the time I lost last night and today, then I couldn’t be in a better position. It will be crucial to avoid problems tomorrow and push in the places where it is safe to do so and where I feel I can take time,” added Solberg.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson said: “Today was much better than our Fridays have been in recent rallies! I’m pleased to see Jari-Matti back and in top form. There was a lot of damage to the underside of Petter’s car, and I must pay tribute to the technicians who did a remarkable job at service to keep him going. Tomorrow is another long day and beyond doubt the roughest of the rally.”

News from other Ford teams
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov and Denis Giraudet lie fifth in a Fiesta RS WRC despite afternoon problems with a broken connection on the FIA log-in box and a broken gear stick. The Czech Ford National Team car of Martin Prokop and Zdenek Hruza is sixth, despite an incident-packed day that included going off the road, a spin and a broken anti-roll bar. Adapta World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson held fifth until they dropped three minutes in the final stage after sliding wide and getting stuck. M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tänak and Kuldar Sikk lost time after going off the road following a pace note mix-up, before an oil leak in a differential ended their day. Brazil World Rally Team’s Daniel Oliveira and Carlos Magalhaes were forced to stop after today’s opening stage due to illness.

Tomorrow’s Route
The second leg is based on the Peloponnese peninsula, across the famous Corinth Canal from Loutraki. Competitors restart at 07.30 for two identical clockwise loops around the peninsula, split by a return to Loutraki for an early afternoon service. Each loop contains four stages, including one never used in the rally previously, and the eight tests cover 149.56km. Drivers return to Loutraki for the final overnight halt at 21.05.

Leaderboard after Day 2
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 2hr 14min 01.3sec
2. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 14min 07.8sec
3. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 14min 19.0sec
4. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 2hr 14min 50.9sec
5. E Novikov/D Giraudet RUS Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 17min 56.3sec
6. M Prokop/Z Hruza CZE Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 18min 48.0sec
7. N Al Attiyah/G Bernacchini QAT Citroen DS3 2hr 18min 58.2sec
8. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 19min 15.9sec
9. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 2hr 19min 28.5sec
10 A Mikkelsen/O Floene NOR Skoda Fabia S2000 2hr 20min 32.3sec

Stage Times
Stage 2: 1. Latvala 9min 38.7sec; 2. Loeb + 0.4; 3. P Solberg + 2.7; 4. Hirvonen + 3.3; 5. Novikov + 5.6; 6. Tänak + 13.8.
Overall: 1. Latvala 27min 16.7sec; 2. Loeb + 3.2; 3. Hirvonen + 10.4; 4. P Solberg + 17.3; 5. Novikov + 26.0; 6. Østberg + 30.0.

Stage 3: 1. Latvala 16min 06.3sec; 2. Loeb + 0.1; 3. P Solberg + 0.2; 4. Hirvonen + 3.9; 5. Novikov + 11.1; 6. Østberg + 19.3.
Overall: 1. Latvala 43min 23.0sec; 2. Loeb + 3.3; 3. Hirvonen + 14.3; 4. P Solberg + 17.5; 5. Novikov + 37.1; 6. Østberg + 49.3.

Stage 4: 1. P Solberg 14min 05.9sec; 2= Loeb, Hirvonen + 9.7; 4. Latvala + 14.2; 5. Østberg + 15.3; 6. Novikov + 19.1.
Overall: 1. Loeb 57min 41.9sec; 2. Latvala + 1.2; 3. P Solberg + 4.5; 4. Hirvonen + 11.0; 5. Novikov + 43.2; 6. Østberg + 51.6.

Stage 5: 1. Hirvonen 14min 08.9sec; 2. Loeb + 1.1; 3. P Solberg + 5.3; 4. Latvala + 5.6; 5. Østberg + 19.5; 6. Novikov + 22.0.
Overall: 1. Loeb 1hr 11min 51.9sec; 2. Latvala + 5.7; 3. P Solberg + 8.7; 4. Hirvonen + 9.9; 5. Novikov + 1:04.1; 6. Østberg + 1:10.0.

Stage 6: 1. Loeb 18min 13.4sec; 2. Neuville + 3.4; 3. Latvala + 4.4; 4. Hirvonen + 5.1; 5. P Solberg + 8.1; 6. Østberg + 10.6.
Overall: 1. Loeb 1hr 30min 05.3sec; 2. Latvala + 10.1; 3. Hirvonen + 15.0; 4. P Solberg + 16.8; 5. Novikov + 1:15.6; 6. Østberg + 1:20.6.

Stage 7: 1. Latvala 13min 48.9sec; 2. Loeb + 0.7; 3. P Solberg + 3.5; 4. Hirvonen + 4.3; 5. Østberg + 17.0; 6. Neuville + 18.4.
Overall: 1. Loeb 1hr 43min 54.9sec; 2. Latvala + 9.4; 3. Hirvonen + 18.6; 4. P Solberg + 19.6; 5. Østberg + 1:36.9; 6. Neuville + 2:31.7.

Stage 8: 1. P Solberg 13min 42.1sec; 2. Loeb + 0.3; 3. Latvala + 1.1; 4. Hirvonen + 8.8; 5. Østberg + 17.3; 6. Neuville + 18.6.
Overall: 1. Loeb 1hr 57min 37.3sec; 2. Latvala + 10.2; 3. P Solberg + 19.3; 4. Hirvonen + 27.1; 5. Østberg + 1:53.9; 6. Neuville + 2:50.0.

Stage 9: 1. Latvala 16min 20.3sec; 2. P Solberg + 2.1; 3. Loeb + 3.7; 4. Novikov + 25.5; 5. Hirvonen + 26.2; 6. Al-Attiyah + 29.3.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 14min 01.3sec; 2. Latvala + 6.5; 3. P Solberg + 17.7; 4. Hirvonen + 49.6; 5. Novikov + 3:55.0; 6. Prokop + 4:46.7.

12-05-25 Pontus Tidemand trea efter andra dagen av Rally Greece
Under fredagen kördes andra etappen av Rally Greece, VM-deltävlingen där WRC Academy kör sin andra deltävling.
Efter torsdagen så var 21-åriga Pontus Tidemand i ledning med 3,9 sekunder men under fredagen föll Pontus till en tredjeplats av de 11 ekipagen.
- Jag har medvetet tagit det lite lugnt för att verkligen ta mig i mål, men de åker snabbt i toppen det är det inget snack om, säger Pontus

Efter att sex av de tio specialsträckorna har körts så ligger Pontus på tredjeplats, 58.3 sekunder efter ledaren Elfyn Evans och 28.8 sekunder efter tvåan som är vinnaren av WRC Academy i Rally Portugal Alastair Fisher.
- Imorgon är det jätte-tuffa sträckor så det är bara avvakta och se vad som händer, jag har ju nästan 40 sekunder ner till fjärde platsen, avslutar Pontus.

De avslutande fyra sträckorna startar med SS10 kl. 07:38 svensk tid imorgon lördag.

Overall standings after Day 2:
Evans +1:41:56.3
Fisher +29.5
Tidemand +58.3
Reeves +1:36.9
Suárez +2:04.0

12-05-25 FIA WRC Academy end of Day Quotex, Acropolis Rally Day 1
Elfyn Evans (1st) said:
- “The conditions have been surprisingly good in most places and we have a really good rhythm. We are pushing hard but not doing anything silly. We had a few niggling problems today but thankfully nothing major and the car has done well. I think tomorrow will be difficult as the roads are rougher so we will just have to drive to what we see. “

Alastair Fisher (2nd) said:
- “It is going OK, we have been consistent on every stage so I am happy with that. Elfyn [Evans] is going well and our times have been close. The car is going well considering what we are putting it through. There is still everything to play for tomorrow!”

Pontus Tidemand (3rd) said:
- “Everything has gone well today, we are here in third place which is good! Alastair [Fisher] and Elfyn [Evans] are going very well. We are not pushing 100 per cent as there are a lot of stones that I am being careful to drive around. Overall I am happy.”

Brendan Reeves (4th) said:
- “Everything has gone well and we are still in fourth. It would have been nice to move into third position but we haven’t had the pace this afternoon. The last stage had about 30 or 40 hairpins and was very technical so we just made sure we got through it. The car feels loose in the rear and I made some set-up changes to try and help but I think it is just the nature of the stages. Tomorrow is a lot rougher so we will just take it as it comes and see what happens.”

Jose Suárez (5th) said:
- “It was a good day and we set some good times on the stages. I am still taking care in the conditions and I am a little surprised with our speed because we haven’t done any rallies since Portugal. We had a problem with our jack when we tried to change the tyres front to rear so we had to be careful for the last stages. We will keep looking after the car tomorrow.”

John MacCrone (6th) said:
- “It has been OK. We got a puncture on the third stage today [SS4] and lost fifth place, but apart from that there has been no dramas. We are driving safely which is frustrating on one hand because I really want to push on but it is a long rally and it is not worth the risk at the moment. The puncture set us back a bit but tomorrow will be rougher and a lot can happen.”

João Silva (7th) said:
- “Today has been good and we have had no problems. The stages this morning felt good but the last two [SS5 and SS6] were very slippery. I could feel the car moving around a lot so I think I need to adjust my set up for this. We will try to go with the same approach tomorrow and continue to get experience.”

Chris Duplessis (8th) said:
- “I am having a lot of fun, the stages are difficult, but so much fun! The pace of the top [WRC] Academy drivers is so fast but we are making lots of improvements and just driving our own rally. Tomorrow will be a long day and we will keep our heads down and continue doing our thing. I am quite looking forward to the rough stages tomorrow actually.”

Ashley Haigh-Smith (9th) said:
- “It has been a good day. We have gone from 3.5 seconds per kilometer to 2.1 seconds per kilometer from Alastair [Fisher] which is a good improvement. We have been working on lots of things from the suspension set-up to our pacenotes and braking. We are making lots of improvements and will keep trying to do this tomorrow. I would like to reduce our gap again tomorrow and see where we can go from there.”

Fredrik Åhlin (10th) said:
- “This just doesn’t seem to be our rally! We hit a stone on the last stage and the gearbox started leaking. We stopped and put some engine oil in that we had in the car to get back to service. I was struggling a bit with the motivation to push 100 per cent but we have set some OK times. I know I am very fast in the fast sections but must be losing some time in the slower uphill sections. We will try again tomorrow.”

Timo Van Der Marel (11th Rally 2) said:
- “I don’t exactly know where it happened, but we hit a rock and cracked the wishbone. The crack got larger and eventually broke on SS4. We kept driving to the end of the stage so that we could change it on the road section but between the finish and stop control the driveshaft came out of the gearbox and we couldn’t go any further. I am very disappointed, if the stop control was 100m earlier we would have maybe been ok! But we will be back tomorrow and you never know what can happen.”

Overall standings after Day 2:
Evans +1:41:56.3
Fisher +29.5
Tidemand +58.3
Reeves +1:36.9
Suárez +2:04.0
MacCrone +2:18.3
Silva +4:22.2
Duplessis +5:44.7
Haigh-Smith +6:44.2
Åhlin +11:27.8
Van Der Marel +16:4.2 (Rally 2)
12-05-25 Greek celebrity in Thrilling FIA WRC Academy passenger ride
Supported by Ford Racing in Europe and with control tyres from Pirelli, the FIA WRC Academy completed a pre-event test in Athikia ahead of the 58th Acropolis Rally on Thursday. Joining the WRC Academy competitors, Greek celebrity Katerina Laspa was thrilled by a passenger ride from one of the sport’s most talented young stars – Sweden’s Pontus Tidemand.

With an extensive TV career in her native Greece, Laspa has hosted shows such as Greek gameshow ‘BINGO’ as well as daily and weekly TV magazine shows on some of Greece’s most popular national channels. Besides these, Laspa has also been involved with charity work for ‘Make a Wish’, ‘Actionaid’ and ‘Smile of the Child.’

In addition to her impressive TV career, Laspa has also enjoyed time as a professional sportswoman. A national swimming champion, she was part of the national team in the Balkan and Mediterranean Games and has also participated in national beach volley ball games for charity.

A keen rally fan, this was Laspa’s first experience in a rally car and the Greek celebrity found Tidemand and the Ford Fiesta R2 much faster than she had expected. Unfortunately for Laspa, Tidemand chose to stick with regular co-driver Stig Rune Skjaermoen as the Scandinavian pairing began their debut assault on the 58th Acropolis Rally.

Katerina Laspa said:
“Pontus [Tidemand] was very very fast – a lot faster than I had expected. He was the perfect driver and I would love to have the chance to do it again next year. Thankfully he [Tidemand] knew where he was going and we made it back as I am not so sure that I would make a very good co-driver!”

Pontus Tidemand said:
- “It was really good fun. The stage was very fast downhill and I think Katerina [Laspa] was a little surprised with the speed and movement in the car. But she wanted to go out for another run as soon as we finished the first one so I think she enjoyed it – I think I will stick with Stig Rune [Skjaermoen] for the rally though!”

Click here to watch the video of Laspa’s passenger ride with Pontus Tidemand.
12-05-25 Elsewhere second Midday Quotex, Acropolis Rally Day 1
Mads Østberg, Adapta World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (6th)
- “The stages have been quite ok, but we have been working a lot with the set-up of the car to try and make it perfect. It is just small details, but when you are fine-tuning, just a few clicks can be totally wrong. We have tried a bit of everything and we are getting there now. On the last stage [SS6] the car felt quite good so we will try a little bit more in service now and hopefully it will be ok for the afternoon. If not, then I can do some changes myself out there.
- “Apart from that everything else seems to be going ok. We are catching Evgeny [Novikov] and our aim will be to get ahead of him this afternoon so we have the advantage of road position going into tomorrow.”

Martin Prokop, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (9th)
- “The stages are very nice, but there was some mud on the last stage [SS6] which was a little tricky. There was a mix of very slow and very sharp corners so the momentum was changing all the time. We had a small mistake on the last stage [SS6] where I lost the rear and we went into a half spin – we had to restart the engine about five times but we got going again which is the main thing.
- “Nasser [Al-Attiyah] has also been setting some really good times, so I don’t think we will catch him this afternoon. When I saw he went for the soft tyre I was surprised, but now I understand why he chose them! We also went with two spares which may have been a little over cautious, but it is better to be safe here.”

Yazeed Al Rajhi, Ford Fiesta RRC (14th)
- “It was ok. I think I made the car a little hard so will need to take it one click sofTer for the last stages. But I am really enjoying it. Some of the stages are a little rough, but it is a good challenge. Now we will have a look at the set-up in service and see if we can improve the pace a little.”

Oleksii Tamrazov, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (15th)
- “The stages were ok, but the first one was really slippery and we had to really concentrate. But I am really enjoying the stages and we will try and push a little harder this afternoon – set some good times and make M-Sport proud of us.”

Spyros Pavlides, Ford Fiesta RS WRC (20th)
- “The first stage [SS5] went very well and we set a really good time. But on the second stage [SS6] we got stuck in the mud and stalled which cost us about a minute. But we will try again. This afternoon is all about trying to push a little more.”

Louise Cook, Ford Fiesta ST (45th)
- “The first stage [SS5] was good and we managed to get a good rhythm with the pacenotes which was encouraging. Stefan [Davies, co-driver] hasn’t been too well but he is a bit better now so he managed to speak the notes really quickly.
- “The second stage [SS6] wasn’t so great. It was really rough and there are some massive rocks in there which you have to really look out for. Also it looks like we might have an issue with the engine – we had to keep turning it of and on again on the stage.
- “We have been trying to amend our notes as we have been going through, so hopefully the second pass will be good. We are just taking it easy, gaining experience and trying to finish the day.”
12-05-25 M-Sport Ford WRT second Midday Quotes, Acropolis Rally Day 1
Evgeny Novikov (5th) said:
- “The stages were ok. The last one [SS6] was a bit slippery but we made it through ok. The car feels good so this afternoon will be all about driving at the same speed and ironing out any small mistakes.”

Ott Tänak (7th) said:
- “The stages were ok. The beginning of the first stage [SS5] was a little slippery and quite loose which was not so nice running quite early on the road – but it got better as the stage went on.
- “As for the second stage [SS6] the beginning was starting to dry, but then it got damper and damper as the stage went on so that was pretty tricky. We couldn’t get a good rhythm because the car was sliding a bit too much. But it will be ok, my main aim is to get the experience of these stages.”
12-05-24 Latvala leads for Ford in Greece after Solberg wins qualifying
Ford World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila made a stylish return from injury to lead the Acropolis Rally of Greece after tonight’s opening speed test. Latvala, recovering from a broken left collarbone, won the 25.24km Kineta special stage, the longest of the rally, by 2.8sec in a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car.

Team-mates Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson were fifth in another Fiesta RS WRC, 14.6sec behind their colleagues. Solberg admitted his choice of Michelin’s soft compound tyres was a mistake as the rough and rocky roads near

Loutraki, west of Athens, proved more abrasive than he thought.
Latvala’s early lead ended a satisfying day for the Ford team, which earlier claimed first and second in qualifying for this sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Solberg was fastest over the 6.20km test by just 0.098sec from Latvala. It meant the duo were able to select low starting positions for the opening leg, from which they hope to benefit from cleaner and faster road conditions.

Latvala missed the previous round in Argentina after falling while cross-country ski-ing in training. However, the 27-year-old was quickly back into the groove in tonight’s test, which contained a 4.5km asphalt section in the middle, and was held under cloudy skies and cool temperatures.
- “The stage felt very fast, but perhaps it was because I’ve not been in a rally car for a few weeks,” he said. “My split times were similar to Sébastien Loeb’s but I pulled clear at the hairpins in the final section. I had no pain in my shoulder, which is encouraging for the rest of the rally, and now I will have some treatment from our physio. This will be a rough, tough rally, so I must take care.”

Solberg completed the stage with all four tyres badly worn, and the 37-year-old Norwegian admitted his gamble in opting for soft rubber was an error.
- “It was my choice,” he said. “The team said it was a risk and they were right. I thought the tyres could work well in the falling temperatures and I expected the roads to be sandier with our low start position. But the car slid around a lot, even before the asphalt. It’s not the end of the world. I’ve led several rallies this season during the first leg, but now I’m the chaser, so let’s see how that works.”

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson said: “I’m delighted to see Jari-Matti back on form after his injury. He did an excellent job. Petter thought soft tyres were worth a try but it didn’t pay off. He did well not to lose too much time and he’s still in a solid top five position.”

News from other Ford teams
Adapta World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson were fourth in their Fiesta RS WRC, ahead of M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov and Denis Giraudet in sixth. Team-mates Ott Tänak and Kuldar Sikk were seventh, despite a small spin near the start, while the Czech Ford National Team Car of Martin Prokop and Zdenek Hruza was eighth. Brazil World Rally Team’s Daniel Oliveira and Carlos Magalhaes lie 12th.

Tomorrow’s Route
Friday is a marathon for competitors, with more than 700km of driving and almost 16 hours behind the wheel. They start at 06.00 and journey north around the Gulf of Corinth to tackle stages near Itea that have not been used since 2009.
After leaving Loutraki there are only two short remote service zones in Itea, during which competitors can only use spare parts carried in the rally car. The day ends at 21.50 after a 45 minute service in Loutraki, following eight stages and 169.12km of action.

Leaderboard after Day 1
1. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS 17min 38.0sec
2. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 17min 40.8sec
3. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 17min 45.1sec
4. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 17min 51.7sec
5. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 17min 52.6sec
6. E Novikov/D Giraudet RUS Ford Fiesta RS 17min 58.4sec
7. O Tänak/K Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS 18min 14.3sec
8. M Prokop/Z Hruza CZE Ford Fiesta RS 18min 15.4sec
9. T Neuville/N Gilsoul BEL Citroen DS3 18min 15.8sec
10 S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 18min 19.8sec

Stage Times
Stage 1: 1. Latvala 17min 38.0sec; 2. Loeb + 2.8; 3. Hirvonen + 7.1; 4. Østberg + 13.7; 5. P Solberg + 14.6; 6. Novikov + 20.4.
12-05-24 M-Sport Ford WRT end of Day Quatex, Acropolis Rally day 1
Evgeny Novikov (6th) said:
- “For sure this [SS1] was not the easiest stage to start with. It was quite difficult and there are a lot of tricky places. There is an asphalt section in the middle and we took it easy through there as we have never driven that section in competition and I didn’t want to take any risks. So we lost a bit of time there.
- “Apart from that, everything was fine. The stage was completely dry and there was no rain at all.”

Ott Tänak (7th) said:
- “The stage was quite ok, but it was very loose and quite slippery. We had a spin at the beginning of the stage, but after that the feeling was getting better and better. Other than that we had no problems and I am looking forward to tomorrow’s stages.”
12-05-24 Ready for Anything
'Hello everyone,
'It's Bruno again. A lot's happened since my last column and the rally hasn't even started yet!

'Our crews have just completed the Qualifying Stage without any problems, Armindo and Miguel are in a new car they hadn't tested before so they took the two runs of Free Practice to find a good set-up for the weekend and then headed straight into the Qualifying Stage and choose to run second on the road. Paulo and Edu had a trouble-free and clean run and will set off later today at the front of the pack.

'As you may have heard we had an 'interesting' test at the start of the week. After three runs through the stage, Armindo and Miguel clipped a large rock - typical of the Greek terrain - with the front right wheel of their MINI Countryman John Cooper Works WRC and flipped the car nose over end. It was quite dramatic, but fortunately the crew were unhurt. Having been working with Armindo now for five years, I can honestly say that this is the first time I've ever known him to have an accident like this on a test, but, we all know, that's rally! Unfortunately, the car didn't come out of it as well as the crew - it was a write off. It was action stations as our third car travelled here from Italy overnight arriving on Tuesday and the mechanics and the rest of the team worked night and day to be prepared for scrutineering on Wednesday to make sure we could start the rally without a hiccough.

'Armindo and Miguel went for a check-up before recce and Armindo visited the physio to make sure his back was OK after the impact. They completed recce with no problems, determined to make up for the incident during the rally and focused on making the best pace notes possible - taking care to beware of every rock and mark out cuts where depending on the start order rocks might be revealed if the roads start to be worn away by cars in front of them.
'Meanwhile, Paulo had a great test, drove just over 100km and increased his confidence and feel for the road throughout the day. With Paulo being a big supporter of Erechim Rally in Brazil which finished last weekend, part of his spirit was of course at home with his countrymen. Now he's here in Greece as focused as ever on increasing the profile of rallying in Brazil and encourage everyone to understand exactly why he loves rally sport so much!

'Last night Armindo had the opportunity to try his very own WRC Team MINI Portugal MINI in the third edition of the WRC video game saga during the pre-launch press event. It was great, he also had a lot of interviews with gaming press from all over Europe giving his feedback to improve the game before it's release in October.

'After some filming and a photoshoot this morning, the crews are now preparing to go to Athens for the Ceremonial Start where they will take part in a presentation of a one-of-a-kind signed WRC Team MINI Portugal bike alongside the other WRC manufacturers which will be auctioned during the rally to raise money to support the Hellenic Society for Disabled Children. The crews will then head straight to the first stage of the event from Athens.

Watch this space for more updates from WRC Team MINI Portugal, let's hope for a good start to the Acropolis Rally!'
12-05-24 Hirvonen advises FIA WRC Academy Crews
The FIA WRC Academy crews continued their training with a chance to meet Citroën Total World Rally Team’s Mikko Hirvonen yesterday evening (Wednesday).

Having contested the Acropolis Rally on nine previous occasions with four podium finishes and a win with Ford in 2009,
Hirvonen was the perfect candidate to share his experiences and advice of the Greek stages as well as his long career competing at rallying’s highest level in the World Rally Championship (WRC).

In an informal discussion with the WRC Academy competitors, the Citroën driver was able to share his advice and tips as he gave the crews another perspective on both the event and rallying in general. The Finn provided the youngsters with a whole host of recce tips on an event where detailed pacenotes will prove vital as well as discussing the route he took from national rallying in the Finnish National Championship to competing in the international field.

Mikko Hirvonen said:
“I think the WRC Academy is a very good initiative and a very good series for young drivers to be involved in. It is a great way to gain experience of the WRC and learn how to compete on a range of events.
“All the [WRC Academy] guys are really enthusiastic and eager to learn and they seem to have learnt a lot already. The WRC Academy is certainly a very good stepping stone for the future.”

Jose Suárez said:
“The session with Mikko [Hirvonen] was very informative and we learnt a lot from him. It was a great opportunity to speak to someone at his level and gain some tips and advice from someone at the top of the sport – something that we would never have had the chance to do outside of the WRC Academy.

“For me, the best piece of advice he gave was about second stage passes. In Greece we will do no repeat stages in the WRC Academy, so to get his perspective on this and understand just how much the terrain changes will for sure be very useful in the future.”

Supported by Ford Racing in Europe and with control tyres from Pirelli, the WRC Academy kick-starts with a 25 km Super Special this evening where the crews will be looking to put all of Hirvonen’s advice into practice.


12-05-24 Akropolisrallyt, nästa tuffa utmaning för landslagsföraren Fredrik Åhlin
I helgen väntar en tuff och utmanande deltävling i WRC Academy på den svenske landslagsföraren i rally, Fredrik Åhlin och hans kartläsare Morten Abrahamsen. Akropolisrallyt anses vara en av de allra tuffaste VM-tävlingarna i kalendern. Det är kombinationen av det extremt varma vädret och de gropiga, steniga och hårda vägarna som gör rallyt extra utmanande.
- ”Vi får räkna med en temperatur långt över 30 grader utanför bilen, och en temperatur runt 60 grader inne i bilen” berättar Fredrik. ”Som att köra bil och läsa karta inne i en bastu. Detta ackompanjeras av rejält med stensprut i hjulhusen, och till råga på allt – damm, damm och åter damm. Det kommer att bli tuffa och svettiga sträckor” säger Fredrik.
- ”Extrema förhållanden orsakar ofta överraskningar, så vi ska inte glömma de extremt tuffa vägarna heller” fortsätter Fredrik. ”Sylvassa stenar som sticker upp ur den hårda och knöliga vägbanan. Här gäller det att välja rätt spår mellan stenpiggarna. Hemligheten är nog en intelligent blandning mellan hastighet och försiktighet” tror Fredrik.

Inför Akropolisrallyt var tanken att Fredrik och Morten skulle värma upp med att köra SSR South Swedish Rally. De skulle köra tävlingen i en likadan Ford Fiesta R2 som de tävlar med i WRC Academy. Allt gick bra till en början och duon låg i ledning i sin klass tills topplockspackning efter några sträckor gav upp.
- ”Det var tråkigt att det gick som det gick, men kul så länge det varade” säger Fredrik. ”Samma sak hände också landslagskompisen Pontus Tidemand i SSR. Han fick bryta med dubbelpunktering efter att ha legat i ledning i sin klass. Nu är vi båda på plats här i Grekland och ska försöka försvara de svenska färgerna hela vägen in till mål” berättar Fredrik.

Kuststaden Loutraki, som ligger 80 km väster om Aten, är centralort för rallyt. Fredrik och Morten anlände till orten tidigare i veckan och har nu kört rekognosering på rallysträckorna.
- ”Till och med reccen var tuff mot oss och mot bilen” säger Fredrik. ”Men det var bra, nu fick vi en försmak av hur det kommer att vara i bilen under tävlingen – varmt, dammigt, svettigt och blött” säger Fredrik innan han går iväg för att ta sig en välbehövlig dusch.

Den ceremoniella starten sker i Zappion Aten på torsdag eftermiddag, och målgång för WRC Academy är på lördag eftermiddag.
12-05-23 Training sees FIA WRC Academy Crews well prepared for the challenges ahead
The FIA WRC Academy crews will be well prepared for the challenges that lay in wait on the 58th Acropolis Rally this week as they complete a comprehensive training programme incorporating a mix of practical, theoretical, social and cultural activities.

Famed as the roughest event on the World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar, the crews had the opportunity to relax at the Loutraki Thermal Spa before the recce started followed by a lesson in ‘bush mechanics’ from one of Ford World Rally Team’s most experienced technicians.

Formerly known as the legendary city of Thermae, the rally base in Loutraki is home to the healing waters which, according to Greek mythology, were bathed in by Artemis and Apollo. Today, the thermal springs have been transformed into a modern spa resort in which the ancient approach to therapy, relaxation and rejuvenation continues.

At the invitation of the Mayor of Loutraki, the WRC Academy crews were given the opportunity to experience the healing waters for themselves as they relaxed ahead of the rally. Only one competitor, Ashley Haigh-Smith, was brave enough to take a cold dip in the plunge pool after the sauna, but all where able to unwind and catch up with their colleagues. This activity provided an ideal opportunity for the young stars to focus their minds for what is set to be one of the most challenging events in their careers to date.

In a new approach from the theoretical training of the WRC Academy’s inaugural season, this year’s series will see the crews partake in more practical, hands-on training as M-Sport endeavours to provide the stars of tomorrow with a broad range of knowledge and techniques needed to become a future world champion. As such, this week also saw the WRC Academy crews complete a training session in ‘bush mechanics’ from Ford World Rally Team technician, Darren ‘Daz’ Mason.

Having worked with rally cars in private teams since 1989, Mason started working with the Ford World Rally Team in 1996 as part of the recce team seconded from Gordon Spooner Engineering. In 2001, he moved to work with M-Sport and has been a key part of the team, providing pre-event recce support and as a senior technician to some of the sports most iconic names. With experience of over 200 WRC events, Mason has worked with the likes of Carlos Sainz, Colin McRae, Marcus Grönholm, Mikko Hirvonen, Markko Märtin, Fran?ois Duval, Toni Gardemeister, Juha Kankkunen, Petter Solberg and now Jari-Matti Latvala.

‘Bush mechanics’ is essentially the art of fixing an ailing rally car using only the tools to hand on the stage or road section, a discipline in which the legendary Colin McRae was an expert. Whilst driving for the Subaru World Rally Team, McRae famously repaired a bent rear suspension link with the help of a locally sourced rock in Argentina – removing the suspension arm from the car and dropping the rock from a height in an attempt to straighten the link before re-fitting it to the car. The Scot’s ingenuity prevented retirement and helped him make it back to service where the technicians were able to replace the damaged part. More recently, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov claimed a record-breaking second place at the 2012 Vodafone Rally de Portugal having repaired a broken throttle pedal with cable-ties and tank tape from the cockpit of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC – a feat which ultimately enabled the Russian to make it to the finish where he became the youngest ever driver to stand on a WRC podium.

The most important points covered in the session included instruction on assessing the level of damage that may have been caused, the time that may be lost, how safe the temporary repair is deemed to be and whether or not it would be realistic to continue. Considering the abrasive nature of the Acropolis Rally, the WRC Academy’s practical training may prove invaluable to the crews as they look to secure a strong result this weekend.

Speaking on the importance of ‘bush mechanics’, Ford World Rally Team technician, Darren Mason, said:
“The aim of the ‘bush mechanics’ training session was to give the WRC Academy crews a general insight into some of the ways in which a rally car can be temporarily repaired – using basic materials which can be carried in the car or found ‘in the bush’ out on the stages – to a state where the car can continue to reach the end of the stage or service where it can be repaired properly.
“The Acropolis Rally will present the crews with the most difficult conditions the WRC has to offer and the combination of heat with the abrasive terrain will test them to the limit. Thinking outside the lines a little and being inventive can sometimes be all it takes to get out of trouble. Every situation will be different, but a few simple ideas can go a long way: be it securing major components in place with straps, keeping water in a cooling system by engineering temporary radiator repairs or sealing a crack in the oil sump with a bar of soap.
“All of the WRC Academy crews attended the session and showed genuine interest and enthusiasm. Hopefully, if they are unfortunate enough to find themselves in a tricky situation, some of what they have learnt could prove vital and keep them on the road.”

Following the training, WRC Academy competitor, Fredrik Åhlin said:
“The training was really good and has actually already come in useful for us as we broke a spring platform on the damper of our recce car yesterday! Thanks to the training, we were able to locate the problem and stabilise it using an exhaust clamp which lasted us the whole recce.

“For sure, the training will be a big help on the rally too. This is an event where you will be lucky to get to the finish with no problems and the skills we learnt will no doubt make it easier to make it back to service for a full repair should we encounter any problems.”

Continuing their training, the WRC Academy crews will attend a Q&A session with Citroën Total World Rally Team’s Mikko Hirvonen this evening (Wednesday) where they will have an opportunity to learn from the 2011 WRC runner-up’s experiences having contested the Greek stages on nine previous occasions.

Supported by Ford Racing in Europe and with control tyres from Pirelli, the WRC Academy kicks off with a 25km Super Special on Thursday evening before embarking on the opening loop of stages on Friday and Saturday.
12-05-23 Pontus Tidemand siktar att ta sig runt i tuff VM-deltävling i Grekland
Imorgon Torsdag startar Rally Grecce, mer känt som Akropolis-rallyt som är den andra deltävlingen av sex i årets Junior-VM i rally (WRC Academy). På plats finns Junior-landslagsföraren Pontus Tidemand tillsammans med kartläsaren Stig Rune Skjaermoen.

Rally Greece startar med en inledande 25 km lång sträcka på torsdagskvällen och sedan skall de elva Junior-VM ekipagen köra ytterligare 12 stycken specialsträckor under fredagen och lördagen.
- Det är riktigt tuffa vägar här nere i Grekland. Det är mycket sten i kanterna och det gäller att tänka sig för så man inte får punkteringar eller slår sönder bilen, berättar Pontus som började rekognoseringen av tävlingen i måndags.

Efter en tredjeplats i första deltävlingen i Portugal så är Pontus bästa rookie i årets serie än så länge och denna placering hoppas Pontus kunna behålla efter helgen.
- Första målet är ta sig runt och att komma i mål och samla värdefulla poäng men självklart skulle det sitta fint med en pallplacering igen. Nästa deltävling efter Grekland är Finland och där är det mer som hemma och inte så mycket yttre omständigheter som kan ställa till det, så där kan man köra för vinst medans tävlingen nu i helgen handlar mest om att överleva, avslutar Pontus

Fakta Junior-VM i rally (WRC Academy):
6 deltävlingar (Portugal, Grekland, Finland, Tyskland, Frankrike och Spanien)
Fem av sex deltävlingar räknas för slutresultatet.
Alla kör likadana Ford Fiesta R2 (2WD) som sköts av Ford´s officiella VM-team M-Sport.

Pontus Tidemand är 21 år och har kontrakt med talangutvecklingsbolaget EVEN rally som står bakom satsningen på WRC Academy för Pontus.

Stig-Rune Skjaermoen, 25 år och boende i Elverum, Norge. Har åkt över 100 tävlingar som kartläsare och varit med i toppen av Norska Mästerskapet i rally som förare.
12-05-19 Rallying with the Gods
Ciao a tutti!
'A quick introduction – I'm Bruno De Pianto, Team Manager of WRC Team MINI Portugal and I’m going to keep you up to speed with the team's adventures during Acropolis Rally of Greece, sixth round of the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship.

'We’ve had a couple of hectic weeks since we got back from Argentina. First, we took part in MINI United last weekend at the legendary Circuit Paul Ricard in the south of France. Thousands of MINIs of every shape and colour you can imagine gathered from all over the world for a weekend of pure fun with MINI family and friends! It was great – we were representing MINI's involvement in the WRC and we had an awesome time!

'Then it was straight back to the Motorsport Italia workshop and all systems go preparing for Greece and working hard to be 100% ready for one of the toughest challenges on the WRC calendar. The rally offers rough gravel roads, high temperatures, many, many stones and some of the most iconic stages in the whole of the WRC. As always we’ll be out in force at the Acropolis Rally with our two crews Armindo Araújo and Miguel Ramalho and Paulo Nobre with Edu Paula. Both crews know the rally from previous years and we’re focused on getting the best result possible.

'Greece feels like my second home, because I worked on the Greek Rally Championship for six years – from 2004 to 2009 – for our sister team Ralliart Italia managing Greek driver Aris Vovos. We used to do eight to 10 rallies per year in Greece so I got to know the country quite well. It's an amazing place - great weather, great food, nice beaches and a fantastic history.

'There are two places in Greece I like most. One is Porto Carras in the north of Greece – where the ELPA Rally used to be – there's a casino, it's on the sea and there's a fantastic golf course where I used to play golf with my driver. The other place I really like is Olympia, it's unbelievable that that very place is where the Olympic Games were held for the first time - thousands of years ago – and where the Olympic torch is still lit before each modern games. It's incredible being so close to a part of history. I have good memories from that place, I went there in 2002 for my first rally in Greece and have competed there about 10 times since. That's exactly where this photo was taken during my first time competing on a rally in Greece. Quite incredibly, you can see my friend and WRC Team MINI Portugal mechanic Roby also working on the car in photo – which just shows how far back some of the relationships in the team stretch!

'After working in Greece for four years, in late 2007 Armindo joined us to compete in the PWRC. I did one more season in the Greek Championship and then my focus turned solely to the WRC. With Ralliart Italia first and since last year also with Motorsport Italia and the MINIs. It gets really busy at times but I love the sport and I really enjoy traveling around the world doing my job!

'I’ve just arrived in Greece, along with some of my team where it’s quite unusually pouring with rain! We collected some MINIs to use during our stay from the local MINI dealer in Athens and then travelled to Loutraki where the rally is based. Today we will start to prepare the service park, then tomorrow we begin preparations for the Acropolis Rally with a pre-event test with both our drivers.

'I'll keep you up-to-date with WRC Team MINI Portugal’s adventures throughout the rally.
12-05-18 FIA WRC Academy crews set to tackle legendary Acropolis
The FIA WRC Academy crews will embark on one of the biggest challenges in their careers next week as they tackle the infamous Acropolis Rally. Famed as one of the toughest events on the WRC calendar, this year’s competitors will have to utilise all of their training as they look to conquer the ultimate test of both man and machine.

Supported by Ford Racing in Europe and with control tyres from Pirelli, this will be the WRC Academy’s first venture to the Greek event, which will provide the setting for the youngsters’ most challenging test to date. The identical Ford Fiesta R2s that make up the WRC Academy field have been strengthened to cope with restricted cooling in the slow corners of the twisting mountain tracks and withstand severe punishment from the rocks and underlying bedrock that litter the stages.

As one of the longest-standing rallies in the World Rally Championship (WRC), the 59th Acropolis Rally may prove less torturous than the five-day events of the past, but with temperatures reaching highs of over 30C and the earlier scheduling rendering the roads more abrasive than last year, the WRC Academy crews will have to adapt a blend of strength, reliability, speed and intelligence as they look to secure a strong result.

Crews will contest the 25km Super Special on Thursday evening before tackling the opening loops on Friday and Saturday. Despite contesting no repeat stages, this year’s WRC Academy contenders will have the opportunity to drive some of the most classic stages in Greece with runs over ‘Bauxites’ and ‘Drossohori’ as well as new challenges on the final day of competition through the beautiful Peloponnese peninsula.

Leading the WRC Academy following his victory at the Vodafone Rally de Portugal last month, Alastair Fisher (23) will be looking to maintain his lead. The Northern Irishman has been working with Sport Northern Ireland to ensure that he is in the best physical shape for the demands ahead – making best use of the programme’s heat chamber to test his fitness. As well as securing third place in the Fiesta SportTrophy UK series on the Pirelli International Rally earlier this month, Fisher has completed two extensive tests to ensure maximum seat-time before he rejoins regular co-driver Daniel Barritt for their debut on the Greek stages.

The Acropolis Rally marks a real mile-stone for the brother and sister pairing of Brendan Reeves (23) and Rhianon Smyth. Competing together since 2002, the second round of the WRC Academy will mark the duo’s 50th event together – 14 of which have been outside of their native Australia. Since securing second place in Portugal, Reeves and Smyth contested the Targa Tasmania Rally – a five-day endurance event on home soil in which they were running third in their modified Mazda RX8 SP before a mechanical problem forced them to retire. Reeves is currently training in Austria with the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy and will be looking to put all of his training and experience to good use as he makes his Greek debut next week.

Following a fantastic debut in the Ford Fiesta R2 last month, WRC Academy rookie Pontus Tidemand (21) returns to the one-make series eager to build upon his third place in the standings. The Swede has had a host of seat-time since the previous event. After taking class victory at Rally Sørland in Norway, Tidemand drove the zero-car on a local Swedish event, tested a Fabia S2000 and also completed a two-day test with fellow Swede Ingemar Svensson’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Next up, the 21-year-old will contest the third round of the Swedish Rally Championship alongside WRC Academy co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen before looking to emulate his recent Scandinavian successes on the international stage in Greece.

Also keen to replicate his good form from the previous round in Portugal, Timo Van Der Marel (22) will be looking for another strong result. The KNAF supported driver contested the 2012 Rallye Sulingerland earlier this month alongside co-driving girlfriend and former WRC Academy contender, Rebecca Smart. The pairing finished 14th overall and second in the Nissan Cup to lead the 350Z Challenge in their Nissan 350Z. Van Der Marel is also attending the fourth workshop of the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy where he will complete a number of practical seminars on physical fitness and driving style – sessions which will prove valuable as he rejoins Erwin Berkhof for the Acropolis Rally next week.

After claiming three stage wins in Portugal, the Scandinavian pairing of Fredrik Åhlin (21) and Morten Erik Abrahamsen will also return to competition in Greece. Since the season opener, Åhlin has been working for Audi as a driving instructor in Denmark. The 21-year old teaches an advanced driving course for the manufacturer and put his own skills to the test with some hot-laps in an Audi R8. The Swede will be back behind the wheel as he contests the South Swedish Rally this weekend where he and Abrahamsen aim to finalise preparations for their debut assault on the Acropolis Rally.

Also returning to the WRC Academy in Greece, Jose Suárez (21) will be reunited with regular co-driver, Candido Carrera. Since Portugal, the asphalt specialist contested Rally Auxerrois – a gravel round in the French Championship – to perfect his ever-improving driving style on loose-surface events. Despite being forced to retire from the rally with mechanical problems, the extra seat-time and recce will see the Spaniard well placed as he looks for a strong result on the gravel stages of the classic Greek event where he welcomes new sponsor, ACSM Marine Services.

Currently leading the British Rally Championship (BRC) in his Ford Fiesta R2, Elfyn Evans (23) will be looking to replicate his home success on the international stage. The Welshman has secured victory on every round of the Fiesta SportTrophy UK series this year, as well as a string of top-five finishes in the BRC to lead the championship ahead of a host of more powerful R3 specification cars. Evans’ consistency and mechanical sympathy, combined with his obvious pace, is set to prove an advantage as he makes his debut on the Acropolis Rally. In a change from the previous event in Portugal, Evans will be joined by the 2007 and 2008 BRC Champion, Phil Pugh. Having contested the J-WRC alongside Guy Wilks from 2004 – 2006, Pugh brings a wealth of experience from international events in both the WRC and Intercontinental Rally Championship.

After debuting in the WRC Academy on his home event in Portugal, João Silva (24) will return to the one-make series with a new co-driver – Hugo Magalhães. It has been a busy month for the Portuguese pairing as they work on building their relationship ahead of the second round of the season. Having run together as the zero-car on the third round of the Portuguese Championship, the pairing have also been training hard to make sure they are in top shape for the demanding event. This week also saw the duo conclude a test with the Ford Fiesta R2. Having completed 70 kms, the twosome learnt a lot about the car and are confident of finding a good set-up in Greece.

Also returning to the WRC Academy, John MacCrone (23) will be looking to put the disappointment of Portugal behind him where he was forced to Rally 2 following damage to his Ford Fiesta R2 on the opening day of competition. The Scotsman contested the second round of the Scottish Tarmac Rally Championship at Ingliston earlier this month. Despite being forced to retire from the event with a mechanical issue, MacCrone secured three fastest stage times in his Ford Fiesta R2 to out-perform a number of more powerful specification cars. Making their debut at the Acropolis Rally, MacCrone and fellow Scot Stuart Loudon will also welcome a new sponsor to their squad – Glengorm Castle on the Isle of Mull.

Also keen to put the disappointment of Portugal behind him, Chris Duplessis (24) makes a welcome come-back to the one-make series after being forced to retire from the previous round with accident damage to the rear of his Ford Fiesta R2 on the final stage. Returning to the States, the charismatic American has spent two weeks working and training at the DirtFish Rally School in Washington. Working on perfecting his pacenotes with the skills learnt from Ford World Rally Team’s Chris Patterson last month, Duplessis and regular co-driver Karl Atkinson will put their training into practice as they debut on the Acropolis Rally next week – an event where detailed pacenotes can make all the difference.

Finally, making his official debut in the WRC Academy, South African Ashley Haigh-Smith (19) brings the number of represented continents to four. As the youngest driver in the series, the 19-year-old is currently competing in the South African Rally Championship in a Ford Fiesta R2 and had been comfortably leading his class on the previous round at the Sasol Rally until collecting three punctures and ultimately being forced to retire from the event. Haigh-Smith has also been the driving force behind an exciting project in his native South Africa which offers an extended driving experience with the youngster and donates 20 per cent of the proceeds to charity. Accompanied by accomplished co-driver Craig Parry – who is currently leading the BRC co-driver standings – Haigh-Smith will be looking for a good result on his Greek debut.

Series leader, Alastair Fisher said:
“This will be my first time competing on the Acropolis Rally. There’s a lot of anticipation as we all know the reputation it has as one of the toughest events on the calendar, but I am really looking forward to the challenge.

“It is one of those events where anything can happen. It is important to have a good recce and you need to keep your head down, keep the concentration and stay out of trouble.

“I’ve been working hard on my fitness with Sport Northern Ireland which should see me well placed for the physical demands. I’ve completed a number of fitness tests with them and also been lucky enough to have use of their heat chamber as well as working on my own fitness in the gym.”

Making his debut as a registered WRC Academy driver, Ashley Haigh-Smith said:
“The WRC Academy is the place to be if you want to learn and eventually progress into top-level rallying. The competition [in the feeder series] is just as tough as it is amongst the P1 drivers and, with an equal playing field for everyone, it is just the driver and the navigator who make the difference which gives us the perfect opportunity to show what we can do behind the wheel.

“I’m feeling good ahead of Greece. For sure it will be a tough opening event for us, but I am looking forward to the challenge and we have been working hard to ensure a strong result. In South Africa we don’t conduct a recce as you would in the WRC, so I have spent the past two days working on my recce and pacenote skills up in the mountains.

“The roads in South Africa are pretty rough, so hopefully that will give us a slight advantage. But we have nothing to prove on the first event. For us, it will be about trying to find some consistency and getting our pace up to that of those who have had the benefit of an extra event.”

12-05-18 Tactical battle awaits M-Sport´s young guns in Greece
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak will be looking to make an impact as the World Rally Championship embarks on the toughest round of the season at the 59th Acropolis Rally next week.

First run in 1953, the Greek event is one of the longest-standing in the world series. Famed as one of the toughest events in the calendar, M-Sport’s young guns will have to put all of their experience into practice as they contend with a mix of rough, twisting tracks through the region’s mountain stages, blistering heat and dust making visibility a challenge.

As the ultimate test of man and machine, this classic event renders driver fitness crucial and demands a mechanical blend of strength, reliability and speed. With air temperatures reaching highs of over 30C, the conditions place high demands on the engine and gearbox with little cooling through the technically slow mountain climbs.

The event’s fearsome reputation is exemplified by the rocks and underlying bedrock that litter the stages and M-Sport’s rising stars will have a tactical battle ahead of them as they set their sights on another strong points haul.

Nevertheless, with the event holding the record for the highest number of rally victors – with more than 20 drivers making it to the top step of the podium – the duo will be keen to impress once again as they aim to translate their speed into another good result for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team.

Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet have had an impressive start to their 2012 campaign and are currently laying a credible fifth in the championship standings. Despite a disappointing start to the previous round in Argentina, the young Russian proved he had the pace to challenge the top-three with blistering speed over the final day to set three second and one third fastest stage times.

This will be Novikov’s fourth venture to the Greek stages and the Russian will run with the Chelsea FC logo on his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Given the Russian affiliation with the English Premiership team, the association aims to illustrate ALM Rally’s support for the club as they face Bayern Munich FC in the final of the UEFA Champions League this coming weekend.

Elsewhere, in spite of their obvious speed, it has been a difficult start to the season for Tänak and regular co-driver Kuldar Sikk. Despite claiming three stage victories, the Estonian’s season has been blighted by misfortunes and the 24-year-old will be eager to prove his potential next week.

As well as supporting the FIA Action for Road Safety campaign, the Acropolis Rally will see Tänak sport the ‘Worldwide Ford Rally Fans’ logo on the rear of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC – Ford and M-Sport’s tribute to a whole host of social media groups which have been set up in support of the brand over the past year.

Evgeny Novikov said:
“The Acropolis Rally is one of my favourite rallies. It is really challenging and you have to be on the maximum with speed and concentration. The roads are really rough and can be quite hard on the car so you have to know when you can push and when you can’t.

“I have competed here three times before, but the earlier date this year means that the roads may be much rougher than they have been in the past. We will have to wait and see what to expect.

“This will be my first time back in the car since Argentina as we will have no pre-event testing, but for sure we will be looking to do our best for another top-five finish.”

Ott Tänak said:
“This is a really nice event. I competed in Greece last year and most of the roads are ok, but some of them can be really rough and you have to be careful and make sure your pacenotes are really detailed. With the earlier date for this year’s event, it is hard to know exactly what to expect – but I am looking forward to getting back in the car.

“The last few events have not been too good for us and this event will be all about making it to the end and getting some good points on the board. I’m constantly working on my training, and hopefully this event will see me regain my pace and my confidence behind the wheel.”

12-05-18 Ford goes for gold in Greece as Latvala returns from injury
As the Olympic flame journeys from Greece to Britain for the London games, Ford World Rally Team heads in the opposite direction for one of the FIA World Rally Championship’s classic fixtures. The team will go for gold in the gruelling Acropolis Rally of Greece (24 -27 May), traditionally a happy hunting ground for Ford, which has won there 13 times since the series began in 1973.

The squad is boosted by the return of lead drivers Jari-Matt Latvala and Miikka Anttila. Latvala missed the previous round in Argentina with a broken left collarbone, but proved his fitness at a two-day test in Portugal last week. They will join Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson in Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Cars for the four-day dirt event, which is significantly longer than the 2011 rally.

Seven of those wins came in the last 11 encounters of the most demanding round of the championship for man and machine. Air temperatures in the gravel speed tests around the Gulf of Corinth, west of Athens, will be close to 30ºC, with cockpit temperatures well above that. Driver fitness is crucial and regular fluid intake is vital to stave off dehydration and ensure peak performance.

Mechanically, success in Greece demands a blend of strength, reliability and speed. The undulating gravel tracks have a fearsome reputation and cars must withstand severe punishment from rocks which litter the surface, as well as unyielding bedrock which forms the base of the roads. The Fiesta RS WRCs will carry additional underbody protection to guard against damage.

The heat also places high demands on engines and gearboxes. The relatively slow mountain speed tests, punctuated by hairpins, offer little cooling from the flow of air, while a combination of the heat and abrasive road surface requires strong durability from Michelin’s tyres.

Latvala has good experience of the Acropolis, dating back to 2003 when as an 18-year-old he finished 10th on his World Rally Car debut. He has seven starts to his name, with a best finish of third in 2009. The 27-year-old Finn covered 440km on his return to the wheel in testing and reported no discomfort from his collarbone injury.

“I was surprised how good it felt,” he said. “I wore padding under the HANS device to spread the pressure across my chest and shoulders and it worked perfectly. We planned a shorter first day, but with no problems I drove a full schedule on the second day on a rougher road, and I felt no pain in my collarbone or shoulder. My recovery schedule has been tight but I’m confident I won’t have to worry about the injury.

“We worked on the suspension and made a step forward, with the car feeling better in bedrock conditions. After so long out of the car I felt so happy and relieved that my skills were still there!

“It will be a hard rally and Saturday’s leg will be especially difficult. It’s longer than last year, with two passes over a new 21km stage, and it will be tough for the tyres in the heat. It will be important to manage the tyres well because tyre wear could be the most important aspect. You can drive at 95 per cent in those conditions, but to drive at 100 per cent all the time would be risky,” added Latvala.

Solberg has a strong record in Greece. He scored his first career podium there in 2001, won in 2004 and has five podium finishes from 11 starts.

“It’s the roughest round of the season, but we’ll see if it proves to be the toughest,” he said. “There are many big rocks in Greece and that’s what makes the rally so tricky. I learned a lot about rough road driving when Kenya’s Safari Rally was part of the championship, and that’s useful for Greece. You have to be smart with your driving in this type of event.

“The rough roads and heat are also hard for the tyres. But Michelin’s tyres have been strong this year so I’m confident they’ll be good here also. I had some bad luck on the last two rounds, but still scored good championship points after driving at 110 per cent to climb back up the order. Hopefully I can have a clean run and keep the points coming,” added the 37-year-old Norwegian.

Team News

* Michelin’s Latitude Cross gravel tyres will be used by the Ford drivers and 48 of these will be available in hard compound. New-for-2012 regulations mean drivers will also have 10 soft compound tyres available if conditions are wet and muddy. However, only 48 units can be used in total during qualifying and the rally itself. Teams are not allowed to hand-carve additional cuts into the tyres and each car can carry two spare wheels.

* Seven privately-entered Fiesta RS WRCs are entered. Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk and Evgeny Novikov / Denis Giraudet are nominated by M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson is entered by Adapta World Rally Team, while Brazil World Rally Team will again be present with Daniel Oliveira / Carlos Magalhães. Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hruza will crew the Czech Ford National Team car and the Fiesta RS WRC entries are completed by the Autotek entry of Spyros Pavlides / Nicolas Klinger and Ukraine’s Oleksii Tamrazov / Oleksandr Gorbik.

* The rally marks the second round of the Ford-supported FIA WRC Academy. Eleven crews will drive Fiesta R2 rally cars over a shortened route before a Saturday lunchtime finish. Northern Ireland’s Alastair Fisher and Daniel Barritt lead the series after the opening round in Portugal.

* The cars of Latvala and Solberg will sport the Worldwide Ford Rally Fans logo in Greece and next month’s Rally New Zealand. In recognition of the support its members have pledged to Ford World Rally Team in recent months, the social media-founded organisation’s motif will appear on the rear of both cars, as well as on several other Fiestas.

Rally Route
A fourth day of competition and a new-look opening leg bringing the return of classic roads are the main changes for the 2012 edition. Loutraki, at the head of the Corinth Canal, remains the rally base with the main service park on the edge of the town. After Thursday’s start ceremony close to the spectacular Acropolis in central Athens, competitors tackle a single stage on the return route to Loutraki. Friday journeys north around the Gulf of Corinth to tackle stages near Itea that have not been used since 2009. It is the longest day, with almost 170km of competition and just two short service breaks in Itea. Saturday’s route journeys west across the Corinth Canal for stages in the Peloponnese peninsula and Sunday’s final leg is identical to last year and based east of Loutraki. Competitors tackle 22 stages covering 409.47km, 60km more than last year, in a route of 1661.39km.

ACROPOLIS RALLY OF GREECE ROUND 6 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 24 - 27 May 2012
Thursday 24 May: Qualifying and Day 1: Loutraki - Loutraki
QS Aghii Theodori 6.20km 10.33
Start A Loutraki 14.00
Start B Zappion, Athens 17.00
SS1 Kineta 25.24km 18.28
Serv A Loutraki (flexi 45 mins) 19.13
Finish Loutraki 19.58
Total 25.24km

Friday 25 May: Day 1 (cont): Loutraki - Loutraki
Serv B Loutraki (15 mins) 06.00
SS2 Aghia Marina 13.80km 06.53
SS3 Thiva 1 23.60km 08.31
SS4 Elikonas 1 19.89km 10.20
RSZ 1 Itea (15 mins) 11.53
SS5 Bauxites 1 23.17km 12.25
SS6 Drossohori 22.00km 13.19
RSZ 2 Itea (15 mins) 14.50
SS7 Bauxites 2 23.17km 15.22
SS8 Elikonas 2 19.89km 17.05
SS9 Thiva 2 23.60km 18.50
Serv C Loutraki (flexi 45 mins) 21.05
Finish Loutraki 21.50
Total 169.12km

Saturday 26 May: Day 2: Loutraki - Loutraki
Serv D Loutraki (15 mins) 07.30
SS10 Klenia Mycenae 1 17.41km 08.38
SS11 Ghymno 1 17.61km 09.45
SS12 Kefalari 1 18.40km 10.40
SS13 Ziria 1 21.36km 12.06
Serv E Loutraki (30 mins) 13.54
SS14 Klenia Mycenae 2 17.41km 15.17
SS15 Ghymno 2 17.61km 16.24
SS16 Kefalari 2 18.40km 17.19
SS17 Ziria 2 21.36km 18.45
Serv F Loutraki (flexi 45 mins) 20.20
Finish Loutraki 21.05
Total 149.56km

Sunday 27 May: Day 3: Loutraki - Loutraki
Serv G Loutraki (15 mins) 08.30
SS18 Aghii Theodori 1 19.42km 09.14
SS19 New Pissia 1 11.37km 09.45
Serv H Loutraki (30 mins) 10.58
SS20 Aghii Theodori 2 19.42km 11.57
SS21 New Pissia 2 11.37km 12.28
SS22 New Loutraki 3.97km 14.11
Serv I Loutraki (10 mins) 15.08
Finish Casino Loutraki 15.30

Total 65.55km
Rally total 409.47km
12-04-30 Stor besvikelse i Argentina för Ramona och Miriam
Det blev en stor besvikelse under Rally Argentina för Ramona och Miriam. Redan under första etappen tvingades de bryta rallyt på grund av trasig oljekylare. ”Vi gjorde en miss i noterna som gjorde att vi kom för snabbt in i en kurva, och åkte över ett hinder som stod i vägkanten. Odramatiskt och vi kunde fortsätta, men när oljelampan började lysa slog vi av motorn på en gång. Det visade sig oturligt nog att oljekylaren som sitter höger fram hade slagits sönder”, säger Ramona och Miriam och fortsätter, ”Ord kan inte beskriva hur besvikna vi är. Detta är ett bevis på hur utslagsgivande rally är och hur pass små marginaler det handlar om. Det kändes otroligt bra innan rallyt. Vi hade förberett oss på bästa vis och kände oss lugna men samtidigt riktigt laddade. När oljelampan tändes kändes det bara som att dra ner rullgardinen, detta är verkligen det tråkigaste vi varit med om på en rallytävling.

På den 55 km långa shakedownsträckan fick tjejerna ett kvitto på att de var med och slogs. Av de 17 startande i Gr.N var de 6:e snabbast, och enbart två sekunder efter segraren Benito Guerra från Mexico. ”Inställningarna på bilen kändes riktigt bra och vi såg verkligen fram emot en tuff fight”, säger Ramona. Och det visade sig även bli ett mycket tufft rally, precis som förutspått. Mindre än hälften av ekipagen kom i mål; 27 av 69 stycken.
- ”Vi gör det bästa av detta. Vi har gett oss ut och åkt tävlingssträckorna efter tävlingen för att kontrollera noter och se i vilket skick vägarna är. Nästa år ska vi tillbaks, det bara är så. Nu laddar vi om inför Nya Zeeland istället, säsongen har bara börjat!” säger Ramona och Miriam.

12-04-30 Thank you Argentina and your wonderful fans!
'Hola everybody, it's 'Palmeirinha' again!

'Today at Rally Argentina I drove the longest Special Stage of my entire rally career, the 65.74km Matadero - Ambul stage. Of course I've driven longer stages in cross country but in a rally it was the fist time. The stage was really fast and I got so tired by the end of it, but - gosh - it was incredibly beautiful. I really hope it continues to be part of the itinerary of Rally Argentina in the future because it's a really great stage.

'After that there were two small Special Stages - Mina Clavero and El Condor - and for me those are the most iconic stages of Rally Argentina, when I think of Rally Argentina I think of those stages. They are really twisty and narrow tests with a lot of rocks, quite tough for my MINI 'Porquinho Verde'! We completed them really well in the morning and we arrived in the Service Park at lunchtime really happy and motivated to finish the rally. This was a great boost of confidence after all the problems Edu and I had in Sweden, Mexico and Portugal.

'However, in the afternoon loop the car didn't survive many many hits. It wasn't one specific hit or one specific stone that the car couldn't survive but a combination of many. Then parts started to brake on the MINI and eventually the suspension broke and finally the wheel came off on SS17. It was game over, we had to stop!

'Where we stopped there was an Argentine family who made us coffee and tea and gave us some food. Everybody else left the Special Stage after it was finished, there were many many people - it was incredible how many spectators came to watch the rally - but even after everybody else left the kind family stayed, they started a fire and gave us more drinks. They were very very kind. Normally Brazilians think that because of the the rivalry in soccer, Argentinians will treat them very badly but wow these people were so kind with us because we all loved rally!

'Unfortunately our team mates Armindão and Miguelito retired on the same stage as us, It was a real shame as they were getting consistently good times but they suffered constantly on the stages despite their incredible control of the MINI. They stopped two kilometers after us with a broken steering arm and while they were waiting for the recovery vehicle, Armindo fell asleep in his MINI and the fans took a lot of pictures of him sleeping in the car and they came to show us and the family. It was quite funny!

'This is the fourth rally in a row I haven't finished. Of course that's not good for our motivation but I need to realize that rally isn't easy and that is why it means so much when you succeed. If you can't handle it you have to change sport and play chess! Now it's a new page for a new rally. Rally Argentina wasn't the first bad rally of my career and it won't be the last. My head is now on the Acropolis Rally, an event that I know a little bit because I competed there last year - I'm really hoping for a better result there!

'Now I'm looking forward to go to my house in Brazil to recharge my battery but I know that in a few days my rally 'bug' will be reignited and I'll be ready for another rally!

'I really hope you've enjoyed this ride on board with me and the WRC Team MINI Portugal. We'll be back for more action from 24 to 27th May at the Acropolis Rally in Grecce, stay tuned!

'Thank you very much for all your support throughout this weekend!
Paulo 'Palmeirinha' Nobre
12-04-30 Ford’s 150 WRC points finishes by numbers
Ford created history today by becoming the first manufacturer to score 150 consecutive points finishes in the FIA World Rally Championship. Sixth place for Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson at Rally Argentina brought up the landmark achievement.

Here are some of the key numbers behind Ford’s record:

1 The first rally in the scoring run was the 2002 Rallye Monte-Carlo when Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya finished third and Colin McRae and Nicky Grist were fourth. Both were driving Ford Focus RS World Rally cars.

6 Victories at Rally Sweden, the most successful event.

8 Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Cars finished in the top 10 at the 2011 Rally GB.

12 Drivers who contributed to Ford’s record. They are Mikko Hirvonen (84 points finishes), Jari-Matti Latvala (48), Marcus Grönholm (29), Markko Märtin (28), François Duval (19), Toni Gardemeister (13), Roman Kresta (10), Carlos Sainz (9), Colin McRae (9), Petter Solberg (4), Janne Tuohino (2), Henning Solberg (1).

14 Consecutive podiums for the official Ford team between 2006 Rally d’Italia Sardegna and 2007 Rally Mexico, and again from 2007 Rally Argentina to 2008 Rally Mexico.

18 Countries in which Ford has won.

23 Countries in which Ford has scored points.

27 The percentage of rallies Ford has won during the 150 events.

40 Ford wins.

50 The 50th consecutive finish came at the 2005 Cyprus Rally when Toni Gardemeister and Jakke Honkanen finished fifth, one place ahead of Roman Kresta and Jan Možný.

75 Rally New Zealand in 2006 marked not only the 75th consecutive finish, but it was also the rally in which Ford clinched the manufacturers’ world title.

96 Podiums achieved.
100 The centenary was reached at the 2008 Rally of Turkey when Ford claimed a 1-2 finish. Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen won and Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila were second.

1983 Points scored in the manufacturers’ championship.
12-04-30 Ford creates history with landmark result at Rally Argentina
Ford today claimed its 150th consecutive points finish in the FIA World Rally Championship. Sixth place for Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson at Rally Argentina enabled Ford to become the first manufacturer to reach the milestone figure in the championship’s 39-year history.

The record-breaking run began in the opening round of the 2002 series in Monte Carlo. At least one of the team’s nominated drivers has finished in a points-scoring position in every round since.

Ford and rally partner M-Sport celebrated the achievement at the finish ceremony of this fifth round of the 2012 championship in Carlos Paz this afternoon. Ford Racing senior manager Gerard Quinn and Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson joined Solberg and Patterson in front of their Fiesta RS World Rally Car as they took the applause of the huge crowds.

“This record is the product of a remarkable blend of speed and reliability. We’ve shown over a decade of WRC rallies that we can score consistently. Celebrating 150 consecutive points finishes here today gives us the confidence to go on to mount a challenge for the manufacturers’ title during the remaining eight rounds of the season,” said Quinn.

However, there was also disappointment for the team when Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio retired their Fiesta RS WRC from third place with a suspected alternator problem just 4km from the end of the 502km rally. Sordo, replacing the injured Jari-Matti Latvala in a one-off appearance, delivered a superb performance to lie inside the top three from the start after only a single day’s testing.

Rally Argentina was the longest WRC round for almost a decade. Heavy rain before the start made the gravel roads in Cordoba province, 700km north-west of Buenos Aires, extremely slippery. With the rules allowing only a limited allocation of Michelin’s wet weather soft compound tyres, drivers were forced to complete much of the event using compromise hard compound rubber or worn soft tyres.

Solberg took the lead on Thursday night’s opening speed test and extended his advantage to more than 20 seconds on Friday morning. However, the 37-year-old Norwegian suffered heartbreak when his car’s sump guard hit some bedrock and bent the left steering arm. When the arm later broke, his car was pitched off the road into a rock and retirement.

He restarted with a 15 minute time penalty in 11th place. But a determined drive propelled him to sixth, winning nine of the last 10 special stages and claiming all six in today’s final leg. He also won the final Power Stage, claiming three bonus points to retain second in the drivers’ championship.

“After what happened on Friday, I have to be happy with sixth,” said Solberg. “To win all six tests and the Power Stage today was perfect. I’m proud of what we achieved yesterday and today. Friday was the toughest day I’ve had for a long time, but the result shows why you should never give up, no matter what the situation.

“The stages were enjoyable and the car felt good, so I was able to push hard today. The disappointing thing is that I could have won. This could have been my first victory for a long time, but we’ll continue to work hard and I know it will come soon,” he added.

Sordo’s fine performance ended just after the start of the final 4.15km Copina test when a suspected alternator problem brought his car to a halt.

“At the finish of the penultimate stage there were alarms flashing in the car indicating a battery problem,” said Sordo. “We started the final stage but less than 1km into the test the car stopped. It’s a disappointing way to finish, but the weekend was a good experience.

“I was happy with my performance. Finishing was our goal so not to do so was sad, but it was good working with the team. I’d like to thank Ford and M-Sport for giving me the opportunity to drive the Fiesta RS WRC. I loved the car and really enjoyed my four days of Rally Argentina,” he added.

Team director Wilson said: “Petter produced a great recovery which culminated in him winning the Power Stage. After everything that happened, to leave Argentina with Petter still second in the championship is good. Dani did a perfect job and it was desperately sad for him to retire so close to the finish. The fact that the voltage in the car was so low indicates it was an alternator problem.”

News from other Ford teams
Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson climbed to third in the Adapta World Rally Team car after Sordo’s retirement, while Czech duo Martin Prokop and Zdenek Hruza moved up to a career-best fourth. After first day retirements, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov and Denis Giraudet and team-mates Ott Tänak and Kuldar Sikk restarted under Rally 2 rules. They focused on learning the roads and perfecting their pace notes and were rewarded with eighth and 10th respectively. Brazil World Rally Team’s Daniel Oliveira and Carlos Maghaläes did not restart today after damage resulting from a broken driveshaft yesterday.

Next round
Round six takes competitors back to Europe for the Acropolis Rally of Greece, which is based in Loutraki on 24 - 27 May.

Final positions
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 5hr 34min 38.8sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 5hr 34min 54.0sec
3. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 5hr 37min 49.2sec
4. M Prokop/Z Hruza CZE Ford Fiesta RS 5hr 44min 24.1sec
5. T Neuville/N Gilsoul BEL Citroen DS3 5hr 45min 56.4sec
6. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 5hr 46min 41.0sec
7. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 5hr 47min 04.1sec
8. E Novikov/D Giraudet RUS Ford Fiesta RS 5hr 55min 49.0sec
9. N Al Attiyah/G Bernacchini QAT Citroen DS3 6hr 03min 01.4sec
10 O Tänak/K Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS 6hr 11min 58.3sec

Drivers
1. S Loeb 91pts
2. P Solberg 73pts
3. M Hirvonen 70pts
4. M Østberg 68pts
5. E Novikov 43pts
6. J-M Latvala 28pts

Manufacturers
1. Citroen Total WRT 151pts
2. Ford WRT 106pts
3. M-Sport Ford WRT 81pts
4. Qatar WRT 37pts
5. Citroen Junior WRT 30pts
6. Adapta WRT 27pts

Stage Times
Stage 14: 1. P Solberg 38min 16.0sec; 2. Neuville + 23.7; 3. Novikov + 37.0; 4. Prokop + 46.3; 5. Sordo + 47.6; 6. Østberg + 47.8.
Overall: 1. Loeb 4hr 36min 56.6sec; 2. Hirvonen + 6.0; 3. Sordo + 1:34.7; 4. Østberg + 2:54.1; 5. Prokop + 9:09.0; 6. Neuville + 11:11.9; 9. P Solberg + 13:09.0.

Stage 15: 1. P Solberg 15min 38.1sec; 2. Novikov + 10.7; 3. Neuville + 16.8; 4. Hirvonen + 18.6; 5. Prokop + 21.6; 6. Sordo + 23.9.
Overall: 1. Loeb 4hr 52min 59.1sec; 2. Hirvonen + 0.2; 3. Sordo + 1:34.2; 4. Østberg + 2:55.3; 5. Prokop + 9:06.2; 6. Neuville + 11:04.3; 8. P Solberg + 12:44.6.

Stage 16: 1. P Solberg 13min 17.5sec; 2. Novikov + 18.5; 3. Loeb + 19.1; 4. Hirvonen + 20.2; 5. Neuville + 22.8; 6. Sordo + 23.0.
Overall: 1. Loeb 5hr 06min 35.7sec; 2. Hirvonen + 1.3; 3. Sordo + 1:38.1; 4. Østberg + 3:01.6; 5. Prokop + 9:14.1; 6. Neuville + 11:08.0; 8. P Solberg + 12:25.5.

Stage 17: 1. P Solberg 15min 29.3sec; 2. Novikov + 1.7; 3. Neuville + 10.1; 4. Sordo + 10.9; 5. Al Attiyah + 16.4; 6. Loeb + 16.5.
Overall: 1. Loeb 5hr 22min 21.5sec; 2. Hirvonen + 5.6; 3. Sordo + 1:32.5; 4. Østberg + 3:02.8; 5. Prokop + 9:25.9; 6. Neuville + 11:01.6; 8. P Solberg + 12:09.0.

Stage 18: 1. P Solberg 9min 37.6sec; 2. Loeb + 5.1; 3. Østberg + 10.4; 4. Sordo + 13.8; 5. Neuville + 14.1; 6. Novikov + 14.6.
Overall: 1. Loeb 5hr 32min 04.2sec; 2. Hirvonen + 15.8; 3. Sordo + 1:41.2; 4. Østberg + 3:08.1; 5. Prokop + 9:38.4; 6. Neuville + 11:10.6; 7. P Solberg + 12:03.9.

Stage 19: 1. P Solberg 2min 32.9sec; 2. Hirvonen + 1.1; 3. Al Attiyah + 1.5; 4. Loeb + 1.7; 5. Novikov + 3.2; 6. Østberg + 4.0.
Overall: 1. Loeb 5hr 34min 38.8sec; 2. Hirvonen + 15.2; 3. Østberg + 3:10.4; 4. Prokop + 9:45.3; 5. Neuville + 11:17.6; 6. P Solberg + 12:02.2.

12-04-29 Don't Cry For Me Argentina - We'll Fight Another Day!
'Ohhh goshhh! Another tough day! But no problem Edu and I won’t be defeated. We’ll find our good luck again!

'Day Two started very early again and we took our ‘little green pig’ from parc ferme before 7am, then after first service we drove almost 100km to start the first Super Special of the day! Today we were third on the road behind the Russian Novikov and in front the Chilean Salazar (also in a MINI!) The opening Special Stage wasn’t long, ‘only’ 20km, but there was a lot of mud that recce hadn’t prepared us for and even a few corners that were not in our pace notes. This sometimes makes the Super Special seem like a bit of a lottery. On one of these corners, I was scared I was going to go off the road and have no idea when or how to stop! But I tried to be calm and tried to use the accelerator to take the corner sideways. Unfortunately we spun, but better that than to leave the road! Anyway, it was a very tricky stage, but be managed to get through it without any big problems and there were two very nice ladies at the end of the stage giving out Red Bulls, one of them with such an amazing smile that it made my day!

'The second Special Stage of the day was the same distance as the first. Some parts were very narrow and twisty with even more mud.... But, hey who ever said Rally Argentina was easy? And the good news was – we made it through this stage too without any problems!!

'The third stage was very long, 40km, and threw all sorts of surprises at us... The beginning is twisty, with some stones that seem to appear out of nowhere. There are some fast parts after that with tight corners, which demand focus. In the middle the stage it becomes a ‘goat way’, it's very, very narrow and twisty. During the recce Edu and I actually thought we’d taken the wrong road, because it was impossible that this could really be part of an official stage. Can you imagine it?

But we loved it and the last part of the stage was as fast as anything!!! To be honest to go there "pe no porrão" (a Brazilian expression that means 'pedal to the metal') the driver would need to have three balls! Like most people I only have the two so I couldn’t push or drive the stage as it should be driven. Even so, it was very nice and I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins.

We were so happy to finish the first loop of the day and bring our MINI back to lunchtime service safely. However, rallying, like in soccer, is a box of surprises... Just as we were about to leave the service park the mechanics found a problem in the engine's cooler system that was losing pressure. Anyway we registered at time control three minutes late because of that but at least they fixed the problem!

'The real problem came on the same very long road section from the morning, which we started the afternoon loop with. Just as we were about to get to the time control for the fourth stage, the water temperature alarm went off and we couldn’t open the bonnet to check everything over so we decided not to start the afternoon stages. It was very disappointing, but that’s rally! When I stop being able to live without the pace and excitement (both good and bad) then it’s time to change sport!

'We waited for our mechanics for a long time, because they were stuck in traffic, but we had MANY friends around, so we passed some time with them. A lot, but really A LOT of crazy rally fans passed us or were waiting there to take photos and talk to us! It was nice to have the opportunity to pay them some attention. It was just a shame that this was only possible, because we wouldn’t be racing anymore that day.

'Another good part of the day was that our team mates Armindão and Miguelito completed another day without any big problems and they are doing a very good rally! They are a top driver / co-driver, twice world champions and they do not come to rallies to play. They put themselves under a lot of pressure to achieve. It’s their first time in Argentina and it’s one of the most difficult rallies on the calendar. So in my opinion their results so far are very good. ACELERA ARMINDÃO!!!!!

'Please cross your fingers that we aren’t disturbed by any bad luck tomorrow!
12-04-29 Sordo retains third after day of consolidation in Rally Argentina
Ford World Rally Team drivers Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio maintained their podium position during today’s second leg of Rally Argentina. A consistent pace in their Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car kept the Spanish duo in third place with one day remaining in this fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Team-mates Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson recovered to ninth after restarting under Rally 2 regulations following their retirement yesterday. They moved up from 11th overnight, hitting top gear in their Fiesta RS WRC this afternoon when they won all three speed tests.

After the attrition of yesterday’s opening leg, today was a much quieter affair. Drivers headed south from the rally base of Carlos Paz, 700km north-west of Buenos Aires, for two loops of gravel special stages in the Calamuchita Valley. The day ended with a second pass over the short test in Carlos Paz which kick-started the rally on Thursday. The seven stages covered 166.54km.

Dry but cool conditions this morning persuaded Sordo to opt for Michelin’s soft compound tyres. He later switched to a mix of soft and hard compound rubber, before choosing hard tyres for the entire afternoon loop.

Sordo, replacing the injured Jari-Matti Latvala in a one-off outing for the team, held a firm grip on third and took no risks this morning as he consolidated the podium place. The afternoon followed the same pattern, as the 28-year-old retained his focus on securing a strong points finish.

He was second fastest in the opening stage of the afternoon and the final test to end the day 1min 19.2sec ahead of his closest rival.

“I made no mistakes but I wasn’t so happy with my times this morning,” admitted Sordo. “I didn’t have full confidence in my pace notes, but they were better in the second pass. I had a front left puncture in the middle stage this afternoon and I only had one spare wheel. I couldn’t afford another puncture so I was more careful in the last stage.

“The roads were fun with jumps, fast corners and water splashes. I could have driven flat out, but even then it would be unlikely that I would close the gap to the drivers ahead. My goal is to keep this position. It would be better to finish third rather than take risks and go off the road,” added Sordo.

Solberg’s sole target was to climb as far into the points as possible. The 37-year-old Norwegian adopted a fast, but safe, pace and was never outside the top three times. Two seconds and a third this morning enabled him to close on those ahead and his hat-trick of victories this afternoon promoted Solberg up the order.

“This afternoon was perfect,” said Solberg. “The stages were fantastic and the Fiesta was so fast. My focus is to score as many points as I can so I didn’t take any risks. I would like to have more kilometres to chase the people ahead, but I only have one day remaining so I will do my best.

“I wasn’t as fast this morning but my start position meant I had to sweep the road and that was a key factor. I still set good times, but I hoped for more. My only mistake came in the second stage when I spun at low speed. The notes for the last stage were made in fog during the recce, and they weren’t perfect in today’s brighter conditions,” added Solberg.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson said he could not have expected more from Sordo. “He’s done a great job for the team considering the limited time he’s spent in the car. He can’t catch the drivers ahead, so he’s aiming for a solid finish. He was frustrated with his pace but they were difficult stages. Petter fought back well. He had a disadvantage with his road position this morning, but the stages were cleaner for the second pass and he put in a strong performance,” said Wilson.

News from other Ford teams
Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson remain fourth in the Adapta World Rally Team car, after a problem-free day, while Czech duo Martin Prokop and Zdenek Hruza climbed to fifth, following Nasser Al Attiyah’s retirement. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak and Kuldar Sikk and team-mates Evgeny Novikov and Denis Giraudet focused on learning the roads and perfecting their pace notes after yesterday’s retirements. Novikov climbed to 11th with Tänak in 17th. Brazil World Rally Team’s Daniel Oliveira and Carlos Maghaläes had steering problems this morning before a broken driveshaft this afternoon sidelined them for the day.

Tomorrow’s Route
The final day includes some of the most iconic roads of the season and the longest special stage of the championship. After leaving Carlos Paz at 06.52, drivers head into the Traslasierra mountains via the monster 65.74km test from Matadero to Ambul, an amalgamation of four stages last used in 1996. Drivers then head into the classic Giulio Cesare and El Condor tests, before the final Power Stage across the picturesque hanging bridges near Copina. They face six stages covering 132.19km before the finish in Carlos Paz at 16.44.

Leaderboard after Day 2
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 3hr 57min 40.8sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 3hr 57min 48.0sec
3. D Sordo/C del Barrio ESP Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 59min 27.7sec
4. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 00min 46.9sec
5. M Prokop/Z Hruza CZE Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 07min 03.3sec
6. A Mikkelsen/O Floene NOR Skoda Fabia S2000 4hr 08min 12.5sec
7. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 4hr 08min 07.5sec
8. T Neuville/N Gilsoul BEL Citroen DS3 4hr 09min 28.8sec
9. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 11min 49.6sec
10 A Araujo/M Ramalho PRT Mini John Cooper 4hr 11min 58.5sec

Stage Times
Stage 7: 1. Loeb 12min 41.3sec; 2. P Solberg + 1.5; 3. Hirvonen + 3.8; 4. Tänak + 10.7; 5. Neuville + 11.5; 6. Sordo + 13.0.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 33min 11.9sec; 2. Hirvonen + 3.9; 3. Sordo + 46.1; 4. Østberg + 1:33.3; 5. Al Attiyah + 5:39.3; 6. Prokop + 6:48.9; 11. P Solberg + 14:25.7.

Stage 8: 1. Hirvonen 10min 40.5sec; 2. P Solberg + 0.5; 3. Loeb + 1.5; 4. Tänak + 15.7; 5. Sordo + 17.4; 6. Østberg + 17.5.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 43min 53.9sec; 2. Hirvonen + 2.4; 3. Sordo + 1:02.0; 4. Østberg + 1:49.3; 5. Al Attiyah + 5:58.4; 6. Prokop + 7:20.9; 11. P Solberg + 14:24.7.

Stage 9: 1. Hirvonen 22min 48.1sec; 2. Loeb + 0.3; 3. P Solberg + 10.0; 4. Tänak + 21.8; 5. Novikov + 27.6; 6. Sordo + 29.0.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 06min 42.3sec; 2. Hirvonen + 2.1; 3. Sordo + 1:30.7; 4. Østberg + 2:26.6; 5. Al Attiyah + 7:58.1; 6. Prokop + 8:07.5; 11. P Solberg + 14:34.4.

Stage 10: 1. P Solberg 12min 32.3sec; 2. Sordo + 6.2; 3. Loeb + 7.9; 4. Neuville + 9.2; 5. Hirvonen + 10.8; 6. Østberg + 11.3.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 19min 22.5sec; 2. Hirvonen + 5.0; 3. Sordo + 1:29.0; 4. Østberg + 2:30.0; 5. Prokop + 8:21.0; 6. Mikkelsen + 9:02.6; 11. P Solberg + 14:26.5.

Stage 11: 1. P Solberg 10min 30.4sec; 2. Loeb + 3.0; 3. Hirvonen + 5.7; 4. Sordo + 11.5; 5. Østberg + 14.4; 6. Tänak + 18.4.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 29min 55.9sec; 2. Hirvonen + 7.7; 3. Sordo + 1:37.5; 4. Østberg + 2:41.4; 5. Prokop + 8:47.0; 6. Mikkelsen + 9:34.5; 10. P Solberg + 14:23.5.

Stage 12: 1. P Solberg 22min 36.2sec; 2. Neuville + 11.3; 3. Loeb + 13.6; 4. Hirvonen + 13.7; 5. Sordo + 24.4; 6. Tänak + 27.2.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 52min 45.7sec; 2. Hirvonen + 7.8; 3. Sordo + 1:48.3; 4. Østberg + 2:55.5; 5. Prokop + 9:16.0; 6. Ogier + 10:20.1; 10. P Solberg + 14:09.9.

Stage 13: 1. Neuville 4min 49.4sec; 2. Sordo + 4.3; 3. P Solberg + 4.6; 4. Hirvonen + 5.1; 5. Loeb + 5.7; 6. Tänak + 7.7.
Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 57min 40.8sec; 2. Hirvonen + 7.2; 3. Sordo + 1:46.9; 4. Østberg + 3:06.1; 5. Prokop + 9:22.5; 6. Ogier + 10:26.7; 9. P Solberg + 14:08.8.

12-04-28 Fighting Spirit Palmeiras-Style
'Hola everybody, Paulo here!
'Rally Argentina started last night with a Super Special Stage! The start of the stage had been delayed when we arrived, which gave us time to watch the top drivers competing. Oh my goodness! It's almost like they do another sport to me. Hahaha!
'They are so fast and so skilled, they are completely in tune with their cars. It's amazing to see – or better put, to admire! I always find the speed of my team mate Armindo incredible. It doesn't matter to me if he's winning the rally or not, if you could see his performance from where I sit, the pace he shows in his MINI is fantastic.

'Next it was our turn and I have to confess I was very nervous. I don’t know if it was due to the trauma of retiring before the rally even started in Portugal or if it was because of the series of bad results I’ve had recently, which dented my confidence in my driving ability. The Palmeirinha that everyone saw in Wales at the end of last year and Monte Carlo at the start of the season was lost and I needed to try and get it back!

'Unfortunately, taking part in a rally without confidence is like going to a party without any interesting women. It’s better not to go (hahaha), so somehow I needed to find my mojo again.
'So, there I was at the Super Special Stage last night and when I turned on the anti-lag system with only five seconds to go until I was due to start I suddenly realised that I’d forgotten to switch on the MINI’s extra lights. No matter how good the light was on the Super Special, the extra lights make a positive impact in some places… But to explain a little bit, the MINI’s lights don’t switch on like those on a normal car. Instead, a computer that sits between my co-driver Edu and I with a lot of buttons – but really a lot - controls them. It reminds me of my Porquinho Verde aeroplane! :-) Once I had found the right button, Edu counted down 5…4…3…2…1, GO! And we started the Super Special.
'Corner-by-corner I started to relax and everything went exactly as we wanted. We drove at our pace and found our rhythm. We didn’t want to take unnecessary risks.

'With just over five hours sleep, we started Day One proper very early. At 6am, we entered parc ferme to take our lovely MINI to first service. We spent a long time on the road to SS2, the first stage of the day, and then were delayed at refuelling. The most interesting part of this experience was having the opportunity to see all the drivers and co-drivers interacting with each other. Normally everybody is so busy working with their teams that they don’t have time to get to know each other. Today, we did have the chance to spend a little time together though and I realised that I’m in the middle of the best world you can imagine with guys that before I only saw on television, in magazines and on the internet. And there they were all together and some of them are even my friends! This is really crazy for a guy like me who never thought he would find himself in rallies, but always only thought about playing soccer.

'We started SS2 and followed our strategy of not taking any risks to try and continue to increase our confidence and feel happy inside the car again. Everything went OK, but we had one big scare on a particularly tricky corner. It rained a lot yesterday, which had left a lot of mud on the stage and for a moment I lost control of the car and thought I was going to lose the road too. I imagined the worst, but in that split second I had the nerve to keep on full throttle and put the car sideways. We spun 180 degrees and ended up facing in the wrong direction, but we were alright! We quickly turned the car round the right way and continued on to the end of the stage without any problems.

'SS3, the second Special Stage of the day, was the longest at over 50km in length. I already knew the stage from other rallies I’d competed in here, including my WRC debut in in 2006 and some South American regional rallies. However, back then the stage was divided into two. Now the tough uphill part was directly joined to the equally challenging, fast downhill section.
- 'I have to confess that for me to do this Special Stage was very tiring and after avoiding many stones that cars which had passed before us had forced into the middle of the road, we clipped one stone in a corner 4km before the finish of the stage which hadn’t been there on the recce. In reality, the impact broke our front right suspension. However, at the time we thought that we simply had a flat tyre, stopped to change it and then realised that all the tyres were in good condition. We continued on, but a shock absorber had broken and burst through the bonnet and we quickly realised that it was Game Over for Day One. This was a real shame, because we were really doing our best to follow our strategy. What more could we do?
- 'BUT we are Brazilians and Palmeiras fans, so…we never give up!!!!

'Tomorrow we will be back with our MINI in tip-top condition and more news!'
12-04-28 Sordo learns quickly to hold third for Ford in Rally Argentina
Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio delivered an outstanding debut drive for Ford World Rally Team today to hold third after the opening leg of Rally Argentina. The Spanish duo, drafted into the line-up for the injured Jari-Matti Latvala, never put a foot wrong after just a day’s testing in a Fiesta RS World Rally Car to head Ford’s challenge in this fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Team-mates Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson led for the opening half of the marathon 204km leg. However, having built a 20sec advantage in their Fiesta RS World Rally Car, they retired after an impact with a rock damaged a steering arm. They will restart under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow.

The key word for this longest world rally for almost a decade is endurance, and the leg quickly turned into one of attrition. Many top drivers hit trouble during the six speed tests, which included two passes over the rocky 51.88km special stage from Ascochinga to Agua de Oro, north of the rally base in Carlos Paz. After an hour’s delay this morning, drivers spent more than 15 hours in competition.

Solberg and Sordo gave Ford a one-two overnight advantage after last night’s short curtain-raising test on the edge of Carlos Paz, 700km north-west of Buenos Aires. Solberg was second in this morning’s opening stage and won the daunting Ascochinga test to build a 20.1sec lead. Sordo took no risks as he began to learn the Fiesta RS WRC and settled into third.

As Solberg hit trouble in the afternoon’s opening stage, Sordo remained a model of consistency and was second fastest in the second pass through Ascochinga. Having used Michelin’s soft compound tyres all day in the cool temperatures, the 28-year-old Spaniard elected to switch to the harder compound for the final shorter test, to preserve his allocation of soft rubber for tomorrow. He dropped 20sec to end the day 33.1sec from the lead.
- “I enjoyed my first experience in the Fiesta,” said Sordo. “The more kilometres I drive in the car, the more comfortable I feel. I’m learning all the time. This isn’t the easiest rally in which to learn a new car and I could drive faster, but that means taking more risks, and that increases the risk of going off the road. I’m pleased with my consistency and I’ll continue driving the way I have been.
- “In places conditions were slippery and in others there was good grip. Tonight we decided to use the harder compound tyres to save the softer rubber for tomorrow, when it could be wet. We knew we would lose time as the traction wasn’t as good with the hard compound, but we hope to benefit later in the rally,” he added.

Solberg will restart in 11th position with a 15 minute penalty for failing to complete the final three stages. The 37-year-old Norwegian outlined the chain of incidents which led to his retirement.
- “I was driving in the ruts when the sump guard under the car touched some exposed bedrock and the impact bent the left steering arm,” he explained. “I continued at normal pace for another 10km until the arm snapped in mid-air at a sixth gear crest about 6km from the finish. The car went off the road when it landed and the front right hit a rock.

Solberg and Patterson replaced the broken arm with a spare unit carried in the car. However, when they restarted they discovered the right steering arm broke in the second impact and they had to stop.
- “Obviously I’m disappointed. I had a 20sec lead, although I didn’t feel that was a comfortable margin in a rally as long as this. I fought back to third in a similar situation at the last round in Portugal, so my aim now is to climb back up the order as far as I can over the next two days,” added Solberg.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson praised Sordo’s debut drive. “Dani drove sensibly. When conditions were tricky he eased off, and when he felt confident and comfortable, he showed good pace. With Petter’s retirement we lost a great opportunity to win, which is a disappointment. Because the rally is so long, he has the chance to fight back and score good points. If Dani can maintain the pressure on the leaders then this rally can still have some twists and turns,” he said.

News from other Ford teams
Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson are fourth in the Adapta World Rally Team car, despite an intercom problem this afternoon which meant Østberg had difficulty hearing the pace notes. Martin Prokop and Zdenek Hruza are sixth, the Czech duo reporting no major problems. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak and Kuldar Sikk replaced a steering arm on their Fiesta RS WRC in stage three, but their good work was in vain as they spun off the road and retired on the next test. Team-mates Evgeny Novikov and Denis Giraudet damaged the left rear suspension of their car after hitting a rock in stage two and on the following test a bolt broke in the suspension, forcing them into retirement. Brazil World Rally Team’s Daniel Oliveira and Carlos Maghaläes retired on last night’s opening stage after hitting a bank and damaging their car’s front right suspension. They returned under Rally 2 rules today and climbed to 14th.

Tomorrow’s Route
The second leg journeys south to the Calamuchita Valley. After leaving Carlos Paz at 06.42, drivers face two identical loops of three stages there, split by a return to the rally base for service midway through the day. The leg ends with a second pass over the short test on the edge of Carlos Paz which began the rally last night. Drivers tackle seven stages covering 166.54km before the final overnight halt at 20.58.

Leaderboard after Day 1
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 2hr 20min 30.6sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 2hr 20min 30.7sec
3. D Sordo/C del Barrio ESP Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 21min 03.7sec
4. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 21min 49.0sec
5. N Al Attiyah/G Bernacchini QAT Citroen DS3 2hr 25min 47.5sec
6. M Prokop/Z Hruza CZE Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 26min 54.8sec
7. A Mikkelsen/O Floene NOR Skoda Fabia S2000 2hr 27min 06.6sec
8. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 2hr 27min 29.4sec
9. A Araujo/M Ramalho PRT Mini John Cooper 2hr 28min 45.1sec
10 T Neuville/N Gilsoul BEL Citroen DS3 2hr 30min 43.8sec

Stage Times
Stage 1: 1. P Solberg 4min 54.9sec; 2. Sordo + 3.6; 3. Østberg + 4.8; 4= Tänak, Novikov + 5.2; 6. Neuville + 5.6.

Stage 2: 1. Loeb 23min 12.5sec; 2. P Solberg + 1.9; 3. Hirvonen + 5.2; 4. Sordo + 12.8; 5. Østberg + 20.1; 6. Neuville + 20.6.
Overall: 1. P Solberg 28min 09.3sec; 2. Loeb + 8.3; 3. Sordo + 14.5; 4. Hirvonen + 16.6; 5. Østberg + 23.0; 6. Neuville + 24.3.

Stage 3: 1. P Solberg 37min 50.7sec; 2. Hirvonen + 3.5; 3. Sordo + 10.1; 4. Neuville + 13.7; 5. Loeb + 26.5; 6. Østberg + 28.1.
Overall: 1. P Solberg 1hr 06min 00.0sec; 2. Hirvonen + 20.1; 3. Sordo + 24.6; 4. Loeb + 34.8; 5. Neuville + 38.0; 6. Østberg + 51.1.

Stage 4: 1. Loeb 22min 56.3sec; 2. Hirvonen + 2.4; 3. Østberg + 10.3; 4. Neuville + 11.0; 5. Sordo + 15.6; 6. Al Attiyah + 54.7.
Overall: 1. Hirvonen 1hr 29min 18.8sec; 2. Loeb + 12.3; 3. Sordo + 17.7; 4. Neuville + 26.5; 5. Østberg + 38.9; 6. Mikkelsen + 3:39.3.

Stage 5: 1. Loeb 37min 21.8sec; 2. Sordo + 7.7; 3. Hirvonen + 13.4; 4. Østberg + 29.7; 5. Al Attiyah + 36.3; 6. Prokop + 1:22.0.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 06min 52.9sec; 2. Hirvonen + 1.1; 3. Sordo + 13.1; 4. Østberg + 56.3; 5. Al Attiyah + 4:55.6; 6. Mikkelsen + 5:43.9.

Stage 6: 1. Hirvonen 13min 36.7sec; 2. Loeb + 1.0; 3. Sordo + 21.0; 4. Al Attiyah + 22.3; 5. Østberg + 23.1; 6. Prokop + 41.0.
Overall: 1. Loeb 2hr 20min 30.6sec; 2. Hirvonen + 0.1; 3. Sordo + 33.1; 4. Østberg + 1:18.4; 5. Al Attiyah + 5:16.9; 6. Prokop + 6:24.2.
12-04-25 Patrik och Maria fortsätter som team
Maria Andersson tar över rollen som codriver åt Patrik Sandell. Det var tänkt som ett tillfälligt inhopp under Rally Portugal, då hon klev in i högerstolen på Sandells WRC-MINI när ordinarie kartläsaren Staffan Parmander fick förhinder. Men nu meddelar Sweden World Rally Team att den tillfälliga lösningen blir permanent.

Enligt Patrik Sandell finns det flera anledningar till att man nu väljer att permanenta samarbetet med Maria. En viktig del är att Parmanders roll som kartläsare åt honom till stor del nu är klar.

Staffan har sedan länge fungerat som Patriks mentor. Till säsongen 2011 klev han dessutom in som codriver för att från insidan av bilen kunna bidra med fler viktiga pusselbitar i Patriks utveckling.
- Jag är verkligen tacksam för att Staffan tackade ja till att åka med mig. Jag känner att han med sin enorma rutin har hjälpt mig att utvecklas väldigt mycket, säger Patrik Sandell.

Staffans roll som codriver var dock aldrig tänkt som en långsiktig lösning. Och när samarbetet med Maria visade sig fungera bra fattades beslutet att det var rätt tillfälle att göra ett permanent byte.

Även för Maria landade det nya samarbetet precis rätt.
- Det blev inte så många rallyn förra året och jag började känna ett riktigt sug. Och då ringde Patrik och frågade om jag ville åka med honom i Portugal, så det var ju inget svårt beslut, berättar Maria Andersson.
- Sen vet man ju aldrig hur det kommer att funka med en chaufför första gången. Men det klickade direkt och vi trivs ihop som personer. Förutom att han är en duktig förare så är han en väldigt motiverande och lätt person att ha att göra med, så jag är jätteglad att det blir en fortsättning, säger Maria.

Staffan Parmander kommer istället att koncentrera sig på sitt arbete inom Sweden World Rally Team, som han själv var med och grundade, och på sin fortsatta roll som mentor åt Patrik och Maria.

Närmast på tävlingsschemat står Rally Croatia, den 24-26 maj, då Patrik och Maria kommer till start i en MINI super 2000.
12-04-21 Soccer, rally and the fantastic fans in Argentina
Introducing your host for the event...Mr. Paulo Nobre
'Fala galera, it's Paulo Nobre here, or "Palmeirinha", as many people from Brazilian rallying, call me!

So in an exciting twist, I'm going to be your reporter during Rally Argentina, giving you some news from on and off the stages. I'll be writing columns throughout the event to give you the chance to see the rally through my eyes. Follow me and the team for our fantastic journey on of one of the most challenging rallies of the season. I hope you'll enjoy it!!

'To be honest, it feels like a long time since the last time we really competed. Rally Portugal was terrible for Edu and me. We rolled our rally car on the Qualifying Stage and couldn't start the event. It was a real shame, because we enjoyed the recce a lot and we know that the fans are amazing in Portugal. Everyone knows that for me the support of the public is always a big confidence boost.

'After a short holiday in Lisbon, I came back to São Paulo, my home town and one of the biggest cities in the world with more than 11 million inhabitants. The traffic is crazy here and there are so many big buildings that we nicknamed it 'Floresta de Pedra' (the stone forest)!

What do I love most about São Paulo? That's easy - São Paulo is the hometown of Palmeiras, "my" football club. For me it's more than just a club, it's my religion, my way of life! That's why I'm so proud to have Palmeiras with me on my MINI and my gear. It gives me a lot of confidence and believe me, that's what I need most these days!

'Like all drivers, I am a human being, and to be really honest, after accidents every day in Mexico and failing even to start Rally de Portugal, my mojo's a bit dented heading into Argentina! This is a pity, because Argentina is one of the most difficult and challenging rallies of the season, with very tough special stages that even cut across country sometimes (a key difference between the Argentine and Brazilian stages). The event is also very well-organised and one of the rallies with the largest number of fans waiting for us on the stages as we come through!

'I actually made my WRC debut here in 2006. It's amazing to drive a rally in Argentina (even for a Brazilian!) There isn't the same rivalry between Argentines and Brazilians in rallying as there is in soccer, so all the spectators here are always very welcoming and kind to us! I have many friends from Argentinian rallying and I respect them all, because they are very good at the sport! If Brazil is the country of soccer, for me Argentina is the country of rally!!!!

'Unfortunately I haven't had too much time to prepare for Rally Argentina, because I work full-time outside the rallies at home in Brazil and April is a very busy month business-wise here when we have to declare our income to the government for the previous year. But now I'm ready to focus totally on the event!

'For every rally I pack my bag with just the essentials - I don't like to bring much stuff on-event, only the stuff necessary to race (overalls, helmet etc), my Palmeirinha team clothing and of course a Palmeiras flag! It's all settled now, myself, Edu, Pilli (my friend and cameraman) and Cirillo (another friend but this time a mechanic) are ready to take off for Villa Carlos Paz where we'll join the team for another MINI adventure!
12-04-20 Stamina the key for Ford quartet at arduous Argentine fiesta
Ford World Rally Team faces the longest FIA World Rally Championship encounter for almost 10 years in South America next week. More than 500km of rough road competition lie in wait at Rally Argentina (26 - 29 April), making this fifth round of the season the longest since Kenya’s legendary Safari Rally in 2002.

The emphasis will be on endurance with each of the three legs including a marathon speed test. Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson and team-mates Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio face two passes over a 52km special stage in the first leg. The going becomes even tougher in the final day with a 65.74km test across the Los Gigantes mountains, the longest of the season.

The increased distance brings the return of classic roads that will be new to the current generation of WRC drivers, having not been used since 1994.

More than a million people line the roadsides in Cordoba province, nearly 700km north-west of Buenos Aires. The event never fails to excite in a country where the tango mirrors the passion for life, and the atmosphere crackles alongside the gravel roads in the pampas as one of Argentina’s biggest fiesta occasions bursts into life.

The scenery is stunning, too, as each leg visits a different valley. Huge expanses of open plain in the Punilla Valley, north of the rally base in Carlos Paz, contrast with the gentle countryside to the south around the delightfully-named Santa Rosa de Calamuchita. Then the final day climbs into the Traslasierra mountains where rocky ribbons of road wind through a dramatic moonlike landscape.

The roads are predominantly soft and sandy during the opening two days, with plenty of river crossings, but the surface becomes more abrasive during the final leg west of Carlos Paz.

Solberg has delivered consistently strong results at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car during the opening four rounds which have carried him into second into the drivers’ standings, just four points from the lead.
“I enjoy this rally but I think it could be quite different this year,” said Solberg, for whom this will be his 180th WRC start. “It’s 120km longer than in 2011 and that may alter the way in which some drivers approach it. It’s not a sprint, it’s an endurance rally. There’s no need to get too excited too early and attack from the start, so I can wait a little, judge the pace and push later on when I need to.
“It’s a difficult rally. The final day’s stages are at high altitude and conditions can be bad up there. Fog and even ice are not unusual. But I love it, partly because of the atmosphere. The stages are packed with people and even the liaison sections on the public roads have huge crowds. They’re so enthusiastic,” added 37-year-old Solberg, who has three podiums to his name here.

Sordo steps into the Ford squad for a one-off outing to replace the injured Jari-Matti Latvala. His experience of a Fiesta RS WRC is limited to a day’s testing on Wednesday close to the team’s Dovenby Hall base in Britain. Sordo finished second last year, his best result from five starts, and as a Spaniard, the 28-year-old will be a favourite of the Latin American fans.
“I’m excited to be driving for Ford in Argentina because when you are a rally driver all you want to do is compete,” said Sordo. “Although I’ve not had a lot of time behind the wheel of the Fiesta RS WRC, I quickly felt comfortable in the car during testing. The engineers provided a base set-up that worked for me and I’ll approach practice in Argentina with those settings.
“It’s like a home event for me because I speak the same language and in previous years the support from the fans was fantastic. This is only a one-off drive for Ford, but I want to do the best for the team and prove they made the right decision in selecting me. I’m not setting any targets, apart from a points finish, and I’ll judge my pace by how I feel once the rally gets under way,” he added.

Team News
* Michelin’s Latitude Cross gravel tyres will be used by the Ford drivers and 40 of these will be available in hard compound. New-for-2012 regulations mean drivers will also have 10 soft compound tyres available if conditions are wet and muddy. However, only 40 units can be used in total during qualifying and the rally itself. Teams are not allowed to hand-carve additional cuts into the tyres and each car can carry two spare wheels.

* Five privately-entered Fiesta RS WRCs are entered. Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk and Evgeny Novikov / Denis Giraudet are nominated by M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. Rally de Portugal winners Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson are entered by Adapta World Rally Team, while Brazil World Rally Team returns after its debut there with Daniel Oliveira / Carlos Magalhães at the wheel. The Fiesta RS WRC numbers are completed by Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hruza in a Czech Ford National Team car.

Rally Route
The rally is again based around the lakeside service park in Carlos Paz but only a handful of stages are the same as last year. One of these is the floodlit super special stage on the edge of the town that launches the rally on Thursday evening and is repeated on Saturday night. The first full day on Friday is the longest, with almost 200km of competition north of Carlos Paz in the Punilla Valley. The second leg journeys south to the Calamuchita Valley before the final day in the rugged Traslasierra mountains. It includes the classic El Condor and Giulio Cesare stages as well as the 65.74km test from Matadero to Ambul, an amalgamation of four stages last used in 1996. The final test, which crosses the picturesque hanging bridges near Copina, forms the Power Stage, with bonus points on offer to the fastest three drivers. Competitors tackle 19 stages in total, covering 502.73km in a route of 1770.92km.

RALLY ARGENTINA ROUND 5 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 26 - 29 April 2012
Thursday 26 April: Qualifying / Day 1
QS Villa Garcia - Cabalango 4.59km 10.58

Start Carlos Paz 19.43
SS1 Parque Tematico Carlos Paz 6.04km 20.08
Finish Carlos Paz 20.28

Friday 27 April: Day 1 (continued) Carlos Paz - Carlos Paz
Serv A Carlos Paz (15 mins) 05.45
SS2 La Pampa - La Pampa I 37.51km 07.28
SS3 Ascochinga - Agua de Oro I 51.88km 08.21
Serv B Carlos Paz (30 mins) 10.48
SS4 La Pampa - La Pampa II 37.51km 12.46
SS5 Ascochinga - Agua de Oro II 51.88km 13.39
Serv C Carlos Paz (30 mins) 16.06
SS6 Cosquin - Villa Allende 19.18km 17.23
Serv D Carlos Paz (flexi 45 mins) 19.06
Finish Carlos Paz 19.51
Total 197.96km

Saturday 28 April: Day 2 Carlos Paz - Carlos Paz
Serv E Carlos Paz (15 mins) 06.42
SS7 San Agustin - Santa Rosa I 20.18km 08.30
SS8 Amboy - Santa Monica I 20.33km 09.18
SS9 Intiyaco - Golpe de Agua I 39.74km 10.31
Serv F Carlos Paz (30 mins) 12.41
SS10 San Agustin - Santa Rosa II 20.18km 14.44
SS11 Amboy - Santa Monica II 20.33km 15.32
SS12 Intiyaco - Golpe de Agua II 39.74km 16.45
Serv G Carlos Paz (30 mins) 18.55
SS13 Parque Tematico Carlos Paz 6.04km 19.50
Serv H Carlos Paz (flexi 45 mins) 20.13
Finish Carlos Paz 20.58
Total 166.54km

Sunday 29 April: Day 3 Carlos Paz - Carlos Paz
Serv I Carlos Paz (15 mins) 06.52
SS14 Matadero - Ambul 65.74km 08.00
SS15 Mina Clavero - Giulio Cesare I 17.41km 09.51
SS16 El Condor - Copina 16.32km 10.32
Serv J Carlos Paz (30 mins) 11.42
SS17 Mina Clavero - Giulio Cesare II 17.41km 14.07
SS18 El Condor - Casilla Negra 11.16km 14.48
SS19 Copina 4.15km 15.21
Serv K Carlos Paz (10 mins) 16.24
Finish Carlos Paz 16.44

Total 132.19km
Rally total 502.73km
12-04-19 Ramona Inför Rally Argentina
Idag åker Ramona Karlsson och Miriam Walfridsson till Argentina, tillsammans med teamet. Imorgon fredag landar de i Cordoba, och faller allt på plats med reservdelar, upphämning av bil från sjöcontainern m.m., kommer ett test att köras på söndag. På måndag startar reccen och pågår till och med onsdag. Torsdag kväll Argentinsk tid startar rallyt, och pågår till och med söndag eftermiddag. Argentina har fyra timmars tidsförskjutning – svensk tid ligger alltså fyra timmar före.

HÄR kan ni följa live-resultat från rallyt, och ramonarallying.com kommer att dagligen uppdateras med rapporter från rallyt.
- Hoppas ni följer oss och håller tummarna! Känslan inför rallyt är riktigt bra, vi känner oss betydligt mer förberedda både mentalt och praktiskt. Efter att ha tagit oss i mål i vårt första VM-rally, har vi samlat på oss mycket värdefull rutin och vet mer vad som väntar oss i Argentina. Vi känner oss lugna, men samtidigt väldigt taggade och ser verkligen fram emot att stå i startgropen igen! säger Ramona och Miriam.
12-04-18 Ford taps Sordo to replace injured Latvala at Rally Argentina
Ford World Rally Team has finalised an agreement for Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio to drive for the squad in next week’s Rally Argentina.

The Spanish duo will replace regular drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila in a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car. Latvala was forced to withdraw from the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship after breaking his left collarbone in a cross-country ski-ing accident while training in northern Finland last week.
- “We’re naturally disappointed that Jari-Matti will miss the rally, but ensuring a full recovery as quickly as possible is the most important thing for him and the team,” said Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson.
- “We’re fortunate to have a driver of Dani’s calibre to join us. His experience at Rally Argentina was a key factor in the decision, having started the rally five times and finishing second in 2009. The agreement is for one rally only, and I would like to thank the management of Dani’s current team, who were extremely gracious in helping us in such challenging circumstances,” he said.

Sordo and del Barrio will join regular pairing Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson for the four-day Rally Argentina, which will be based in Carlos Paz on 26 - 29 April.

12-04-18 Historisk ”Rallybrud-comeback” i Argentina
På ramonarallying.com kan ni nu se filmen från Ramona och Miriams möte med rallylegenden Ewy Rosqvist. Filmat och producerat avBroadcast House.

I år är det 50 år sedan rallyföraren Ewy Rosqvist och hennes kartläsare Ursula Wirht det prestigefyllda rallyt ”Gran Premio” i Argentina. Filmen ”Rallybrudar” var inspirerad av Ewys och Ursulas framfart på 60-talet, och de blonda svenska tjejernas seger väckte stor uppmärksamhet världen över. Kvinnliga rallyförare var än mer ovanligt på den tiden, och deras prestation var en stor sensation. Ingen kvinna någonsin tidigare hade varken kört eller vunnit rallyt.

Nu, 50 år senare, är det dags för nästa generations rallybrudar att åka till Argentina, då rallyföraren Ramona Karlsson och hennes co-driver Miriam Walfridsson kör Rally-VM i Argentina med start och målgång 26:e respektive 29:e april. Ramona och Miriam är det enda helkvinnliga teamet i Rally-VM och gör i år en stor satsning i klassen PWRC i sin Mitsubishi EVO X.

Ramona och Miriam träffade den nu 84-åriga och mycket pigga Ewy Rosqvist i hennes lägenhet i Stockholm, där hon delade med sig av minnen från Argentina – och jämförde rally med hur det var då och nu. – ”Det var otroligt inspirerande och roligt att få träffa Ewy, jag har länge sett upp till henne och det var helt fantastiskt att få höra hennes berättelser”, säger Ramona, och fortsätter: ”Det skiljer sig mycket när man jämför rally nu och då. Nuförtiden är det helt andra bilar, som både är med preparerade maskinellt och säkerhetsmässigt. Ewy och Ursula körde en standardbetonad Mercedez utan störtbåge, och deras personliga ”utrustning” var hjälm och klänning”.

På torsdag flyger Ramona och Miriam till Argentina. Med samma flygbolag, och samma flygrutt som Ewy och Ursula, följer de deras fotspår. 62 ekipage är anmälda, varav 18 i Ramona och Miriams klass, Gr.N. 11 av ekipagen tävlar om VM-poäng. Ramonas och Miriams målsättning är inställd på topp 5 i VM. – ”Detta är vår första VM-säsong, och Rally Argentina är ett mycket tufft, långt och utslagsgivande rally. Att ta sig i mål är första målsättningen, och gör vi det bland de fem snabbaste ska vi vara mycket nöjda” säger Ramona och Miriam.
12-03-29 Jost Capito ny chef för Volkswagen Motorsport
Jost Capito blir från och med 1 maj 2012 ny chef för Volkswagen Motorsport. Han tar över efter Kris Nissen som kommer att stödja Capito under övergångsfasen och därefter bistå Volkswagen-koncernen i en rådgivande roll.

Jost Capito kommer närmast från Ford Motor Company USA. Han har årtionden av erfarenhet inom motorsport, bland annat har han varit inblandad i Formel 1 och har också varit kartläsare och vinnare i lastbilsklassen i Dakar-rallyt.

Jost Capito, 53 år från Tyskland, är utbildad civilingenjör. Han startade sin karriär 1984 som utvecklingsingenjör för BMW:s prestandamotorer. Capito började hos Porsche 1989 och var först chef för Porsche Carrera Cup-organisationen och senare samordnare för alla racingmästerskap med märket Porsche.

Han har också haft chefspositioner vid Sauber Petronas Engineering från 1996 till 2001 och var från 1998 Chief Operating Officer för Formel 1-teamet Sauber Red Bull. Capito gick vidare till Ford i slutet av 2001 där han den sista tiden var ansvarig för Fords globala verksamhet för prestandafordon samt motorsportsstrategi.

Kris Nissen, 51, har varit chef för Volkswagen Motorsport sedan 2003 och har under dessa år vunnit viktiga motorsportssegrar för Volkswagen. Ulrich Hackenberg, Volkswagen-koncernens utvecklingschef, tackar Nissen för hans insatser:
– Kris Nissen har tagit Volkswagen Motorsport långt framåt och har lett teamet under den mest framgångsrika fasen hittills i vår historia. Han bidrog till Volkswagens dubbelseger i 2009 års Dakar-rally och hjälpte till att skriva motorsporthistoria med trippelsegrar i Dakar-rallyt både 2010 och 2011.

Från och med 2013 kommer Volkswagen Motorsport att delta i rally-VM, WRC, med den helt nyutvecklade rallybilen Polo R WRC.
12-03-24 Ford and Solberg grab Fafe glory in perfect Portuguese warm-up
Ford World Rally Team’s Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson chalked up their first victory for the squad today with a stunning performance to triumph in the Fafe Rally Sprint, a warm-up event for next weekend’s Rally de Portugal.

Their win could hardly have been closer, as Solberg’s Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car edged out world champion Sébastien Loeb by just two hundredths of a second.

Formerly a popular part of the Rally de Portugal route, the 6.34km Fafe gravel speed test east of Porto was resurrected for the first time since it last echoed to the sound of FIA World Rally Championship cars in 2001, after which the rally moved south to its current Algarve base.

Although a non-championship event, the Fafe Rally Sprint attracted 30 entries, among them the Fiesta RS World Rally Cars of Solberg and team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila. An estimated 100,000 fans lined the special stage, and they did not go away disappointed.

Although Latvala proved comfortably fastest on the first of three runs through the demanding stage, Solberg’s second pass was swifter still, earning the popular Norwegian the right to drive the team’s sole Fiesta RS WRC on the third and final test. Whilst disappointed not to make it through himself, Latvala admitted he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
- “I loved the character of the stage,” said the 26-year-old Finn. “I’d only ever seen it on video before, and there were some difficult jumps that made it really spectacular. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people on a stage, and you could really sense their enthusiasm. It’s a true classic, and I had a lot of fun out there. Of course, I would have liked to be the one doing the last run, but I guess I did two days of testing last week and Petter only one, so this was his payback!”

To add a touch of local flavour, Solberg’s two Portuguese mechanics attached a national flag to the roof of the 37-year-old’s Fiesta RS WRC for the winner-takes-all run. Following a characteristically effervescent drive, the 2003 world champion flashed across the finish line just ahead of Loeb.
- “What an unbelievable stage,” said Solberg. “There were some really big and difficult jumps, but they only made it even more exciting. We want to take our sport close to the fans, and that is exactly what we did here. This was a team effort and a team victory, for me and for Jari-Matti and for all the guys who did such a good job again with the car. It feels great to win.
- “I put on a big attack. There were a lot of people generating a lot of passion, and it was fantastic to be back here again. Fafe is truly a rallying place. I’m very happy, and I hope we can continue this way in the rally. We’ve taken the first step, and now Jari-Matti and I need to beat everybody else next week, too,” he added.


Rally de Portugal will get underway on Thursday in Lisbon, before competitors head south to Faro via three evening stages in the Alentejo region. They then face three days of challenging gravel speed tests in the Serra do Caldeirão hills above the Algarve, covering a total of 434.77km across 22 stages.

12-03-19 Rallyföraren Mattias Adielsson till WRC tävlingen i Portugal
När Portugals deltävling i Rally-VM avgörs helgen den 29 mars till 1 april finns Mattias Adielsson, Göteborg, och Christoffer Bäck, Hedemora, på plats i Portugal. Mattias och Christoffer ska innan tävlingen köra rekognoseringen. Att delta i rekognoseringen innebär att de tillsammans med övriga deltagare i VM-tävlingen åker tävlingens sträckor och skriver sina egna noter.
- Det här kommer att bli ett äventyr, säger Mattias Adielsson.

Resan till Portugal ingår i Mattias och Christoffers långsiktiga plan för att ta sig till WRC. Mattias och Christoffer blev tidigare i år uttagna till Svenska Bilsportsförbundets Junior Elitsatsning (JES), så att ge sig ut i världen för att få mer utbildning blev då ett naturligt steg. De har fått stor hjälp i planeringen av förbundskaptenen Anders Dawidsson på Svenska Bilsportsförbundet . Dawidsson kommer också att finnas med som stöd i Portugal.
- Det finns så mycket att tänka på och planera inför en start i en VM tävling. Vi får nu möjligheten att göra all planering fram till start i tävlingen. Det är mycket lärorikt och kommer att stärka oss i vår framtida satsning, avslutar Mattias Adielsson.
12-03-16 Första testet tillsammans för Patrik och Maria
Samspelet mellan MINI-föraren Patrik Sandell och hans nya codriver Maria Andersson verkar gå enligt planerna. Svenskarna befinner sig i England där de under fredagen genomfört en första test tillsammans.

Maria Andersson är till vardags sportchef på Svenska bilsportförbundet, men också en av landets mest meriterade kartläsare, efter flera säsonger tillsammans med Patrik Flodin.

Tidigare i veckan avslöjades att hon kommer att hoppa in i högerstolen bredvid Patrik Sandell under Rally Portugal om några veckor, då ordinarie codrivern Staffan Parmander fått förhinder.

Trots att Patrik och Maria känner varandra sedan många år är det första gången de kör tillsammans. Men att döma av fredagens test i England tillsammans med Prodrive kommer det inte innebära några problem.
- Samarbetet har fungerat klockrent, och vi hann med mycket också. Vid debriefingen efter Svenska rallyt listade vi ett antal saker som vi ville testa inför Portugal. Vi betade av hela den listan idag, säger Patrik Sandell.

Men det fanns en liten detalj som ställde till det lite i början av testet.
- Patrik hade svårt att höra mig ordentligt först, så jag fick helt enkelt ta i lite och höja rösten. Men det var nog den enda anpassningen vi behövde göra faktiskt, säger Maria Andersson.

Om en vecka beger sig Patrik och Maria till Portugal för ännu ett test under fredagen, följt av en rallysprint på lördagen - WRC Fafe Rally Sprint – där större delen av WRC-eliten kommer att finnas med på startlinjen.

Vodafone Rally de Portugal går sedan av stapeln veckan därpå, 29 mars – 1 april.
12-03-13 Pontus Tidemand kör WRC Academy 2012
I sista sekund så blev det klart att den 21-åriga värmländska rallytalangen Pontus Tidemand kommer att köra WRC Academy 2012. WRC Academy som är Junior-VM i rally har premiär i Portugal om tre veckor .
Efter att Pontus har vunnit båda SM-deltävlingarna som körts under vintersäsongen totalt och imponerat med en tredjeplats i SWRC-klassen i Rally Sweden så blev det klart sent på måndagseftermiddagen att Pontus kommer köra WRC Academy 2012.

Det är tack vare de fina resultaten under året och genom ett samarbete med det norska talangutvecklingsbolaget EVEN rally som Pontus får möjligheten att köra 2012-års Junior-VM i rally.
- Ja, det är snabba vändningar inom motorsporten. Det dök upp en möjlighet att vi kunde få till en satsning på WRC Academy under slutet av förra veckan. Jag är självklart mycket glad och tacksam för stödet jag har från EVEN Rally som gör denna satsning möjlig, berättar Pontus.

Svenska Landslagsföraren Pontus Tidemand tillsammans med kartläsaren Stig-Rune Skjaermoen är en av 13 stycken förare som är anmälda till premiären i Rally Portugal. Alla anmälda förare i WRC Academy ställer upp i likadana Ford Fiesta R2 som tillhandahålls av Ford´s officiella fabriksteam M-Sport.

Årets serie har sex deltävlingar och premiären är redan sista helgen i mars, då Rally Portugal avgörs. Serien fortsätter sedan med Akropolis-rallyt i juni sedan vidare till Finland, Tyskland, Frankrike och slutligen Spanien i november då finalen avgörs. Av de sex tävlingarna så avgörs tre stycken på grus och två på asfalt, medans finalen avgörs på båda underlagen.
- Det kommer bli jättekul och ser verkligen fram emot första deltävlingen. Det kommer bli ett otroligt lärorikt år, då jag kommer få mycket erfarenhet av VM tävlingar och att få köra på asfalt, avslutar Pontus
12-03-13 Sandell till Portugal med ny kartläsare
Det blir byte i högerstolen när Patrik Sandell åker till Rally Portugal om ett par veckor. Staffan Parmander, som är Sandells ordinarie codriver, har fått förhinder och tvingas avstå rallyt. Istället kliver Maria Andersson in i WRC-MINI:n bredvid Patrik.

Staffan Parmander är sedan flera år involverad i projektet World Rally Resort i sin hemby Kall. En satsning som kräver svenskens närvaro samtidigt som Rally Portugal körs, varför han helt enkelt tvingas avstå VM-tävlingen.
– Jag har verkligen känt mig ung på nytt nu när jag kört med Patrik det senaste året. Så det är tråkigt att tvingas kliva åt sidan i Portugal, men just nu är jag tvungen, säger Staffan Parmander.

Patrik och Staffan tävlar tillsammans för nystartade Sweden World Rally Team, med Staffan själv som en av grundarna. Räddare i nöden för dem blir nu en annan av landets mer erfarna kartläsare, Maria Andersson, som bland annat läst noter åt Patrik Flodin under flera år.
– Jag är väldigt glad att vi hittade den här lösningen med Maria. Jag har fullt förtroende för henne med tanke på all den erfarenhet hon har från Rally-VM sedan tidigare, fortsätter Parmander.

Även Patrik Sandell låter lugn när han pratar om sin nya partner.
– Vi har känt varandra i många år, ända sedan hon började köra med Flodin, så på det personliga planet vet jag att det kommer att fungera, säger Sandell.
– Hon har dessutom mer erfarenhet från Portugal än vad jag har. Hon har kört där två gånger och jag bara två, tillägger han.

Nu handlar det för Patrik och Marias del om att få så mycket tid som möjligt tillsammans i bilen. Redan fredag flyger de till England för ett kortare test tillsammans med Prodrive, som ansvarar för svenskarnas WRC MINI.

Fredagen därpå bär det av till Portugal för ännu ett test, följt av en rallysprint på lördagen - WRC Fafe Rally Sprint – med större delen av WRC-eliten på startlinjen.
– Vi får tre dagar tillsammans i bilen innan det är dags för recce i Portugal. Det är mer än vad jag och Staffan fick inför Svenska rallyt senast, så jag är säker på att när vi väl kommer till start så kommer det att funka kanon, avslutar Patrik Sandell.
12-03-12 Elsewhere end of day quotes Rally Mexico day 3
Mads Østberg, Adapta Motorsport World Rally Team (4th) said:
- “This was a tricky event for sure. It has been a bit up and down for us. We came here to fight for fifth and hopefully challenge some of the factory drivers. Ok, we have challenged them on some stages but not overall
- “But I think it has been a good event. We almost managed to stay out of trouble, but then when we did get into trouble [with a puncture on SS22] we had it in the worst possible place!
- “But ok, we managed to get through and secure a good position and also with a Power Stage point at the end – I am very pleased with that.
- “I am looking forward to doing some testing with the car ahead of Portugal because we have been trying a lot of different things this weekend. We will try some new strategies and a few things with the set-up of the car. I think we can still improve the car a lot and for sure I can improve as well so hopefully we can fight for a podium in Portugal.”

Ken Block, Monster World Rally Team (9th) said:
- “I’m glad to be finished with a total of three punctures over three days! Today the long stage went really well actually, until I had a little mistake in my notes. It wasn’t even that bad of a mistake. It was just ‘don’t cut’ on a very tight corner and I went wide to make sure I didn’t hit whatever I had warned myself about on the inside. But as I stayed out, the road kind of dropped away into a bank and we skidded on the lose stuff and got two punctures.
- “But I was able to finish ninth overall which is great. Ok three guys out today – and really unfortunate that Jari-Matti [Latvala] was one of them.
- “I’m stoked with the overall result in the top-ten, but it is not that way that I would have wanted it to be. We are just going to come back and work harder next time.”

Ricardo Triviño (10th) said:
- “I am so happy! This was a fantastic result for me. This was my first time in the WRC and to finish in the top-ten with one point on my home event is fabulous!”

Chris Atkinson, Monster World Rally Team (DNF) said:
- “The rally has been ok but unfortunately we had a couple of problems. We had the brake problem yesterday and broke the suspension because of that and then today we had the suspension lose its oil. So to have two problems like that is really frustrating because we could have had a good result here.
- “It is good to be back in the WRC [World Rally Championship], but it is always disappointing not to get a result. We set a few good times – a third fastest and a second fastest – and we were doing some decent times on the long stages. So the speed was there, we just have to get some more time in the car and have a bit more luck.
- “I hope we can do some more events with the Monster [World Rally Team] boys later in the year – the team is awesome.”
12-03-12 Tänak takes Guanjuatto for fifth
After a mammoth distance of 407.87 competitive kilometres, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak rounded off what has been a sensational first assault on Rally Guanajuato Mexico in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC with fifth place overall. Elsewhere however, there was disappointment for Evgeny Novikov as an off put the Russian out of the rally; failing to score a World Rally Championship (WRC) point for the first time this year.

Displaying maturity and composure beyond his 24 years, Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk impressed throughout the weekend. Despite incurring a 10 second penalty, spin, stalled engine and a puncture costing the Estonian over a minute, Tänak held his own against the top drivers, continually setting the fifth fastest time and excelling over the Super Specials with one third and two fourth place finishes.

Struggling with the set-up of their Ford Fiesta RS WRC and having to perfect brand new pace notes for the event, Novikov and experienced co-driver Denis Giraudet did well to keep in touch with the front runners over the course of the weekend. Unfortunately for the Russian, an off on the final stage of Day 2 (SS20, Comanjilla 2) saw him damage the right-rear wheel of his Fiesta. Incurring a five minute penalty, Novikov was forced to Rally 2 on the final day of competition.

Embarking on the concluding stages, M-Sport’s young guns tackled another Super Special around Leon’s Autodromo (SS21) before one of the longest and most challenging stages on the WRC calendar – the daunting 54.30 km of Guanajuatito (SS22). Competitors then contested two final runs through Mexico’s mountainous landscape: the fast, flowing roads of Derramadero (SS23) before competing for Power Stage points over the final test.

Requiring total concentration and commitment, the 54.30 km test separates the men from the boys. Setting the fifth fastest time behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC – just 14.1 seconds adrift of last year’s Dakar winner, Nassar Al Attiyah – Tänak proved he has what it takes to compete against the world’s best drivers on some the most challenging stages the world series has to offer.

Following the retirement of factory Ford driver, Jari-Matti Latvala, on the notoriously challenging stage, Tänak saw himself propelled into fifth place. Moreover, a puncture for Mads Østberg meant that the Estonian found himself in contention for fourth heading into the final two tests – just 10.1 seconds adrift of last month’s podium finisher.

Setting the fourth fastest time on SS23 (Derramadero) – 0.3 seconds up on Mikko Hirvonen – Tänak continued to impress, consolidating his fifth place with only the final Power Stage left to run. Finishing Rally Mexico in style, Tänak set the fourth fastest time over the final test – a painstaking 67 thousandths of a second adrift off Østberg and his first Power Stage point.

Tänak now lies eighth in the Championship standings with 14 points, two adrift of Dani Sordo in seventh.
Returning under Rally 2 for the final day of competition Novikov and Giraudet planned to use the remaining stages to perfect their pace notes ahead of next year’s event. Regrettably, the pairing fell prey to Guanajuatito (SS22), crashing heavily and rolling his Ford Fiesta RS WRC onto its roof 35 km into the stage.

Despite failing to score on this event, Novikov’s impressive start to the season sees him hold sixth in the Championship standings with 21 points – just five adrift of factory Ford driver, Latvala.

Tänak’s strong result saw the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team extend their lead of the Mini WRC Team in the Manufacturers’ Championship.
Ott Tänak (5th) said:
- “The rally has been ok. We got what we wanted to achieve here – made it through and got the experience. Our mission was to get at least sixth position and we managed fifth so that was really good for us. I am sorry for Jari-Matti [Latvala] as he was doing really well, but that is just the way it is sometimes.
- “On the Power Stage we were just 67 thousandths [of a second] away from Mads [Østberg] and our first Power Stage point so that was a little disappointing, but at least we know who will be buying the drinks tonight!”

Evgeny Novikov (DNF) said:
- “This afternoon was really tough. We rolled the car onto the roof on the second stage [of the day, SS23] but it is not easy to say exactly what happened – it all happened so quickly. I have looked at some of the in car footage but still it is difficult to see. It is very disappointing for me as I was on track for some more strong points, but these things happen.
- “The first stage [SS21] was good and we were working on perfecting the pace notes for next year. I am very disappointed but we are still sixth in the [Drivers’] Championship. Now I have to look ahead to Portugal where hopefully we can be back on the pace and where we need to be.”
12-03-12 VM-poäng i tuff VM-debut i Mexiko
Det blev en sjätteplats i PWRC-klassen och åtta VM-poäng för Ramona Karlsson och Miriam Walfridsson i parets VM-debut i Mexikos VM-rally. En tuff resa över tre och en halv dag avslutades på söndagen och det var händelserikt in i det sista. Det blev till slut en sjätteplats och åtta VM-poäng efter att man drabbats av ytterligare tekniska problem under dagen samt en punktering när man låg trea på rallyts längsta sträcka.
- Målsättningen för sista dagen blev snabbt att ta oss i mål och säkra VM-poäng, säger Ramona. Det här har varit ett mycket händelserikt och lärorik rally. Självklart är det surt med de tekniska problem vi har haft men vi måste komma ihåg att vi nu har gjort vår VM-debut och det i mästerskapets tuffaste rally. Vi plockar mer och mer tid i takt med att vi får mer rutin och när allting fungerar har vi redan visat att vi hänger med de snabbaste i VM. Det här känns jättekul och är lovande för framtiden.

Målet för den sista dagen var att ta in på närmsta konkurrenten Salgado 80 sekunder före och knipa femteplatsen. Det började bra, söndagens första sträcka var en superspecial där Ramona och Salgado ställdes mot varandra. Ramona kunde ta ledningen men efter halva sträckan fick man nya problem med en växelvajer. Ramona och Miriam tvingades göra en snabb reparation inför rallyts längsta sträcka på 55 km och kunde i sista sekund starta sträckan. Efter tredje splitten låg man trea totalt och tog in rejält på Salgado i sammandraget men efter c:a 15 km slog man i en sten och drabbades av en dubbelpunktering. Utan service resten av rallyt la paret om målsättningen till att ta bilen i mål och till VM-poäng.
- Det var med hög puls vi fick ut på den längsta sträckan i rallyt efter att tvingats reparera växelvajern provisoriskt innan start, berättar Ramona. Vi kunde ändå ta in mycket tid på Salgado men efter punkteringen som också gjorde att vi skadade styrstaget la vi om fokus på att ta oss i mål. Nu har vi gjort vår VM-debut och när allting har fungerat har vi hängt med de snabbaste. Miriam har varit stentuff och kämpat sig igenom och nu ska vi fira att vi gått i mål och överlevt vår VM-debut. Vi ser redan fram emot nästa rally!
Resultat: http://www.wrc.com/results/2012/corona-rally-mexico/stage-times/?category=pwrc
12-03-11 Araújo and WRC Team MINI Portugal make their mark in Mexico
Armindo Araújo (PRT) and his co-driver Miguel Ramalho successfully navigated their Michelin-shod MINI John Cooper Works WRC through the demanding stages of Rally Guanajuato México this weekend representing the Motorsport Italia-run WRC Team MINI Portugal to get their best result to date. After three fierce days of competition the Portuguese pairing finished the event seventh overall, bringing home six drivers’ points in their – and MINI’s – first overseas outing in the FIA World Rally Championship. Araújo’s team mate Paulo Nobre (BRA) once again fulfilled his reputation as the fans’ hero despite having to retire on SS23.

After a Top 10 finish at Rallye Monte-Carlo and a clean pass through every stage at Rally Sweden last month, Araújo was keen to show his speed this weekend and aimed to match his ‘Monte’ result on MINI’s first long haul event. However, Rally México proved to be tougher than expected from the very beginning. Mapping problems jinxed Araújo's Thursday Qualifying Stage, leaving him first on the roads on Day One. Having to clean the roads for the competition made things difficult but – never to be defeated – the talented Portuguese driver gave everything he had out on the Mexican gravel on Day One, earning himself a well-deserved spot in the Top 10. The cherry on the cake of an already positive day, Araújo set respectively fourth and third overall times in the two runs through Friday’s Super Special Stage.

No longer taxed with the task of road sweeping, Araújo’s aim for Saturday’s stages was focusing on finding his rhythm and the best possible set-up for his MINI JCW. A spin on SS14 - costing him only a few seconds - and 'moment' on SS20 when he had to avoid a big rock in the middle of the road, were the only lows in an otherwise trouble-free day. With his confidence back and other drivers falling foul of the tricky conditions, the Portuguese driver was promoted up the field to finish the day in a confortable eighth place overall. With only four stages to go – including the massive 54.3 Guanajuatito stage – Araújo started the last day of Rally México completely focused and eventually finished in seventh place after the unexpected retirement of Jari-Matti Latvala on SS23.

With no previous experience of Rally México, but determined to make the most of the weekend and fail his fans down, Nobre took a steady approach to the event until disaster struck on SS5, the fourth stage of Day One proper, when he rolled his MINI JCW and was forced to retire for the day. With both Nobre and his co-driver Edu Paula unhurt, and thanks to the hard work of the Motorsport Italia boys back in service, the Brazilian duo was able to re-join the event on Saturday under Rally 2 regulations. The San Paulan returned eager to please his fans but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be - on SS14 he lost the road and one of his MINI’s wheels. Despite having been under the weather throughout the weekend, Nobre resolutely restarted on Day Three, refusing point blank to miss the final stages of the rally or let down the glorious Mexican spectators. The Brazilian’s last day at Rally México started on a high, as he had the honor of going head-to-head with 8-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb on the opening Super Special Stage, marking a new career highlight. However, Paulo’s outing at Rally México ended 3km into SS23, after he went off road causing too much damage to his MINI JCW WRC to continue.

Armindo Araújo: "I'm so happy to have finished in seventh here in Mexico! It's my best result to date in the WRC and now I can look forward to Rally de Portugal and try and do even better in three weeks time. After Mexico where the fans have been truly incredible, I can't wait to compete in front of my home crowd."

Bruno De Pianto, WRC Team MINI Portugal Team Manager: "We're very excited to have finished the event in seventh overall with our No. 1 driver Armindo Araújo. He did a great job all weekend and he's done us all very proud! His MINI worked perfectly and now we are all waiting to see what he - and we - can do at Rally de Portugal. As a team manager, it's a pleasure to work with a driver like Armindo. So far this season, he's taken on three events in-a-row that he's never competed on before in a MINI - on Tarmac, snow and gravel. He's not only successfully completed every single stage, but overcome a problem like having to drive through the Qualifying Stage here without putting in a competitive time, be first out on the tough Mexican gravel and still moved up through the field to finish seventh!"

Final overall classification – Rally Guanajuato México
S. Loeb/ D. Elena FRA Citroën DS3 4:15:32.7
M. Hirvonen/ J. Lehtinen FIN Citroën DS3 +42.4
P. Solberg/ C. Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS +2:11.4
M.Østberg/ J. Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS +4:51.5
O. Tanak/ K. Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS +5:02.6
N. Al-Attyiah/ G. Bernacchini QAT Citroën DS3 +6:41.4
A. Araújo/ M. Ramalho PRT MINI JCW WRC +12:46.9
S. Ogier/ J. Ingrassia FRA Škoda F. S2000 +14:57.8
K. Block/ A. Gelsomino USA Ford Fiesta RS +22:26.8
R. Trivino/ A. Haro MEX Ford Fiesta RS +23:30.7
2012 FIA Drivers' Championship Standings

S.Loeb 66/M. Hirvonen 50 /P. Solberg 47/ M. Ostberg 28/ J-M Latvala 26/ E. Novikov 21/ D.Sordo 18/ / O. Tanak 14/ F. Delecour 8/ N. Al-Attyiah 8/ A. Araújo 7/ P. Campana 6/ H. Solberg 6/ …R.Trivino 1
12-03-11 Händelserik lördag i Mexiko
Ramona Karlsson och Miriam Walfridsson är fortsättningsvis sexa totalt i PWRC-klassen efter ännu en händelserik dag i Mexikos VM-rally. De inledde andra hela dagen med att återigen klättra upp på en fjärdeplats totalt efter specialsträcka 15 men växellådsproblem gjorde att de tvingades bryta och inte kunde fullfölja dagens sista sträckor. De kommer nu att starta om rallyt igen på söndagen efter att teamet fixat växellådan.
– Tyvärr fick vi problem med växelföraren efter att vi klättrat i totalen men vi har ett superteam som kan fixa det så vi kan starta om imorgon igen, säger Ramona.

Duon har hängt med bra på sträckorna men rallyt är tufft och många har haft problem under de första dagarna. Ramona säger att de samlar på sig mycket nyttig erfarenhet från sträckorna.
– På de partier som inte går uppe i bergen är vi med bra tidsmässigt och kör topp-3 tider, men när vi kommer upp i bergen tappar vi en del tid. Vägarna är väldigt annorlunda mot vad vi är vana vid och det är mycket små marginaler. De snabbaste i klassen har kört här många gånger och den erfarenheten är mycket viktig. Vi lär oss väldigt mycket och det är kul att se att på de partier som har en karaktär vi är vana vid är vi med och slåss i toppen.

Duon kommer nu att starta om igen på söndagen, rallyt sista dag, och samla på sig mer erfarenhet från de fyra sista specialsträckorna.
– Bilen går fantastiskt bra och hela teamet gör ett superjobb så vi ser fram emot att samla på oss mer erfarenhet från de sista sträckorna. Mycket kan fortfarande hända, förhoppningsvis kan vi även klättra i totalen. Miriam mår också mycket bättre efter att hon fått dropp under natten och vi är redo att kämpa på under den sista dagen, avslutar Ramona.

Resultat efter specialsträcka 20 och totalt efter dag 2.

12-03-10 Heartache for Novikov as Tänak masters Mexican endurance
Embarking on the toughest day of competition at the ninth Rally Guanajuato Mexico, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak endured a massive 183.30 km and 13 hours of competitive stages. Continuing a composed display of maturity on the difficult stages, Tänak held his own to secure sixth place heading into the final day of competition.

Elsewhere however, there was heartache for Novikov as the Russian clipped the rear of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC on the final stage of the day rendering him in, an unusual for 2012, 11th place.

The fast, flowing roads of SS13 (Ibarilla 1) are synonymous with the Mexican event and drivers have to work hard to find the right line and avoid the treacherous rocks which litter the side of the road.

Despite not being 100 per cent comfortable behind the wheel of their Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet set the eighth fastest time over the 29.9 km test to maintain their seventh place and keep former Rally Mexico podium finisher, Chris Atkinson, at bay. Regardless of his continued unease with the set-up of his Fiesta, the Russian kept pace with the top drivers over SS14 to set the seventh fastest time and increase his lead over Atkinson to 41.1 seconds.

Finding a better rhythm over the afternoon loop, Novikov avoided the pitfalls and punctures which blighted so many others on SS15 (Ibarilla 2). Setting the fourth fastest time a full six seconds clear of yesterday’s podium sitter, Mads Østberg, the Muscovite closed the gap to team mate Tänak to just 4.2 seconds.

The afternoon’s final set of stages saw the M-Sport crews tackle two passes through Comanjilla – the last five kilometres of which will form the Power Stage tomorrow – interspersed with an elongated Super Special; SS18 and SS19 having been combined to form one 4.42 km test around the Autodromo in León.

Another top-ten time from Novikov on SS17 saw the Russian consolidate his seventh place with over a minute in hand over Nassar Al-Attiyah in eighth. After thrilling the crowds on the Super Special, the Russian embarked on the second pass over Comanjilla (SS20). Unfortunately, the Russian hit a bank with his right-rear wheel on the second corner. After losing the wheel and damaging the rear of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC further into the stage, Novikov will restart under Rally 2 tomorrow.

Continuing their impressive campaign in Mexico, Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk had a strong run over the morning loop. Having rolled his MM Motorsport run Ford Fiesta S2000 on Ibarilla last year, Tänak took a cautious approach towards the end of SS14. Despite his caution, the youngster held his own against the top drivers, setting the fifth fastest time in the process. A spin and a stalled engine on SS14 (Otates 1) lost the Estonian over 15 seconds, but Tänak still clinched the sixth fastest time just 19.6 seconds adrift of Petter Solberg’s trouble-free run in the factory Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

The second pass over Ibarilla (SS15) was less fruitful for Tänak as a puncture saw him lose almost a minute to the front runners. Deciding to continue but losing the rubber mid-way through the stage, Tänak’s lead over team mate Novikov tumbled from 58.4 seconds to just 4.2 seconds. Unfazed by his problems on the previous stage, the Estonian’s maturity shone through as he secured another impressive time on the second pass over Otates (SS16).

Taking it steady over Comanjills 1 (SS17) and gaining experience of tomorrow’s Power Stage, Tänak set the sixth fastest time to extend his lead over Novikov to over 20 seconds. Entertaining the crowds around the elongated Super Special at León’s Autodromo, the Estonian went head to head with Solberg – setting the fourth fastest time and vowing that one day he would get the better of the factory Ford driver before ending the day with another strong time over the final stage.

Ott Tänak (6th) said:
- “The last stages were quite ok. Mostly we were just checking our pace against Evgeny’s [Novikov] splits. I think the first stage after service went really well when we took about eight seconds out of him so that was good.
“It was a lot of fun going up against Petter [Solberg] on the Super Special. We tried, but I think we might have tried too much because on the first corner we went wide and lost some time. The gap after the first and second loop was the same so I lost the time on the first one. But that is just the way it is, and next time I’ll do better.
- “On the last stage we saw that Evgeny had a problem so we slowed right down as we don’t have any need to push. We have a pretty big gap behind us now so tomorrow we will work on perfecting the pacenotes for next year.”
12-03-11 Elsewhere, end of day quetes, Rally Mexico day 2
Mads Østberg, Adapta Motorsport World Rally Team (5th) said:
- “This afternoon has been quite ok. Still we are working with the car but now we are just driving to secure the fifth place. We have plenty of time so it is just about getting to the end.
- “We had really good fun fighting with Jari-Matti [Latvala] in the Super Special. It was just a shame that we could not beat him – but it was close!
- “We will try some new things in the morning but we won’t do anything I can’t change back because it [SS22, Guanajuatito] is a very long stage and you need to be comfortable with the car to keep the concentration.
- “We have a pretty big gap behind us now so we can use tomorrow to learn more about this event. It is quite special and you need a unique set-up and style to do well so the more we can learn for next year the better.”

Ken Block, Monster World Rally Team (10th) said:
- “This afternoon has been a lot more fun. I really enjoy that stage [Comanjilla] – it is a lot more flat out and flowing – really good fun. The twisty stuff like the long stuff this morning, I like it to a certain extent but when it is that long it can be real tricky.

“I have been making some minor adjustments to the car throughout the day to help on the longer sections, but it takes a lot of commitment to compete against these guys. If you are to really throw the car into the corners and lean on the tyres and expect some grip, you have got to be fully committed.
- "But yeah, I’ve been working on that, and on the braking and on the suspension a little so hopefully that should give me a little more confidence going into tomorrow.
- “It is just a constant learning process. The problem for me is that everyone continued to develop with this car. That is why I keep calling myself a tourist! I just can’t compete and develop at that same level as these guys.”
12-03-10 Elsewhere, Midday Quates Rally Mexido Day 2
Mads Østberg, Adapta Motorsport World Rally Team (5th) said:
- “This afternoon was quite ok. We did some changes to the car in service and it worked quite well on the first stage. We kept the set-up for the long run but it didn’t work so well there. It worked ok on the fast stuff, but in the very narrow and twisty stuff we had a lot of oversteer and I just lost a lot of time really.
“But ok, we are learning a lot about the set-up and about the car on this rally so we are getting a lot of good experience.”

Ken Block, Monster World Rally Team (12th) said:
- “This afternoon was good. I lost the brakes and the tyres got really soft towards the end of the last one, but that last long stage is a real workout!
- “The conditions are good. It is a lot nicer to drive swept roads because this morning we were the sweepers so it was nice to have some grip. But my times haven’t improved all that much so I’m not pushing hard. I’m too far away from the guys ahead of me. So yeah, we will just keep going and see what happens.”

Ricardo Triviño (14th) said:
- “The second pass was much better than this morning. Also the next stages I know very well so hopefully we will see our times improve even more.
- “The conditions were pretty tricky. The stages are so long that the tyres were completely worn by the end. There was so little grip and it was a real challenge to drive.”

Chris Atkinson, Monster World Rally Team
After losing the brakes throughout SS16, Atkinson lost them completely after the flying finish and hit a bank. The Australian will Rally 2 tomorrow.

12-03-10 M-Sport Ford WRT Midday Quotes Rally Mexico Day 2
Ott Tänak (6th) said:
- “We had a front-left puncture at the beginning of the first stage. I felt the puncture, but we still had the rubber on so it was possible to drive and it was not too bad. But then the rubber came off for the last 10 kilometres and it was really bad. But we had lost so much time already that it did not make sense to stop and change it and lose even more time.
- “On the second stage we tried a bit harder because Evgeny [Novikov] was getting really close to us and we set a good time so that was ok. The main reason we came here was to get experience of the new stages and that is the main objective for this afternoon. We are not going to take too many risks, just drive at our own pace and learn the stages.”

Evgeny Novikov (7th) said:
- “This afternoon was ok, but everything is still the same. There is much better grip which is a bit easier for me, but nothing special. I’m trying to drive the stages to the maximum, but we are still losing some time so we will have to see.
- “Of course I will keep trying to do my best and we will keep pushing in the next stages – maximum attack.”
12-03-10 Elsewhere, mid morning quetes, Rally MExico day 2
Mads Østberg, Adapta Motorsport World Rally Team (4th) said:
- “We had two very long stages so it was quite a tricky morning. I enjoyed the second stage more than the first one, but if you find the right rhythm, for sure the characteristics of the first one would be really good fun to drive.
- “Unfortunately though, nothing really worked for us on the first stage. We had a hole in the car yesterday which brought a lot of dust into the car so with the low sun on the first stage it was really difficult to see the stage properly.
- “We want to improve our times over the next pass. We will make a few small changes to the car and try to fine-tune everything. We are getting there but there are still some things to improve on the car and I also have to make some changes to my driving style.
- “But we are learning. Sometimes it is going in the right direction and then we are quicker, but other times it is not that simple. But that is just the way it is.”

Chris Atkinson, Monster World Rally Team (8th) said:
- “We had no major problems this morning but on the loose sections we were really struggling for grip. It was difficult getting the corner speeds right and we need to work on the medium speed corners for the second pass.
- “We played it fairly safe in the first stage and recorded an ok time. But on the second one we had a pretty average time. We’ll try a few things in service to try and control the car a little better going into the corners and then hopefully we'll get a bit more confidence there.”

Ken Block, Monster World Rally Team (12th) said:
- “This morning we actually ran my favourite and my least favourite stage, so that was pretty interesting! I think we did a good job considering our position on the road but for sure it wasn’t perfect and we were a little ragged in places with a few little moments.
- “We’ll try a few things out in service and then hopefully we can get back out there and entertain the fans with some quicker times.”

Ricardo Triviño (14th) said:
- “This morning the stages have been very good but in the second stage the tyres lost grip after about 20 kilometres. Apart from that it was pretty good.
- “This afternoon we will try to attack the stages a little bit more, but also try and preserve the tyres for the longer stage better than we did this morning.”
12-03-10 M-Sport Ford WRT, Mid morning Quetes Rally MExico day 2
Ott Tänak (6th) said:
“This morning was quite ok. We tried to push a little on the beginning of the first stage, but I made a mistake on the end of that stage last year so we were a bit more careful towards the end. Then on the last stage, we had a spin in the middle of the stage which stalled the engine. The engine was so hot by that point that it didn’t re-start straight away and I think we lost maybe 10 or 20 seconds. After that, our rhythm was not as good as it had been, but that is just the way it is.
- “The main thing was to check our speed against Evgeny [Novikov] and that was all ok. We are still learning this rally so I’m pretty happy with the times. We have a fairly big gap behind us now so we can try some small things in service, but nothing major.”

Evgeny Novikov (7th) said:
- “To be honest this morning was not so good for me. The results are not what I am looking for but we are trying to push and to do our best. We are trying to drive on the limit, but the times are still not as good as I would like.
- “We won’t do any major changes in service, just try our best and hopefully we will find the rhythm and be able to set some more competitive times this afternoon.”
12-03-10 Ramona och Miriam sexa totalt efter bromsproblem
Ramona och Miriam inledde som lovat och började klättra i tabellen när den första heldagen i Mexikos VM-rally inleddes på fredagen. De passerade italienaren Linaro i sammandraget upp till en fjärdeplats. Men på den sjunde specialsträckan försvann bromsarna en kilometer från målgång och paret tappade mycket tid.
– Som tur är hände det på ett lämpligt ställe, vi vågar inte ens tänka på vad som hade hänt om bromsarna hade försvunnit några hundra meter längre fram där vägen var smalare och hade rejäla stup, säger Ramona. Det visade sig att en bromsledning gick sönder, teamet kan fixa det och vi kommer att starta om under superrallyreglerna på lördag.

Bromsfelet innebär att Ramona och Miriam fick tidstillägg på de kommande sträckorna och har nu halkat ner till en sjätteplats totalt. Två hårda dagar återstår dock och duon laddar nu om för lördagens sträckor.
– Vägarna i Mexiko är tuffa med en mycket speciell vägkaraktär jämfört med vad vi är vana vid men vi kommer in i det mer och mer. Miriam har åkt på en magbakterie men vägrar ge upp och hon har fått läkarhjälp och är nu fit for fight! Rallyt har bara börjat och nu laddar vi om, det återstår två tuffa dagar och allt kan hända, avslutar Ramona.

På rally-VM:s officiella hemsida, www.wrc.com, kan ni följa rallyt via livetiming och rallyradio under dagen. Rallyt startar igen 06:54 lokal tid, 13:54 svensk tid.

Resultat PWRC totalt efter dag 1:
1: B. Guerra 1:32.02
2: M. Kosciuzko + 32,6
3: N. Fuchs + 41,5
4: G. Linari + 6:39.3
5: R. Salgado + 9:01.5
6: R. Karlsson + 20:48.8

12-03-10 Elsewhere, end of day Quetes, Rally Mexico Day 1
Mads Østberg, Adapta Motorsport World Rally Team (3rd) said:
- “I think this afternoon has been quite ok. We have tried to push but I am still not one hundred per cent happy with the car. We just have to try and make some changes and see if we go in the right direction. The car is drivable, but it’s not perfect and we still have some places where we can improve.
- “I’m still getting used to the gravel and still learning the rally. It’s only our second time here so I think we’re doing ok and hopefully we can push a little bit more tomorrow.”

Chris Atkinson, Monster World Rally Team (8th) said:
- “We had no problems all afternoon but we’re still not where we need to be. We tried to push a bit harder this afternoon but the times didn’t really come so we’ll try some different set-ups in service and hopefully tomorrow we can go a lot faster.”

Ken Block, Monster World Rally Team (15th) said:
- “This afternoon has been a little bit frustrating. We tried a couple of different driving styles to see if it is any quicker, but I can’t necessarily figure out what I’m doing wrong and right.
- “The stages went well, although I had the tracker come out from underneath my feet and it was bouncing around in the foot well and getting under the pedals. We just hit a rock and it popped all the zip-ties off so that was a bit frustrating for a couple of kilometres.
- “Other than that it was just trying to have a good clean run this afternoon because this morning was so frustrating. Tomorrow, it’s flat out.”

Ricardo Triviño (13th) said:
- “This afternoon has been much better than this morning. The feeling with the car was a lot better and there was much more grip than we saw earlier.

- “Tomorrow the stages are much better suited to my driving style. I know the stages pretty well and I really like driving Ibarrilla and Comanjilla – they’re very good, really good fun to drive!
- “The car is perfect so hopefully tomorrow we can go out there with more attack and make up some places.”
12-03-10 M-Sport Rising Starts impress despite misfourtunes
The ninth Rally Guanajuato Mexico got underway with a spectacular Special Stage through the cobbled streets and historic mining shafts of the stunning world heritage city of Guanajuato last night. With huge crowds lining the DC Shoes Street Stage, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team drivers Ott Tänak and Evgeny Novikov thrilled spectators over the 1.05km stage.

An impressive effort from Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk saw the Estonian duo set the sixth fastest time to equal that of Ford factory driver, Jari-Matti Latvala. Elsewhere however, there was early disappointment for Novikov and experienced navigator Denis Giraudet as an issue with the intercom rendered the pairing 12th overall.

Based to the north and east of Guanajuato, the first full day of competition saw the M-Sport crews get their first taste of gravel in this the 2012 edition of the World Rally Championship (WRC). Tackling two new stages and overcoming the demands of continuous changes in grip, M-Sport’s rising stars rose to the challenge with Novikov securing seventh overall and Tänak sixth at the end of Day 1.

Eager to climb the leaderboard, Novikov had a strong run over the first full day of competition. Getting to grips with his Ford Fiesta RS WRC over the morning loop, the young Russian set the seventh fastest time on SS2, climbing four positions to secure eighth overall. Producing competitive times over the following tests, Novikov set another seventh fastest time on SS4, 6.4 seconds clear of previous Rally Mexico podium finisher, Chris Atkinson. Despite issues with his gear shifts – missing the shift light on his dashboard for much of the morning – the Muscovite set the fifth fastest time on the final 23.69 km test to claim fifth place overall.

Following Thierry Neuville’s retirement after service on SS6, Novikov was propelled into fifth position – seven places up on where he had started in the morning and just 12.7 seconds adrift of team mate Tänak. Despite setting the fifth fastest time on Las Minas 2 (SS7), Novikov lost out to a charging Latvala in the factory Ford Fiesta RS WRC. With SS9 cancelled, the final stage before service saw the crews tackle the 1.23 km Monster Street Stage within which the Russian maintained his seventh position overall.

After the final service, only two Super Specials remained. With the packed Autodromo in León illuminated with fork lightning and heavy rain, Novikov set the 12th and 10th fastest times and will start Day 2 eighth on the road.

Despite running early on the road in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Tänak mastered the slippery conditions over the morning loop. Setting the sixth fastest time on the first 22.12 km stage, the Estonian maintained his overall position just 1.1 seconds adrift of last month’s Rally Sweden podium finisher Mads Østberg. Tänak’s consistency continued over the following tests as the youngster set the sixth fastest time on four consecutive stages. Despite suffering from aggressive brakes, the final test of the morning saw Tänak set the fourth fastest time as he climbed to fifth in the overall standings, just 17.4 seconds adrift and closing on Neuville in fourth.

Following the Belgian’s retirement on SS6, the M-Sport driver was propelled into fourth place, just 25.7 seconds adrift of the podium. Despite setting competitive splits throughout SS7, the Estonian lost out to a blisteringly quick Latvala in the overall standings. Gaining experience with each competitive kilometre, the youngster set another fifth fastest time on the second pass over Los Mexicanos (SS8) to keep a recovering Petter Solberg at bay. In the absence of SS9, the Monster Street Stage followed with Tänak impressing once again with another fifth fastest time. Unfortunately for the Estonian, a late check-in saw him incur a 10-second penalty to put Solberg ahead going into Day 2.

With just the final two Super Special stages left to run, Tänak set the third and fourth fastest times on the rain-soaked track to bring the gap to Solberg down to just 1.3 seconds and will thus start Day 2 ninth on the road.

Ott Tänak (6th) said:
- “This afternoon was ok. We had no dramas. The conditions weren’t too bad and there were far fewer rocks out there than there had been this morning. The surface is quite hard so it wasn’t too bad. In some places it’s really clean and you have quite good grip, but in others it was still a bit dusty and slippery which is what makes it a bit tricky.
- “I think for tomorrow we will just stick with pretty much the same set-up as we have now. We’ll try to keep the pace and stay in front of Evgeny [Novikov]. It’s all good experience for me.”

Evgeny Novikov (7th) said:
- “This afternoon was a lot better than this morning but still not so good and I’m not 100 per cent satisfied with the result. But we are trying to do something about it; we will try a few things out in service and just see what the result is at the finish – there are still two days to go so you never know.
- “Tomorrow, of course, it will be the same approach – maximum attack. We will just try to do our best and see what happens.”

12-03-09 Elsewhere, Midday Quates Rally Mexico day 1
Mads Østberg, Adapta Motorsport World Rally Team (3rd) said:
- “It’s been quite a good morning. We had quite a good rhythm but somehow we are losing a lot of time on the uphill sections, which we don’t completely understand. But we gain a lot of time back on the straight and on the downhill so we’ll just have to try and push a little bit harder on the uphill sections this afternoon to see if there is anything we can do.
- “It’s very frustrating, especially when you are fighting with someone and you see that you are up on the splits and then from one split to another you lose five seconds just because it’s uphill so it’s a little bit disappointing.
- “But it’s still been a good morning for us. I think we have done a good job. The road position means we’re cleaning a little bit but not massively.
- “It’s really slippery out there though. You can see that because there is no one line, there are lines everywhere, and it seems like everyone is struggling to find traction. It’s not like in Sweden where you can follow a clean line, it’s in all directions! But the grip level is always changing and it’s not a small change; it’s always a massive change and it’s so difficult as a driver to judge that – especially when you come at it at such high speeds.
- “The cobbles also are so difficult to drive on. It’s not gravel and it’s not asphalt and it’s so difficult to find the rhythm. They are so hard on the tyres as well and after that stage our tyres were almost completely gone.
- “But third place is not a bad place to be!”

Chris Atkinson, Monster World Rally Team (9th) said:
- “Before the puncture, this morning had been going pretty well. The first stage was good considering our road position and we were around the same speed as Tänak and Østberg. Considering it’s our first time in the car, first time on these tyres, and it’s been a while since I was in Mexico I was pretty happy with that.
- “The plan was to stay with those guys and push a bit harder this afternoon and try and get in front of them but unfortunately the puncture pushed us back a bit. We’ll try and fight back, but it’s a long way to go.
- “It’s just bad luck. We came over a blind crest and were in the middle of the road so there’s not much you can do about that – try and miss it and swerve off the road or just hit it and maybe get a puncture. That’s just the way it is these days.
- “This morning I was learning the car, taking it pretty easy and then the plan was to try and push the speed this afternoon. Now I’ve just got to get some good times in and hopefully move up the running order for a better starting position tomorrow.”

Ricardo Triviño (16th) said:
- “The first stage was good, but by the end of the stage we had no tyres. The cobbles are so hard on tyres and you have to be really careful there. The other stages were better and in the slower corners I could feel much more traction in the front of the car.
- “The atmosphere is fantastic and I can’t wait to get back out there again! This afternoon we’ll just go out there, drive our best, and try and make up some positions.”

Ken Block, Monster World Rally Team (18th) said:
- “Yeah, we had a pretty eventful morning! Obviously being so far up on the road I was doing a lot of sweeping and for how well I was driving I was kind of bummed that the times weren’t a little better. But going out to the first stage this morning the gearbox wouldn’t go into neutral so we had to deal with that a little bit. Ok, it’s not that big of a deal but it’s pretty frustrating!
- “Eventually the gearbox started working again, so that was fine. But then on the last stage, the tyres were just so far gone that every corner felt like ice so I misjudged the braking on a tight-right corner and I ended up going off with the left-rear, getting a puncture and breaking the driveshaft.
- “Then we pulled over because Chris [Atkinson] was behind us and I didn’t want to hold him up. But little did we know he had a puncture himself so we ended up sitting there for a lot longer than we would have wanted.
- “It’s good to be back driving and the times were consistent for the position I was in, but then that last stage was just very frustrating.
- “I just need to focus and do what I need to do on the rest of the stages this afternoon.”

12-03-09 M-Sport Ford WRT, Midday Quates Rally Mexico day 1
Ott Tänak (5th) said:
- “This morning has been ok but the stages have been quite slippery, especially the first one as the asphalt section was really difficult to drive. We also had a problem with the brakes overheating so maybe I’ve been driving a little too aggressively. It got a little better in the later stages, but it was still very difficult to find the right line. We’ll change a few small things in service and see how we go this afternoon.”

Evgeny Novikov (6th) said:
- “This morning has been ok but for the moment I can’t seem to find the key to this rally. I’m trying to push the maximum and I feel like I’m on the limit but the times are not so good.
- “One problem may be that I don’t have the red light on my dashboard which tells me when I have to switch gear so maybe I am shifting less well than usual.
- “But we’ll see. The plan for this afternoon is to go out there with maximum attack and hopefully we will get into the rhythm of the rally soon!”
12-03-09 Ramona och Miriam femma efter första dagen
Mexikos VM-rally är inlett, på torsdagskvällen kördes en publiksträcka på asfalt och Ramona Karlsson och Miriam Walfridsson var femte snabbast.
– Nu är vi äntligen igång, hälsar Ramona. Femma totalt efter första sträckan i Guanajuato är helt ok. På fredag börjar rallyt på riktigt och då siktar vi på att plocka placeringar.

Det har varit ett stort intresse för rallyt hela veckan och det märktes inte minst på den första specialsträckan som var fullpackad med publik.
– Det var helt galet med publik och en helt hysterisk stämning. Vi har aldrig varit med om en sådan publik tidigare och det är helt fantastiskt. Nu laddar vi om för fredagen, avslutar Ramona.

På wrc.com finns också rallyradio som sänder från rallyts samtliga sträckor. Rallyt fortsätter igen fredag eftermiddag svensk tid, fredag morgon lokal tid.

Resultat efter SS1:
1: N. Fuchs 57,4
2: B. Guerra + 1,1
3: M. Kosciuzko + 1,8
4: R. Salgado + 3,8
5: R. Karlsson + 4,9
6: G. Linari + 7,5
12-03-08 Ramona och Miriam laddade för VM-rally
Ramona Karlsson och Miriam Walfridsson har avslutat två dagars rekognosering inför duons VM-start torsdag kväll och Ramona är förväntansfull efter att ha nu kört igenom sträckorna.
– De här vägarna har verkligen allt. Det finns inga marginaler och det kommer att bli ett tufft rally. Det är varmt och det gäller att verkligen fokusera men det här kommer att bli riktigt kul, säger Ramona.

Rallyt startar på torsdag kväll lokal tid och därefter väntar ytterligare tre dagars körning. VM-äventyret har redan börjat bra och det är ett laddat rallypar som ser fram emot VM-starten.
– Vi fick ett helt underbart välkomnande av Mitsubishi i Leon, hundratals människor hade samlats för att heja på oss. Man kan inte bli annat än laddad, vi är riktigt taggade och kan knappt vänta på att få komma igång med rallyt!

Närmast väntar shakedown och presskonferens för Ramona och Miriam innan den första specialsträckan som startar 18.15 lokal tid. Rallyt avslutas på söndag 14.15 lokal tid.


12-03-06 Första Mexikotestet avklarat för Ramona och Miriam
Ramona Karlsson och Miriam Walfridsson är nu på plats i Mexiko. Första testet inför VM-debuten är avklarat och rallyduon har fått en första smak av vägarna i Mexiko.
– Det känns bra att vi sitter i bilen igen och vi sa båda två att det är en speciell känsla att vara igång efter en lång vinter, säger Ramona.

VM-äventyret började dessvärre inte helt problemfritt. Tanken med dagens test var att testa teamets nya DMACK-däck men de fastnade i tullen och man tvingades istället att låna in däck från Ralliart Italien. Det var inte de enda problemen på vägen mot VM-debuten i Mexiko.
– Ett stort tack till Raliart Italien som kunde låna oss däck efter att våra däck fastnade i tullen. Som tur är kommer våra DMACK-däck fram senare ikväll. Det har varit lite strul med resan hit med allt från mekaniker som inte kom vidare från Mexiko City till att Miriams overall blev stulen på flygplatsen men vi tar det som ett dåligt genrep inför en bra premiär och nu är vi alla på plats.

Måndagens test var ett officiellt test för alla Grupp N-åkare och nu väntar två dagars rekognosering inför starten på torsdag kväll, en rekognosering där Ramona och Miriam ska sätta noterna för rallyt.
– Vi har märkt att det gäller att vara mycket noggrann i arbete med noterna, förklarar Ramona. Det finns mycket klurigheter i vägkanterna med allt från sten till stup men vi planerar inte att vara där ute och härja. Vi har fått en bra första känsla efter testet för vad vi har att vänta oss och det är som förväntat. Det är skönt att äntligen vara igång och nu har vi gått in i rallymode!

Rallyt startar officiellt på torsdag kväll.
12-03-02 Så kan ni följa Ramona och Miriams VM-premiär
Ramona och Miriam tillsammans med sina mekaniker och motoringenjör, sitter just nu på flyget på väg till Mexico. De hälsar att de är taggade till tänderna inför sin VM-premiär i Rally Mexico, och ser verkligen fram emot tävlingen.

Givetvis kommer vi att hålla er uppdaterade under deras VM-premiär. På ramonarallying.com kommer vår pressansvarige Ola Lennström att rapportera från måndagens test, inför rallyt, samt en rapport från varje tävlingsdag. Det är 7 timmars tidsförskjutning mellan Sverige och Mexico, och vi kommer att vara i mål under etapperna under sen natt (svensk tid). Fredag 9/3 kl. 03.00 (Svensk tid) startar rallyt, och målgång är ca kl. 22 söndagen 11/3 (Svensk tid).

HÄR kan ni se Live-resultat från PWRC, och övrigt resultat från rallyt, senaste nytt, rallyradio m.m. finner ni på wrc.com

På torsdag 8/3 ca kl. 06.20, kan ni (om tekniken håller) lyssna på en live-intervju med Ramona och Miriam i TV4 Nyhetsmorgon.

Nu håller vi tummarna för Rally Mexicos enda helsvenska ekipage!
12-02-26 Fredrik Åhlin klar för WRC Academy 2012
Den svenske landslagsföraren Fredrik Åhlin är nu klar för årets Junior VM i rally - WRC Academy 2012. Tillsammans med sin kartläsare Morten Abrahamsen kommer Fredrik att köra hela serien med start i Portugal den 29 mars.

Fredrik vann uttagningstävlingen Pirelli Star Driver 2011 och kvalificerade sig då till en friplats i WRC Academy. Med sin Ford Fiesta R2 krigade sig Fredrik fram till en slutlig 10:e plats i Junior VM-serien förra året.
- ”För mig existerar inte ordet otur, men det var en del stolpe ut förra året, och det gjorde att vi tyvärr inte kunde vara med i toppstriden om juniortiteln” säger Fredrik. ”Men i år blir det andra bullar. Nu har vi kört en säsong och lärt oss massor av det så det finns goda förutsättningar till att ta stora kliv uppåt i resultatlistan för i år” spår Fredrik.

Inför årets VM-säsong har Fredrik även jobbat tillsammans med en mental coach för att verkligen kunna fokusera och kanalisera sin vilja i rätt riktning. ”Det är lätt att överladda och det gäller att tänka positivt och hitta de rätta verktygen för att lyckas då man skall prestera och leverera på den här höga nivån” säger Fredrik.

WRC Academy kommer även i år att vara en supportklass till den tunga klassen – WRC, och Juniormästerskapet kommer att avgöras under sex deltävlingar med slutlig målgång i Spanien i november. Förutom dessa sex deltävlingar kommer Fredrik och Mårten även att köra några nationella rallyn för att hålla ångan uppe mellan VM-tävlingarna.
- ”Det här är ju det roligaste som finns på detta jordeliv” avslutar Fredrik och ger sig iväg för ytterligare ett träningspass på gymmet.
12-02-20 Sandell klar för Portugal
Patrik Sandell är klar för att köra Rally Portugal, för Sweden World Rally Team tillsammans med Prodrive och MINI. Det blir därmed Sandells andra WRC-start, efter den framgångsrika debuten i Svenska rallyt häromveckan.
– Jag har kört tävlingen två gånger förut, så jag har lite koll på vägarna och vet vad som väntar mig. Men det känns ändå lite speciellt att veta att jag kommer att sitta i en WRC-bil den här gången, säger Patrik Sandell.

Sandell och hans coddriver Staffan Parmander tävlar för nystartade Sweden World Rally Team. Svenskarna tävlar i en Mini John Cooper Works WRC, driven av engelska Prodrive, och precis som i Svenska rallyt kommer de att bli teamkollegor med spanjoren Daniel Sordo.
– Vi har resonerat tillsammans med Prodrive och kommit fram till att Portugal är ett perfekt nästa steg för oss i den WRC-satsning vi gör. Det är också viktigt för Patrik att få komma tillbaka in i tävlingsbilen så snart som möjligt, medan han har tempot uppe från Svenska rallyt, säger Jan Pettersson som är teamchef för Sweden World Rally Team.

Rally Portugal körs 29 mars till 1 april. Tävlingen börjar redan på torsdagen med en superspecial inne i Lissabon, följt av tre mörkersträckor senare under kvällen. Därefter beger sig bilarna ner till Faro på Algarve-kusten i södra Portugal, som sedan är huvudort för tävlingen under fredag, lördag och söndag.
12-01-26 Ramona och Miriam i historisk VM-satsning 2012
Ramona Karlsson och Miriam Walfridsson storsatsar inför 2012. Med det egna teamet Ramona Rallying är de klara för full VM-säsong i PWRC. Det blir sex VM-rallyn med start i Mexico i mars.
- För mig har det alltid varit en dröm att tävla i VM, det är det finaste man kan göra och det känns nästan lite overkligt att vi nu står inför det, säger Ramona Karlsson. Vi har varit långt ifrån det tidigare men efter hårt arbete och med stort stöd från partners som Höganäs, Sandå, Mitsubishi med flera är det nu äntligen verklighet, säger Ramona

Ramona är inte bara förare utan också teamchef för det egna teamet som blir det enda svenska teamet som kör full VM-säsong. Hon är dessutom den första svenska kvinna som kör rally-VM. Ramona är inställd på att det blir tufft men menar att man har goda chanser.
- Det blir vårt första år i VM så det är för kaxigt att påstå att vi ska kliva upp i toppen direkt. Men vi vet att SM är tufft och kan man hävda sig där står man sig väl även internationellt vilket våra inhopp i Polen och Tyskland ifjol visade. Vi har också med oss ett fantastiskt team med chefmekaniker Mikael Gustafsson i spetsen som backar upp oss till 100%. Det är självklart att vi är med för att köra om topplaceringar, det måste man alltid sikta på. Ingenting är omöjligt, konstaterar hon.

Det här blir också den första svenska kvinnliga VM-satsningen. Med sig i satsningen har Ramona nämligen kartläsaren Miriam Walfridsson som har arbetat med Ramona de senaste åren. Ett självklart val för Ramona.
- Jag och Miriam har kört ihop nu i fem år och vårt samarbete är perfekt. Det finns ingen annan jag skulle vilja ha med mig i högerstolen. Miriam är ung men trots det väldigt rutinerad och hon har liksom mig en riktig vinnarskalle. Det kommer vi att behöva i år mer än någonsin!

Ramona Rallying kommer att köra sex rallyn i VM-klassen PWRC i en Mitsubishi Evo 10. Tävlingskalendern består av Rally Mexico, Argentina, Nya Zeeland, Tyskland, Italien och Spanien.

Tävlingskalender, Ramona Rallying, PWRC 2012:
Rally Mexico 8-11 mars
Rally Argentina 27-29 april
Rally Nya Zeeland 22-24 juni
Rally Tyskland 24-26 augusti
Rally Italien 18-21 oktober
Rally Spanien 8-11 november
12-01-20 Rally-VM i SVT – redan på söndag!
Rally-VM är tillbaka i Sveriges Television. Redan nu på söndag sänds höjdpunkterna från premiären i Monte Carlo-rallyt med ett timslångt program med start kl 23.00 i SVT1.

SVT kommer att sända från mästerskapets samtliga 13 tävlingar. Störst blir satsningen från Rally Sweden 9-12 februari då det bland annat blir premiär för rally i populära Vinterstudion.

Rally-VM har tidigare visats i Sveriges Television. Nu är mästerskapet tillbaka.
– Det är bra för oss och vår sport att VM återigen sänds i SVT. Intresset för rally är stort i Sverige och genom SVT har alla möjlighet att följa tävlingarna i mästerskapet, säger Glenn Olsson, vd för Svenska Rallyt AB.

Rally-VM inleddes i onsdags med Monte Carlo-rallyt. På söndag är det målgång och kl 23.00 samma kväll sänds ett sammandrag från tävlingen i STV1.

Nästa deltävling i mästerskapet är Rally Sweden, som avgörs 9-12 februari. I det svenska VM-rallyt inleder Patrik Sandell sin WRC-satsning och till start i huvudklassen kommer även banracingmästaren från STCC, Richard Göransson.

SVT kommer att hårdbevaka Rally Sweden med dagliga sändningar. Som en del i den satsningen ingår även rapporter i Vinterstudion både lördag och söndag.

Johan Ejeborg, projektledare för sändningarna ser fram emot nysatsningen.
– Det känns otroligt roligt för oss att kunna erbjuda vår publik rally-VM som ytterligare ett starkt mästerskap i SVT:s motorutbud, säger han.

Kommentator under samtliga sändningar blir Stefan Klemetz och till sin hjälp får han expertkommentatorn och rallyprofilen Jonas Kruse.

Fakta Rally Sweden 2012
Rally Sweden är en av 13 deltävlingar i rally-VM, WRC. Tävlingen har 45 miljoner TV-tittare från 195 länder och lockar årligen 220 000 besökare. 2012 avgörs Rally Sweden 9-12 februari. Start och mål sker i Karlstad och den centrala serviceplatsen ligger i Hagfors. I år kommer ett flertal sträckor även att avgöras på norsk mark i trakterna kring Kongsvinger.

www.rallysweden.com
12-01-09 Patrik Sandell klar för Rally-VM med MINI
Sverige var länge ett aktat namn i rallyvärlden. Björn Waldegård blev 1979 den första individuella världsmästaren i rally. Fem år senare var det åter dags för en svensk att kliva upp på tronen då Stig Blomqvist körde hem VM-titeln. Rally var glödhett och räknades till en av de stora folksporterna i Sverige. Pengarna flödade och återväxten blomstrade. Men sedan hände något.

Samtidigt som sporten växte allt mer internationellt fick de svenska talangerna allt svårare att nå ända fram. Begåvningarna fanns, men de fick aldrig chansen. Förrän nu.

Sweden World Rally Team är en långsiktig elitsatsning med målet att hjälpa svenska rallyförare upp i världstoppen. Bakom satsningen står några av landets största rallyprofiler genom tiderna: Björn Waldegård, Stig Blomqvist, Thomas Rådström, Jan Pettersson, Leif Asterhag och Staffan Parmander. Tillsammans har de hundratals VM-starter, delsegrar och VM-titlar på meritlistan.

Teamet kommer att fokusera på en förare åt gången, som man sedan följer under tre år. Den förste föraren som teamet väljer att satsa på är den tidigare juniorvärldsmästaren Patrik Sandell.
– Det här är en helt fantastisk möjlighet. Att alla mina idoler sedan jag var liten går samman för att stötta mig känns rätt otroligt. Jag tror att det här är pusselbiten som behövs för att jag ska kunna ta sista steget in i den absoluta hetluften i rally-VM, säger Patrik Sandell.

Profilerna har gått samman och öppnat sina kontakt- och nätverk för att möjliggöra projektet. Med sin enorma kunskap och rutin från världens alla hörn kommer de även att fungera som mentorer till den utvalde föraren.

Björn Waldegård berättar om varför valet föll på Patrik:
– Vi har många stora förartalanger i Sverige, men valet föll på Patrik för att vi bedömt honom vara den som är närmast en fabriksstyrning i WRC idag. Han har ett helhetstänk i sitt sätt att jobba med partners, media och allt runtomkring, samtidigt som han besitter en otrolig förartalang, säger Björn Waldegård.

Den i gänget som bäst känner till Sandells förmågor är Staffan Parmander. Med sina 35 år i rallysporten och mer än 100 VM-starter är han en av de mest erfarna Co-drivers vi har. Sedan ett år tillbaka är han dessutom Sandells egen kartläsare.
– Jag har följt Patriks utveckling i många år och har länge sett honom som en möjlig WRC-kandidat. Efter att nu suttit i bilen ett antal tävlingar vet jag att vi satsar på rätt person. Han har imponerat stort på mig och har allt som den nya generationen WRC-förare behöver för att nå toppen, säger Parmander.

Under uppstartsåret 2012 har teamet valt att satsa på utvalda tävlingar. Premiären blir hemma i Svenska rallyt i början av februari. De övriga tävlingarna kommer att avslöjas löpande under året.

Sandell kommer att få köra en fabrikspreppad Mini John Cooper Works WRC, driven av engelska Prodrive. Det är alltså en riktigt konkurrenskraftig bil han kommer till start i med andra ord.

Richard Taylor, Team Director på Prodrive:
– Patrik har upprepade gånger visat att han är en förare på toppnivå och jag ser fram emot att få se honom i en Prodrive MINI. Det är extra kul att hans första tävling med oss blir i Sverige, där vi verkligen tror att han har stora chanser att sluta högt upp i sammandraget, säger Richard Taylor.
– Att få köra Svenska rallyt i högsta klassen och tävla mot Loeb, Solberg, Hirvonen med flera ska bli hur kul som helst. Jag känner mig mogen att ta steget och jag ska verkligen ge dem en match. Jag ska inte göra någon besviken, avslutar Patrik Sandell.

Personerna bakom Sweden World Rally Team:
Björn Waldegård 100+ VM-starter, 19 VM-segrar och 35 pallplatser. VM-guld 1979.
Stig Blomqvist 63 VM-starter, 11 VM-segrar och 33 pallplatser. VM-guld 1984.
Thomas Rådström 40 VM-starter, 4 pallplatser och seger i Svenska Rallyt 1994.
Staffan Parmander 100+ VM-starter, 5 VM-segrar, Vinnare av Märkes-VM 96 och 97.
Jan Pettersson 9 VM-starter, grundare av Toyota Team Sweden.
Leif Asterhag 5 VM-starter och teamchef för Toyota Team Sweden.

World Rally Championship – tävlingskalender 2012:
Rallye Monte-Carlo 17 - 22 Jan 12
Rally Sweden 09 - 12 Feb 12
Rally Mexico 08 - 11 Mar 12
Rally Portugal 29 Mar - 01 Apr 12
Rally Argentina 27 - 29 Apr 12
Acropolis Rally 25 - 27 May 12
Rally of New Zealand 22 - 24 Jun 12
Rally Finland 02 - 05 Aug 12
Rallye Deutschland 24 - 26 Aug 12
Rally of Great Britain 13 - 16 Sep 12
Rallye de France - Alsace 04 - 07 Oct 12
Rally d'Italia 18 - 21 Oct 12
Rally de España 08 - 11 Nov 12