WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015

1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

VM kalendern 2015 VM kalendern 2016
22-25 jan Monte Carlo  
12-15 febr Sverige  
5-8 mars Mexico  
16-19 april Argentina  
21-24 maj Portugal  
11-15 juni Italien  
2-5 juli Polen  
30-2 aug Finland  
20-23 aug Tyskland  
10-13 sept Australien  
1-4 okt Frankrike  
22-25 okt Spanien  
12-15 nov England  
 
= Rallyt pågår
 
 
 
22-24 jan Monte Carlo *  
12-14 febr Sverige  
4-6 mars Mexico  
22-24 april Argentina  
20-22 maj Portugal  
10-12 juni Italien  
1-3 juli Polen  
29-31 aug Finland  
19-21 aug Tyskland  
9-11 sept Kina **  
30-2 okt Frankrike *  
14-16 okt Spanien  
28-30 okt England  
18-20 nov Australien  
* Inclusion remains subject to formalisation of contracts with FIA and WRC Promoter

** Inclusion remains subject to fulfilment of FIA requirements after candidate event
 
 

15-12-16 Citroën Racing and Kris Meeke set for new challenges together!
A month after it announced the launch of a new WRC programme to begin in 2017, Citroën Racing has confirmed that it will be continuing to work together with Kris Meeke for the next three years. In 2016, the British driver’s main task will be to work on development of the new World Rally Car designed by Citroën Racing.

Having joined the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team at the end of the 2013 season, Kris Meeke has established himself as one of the few drivers genuinely capable of troubling the dominant leaders of the World Rally Championship. Despite his relative inexperience – having only contested 34 WRC rallies by the end of this year – the Northern Irishman claimed his first win just a few month ago after a perfectly controlled performance at Rally Argentina.

Constantly progressing and still with plenty of room for improvement, Kris Meeke represents the first part of the plan put together by Citroën Racing for its return to top-level competition in 2017. After signing a contract that runs until the end of 2018, Kris Meeke and his co-driver Paul Nagle will be able to continue to flourish whilst taking on some ambitious new challenges.
“Various options were available to me to pursue my career, but I chose to stay with Citroën Racing to reap the rewards of the work done over the last two years or more,” commented Kris Meeke. “It’s also a way of thanking the team for the faith they have shown in me. We now know each other very well and this understanding will be essential in developing the new car successfully. I’m very excited about everything that lies ahead in the next few months. I began my career in motorsport as a design engineer so although I can’t wait to get into the car, I’ll be following every stage of the design and assembly of the first car with great interest. I’m also very excited about the new FIA regulations, which look set to deliver more powerful and more spectacular cars! Obviously, all of this work is geared towards me being able to fight for more wins and for the world title. Citroën Racing is team with a winning mentality, with fifteen world titles, eight of which were won in the WRC. I am extremely pleased to be part of this new chapter in the history of such a prestigious Brand.”

In terms of our new programme, above all else we wanted an experienced, top-level driver, with sound technical knowledge,” added Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “Kris was undoubtedly the best choice and we are delighted that he has decided to stay with us. We have a lot of shared history, with two seasons in the JWRC in the 2000s and then the last couple of years with the DS 3 WRC. However, the most important part of his career is ahead of him, with three seasons to develop and achieve success in the successor to the Xsara, C4 and DS 3 WRC! In 2016, the test programme will be the priority for Kris from April, when initial testing of the new car is set to begin. He will nonetheless keep his hand in as regards racing by taking part in several rounds of the World Championship. Initial details of this private programme will be revealed shortly.”

KRIS MEEKE
– Date and place of birth: 2 July 1979 in Dungannon (Northern Ireland)
– Competitive debut: 2000
– First WRC rally: 2002 Wales GB Rally
– WRC rallies: 66
– WRC wins: 1 (Argentina 2015)
– WRC podium finishes: 7
– Stage wins: 23

2015: 5th in the WRC (DS 3 WRC)
2014: 7th in the WRC (DS 3 WRC)
2013: 2 rallies in a DS 3 WRC
2011: 11th in the WRC (Mini Countryman WRC)
2010: 3rd in the IRC (Peugeot 207 Super 2000)
2009: IRC Champion (Peugeot 207 Super 2000)
2006: 7th in the JWRC (Citroën C2 Super 1600)
2005: 3rd in the JWRC (Citroën C2 Super 1600)
2004: 7th in the JWRC (Opel Corsa Super 1600)
2003: British Junior Rally Champion and 14th in the JWRC (Opel Corsa Super 1600)
2002: British Junior Rally Champion (Ford Puma Super 1600)
2001: Peugeot 106 Super Cup
15-12-08 Jæger blir ny kartleser for Mikkelsen
Anders Jæger (26) erstatter Ola Fløene som kartleser for Andreas Mikkelsen. – Jeg gleder meg til å få selskap av Anders i bilen. Han er svært talentfull, så dette er en god løsning, sier Andreas.

Det har lenge vært klart at de to 26-åringene en dag skulle samarbeide i rallybilen. Men at det skjer foran 2016-sesongen, er ett år tidligere enn planlagt.
– Tanken var at Anders skulle overta for Ola (Fløene) etter kommende sesong. I og med at Ola nå har valgt andre utfordringer, måtte vi endre litt på planene. Anders har imidlertid vært med og lest noter på noen tester, og det har han løst meget bra. Han er svært talentfull, og jeg er helt trygg på at dette er den beste løsningen. Jeg gleder meg til å komme i gang for fullt med Anders, sier Andreas Mikkelsen, som har vunnet VM-bronse de siste to årene. Nå blir det altså Anders Jæger som skal lose han gjennom de kommende etappene på veien helt til topps. De to siste årene har Oslo-gutten vært kartleser for både Bernt Kollevold og Ole Christian Veiby, som tok sølv i JWRC denne sesongen. Med erfaringen han har opparbeidet seg gjennom de to siste sesongene, samt målbevisst og knallhard jobbing for å utvikle seg som kartleser, har Anders dannet seg et godt bilde av hva som venter han.
– Planen har hele tiden vært å overta som kartleser for Andreas, og jeg har jobbet hardt og målrettet mot dette. Jeg ser frem til å kunne starte reisen med Andreas, og er utrolig stolt og ydmyk som får muligheten til å jobbe med et så profesjonelt og stort team som Volkswagen Motorsport. Jeg er sikker på at Andreas og jeg sammen vil ta nye steg. Andreas er et ekstremt konkurransemenneske, han er sulten og fremtidsrettet. Sånn sett er vi ganske like, sier Anders, som ikke er redd for at overgangen fra JWRC til WRC blir for stor.
– Jeg har vært med Andreas på test flere ganger, og fått kjenne tempoet på kroppen. Dette blir en ny og spennende utfordring, men jeg føler meg trygg på at dette vil gå bra, sier han.

Andreas ser med glede tilbake på tiden med Ola i høyrestolen i rallybilen.
– Ola og jeg har hatt mange fantastiske år sammen, hvor vi har opplevd oppturer og nedturer. Ola vil alltid ha en spesiell plass i hjertet mitt. De gode minnene skal jeg ta godt vare på. Jeg er veldig glad for at vi klarte å vinne vår første VM-runde sammen. Jeg har forståelse for at Ola takker ja til et langsiktig samarbeid, noe vi ikke kunne tilby han. Samtidig hadde vi i fellesskap satt oss noen hårete mål for kommende sesong, og derfor er det litt skuffende at han bryter samarbeidet. Men jeg ønsker han lykke til videre og alt godt for fremtiden, understreker Andreas.

Erik Veiby, manager for Andreas Mikkelsen og daglig leder i EVEN Management, forteller at de i full åpenhet og enighet med Ola Fløene hadde en avtale om at han skulle være kartleser for Andreas ut 2016 – og deretter skulle Anders Jæger overta. Dette var Ola klar over fra dag én etter at han signerte kontrakten med EVEN Management for halvannet år siden.
– Derfor er det overraskende at Ola velger en annen vei. I EVEN Management er vi opptatt av å utvikle gode kartlesere, noe Anders er et produkt av. Han er dyktig, nøye, strukturert og har de kvalitetene som behøves for å være en god kartleser, sier Veiby.
15-12 -06 Avtalen mellom Mads og Ola ble inngått i dag
«Da min tidligere kartleser Jonas Andersson ringte meg med beskjed om at han hadde takket ja til et tilbud fra EVEN Management, for å bli kartleser i teamet til bl.a. Pontus Tidemann og Andreas Mikkelsen, ble jeg satt ut noen minutter, jeg innrømmer det. Så satt jeg meg raskt ned med teamet rundt meg, og vi fikk opp en liste med hvem som kunne erstatte Jonas. Heldigvis kom flere gode navn opp på lista. To av dem stilte opp på test og gjorde en veldig bra jobb, sikret meg en god test, noe jeg er veldig takknemlig for. Et annet navn var Ola Fløene, som oppfylte samtlige av de kriteriene vi satt opp for å fylle Jonas plass i kartlesersetet. Jeg er derfor utrolig fornøyd med at Ola og jeg i dag gjorde en avtale om at vi blir et lag i tiden framover. Avtalen er langsiktig. Vi gleder oss til å komme i gang med forberedelsene og ser fram til å kjempe om topp –plassene i årene som kommer, avslutter Mads»

«Jeg har hatt en veldig bra tid som kartleser for Andreas Mikkelsen, og er stolt av de resultatene vi har fått sammen. Jeg er også veldig fornøyd med å ha vært en del av Volkswagen-teamet, som har dominert WRC de siste to årene, fortsetter Ola. Da jeg fikk henvendelsen fra teamet til Mads, ble jeg likevel interessert, fordi min tid som kartleser for Andreas’ er begrenset til ett år, ut 2016 sesongen. Jeg er ikke klar for å gi meg med rally så tidlig, og føler at jeg har mange år igjen på toppnivå. Mads er en av de beste førerne i WRC, som kanskje ikke har sittet i den mest konkurransedyktige bilen de to siste årene. Så for å være helt åpen på det, jeg har lyst til å bli verdensmester, og den muligheten tror jeg er større med en langsiktig avtale med Mads, enn å bli det i 2016 med Andreas, avslutter Ola»

Mads og Ola skal kjøre Ford Fiesta RS WRC for M-Sport i VM i 2016.
15-12-02 Mads Østberg på kartleser jakt
Det er hektiske dager for Mads, en spesiell julestri kan man egentlig kalle det. Mandag ble det kjent at Mads går tilbake til M-sport og skal kjøre VM i Ford Fiesta RS WRC i 2016. Tirsdag kom beskjeden fra kartleser Jonas Andersson om at han har fått et tilbud fra Even Rally, managementet til Andreas Mikkelsen og Pontus Tidemann, bl.a., at han har akseptert tilbudet, og derfor sier opp hos Mads.

«Det passer vel bra å si at det kom som «julekvelden på kjerringa», siden vi er på den tiden av året», sier Mads. «Jeg hadde ingen peiling på hva som var på gang, og var helt innstilt på å dra på test i Forden med Jonas i dag (onsdag), og starte forberedelsene til en ny spennende sesong. Nå ble det først en oppgave å finne kartleser til den todagers-testen som vi gjør denne uken for Rally Monte Carlo. Så går vi raskt videre for å finne fast kartleser for neste år, eller for å si som sant er, det har vi allerede startet på,» avslutter han.

Mads er nå i Frankrike og tester for Monte Carlo med to kartlesere, en for torsdag og en for fredag. Som sagt; en spesiell julestri.
15-11-30 M-Sport bekrefter Østberg og Camilli for 2016 World Rally Championship (WRC)
M-Sport World Rally Team velger en blanding av dokumentert fart og rått talent når Mads Østberg og Eric Camilli (Frankrike) skal kjøre teamets Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC i FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) 2016.
Mads Østberg, som har levert jevnlige pallplasser på alle løse underlag, vil tilføre teamet kapasitet til å utfordre pallplasser og mulige seiere gjennom sesongen.

Med 1 seier og 14 pallplasser i bagasjen er nordmannen en som jevnlig har bevist hva han kan, helt siden han fikk sitt gjennombrudd bak rattet i en privat Fiesta RS WRC i 2011.

Han sikret 4. plassen i årets VM, har høyt tempo, og teamet er overbevist om at flere seire er innen rekkevidde. M-sport har plukket ut flere løp hvor nordmannen har kapasitet til å konkurrere om seieren, og har håp om han vil kunne få "The Blue Oval" tilbake på toppen av seierspallen.

Gjennom en overraskende signering av teamet fra Cumbria (nord-vest England), vil Eric Camilli få en sjanse på WRC's øverste hylle, bak rattet på en topp spesifisert Fiesta RS WRC.

Den franske sjåføren har kjørt Ford Fiesta R5 i årets WRC2, den nest høyeste klassen i VM, og imponerte umiddelbart med et rått talent bak rattet.

Han har riktignok bare kjørt 10 WRC løp til dags dato, men M-Sport har rykte for å fostre nye talenter, og er topp motivert av det talentet Camilli har vist.

Til tross for begrenset erfaring tror teamet Camilli har det som skal til for å kunne bli en framtidig verdensmester, og har som mål å utvikle talentet hans gjennom 2016 og utover.

Mads Østberg kommenterer:
"Jeg ser virkelig fram imot sesongen som kommer, og jeg er stolt over å bli ønsket velkommen tilbake til M-Sport. Ford Fiesta RS WRC har vært en viktig del av karrieren min, og det er en god følelse å komme tilbake til et team hvor jeg har hatt mye suksess tidligere.
Rally på løst underlag er mine favoritt-løp, og vi så i år at den nye Fiestaen er veldig konkurransedyktig på grus. Vårt første mål er å finne den rette følelsen med bilen i høyt tempo for så å kunne kjempe om topp plasseringer. Sverige (med en dag med norske etapper) er selvsagt et ordentlig "high-light" for min del, og et løp hvor vi vil være med å kjempe om å vinne. Men jeg tror at vi også kommer til å være veldig konkurransedyktige i mange av de løpene som følger etter.

Jeg har forandret kjørestil i løpet av de 2 siste årene, så det vil bli interessant å se om det slår ut bra i Fiestaen. Eller om jeg må tilbake til gammel stil? Det blir spennende å se hvor raskt jeg kan tilpasse meg bilbytte, men jeg husker Fiestaen som veldig lettkjørt, og vi hadde alltid gode oppsett, så det kommer nok ikke til å bli veldig dramatisk.

Jeg føler at jeg har utviklet meg som fører siden sist jeg kjørte Fiestaen, og planen er å fortsette utviklingen neste år. Jeg vil øke speeden ytterligere, jeg vil kjempe om flere pallplasseringer, og jeg tror at seire er mulig. Jeg vil bli raskere, og jeg tror jeg kan klare det uten at det går utover påliteligheten.

Enda en sesong i et topp team var målet for neste år, og jeg vil takke Malcolm (Wilsson) og resten av teamet for at de har tro på meg. Jeg kan ikke komme raskt nok bak rattet på Fiestaen, og hvis det går etter planen vil dette bli et stort år for oss."
Eric Camilli kommenterer:
"Dette er en fantastisk mulighet for meg, og jeg er ekstremt stolt over å være en del av M-Sport teamet i 2016. Jeg kan ikke vente med å komme i gang. Vi vil ha vår første test denne uken, og jeg ser virkelig fram til å bli kjent med team og bil.

Jeg har bare deltatt i noen få WRC løp, så jeg kjenner at jeg er ekstremt heldig som har fått denne muligheten. Malcolm er en så stor del av WRC, så å få hans tillit betyr virkelig mye; det er veldig spesielt for meg.

Første mål for sesongen er å forstå hvilket nivå som trengs for å konkurrere i en WRC bil, gjennom å lære Fiestaen å kjenne. Jeg vet at den er rask, raskere enn noe jeg har kjørt før. Jeg må ta ett skritt av gangen, og jobbe hardt på alle områder for å oppnå det som trengs for å bli en verdensklasse-sjåfør.

Jeg skal gjøre mitt beste, men jeg vet at jeg ikke kan legge for stort press på meg selv i starten. Jeg er motivert, men jeg forstår at alle må starte et sted, og jeg vil trenge tid for å bli konkurransedyktig på det høyeste nivået.
Dette er virkelig en fantastisk mulighet, og en stor takk til Malcolm og hele teamet. Alle har tatt godt imot meg. Jeg ønsker å gjøre dem stolte ved å utvikle mine ferdigheter som fabrikk-kjører."

Team sjef Malcolm Wilson kommenterer:
"Med Mads og Eric mener jeg vi har et veldig bra team i 2016. Mads har bevist at han er en jevnlig pallplass kandidat, og er stabilt blant de raskeste førerne i WRC. Når det gjelder Eric så kan jeg helt ærlig ikke huske sist jeg ble så begeistret over en ny fører.
Vi vet hva Mads er kapabel til, og jeg tror han har evnen til å få M-Sport og Ford tilbake på toppen av seierspallen neste år. Det er flere løp hvor han kan kjempe om seieren, og det må bli målet vårt for sesongen som kommer.
Erics WRC erfaring er begrenset, men helt ærlig tror jeg han har det som skal til for å bli en framtidig mester. Han har allerede bevist hvor raskt han har tilpasset seg nye biler og nye løp, og jeg tror han vil vise rask progresjon.
Det ligger mange tanker bak signeringen av disse to førerne, og jeg tror at vi har en spennende sesong foran oss. Teamet er mer motivert enn noen gang, og alle ser fram til å finne ut hvilken suksess våre nye signeringer kan gi oss."

15-11-17 Oturen grinade landslagsföraren Fredrik Åhlin i ansiktet i Wales Rally GB
En mycket motiverad och fokuserad Fredrik Åhlin startade den sista Rally VM-deltävlingen med sikte på pallplats.
"Det var absolut min målsättning men redan på första sträckan blev det mer eller mindre rallycross då vi kom ikapp bilen framför efter bara 15 km, tappade självklart tid men var ändå sexa på sträckan, och det är långt till mål och då är 20 sek tidsförlust inte mycket" berättar Fredrik.

När teamet var snabbast på mellantiden så hurrade mekanikerna inne i servicetältet men tyvärr kom beskedet via telefon; "Vi är i mål på sträckan men fick hanka oss fram de sista kilometrarna, en drivaxel hade gått sönder och det var tyvärr bara att kasta in handduken" berättar en bedrövad Fredrik.

Regnet öste formligen ner, och efter regn kommer solsken heter det, "Det var tungt, riktigt tungt men vi tog kraft från vårt fantastiska team och mycket mental styrka och ville verkligen visa att vi har med topptiderna att göra" säger Fredrik.

Leovegas World rally team reste sig ur regn och lera, levererade topprider under resten av rallyt och var snabbaste Ford i WRC 2 under sista delen av tävlingen.
"Det är aldrig kul att bryta ett rally, men tack vara reglerna får och kan man starta om till nästa dags etapp. Det medföljer självklart tidsstraff men det var viktigt för mig och Morten att få visa både för oss själva, men självklart också för våra samarbetspartners, att vi är med där framme när tekniken är med oss" summerar Fredrik årets sista rally.

Nu väntar hårt arbete för att kunna sätta en budget inför nästa års Rally VM.
"Vi blickar inte bara framåt - vi siktar framåt" säger Fredrik.
15-11-15 Volkswagen och Ogier vann årets sista VM-rally
Med 26 pallplatser och tolv segrar på 13 rallyn är 2015 års säsong av FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) Volkswagens mest framgångsrika hittills. Trefaldiga världsmästarna Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) tog sin åttonde seger för säsongen i sin Polo R WRC. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene fick ett bra slut på säsongen med en tredje plats. Det var deras nionde pallplats i år - bara Ogier/Ingrassia kunde rada upp fler.
Avslutande Power Stage gick till Jari-Matti Latvala /Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) i den tredje Polo R WRC-bilen. Det gav tre bonuspoäng till paret som annars hade ett problemfyllt rally. Det räckte för att säkra andraplatsen i VM. Under de extremt svåra förhållanden som rådde i skogarna i Wales tog Volkswagen 15 av 19 möjliga sträcksegrar. Det innebar seger nummer 504 av 717 sedan inledningen av 2013 års säsong.

Extrema utmaningar i Wales
Rally Great Britain blev en extremt utmanande avslutning på WRC-säsongen med stormvindar, störtregn och den typiska walesiska lervällingen. De 19 specialsträckorna, sammanlagt 31 mil långa, satte världens bästa rallyförare på prov. Ett underlag med ständigt växlande väggrepp tvingade förarparen till total koncentration hela tiden - trots maratonlånga dagar med specialsträckor från gryningen till långt in på natten. Rally Great Britain i norra Wales blev också en utmaning för Volkswagens mekaniker. Stormen Abigail drog genom serviceparken i Deeside och gjorde livet surt för Volkswagens tekniker, särskilt under flexi-servicen på lördagkväll.

Imponerande rekord
Volkswagen firade att man nått ännu en milstolpe under Rally Great Britain. Med 34 segrar på 39 tillfällen är Polo R WRC bilen med högst segerprocent i WRC-historien. Den 318 hk starka rallybilen från Wolfsburg tog också sträckseger nummer 500 i Wales. Efter tre säsonger har Volkswagen nu tagit 504 sträcksegrar av 717 möjliga sedan Polo R WRC debuterade i 2013 års Rally Monte Carlo. Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia passerade också en personlig milstolpe. Segern i Wales blev deras 32:a i karriären, den 25:e i Volkswagen och de tog också sin 400:e sträckseger.

Ogier och Mikkelsen på pallen
Pallplats nummer tio för Sébastien Ogier och nummer nio för Andreas Mikkelsen, dessa två har tagit flest topp-tre-placeringar under 2015 års säsong. Något av Volkswagens förarteam har stått på pallen vid 26 tillfällen i år - ett nytt rekord för teamet. Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia har nu 45 pallplatser, varav 31 med Volkswagen. Andreas Mikkelsen har slutat på pallplats 14 gånger på 25 rallyn sedan förra årets Rally Sweden, inklusive 13 gånger med Ola Fløene. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila har bidragit till Volkswagens imponerande rekord med åtta pallplatser, inklusive tre segrar.

Volkswagen och Power Stage
Avslutande Power Stage, som ger bonuspoäng till de tre toppförarna, är Volkswagens hemmaplan. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila tog Power Stage-seger nummer 31 efter att ha vunnit alla fyra delsträckor på söndagen. Det finska paret, som återkom i rallyt under Rally 2 reglerna, har nu samlat på sig 150 bonuspoäng med sin Polo R WRC. På andra plats i Power Stage kom Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene.

70 dagar till "Monte"
Rally Great Britain var avslutningen på 2015 års World Rally Championship, som körts på grus, asfalt, snö och is på fyra kontinenter. Under säsongens 13 rallyn har Volkswagens förare kört 11 832 kilometer i rallyfart på 231 specialsträckor, som gått på allt från havsnivå till upp till 2 752 m över havet. WRC-året är motorsportens längsta, det börjar i mitten av januari och slutar i mitten av november. Och det blir inget långt uppehåll för Volkswagens team mellan säsongerna. Det är nu bara 70 dagar kvar till första sträckan av Rally Monte Carlo, som är inledningen av 2016 års säsong.

Citat efter Rally Great Britain
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
- Det blev ett svårt rally för Julien och mig. Vi skulle vilja dedicera dagens seger till offren för de fruktansvärda terrorattackerna i Paris. För oss personligen är det också en symbolisk gest att inte ge upp för en liten minoritet. Jag tror att hela WRC-familjen har gett uttryck för samma känsla. Från en sportslig synpunkt är resultatet pricken över i vid slutet av en närmast perfekt säsong för oss. Det skulle inte ha varit möjligt utan den fantastiska teamkänslan och det jobb alla i Volkswagens team har gjort. Det är Julien och jag särskilt tacksamma över. Efter framgångarna i år kommer det att bli mycket, mycket svårt att göra ett bättre resultat nästa år. Konkurrenterna kommer inte att koppla av under vintern, våra rivaler kommer med säkerhet att satsa på att minska avståndet. Vi hade inga problem sista dagen i Wales. Till skillnad från i Spanien bestämde jag mig för att inte ta några risker vid Power Stage den här gången. Med tanke på de svåra förhållandena var det rätt strategi.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
- Som helhet var det ingen enkel weekend. Attackerna i Paris överskuggade de sportsliga händelserna. Idag gick det som jag hade hoppats att det skulle göra från början. Jag hade en bra rytm och det var kul. Dessutom vann jag Power Stage, något som jag inte lyckats med så många gånger i år. Men det innebar att det var desto mer frustrerande att min weekend slutade redan innan den riktigt börjat. Rally Great Britain blev som en återspegling av 2015 års säsong. Men jag tar till mig det positiva, jag blev tvåa i VM för andra året i rad och fick till några riktigt bra resultat under den andra delen av säsongen. Det är en bra utgångspunkt för nästa år. Nu kommer jag att ta litet ledigt innan vi börjar förbereda oss intensivt för 2016 års säsong.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
- Det är naturligtvis underbart att komma på pallen igen i slutet på en fantastisk säsong. Det kommer jag alltid att minnas med tanke på min första seger i Rally Spain. Vi är nöjda med hur vi lyckades komma bland de tre bästa här i Storbritannien. Jag tog bara med mig ett reservdäck på lördagen för att sätta större press på de framförvarande. Men jag fick en skada på ett däck och en pyspunka på andra sträckan. Därefter gjorde vi det bästa av situationen. Jag tyckte verkligen om körningen även om förhållandena var extremt svåra. Jag lyfter på hatten för fansen och funktionärerna som trotsade stormen ute på sträckorna. Jag hoppas att vi bjöd dem på en bra show.

Jost Capito, chef för Volkswagen Motorsport
- Även om vi inte känner för att fira idag var rallyt i Wales pricken över i vid slutet av en magnifik säsong. Med tolv segrar, tre olika vinnande Volkswagen-par och fler pallplatser än någonsin tidigare har det här varit vårt mest framgångsrika år någonsin. Vi är stolta över att ha åstadkommit det med andra generationen Polo R WRC. Det är inte bara förarna och kartläsarna som gjort ett enastående jobb den här säsongen, utan också ingenjörerna och mekanikerna som ställt vad som på många sätt var en ny WRC-bil på startlinjen. Vi har också satt en ny standard när det gäller kommunikation och marknadsföring av vår framgång i World Rally Championship. Vi har än en gång förbättrat oss på varje avdelning men ser ändå utrymme för förbättringar överallt. Vi har inte väntat till idag med att förbereda oss inför kommande säsong 2016. Vi kommer att ställa oss på startlinjen i "Monte" om bara 70 dager. När vi gör det gör vi det med noll poäng, men vi har självförtroendet som följer med att ha vunnit nio titlar på tre år.

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Great Britain – resultat
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 3t 03m 02.0s
2. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën + 26.0s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen + 36.2s
4. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai + 2m 51.3s
5. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai + 3m 00.5s
6. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB), Ford + 3m 09.1s
7. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën + 4m 28.4s
8. Stéphane Lefebvre/Stéphane Prévot (F/B), Citroën + 5m 38.4s
9. Robert Kubica/Maciej Szczepaniak (PL/PL), Ford + 6m 22.7s
10. Lorenzo Bertelli/Lorenzo Granai (I/I), Ford + 8m 05.0s
FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Great Britain – Power Stage resultat
1. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen 6m 50.3s
2. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen + 2.4s
3. Robert Kubica/Maciej Szczepaniak (PL/PL), Ford + 5.9s

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC),
Förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 263
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 183
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 171
4. Mads Østberg 116
5. Kris Meeke 112
6. Thierry Neuville 90
7. Elfyn Evans 89
8. Dani Sordo 87
9. Hayden Paddon 84
10. Ott Tänak 63

Konstruktörsmästerskapet poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 413
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 230
3. Hyundai Motorsport 224
4. M-Sport 181
5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 131
6. Hyundai Motorsport N 67
7. Jipocar Czech National Team 53
8. FWRT 13
15-11-15 Citroën Racing finishes second in the World Championship
The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team secured second place in the manufacturers’ standings after Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle finished as runners-up and Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson were seventh overall at Wales Rally GB. The 2015 season saw the DS 3 WRCs bag six podiums, including a superb one-two finish in Argentina.

The very short final leg of Wales Rally GB promised to deliver a dramatic, nail-biting finale. For the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team crews, the aim was to hold onto their positions in order to score the points required to confirm second place in the manufacturers’ championship.

As gale force winds and heavy rain battered the final four stages, Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg managed to keep out of trouble and make it to the end of the rally. Ott Tänak’s retirement on SS16 promoted Mads Østberg to seventh place, whilst Kris Meeke racked up his seventh podium in the World Championship as he finished as runner-up.

Very consistent throughout the event, Stéphane Lefebvre continued to set top 10 times to end the rally in eighth overall – the best result of his career to date – in the DS 3 WRC.

The FIA Junior WRC season ended with a maiden win for Ole Christian Veiby. The Norwegian took the class victory, ahead of the Frenchmen Thierry Folb and Pierre-Louis Loubet. Ole Christian Veiby therefore ended as runner-up in the championship, just behind Quentin Gilbert. In the WRC 3, Quentin Gilbert also won the title from Ole Christian Veiby and Simone Tempestini, all three driving DS 3 R3-MAXs.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Now is not really the time for celebrating, given the circumstances. Obviously, our thoughts are with the victims of the Paris attacks. The sporting result is secondary, but it was nonetheless important to finish off the job here. Thank you and well done to the team for their hard work throughout the year. I’m really proud of them. In addition to successfully defending both WTCC titles, we have achieved all our targets in rallying with second place in the Manufacturers’ World Championship, a WRC rally win and the WRC 3 title, which shows that we are still leading the way in promoting talented young drivers. I would also like to thank Mads Østberg, Jonas Andersson, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle for their commitment throughout the season.”

Kris Meeke: “I felt comfortable all weekend in the DS 3 WRC and our performances reflected that. It was a very difficult rally, but I really enjoyed it. Finishing as runner-up here in Wales was a great way to round off the season and secure second place in the manufacturers’ championship.”

Mads Østberg: “After what happened yesterday, we really had to focus above all else on finishing the rally. I’m pleased because we have had a good season and we have finished second in the manufacturers’ standings. We have achieved the target set for us at the start of the year!”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “We learned a lot again this weekend at what is a very tough, demanding rally. I feel increasingly confident in the DS 3 WRC. It’s a fantastic result and it’s very positive to finish a full and exciting season less than half a second per kilometre off the pace of the leading drivers.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS16 – Brenig 1 (10.64km) – Having rejoined under Rally 2 regulations, Jari-Matti Latvala won the opening stage of the day, trailed by Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo. Kris Meeke grabbed the fifth fastest time, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre was ninth and Mads Østberg was tenth. Ott Tänak went off, forcing him to retire.

SS17 – Alwen (10.41km) – Another stage win for Jari-Matti Latvala, ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg and Stéphane Lefebvre were once again in the top 10.

SS18 – Great Orme (4.74km) – Whilst the organisers closed off the stage to spectators due to the poor weather conditions, Jari-Matti Latvala made it a hat-trick of stage wins, ahead of Robert Kubica and Hayden Paddon. Stéphane Lefebvre grabbed the sixth fastest time, whilst Kris Meeke was ninth and Mads Østberg was tenth.

SS19 – Brenig 2 (10.64km) – Jari-Matti Latvala completed the perfect leg in winning the Power Stage, with Andreas Mikkelsen second and Robert Kubica third. Kris Meeke was fourth fastest, whilst Mads Østberg finished seventh on the stage and Stéphane Lefebvre was eighth. Sébastien Ogier therefore won the season’s final rally, ahead of Kris Meeke and Andreas Mikkelsen. Mads Østberg finished seventh overall and Stéphane Lefebvre was eighth.

FINAL PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:03:02.0
2. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +26.0
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +36.2
4. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:51.3
5. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:00.5
6. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:09.1
7. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +4:28.4
8. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +5:38.4
9. Robert Kubica / Maciek Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +6:22.7
10. Lorenzo Bertelli / Lorenzo Granai (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8:05.0

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier, 9 – Jari-Matti Latvala, 4 – Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen, 2 – Kris Meeke and Ott Tänak, 1.

LEADERS
SS1 to SS19 (finish): Sébastien Ogier

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Sébastien Ogier 263 points
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 183 pts
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 171 pts
4. Mads Østberg 116 pts
5. Kris Meeke 112 pts
6. Thierry Neuville 90 pts
7. Elfyn Evans 89 pts
8. Dani Sordo 89 pts
12. Khalid Al-Qassimi 9 pts
19. Stéphane Lefebvre 5 pts

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 413 pts
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 230 pts
3. Hyundai Shell WRT 224 pts
4. M-Sport WRT 181 pts…
15-11-15 Last round goes to Ole Christian Veiby
After finishing third in Monte-Carlo and Finland, the Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby claimed his maiden win in the FIA Junior WRC at Wales Rally GB. The Frenchmen Terry Folb and Pierre-Louis Loubet completed the top three at this, the final round of the 2015 season. Quentin Gilbert is the 2015 FIA Junior WRC Champion, with Ole Christian Veiby runner-up and Terry Folb third. Gilbert, Veiby and Simone Tempestini dominated the WRC 3 standings in their DS 3 R3-MAXs.

In Wales only to try and wrap up the WRC 3 title, Quentin Gilbert was not eligible to score any points in the FIA Junior WRC at this, the seventh and final round of the season.

Having already won the category, he let Simone Tempestini, Ole Christian Veiby and Terry Folb fight it out for the two remaining podium places.

Ole Christian Veiby grabbed the early lead in the FIA Junior WRC after the first stage, contested on decidedly muddy Welsh roads. On Hafren, he finished ahead of Pierre-Louis Loubet, Dean Raftery, Chris Ingram and Simone Tempestini. Forced to change a water pump drive belt on this opening test, Terry Folb lost over eleven minutes.

Ole Christian Veiby went quickest throughout the rest of the morning’s stages, followed by Pierre-Louis Loubet. Dean Raftery – who had been running third – had to retire after rolling his car on SS3. In the afternoon, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Simone Tempestini were next to run into trouble. The Frenchman ripped off a wheel and the Italian suffered a broken brake cable. Ole Christian Veiby ended day with a two-minute lead over second-placed Chris Ingram and was more than six minutes clear of the Belgian William Wagner in third
.
The race then took a new turn on day two. After rejoining under Rally 2 regulations, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Simone Tempestini set the leading times, often joined at the front by Terry Folb. Whilst Mohammed Al Mutawaa – fourth at the time – went off, Ole Christian Veiby controlled his pace at the front.

On SS11, William Wagner was the next driver forced to give up hopes of a podium after losing a bolt from the gearbox mounting. The night stages did not alter the order of the standings. Ole Christian Veiby ended the leg with a three-minute lead over Chris Ingram and was more than fourteen minutes clear of third-placed Terry Folb.

With less than forty kilometres left to go, the crews found even more miserable conditions on Sunday morning, with torrential rain and high winds. Pierre-Louis Loubet, Ole Christian Veiby and William Wagner shared the last few stage wins, whilst Chris Ingram – second at the time – and Mohammed Al Mutawaa ran into terminal trouble on a watersplash during the road section before SS18.
Ole Christian Veiby went on to secure his maiden win, finishing over seventeen minutes ahead of Terry Folb, who ended the rally soaked and with no windscreen, after a problem with his wipers. Almost twenty minutes adrift, Pierre-Louis Loubet claimed his second podium finish in the FIA Junior WRC at just 18 years old. William Wagner rounded off the standings.

In the FIA WRC 3 championship, Ole Christian Veiby also claimed victory, as Quentin Gilbert finished third. Thanks to this result, Quentin Gilbert added the WRC 3 crown to his FIA Junior WRC title, finishing ahead of Ole Christian Veiby. Third place in each category went to Terry Folb (JWRC) and Simone Tempestini (WRC 3), respectively.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Ole Christian Veiby: “This is a fantastic result. We have had what you might call a perfect rally. The conditions were really difficult with a lot of water, but we managed to keep the car on the road without making any mistakes. Finishing first at the final race of the season was our main goal. And we have finished as runners-up in the FIA Junior WRC and the WRC 3! It has been a successful season for us.”
Terry Folb: “The rally got off to a very bad start for us, because we lost eleven minutes changing the water pump drive belt on the opening stage. We then decided to focus on getting experience and enjoying ourselves. The engine overheated and we finished today’s leg with no windscreen after a problem with the wipers in the rain. I think we have experienced a proper, genuinely difficult Wales Rally GB. Every time, we had to find solutions to make it to the end. Finishing as runner-up and third in the championship is an excellent result after a tough start to the season. We have improved a lot and gathered a lot of experience this year.”
Pierre-Louis Loubet: “We learned a lot during this really difficult event. We were very fast with several stage wins. I have picked up more experience which will be important for the rest of my career.”

PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. Ole Christian Veiby / Andres Jaeger 3:35:38.0
2. Terry Folb / Franck Le Floch +17:34.5
3. Pierre-Louis Loubet / Vincent Landais +19:15.4
4. William Wagner / Kevin Parent +40:09.3

FASTEST TIMES
Ole Christian Veiby, 7 – Pierre-Louis Loubet, 5 – Simone Tempestini, 3 – Terry Folb, 2 – Chris Ingram and William Wagner, 1

LEADERS
SS1 to SS19 (finish): Ole Christian Veiby
FIA JUNIOR WRC STANDINGS
1. Quentin Gilbert 131 points
2. Ole Christian Veiby 83 points
3. Terry Folb 66 points
4. Simone Tempestini 62 points
5. Henri Haapamaki 48 points
6. Pierre-Louis Loubet 43 points
7. Jean-René Perry 32 points
8. Federico Della Casa and Mohammed Al-Mutawaa 28 points
10. Yohan Rossel 25 points
11. Christian Riedemann and Osian Pryce 18 points
13. Matthieu Margaillan and William Wagner 12 points
15. Alessandro Re and Kornel Lukacs 8 points
17. Jari Huttunen 6 points
18. Charlotte Dalmasso 5 points
19. Daniel McKenna 4 points

NATIONS TROPHY
1. France 155 points
2. Norway 98 points
3. Italy 75 points
4. Finland 51 points
5. Switzerland 42 points
6. United Arab Emirates 35 points
7. Germany and Great Britain 18 points
9. Hungary 16 points
10. Belgium 15 points
11. Ireland 8 points
15-11-15 Evans salvages sixth on home soil
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans salvaged sixth place from this weekend’s Wales Rally GB as the team’s home event dished out its fair share of misfortune.

As torrential rain and gale force winds battered the stages, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt got the Welsh fixture off to a solid start. Best of the rest behind the leading pack, the pairing were making ground despite their limited experience.

Unfortunately, a puncture put paid to a push for the top positions – the Ford Fiesta RS WRC crew losing almost a minute and a half through the second pass of Hafren (SS4) which dropped them to an undeserving ninth place.

Regrouping, the local hero displayed an improvement in pace and stormed up the standings. Setting the fastest time through the second split of SS10, Evans also proved how formidable he can be when the going gets tough – setting the second fastest time through the night pass of Aberhirnant (SS11).

With little to fight for over the remaining 36.43 kilometres, the Welshman consolidated his position in the knowledge that a strong top-four finish would have been secured were it not for his earlier puncture.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Tänak struggled with set-up through the opening day, but was back on form having altered the settings through yesterday’s stages. Kings of the castle, he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder set the fastest time through a fan-packed Chirk Castle (SS13) and climbed into fourth position going into today’s final speed tests

Unfortunately, Tänak became another victim of the conditions. Running slightly wide through the first pass of Brenig (SS16), he hit a stray rock and broke a bracket on the wishbone of his Fiesta – bringing his season to an untimely end and robbing him of a solid result on the team’s home soil.

Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
“Overall I think we have performed quite strongly this weekend. Without the puncture it would have been a really comfortable fourth place but we all know that rallying is a game of ifs and buts.

“The conditions made for a particularly difficult rally but that is what makes this event so special and I was pretty pleased with our performance over the first couple of days. We worked really hard to improve our gravel performance ahead of this one and we were there or there abouts and best of the rest after the leading pack.

“I also have to say a huge thanks to all of the spectators and marshals who braved the elements this weekend. The support that we received was incredible so a big thanks to them.

“Everyone keeps asking me if I have done enough to be here next year and I would like to think that I have. At the start of the season we were going really well and were as high as fourth in the championship at one point.

“Unfortunately when we got the new car I just didn’t quite get to grips with her. It’s taken until now for me to feel comfortable on gravel but I feel as though we have made a big step forward and want to continue that progression into next year.

“I think that our potential is there. We have learnt a lot over the last 12 months and it would be a shame not to put all of that to good use next season.

Ott Tänak (DNF) said:
“It’s hard to explain what happened. It wasn’t a proper off. The left wheel was just slightly off line and there was a rock which broke a bracket on the wishbone. It was as easy as that – hardly any damage but enough to end our rally.

“There are still many positives that I will take away from this season. Since Sardinia we have always had the pace to fight for the podium on gravel. Things haven’t always gone to plan, but for our first year in a manufacturer team we wanted to prove that we had the speed to challenge at the top.

“This is a sport where experience is really important. If you want to carry that speed throughout the weekend you need the experience and that is what we have been building this year.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We were hoping to challenge for the podium this weekend but unfortunately that wasn’t to be. Our home event has been a lot like our season. We have seen some great speed from both Elfyn and Ott, but unfortunately we’ve just been lacking the consistency to maintain that pace over the course of a full weekend.

“Were it not for his puncture on the first day, Elfyn would have secured a strong fourth place and we’ve seen another improvement from him on gravel. Ott then had the fourth place in his grasp but he was unlucky this morning – running slightly wide and hitting a rock which put an end to his rally.

“I’ve made no decision on who will be driving for us next season. I can say that I will be taking my time to analyse all of the performances – those of Elfyn, Ott and a few others – so that we can be in the strongest possible position going into 2016.”
15-11-15 Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson på 4 plass totalt i VM
Rally Wales og VM- sesongen 2015 ble avsluttet i dag. Det endte godt for Mads Østbergs og kartleser Jonas Andersson i Citroen DS3 WRC. Etter en meget bra førstedag og en utfordrende 2. dag sluttet det bra i dag med alle målsetninger for helgen oppnådd.

Citroens mål var å bli nummer to i konstruktør VM, etter Volkswagen. Mads’ og Jonas’ mål var å beholde 4. plassen i VM, uten muligheter til å forbedre det resultatet. Begge deler ble oppnådd, selv om Rally Wales «bare» ga 7. plass.

«Det er veldig deilig å være her med begge mål oppnådd, og vi er veldig godt fornøyd,» sier Mads fra avsluttende service. «Rally er en materialsport, og det går ikke an å bortforklarte at VW har brukt mye mer ressurser enn vårt team de siste årene, og derfor har en bil som har klare fordeler. Ikke bare over Citroen, men over alle andre. Så har de selvsagt også gode sjåfører, som har levert «varene». Derfor er Jonas og jeg godt fornøyd med å være «best of the rest», selv med ett løp mindre kjørt. Og jeg er veldig fornøyd med at vi sammen med teamkompis Kris Meek og kartleser Paul Nagle, har kunnet levere 2. plass i fabrikkmesterskapet til Citroen. Selve løpet i Wales er ikke så mye å snakke om hva prestasjoner angår. Etter en punktering og en tur i grøfta i går, var det ingen ting å gjøre annet enn å passe på plassen. Vi tilpasset kjøringen til det, ga ikke noe mer enn nødvendig. Det er vel oppsummeringen i korte trekk.»

Det har vært mange spørsmål til flere team og flere førere hva som er planen for neste år. Som alltid er det en del kort som holdes tett til brystet. Mads sier følgende om det: «Vi har god kontroll og vet det vi skal vite. Mer har jeg ikke tillatelse til å si bortsett fra; vi stiller i neste års WRC, med mål om å gjøre det bedre enn i år. Den planen som ligger der tilsier at det er realistisk. Så kan jo de som vil spekulere på hva det betyr», avslutter Mads med et bredt smil.

Løpet og mesterskapet ble vunnet av Sebastian Ogier. I VM ble han ble fulgt av teamkompis Jari Matti Latvala på andre plass, og Andreas Mikkelsen på tredje. Mads og Jonas fulgte altså på 4., med Mads teamkompis i Citroen på 5.
15-11-15 Ole Christian Veiby ble historisk
Ole Christian Veiby (19) skrev historie da han kjørte i mål på den siste etappen under Rally GB. Han vant løpet, sikret seg sølv i junior-VM og ble samtidig den første i historien som tar medalje både i junior-VM i rally og EM i rallycross samme sesong.
– Dette føles utrolig deilig, og er en stor lettelse, jubler Ole Christian Veiby, som sammen med kartleser Anders Jæger kjører en Citröen DS3 R3T, driftet av det finske teamet Printsport.

De kom til årets siste VM-runde i rally med en god porsjon selvtillit etter å ha vunnet sju av fartsetappene under Rally Spania sist. Og unggutten fra Kongsvinger fulgte opp allerede fra start i Wales. Han var fullstendig overlegen på fredagens etapper, og etter første dag hadde han sikret seg en ledelse på flere minutter. Bare en avkjøring eller tekniske problemer med bilen kunne frata ham den første seieren i en VM-runde.
– Det ble en ny utfordring for meg å kjøre to dager med så stor ledelse. Jeg hadde ikke råd til å gjøre noen feil, og kjørte midt i veien uten å ta noen som helst sjanser. På den aller siste prøven var det skikkelig dårlige forhold, og jeg lyttet til bilen for å høre om noe var feil. Jeg var livredd for at det skulle skje noe, sier han svært lettet etter at sølvmedaljen i JWRC – som junior-VM kalles – var sikret.
Årets sesong har vært lang og krevende. Ikke minst fordi han har konkurrert i to mesterskap, samtidig som han har vært avgangselev etter videregående skole. I rallycross-EM ble det bronse, og sølvmedaljen i junior-VM gjør han historisk med to medaljer fra to mesterskap samme sesong.
– Målet før sesongen var to medaljer. Jeg visste at det ville bli tøft, men likevel fullt mulig. Derfor føles det så utrolig godt å ha lyktes med målsettingen, understreker han.

19-åringen har virkelig tatt store steg denne sesongen. Allerede i sin debutsesong i rally-VM har han markert seg stort. Mot langt mer rutinerte førere, var han ubeskjeden nok til å blande seg inn i tetkampen allerede fra første VM-runde i Monte Carlo, hvor det ble tredjeplass. Gjennom hele sesongen har han hatt en fin progresjon, og det hele ble altså kronet med hans første seier i Rally GB.
– Jeg sa før løpet at vi ikke skulle tenke på mulighetene for medalje, og det synes jeg vi klarte veldig fint på fredag. Da vi hadde sikret oss et så stort forsprang etter første dag, var det naturlig å likevel tenke litt på å sikre plasseringen i mesterskapet. Forholdene var ubeskrivelig vanskelig. Det har regnet helt enorm gjennom hele helgen, og i tillegg har det blåst noe voldsomt. Dette bidro til å gjøre det hele mer spennende, sier han.

I tillegg til sølv i JWRC ble det også sølv i WRC3-mesterskapet. Dette er mesterskapet for biler med tohjulsdrift. Rallyførere som Sébastien Ogier, Sébastien Loeb, Kris Meeke og Dani Sordo fikk alle fart på karrieren i tilsvarende biler i VM.
– Når jeg ser tilbake på hva jeg har prestert denne sesongen, så er det ingen tvil om at jeg bringer med meg mye selvtillit og erfaring inn mot neste sesong. Å ha vunnet så mange fartsprøver i de to siste løpene, er herlig å ta med seg. Nå vet jeg mye mer om hva jeg går til i 2016, sier han.

Rally GB 2015, JWRC:
1. O. VEIBY 3:35:38.0
2. F. ANDOLFI 3:40:02.2
3. Q. GILBERT 3:41:21.8
4. T. FOLB 3:53:12.5
5. P. LOUBET 3:54:53.4
6. W. WAGNER 4:15:47.3

Sammenlagt i JWRC 2015:
1. Quentin Gilbert 131 poeng
2. OLE CHRISTIAN VEIBY 83
3. Terry Folb 66
4. Simone Tempestini 62
5. Henri Haapamaki 48
6. Pierre-Louis Loubet 43
7. Jean-René Perry 32
8. Federico Della Casa og Mohammed Al-Mutawaa 28
9. Yohan Rossel 25
10. Christian Riedemann og Osian Pryce 18
11. Matthieu Margaillan og William Wagner 12
12. Alessandro Re og Kornel Lukacs 8
13. Jari Huttunen 6
14. Charlotte Dalmasso 5
15. Daniel McKenna 4
11-11 -15 VM-bronse så god som gull
Andreas Mikkelsen sikret seg VM-bronse for andre året på rad da avsluttet en fantastisk sesong med tredjeplass i Rally GB. Det betyr at han har vært på pallen i ni av sesongens 13 VM-runder.
– Det har vært en lang sesong, og det er strålende at det ender med bronse i VM. Jeg har lyktes med målet om å vinne min første VM-runde, og jeg er også veldig tilfreds med å ha vært på pallen ni ganger denne sesongen, forteller en smilende Andreas Mikkelsen, som sammen med kartleser Ola Fløene virkelig har slått godt fra seg i 2015.

De norske Volkswagen Motorsport-gutta har markert seg som et av VM-sirkusets mest stabile ekvipasjer. Og dette er en utvikling de har fortsatt fra fjorårssesongen, hvor de avsluttet med en gledelig bronsemedalje i VM. Siden Andreas var på pallen for første gang i VM-sammenheng under Rally Sweden i fjor, har han kjørt 25 VM-runder og vært på pallen i 14 av dem. Å klatre opp på seierspallen i mer enn annen hver VM-runde er utrolig sterkt.
– Denne sesongen – og spesielt seieren i Spania – har gitt meg utrolig motivasjon for kommende sesong. Jeg ser virkelig frem til det som skal skje i 2016, og neste sesong er ikke langt unna. Nå skal jeg ha noen dager fri, før vi starter forberedelse mot neste sesong, sier Andreas.

Etter at teamkamerat Jari-Matti Latvala kjørte ut første dag, hadde nordmannen et lite håp om å ta VM-sølv. Men for at det skulle skje, måtte han vinne løpet, og i tillegg sikre seg bonuspoeng på den avsluttende powerstage-etappen. Dette ble imidlertid en for tøff oppgave selv for Norges fremste rallyfører. Spesielt etter at han punkterte lørdag og i tillegg fikk problemer med en støtdemper. De tre siste års verdensmester, Sebastien Ogier, og hjemmehåpet Kris Meeke ble for sterke, og ble nummer én og to.
– Jeg skjønte etter gårdsdagens etapper at det realistisk sett ville bli umulig å ta sølv i VM. Sånn som løpet utviklet seg, er jeg fornøyd med tredjeplass. Det har vært et innholdsrikt og svært krevende løp. Å avslutte en fantastisk sesong med pallplass er jeg fornøyd med. Vi har tatt mange steg i år og er enda nærmere sølvet enn hva vi var i fjor, sier han.
På sesongens siste fartsetappe ble det andreplass, noe som betyr at han i løpet av årets 231 fartsetapper har vært inne blant topp tre på hele 102 av dem. I tillegg har han sikret seg bonuspoeng på seks av 13 powerstage-etapper.

Sluttstilling, Rally GB 2015
1. S. Ogier 3:03:02.0
2. K. Meeke +26.0
3. A. MIKKELSEN+36.2
4. D. Sordo +2:51.3
5. H. Paddon +3:00.5
6. E. Evans +3:09.1
7. M. Østberg +4:28.4
8. S. Lefebvre +5:38.4
9. R. Kubica +6:22.7
10. L. Bertelli +8:05.0

Sluttstilling i WRC 2015
1 Ogier (VW) 263 poeng
2 Latvala (VW) 183
3 MIKKELSEN (VW) 171
4 Østberg (Citroen) 116
5 Meeke (Citroen) 112
6 Neuville (Hyundai) 90
7 Evans (Ford) 89
8 Sordo (Hyundai) 87
9 Paddon (Hyundai) 84
10 Tänak (Ford) 63
15-11-15 M-Sport fight back in Wales
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans fought back as the crews faced one of the toughest days at Wales Rally GB. Finding their form and posting some impressive stage times, the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRCs find themselves in fourth and seventh place with the opportunity for further gains going into tomorrow’s final day.

As one of the FIA World Rally Championship’s classic events, the Welsh fixture never fails to deliver a challenge and today’s route offered one of the most challenging days of the season.

Heading into the morning service at five in the morning, the crews then made their way through seven stages and 109.39 competitive kilometres without service. As torrential rain battered the speed tests south of the service park a number of experienced crews fell by the wayside but Tänak and Evans rose to the challenge.

Having made some set-up changes during last night’s service, Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder were reaping the rewards. Regularly posting top-four stage times the pairing reduced the gap to the leaders and set the fastest time through a fan-packed Chirk Castle (SS13).

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt were also upping their pace. The local hero was the fastest man through the second split section of Dyfi (SS9) – a full second up on the reigning World Champion – and went on to post the third fastest time through the first pass of Dyfnant (SS11).

If the day stages weren’t challenge enough, two night stages encompassing a second pass of Dyfnant and Aberhirnant closed today’s action. Treacherous in the light, the cover of darkness really separated the men from the boys and Evans proved what could have been were it not for yesterday’s unfortunate puncture.

Setting the fourth fastest time through Dyfant 2 (SS14), the Welshman was also the second fastest man through the second pass of Aberhirnant 2 (SS15) – reinforcing how impressive he can be when the conditions are especially tough.

With some tricky speed tests forming the final day of competition, it remains all to play for and the M-Sport duo will be keeping the pressure on as they look to finish the season with a solid result.

Elsewhere in the WRC 2 category, Eric Camilli and the Ford Fiesta R5 were continuing to perform strongly. Enthralled in an intense battle for victory, the Frenchman secured another five stage wins and extended his lead to an impressive 35 seconds on his Welsh debut.

Ott Tänak (4th) said:
“Today has been quite okay and a big improvement from yesterday. We made some changes to the set-up overnight and that gave me a lot more confidence and I felt as though I could get a lot more speed.

“We managed to secure fourth place and since then it’s just been about maintaining that position. The conditions have been really crazy and we didn’t want to stay there in the forest so we took it steady and actually managed to extend our advantage over Dani [Sordo]. It’s looking okay for the moment so we just need to keep this rhythm going into tomorrow.”

Elfyn Evans (7th) said:
“I feel as though it’s been a pretty good performance from us today. We didn’t have the best run through Gartheiniog [SS7 and SS9], but apart from that we’ve been the best of the rest behind the leading pack. It’s been a solid performance and we had a pretty decent run through the dark stages this evening [SS14 and SS15]. There’s all to play for tomorrow so we’ll push on and see what further gains we can make.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We’ve seen a much better day from both drivers with some really encouraging times. It was nice to see Ott [Tänak] set the fastest time in Chirk Castle [SS13] and Elfyn [Evans] put in a fantastic second fastest time through the final night stage [SS15]. Like we saw in Corsica, he seems to really excel in the difficult conditions.

“Ott currently holds a strong fourth place and he’s been able to take time out of Dani [Sordo, in fifth] throughout much of the day. There’s a big gap to the podium, but we’ll keep the pressure on. This is Wales Rally GB – one of the most challenging events of the year – and as we’ve already seen, anything can happen.

“Elfyn too has been consistently taking time out of both Hayden [Paddon] and Dani. It will be difficult to catch both of them tomorrow, but we’ll certainly keep the pressure on and two cars in the top-five would be a solid result on home soil.

“In the WRC 2 category, we’ve seen yet another strong performance from the young Frenchman – Eric Camilli. Proving how competitive the Ford Fiesta R5 is, he’s set five fastest times and extended his lead to more than 30 seconds which is extremely impressive on what is his first taste of these exceptionally difficult stages.”
15-11-15 Kris Meeke sticts to the plan
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle strengthened their hold on second place as the rain lashed down on day two of Wales Rally GB. Meanwhile, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson lie eighth overall ahead of the season’s final leg, just ahead of Stéphane Lefebvre in Stéphane Prévot in the third DS 3 WRC.

Second overall this morning, Kris Meeke set off on roads that the heavy rain had left sodden. Although he began by cutting the gap to rally leader Sébastien Ogier, the Northern Irishman was above all focused on consolidating his position and keeping ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen. He ended today’s long second leg 24.7 seconds clear of the third-placed driver.

Mads Østberg picked up a puncture on SS8, dropping a place in the overall standings. He quickly regained fourth position from Dani Sordo, before then running into trouble on Dyfnant 1. After going off and becoming stuck in a ditch, the Nordic crew had to wait for spectators to come to their assistance before they could get away again. With almost two minutes lost, they finished the leg in eighth position.

Still weak after suffering flu symptoms yesterday, Stéphane Lefebvre upped his pace throughout the day. The reigning FIA Junior WRC champion even managed a sixth fastest time on Chirk Castle, ending Saturday’s leg in ninth position.
In the FIA Junior WRC, the Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby held onto the lead, ahead of British driver Chris Ingram and the Frenchman Terry Folb.

The final leg of Wales Rally GB features four stages. After leaving the service park at 7am, the crews will tackle Brenig, Alwen and Great Orme before completing a second run on Brenig, the final test and also the Power Stage. The rally is scheduled to finish just before 2pm.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Following a very emotional night for the entire team, our thoughts were obviously with the victims of the Paris attacks. Although it may seem somewhat incidental given the terrible circumstances, we still have to keep going after our target, which is to secure the runner-up spot for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team in the World Manufacturers’ Championship.”

Kris Meeke: “We had a strong day, despite the difficult conditions. We are focused on our goal of finishing second in the manufacturers’ championship, so I tried hard to consolidate my position without taking any risks. We know it’ll still be very hard tomorrow.”

Mads Østberg: “We had started at a good pace this morning, but after a puncture and minor off, we now have to look at the race from a different perspective. We really have to be careful now to make sure we bring home important points for second place in the manufacturers’ standings.”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “We improved a lot today, getting a bit closer to the times of the leaders. I learned a lot on the night stages and I really enjoyed myself in the DS 3 WRC. The atmosphere was amazing and I’m going to try and push tomorrow!”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS7 – Gartheiniog 1 (11.34km) – Having rejoined under Rally 2 rules and therefore first and second on the road, Thierry Neuville and Jari-Matti Latvala set the top two times on the day’s opening stage, held at sunrise. Kris Meeke was fourth fastest to reduce the gap to overall leader Sébastien Ogier, whilst Mads Østberg consolidated his fourth position. Stéphane Lefebvre moved into ninth place.

SS8 – Dyfi 1 (25.86km) – Jari-Matti Latvala went off, bringing his day to a premature end. Thierry Neuville went fastest once again, ahead of Sébastien Ogier and Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg picked up a puncture, allowing Dani Sordo to grab fourth position from him.

SS9 – Gartheiniog 2 (11.34km) – On the second pass, Andreas Mikkelsen went quickest, ahead of Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg was back on the pace, challenging Dani Sordo for fourth place.

SS10 – Dyfi 2 (25.86km) – Sébastien Ogier won the stage, ahead of Kris Meeke. The gap between the top two grew to 19.3 seconds, whilst Mikkelsen trailed the Ulsterman by around thirty seconds. Mads Østberg reclaimed fourth position from Dani Sordo, who lost two places after stalling on the stage.

SS11 – Dyfnant 1 (19.02km) – Thierry Neuville went off, holding up Sébastien Ogier as he tried to get past his car on the stage. Kris Meeke temporarily inherited the overall lead, before the Clerk of the Course awarded Ogier an adjusted time which handed the advantage back to the former leader. Mads Østberg went off, ending up a in a ditch. He lost almost two minutes and ended the day eighth overall. Stéphane Lefebvre recorded the eighth fastest time.

SS12 – Aberhirnant 1 (13.91km) – Another stage win for Sébastien Ogier, ahead of Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg. Stéphane Lefebvre finished seventh on this stage.

SS13 – Chirk Castle (2.06km) – On this short test organised as a prelude to the service break, Ott Tanak topped the timesheets. Stéphane Lefebvre was the highest-placed of the DS 3 WRC drivers in sixth, just ahead of Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg.

SS14 – Dyfnant 2 (19.02km) – After spending thirty minutes in Deeside for service, it was dark by the time the crews set off again. Andreas Mikkelsen won the stage, ahead of Sébastien Ogier and Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg and Stéphane Lefebvre rounded off the top 10.

SS15 – Aberhirnant 2 (13.91km) – Sébastien Ogier won the final stage of the day. Kris Meeke was fourth fastest and Stéphane Lefebvre finished seventh. In the overall standings, Ogier leads Meeke and Mikkelsen, with Østberg eighth and Lefebvre ninth.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:40:25.2
2. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +35.7
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:00.4
4. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:41.1
5. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:55.8
6. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:13.9
7. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:18.3
8. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +4:21.9
9. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +5:32.6
10. Robert Kubica / Maciek Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +6:31.8

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier, 9 – Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen, 2 – Kris Meeke and Ott Tanak, 1.

LEADERS
SS1 to SS15: Sébastien Ogier
15-11-14 Problematisk dag i Wales for Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson
Dag to i Rally Wales har vært en veldig problematisk dag for Mads Østberg og kartleser Jonas Andersson i sin DS3. Plasseringen i øyeblikket er 8. Teamkamerat Kris Meek ligger på 2., og Citroen holder fortsatt den 2. plassen i merke-VM, som er teamets viktigste mål for løpet.

Etter en start etappe helt etter planen for Mads og Jonas, fikk de en punktering og tapte ca. ett minutt på dagens andre etappe. Men etter bra kjøring holdt de fortsatt 4. plassen fram til fartsetappe 11. Etter å ha ledet SS11 2/3 inn på etappen skjedde det som Mads beskriver som en «dum feil»:

«Jeg følte at vi hadde fin flyt og full kontroll, så ble vi brede i en sving-kombinasjon, og jeg prøvde å redde en spinn. I stedet skled vi i slow motion ned i diket. Og trengte dyttehjelp for å komme opp. Da tapte vi ytterligere ett minutt og femti sekunder, og falt ned på 8. Alle ambisjoner om et bra individuelt resultat forsvant. Men vi har fortsatt bra kontroll på teamets mål, og det får vi si er det viktigste akkurat nå. Herfra og inn kommer vi bare til å ta det helt med ro.»

Å ta det med ro resulterte riktig nok i en 3. raskeste tid på SS 12. Men på de to etappene som gikk i mørke, regn og dårlig sikt på slutten av dagen ble alle forholdregler tatt, og tempoet satt kraftig ned.

Løpet avsluttes i morgen med 4 fartsetapper. Det er forventet mindre regn, men det vil være veldig vått og utfordrende ut fra alt vannet som er i terrenget. Det vil fortsatt være stor spenning, og ingenting er avgjort før siste etappe er ferdig kjørt.

TV2 sporten følger løpet gjennom hele helgen, følg med på TV2 sporten for oppdatert programinfo.
Følg også Mads på sin hjemmeside: www.madsostberg.no . Der er oppdaterte tweets, Instagram og Facebook info gjennom hele løpet, samt oppdaterte nyheter fra WRC.com.
15-11-14 Utfordrende dag for Mikkelsen
Andreas Mikkelsen har opplevd en svært utfordrende og krevende andre dag av Rally GB. Til tross for vanskeligheter ligger han på tredjeplass.

Sammen med kartleser Ola Fløene håpet den norske Volkswagen Motorsport-føreren å nærme seg teamkamerat Sebastien Ogier, som ledet etter første dag av årets siste VM-runde. Men slik gikk det dessverre ikke.
– Dette har vært en svært hendelsesrik, krevende og lang dag. Utfordringene har stått i kø. Vi valgte i dag tidlig å kjøre ut med kun ett reservehjul. Men allerede på den andre prøven traff vi noe i veien på en rettstrekke. Det førte til at vi fikk en punktering og en snik-punktering. Jeg vet ikke om det var et hull i veien eller en stein som førte til dette, men vi klarte heldigvis å komme oss gjennom det. Men jeg måtte ta det rolig, for hadde vi fått en punktering til, så ville vi vært sluttkjørte, sier Andreas, som skiftet det ene hjulet og klarte å holde dekket med snik-punktering i sjakk med å fylle luft i dekket foran hver etappe.
– Vi hadde også en ødelagt støtdemper på den siste etappen på første gjennomkjøring, forteller han.
Gjennom hele dagen har det regnet og vært mye vann og gjørme på veiene, som har bidratt til at forholdene har vært vanskelige.
– De siste etappene foregikk i kveldsmørket, og det gjorde heller ikke situasjonen noe enklere. Men dette har vært likt for alle, poengterer han.

Dagen sett under ett, så er Andreas og Ola fornøyd med gjennomføringen. Og uhellene tatt i betraktning, så ligger de fortsatt godt an, selv om teamkamerat Ogier ser ut til å avslutte en mesterlig sesong på en best mulig måte. Frem til hjemmehåpet Kris Meeke på andreplass er det et drøyt halvminutt, mens ned til Ott Tanak på fjerdeplass er det hele 1,37 sekunder.
– Det kan bli tøft å utfordre de to i tet på de siste etappene i morgen. Men en plass på seierspallen bør jeg sikre meg, sier Andreas, som dermed også tar VM-bronse andre året på rad.
15-11-14 Midday quotes Wales Rally GB, section four
Ott Tänak (4th) said:
“I think we’ve shown a big improvement today. The changes that we made overnight have improved my confidence and the car feels a lot faster to drive. We had one mistake with a spin through the first pass of Dyfi [SS10] but the conditions are really tricky so I think we are all on the edge at times. Let’s see what the night stages bring – I’m sure they’ll be some challenge!”

Elfyn Evans (7th) said:
“The pace has been much closer to where we wanted to be today. Strangely though, I performed the worst on what is one of my favourite stages [Gartheiniog] so I don’t know what happened there! Okay, we had a stall on the first pass but still I think I must have just been pushing too hard. Otherwise it’s been an okay day.

“The conditions have been really difficult – I’d say some of the trickiest I’ve ever experienced at Wales Rally GB. Dfnant was particularly tricky and there were some really challenging sections through Aberhimant too – they’re certainly going to be interesting in the dark! It’s going to be tough, but I like driving in the dark so let’s see if we can rise to the challenge.”
15-11-13 M-Sport aim to fight back on home soil
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans was on course to secure a solid start to his Wales Rally GB. Unfortunately the Welsh stages fought back and the local hero’s hard work was undone – a puncture relegating him to the lower end of the overall top-ten.

Hafren, Sweet Lamb and Myherin formed the order of the day – two loops of three classic stages accounting for 131.40 competitive kilometres. Notorious for springing a surprise or two, the Welsh forests lived up to their nature and a number of experienced crews fell by the wayside. Unfortunately, Evans’ Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC was to join the list of unfortunates as he suffered at the hand of Hafren.

Holding a strong fifth place, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt secured the biggest cheer when the field rolled into Newtown for the midday regroup. Despite being disadvantaged with a later running order over the morning loop, the pairing have consistently improved their gravel performance and were making the most of the Welsh support.

Keeping the fight for the podium positions well within sight, it looked as though the Brits would have every chance of challenging for a strong result when the route turned to their preferred stages tomorrow. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

Picking up a puncture midway through the 32.14 kilometres of ‘Hafren 2’ (SS4), the pairing lost close to a minute and a half to the leading pack – undoing their hard work and relegating them to an undeserving eighth place overall.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Ott Tänak and Raigo Mõlder were struggling to unlock their speed on gravel. Road position was not in the Estonians’ favour and an ambitious set-up did not play to their advantage. Running behind their rivals, they had to endure the worst of the conditions and a suspension set-up that was too soft meant that they struggled to find their rhythm.

As the surface became more consistent over the second loop, Tänak was able to improve his times and climbed to sixth place overall – from where he’ll be keen to make further gains over the remainder of the event.

Elsewhere in the WRC 2 category, M-Sport were once again at the top of the time sheets – Eric Camilli piloting his Ford Fiesta R5 to the head of the WRC’s premier support series.

Claiming two stage victories on his way to a 9.4 second advantage, the Frenchman was proving the power and performance of M-Sport’s R5 challenger.

Ott Tänak (6th) said:
“It’s been an okay day for us and we drove really smoothly. We were trying a new set-up – trying to do something different for this rally. Obviously it’s not quite worked out for us today so we’ll go back to the base set-up tomorrow and see if we can improve the pace. It wasn’t possible to push the limits today, but hopefully it will be possible to do that tomorrow.”

Elfyn Evans (8th) said:
“The puncture was a disappointment and not what we wanted from the day but it’s just one of those things. We didn’t hit anything, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. Now we just have to focus on having some fun and really enjoying what are some fantastic stages tomorrow.

“I prefer the character of tomorrow’s stages and we’ll be aiming to push on to see what we can do. As we saw today, the road position will make it difficult to reach for the top times but if we can get into a good rhythm and have some fun out there then we should be able to climb a few places.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“The clear advice this morning was that both drivers should go out and push. We had nothing to lose so they were free to go do battle. It didn’t go as well as we planned with Elfyn [Evans] picking up the puncture and Ott [Tänak] just struggling to produce the speed that we know he is capable of on gravel. Tomorrow is another day and I hope that we’ll be able to regroup and gain a few places in the process.

“In the WRC 2 category, it’s great to the see the Ford Fiesta R5 performing so strongly once again. Eric Camilli has put in another sterling performance and I have been very impressed with him today. Competing against an extremely strong field in what were some very challenging conditions, he has performed brilliantly and demonstrated the power and performance of the Fiesta R5 with real flair.”
15-11-13 Kris Meeke holds second in Wales
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle ended day one of Wales Rally GB in second place as the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team look to secure the runner-up spot in the Manufacturers’ World Championship. Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson lie fourth overall tonight. After a short night’s rest, the crews will tackle tomorrow’s long second leg, featuring nine stages.

lthough the rain was conspicuous by its absence during today’s opening leg of Wales Rally GB, the roads remained very slippery throughout the stages contested in the centre of the country, between Newtown and Aberyswyth.
Kris Meeke made a strong start to the day, grabbing second overall after SS2. And whilst Jari-Matti Latvala and Thierry Neuville retired during the morning loop, Mads Østberg established himself in fourth place.
With no midday service, just the chance to fit new tyres, Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg picked up where they left off in the afternoon. They consolidated their positions, with Kris Meeke grabbing a fine stage win on the 32.14 kilometre-long Hafren 2, avoiding the punctures that blighted some of their rivals.

With the first six stages completed, the Ulsterman is just thirteen seconds behind the leader Sébastien Ogier. Mads Østberg is fourth overall, around ten seconds behind Andreas Mikkelsen.
Weakened by a bout of flu and still learning about rallying at this level in the third DS 3 WRC competing at Wales Rally GB, Stéphane Lefebvre ended the leg in the top 10.

In the FIA Junior WRC, the Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby leads the category at the end of day one, trailed by British driver Chris Ingram and the Belgian William Wagner.

Day two of Wales Rally GB is due to get underway at the ungodly hour of 5am. SS7 (Gartheiniog) starts at 7.29am, just before sunrise. Seven stages will be held before the crews reach service. Two night stages are then scheduled, before the cars return to Deeside from 9.17pm.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Our aim was to set a strong pace at the start to try and get ahead of our direct rivals in the championship, whilst not taking any risks. Our crews made a very good start to the race on what was a typically tough day at Wales Rally GB. Kris was fast, which augurs well for the rest of the rally, and Mads also showed good pace and consistency. We now have a small cushion heading into the next two days of the rally, but there is still a long way to go.”

Kris Meeke: “Our goal is to finish second in the manufacturers’ championship so we are in the perfect position for the rest of the event. We got off to a strong start because I had a very good feeling in the DS 3 WRC. When you feel confident in the car, it’s much easier to set good times, even when conditions are as tricky as those we had today.”

Mads Østberg: “We found the right rhythm on the very slippery roads. Fourth position overall is very much in line with our target of holding onto second place in the manufacturers’ championship. That’s our number one priority and we mustn’t lose sight of it. I’m pleased with our performances and I hope we can keep driving just as fast tomorrow.”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “I tried to improve as we completed more stages. During the second loop, we managed to reduce the gap to the stage-winning time to less than second per kilometre. Unfortunately, I span the car on the final stage and I ended the day with a hard point on the steering. Overall, though, the afternoon went very well. We have to keep up this pace.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS1 – Hafren 1 (32.14km) – Stage win for Sébastien Ogier, first on the road, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg ended this opening stage in fifth place. Stéphane Lefebvre set the twelfth fastest time.

SS2 – Sweet Lamb 1 (3.33km) – On the shortest stage of the day, Jari-Matti Latvala went off the road. Sébastien Ogier collected a second stage win ahead of Kris Meeke, who moved into second overall. Mads Østberg was sixth fastest, moving up into fourth overall.

SS3 – Myherin 1 (30.23km) – Thierry Neuville and Kevin Abbring retired on the stage and Robert Kubica suffered a puncture. Sébastien Ogier made it a hat-trick of stage wins, finishing ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke. No change in the top four overall, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre scored moved into the top ten.

SS4 – Hafren 2 (32.14km) – After changing tyres in Newtown, the crews set off on their second runs on the same loop of stages. Kris Meeke was quickest on Hafren 2 to strengthen his hold on second place, ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Østberg. Dani Sordo took advantage of a puncture for Elfyn Evans to grab fifth overall. Stéphane Lefebvre set the eighth fastest time.

SS5 – Sweet Lamb 2 (3.33km) – Sébastien Ogier topped the timesheets again, ahead of Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo. Mads Østberg finished in seventh place on this stage, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre was tenth.

SS6 – Myherin 2 (30.23km) – Sébastien Ogier ended the day with a fifth stage win to lead the rally ahead of Kris Meeke, Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Østberg. A transmission problem resulted in Martin Prokop dropping out of the top 10. Stéphane Lefebvre missed the opportunity to move up the standings, however, after he span on the final test of the day.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:16:03.5
2. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +13.5
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +31.4
4. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +43.0
5. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:18.7
6. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:34.9
7. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:03.5
8. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:21.6
9. Lorenzo Bertelli / Lorenzo Granai (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:21.5
10. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +3:25.4

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier, 5 – Kris Meeke, 1.

LEADERS
SS1 to SS6: Sébastien Ogier
15-11-13 Mikkelsen med i toppkampen
Andreas Mikkelsen har fått en god start på Rally GB – årets siste VM-runde. Oslo-gutten ligger på tredjeplass etter første dag, og nå sikter han oppover på resultatlistene.

Den norske Volkswagen Motorsport-føreren var litt spent på åpningsdagen av VM-runden i Wales. I fjor måtte han bryte allerede på den andre fartsetappen, noe som betyr at han ikke fikk kjørt de første etappene. Derfor stilte han i år til start med et lite handikap i forhold til konkurrentene sine som alle kjenner etappene fra i fjor. Likevel kan Andreas og kartleser Ola Fløene si seg fornøyd med åpningsdagen. De ligger på tredjeplass, 17,9 sekunder bak hjemmehåpet Kris Meeke på andreplass og drøyt halvminuttet bak verdensmester Sebastien Ogier, som har tatt ledelsen etter de seks første etappene.
– Det har ikke vært lett å komme rett fra siste etappe i Spania til gjørmebadet i Wales. Men jeg er fornøyd med jobben jeg har gjort. Jeg fant rytmen ganske raskt. Riktignok har jeg ikke holdt samme tempoet som Sebastien (Ogier), men heller ikke langt unna, forteller Andreas.
26-åringen legger ikke skjul på at seieren i Spania var en stor motivasjon før VM-avslutningen.
– Følelsen det var å vinne var helt fantastisk, og det har gitt meg motivasjon til å jobbe hardt for å oppleve det igjen, slår han fast.

Teamkamerat Jari-Matti Latvala havnet i grøfta allerede etter 600 meter på den første fartsetappen. Det betyr at Andreas Mikkelsens teoretiske mulighet til å ta VM-sølv plutselig er blitt litt mer enn bare en teoretisk sjanse. For at det skal skje, må han vinne løpet, samtidig som han også vinner den avsluttende powerstage-etappen. Finnen har et forsprang på 26 poeng, men Andreas kan få 28 poeng hvis han vinner både løpet og den siste etappen søndag.
– Jeg er selvsagt lei meg for at Jari-Matti kjørte ut, men samtidig gir det meg en stor mulighet. Vi får se hva vi klarer i morgen, sier Norges fremste rallyfører, som kan vente seg ufyselige forhold på morgendagens etapper. Det er nemlig meldt om uvær i de walisiske skoger.
– Det blir en vanskelig dag i morgen med skikkelig dårlig vær. Det betyr at mye kan skje. Samtidig blir det en lang dag, så vi har en stor utfordring foran oss. Men jeg er klar for å ta det som måtte komme, sier han.
15-11-13 Rally Wales - årets gjørmeløp er i gang!
Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson i DS3 WRC, ligger på 4. plass etter første dag i årets avsluttende VM runde; Rally Wales. Sebastian Ogier leder løpet, Kris Meek er 2, mens Andreas Mikkelsen er ligger på 3.

Mens løpene i VM gjerne deles inn i snø, asfalt og grus, har Rally Wales ofte fått en egen klasse for seg, nemlig «mud». Årets løp er et godt eksempel på hvorfor. Det har ikke regnet i dag, men det regnet desto mer tidligere i uken, og forholdene er glatte og utfordrende. Forholdsrelaterte førerfeil har også satt mange ut av spill, bl.a. toppførere som Jari Matti Latvala og Thierry Neuville.

«Citroen er i en kamp med Hyundai om 2. plassen i merke-VM, forteller Mads. VW er det dessverre ikke noe å gjøre med i år - de vinner. Kris og jeg har fått en klar oppgave av teamet før det avsluttende løpet; det er at vi slår Hyundaiene. Det er viktig for Citroen å ta 2. plassen, og legger jeg opp løpet mitt etter det – vi jobber for laget, og står av fighter med andre som vil ellers kunne ha tatt. Det betyr at vi har lagt oss på et safe tempo. Vi har lagt Hyundaiene god bak oss, og jeg har jeg mer å gå på om det skulle presse på bakfra i morgen. Samtidig har vi hatt det veldig morsomt, med glatte og sleipe veier blir det morsomt når det stemmer,» avslutter Mads med et smil.

Det er meldt kuling og mye nedbør på prøvene i morgen. Da blir forholdene enda mer utfordrende, og spenningen holdes på et høyt nivå.

TV2 sporten følger løpet gjennom hele helgen, følg med på TV2 sporten for oppdatert programinfo.
Følg også Mads på sin hjemmeside: www.madsostberg.no . Der er oppdaterte tweets, Instagram og Facebook info gjennom hele løpet, samt oppdaterte nyheter fra WRC.com.
15-11-13 Midday quotes Wales Rally GB, section one
Elfyn Evans (5th) said:
“The conditions are really tricky but it’s been an okay morning from us. It’s not perfect as I’ve been a little hesitant in places but still a fairly solid run. The car has been okay – I have a bit of understeer but I think a lot of people are having the same issue in these conditions. It’s going well so far and we’ll see what we can do over the second pass.”

Ott Tänak (8th) said:
“These conditions are proper Wales Rally GB spec. The first stage cut up quite a lot and the surface was getting very soft so we struggled to get the power down in there. The last stage [of the morning, SS3] had a harder base and didn’t feel too bad. We didn’t get a perfect rhythm with the notes and it was getting really slippery, but otherwise it has been okay with no major issues or dramas.”
15-11-11 Fredrik Åhlin startar som enda Svenska förare i Rally VM i England
Årets sista Rally VM-deltävling startar nu på fredag i Llandnduo - Wales Rally GB. Rallyt som alltid lockar stor publik och där förarna bjuds på utmanande sträckor i det typiska novembervädret.
"Jag och min kartläsare Morten Abrahamsen har just avslutat vår rallytest på de såphala och moddiga vägarna här i England efter två månaders tävlingsuppehåll. Visst fanns det lite rattrost men på slutet kom känslan på plats och nu är både bil och LeoVegas World Rally Team laddade inför uppgiften" berättar Fredrik.

De närmare 80 ekipagen kan räkna med allt från regn, dimma, snö och is under de 19 specialsträckor som skall köras i totalt 32 mil. Fredagens etapp bjuder på 6 sträckor och startar direkt med rallyts längsta specialsträcka på 32 km.
"Det kommer att bli både spännande och utmanande på många sätt. Några dubbdäck är inte tillåtet i det här rallyt men jag är inte ledsen för det, jag får möjligheten att köra årets sista VM Rally vilket jag är superglad över" säger Fredrik.
Lördagens etapp kommer att bli riktigt tuff med hela 9 specialsträckor och med service först efter 7 körda sträckor. Sista etappen på söndag avslutar med de sista 4 sträckorna.
"Nytt för i år är att man kommer köra klassiker som Myherin och Great Orme, så visst det har blivit en hel del rallyfilmer från förr att studera så att man kan få lite feeling av vad som väntar" avslutar Fredrik
15-11-10 Vädret gör Rally Great Britain till en utmaning
Volkswagen är redo för en sista spurt vid den 13:e och avslutande omgången av 2015 års FIA World Rally Championship (FIA). Trefaldiga världsmästarna Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) på andra plats i VM-tabellen efter tre segrar den här säsongen och Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) som vann senast i Rally Spain, siktar på en perfekt avslutning på vad som varit en framgångsrik säsong för alla tre paren.

De skulle också kunna tangera ett av Volkswagens rekord. Elva av tolv rallyn hittills under 2015 har vunnits med Polo R WRC. Skulle Volkswagen ta en tolfte seger i år kommer man att tangera sitt eget rekord från 2014 med tolv segrar på 13 rallyn. Med totalt 24 pallplatser har 2015 års säsong redan varit mer framgångsrik än förra årets. Men det kommer inte att bli lätt. Wales fuktiga, leriga och halkiga grusvägar gör Rally Britain till en unik utmaning i WRC-kalendern. Rally Britain består av 19 specialsträckor, sammanlagt 310 km långa.
- Det vi åstadkommit i år är helt otroligt. Av tolv möjliga segrar har Volkswagen tagit elva, säger Volkswagens Motorsportchef Jost Capito.
- Så det är ingen tvekan om att vi vill vara i topp igen i Wales. Och i linje med vår princip, må bäste man vinna. Vi har inga stallorder alls, vi kan redan se tillbaka på ett år då alla tre förarna och kartläsarna vunnit för oss. Alla tre kommer att försöka briljera igen i Wales - helst med en seger - och ta med sig den energin in i nästa säsong. Så från Volkswagens perspektiv kommer det att bli ett mycket intressant rally. Och våra konkurrenter kommer också att vilja avsluta säsongen på ett bra sätt och göra livet så surt som möjligt för oss.

Lera och sörja
Rallyt i norra Wales är ingen lek. Specialsträckorna med namn som “Gartheiniog”, “Aberhirnant” och “Alwen” går genom täta skogar och kräver intensiv koncentration. Inte minst på grund av väderförhållandena, som är svåra att förutse, är det ett av rallykalenderns mest utmanande tävlingar. Vägbanan är lika oförutsägbar som vädret. Vid mer än ett tillfälle de senaste åren har vägen förvandlats från grus till lera på några få minuter. De flesta av de 19 specialsträckorna, nästan 90 procent, är samma som förra året. Det gynnar alla som behållit sina noter från förra året.

Volkswagen siktar på rekord
Polo R WRC har kört 698 specialsträckor sedan debuten i Monte Carlo 2013. På den andra specialsträckan i Rally Great Britain ,“Sweet Lamb”, kommer de att passera milstolpen 700. Men det finns ännu en milstolpe inom räckhåll i Wales. Hittills har Polo vunnit 489 specialsträckor. Med en stark insats kan Volkswagen nå vinst nummer 500. Men de tre Volkswagen-förarna måste verkligen satsa hårt för att nå dit, de har bara 19 specialsträckor på sig.

Volkswagen har siktet inställt på ännu en bedrift i Storbritannien, seger nummer tolv för säsongen. Volkswagen är nu den enda tillverkare i WRC-historien som nått tolv segrar på en säsong, och det gjorde man 2014. Medan Volkswagens tre förare Ogier, Latvala och Mikkelsen skulle kunna tangera den siffran har de redan slagit ett av Volkswagens rekord. 24 pallplatser under säsongens tolv rallyn hittills är redan fler än de nådde förra året då de tog 23 pallplatser. Totalt har Polo R WRC tagit 65 pallplatser på 38 rallyn, inklusive 33 segrar.

Latvala versus Mikkelsen
Efter den enastående framgångsrika säsongen 2015 är en sak redan klar: VM-titlarna för förare, kartläsare och konstruktörer går alla till förra årets världsmästare, Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia och Volkswagen Motorsport. En annan sak är också klar, de tre topplatserna i VM går till Volkswagens förarpar. Den enda osäkerheten är vem som blir tvåa. Bäst förutsättningar har Jari-Matti Latvala och Miikka Anttila med 24 poängs ledning över Andreas Mikkelsen och Ola Fløene. Man kan maximalt få 28 poäng i Wales. Mikkelsen/Fløenes enda hopp för att ta andraplatsen är därför att vinna årets sista rally. För Latvala/Anttila räcker fyra poäng för att de ska bli tvåa i World Champinonship.

Citat inför Rally Great Britain
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
- Det var synd att Rally Spain slutade som det gjorde. Men det ligger bakom oss och nu ser jag fram emot Rally Great Britain som Julien och jag vunnit de två senaste åren. Specialsträckorna är utsökta att köra, även om det oftast är väldigt dåligt grepp. När man kör i Wales spelar det ingen roll hur väderleksutsikterna ser ut. Man vet redan innan man är där att vägarna kommer att vara mycket hala. Oftast klarar jag det bra. Situationen för oss är densamma som i Spanien och i Frankrike dessförinnan. Vi har redan vunnit alla tre mästerskapen och kan avsluta säsongen utan press. Men oavsett om det är säsongens första eller sista rally vill jag alltid vinna. Detsamma gäller i Rally Great Britain. Alla vill naturligtvis vinna i Wales innan de åker på välförtjänt vintersemester.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
-Specialsträckorna i Rally Great Britain går mest genom skogar och är snabba och följsamma att köra. Jag gillar det för det påminner om rallyt i Finland. Det är inte det enda skälet till att Rally Great Britain känns som ett andra hemmarally för mig. Jag förknippar många bra erfarenheter med Wales. Jag gjorde min WRC-debut där 2002 och vann rallyt 2011 och 2012. Jag vill naturligtvis upprepa det i år. Miikka och jag hade en del problem i de första tävlingarna för året. Men vi kom tillbaka och skulle nu vilja avsluta den andra framgångsrika halvan av säsongen med ett bra resultat. En bra avslutning på säsongen skulle ge oss ännu mer energi inför "Monte" nästa år. Det är definitivit vårt mål. Jag skulle vilja ta tillfället i akt att tacka alla i teamet. De har gjort ett enastående jobb hela året. Vi kommer nu att satsa så hårt vi kan en sista gång innan vi åker till en välförtjänt vila.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
- Den första WRC-segern för mig och Ola i Rally Spain var mycket speciell - särskilt som ett ok lättat från våra axlar och vi kan satsa på Rally Great Britain utan att känna någon press. Jag har speciellt förhållande till Wales. Jag flyttade dit när jag var 17 för att ta körkort. Jag körde också mitt första WRC-rally i Wales. Därför är det alltid trevligt att komma tillbaka till de här vägarna. Precis som Rally Sweden är Rally Great Britain något av ett hemmarally för mig. Många bekanta kommer att vara där och heja på mig. Jag ser verkligen fram emot det. Vi kommer naturligtvis att packa paraplyer och regnrockar eftersom man alltid räknar med dåligt väder i Wales. Det gör alltid rallyt knepigt, specialsträckorna är extremt leriga och hala. Efter att ha vunnit i Spanien har jag fått smak för segrar och vill vinna så snart som möjligt igen.

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), totalställningen
Förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 238
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 180
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 154
4. Mads Østberg 110
5. Kris Meeke 94
6. Thierry Neuville 90
7. Elfyn Evans 81
8. Dani Sordo 77
9. Hayden Paddon 74
10. Ott Tänak 63

Kartläsarmästerskapet Poäng
1. Julien Ingrassia 238
2. Miikka Anttila 180
3. Ola Fløene 154
4. Jonas Andersson 110
5. Paul Nagle 94
6. Nicolas Gilsoul 90
7. Daniel Barritt 81
8. Marc Marti 77
9. John Kennard 74
10. Raigo Mõlder 63

Konstruktörsmästerskapet Poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 387
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 206
3. Hyundai Motorsport 202
4. M-Sport World Rally Team 173
5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 116
6. Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team 67
7. Jipocar Czech National Team 51
8. F.W.R.T. 9
15-11-03 WRC Promoter confirms 2016 championship dates
· Rally dates announced for 2016 FIA World Rally Championship
· China returns in September for first time since 1999
· Australia closes season in mid-November
· Britain remains final European round in October

Munich, Germany, 3 November 2015 – The FIA World Rally Championship calendar for 2016 has been announced today (Tuesday) by WRC Promoter.

The 14-round championship will begin with the traditional season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo in January and will feature a mix of gravel, asphalt, snow and ice action across five continents to find the world’s best all-round driver.

Exciting innovations for 2016 are:

· Asia becomes the fifth continent to join the WRC with Rally China returning for the first time since 1999. The all-asphalt event will run as the 10th round on 9 - 11 September, based in the Huairou district just 70km from central Beijing. Huairou, which hosted the 1999 rally, benefited from huge investment ahead of the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting.

· Rally Australia will move from its September date in 2014 to end the championship on 18 - 20 November next year. It will be followed by a glamorous and high-profile gala finale to the season in Sydney.

· Rally GB will remain the final European fixture as the championship’s penultimate round. It will be based in Wales on 28 - 30 October, following the completion of Britain’s national rally calendar, preserving the likelihood of tricky late-year conditions which make the event so challenging.

Following this year’s successful inaugural event, celebrities from the worlds of sport and entertainment will kick-start the 2016 championship at a spectacular opening in Monaco immediately ahead of the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo.

The famous Grand Prix circuit will echo to the sound of raucous World Rally Cars as guests enjoy high-speed rides alongside top WRC drivers from teams including Volkswagen Motorsport, Hyundai Motorsport, Citroën Racing and M-Sport.

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said the 2016 calendar offered a mix of tradition and innovation.

“It brings an enticing blend of the WRC’s heritage, in the form of classic and long-standing events such as Sweden, Argentina and Finland, with a new and exciting challenge on asphalt roads in China,” he said.

“WRC Promoter has signed a multi-year agreement with Letv Sports to promote the event alongside the Federation of Automobile Sports of China.

“Letv today is one of the world’s largest acquirers of sports rights and WRC joins a portfolio which also includes Formula 1 and the English Premier League. We welcome China back to the series and look forward to working with a successful and highly experienced organisation.

“China is the biggest car market globally and by taking the WRC there, we offer manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their products via a championship focused on production-based vehicles. Its return was unanimously supported by our participating manufacturers.

“Another major change sees Australia become the final round. The Coffs Harbour rally is driven by an enthusiastic organising team with a refreshing attitude to promotional opportunities, and fully deserves its place as the season’s final fixture,” added Ciesla.

The 2016 calendar is:
22-24 jan Monte Carlo *  
12-14 febr Sverige  
4-6 mars Mexico  
22-24 april Argentina  
20-22 maj Portugal  
10-12 juni Italien  
1-3 juli Polen  
29-31 aug Finland  
19-21 aug Tyskland  
9-11 sept Kina **  
30-2 okt Frankrike *  
14-16 okt Spanien  
28-30 okt England  
18-20 nov Australien  
* Inclusion remains subject to formalisation of contracts with FIA and WRC Promoter

** Inclusion remains subject to fulfilment of FIA requirements after candidate event
 
 

* Inclusion remains subject to formalisation of contracts with FIA and WRC Promoter
** Inclusion remains subject to fulfilment of FIA requirements after candidate event
15-10-25 Mikkelsen tog sin första seger i Rally Spain
Andreas Mikkelsen och Ola Fløene vann Rally Spain och tog sin första seger i FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Deras största framgång i WRC gav Volkswagen dess sjunde dubbelseger för säsongen. Det norska paret knep segern i avslutande Power Stage 3,1 sekunder framför team-kollegorna Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN). Sébastien Ogier tvingades bryta.

Efter tolv pallplatser med Polo R WRC kunde Mikkelsen och Fløene kliva längst upp på pallen för första gången i sina karriärer vid deras 64:e framträdande i rallyvärldens högsta klass. Det här blev Volkswagens elfte seger för säsongen och den 33:e sedan Polo R WRC debuterade i januari 2013.

Med Volkswagens dubbelseger visade sig Polo R WRC vara den snabbaste och mest flexibla rallybilen i det enda rallyt i WRC-kalendern som körs på både grus och asfalt, 17 av de 23 sträcksegrarna gick till Volkswagen, inklusive alla asfaltsträckor. En sak är klar inför den sista omgången av World Rally Championship, Rally Great Britain, de tre Volkswagen-paren kommer att sluta på första, andra och tredje plats i förar-VM och kartläsarmästerskapet för andra året i rad.

Latvala mot Mikkelsen
Kampen mellan Andreas Mikkelsen och Jari-Matti Latvala avgjordes med en marginal på bara 3,1 sekunder - till nykomlingens fördel. En punktering kostade Latvala omkring tio sekunder på den 20:e av 23 specialsträckor. Bara en specialsträcka senare förlorade Mikkelsen flera sekunder efter att ha spunnit runt. Inför avslutande Power Stage skuggade den erfarne finländaren den unge norrmannen och låg bara 1,4 sekunder efter. Thrillern skulle avgöras i Power stage.
Innan kampen med Mikkelsen utvecklades till en sådan thriller hade en fängslande strid om ledningen förgyllt Rally Spain. En punktering på den 12:e av 23 specialsträckor satte ett tidigt stopp för duellen mellan Sébastien Ogier och Jari-Matti Latvala. Latvala fick punktering när han genade i en högerkurva och förlorade nästan en minut. Men han kom tillbaka direkt från det här bakslaget. Han slog sig fram till andra plats där han fann sig invecklad i en annan Volkswagen-duell, den här gången med team-kollegan Andreas Mikkelsen.

Under tiden verkade Ogier/Ingrassia ha avgjort rallyt för att ta sin åttonde seger för säsongen. Men ett enda misstag när de försökte vinna Power Stage nummer 26 grusade allt hopp om att ta hem den 32:a segern i karriären strax före avslutningen av rallyt. På sista sträckan, som påminner om en racerbana, missade den trefaldige världsmästaren den ideala linjen och touchade en barriär som skadade bilen så mycket att de tvingades bryta tävlingen. En rutinmässig medicinsk kontroll visade att paret klarat sig utan skador.

Polo R WRC obesegrad i unikt WRC-rally
En dag på grus, två dagar på perfekt asfalt. Det är den blandningen som gör Rally Spain unikt i FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Och Polo R WRC är inte bara obesegrad i det här utmanande rallyt, utan har nu också tagit dubbelsegrar tre år i rad. Efter dubbelsegrarna 2013 och 2014 var det än en gång besättningarna i Volkswagens rallybil som tog de två första platserna.

Rally Spain har en specialitet i beredskap för mekanikerna. Från fredag till lördag måste de bygga om rallybilarna från grus- till asfaltinställning, och de har en begränsad tid till förfogande, maximalt 75 minuter. Vid det längsta serviceuppehållet för säsongen bytte Volkswagens mekaniker ut 4 044 individuella komponenter på de tre Polo R WRC-bilarna. Däribland 18-tumshjul i stället för de 15-tumshjul som används på grus, bromsskivor med större diameter, stötdämpare, växellåda och pedaler och hela chassigeometrin.

Tre i topp i WRC
Regerande mästarna Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia har försvarat sina titlar, Jari Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila ligger på andra plats i mästerskapet med Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene på tredje plats totalt. Volkswagen avslutar säsongen med de tre första platserna i förar- och kartläsarmästerskapen. Ogier/Ingrassia säkrade sina VM-titlar i Rally Australia medan resultaten i Spanien betyder att Latvala/Anttila tog ett säkrare grepp om sin andraplats, precis som Mikkelsen/Fløene gjorde med sin tredjeplats.

Mikkelsen vinner Power Stage och tar segern
Avslutande Power Stage gick till Volkswagen-paret Mikkelsen/ Fløene för första gången den här säsongen och den andra gången totalt. De avslutade de tolv kilometrarna bara 1,7 sekunder snabbare än deras rivaler i Volkswagen Latvala/Anttila, som därmed fick två bonuspoäng. Därmed kommer kampen om andraplatsen i förar- och kartläsarmästerskapen att avgöras i Rally Great Britain. Mikkelsen/Fløene på tredje plats ligger bara 26 poäng bakom Latvala/Anttila. Den som vinner det avslutande rallyt samt Power Stage kan få maximalt 28 poäng.

Citat efter dag tre i Rally Spain
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
- Jag körde för fort i en lång vänstersväng och gled ut för långt i utgången. Vi slog emot kraschbarriären och kom litet ur kurs och ett hjul fastnade i en stolpe som höll barriären. Hjulet slets av och allt var över. Vi åkte till sjukhus för en ordentlig kontroll - bara för att vara på den säkra sidan. Som tur är var allt OK. Tyvärr kostade det här misstaget segern. Men jag är mycket glad för Andreas och Olas skull som verkligen förtjänar sin första seger i World Rally Championship.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
- När man ser hur rallyt utvecklades tycker jag att vi kan vara mycket nöjda med resultatet. Redan från start idag uppstod en spännande match om andraplatsen med min team-kollega Andreas Mikkelsen. Med sex däck, jag hade valt den säkrare strategin, medan Andreas valde den mer aggressiva och förmodligen bättre strategin med fem däck. Hursom helst min fördel var på väg att ätas upp senare på morgonen. Sedan fick jag en långsam punktering på den 21 specialsträckan som gjorde slut på allt hopp om att ta andraplatsen. Jag blev tvåa till slut med litet tur när min team-kollega Sébastien Ogier kraschade. Det viktigaste är att ingenting hände med honom eller hans kartläsare Julien. Och naturligtvis grattis till Andreas och Ola till deras första seger i World Rally Championship. Jag kommer att satsa på nytt i Wales om tre veckor, förhoppningsvis med litet mer tur.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
- Vi har väntat så länge och jobbat så hårt för det här ögonblicket. När det äntligen kom kunde vi knappt tro det. Vi hade vunnit vårt första VM-rally! Det som hände idag var raka motsatsen till vad som hände i Sverige. Jag är överlycklig, men jag tror inte det har sjunkit in än. Jag är säker på att det kommer att ta några dagar. Vi gav allt vi hade i Power Stage och fick äntligen till en perfekt sträcka i det här rallyt. Det hade varit gott nog för en andraplats men segern är naturligtvis pricken över i. Det var synd det som hände Seb och Julien men det viktigaste är att de inte skadade sig i kraschen. Det har varit en otrolig weekend för oss och vi kommer att fira i stil idag - med min familj, mina mekaniker, och hela teamet.

Jost Capito, chef för Volkswagen Motorsport
-Vilken otrolig final. Vilket spännande rally. Först och främst, grattis till Andreas Mikkelsen och Ola Fløene som belönades för sitt hårda och outtröttliga arbete och sina fina prestationer med seger idag. Alla i teamet är absolut förtjusta. Det faktum att vi kan fira första platsen idag beror på en annan god nyhet: Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia mår bra efter sin krasch. Power Stage kostade dem en säker seger men jag är säker på att de kommer över det - i synnerhet efter ännu ett imponerande rally här i Spanien och sju segrar hittills den här säsongen. Jari-Matti Latvala och Miikka Anttila gav precis allt i det här rallyt igen, men blev knappt slagna av Andreas och Ola. Vi åker nu till Great Britain med kunskapen att vi har tre vinnande par i vårt lag.

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Spain – Slutresultat
1. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen 3t 21m 04.8s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 3.1s
3. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai + 21.2s
4. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën + 1m 06.3s
5. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën + 1m 08.2s
6. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai + 1m 23.3s
7. Martin Prokop/Jan Tománek (CZ/CZ), Ford + 4m 14.2s
8. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai + 8m 01.9s
9. Pontus Tidemand/Emil Axelsson (S/S), Škoda + 10m 18.0s
10. Robert Kubica/Maciej Szczepaniak (PL/PL), Ford + 12m 15.0s

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Spain – Power Stage
1. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen 7m 51.9s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 1.7s
3. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën + 5.2s

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), totalställningen
Förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 238
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 180
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 154
4. Mads Østberg 110
5. Kris Meeke 94
6. Thierry Neuville 90
7. Elfyn Evans 81
8. Dani Sordo 75
9. Hayden Paddon 74
10. Ott Tänak 63

Konstruktörsmästerskapet poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 387
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 206
3. Hyundai Motorsport 202
4. M-Sport 173
5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 116
6. Hyundai Motorsport N 67
7. Jipocar Czech National Team 51
8. FWRT 9
15-10-25 Ogier crash gifts Mikkelsen maiden win
Ogier crash gifts Mikkelsen maiden win Norwegian takes Spain victory after last stage drama.

Andreas Mikkelsen claimed his maiden WRC victory at Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada on Sunday when world champion Sébastien Ogier crashed out of the lead in the final speed test.

In a hugely dramatic finale, Mikkelsen and co-driver Ola Floene finished the last stage and learned they had edged Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala for what should have been second after a fierce final day fight.

Seconds later the Norwegian was informed that Ogier had smashed his similar Polo R into a metal roadside barrier less than 4km from the finish, ripping the rear right wheel from the car.

Mikkelsen was stunned into silence as he realised the significance of his colleague’s error. It was his first WRC win in 64 attempts and kept alive his hopes of pipping Latvala for second in the drivers’ standings at next month’s final round in Britain.

“It was absurd because Ogier never makes mistakes so when they told me I didn’t believe it. It was a big surprise, and although it’s not the way I want to win a rally, we’ve been so close so many times that I feel I really deserve this one,” said 26-year-old Mikkelsen.

Ogier was airlifted to hospital but was passed fit after checks. The 31-year-old Frenchman was seemingly on his way to an eighth victory of the season on the four-day mixed surface event south of Barcelona with a comfortable 50.9sec lead over Mikkelsen.

Mikkelsen and Latvala fought tooth and nail through the final leg and were less than a second apart before Latvala punctured three stages from the end. Mikkelsen then spun in the penultimate test and the duo began the final stage showdown 1.4sec apart.

The eventual winning margin was 3.1sec, with Dani Sordo taking the final podium place at his home event in a Hyundai i20, a further 18.1sec back.

Citroen’s Mads Østberg finished fourth after demoting team-mate Kris Meeke who spun his DS 3. The gap between them was 1.9sec, with New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon completing the top six in another i20.

Thierry Neuville’s hopes of a top six finish ended in the penultimate stage when a transmission problem pitched the Belgian off the road under braking. He limped through the final stage to take eighth behind Martin Prokop’s Ford Fiesta RS. WRC 2 winner Pontus Tidemand and team-mate Jan Kopecký completed the leaderboard.

The final round of the season is the gravel Wales Rally GB which is based in Deeside on 12 - 15 November.
15-10-25 Veiby imponerte i Spania
VM-runden i Spania har vært som en berg og dalbane for Ole Christian Veiby. Unggutten imponerte stort, men fikk samtidig erfare hvor brutal rallysporten er. Et ubarmhjertig møte med en bru, ødela et toppresultat.
– Jeg er veldig fornøyd med kjøringen, og har vel neppe prestert bedre. Jeg har holdt et høyt tempo, og spesielt på asfaltetappene har jeg markert meg. Etter at jeg måtte bryte fredag, handlet lørdagen og søndagen om å få mest mulig erfaring og få med meg så mye poeng som mulig, sier Ole, som mest sannsynlig ville vært med å kjempe om seieren om han ikke hadde krasjet fredag.

Rally-VMs offisielle nettside, wrc.com, har tidligere omtalt 19-åringen fra Kongsvinger som sesongens åpenbaring i junior-VM. Dette er et inntrykk som forsterket seg etter helgens VM-runde. Sammen med kartleser Anders Jæger vant de hele sju av fartestappene, to på grus og fem på asfakt. Det er slikt som blir lagt merke til. Dessverre ble det bråstopp med tanke på et toppresultat da bilen fikk store skader etter møtet med broen. Mekanikerne i Printsport, som drifter bilen, gjorde en fantastisk jobb, og fikk bokstavelig talt lappet sammen bilen slik at han kunne kjøre asfaltetappene lørdag og søndag.
– At jeg måtte bryte fredag var en stor nedtur. Men kjøringen totalt sett har vært en stor opptur og noe jeg tar med seg før sesongens siste VM-runde i Wales. Det siste året har jeg tatt store steg, noe jeg føler jeg beviste også i helgen selv om sammenlagtresultatet ikke ble så bra, sier han.

Ole måtte se at italieneren Simone Tempestini gikk forbi han i VM-sammendraget, og overtok andreplassen før det siste løpet. Kongsvinger-gutten har likevel et godt grep om medaljeplassen, med 10 poengs forsprang til fjerdeplass.
– Jeg har ikke gitt opp VM-sølv. Tempestini skal få slåss for å beholde andreplassen i sammendraget, forsikrer Ole.

Sammenlagt i JWRC før siste VM-runde:

Quentin Gilbert 131 poeng
Simone Tempestini 68
OLE CHRISTIAN VEIBY 58
Henri Haapamaki and Terry Folb 48
Jean-René Perry 32
Federico Della Casa, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Mohammed Al-Mutawaa 28
Yohan Rossel 25
15-10-25 Important points ahead of the final round
Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson and Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle ended Rally Catalunya in fourth and fifth positions. The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team therefore strengthened its hold on second place in the World Championship before the final round of the season. Next up is the final event on the 2015 calendar: Wales Rally GB, which takes place on 12-15 November.

At the start of this, the final day of Rally Catalunya, Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg’s aim was to hold onto their positions in the top six of the overall standings.

Both Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers initially held firm, despite coming under pressure from Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon early on in the morning. Kris Meeke then lost a few seconds with a spin on SS19, allowing Mads Østberg to retake fifth place from the Northern Irishman.

During this final leg, with no service breaks or tyres changes allowed, good race management was vital. By consistently finishing in the top six in the last four stages, Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg ensured the final standings remained unchanged.

The Power Stage saw Kris Meeke score an extra point for the Drivers’ championship by grabbing the third fastest time. The rally leader Sébastien Ogier’s off meant all of the finishers moved up a place. Mads Østberg therefore finished fourth overall, one place ahead of Kris Meeke.

In the third car entered by the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, Khalid Al Qassimi made it to Salou without any mistakes. He finished in 16th position on his final outing of the year in the DS 3 WRC.

Having rejoined this morning under Rally 2 rules in order to get his first experience on tarmac at this year’s Rally Catalunya, Stéphane Lefebvre was able to continue learning at World level with the DS 3 WRC.

In their DS 3 R3-MAXs, Quentin Gilbert secured a fifth win in the FIA Junior WRC ahead of Terry Folb and Simone Tempestini. Already certain to end the season as FIA Junior WRC champion*, Quentin Gilbert will now go up against Simone Tempestini for the FIA’s WRC3 title at the forthcoming Wales Rally GB.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “This event was very important at this stage of the season. Both our drivers managed their race perfectly by keeping in mind how vital it was to score points for the manufacturers’ championship. The rally wasn‘t easy, because the pace was very high, but we have strengthened our hold on second place in the championship with both DS 3 WRCs finishing in the top five. We’ll now turn our attention to Wales Rally GB, with its very special surface, where we will aim to finish the job!”

Mads Østberg: “We made a very good start on Friday. We were one of the quickest crews on gravel, despite our road position. Unfortunately a puncture on the longest stage meant we lost a lot of time. I think we were also very competitive on tarmac. Our performances during today’s final leg showed that. I am now really looking forward to the start of Wales Rally GB!”

Kris Meeke: It was a fairly strange weekend. With no experience on the gravel stages, I wasn’t really on the pace on Friday and we lost time on some of our rivals. On tarmac, with different tyres to last year, I didn’t have a very good feeling in the car. The result is still positive for the team. It‘s now up to us to finish the season on a high at the final rally in Wales.”

Khalid Al Qassimi: “We found the right balance to be able to drive at a steady pace. Although I would have liked to push more, we had to remain reasonably cautious to keep out of trouble. We lost a lot of time due to the handbrake problem on day one, but we managed to repair it and keep going. The team worked really hard.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS18 – Els Guiamets 1 (6.80km) – Andreas Mikkelsen set the fastest time, finishing ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier. Sixth and seventh fastest times for Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg, whilst Thierry Neuville moved into seventh overall on his own, behind the two Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers.

SS19 – Pratdip 1 (19.30km) – Thierry Neuville span, dropping a place in the overall standings. In front, Andreas Mikkelsen secured another stage win. Kris Meeke also had a spin, allowing Mads Østberg the chance to grab fifth place. Khalid Al Qassimi moved up a place into sixteenth overall.

SS20 – Duesaigües 1 (10.63km) – Jari-Matti Latvala claimed the stage win as he came under pressure for second place from his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen. Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg both finished in the top five on this stage to move over two seconds clear of Hayden Paddon.

SS21 – Els Guiamets 2 (6.80km) – Jari-Matti Latvala picked up a puncture, dropping 9 seconds and relinquishing second place to Andreas Mikkelsen. Sébastien Ogier finished second on the stage, ahead of Kris Meeke.

SS22 – Pratdip 2 (19.30km) – Jari-Matti Latvala claimed another stage win to move within 1.4 seconds of Andreas Mikkelsen in the overall standings, still over 50 seconds behind the rally leader Sébastien Ogier. Kris Meeke was second to close on fifth-placed Mads Østberg. Thierry Neuville went off the road, losing five minutes in the process.

SS23 – Duesaigües 2 (10.63km) – Sébastien Ogier retired within sight of the finish after crashing on the Power Stage. Andreas Mikkelsen won the final stage, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke, to take overall victory, as Jari-Matti Latvala finished as runner-up and Dani Sordo was third. Mads Østberg finished fourth overall whilst Kris Meeke was fifth. The stage was cancelled following Ogier’s crash.

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
1. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:21:04.8
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +3.1
3. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +21.2
4. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +1:06.3
5. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +1:08.2
6. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:23.3
7. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:14.2
8. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +8:01.9
9. Pontus Tidemand / Emil Axelsson (Skoda Fabia R5) +8:56.8
10. Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +9:07.5
15. Khalid Al Qassimi / Chris Patterson (DS 3 WRC) +16:45.4

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier, 7 (including 1 tied)– Jari-Matti Latvala, 6 – Andreas Mikkelsen, 4 – Ott Tanak, 3 (including 1 tied) , Mads Østberg and Robert Kubica, 2 (including 1 tied), Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville, 1 tied.

LEADERS
SS1 to SS2: Sébastien Ogier
SS3 to SS4: Robert Kubica
SS5: Sébastien Ogier
SS6 to SS8: Jari-Matti Latvala
SS9 to SS22: Sébastien Ogier
SS23: Andreas Mikkelsen

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Sébastien Ogier 238 points
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 180 pts
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 154 pts
4. Mads Østberg 110 pts
5. Kris Meeke 94 pts
6. Thierry Neuville 90 pts
7. Elfyn Evans 81 pts
8. Dani Sordo 77 pts
Khalid Al-Qassimi 9 pts
Stéphane Lefebvre 1 pt

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 387 pts
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 206 pts
3. Hyundai Shell WRT 202 pts
4. M-Sport WRT 173 pts…
* Subject to publication of the official results by the FIA.

15-10-25 Imponerande seger för Tidemand i Rally Spanien
SKODA Motorsports Pontus Tidemand imponerade stort när han i helgen kontrollerade det spanska VM-rallyt. Efter en enastående snabb start med skapade han en god lucka till konkurrenterna och bevakade sitt försprång tills han på söndagen kunde gå i mål som segrare i WRC 2-klassen.
- Vilken känsla, utbrister Pontus efter målgången. Det här har varit en av mina bästa helger i VM och jag är otroligt glad över att kunna hjälpa SKODA till ännu en seger. Jag har inte känt någon press, utan har kunnat känna mig för och anpassat upplägget efter det. Nu stämde allt från start och det banar väg för en bra tävling.

Rally de Espana inleddes med en publiksträcka i Barcelona på torsdag kväll. Pontus, som har sällskap av den rutinerade kartläsaren Emil Axelsson i högerstolen, satte femte snabbaste tid på den drygt tre kilometer långa asfaltsträckan, men var bara fyra sekunder från ledningen. På fredagen var det i huvudsak grus, med några inslag av asfalt, som gällde och Pontus visade snabbt att han trivs på de spanska vägarna när han gick ut och vann sträcka efter sträcka. Det dröjde inte länge förrän han gick upp i ledning i WRC 2-klassen och försprånget ökade under loppet av dagen. En pyspunktering ett par kilometer från mål på dagens åttonde och sista sträcka saktade ner det svenska ekipaget, men eftersom de kunde fortsätta köra på däcket blev inte tidstappet så stort. Vid fredagens slut hade de jobbat ihop över en halvminuts ledning med teamkompisarna Jan Kopecký och Esapekka Lappi i likadana SKODA Fabia R5 bakom sig på andra och tredje plats.
På lördagen låg inte fokus på full attack utan på att göra smarta drag när underlaget gick över till asfalt. Med tanke på vikten av att ta sig i mål slog Pontus av på tempot något samtidigt som han utnyttjade farten där det var möjligt. Väl medveten om att han förlorade sekunder, lät han det inte påverka körningen utan kontrollerade läget och sitt stora försprång som hade växt till en bra bit över minuten efter att Lappi tvingats bryta efter en incident på dagens andra sträcka. Pontus avslutade sin lördag med att vara snabbast på kvällens sista sträcka och inför nattuppehållet hade han återigen en 30 sekunders ledning.

Med Kopecký flåsandes i nacken blev finaldagen en rysare. Pontus höll sin vana trogen lugnet i stormen och koncentrerade sig på att ta sig igenom sträckorna med en säker skicklighet. Inför rallyts 23:e och sista sträcka hade han fortfarande övertaget och 10.7 sekunder tillgodo på sin teamkamrat. Men på den sista etappen tog det tvärstopp för världsmästaren Sebastién Ogier som kraschade in i ett vägräcke. Pontus blev den enda WRC 2-föraren som kunde slutföra sträckan och strax därefter ströks den. Därmed stod det klart att Pontus och Emil var vinnarna i WRC 2.

- Vi kom hit med målet helt klart för oss. Det var att ta oss helskinnade igenom rallyt, ta så många poäng som möjligt för teamet och samtidigt få den erfarenheten vi behöver från de här asfaltvägarna. Den planen höll vi oss till och vi har kört riskfritt och kontrollerat. Men när bilen går som en riktig maskin, noterna sitter perfekt och samarbetet med både team och kartläsare fungerar till 100%, ja då går det helt enkelt fantastiskt bra, säger Pontus.

Han passar också på att understryka hur viktigt det här året och deltagandet i Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, där han för en dryg månad sedan blev mästare, har varit för hans utveckling som förare:
- Jag har fått många timmar bakom ratten i år och genom APRC har jag fått möta nya typer av vägkaraktärer och nya utmaningar. Det har både gett mig ovärderlig erfarenhet som jag har nytta av även i VM och gjort att jag har växt som person.

Inte nog med att Pontus segrade i sin klass, han slutade också på tionde plats totalt, med några av WRC-bilarna bakom sig. Det spanska VM-rallyt blev även en dubbel succé för SKODA Motorsport som i och med Pontus vinst och Jan Kopeckýs andraplats tog hem teammästerskapet i WRC 2.

Rally de Espana WRC 2 topp 5
1. Pontus Tidemand (SWE) 3:30:01.6
2. Jan Kopecký (CZE) +10.7
3. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) +4:05.3
4. Armin Kremer (DEU) +4:05.4
5. Yuriy Protasov (UKR) +7:41.4
15-10-25 M-Sport maintain points record at difficult rally RACC
M-Sport World Rally Team looked on course to secure a top position at this weekend’s RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada, but when Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans failed to finish yesterday’s stages, the Spanish fixture turned into a fight of a different kind.

Since Rallye Monte-Carlo 2002, the manufacturer Fords have never failed to finish outside of the points. With 195 consecutive points finishes (as of this year’s Tour de Corse), it’s an unbroken record that the team holds dear and were determined not to lose.

The event started well for M-Sport as Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder proved that the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC has the pace to challenge at the top. Fighting for the lead of the rally through the gravel speed tests, the pairing found themselves just 0.9 seconds adrift of the top spot on two separate occasions.

Claiming more stage victories than any other crew, the Estonians ended the first day in third position with three stage wins to their name.

As the action turned to Tarmac, Tänak showed that he had the pace to maintain his podium and things were looking good for M-Sport.

Up to speed from the very first test, he out-performed a number of Tarmac specialists – including local hero and fourth-placed man Dani Sordo.

Heading into the longest stage of the morning (SS11), it looked as though the Estonian had well and truly regained his Tarmac pace – setting the fastest time through split section three – but he was not to reach the flying finish.

An overly optimistic pacenote was the culprit. Carrying too much speed into a right-hand corner, he understeered into the barrier which ripped the front-left wheel from his Fiesta.

It was a devastating blow but he, and the team, took comfort from the fact the speed was there – Tänak returning to set a number of encouraging times including the fastest time though the final split of SS19.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt showed a marked improvement on gravel and had the better of their championship rivals throughout much of the opening day.

As the action turned to his preferred surface, the Welshman built pace and confidence with each new kilometre and it looked as though he would have every chance of fighting for the top-five positions. Unfortunately, the opportunity never came.

Taking an ambitious cut through SS13, the Fiesta grounded on the sumpguard – forcing the car to understeer off the road and down a steep embankment. With no hope of getting back on the road, he had no choice but to accept Rally 2 regulations which forced him well down the standings.

Returning for the final day of competition, Evans had one goal – securing a world championship point to maintain the team’s unbroken record.

Mission accomplished, M-Sport claimed three manufacturer points – bringing their total to 196 FIA World Rally Championship events in the points.

Elfyn Evans (34th) said:
“It’s been a disappointing weekend for the team, especially after the highs of Corsica. We wanted to do a lot more but unfortunately it wasn’t to be – an overly ambitious cut from myself ending what could have been a solid result.

“I think the pace is there on Tarmac but because of my mistake we didn’t get to show that this weekend. We also made a step forward on gravel which is a positive ahead of Wales Rally GB.

“There is still some work to do and we’ll put the hours in over the next two weeks as we’re all determined to end the season with a strong result on home soil.”

Ott Tänak (41st) said:
“It was a big disappointment for the whole team on Saturday as we had the pace to really challenge for the podium this weekend. At the end of the day it was just one bad note, and when you don’t have the experience of these stages that is always a risk.

“There are still a lot of positives that we can take away from this rally. Our speed on gravel was strong, but I was actually more pleased with our pace on Tarmac. I feel as though we’re really starting to rebuild our confidence on that surface and the more kilometres we do, the more confident we’ll get.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“This has been a really disappointing event for the team – one small mistake from both Ott [Tänak] and Elfyn [Evans] ruing what could have been a really strong result.

“The small consolation is that we leave Spain with our consecutive points-scoring record still intact. We’ve now scored points on 196 consecutive rallies and I definitely didn’t want to see that come to end!

“We can also draw strength from the ever-increasing pace of Ott, Elfyn and the Ford Fiesta RS WRC on gravel. We’ll be targeting a podium on home soil and we all want to end the season on a high.”
15-10-25 Spennende siste dag i Rally Spania for nordmennene!
Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson i sin DC3 WRC ble nummer 4 i rally Spania, som ble avsluttet i dag, etter 8 fartetapper med grusprøver på fredag, og til sammen 12 asfaltetapper.

Det ble en meget spennende avsluttende dag, hvor utgangspunktet var at Mads og Jonas var i en gruppe på 4 som fightet om plassene fra 5 til 9 – om ingen av de som utgjorde topp 4 gjorde feil, vel og merke. To Citroën-er og 2 Hyundai-er. Samtidig har Citroen og Hyundai en tett kamp om 2. plass i fabrikkmesterskapet, slik at presset på fører og kartleser ikke bare dreier seg om egne resultater, men også om å prestere for arbeidsgiverne sine. Mads startet dagen på 6. med teamkamerat Kris Meek på plassen foran, med Thierry Neuville og Hayden Paddon fra Hyundai jaktende like bak.

I toppen hadde Sebatian Ogier en komfortabel ledelse før siste dag, mens det var en tett kamp om 2. og 3. mellom Jari Matti Latvala og Andreas Mikkelsen. Daniel Sordo holdt en komfortabel 4.
Mads og Jonas gikk seirende ut av sin kamp, foran teamkamerat Kris Meek. Slik at Citroen fikk full score i kampen med Hyundai.

I kampen om topp 3 gjorde Sebastian Ogier en av sine meget sjeldne feil, da han upresset kjørte i guard railen på siste etappe, slo av et forhjul og måtte bryte. Mens Andreas Mikkelsen gjorde en perfekt jobb i kampen mot Latvala, og fikk seieren som en fortjent bonus. Andreas ble med den 3. nordmannen som har vunnet WRC løp, etter Petter Solberg, som har mange seire og Mads som også har vunnet ett.

«Jeg er veldig fornøyd med dagen,» sier Mads i en kommentar, «og jeg er veldig fornøyd med grusprøvene på fredag. Jeg er ikke fornøyd med gårsdagen, særlig første loop. Men i dag har jeg knekt litt av asfaltkoden, og det skal jeg ta godt vare på til senere. Jonas og jeg styrket differensen til neste mann på VM lista, og har et godt grep på 4. plassen før avslutningen i Wales. Muligheten til å være med i kampen om en pallplass i VM forsvant med skaden i Australia. Men til gjengjeld er vi med å styrker Citroen i fabrikksmesterskapet, hvor muligheten til å bli 2 er stor. Nå begynner vi raskt å fokusere på årets siste runde Rally GB Wales, og skal gjøre det vi kan for en god avslutning der.»

Fullstendig resultatoversikt finnes på www.wrc.com eller på www.madsostberg.no
15-10-25 Mikkelsen tok sin første VM-seier
Andreas Mikkelsen slapp jubelen og gledestårene løs da han tok sin første VM-seier etter å ha vunnet Rally Spania. – Det er nesten uvirkelig, men fantastisk deilig, sier han.

26-åringen hadde akkurat kjørt i mål til bestetid på den siste fartsetappen, og tok det for gitt at han ville bli nummer to i årets nest siste VM-runde. For bak han kom verdensmester Sebastien Ogier, som hadde en solid ledelse før den avsluttende etappen. Franskmannen gjør ”aldri” feil, men i en venstresving kom han for fort og smalt inn i autovernet og høyre framhjul ble revet av. Dette skjedde sekunder etter at Andreas og kartleser Ola Fløene var i mål på sin etappe og ble intervjuet. Han ble gjort oppmerksom på Ogiers krasj av journalistene, men visste ikke hva han skulle tro.
– Hva er det dere sier, har jeg vunnet, spurte Andreas, før det gikk opp for han at han i sitt 64. VM-løp hadde tatt sin første seier. Sammen med Ola klatret han opp på taket av sin VW Polo R WRC og lot jubelen og gledestårene få fritt spillerom.
– Det har ikke gått opp for meg. Jeg har kjempet så hardt for dette, sier han.

Og ingen skal komme å si at seieren kom av seg selv. Andreas og Ola måtte virkelig slåss for å vinne i Spania. Etter fredagens grusetapper lå de på en beskjeden sjetteplass, og ingen trodde det skulle være mulig å kjempe seg inn i seierskampen. Men Andreas var offensiv og sa at målet var å komme på pallen – selv om gapet opp var stort. Med asfalt under dekkene, fikk han virkelig opp farten lørdag og søndag. Han klatret opp på tredjeplass etter lørdagens etapper, og øynet mulighet til andreplass. Andreas visste at kun et uhell kunne frata teamkamerat Sebastien Ogier seieren.
– Jeg sa før søndagens etapper at jeg skulle satse enda hardere. Jeg fikk til en etappe som var helt perfekt, og det var den siste da det gjaldt som mest. Jeg klarer ikke å beskrive følelsen det er å vinne en VM-runde, sier Oslo-gutten.

Sju ganger tidligere denne sesongen har han vært på pallen, men det siste lille trinnet på toppen har manglet. Han føler med Ogier som måtte bryte på den siste etappen, for dette er noe han har opplevd selv.
– Det er ikke på denne måten jeg ønsker å vinne, men samtidig har jeg vært så nære før og det samme skjedde med meg i Sverige. Da ledet jeg før den siste etappen, men kjørte av og mistet seieren. Men nå har jeg definitivt lagt den skuffelsen bak meg og skal nye seieren. Det er nesten uvirkelig at jeg nå står her som vinner, sier Andreas, som også sikret VM-bronsen i sammendraget.

Sluttstilling Rally Spania
1. MIKKELSEN 3:21:04.8
2. Latvala +3.1
3. Sordo +21.2
4. Østberg +1:06.3
5. Meeke +1:08.2
6. Paddon +1:23.3
7. Prokop +4:14.2
8. Neuville +8:01.9
9. Tidemand +10:18.0
10. Kubica +12:15.0

VM etter 12 av 13 VM-runder
1 Ogier (VW) 238 poeng
2 Latvala (VW) 180
3 MIKKELSEN (VW) 154
4 Øststberg (Citroen) 110
5 Meeke (Citroen) 94
6 Neuville (Hyundai) 90
7 Evans (Ford) 81
8 Sordo (Hyundai) 75
9 Paddon (Hyundai) 74
10 Tänak (Ford) 63

15-10-24 The DS3 WRC bunched at the front
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle ended day two of Rally Catalunya in fifth place, whilst Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson lie sixth overall this evening. With both cars in the top six, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has an opportunity to strengthen its hold on second position in the manufacturers’ standings ahead of the final round. 4 kilometres of tarmac stages are left to run tomorrow to score critical World Championship points.

On Friday evening, the cars headed back to service in gravel configuration. The WRCs took it in turns to undergo a complete transformation, with suspension, brakes and wheels all changed specifically for tarmac in the space of 75 minutes. When, at 11.23pm, Khalid Al Qassimi’s DS 3 WRC rolled into Parc Ferme, another rally could begin.

This morning, the crews’ aim was to get up to pace on the tarmac as quickly as possible. Mads Østberg managed to stay in the top five at the start of the day, whilst Kris Meeke closed on his team-mate.

The Northern Irishman moved up from eighth to sixth position, ending the morning 11.6 seconds behind Mads. During the second loop, Kris Meeke continued to cut the gap until he eventually moved ahead of Mads Østberg on the final stage of the day, contested on the Salou sea front. Both DS 3s ended the leg in the top six.

For Khalid Al Qassimi, the switch to asphalt provided an opportunity to get a good feeling in the car again. The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver also moved up the standings. After collecting a penalty yesterday when repairs carried out between stages meant he arrived late at a time control, he gained five places today to take him back up to 17th overall.

Stéphane Lefebvre had a less successful day. He suffered a brake problem just after leaving service this morning, forcing him to retire before he had even started the opening stage. The talented young Frenchman will rejoin the rally tomorrow.
In the FIA Junior WRC category, Quentin Gilbert relinquished first position to Simone Tempestini after a puncture on SS11. The Italian then picked up a puncture of his own on SS13, handing the advantage back to the Frenchman. Already certain to be crowned JWRC champion at the end the season, Quentin Gilbert completed day two ahead of Terry Folb and Simone Tempestini.

Six stages and 76.40 kilometres are left to go tomorrow, with no service or tyre changes allowed. The Power Stage, Duesigües 2, will begin at 12.08pm and the rally is due to finish from 1.41pm.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Another rally started today. The aim was to help our drivers to be on the pace quickly. Mads and Kris kept improving throughout today’s first leg on tarmac and I think we can be pretty pleased this evening. It’s vital that both drivers make it to the finish and hold their positions to score the points.”

Mads Østberg: “We had to find the right feeling in the car this morning. With the team, we managed to improve the set-up so that we had a better balance for the second loop. I just made a little mistake on the final stage. We fought hard throughout the leg for every second and then we go and lose three by stalling just before the end of the day. It’s frustrating, but overall, I think we can be pretty happy with the day.”

Kris Meeke: “We played with the set-up of the car today to find the right balance for tarmac. It’s almost like driving on a racetrack here, so the slightest change to the set-up can have a dramatic effect on the overall handling of the car. The final stage was very encouraging. We have to maintain that pace and try to bring home as many points as possible tomorrow!”

Khalid Al Qassimi: “I love driving on tarmac. Throughout the day, I tried to find the right balance between not taking risks and enjoying myself in the DS 3 WRC. When there was dust on the road, I was more cautious and when the racing line was clean, I pushed more.”

OW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS10 – Porrera (7.43km) – The first stage contested in gravel configuration. Sébastien Ogier won the stage, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. First on the road, Lorenzo Bertelli went off in the opening few kilometres. Kris Meeke was seventh fastest, moving ahead of Hayden Paddon in the overall standings, whilst Mads Østberg was eleventh on the stage. Stéphane Lefebvre didn’t make it to the start of the stage after a brake problem forced him to retire as he left service.

SS11 – La Figuera 1 (26.26km) – Whilst Sébastien Ogier claimed another stage win, with Robert Kubica second, Ott Tanak went off the road. So, although Andreas Mikkelsen moved ahead of Mads Østberg, the Norwegian remained fifth overall. Kris Meeke gained another position to move just behind his team-mate.

SS12 – Poboleda 1 (10.63km) – Jari-Matti Latvala suffered a puncture, dropping from second to fourth, leaving Sébastien Ogier clear in front with a lead of more than fifty seconds over Dani Sordo. Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke remained in fifth and sixth positions. Khalid Al Qassimi moved up a place in the overall standings.

SS13 – Capafonts 1 (19.80km) – Before the midday service, Jari-Matti Latvala interrupted Sébastien Ogier’s series of stage wins. Kris Meeke closed again on Mads Østberg whilst Elfyn Evans went off when running in ninth position.

SS14 – La Figuera 2 (26.26km) – Jari-Matti Latvala started the afternoon by winning the longest stage of the day. Andreas Mikkelsen grabbed the third fastest time to move into second place and ahead of Dani Sordo. Kris Meeke closed to within 6.3 seconds of Mads Østberg, whilst holding off a fightback from Hayden Paddon. Khalid Al Qassimi gained another position.

SS15 – Poboleda 2 (10.63km) – Stage win for Sébastien Ogier, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. No change in the overall standings.

SS16 – Capafonts 2 (19.80km) – Jari-Matti Latvala won the stage to move ahead of Dani Sordo and Andreas Mikkelsen in the overall standings and reclaim second position, 53.2 seconds behind Sébastien Ogier. Kris Meeke set the fourth fastest time to cut Mads Østberg’s lead to 1.4 seconds ahead of the leg’s final stage.

SS17 – Salou (2.24km) – Joint stage win for Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville, with Kris Meeke just 0.1 seconds adrift. Mads Østberg stalled at a junction, allowing his team-mate to grab fifth overall by just 1.5 seconds. Sébastien Ogier ended the day ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo. Khalid Al Qassimi completed the leg in 17th overall.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:34:56.4
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +54.0
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +56.9
4. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:01.4
5. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +1:42.2
6. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +1:43.7
7. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:56.5
8. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:56.5
9. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:22.9
10. Pontus Tidemand / Emil Axelsson (Skoda Fabia R5) +7:12.16
17. Khalid Al Qassimi / Chris Patterson (DS 3 WRC) +14:41.9

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier, 7 (including 1 tied)– Jari-Matti Latvala, 4 – Ott Tanak, 3 (including 1 tied) , Mads Østberg and Robert Kubica, 2 (including 1 tied), Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville, 1 tied.

LEADERS
SS1 and SS2: Sébastien Ogier
SS3 and SS4: Robert Kubica
SS5: Sébastien Ogier
SS6 to SS8: Jari-Matti Latvala
SS9 to SS17: Sébastien Ogier
15-10-24 Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson på 5 plass før målgang i morgen
Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson ligger på 5. plass i Rally Spania etter dag 3 av løpet, med sin DS3 WRC. Så langt har løpet vært en bekreftelse på Mads’ rykte som grus- og snø-spesialist. Etter en veldig god dag på grus i går, møtte Mads og Jonas utfordringer fra etappe 1 på dagens asfaltetapper.

«Jeg var veldig bestemt på at det skulle gå fort i dag, men merket med en gang at vi startet med en bil som ikke hadde de rette innstillingene, og som understyrte mye. Jeg hater biler som understyrer, det drar også med seg utfordringer med å finne en god rytme, og problemet forsterkes. Jeg klarte ikke å få opp det tempoet som vi hadde lagt opp til.»

De gjorde justeringer med bilen i samråd med teamet etter prøven. Men fikk det ikke til å funke før på dagens 4. etappe, og mange sekunder gikk tapt innen de fant de rette grepene. Etter det ble det ikke gjort flere endringer, og tempoet derfra var bedre. Men fortsatt ikke etter ambisjonene.

Mads har falt ned en plass fra 5. til 6. i løpet av dagen. Det er riktignok bare 1,5 sekunder opp til 5., hvor vi finner team-kamerat Kris Meek. Men to konkurrenter presser på bakfra, 12,8 sekunder bak Mads på resultatlista begge to. Så det blir stor spenning om plasseringer gjennom morgendagen.

«Vi forbereder oss så godt vi kan, med gjennomgang av alle etappene, sier Mads. Vi gjør alt for å få til en bra avslutningsdag. Opp til pallen er det 46 sekunder, det er for langt, og det må skje noe med at par biler foran oss for at det skal kunne skje. Men fra 5. til 8. plass er alt åpent. Så det er fortsatt stor spenning fortsetter han».

Stillingen før siste dag er:
1. Ogier
2. Latvala +54,0 +54,0
3. Mikkelsen +2,9 + 56,9
4 Sordo +4,5 +1:01,4
5 Meek +40,8 +1:42,2
6 Østberg +1,5 +1:43,7
7 Paddon +12,8 +1:56,5
8 Neuville +0,0 +1:56,5
15-10-24 Disappointment for M-Sport in Spain
The M-Sport World Rally Team enjoyed one of their best performances of the year yesterday, but events didn’t follow the same trend as the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRCs donned their Tarmac guise for the second day of RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada.

On gravel, Ott Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder put in a sensational performance. Claiming more stage victories than any other crew, they were challenging for the lead and ended yesterday’s competitive stages in third place overall.

As the surface changed to Tarmac, the Estonian proved that he had the pace to maintain his podium position. Setting the fifth fastest time through the opening speed test (SS10) he outshone a number of Tarmac specialists – including local hero and fourth-placed man Dani Sordo.

Tänak looked set to maintain his speed through “La Figuera 1” (SS11) and was the fastest man through split section three. But then, disaster struck – the culprit being an overly optimistic pacenote made during the pre-event reconnaissance.

Carrying too much speed into a right-hand corner, the Estonian understeered into a barrier which ripped the front-left wheel from his Fiesta RS WRC. Returning under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow, Tänak will be keen to prove his speed on Tarmac once again.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt had put the ghosts of the last loose-surface event behind them. Showing a marked improvement on gravel, the Welshman had the better of his championship rivals throughout much of yesterday and was hoping to pull clear as the action turned to his preferred sealed-surface terrain.

Building pace and confidence with each new kilometre it looked as though he would have every chance of doing just that, but the opportunity never arose.

Taking a cut on the first pass of ‘Capafonts’ (SS13), the Fiesta grounded on the sumpguard – forcing the car to understeer off the road and down a steep embankment. With no hope of getting back on the road, the Brits had no choice but to call an untimely end to their first day asphalt rallying.

With the damage to his Fiesta RS WRC fully repaired by M-Sport’s team of expert technicians, Evans will also restart under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow – eager to show the pace he could have displayed were it not for his earlier error.

Elsewhere in the WRC 2 category, another Fiesta driver was coming to the fore. Piloting a Ford Fiesta R5, Eric Camilli posted a string of highly competitive times. Never out of the top-two on all but one of the day’s eight speed tests, the young Frenchman won two special stages and currently holds a podium position in third place overall.

Elfyn Evans (42nd) said:
“Everything was looking okay and we were in the ball-park in terms of getting back into the bottom half of the top-five. Unfortunately, we became a bit unstuck on SS13.

“We took a cut and the car grounded on the sumpguard. We started understeering off and as soon as it did that I couldn’t stop it. To make matters worse, there was a tree on the outside which we touched and that then sent us into a ditch that we couldn’t get out of.

“We have to go back out there tomorrow and do the same that we were doing to today. We had an okay rhythm so we just need to find that again to put us in a good frame of mind going into the last round of the season.”

Ott Tänak (51st) said:
“We went out this morning with the same good feeling we had last night. Of course I have quite a lot less experience on Tarmac than I do on gravel, and we were in a position where we had to push really hard, but I think our pace was actually pretty good.

“In the end it was just one bad note – one bad note, on one corner, in 26 kilometres of corners. The note was far too optimistic and we understeered into the barrier and took the wheel off.

“Tomorrow I want get out there and see what we can do. We had some pressure on us today and we had to push hard so it’ll be nice to drive without that pressure. I just want to find that sweet limit – without pushing – and get a good feeling on Tarmac.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“After such a positive day yesterday, it’s really disappointing how today turned out. We were feeling confident ahead of the Tarmac stages, but it didn’t go our way this time.

“I can’t remember the last time we had both cars fail to finish a day, but we just have to keep focused on the positives. We know that we had the speed to do well here, and both Ott [Tänak] and Elfyn [Evans] will restart under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow.

“It will provide them with a good opportunity to gain more experience and more seat time so that they can head to the final round in a positive frame of mind.

“It’s always great to see another young driver developing his skills and I have been very impressed with Eric Camilli’s performance in the WRC 2 category today. There are a lot of strong drivers here, and he has posted a string of simply fantastic times with the Ford Fiesta R5.”
15-10-24 Sterk kjøring av Mikkelsen
Etter en litt beskjeden åpning av Rally Spania, har Andreas Mikkelsen nå fått opp farten. Lørdag klatret han fra sjette til tredjeplass i sammendraget. – Jeg har kjørt noen av mine beste asfaltetapper i dag, sier han.

Norges fremste rallystjerne la ikke skjul på at han ikke var helt fornøyd med fredagens grusetapper under VM-runden i Spania. Likevel hang han ikke med hodet, og uttalte at målet var å klatre til tredjeplass i sammendraget. Og det lyktes han med allerede etter dagens etapper. Sammen med kartleser Ola Fløene ligger han bare snaut tre sekunder bak teamkamerat Jari-Matti Latvala på andreplass. Suverene Sebastien Ogier sørger for at det er tre VW Polo R WRC-førere på topp. Verdensmesteren ligger snaut minuttet foran Mikkelsen.
– Det har vært en bra dag. Vi har kjørt fort og klatret på sammenlagtlisten. Jeg har dessverre slitt litt med understyring, så alt har ikke vært perfekt. Vi forsøkte å gjøre noen endringer på bilen, men det førte faktisk til at den ble enda verre. Uten om det, så er jeg veldig fornøyd med kjøringen, forteller han.

Med 2,9 sekunder frem til Latvala på andreplass, og 4,5 sekunder ned til Dani Sordo på fjerdeplass, ligger det an til å bli en spennende avslutningsdag av årets nest siste VM-runde.
– Det er gått bedre enn noen gang på asfalt, og det lover bra for morgendagen. Finner vi de rette innstillingene på bilen, så skal det gå fort i morgen. Det kommer til å bli en spennende dag hvor mye fortsatt kan skje, sier han.

Rally Spania etter 17 av 23 fartsetapper
1. Ogier 2:34:56.4
2. Latvala +54.0
3. MIKKELSEN +56.9
4. Sordo +1:01.4
5. Meeke +1:42.2
6. Østberg +1:43.7
7. Paddon +1:56.5
8. Neuville +1:56.5
9. Prokop +4:22.9
10. Tidemand +7:12.6
15-10-24 Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson i sin i DS3 WRC ligger på 5-plass etter dag 2 i Rally Spania
Løpet er det 12. og nest siste i årets rally VM, og startet med en kort publikumetappe på asfalt midt i Barcelona torsdag kveld, med 1000-vis av tilskuere ringside. Før løpet fortsatte med 8 grusetapper i dag.

Det har vært en meget bra dag for Mads og Jonas, selv om en «slow-punktering» førte til at de måtte kjøre 13 – 14 km med et «flatt» bak-dekk på den 5. fartsetappen, og tapte mye på det:

Mads kommenterer:
«Jeg er godt fornøyd med dagen. Vi har 2 strekkeseire, har hatt bra tempo og vært med i tet-kampen på 6 av 8 etapper, uten noe drama eller tatt høye risker. Bortsett fra en punktering på SS5, og et nytt tidstap, p.g.a. en støtdemper som hadde fått en smell, da den samme etappen gikk om igjen som SS9. Vi la igjen omtrent differensen opp til 1. plass på disse to hendelsene, tenker jeg. Men for all del, det er en del av gamet å ta med seg de ekstra sekundene som kommer p.g.a. tekniske ting. Men det viser at tempoet er på plass.»

I øyeblikket er bilene på vei inn fra siste fartsetappe til service, hvor mekanikerne i løpet av 1 time og 15 minutter skal bygge om bilene fra grus til asfalt. Og det dreier seg om mer enn å bytte hjul. Hele drivverket og alt av grus-understell skal av, og tilsvarende asfaltutstyr skal på. En imponerende konvertering å følge med på, når alt skal finjusteres til minste millimeter, og kun den tilmålte tiden er tilgjengelig. Dag 3 og 4 går på asfalt.

«Jeg gleder meg til asfalten i morgen,» sier Mads. «Der er jo ikke kjent som mitt favorittunderlag. Men vi gjorde mange gode etapper både i Tyskland og på Korsika. Med det tredje løpet på asfalt på 2 måneder, har jeg fått praksis nok til å kunne plukke vekk feilene som gjorde at andre etapper ikke gikk så bra. Jeg tror på at vi kan levere bra på asfalten også denne gangen.»

Løpet ledes av Ogier, 4 sek foran Latvala, som er 7,3 foran Tanak. Sordo ligger 15,6 sek bak Tanak og så finner vi Mads 2,8 sek bak.

Følg Mads og Jonas på www.matsostberg.no . Der finnes oppdatert Twitter, Instagram og FB.
15-10-23 After the gravel, time for tarmac
Having started Rally Catalunya on gravel with two stage wins, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson ended day one in the top five in their DS 3 WRC. Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle reached the end of the opening leg in eighth position in the second Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team car. The technical team now has 75 minutes to convert the DS 3 WRCs and adapt them to run on tarmac only for the next two days.

A unique event on the World Championship calendar, Rally Catalunya calls for specific preparations. On Thursday morning and throughout Friday’s leg, the crews focused on managing the tyres provided by Michelin.

This strategy would go a long way to determining the standings at the end of the first part of the rally, contested on gravel. It was vital for drivers to keep their tyres in good condition during the morning and afternoon sessions on Friday so as to remain competitive on Terra Alta, a 35-kilometre test that concluded each loop.

Mads Østberg proved to be especially committed and focused. Sixth in Barcelona, he began the gravel leg with a stage win and grabbed second place overall on SS3 (Caseres). However, on the longest stage, he picked up a slow puncture when on course to move into the overall lead and dropped 28 seconds, falling back to fifth place. In the afternoon, the Norwegian was among the frontrunners again and moved closer to the podium places with a stage win on SS7. He ended the day in fifth, 29.7 seconds behind the leader.

Less experienced on these roads, Kris Meeke adopted a more measured pace. Fourth on Thursday’s test, he ended this morning’s loop in ninth position. The Ulsterman used the afternoon’s second runs to close the gap to the leaders. He held eighth position after SS9, less than thirty seconds adrift of his team-mate.

In the third DS 3 WRC, Khalid Al Qassimi was held up by a handbrake problem at the end of SS7. Forced to disconnect the system between stages, the Abu Dhabi Racing driver picked up a three-minute penalty for arriving late at the time control. He finished the opening leg on gravel down in 22nd position.

In another DS 3 WRC, Stéphane Lefebvre continued to accumulate more experience. He was thirteenth overall as the WRCs headed for service to convert to tarmac-spec. In the FIA Junior WRC, the championship leader held the advantage after day one: Quentin Gilbert led by three seconds from Simone Tempestini, with Terry Folb third over two minutes back.

A long service is set to take place this evening in Salou. In 1 hour 15 minutes, the technical team will convert the DS 3 WRCs from gravel to tarmac configuration. When they make it to parc ferme, all the cars will be ready to tackle the 200 kilometres of tarmac stages spread over the next two days.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Mads was very quick today. He was in confident mood and won two stages. He would have been better placed in the standings had it not been for the puncture. He was already shown he can be competitive on tarmac in Spain, so the rest of the rally may also suit him. It was a more difficult day for Kris, who didn’t contest these stages last year. He was more on the pace this afternoon on the second runs. We all know how good he is on tarmac in the DS 3 WRC, so he has a chance to move up the standings starting tomorrow.”

Mads Østberg: “I’m very pleased with our performance today! It really was a great day. Obviously, the puncture on the longest stage lost us time, but these things happen. This afternoon, we managed to be on the pace again. The nature of the rally is now going to change. It will be a totally different challenge on tarmac and I want to keep fighting at the front.”
Kris Meeke: “I couldn’t call upon my knowledge of these stages, because I made a mistake last year. Without that experience, the roads are genuinely difficult and have lots of tricky sections. I’m fairly happy with my pace on the second runs. I hope I can find the right rhythm on tarmac and climb a few places. That’s the aim for tomorrow: move up the standings.”

Khalid Al Qassimi: “We found the right balance between driving fast and staying on the road. Having put soft tyres on the rear for the first three gravel stages, there was a lot of movement and we went off the line a few times, without any dramatic consequences. On the second loop, on hard tyres, the car’s handling was better. Unfortunately, we had a problem with the handbrake at the end of SS7. We had to perform repairs and it took us about twenty minutes to disconnect the system. Although I had to pump on the brake pedal to slow the car on the last two stages, I think that this was the right decision in order to be able to finish the day.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS1 – Barcelona (3.20km) – The crews set off on Thursday afternoon for 222 kilometre road section in order to contest the opening stage on tarmac, in gravel configuration, in the streets of Barcelona. Sébastien Ogier set the fastest time, ahead of Thierry Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg was sixth fastest, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre and Khalid Al Qassimi finished outside the top 10.

SS2 – Móra d’Ebre – Ascó 1 (9.62km) – The first gravel stage of the rally and first stage win for Mads Østberg, shared with Hayden Paddon. Sébastien Ogier held onto first position, just ahead of Robert Kubica. Kris Meeke set the eighth fastest time. Stéphane Lefebvre and Khalid Al Qassimi lost 15 and 29 seconds respectively. Lorenzo Bertelli retired on this, the day’s first stage.

SS3 – Caseres 1 (12.50km) – Stage win for Robert Kubica, who grabbed the overall lead. He finished ahead of Mads Østberg and Hayden Paddon on this stage. Kris Meeke was eleventh fastest, Stéphane Lefebvre was thirteenth and Khalid Al Qassimi ended in twenty-fifth place.

SS4 – Bot 1 (6.50km) – Ott Tanak set the fastest time on the day’s shortest stage, just ahead of Mads Østberg who closed to within 3.2 seconds of overall leader Robert Kubica. Kris Meeke set the ninth fastest time. Stéphane Lefebvre and Khalid Al Qassimi lost 10 and 14.8 seconds respectively.

SS5 – Terra Alta 1 (35.68 km) – Featuring a mix of gravel and tarmac, the day’s longest test proved to be a costly experience for Mads Østberg. The Norwegian picked up a slow puncture whilst on his way to grabbing the overall lead, losing almost thirty seconds. Jari-Matti Latvala claimed the stage win, ahead of Sébastien Ogier. The World Championship leader reclaimed the overall lead before the regroup that marked the mid-way point of the day. Kris Meeke set the ninth fastest time, whilst Khalid Al Qassimi and Stéphane Lefebvre dropped more than a minute. Robert Kubica lost over five minutes after picking up a puncture.

SS6 – Móra d’Ebre – Ascó 2 (9.62km) – After stopping in Ascó to change tyres, Ott Tanak and Robert Kubica shared the joint stage win, just ahead of Mads Østberg. Jari-Matti Latvala became the new overall leader ahead of Tanak, Ogier, Sordo and Østberg. Kris Meeke was eighth fastest, climbing up to eighth overall. Lefebvre was seventeenth on the stage whilst Al Qassimi was 21st.

SS7 – Caseres 2 (12.50km) – Second stage win of the day for Mads Østberg, followed by the leader Jari-Matti Latvala and Thierry Neuville. Kris Meeke finished tenth fastest, just ahead of Stéphane Lefebvre in twelfth. Khalid Al Qassimi stopped after the stage with locked-on handbrake.

SS8 – Bot 2 (6.50km) – On the second on the shortest stage of the day, Ott Tanak finished in front of Jari-Matti Latvala and Dani Sordo. The DS 3 WRCs were all bunched together, with Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke finishing in eighth and ninth positions, ahead of Stéphane Lefebvre, who was twelfth. After checking into time control eighteen minutes later in order to disconnect the handbrake, Khalid Al Qassimi managed to get away again.

SS9 – Terra Alta 2 (35.68km) – Sébastien Ogier won the final stage of the day and reclaimed the overall lead ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, Ott Tanak, Dani Sordo and Mads Østberg. Kris Meeke ended the leg in eighth position and Stéphane Lefebvre made it back to service in thirteenth. After being handed a three-minute penalty, Khalid Al Qassimi fell out of the top 20.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:24:58.4
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +4.0
3. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +11.3
4. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +26.9
5. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +29.7
6. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +37.4
7. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +38.3
8. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +59.4
9. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:03.8
10. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:09.2
13. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +3:32.1
22. Khalid Al Qassimi / Chris Patterson (DS 3 WRC) +8:28.9

FASTEST TIMES
Ott Tanak, 3 (including 1 tied) – Sébastien Ogier, 2 – Mads Østberg and Robert Kubica, 2 (including 1 tied) – Jari-Matti Latvala, 1 and Hayden Paddon, 1 tied.

LEADERS
SS1 and SS2: Sébastien Ogier
SS3 and SS4: Robert Kubica
SS5: Sébastien Ogier
SS6 to SS8: Jari-Matti Latvala
SS9: Sébastien Ogier
15-10-23 Tänak tames Tarragona
Having challenged for the lead of RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada, M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak and Raigo Mõlder currently hold third position on the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

With their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC returned to its loose-surface set-up, Tänak and Mõlder demonstrated the blistering pace they are capable of on gravel. Claiming more stage wins than any other crew, the pairing came tantalisingly close to leading their second rally of the year – just 0.9 seconds adrift of the top-spot on two separate occasions.

The Estonian claimed three stage victories and was never outside of the top four during each of the day’s eight speed tests. Proving how formidable he and the new Fiesta RS WRC have become, he is in a strong position ahead of tomorrow’s turn to Tarmac.

The M-Sport driver has previous form on circuit-like asphalt and he’ll be looking to prove that once his Fiesta is converted into its asphalt guise for tomorrow’s super-smooth stages.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Elfyn Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt put the ghosts of the championship’s last loose-surface event well and truly behind them.

Showing a marked improvement from the previous gravel outing in Australia, Evans proved that the hard work put in by him and the team was paying dividends – the Welshman outperforming his nearest championship rivals throughout much of the morning.

Admitting to being overly cautious through the second pass, Evans may have lost out to Meeke and Neuville, but he’ll be keen to put that right tomorrow – proving what he can do when his Fiesta is lowered for the Spanish Tarmac.

In an extended evening service, M-Sport’s expert team of technicians and engineers converted each of the Fiesta RS WRCs from gravel to Tarmac specification – changing the front and rear suspension and geometry, front and rear sub-frames, gearbox, rear differential, steering rack and brakes as well as reducing the underbody protection and adjusting the ballast.

Ott Tänak (3rd) said:
“I think we have had a really good day. I knew that it was going to be a case of getting into the right mind set from the beginning and that’s what we did. We were just thinking about giving it a big push and doing our best. We did that and that’s the only way to get the good times.

“Of course I think everyone knows that I prefer gravel to Tarmac, but I also really like the Tarmac roads here in Spain. They’re really smooth and flowing and fast so I am looking forward to the next two days.

“It will be a strange feeling on the first stage after a full day of gravel, but we are here and we want to push. I really hope that we can surprise a few people tomorrow as well.”

Elfyn Evans (10th) said:
“It’s fair to say that this wasn’t the result we wanted at the end of the day, but I think our performance was actually better than the result suggests – especially over the morning loop when we were able to keep both Kris [Meeke] and Thierry [Neuville] behind us.

“The gaps aren’t too big and, if we can continue the progress we’ve already shown on Tarmac, a strong result is still within our grasp.

“Of course it would have been nice to have been a little higher up the leader board and to have shown a little more progress over the afternoon; but I just lacked the edge and didn’t push hard enough or take enough risks.

“Kris and Thierry have eked out a little advantage now, but I’m certainly not going to make it an easy day for them tomorrow. I think we’ve made a step forward on gravel, and I’m looking forward to the Tarmac stages and to hopefully making my way up the leader board.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We’ve seen one of our best performances of the year today. Ott [Tänak] has challenged for the lead – just as Elfyn [Evans] did in Corsica – and the Ford Fiesta RS WRC secured four stage wins thanks to Ott and Robert [Kubica] which is more than any other manufacturer.

“It’s great to see Ott back on form after the difficulties he faced in Corsica. It shows a lot when a driver is able to bounce back so strongly and that is exactly what he has done today. The real test comes tomorrow when the event turns to Tarmac, but the roads in Spain are fast and flowing which should suit him a lot better.

“It was a difficult day for Elfyn and I know that he didn’t want to end the day in tenth position. But in reality, the position doesn’t reflect the improvement he has made since last time out on gravel – especially over the morning loop. When we return to Tarmac tomorrow I’m confident that he’ll be able to reclaim a number of places.”
15-10-23 Midday quotes Rally de Espana, section three
Ott Tänak (3rd) said:
“There are a couple of new stages and new sections today. Most of the route is new for me as I’ve not competed here since 2012. We made quite a lot of changes to the notes, so hopefully they will be even better this afternoon.

“There is a lot of loose gravel out there but there is also a line emerging. In the line you have pretty good grip, but if you go even slightly off-line there is no grip at all. It’s difficult because it can change quite a lot but we’re still pushing hard.

“All we’re thinking about is doing the best job that we possibly can. We had a really good rhythm this morning so if we keep doing that then I’m confident of setting good times again this afternoon.”

Elfyn Evans (8th) said:
“The morning has been quite positive – and a massive improvement from last time out on gravel. There are areas that we can still improve on as I didn’t feel completely comfortable with my rhythm; but it’s definitely a big step forward and the potential is there to further improve.”

15-10-23 Sikter seg inn mot pallen
Andreas Mikkelsen har åpnet Rally Spania litt beskjedent, men ser frem til to dager med asfalt og håper å klatre til en pallplass.

VM-runden i Spania er et spesielt løp. Første dag foregår på grus, mens på de to siste dagene er det asfalt som står på programmet. Andreas Mikkelsen sleit litt med å finne en god rytme på grusen, og ligger på en beskjeden sjetteplass til han å være etter ni av 23 fartsetapper.
– Det har vært en ålreit start, men heller ikke noe mer. På de første etappene sleit jeg med støv og dårlig sikt, og fant aldri den rette rytmen som gjorde at jeg kunne gasse for fullt, forteller den norske Volkswagen Motorsport-føreren.

Sammen med kartleser Ola Fløene er det 37,4 sekunder frem til teamkamerat og verdensmester Sebastien Ogier, som leder. Frem til estlenderen Ott Tanak på tredjeplass er det drøyt 25 sekunder.
– Nå ser jeg frem til to dager med asfalt. Målet er å klatre til tredjeplass, noe som bør være mulig. I dag har jeg ikke tatt noen stor risiko, men planen er å trykke litt hardere på gasspedalen i morgen, forteller han.

Rally Spania etter 9 av 23 etapper
Ogier 1:24:58.4
Latvala +4.0
Tanak +11.3
Sordo +26.9
Østberg +29.7
MIKKELSEN +37.4
Paddon +38.3
Meeke +59.4
Neuville +1:03.8
Evans +1:09.2

Tidsplan Rally Spania 2015
Lørdag 24 oktober
09:15 SS10 Porrera (7,43km asfalt)
09:42 SS11 La Figuera 1 (26,26km asfalt)
10:28 SS12 Poboleda 1 (19,63km asfalt)
11:23 SS13 Capafonts 1 (19,80km asfalt)
Service Port Aventura
14:16 SS14 La Figuera 2 (26,26km asfalt)
15:02 SS15 Poboleda 2 (10,63km asfalt)
15:57 SS16 Capafonts 2 (19,80km asfalt)
17:15 SS17 Salou (2,24km asfalt)
Flexi Service Port Aventura

Søndag 25 oktober
07:17 SS18 Els Guiamets 1 (6,80km asfalt)
07:50 SS19 Pratdifp 1 (19,30km asfalt)
08:37 SS20 Duesaigues 1 (12,10km asfalt)
10:10 SS21 Els Guiamets 2 (6,80km asfalt)
10:43 SS22 Pratdip 2 (19,30km asfalt)
12:08 SS23 Duesaigues 2 Powerstage (12,10km asfalt)

VM poeng 2015 (etter 11 av 13 løp)
1. Sebastien OGIER, VW, Frankrike 238p
2. Jari-Matti Latvala, VW, Finland 160p
3. Andreas MIKKELSEN, VW, Norge 126p
4. Mads ØSTBERG, Citroën, Norge 98p
5. Thierry NEUVILLE, Hyundai, Belgia 86p
6. Kris MEEKE, Citroën, Irland 83p
7. Elfyn EVANS, Ford, GB 81p
8. Hayden PADDON, Hyundai, Australia 66p
9. Ott TANAK, Ford, Estland 63p
10. Dani SORDO, Hyundai, Spania 62p
15-10-22 Paddon tops times in Spain shakedown
Hayden Paddon set fastest time in shakedown at RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada? in Spain on Thursday morning.

The Kiwi powered his i20 World Rally Car through the mixed surface 2.94km Salou stage two-tenths of a second quicker than Sébastien Ogier’s Volkswagen Polo R on the first day of the Spanish rally. Robert Kubica was a further tenth back in a Ford Fiesta RS.

“Although the stage wasn’t representative of the rally it was a good chance to check the car was working and, as we’re back on loose surfaces, to make sure the set-up from Australia is working well,” said Paddon, whose new three-year deal with Hyundai was confirmed on Monday.

“We’ll push hard on the gravel tomorrow. We have a good road position so we need to ensure we make the most of that and try to be near the front. When we get to the asphalt we’ll focus on learning as much as we can. We’ll struggle to be as competitive there but we need to start somewhere.”

Ott Tänak was fourth in a Fiesta RS, with Dani Sordo’s i20 and Jari-Matti Latvala’s Polo R completing the top six. Kris Meeke was 15sec off the pace in Citroën’s DS 3 as he focused on scrubbing tyres ahead of tonight’s asphalt street stage in Barcelona. The Ulsterman entertained fans by completing donuts around the mid-stage roundabout where the surface switched from gravel to asphalt.

Teammate Khalid Al Qassimi clipped a chicane but the damage was limited to bodywork only.

The penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship taking place from October 22 to 25, this rally follows a similar format to last year. An opening leg of gravel and mixed surface roads is succeeded by two days of asphalt action, all in the Tarragona region near the resort and rally base of Salou.
15-10-20 Tidemand laddad för VM-rally i Spanien
Årets VM-cirkus börjar närma sig upplösningen när seriens näst sista rally intar Spaniens östkust i helgen. Pontus Tidemand är återigen tillbaka i sin SKODA Fabia R5 och är laddad inför tävlingen med de välkända vägarna av racingkaraktär - och som ligger högt på hans egen topplista.
- Rally Spanien är en av mina favoriter i VM, kanske till och med det rally jag gillar bäst förutom Svenska Rallyt då förstås, säger Pontus. Det är häftiga vägar och eftersom eventet mixar grus och asfalt blir det en extra teknisk utmaning och man får nyttig erfarenhet att sätta in på kontot för varje gång. Jag har sett fram emot den här tävlingen länge så nu räknar jag ner dagarna tills starten går.

Rally de Espana är VM-kalenderns enda event som blandar grus- och asfaltsträckor och tävlingen, som har sin bas i turiststaden Salou, lockar storpublik varje år. Efter en publiksträcka i Barcelona på torsdag kväll väntar åtta grussträckor - dock med inslag av asfalt - på fredagen. Med bilarna anpassade för grusvägar krävs en hög grad av precision för att klara av asfaltsektionerna utan att förlora varken tid eller fokus. På lördagen övergår sträckorna till enbart asfalt och de snabba och svepande vägarna jämförs ofta med en racingbana. När de sex första asfaltsträckorna är avklarade återstår ytterligare sex på söndagen, även de på asfalt. De 23 specialsträckorna omfattar sammanlagt 331.25 km och de utmanar verkligen förarnas skicklighet i att ställa om sig mellan de båda underlagen över en natt. Samtidigt krävs det också mycket av teamen som ska ändra bilarnas specifikation under en kvällsservice som på grund av det är längre än vanligt.

Utgången i WRC 2-klassen är fortfarande öppen och Pontus och hans kartläsare Emil Axelsson, som tillsammans varit på pallen i tre av fyra VM-deltävlingar för SKODA Motorsport, ligger på sjätte plats i sammandraget med bara 19 poäng till medaljplats. Pontus ser möjligheterna för en fin avslutning på säsongen och utan att sätta någon press på sig själv inför helgen, ser han fram emot att få ge sig i kast med de spanska vägarna.
- Med tanke på att vi bröt senast på Korsika vill man inget hellre än att få revansch genom att slå till med en riktigt lyckad tävling, men det innebär just nu först och främst att ta sig helskinnad i mål, förklarar Pontus. Jag vill självklart leverera ett bra resultat men jag ska köra med huvudet och inte ta några onödiga risker. Vi får ta det sträcka för sträcka och känna in hur vi ska sätta vår attackplan under helgen.

Omkring 15-talet bilar kommer till start i helgens WRC 2 och det är upplagt för en stenhård kamp med bland andra serieledande Nasser Al-Attiyah, Pontus teamkamrat Esapekka Lappi som ligger tvåa och tredjeplatshållaren Yuriy Protasov bland konkurrenterna.

Den här gången deltar SKODA Motorsport med hela tre bilar; förutom Pontus och Esapekka, startar tjecken Jan Kopecký i teamets tredje Fabia R5. I tillägg till de tre, rattar Al-Attiyah och tysken Armin Kremer även de en varsin Fabia R5.
15-10-20 Rally Spain utmanar med grus och asfalt
Volkswagen ställs inför en unik utmaning i Rally Spain som körs den 22 - 25 oktober. Den tolfte och näst sista omgången av säsongens FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) är den enda i rallykalendern som går på både grus och asfalt.
I synnerhet två personer har visat att de är experter på det underlaget, regerande mästarna Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia (F/F). Förra året tog de hem sin andra VM-titel på den iberiska halvön när fortfarande en tävling återstod. 2013, när Volkswagen vann konstruktörsmästerskapet, hette vinnarna i Spanien också Ogier/Ingrassia. Båda åren kom Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) på andra plats och gav därmed Volkswagen dubbelsegrar vid båda tillfällena. Latvala/Anttila, som ligger tvåa i VM-tabellen, kommer till Spanien med segern på Korsika nyligen i bagaget.

Framgången i Rally France, som gick på Korsika, ökade på Latvala/Anttilas försprång före trean i mästerskapet Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) till 34 poäng. Skulle Latvala/Anttila behålla minst 28 poäng av ledningen över Mikkelsen/Fløene är de garanterade andraplatsen i mästerskapet.
-Rally Spain är unikt. Vi måste försäkra oss om att vår Polo är rätt inställd både för grus och för asfalt, säger chefen för Volkswagen Motorsport Jost Capito.
- Det betyder inte bara att förarna och kartläsarna måste vara alerta och skickliga på att anpassa sig till de växlande förhållandena, utan också att hela teamet testas - särskilt mekanikerna. Vi har lyckats bra de senaste två åren med att växla mellan grus och asfalt, och vi har varit framgångsrika i Spanien. I år hoppas vi naturligtvis att göra ett hat-trick och vinna igen. Jari-Matti Latvala och Miikka Anttila dominerade på Korsika och kommer till Spanien fulla av självförtroende. Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia hade otur i sitt hemmarally och är självklart angelägna om att komma tillbaka för att vinna i vad som i så fall skulle bli deras åttonde seger för säsongen. Andreas Mikkelsen och Ola Fløene har ännu inte gett upp hoppet om andraplatsen i VM-sammandraget. Det kommer att bli verkligt spännande.

Nya specialsträckor
Asfalt, grus, asfalt, asfalt - det är det underlag som väntar WRC-eliten på torsdag och de tre följande dagarna. Och det är inte den enda utmaningen. Rally Spain innehåller totalt 23 specialsträckor - sju fler än 2014 - sammanlagt 331 km. Förarna och kartläsarna måste skriva nya noter för 51 procent av sträckorna. Som förra året kommer den 3,2 km långa specialsträckan "Barcelona" att köras på Montjuïc på torsdagkväll. Platsen för världsutställningen 1929 och sommar-OS 1992 kommer att locka många åskådare när WRC-eliten öppnar Rally Spain på den smala vägen i Barcelona.
Som kontrast kommer fredagen att bli en dammig affär när roadbooken visar den första av grussträckorna - alla täckta av ett lager med fint grus som kommer att svepas bort allteftersom rallybilarna passerar. På rallyts längsta specialsträcka, "Terra Alta", 36 km, växlar underlaget fem gånger.

Nyckeln till framgång
Efter att ha ändrat WRC-bilarna till asfaltinställning väntar 199 km specialsträckor på lördagen och söndag. Delar av förra årets specialsträcka “Riudecanyes” körs i år i motsatt riktning på “Duesaigües”. Andra gången sträckan körs kommer den att vara Power Stage där förare och kartläsare kan vinna extrapoäng att lägga till mästerskapet. Rallyt har gjort de två rondellerna på sträckan berömda i hela Spanien. Förarna kommer naturligtvis att visa upp spektakulära rundsladdar runt den ena av dem. Rally Spain kräver mycket känsla för bilen på grussträckorna och förmåga att finna en perfekt linje på de vindlande asfaltvägarna.

Citat inför Rally Spain
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
- När jag tänker på Rally Spain påminns jag naturligtvis om de två senaste årens framgångar där. 2014 vann Julien och jag och säkrade vår andra VM-titel. 2013 hjälpte vi Volkswagen att vinna konstruktörstiteln när en tävling ännu återstod. Jubelscenerna och de stora leendena på alla i teamet - det glömmer man inte i första taget. I år vill vi ha anledning att fira igen. Särskilt efter Rally France som blev en besvikelse för Julien och mig. Men det kommer inte att bli lätt. Mer än hälften av sträckorna i Rally Spain är nya så vi startar alla från noll. Sedan har vi den extra utmaningen med underlaget som skiftar under rallyts tre dagar. 2014 var det tätt mellan Jari-Matti Latvala och mig. Jag räknar med att det blir så den här gången igen. Trots att vi redan vunnit mästerskapet kommer vi naturligtvis att satsa hårt. Jag tror att det är det som gör vårt team så speciellt. Alla ger 100 procent och vi är alla sugna på att vinna.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
- Rally Spain är ett av mina favoritrallyn. Förra året hade Sébastien Ogier och jag en mycket hård kamp. Jag pressade på ända till slutet och vann avslutande Power Stage. Tyvärr missade jag segern med bara elva sekunder. Jag var inte 100 procent inställd på grus när rallyt startade. Jag hade fokuserat mer på asfalt så jag vann de flesta av mina specialsträckor på rallyts avslutande dag. Men om man vill vara med längst fram måste man också vara inställd för gruset på de inledande sträckorna. Det har jag lärt mig nu, jag vet nu hur jag måste ställa in min Polo och att jag måste köra rent och snyggt på de sektionerna. Ytan på grussträckorna är ganska hård men den är täckt av ett fint löst lager. Segern på Korsika har definitivt gett mig massor av självförtroende. Nu återstår bara två rallyn i år och jag vill kämpa för att vinna dem båda två.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
- I år har Rally Spain några nya specialsträckor. Det passar mig. Jag gillar att prova ut nya sektioner och hittills har jag alltid varit snabb på dem. Men en sak har inte förändrats i Rally Spain. Första dagen körs på grus med undantag från Barcelona-sträckan på torsdagen, och de övriga två dagarna går på asfalt. Det är alltid knepigt att växla från grus till asfalt på en dag. Förhoppningsvis finner Ola och jag rytmen snabbt. Förra året kostade en punktering på lördagen mig två minuter. Utan den hade vi kunnat stå på pallen. Som det blev fick jag nöja mig med sjundeplats. Jag har ännu inte kört Rally Spain utan misstag så ett felfritt rally är definitivt mitt mål i år. En pallplats skulle vara trevligt men naturligtvis vill jag helst vinna. Jari-Matti Latvalas seger på Korsika ökade avståndet till honom och till andraplatsen i mästerskapet. Två rallyn återstår och jag kommer naturligtvis inte att ge upp. Men jag kommer inte att sätta någon onödig press på mig eller fundera för mycket över situationen. Det idealiska är att komma före honom och få ett bra resultat.

Visste du att...
... mekanikerna under den 75 minuter långa servicen på fredag kväll bygger om Polo R WRC från sin inställning för grus till asfalt. För att få en idé om vad som krävs av dem behöver man bara se hur många komponenter som måste bytas ut. På varje bil måste mekanikerna byta 13 moduler som består av 1 348 individuella delar, totalt 4 044 till alla tre Polo R WRC.

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC),
Ställningen i förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 238
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 160
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 126
4. Mads Østberg 98
5. Thierry Neuville 86
6. Kris Meeke 83
7. Elfyn Evans 81
8. Hayden Paddon 66
9. Ott Tänak 63
10. Dani Sordo 62

Kartläsarmästerskapet poäng
1. Julien Ingrassia 238
2. Miikka Anttila 160
3. Ola Fløene 126
4. Jonas Andersson 98
5. Nicolas Gilsoul 86
6. Paul Nagle 83
7. Daniel Barritt 81
8. John Kennard 66
9. Raigo Mõlder 63
10. Marc Marti 62

Konstruktörsmästerskapet poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 369
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 184
3. Hyundai Motorsport 183
4. M-Sport World Rally Team 170
5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 91
6. Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team 59
7. Jipocar Czech National Team 45
8. F.W.R.T. 9
15-10-04 Latvala vinner Rally France för andra året i rad
Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) vann Rally France för andra året i rad. Efter förra årets historiska seger i Alsace var det finska paret, som nu ligger på andra plats i FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), återigen framgångsrika i Korsika.

Efter förra årets seger i Frankrike är årets seger den finska duons andra vinst på asfalt, deras 15:e totalt och deras åttonde i Polo R WRC. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) kompletterade Volkswagens framgång genom att sluta på tredje plats. Det gör att Volkswagen kommit på pallen 22 gånger den här säsongen och ändå återstår två av de tretton som ingår i WRC.

Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) fick en bra avslutning efter ett svårt hemmarally. De vann Power Stage för nionde gången den här säsongen - och för den 25:e gången i deras karriär. Det innebar tre bonuspoäng till sammandraget.
Latvala vinner på asfalt igen

Latvala/Anttilas andra vinst i karriären på asfalt blev en remarkabel historia. Vid det snabbaste asfaltrallyt någonsin - Alsace 2014 - kunde Volkswagen-paret bryta en 15 år lång ökenvandring för den stolta rallynationen Finland, som tvingades vänta ett och ett halvt decennium tills en landsman vann på det underlaget igen. Nu upprepade de inte bara den prestationen utan de visade också sin fart under vad som troligen är de tuffaste förhållanden på senare år och i ett Rally France med extremt omväxlande karaktär. Därigenom minskade de också gapet till bara en seger i den pågående kampen mellan finska förare (175 segrar) och franska (176 segrar). Latvala/Anttila är bara det andra finska paret som vunnit en VM-tävling på Korsika. Markku Alén/Ilkka Kivimäki vann där 1983 och 1984.

Andreas Mikkelsen och Ola Fløene fortsatte sin extremt framgångsrika säsong med att ta sin sjunde pallplats för året i Frankrike. Därmed behöll de kontakten med sina team-kollegor i Volkswagen Latvala/Anttila och hoppet om att kunna sluta tvåa i World Championship. Sju pallplatser på de senaste elva rallytävlingarna för säsongen - bara regerande mästarna Ogier/Ingrassia har deltagit i den traditionella champagneduschen oftare, då de stigit upp på pallen nio gånger i år.

När två rallyn återstår den här säsongen ligger Mikkelsen/Fløene på tredje plats i VM-tabellen, 34 poäng efter Latvala/Anttila. Man kan få maximalt 28 poäng vid varje omgång. Samtidigt utökade de försprånget till fjärdeplacerade Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S, Citroën) med 28 poäng.

Power Stage tröst för Ogier
Efter sin "Black Friday" - i sitt hemmarally av alla platser - var det en liten tröst för Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia att de vann avslutande Power Stage. Det är en verklig specialitet för Ogier/Ingrassia. För 25:e gången i karriären har de tagit hem de maximala tre bonuspoängen på den sista specialsträckan. Sedan 2011 har de tre snabbaste paren i Power Stage belönats med extrapoäng att lägga till sammandraget i mästerskapet för förare och kartläsare.

Ogiera/Ingrassia fick ett bakslag på fredagen då de förlorade 1,40 minuter på grund av en pyspunktering. Det blev inte bättre sedan de fått ett tio minuters tidstillägg för att ha startat i tävlingen igen enligt Rally 2 reglementet efter att ha bytt växellådan utanför den vanliga servicen. Även om det krossade alla förhoppningar om att sluta på poängplats vann de den längsta specialsträckan (SS6, “Muracciole–Col de Sorba”, 48,46 km) och den snabbaste (SS7, “Sotta–Chialza”, med en genomsnittsfart av 103,68 km/t) .
Deras Volkswagen-kollegor fick också bonuspoäng, Jari-Matti Latvala och Miikka Anttila kom trea i Power Stage.

Extremt utmanande "Tour de Corse"
Två av de nio specialsträckorna ströks på grund av jordskred. Förarna och teamen kämpade konstant emot extremt väder under rallyts tre dagar. Fredagen dominerades av stormar och skyfall. På lördagen gjorde de leriga asfaltsträckorna livet svårt för för förare och co-drivers. På söndagen var den svåraste utmaningen att vägarna var blöta på sina ställen och torra på andra och gradvis torkade upp under dagens lopp.

Volkswagen-förarna satte huvudsakligen sitt hopp till de mjukare Michelin-däcken medan konkurrenterna oftare valde den hårdare gummiblandningen. Och det visade sig vara rätt val. Latvala/Anttila utökade sin ledning med över 40 sekunder till 43,1 sekunder på rallyts sista dag. Samtidigt minskade Mikkelsen/Fløene gapet till andraplacerade Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB, M-Sport-Ford) med 30 sekunder till bara 3,2 sekunder.

Citat efter dag tre i Rally France
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
-Julien och jag avslutade rallyt med ännu en fantastiska dag i vår Polo här på Korsika. Förhållandena och vägprofilen var mycket trevliga och spektakulära idag. Vår strategi att välja fyra mjuka däck för dagens andra sträcka var kanske litet riskfylld men generellt är jag mycket nöjd med hur dagen slutade. Och vi vann Power Stage som var ett trevligt sätt att sluta Rally France på. Nästa år kommer jag att göra allt för att trikoloren ska vaja högst igen efter två finska segrar på rad. Men nu vill jag gratulera Jari-Matti och Miikka.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
- Jag kämpar för att finna ord. Det är en fantastisk känsla att vinna här på Korsika. Förhållandena var inte lätta idag heller eftersom de konstant växlade mellan torra och blöta sektioner. Och min ledning över Elfyn Evans var inte precis det man skulle kunna kalla komfortabel. Trots det ville jag undvika att ta för stora risker, och öka ledningen på ett kontrollerat sätt för att kunna ta hem segern. Det var precis det jag gjorde. Jag skulle vilja dedicera min seger till min idol Henri Toivonen. Det är ännu ett skäl till att dagen är så speciell för mig.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
- I grund och botten är vi mycket nöjda med hur Rally France utvecklades. Tredje plats är ett bra resultat även om vi pressade på för att för att komma ikapp Elfyn Evans på andra plats. Vi kämpade på riktigt bra men tyvärr räckte det inte. Grattis till Jari-Matti Latvala och Elfyn - de gjorde båda ett starkt rally. Jag var kanske litet för defensiv i början men jag brottas fortfarande med växlingen från grus till asfalt. Jag kan och jag kommer att jobba med det. Men lördagen och söndagen utvecklades som jag hade hoppats. Vi körde klokt men ändå fort. Ola och jag kan vara nöjda med vår prestation. Visst, vårt mål är fortfarande att sluta som tvåa i VM-sammandraget. Men vi måste göra något magiskt för att kunna komma ikapp vår team-kollega Jari-Matti Latvala som har ett stort försprång. Vad som händer kommer vi definitivt att göra vårt bästa.

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
-Vilket nervslitande Rally France. Stormar, årets svåraste förhållanden och tre enastående Volkswagen-förare i toppform. Vi är stolta över den här segern. Jari-Matti Latvala och Miikka Anttila gjorde ett taktiskt intelligent rally, och höll tillbaka i det extrema vädret men attackerade när och var de kunde. De är värdiga vinnare, jag tar av mig hatten för dem. Detsamma gäller Andreas Mikkelsen och Ola Fløene. Det faktum att bara regerande mästarna tagit flera pallplatser i år säger allt. På tal om mästare, Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia hade sin beskärda del av otur i sitt hemmarally här på Korsika. Men segern i Power Stage visar att de fortfarande hungrar efter segrar och att de kommer att kämpa ända till slutet.

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally France – slutresultat
1. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen 2t 39m 46,7s
2. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB), Ford + 43,1s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen + 46,3s
4. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën + 1m 33,4s
5. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai + 1m 53,6s
6. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën + 1m 59,8s
7. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai + 2m 10,4s
8. Bryan Bouffier/Thibault De la Haye (F/F), Ford + 2m 12,8s
9. Stéphane Sarrazin/Jacques-Julien Renucci (F/F), Ford + 2m 39,3s
10. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford + 3m 43,0s
...
15. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen + 9m 07,3s

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally France – Power Stage resultat
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 10m 23,2s
2. Robert Kubica/Maciej Szczepaniak (PL/PL), Ford + 8,6s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 10,2s

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), sammanlagda ställningen
Förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 238
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 160
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 126
4. Mads Østberg 98
5. Thierry Neuville 86
6. Kris Meeke 83
7. Elfyn Evans 81
8. Hayden Paddon 66
9. Ott Tänak 63
10. Dani Sordo 60

Konstruktörsmästerskapet poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 369
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 184
3. Hyundai Motorsport 183
4. M-Sport 170
5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 91
6. Hyundai Motorsport N 59
7. Jipocar Czech National Team 45
8. FWRT 9
15-10-04 Quintin Gilbert wins FIA Junior WRC Title *
Thanks to his fourth win in five rounds, Quentin Gilbert now has an unassailable lead the FIA Junior WRC standings. Winner in Portugal, Germany and Finland, Quentin Gilbert finished ahead of Terry Folb and Yohan Rossel at the Tour de Corse. Next up is Rally de España, the season’s only mixed-surface event, held on 22-25 October.

On its return to the World Championship calendar, the FIA Junior WRC crews were treated to a Tour de Corse that epitomised the finest traditions of the island rally.

In spite of the appalling weather at the start of the rally, the competitors managed to complete seven of the nine stages scheduled, setting off from Ajaccio to Bastia, then onto Porto-Vecchio before arriving back in Ajaccio.

In near-apocalyptic conditions, Yohan Rossel claimed the early category lead by winning the opening 29 kilometre-long stage. The FFSA French Rally team driver finished ahead of Quentin Gilbert, Terry Folb, Pierre-Louis Loubet, Jordan Berfa and Jean-Philippe Martini.

Following the cancellation of SS2, Rossel confirmed his good start by claiming a second stage win to end day one in the lead, followed by Terry Folb and Quentin Gilbert. The Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby split the top-six French contingent in fourth, followed by Jean-Philippe Martini, Jordan Berfa, Federico Della Casa, Pierre-Louis Loubet, Charlotte Dalmasso, Mohammed Al Mutawaa and Jean-René Perry, who picked up two punctures.
Saturday’s leg was cut short again by the Rally Organisers due to damage caused by the weather on SS4, but Quentin Gilbert won SS5, whilst Terry Folb grabbed the overall lead. At the half-way stage of the rally, just twelve seconds covered the top three of Folb, Gilbert and Rossel.

Determined to win in order to secure the title ahead of schedule, Quentin Gilbert was even quicker in the afternoon, and moved into the category lead ahead of Yohan Rossel, Terry Folb and Ole Christian Veiby. Caught out by the tricky Corsican roads, Federico Della Casa and Charlotte Dalmasso’s races came to a premature end.
The long final leg between Porto-Vecchio and Ajaccio saw Quentin Gilbert press home his advantage. Having gone fastest again on the day’s opening two stages, he took a lead of over a minute into the final stage, which was won by Ole Christian Veiby.

Quentin Gilbert went on to win the rally ahead of Terry Folb, who grabbed the runner-up spot on the Power Stage, and Yohan Rossel. Ole Christian Veiby finished in fourth position ahead of Jean-René Perry. Pierre-Louis Loubet, Mohammed Al Mutawaa and Jean-Philippe Martini all went off before the finish, while Jordan Berfa broke his gearbox in the closing stages.

At the end of this, the fifth round of the season, Quentin Gilbert has 106 points, which is 54 points more than his closest challenger, Ole Christian Veiby. With only two events left to go, the young Frenchman therefore holds an unassailable lead in the championship. He will therefore earn a WRC2 programme next year in a DS 3 R5.

Two rounds remain for the FIA Junior WRC before the end of the 2015 season: RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada (22-25/10) and Wales Rally GB (12-15/11).

UOTE, UNQUOTE
Marek Nawarecki (Customer Racing Manager at Citroën Racing):
“The many difficulties of the Tour de Corse have shown it deserves its place in the FIA Junior WRC calendar. The crews competing in their DS 3 R3-MAXs have been able to acquire some important experience on tarmac, which will undoubtedly serve them well in the future. Quentin Gilbert will be a worthy champion at the end of the season. He has shown he can win on surfaces and in conditions as varied as in Monte-Carlo, Portugal, Finland and here in Corsica. We’ll be very happy to support him next year with a World Championship programme in the DS 3 R5.”

Quentin Gilbert:
“I’m very happy to win in Corsica and secure the title at the end of my home rally. We were fairly cautious at the start, because the conditions were really difficult. On dry roads, we were able to push more on Saturday afternoon. Today, we mainly had to manage our lead. I’m pleased to share this victory with my co-driver Renaud Jamoul and my team. We have had an incredible season and I can’t wait for next year!”

Terry Folb: “
On the final stage, we managed to grab second place. I am very happy about this result. I would like to thank my team, who have done a great job, and my co-driver Franck Le Floch, who has been perfect.”

Yohan Rossel:
“I’m pleased to have made it to the end of this difficult rally. Obviously, I would have preferred to win this round of the FIA Junior WRC, but a podium is still a good result. I’m happy to share this with the FFSA and the entire team. It’s just a shame that we had brake problems on the final day.”

ROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. Quentin Gilbert / Renaud Jamoul 2:57:01.2
2. Terry Folb / Franck Le Floch +1:18.8
3. Yohan Rossel / Benoît Fulcrand +1:24.2
4. Ole Christian Veiby / Andres Jaeger +1:54.2
5. Jean-René Perry / Christopher Guieu +4:25.0

FASTEST TIMES
Quentin Gilbert, 4 – Yohan Rossel, 2 – Ole Christian Veiby, 1.

LEADERS
SS1 to SS4: Yohan Rossel
SS5: Terry Folb
SS6 to SS9 (finish): Quentin Gilbert

FIA JUNIOR WRC STANDINGS
1. Quentin Gilbert 106 points
2. Ole Christian Veiby 52 points
3. Henri Haapamaki 48 points
4. Simone Tempestini 47 points
5. Jean-René Perry 32 points
6. Terry Folb 30 points
7. Yohan Rossel 25 points
8. Federico Della Casa 20 points
9. Christian Riedemann, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Osian Pryce 18 points
12. Mohammed Al-Mutawaa 16 points
13. Matthieu Margaillan 12 points
14. Alessandro Re, Kornel Lukacs 8 points
17. Jari Huttunen 6 points
18. Charlotte Dalmasso 5 points
19. Daniel McKenna 4 points

NATIONS TROPHY
France 112 points
Norway 63 points
Italy 57 points
Finland 51 points
Switzerland 30 points
United Arab Emirates 20 points
Germany and Great Britain 18 points
Hungary 16 points
Ireland 8 points
15-10-04 Evans claims career best i Corsica
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt secured a career-best FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) result by finishing an outstanding second overall at this weekend’s Tour de Corse Rallye de France.

This was the Brits first encounter with the island’s unique roads, but they performed superbly – securing their second podium of the season as well as M-Sport’s third top-three finish and best result of the year.

It was a coming of age performance from the young Welshman who stormed into the lead of the rally on the opening day.

The speed tests had been hammered by heavy storms and the challenging conditions knocked the leading drivers off their rhythm – but not Evans. Hooking up the perfect stage, he claimed a massive stage victory some 30 seconds faster than his rivals.

The pairing continued to hold the lead at Saturday’s midday service, but a resurgent Jari-Matti Latvala could not be halted and the Brits were relegated to second place – albeit a mere two seconds adrift of the lead.

Embarking on the final and longest day of competition, strategy was a difficult call with the top teams all opting for various configurations of Michelin’s Pilot Sport tyre.

Evans was the only man to select three soft and three hard compound tyres – the most comprehensive way of having the right tyres for the right conditions and hoped that approach would allow him to put pressure on Latvala through the drying sections.

Ultimately however, experience proved pivotal and the Finn was able to maximise his confidence through the varying levels of grip.

Despite having to concede the victory, Evans and Barritt put in a stunning performance – silencing their critics and proving that they have all of the speed, talent and determination to challenge the world’s best.

In the sister Fiesta RS WRC, it was a difficult weekend for Ott Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder. The Estonians have limited experience of such challenging conditions and struggled to find their pace through the changing conditions.

But the M-Sport man showed flashes of potential today. Taking confidence from the drier conditions through the opening split of “Sotta – Chialza” (SS7), he and Mõlder were faster then both Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville – asphalt specialists and previous Tour de Corse victors.

Ending the event in 10th place overall, Tänak will be looking forward to the dry, circuit-like asphalt and familiar gravel of RallyRACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada later this month.

To top off a fantastic weekend for the M-Sport team, the Ford Fiesta was performing at the highest level throughout the field. In the WRC 2 category, victory went to Frenchman Julien Maurin – a popular home win for the French event and another top step of the podium for the Ford Fiesta RRC.

Elfyn Evans (2nd) said:
“I think it’s fair to say that it’s been one hell of a week for Welsh sport! To see the Welsh rugby team doing so well, and then my result here, it’s just a great achievement and I really hope that I did the boys back home proud.

“Needless to say we’re delighted with the result. Coming here for the first time and seeing how tough the conditions were going to be, I never imagined that we’d be leading the rally by such a strong margin.

“It was a bit of a nice surprise to say the least, and I’m glad that we were able to bring home such a strong result for the team because they really do deserve it. We have done a lot of work since Germany and it’s just great to see that it all paid off.

“A big thanks to the team and also to the gravel crew who did a fantastic job all weekend. And thanks also to everyone who has been sending in their messages of support. I haven’t read them all yet, but I will certainly find time to do that before Spain!”

Ott Tänak (10th) said:

“It has been a really tricky weekend for us. Of course we know that it was possible to go fast as Elfyn [Evans] secured a fantastic result for the team but we just didn’t have the confidence to perform at that level.

“When the stages were dry, they were actually really nice to drive and I think that we had quite a good rhythm. We showed flashes of what we could have achieved were the conditions a little more consistent, but we still have a lot more to learn in these situations.

“I’m sure that will come, but for now, I’m just really looking forward to Spain – to being back on gravel and experiencing what will hopefully be some more consistent Tarmac stages!”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We have witnessed an absolutely stunning drive from Elfyn [Evans] this weekend. Not only has he secured his best result to date, but also his second podium of the year as well as the team’s best result of the season.

“To say that he and the team deserve this result is a real understatement. After the disappointment of Australia, everyone really pulled together and worked extremely hard. It really is fantastic to see all that hard work yielding a result as impressive as this one – which puts us right back in the fight for second place in the manufacturers’ championship.

“It was also great to see the Ford Fiesta performing so well across the field – Julien Maurin securing the top-step of the podium in the WRC 2 series. I feel as though we really have created a ladder of opportunity which allows drivers to excel at all levels of the sport, and that is extremely rewarding indeed.”

15-10-04 Citroën racing reclaims second after tour de Corse
The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team reclaimed second place in the Manufacturers’ World Championship standings after both its cars finished in the top six at the Tour de Corse. Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle ended up fourth overall in Ajaccio, ahead of sixth-placed Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson. Competing in a third DS 3 WRC, Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot finished just outside the points.

Road conditions remained fairly demanding in the south of Corsica today. Between Porto-Vecchio and Ajaccio, each crew had to complete the final three timed stages – and almost 95 kilometres – without any service break. Only two tyre changing zones were organised before the start of SS7 and the Power Stage.

Surprised by the damp patches in some sections, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers concentrated on defending their positions with the aim of moving back into second place in the manufacturers’ standings.
Just 6.5 seconds ahead of Kevin Abbring as he set off this morning, Kris Meeke saw his rival go off the road on SS8. The Northern Irishman therefore finished just shy of a podium place in fourth.

Mads Østberg benefited from Kevin Abbring’s retirement, but was unable to hold off a charge from Hayden Paddon towards the end of the rally. The Norwegian therefore retained sixth place and scored important points, enabling the team to move back into second place in the manufacturers’ standings whilst also strengthening his hold on fourth position in the drivers’ championship.

Stéphane Lefebvre continued to learn about competing at this level on some of the most demanding tarmac roads in world rallying. The talented young Frenchman drove his DS 3 WRC with a mix of tyres for the first time, combining hard and soft Michelin Pilot Sport compounds. He reached the end of his first Tour de Corse in the WRC in eleventh position, less than 14 seconds outside of the top ten. As part of his 2015 programme and to allow him to acquire even more experience, Stéphane Lefebvre will be competing at the RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada in a DS 3 WRC.
In the FIA Junior WRC, Quentin Gilbert now has an unassailable lead in the championship standings. Winner for the fourth time this season in his DS 3 R3-MAX, he therefore succeeds Stéphane Lefebvre as JWRC champion and will drive a DS 3 R5 in a WRC2 programme next season*.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton:
“One of our objectives for this season is to finish second in the Manufacturers’ World Championship. Finishing with both DS 3 WRCs in the top six of the Tour de Corse means we are now back in second position in the standings. It is therefore a satisfactory result at the end of what proved to be a rather unusual event. We have two rallies left to consolidate our position. In Spain and in Wales, we have to be just as focussed and committed to achieve our goal.”
Kris Meeke: “It was a difficult rally, with one-off conditions. I didn’t feel confident at the start, but the aim was above all to finish the rally without any problems. Even this morning, we weren’t expecting the roads to be so slippery in places. Fourth place is a solid result. I would have liked to be quicker, but the points scored – both by me and by Mads – were very important. At the end of the rally, we have reclaimed second place in the manufacturers’ standings.”

Mads Østberg:
“The weather made the race especially difficult. I’ve never witnessed conditions like these at a rally. On the first day, we were mainly trying to get to the end of the stages and that worked out pretty well. When the roads dried out, we weren’t as quick and we lost a few places. Sixth position is still a good result for us, for both championships. It’s unusual to tackle such long stages and you need to manage the brakes and the tyres. We’re now going to focus on Rally Catalunya and its mixed-surface itinerary. I’m looking forward to getting back onto gravel after missing Rally Australia.”

Stéphane Lefebvre:
“We learned a lot once again in the DS 3 WRC during this Tour de Corse. The conditions were terrible on the first two days. I didn‘t take any risks to get as many kilometres as possible under my belt. When the roads dried out, we were able to give everyone a glimpse of our speed. Given our limited experience, better weather gives us the chance to show we can be competitive. Unfortunately, we made a mistake on the Power Stage which cost us a place in the top ten.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS7 – Sotta – Chialza (36.71km) – With the stage starting at 7.25am, the roads were still damp in places. Sébastien Ogier won the stage, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. Kris Meeke beat Kevin Abbring to consolidate fourth place overall, whilst Mads Østberg came under increasing pressure from Hayden Paddon in the fight for sixth position. Stéphane Lefebvre made up more than ten seconds on Ott Tanak to close on eleventh place. Dani Sordo moved into the points by climbing two positions.
SS8 – Zerubia – Martini (41.46km) – Kevin Abbring, who was running in fifth overall, went off the road. All the drivers further down the standings moved up a position. Hayden Paddon grabbed fifth, moving ahead of Mads Østberg. Dani Sordo claimed the stage win, trailed by Sébastien Ogier. Kris Meeke remained fourth overall and Stéphane Lefebvre continued to close the gap to Ott Tanak as he chased a points-finish.
SS9 – Bisinao – Agosta Plage – Power Stage (16.74km) – Sébastien Ogier, Robert Kubica and Jari-Matti Latvala collected the bonus points available in the Power Stage. Dani Sordo took advantage of the final stage to move up to seventh overall, just behind Mads Østberg, who finished sixth, and Kris Meeke, who ended fourth. Jari-Matti Latvala won the rally, with Elfyn Evans runner-up and Andreas Mikkelsen third. Well-placed to claim a top-ten finish, Stéphane Lefebvre span his car on the final hairpin and had to settle for eleventh overall.

FINAL PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:39:46.7
2. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +43.1
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +46.3
4. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +1:33.4
5. Hayden Paddon / John Keenard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:53.6
6. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +1:59.8
7. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:10.4
8. Bryan Bouffier / Thibault de la Haye (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:12.8
9. Stéphane Sarrazin / Jacques-Julien Renucci (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:39.3
10. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:43.0
11. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +3:56.3…

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier, 4 (including 1 tied) – Elfyn Evans, Jari-Matti Latvala and Dani Sordo, 1 – Robert Kubica 1 tied.

LEADERS
SS1 and SS2: Sébastien Ogier and Robert Kubica
SS3 to SS5: Elfyn Evans
SS6 to SS9 (finish): Jari-Matti Latvala

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Sébastien Ogier 238 points
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 160 pts
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 126 pts
4. Mads Østberg 98 pts
5. Thierry Neuville 86 pts
6. Kris Meeke 83 pts
7. Elfyn Evans 81 pts
8. Hayden Paddon 66 pts
12. Khalid Al-Qassimi 9 pts
29. Stéphane Lefebvre 1 pt

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 369 pts
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 184 pts
3. Hyundai Shell WRT 183 pts
4. M-Sport WRT 170 pts…
15-10-04 Tuff helg på Korsika för Tidemand
Förhållandena under VM-helgen på Korsika beskrevs av många som de svåraste på flera år i världsmästerskapet. Efter en strålande start i ovädret, tog SKODA Motorsports Pontus Tidemand ledningen i WRC 2, men några timmar senare tog tävlingen en tvär vändning och blev en problemfylld upplevelse tills Pontus slutligen tvingades bryta på den näst sista sträckan.

Regnet slog till mot Medelhavsön, som inte haft regn på fem månader, redan på torsdagen och utvecklades under natten till en "medicane" som de våldsamma ovädren i området kallas. Korsika hade inte upplevt en liknande storm sedan 1983 och det satte givetvis sina spår på tävlingen med översvämningar och bortspolade vägar.

Det regnade fortfarande kraftigt när ekipagen begav sig mot den första sträckan av tre på fredag morgon. Förhållandena var väldigt svåra och många beskrev det som bland det värsta de varit med om i rallysammanhang. Pontus, som var snabbast på shakedown och startade tävlingen med en positiv känsla, tog sig igenom den nästan tre mil långa sträckan utan incidenter och satte den bästa tiden i WRC2-klassen.
- Jag kan verkligen inte säga att det var lätt i ett sådant här extremt väglag, berättar Pontus. Men bilen fungerade bra på underlaget och vi fick med oss rätt bra fart ur kurvorna. Trots det var det svåraste att veta hur fort vi körde, svaret kom när vi gick i mål och fick tiden.

Kort därefter kom beskedet att sträcka två var tvungen att strykas på grund av skadorna från ovädret. Med det försvann dagens längsta utmaning och bara en sträcka återstod av dagen. Pontus startade i samma tempo som på föregående sträcka och var överlägset snabbast på den första splittiden när tävlingen tog en snabb vändning. En vattensamling på en snabb raksträcka orsakade vattenplaning och bilen slog hårt i en bergvägg som kantade vägen. Både styrstag och länkarm slogs sönder i smällen och även fast Pontus och kartläsaren Emil Axelsson kunde fixa till det temporärt med hjälp av reservdelarna de hade med sig i bilen, så tog det såpass lång tid att det kloka beslutet var att bryta.
- Det var en stor besvikelse, säger Pontus. Allt gick perfekt och det kändes som vi naggade på något riktigt bra, men när vattenplaningen slog till hade vi inget att sätta emot.

Pontus var tillbaka på lördagen, men de tre sträckor som stod på programmet hade blivit två då den första av dem var fredagens strukna sträcka som fortfarande var i så dåligt skick att den fick tas bort. Eftersom Pontus nu startade långt bak i fältet fick han tackla lera, grus och sten som bilarna före honom hade dragit ut på vägen och det blev nästintill omöjligt att hålla den hastighet han ville. Han körde så kontrollerat han kunde och tog sig igenom första sträckan utan problem, men på den andra sträckan, som även var rallyts längsta, åkte han på en punktering.

Söndagen startade han på tolfte plats med målet att ta sig till topp tio. Efter en kanontid på sträcka sju såg det ut som att planen skulle gå i lås, men på följandet sträcka blev det totalstopp när den hala leran i en kurva fick honom att glida ner i ett djupt dike. Utan chans att komma upp på vägen igen tvingades han bryta årets Tour de Corse med bara en sträcka kvar.
- Det här var verkligen inte vår helg, säger Pontus besviket. Tyvärr är sådana här tävlingar något man får tåla ibland i rally, även om man aldrig vänjer sig vid det. När man är i mitt i det är man så taggad och vill bara fighta på varje sträcka. Men vi har ändå en del positivt att ta med oss härifrån, först och främst att vår Fabia R5 fungerade väldigt bra och att det gick riktigt fint på de sträckor där vi inte hade problem, men också erfarenheten. Som tur är så är det inte alltför ofta man kör i förhållanden som nu, men bra träning, det är det absolut.

Fram tills nu har Pontus uteslutande kört till sig toppresultat och slutat på pallen i alla årets tävlingar, både i WRC 2 och i Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, där han för bara ett par veckor sedan korades till mästare med ett event kvar i serien.
- Det har kanske gått för bra så det var väl dags att jämna ut det, säger Pontus med ett leende. Vi tar nya tag och ser fram emot nästa VM-tävling som går i Spanien om tre veckor. Vi har fortfarande chans på den totala pallen så nu är det upp till kamp. Förhoppningsvis har vi avverkat årets oflyt efter den här helgen!

15-10-04 Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson nummer 6 i Rally Korsika
Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson i Citroen DS3 WRC endte på 6. plass i den 11. VM runden Rally Korsika, som gikk i mål i Ajaccio i dag. Løpet ble vunnet av Jari Matti Latvala, foran Elfyn Evans med Andreas Mikkelsen på 3.

«Målsetningen ut fra test og shake down var høyere, men jeg er allikevel fornøyd med 6. plassen sånn som løpet utviklet seg,» kommenterer Mads. «Det ble gjort noen feil valg i løpet av helgen, som førte til noen svake etapper. Bl.a. gikk vi ut på feil set up på første etappen i dag. Men vi har også mange gode etapper, og ikke minst gode sektorer som viser at vi kan være med helt i toppen også på asfalt. Nå er 2/3 av løpet asfalt i Spania, og 1/3 grus. Vi skal ikke teste mer asfalt, men jeg skal jobbe med teoriene på de områdene jeg vet at jeg kan forbedre meg, så skal vi prøve å få et bra resultat der. Siste løpet er Wales, som er et av mine favorittløp. Så jeg ser virkelig fram til de 2 siste løpene i mesterskapet».

Mads og Jonas holder 4. plassen i VM sammendraget. Spania og Wales er løp Mads kjenner godt, og har gjort gode løp tidligere. Avstanden opp til 3. plassen er 28 poeng. Ned til 5.er det 12 poeng.

«Vi fokuserer på det vi kan, forbereder oss godt, med full fokus på å kjøre så fort som mulig. Men realistisk må det skje noe med de foranliggende bilene for at vi skal klatre opp på pallen,» avslutter Mads.

Følg Mads gjennom resten av VM sesongen på www.madsostberg.no

15-10-04 Mikkelsen kjempet seg inn på pallen
Andreas Mikkelsen visste at Rally Frankrike ville bli et vanskelig løp, derfor er tredjeplass et bra resultat selv om han var svært nær en andreplass.

Rally Frankrike går inn i historiebøkene som et ekstremt løp. Natt til fredag slo uværet til på Korsika, og tropisk storm førte til at flere etapper måtte avlyses. I tillegg ble veiene ekstra vanskelig med mye stein og grus på asfalten.
– Alt i alt har det vært en god helg for oss, selv om vi begynte litt forsiktig og hadde bremseproblemer på fredag. Men vi bygde stein på stein for hver etappe, og kjørte oss oppover på resultatlista. Det var nesten så vi klarte andreplass, og jeg skulle gjerne vært noen sekunder raskere slik at vi hadde stått nest øverst på pallen, sier Andreas, som var 3,2 sekunder bak briten Elfyn Evans som ble nummer to. Nordmannens finske teamkamerat Jari-Matti Latvala stakk av med seieren, 43 sekunder foran Evans.
– Jeg visste at det ville bli et vanskelig løp uten noen test i forkant. Samtidig gjorde været sitt til at forholdene ble ekstra krevende, sier 26-åringen, som har Ola Fløene i kartleserstolen.

Med seier til Latvala betyr det at han har sikret seg et stort forsprang i kampen om VM-sølvet når to VM-runder gjenstår. Men Andreas har på sin side 28 poengs forsprang på Mads Østberg som ligger på fjerdeplass.
– Nå er jeg avhengig av at Jari-Matti Latvala feiler på de to siste løpene for at jeg skal klare å hente han inn igjen. Så det er ikke noe jeg tenker på. Like viktig for meg er det at jeg har fått en luke ned til fjerdeplassen som gjør at jeg kan slippe med litt mer løs før Spania og Wales, sier Norges fremste rallyfører, som i sesongens 11. VM-runde var på pallen for sjuende gang denne sesongen.

VM-sammenlagt etter 11 av 13 runder:
1 Ogier (VW) 238 poeng
2 Latvala (VW) 160
3 MIKKELSEN (VW) 126
4 Østberg (Citröen) 98
5 Neuville (Hyundai) 86
6 Meeke (Citröen) 83
7 Evans (Ford) 81
8 Paddon (Hyundai) 66
9 Tänak (Ford) 63
10 Sordo (Hyundai) 60

15-10-04 Ole Christian Veiby Klatret til 2. plass i VM
Ole Christian Veiby hadde et mål for øyet foran Rally Frankrike: Overta andreplassen i VM-sammendraget. Med fjerdeplass lyktes han med det.
– Dette har vært et utrolig krevende løp. Jeg har aldri vært borti maken. Etappene fredag og lørdag overgår etappene i Monte Carlo, og det sier en hel del om hvor vanskelig det har vært. Derfor er jeg utrolig godt fornøyd med å kjøre inn til fjerdeplass og samtidig klatre til andreplass i VM, sier 19-åringen, som kjører en Citröen DS3 R3T, driftet av det finske teamet Printsport. Med seg i kartleserstolen har han Anders Jæger.

Ekstremvær i form av tropisk storm, gjorde asfaltveiene på Korsika ekstra utfordrende. Flere etapper måtte avlyses på grunn av uværet, og flere av etappene som ble kjørt var også preget av de enorme nedbørsmengdene.
– Fredag handlet i grunnen alt om å fullføre. Den ene prøven var i utgangspunktet løpets mest krevende, og med enorme mengder vann som hadde brakt med seg gjørme og stein på veiene, ble det utrolig vanskelig å kjøre. Det var ubeskrivelig glatt, forteller han.

Men unggutten fulgte planen og kjørte i et tempo han var komfortabel med. Da det tørket opp på søndag, viste Ole virkelig hva som bor i han. Selv om han var svært opptatt av å fullføre løpet, var han ikke snauere enn at han avsluttet Rally Frankrike med å vinne den siste fartsetappen.
– Utrolig moro å avslutte med etappeseier. Jeg trives godt når det er gode asfaltveier, sier Ole, som beskriver helgens VM-runde som svært lærerik.
– Jeg har tatt store steg i helgen, og gleder meg voldsomt til å kjøre de to siste VM-rundene i Spania og Wales. Jeg skal slåss helt inn for å beholde andreplassen i VM, sier Ole, som har skaffet seg en fem poengs ledelse til italieneren Simone Tempestini, som er hans argeste konkurrent om andreplassen. Finnen Henri Haapamaki ligger på tredjeplass, men han skal ikke kjøre flere løp i år. Jean-Rene Perry på femteplass ligger hele 30 poeng bak Ole.

Sammenlagt i JWRC 2015 etter 4 av 6 runder:
1. Quentin Gilbert, Frankrike, 106 poeng
2. Ole Christian Veiby, Norge, 52 poeng
3. Henri Haapamaki, Finland, 48 poeng
4. Simone Tempestini, Italia, 47 poeng
5. Jean-Rene Perry, Frankrike, 32 poeng
15-10-03 Importand points up for grabs!
The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team ended day two of the Tour de Corse as the only team with both its cars in the top six of the overall standings. Fourth-placed Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, along with sixth-placed Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson, are in position to reclaim second place in the manufacturers’ championship. The final leg will take the crews from Porto-Vecchio to Ajaccio, without a service break.

Flooding and landslides had made the road between Casamozza and Ponte Leccia impassable yesterday, and it remained closed this morning. The rally organisers had therefore decided to cancel the 43.69 kilometre-long SS4, reducing the day’s schedule to just two stages.

In the morning, the crews completed their second run on Francardo – Sermano in trickier conditions than those they had faced day before. With road surface very greasy and a host of tricky sections, the stage-winning time was two seconds slower than on SS3. Kris Meeke took advantage to climb four places in the overall standings and move ahead of his team-mate Mads Østberg.

After calling in to the Corte service park, the crews headed south for the 48.46 kilometres of Muracciole – Col de Sorba. On roads that have witnessed some of the Tour de Corse’s greatest stories down the years, Kris Meeke moved further up the standings to claim fourth position, whilst Mads Østberg consolidated his sixth place.
In the third DS 3 WRC, Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot lost time in the morning after stalling on a hairpin. Closer to the pace in the afternoon, the rising French star set the eighth fastest time on the rally’s decisive stage to remain twelfth overall.

Back in Corte, the crews are set to end the day in Porto-Vecchio after a long, three-hour road section. Tomorrow’s leg features three timed stages, covering 95 kilometres, with the rally scheduled to finish at 1.05pm in Ajaccio. All the drivers will be able to choose their tyres before SS7 and before SS9, but no service breaks are permitted until the end of the Tour de Corse.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Mads Østberg:
“We were finally able to drive on a dry stage at this year’s Tour de Corse. The conditions were still very difficult. This rally is a genuine challenge. I did my best on the roads and we are still in a good position. We’ll have to keep pushing tomorrow to try and grab fifth place, as we’re only six seconds behind. We need to do more work on the set-up and on my driving.”

Kris Meeke:
“It was another long day, but again there were only two stages… This rally really is like no other. At least we had a more consistent road surface today, with more grip. We managed to go from eighth to fourth position on today’s leg. The DS 3 WRC worked perfectly throughout the day. The points are very important for the manufacturers’ standings so we need to make sure we finish the job tomorrow.”

Stéphane Lefebvre:
“This morning, there were a lot of tricky sections and it was easy to make a mistake. I decided to drive more cautiously and not take any risks. This afternoon, I felt confident in the DS 3 WRC. I drove well and I must say that it was nice to contest a stage in conditions like these. I’ll be looking to keep it up tomorrow and here’s hoping that it remains dry!”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS4 – Casamozza – Ponte Leccia 2 (43.69km) – Stage cancelled due to the bad weather.
SS5 – Francardo – Sermano 2 (36.43km) – Jari-Matti Latvala won the stage to move into second position, just 1.7 seconds adrift of overall leader Elfyn Evans. Kris Meeke set the fourth fastest time to move up three places in the overall standings, edging ahead of Mads Østberg. Stéphane Lefebvre ended the stage fourteenth overall.
SS6 – Murraciole – Col de Sorba (48.46km) – On the longest stage of the event, Sébastien Ogier set the fastest time, followed by Jari-Matti Latvala and Elfyn Evans. Kris Meeke finished sixth to move ahead of Kevin Abbring in the overall standings. Stéphane Lefebvre was eighth fastest on the stage, just ahead of Mads Østberg.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:42:24.8
2. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2.0
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +30.8
4. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +53.6
5. Kevin Abbring / Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:00.1
6. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +1:05.7
7. Hayden Paddon / John Keenard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:25.5
8. Bryan Bouffier / Thibault de la Haye (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:37.2
9. Stéphane Sarrazin / Jacques-Julien Renucci (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:51.6
10. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:53.9…
12. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +2:26.9

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier, 2 (including 1 tied) – Elfyn Evans and Jari-Matti Latvala, 1 – Robert Kubica 1 tied.
LEADERS
SS1 and SS2: Sébastien Ogier and Robert Kubica
SS3 to SS5: Elfyn Evans
SS6: Jari-Matti Latvala
15-10-03 Evans in the hunt for Tour de Corse victory
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt continued their impressive performance on the penultimate day of the Tour de Corse – ending the day in a strong second place.

Despite having to hand control of the rally to a resurgent Jari-Matti Latvala, the Welshman is still in the hunt – on course for his best FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) result just two seconds adrift of the lead.

With yesterday’s torrential rain causing severe damage to the “Casamozza – Ponte Leccia” test (SS4), the second day of competition also consisted of just two stages.

The first was a repeat of “Francardo – Sermano” (SS5) in which Evans set a blinding time to clinch the rally lead yesterday evening. For the second pass however, the conditions had been made extremely difficult – mud and gravel producing inconsistent grip levels throughout much of the 36.43 kilometres.

In a particularly greasy section, Evans admitted to being overly cautious. Despite being close to Latvala through the previous split, that caution ultimately saw his 18.7 second lead reduced to a mere 1.7 seconds and the M-Sport man had it all to do in the following speed test.

The afternoon played host to the event’s longest stage – 48.46 kilometres of “Muracciole – Col de Sorba” (SS6) – and Evans proved that yesterday’s pace was no one off.

Despite losing the lead by the smallest of margins, he and Barritt set the third fastest time just 3.7 seconds shy of their rival.

Finding themselves a mere two seconds from the lead with three stages to go, there remains all to play for and the Brits are tantalisingly close to what could be a maiden WRC victory.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Ott Tänak and Raigo Mõlder felt much more comfortable on the circuit-like asphalt of SS6.

Finding some confidence on the drier roads, the Estonians reduced the stage deficit to the leaders whilst climbing into tenth place overall.

With stages of a similar character on the horizon, Tänak will be keen to make further gains as he continues to familiarise himself with the challenging nature of the Corsican speed tests.

Elsewhere in the WRC 2 category, an M-Sport Ford Fiesta was also challenging at the top – Julien Maurin holding a 19 second lead behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RRC.

The Frenchman was arguably in a class of his own today – especially through SS6 in which he was 16.8 seconds clear of his nearest rival – and will be keen to give the Tour de Corse a French victor on home soil.

Elfyn Evans (2nd) said:
“It’s been another really good day for us. Having no previous experience of this event I never imagined that I’d be just two seconds off the lead going into the final day but we must have done something right because here we are!

“Of course it was disappointing to lose what was quite a lot of time to Jari-Matti [Latvala] on a single split [through SS5] this morning, but we were really happy with our performance on the second stage [SS6].

“To set the third fastest time through a fifty kilometre stage is no easy feat and even though we were a bit hesitant in places I was pleased with the potential we were able to show in there.

“Anything can still happen so we’ll be pushing on tomorrow. We don’t want to take any unnecessary risks as this is a very high-risk environment, but now that I’ve got a taste for sitting on the middle seat [on the podium], I want to be sitting there again!

“Tomorrow’s stages are quite similar to SS6 so hopefully we can keep the pressure on and take the fight to Jari-Matti. But whatever happens, I certainly won’t forget my first experience of this legendary event!”

Ott Tänak (10th) said:
“The last stage [SS6] was really nice and we seemed to find a really good rhythm. It was definitely the most enjoyable stage so far. Okay we were still a little edgy and the speed wasn’t anywhere near our potential but we will continue to find places to improve.

“If we can continue this rhythm we can certainly push a bit more and there are some nice stages tomorrow which I think will suit us a little better. I’m looking forward to those stages and to seeing what improvements we can make.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“It’s been another superb performance from Elfyn [Evans] today. He lost most of his lead on a particularly tricky section on the first stage [of the morning, SS5], but if you take that away his times were actually very close to Jari-Matti [Latvala] so he has certainly held his own and proved that his pace was no one off.

“No one can take this performance away from him and it has put us in a strong position to challenge for the victory on the final day. That’s something we’re certainly going to push for in the first instance, then we’ll take stock and decide whether to continue the charge or settle for second.”
15-10-03 Fra ekstremvær til solskinn i Rally Korsika
Andre dag av Rally Korsika er avsluttet, og etter gårsdagens skybrudd har fartsetappene framstått i vakkert solskinn i dag.

Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson i Citroen DS3 WRC har hatt en dag «midt på treet», og ligger på en 6. plass etter dagens etapper. Det er 1 min. 05,7 sekunder opp til Jari Matti Latvala som leder, og 34.9 sek til den siste pall-plassen.

«Selv om det det var sol på dagens første fartsetappe, var veiene fortsatt preget av gårsdagens regn, og det var glatt og vanskelig, forteller Mads. Vi bommet litt på set-up, og jeg fikk ikke til den fartsetappen som jeg ønsket. Den neste prøven var helt tørr, bortsett fra at det dras ut grus og gjørme der forankjørende biler kutter svingene. Både Jonas og jeg syntes det gikk bra, men tiden var ikke så bra som vi håpet. Det viser seg at vi hadde 2 dårlige sektorer i starten, 3 gode sektorer midtveis, og vi avsluttet med nok en dårlig. Vi skal jobbe sammen med teamet i kveld for å se om dataloggen kan gi oss svaret på hvorfor tiden ikke holdt på 3 av 6 sektorer, avslutter han»

Rally Korsika avsluttes i morgen, med 95 km fartsetapper. Hvorav siste etappe på 16,74 km er power stage, som gir bonuspoeng til de 3 beste. (Denne etappen går direkte på TV2 Sportskanalen og TV2 Sumo). Siste dag blir «mot normalt» løpets lengste. M.a.o. her er ikke noe avgjort. Skiftninger i teten har skjedd raskt hittil, og kan skje like raskt i løpet av morgendagen.
15-10-03 Andreas Mikkelsen har klatret til tredjeplass
God dag for Mikkelsen
Andre dag av VM-runden på Korsika ble en helt annen opplevelse enn åpningsdagen for Andreas Mikkelsen. Etter en svak start på Rally Frankrike, har han nå kjørt seg opp til tredjeplass.

Første dag av Rally Frankrike ble svært amputert etter at Korsika ble truffet av tropisk storm natt til fredag. En av de tre etappene måtte avlyses, og de to andre var også preget av uværet som hadde herjet. Tidvis minnet veiene like mye om et grusløp som et asfaltløp på grunn av all grusen regnvannet hadde skylt med seg. Om ikke det var nok, så sleit nordmannen med bremseproblemer gjennom hele dagen, noe som også var en sterkt medvirkende årsak til at han lå på en beskjeden sjuendeplass etter første dag. Lørdag gikk det imidlertid langt bedre, selv om også dagens første fartsetappe måtte avlyses som følge av skadene stormen hadde ført til. På de to øvrige etappene viste VW Motorsport-føreren at han er en av VM-feltets fremste sjåfører. Først kjørte han inn til nest beste tid, og klatret med det til tredjeplass i sammendraget. På den siste etappen slapp han seg ned til fjerdetid, men beholder likevel tredjeplassen i sammendraget før morgendagens tre avsluttende etapper.
– Det har vært en ålreit dag, og mye bedre enn i går. Vi ble kvitt bremseproblemene vi hadde og fant en løsning på det. Dermed har bilen vært langt mer forutsigbar, og da er det selvsagt mye enklere å kjøre. Da går det også an å pushe mye mer og likevel ha kontroll. Så alt i alt er jeg veldig fornøyd med dagen i dag, sier Andreas, som ligger 30 sekunder bak teamkamerat Jari-Matti Latvala, som leder to sekunder foran briten Elfyn Evans. Ned til Kris Meeke på fjerdeplass skiller det nesten et halvt minutt for Andreas og kartleser Ola Fløene.
– Selv om det gjenstår bare tre etapper, så er to av dem lange etapper. Så mye kan fortsatt skje, sier Andreas Mikkelsen.

Sammenlagt etter andre av Rally Frankrike:
1. Latvala, VW Polo R WRC, 1:42:24.8
2. Evans, Ford, +2.0
3. ANDREAS MIKKELSEN, VW Polo R WRC +30.8
4. Meeke Citroën, +53.6
5. Abbring Hyundai, +1:00.1
6. Østberg Citroën, +1:05.7
7. Paddon, Hyundai, +1:25.5
8. Bouffier, Ford, +1:37.2
9. Sarrazin, Ford, +1:51.6
10. Tanak, Ford, +1:53.9
15-10-03 Midday quotes tour de Corse, section three
Elfyn Evans (1st) said:
“We seemed to lose a lot of time in one section. It was particularly greasy through that stretch of road and very hard to predict the grip because the mud would carry on for three or four corners. We’ll have a good look at it to try and understand why that was the case.

“We had a clean run, which is the main thing, and we need to remember that this is a very long and difficult rally. There’s a long way to go, but it’s great to see that we’re still here and in contention for what could be a very strong result.

“Even though we were – and still are – leading last night, we said that we weren’t going to change our approach and that is still the case.”

Ott Tänak (10th) said:
“The conditions were definitely challenging but it was a bit more consistent and a little easier to see what’s happening than it was last night. We managed to get into quite a good rhythm and it felt better than yesterday so I can’t complain.”
15-10-02 Evans and M-Sport lead the Way at the tour de Corse
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt hold the Tour de Corse lead after a sensational performance behind the wheel of their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

M-Sport came to the eleventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship keen to spring a surprise or two and they have certainly done that today – Evans leading the way with an 18.7 second advantage over his nearest rival.

Evans embarked on the rally of 10,000 corners with no prior experience of the event’s unique roads, but he wasn’t going to let that hold him back during what has been a fantastic week for Welsh sport on the international stage.

Setting the sixth fastest time through the opening speed test (‘Plage du Liamone – Sarrola-Carcopino’), a strong start left him poised to mount a challenge for the podium positions.

With ‘Casamozza – Ponte Leccia 1’ cancelled due to heavy rain fall, just one stage remained for him to mount said challenge and he did so in superb style.

The narrow roads through the final speed test (SS3, ‘Francardo – Sermano’) were extremely challenging and took no prisoners, but Evans thrived and took it all in his stride.

Finding his rhythm, the Welshman showed his true potential and set the fastest time by a considerable margin – some 30 seconds faster than his fellow manufacturer competitors.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC however, Ott Tänak struggled in the treacherous conditions.

He and co-driver Raigo Mõlder currently hold 11th position but they’ll be looking to climb into the top-ten as the event continues over the weekend.

Besides Evans’ rally-leading performance, M-Sport cars were performing to a high standard throughout the field.

Thanks to Robert Kubica’s fastest time on SS1, the new-evolution Fiesta RS WRC claimed all of the stage victories on offer and three out of the top-four times through SS3 were delivered by Fiesta drivers – Evans first, Stéphane Sarrazin third and Bryan Bouffier fourth.

Also in the WRC 2 category, Julien Maurin’s Ford Fiesta RRC sits in second place – just 3.4 seconds adrift of the lead.

Elfyn Evans (1st) said:
“It’s a great feeling to be leading my first rally – albeit a bit surprising! When we got to the [SS3] stage end I said to Dan [Barritt, co-driver] that we’d not had a good run but we were very clean and tidy and didn’t waste any time so that obviously worked well for us.

“The information we had from the gravel crew was really consistent with what we actually saw on the stage itself so a big thanks to them because I’m sure that went some way to setting the time we did.

“The guys behind will be pushing hard tomorrow, but with the Welsh rugby team doing such a fantastic job last night I guess the pressure is on me to continue that trend!”

Ott Tänak (11th) said:
“It’s been a really tough day – there is so much water and gravel on the road so it’s really difficult to find a good rhythm.

“It’s certainly possible to go fast as Elfyn [Evans] has shown with some pretty impressive style this afternoon, but I just don’t have the confidence to do that at the moment.

“Hopefully the conditions will improve over the weekend and we can see what we can do. We just have to be brave and push as hard as we can.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“This has been one of the most historic days for the M-Sport World Rally Team. For everyone to witness Elfyn [Evans] pull off such an impressive performance on the final stage [of the day, SS3] was a massive boost – proving that we have all the tools at our disposal to be leading a world rally championship event.

“We all know how much potential Elfyn has and he has proven that today. His time on the last stage was nothing short of phenomenal and he thoroughly deserves the lead he holds this evening. He’s done Wales proud, and he’s done the team extremely proud.

“It was also fantastic to see such high standards of performance from other Fiesta drivers throughout the field. Robert’s [Kubica] fastest time on SS1 meant that the new-evolution Fiesta claimed every stage victory on offer and we also saw some impressive times from Stéphane [Sarrazin], Bryan [Bouffier] and Julien [Maurin] who is extremely close to the lead in WRC 2.”

15-10-02 Strong start for the DS# WRCs in Corssica
Despite the cancellation of one stage, the crews nonetheless covered over 65 kilometres of timed sections on the opening leg of the Tour de Corse between Ajaccio and Bastia. Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson ended the first day fourth overall in their DS 3 WRC. Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle are within ten seconds of their team-mates in the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. The heavy rain episode having passed, forecasts suggest conditions will now improve until the end of the rally on Sunday.

Since the start of recce, the weather forecasts had been indicating that conditions would be especially poor from Thursday night into Friday. After severe weather warnings were issued for Corsica, the entire island was hit by heavy storms and flash floods, especially in the north and the east.

Setting off from Ajaccio, the World Rally Championship crews were faced with very tough conditions, but no rain. The roads awash with puddles and rocks, Mads Østberg, Kris Meeke and Stéphane Lefebvre successfully negotiated the start of the Tour de Corse, keeping out of the kind of trouble that had already eliminated one of their direct rivals.

Severe flooding in Ponte-Leccia, near the start of SS2, then held up the event. The longest stage of the day, between Casamozza and Ponte Leccia, had to be cancelled. After stopping off in the Corte service park, the drivers got back behind the wheel to tackle the 36.43 kilometre-long Francardo – Sermano stage (SS3), with streaming and standing water in many places. The Citroën Racing drivers managed to make it to the end of the leg, whilst many of their rivals picked up slow punctures.

Mads Østberg arrived back in Corte in fourth place, 38.8 seconds behind the leader. Kris Meeke lies eighth overall this evening, within ten seconds of his team-mate. Stéphane Lefebvre ended the day in thirteenth place, as he attempted to get his bearings on his first Tour de Corse in a WRC.

All three DS 3 WRCs parked up in parc ferme for the night in Bastia. Tomorrow, the crews will head off directly for the morning’s two stages, without stopping off in service. After stopping to change tyres, they will tackle Casamozza – Ponte Leccia (cancelled today) and their second run on Francardo – Sermano. The leg will be split in two by a service in Corte before the crews set off on the rally’s longest stage, the 48 kilometre Muracciole – Col de Sorba test.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal):
“The Tour de Corse promised to be pretty unusual and so far, it is certainly that! The aim for us is still to close the gap to our competitors in the manufacturers’ standings. It is therefore pleasing to see that Kris managed his day so well. Mads feels more comfortable in conditions like these and he took advantage of that. As for Stéphane Lefebvre, his only real aim is to rack up the miles on all surfaces and in all kinds of conditions.”

Mads Østberg:
“I think this has been one of the most difficult days in my career! We managed to be consistent and keep out of trouble. Our position is pretty good so far, although the final stage was really tricky. I hope that the sunshine will dry out the roads so that the second leg can be more enjoyable. Today, we were really looking to get the balance right between safety and performance.”

Kris Meeke:
“I have to be pleased to have made it to the end of the first day. SS3 is certainly the most difficult stage that I have ever tackled. There was running water and debris everywhere on the road. Towards the end, however, some sections were beginning to dry out. Our gravel crews did a fantastic job, their help was invaluable today. Anything can happen on this rally, because there‘s still a long way to go.”

Stéphane Lefebvre:
“It is very difficult to get to grips with driving the DS 3 WRC in these conditions. I have never driven in the rain with the car. I’m learning on every corner and, with the mud and the streaming water, it was very easy to make mistakes. We didn’t take any risks to try and put together our race, although sometimes it felt like we were just trying to survive out there. The roads are also very technical and narrow. Tomorrow, it’ll probably remain very slippery. So whatever happens, we’ll still have plenty of work to do!”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS1 – Plage du Liamone – Sarrola-Carcopino (29.12km) – The opening stage was contested on slightly damp roads. First on the road, Sébastien Ogier set the fastest time before Robert Kubica, eleventh in the running order and driving on very muddy roads, managed to equal his time. Jari-Matti Latvala, Dani Sordo and Mads Østberg completed the top five on the stage. After seeing Thierry Neuville stopped in the first kilometre, Kris Meeke managed his pace to record the eighth fastest time. Stéphane Lefebvre set the thirteenth fastest time.
SS2 – Casamozza – Ponte Leccia 1 (43.69km) – Stage cancelled by the rally organisers.
SS3 – Northbank 1 (8.42km) – In near-apocalyptic conditions, Elfyn Evans claimed the stage win, grabbing the overall lead ahead of Kevin Abbring. Kris Meeke set the seventh fastest time and Mads Østberg was ninth, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre finished in twelfth position ahead of Sébastien Ogier and Dani Sordo, who both picked up punctures.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) 46:48.5
2. Kevin Abbring / (Hyundai i20 WRC) +18.7
3. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +22.9
4. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +38.8
5. Robert Kubica / (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +40.3
6. Stéphane Sarrazin / (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +43.1
7. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +44.5
8. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +47.0
9. Bryan Bouffier / (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:04.8…
10. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:13.2
13. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +1:39.9

FASTEST TIMES
Elfyn Evans, 1 – Sébastien Ogier and Robert Kubica, 1 tied.

LEADERS
SS1 and SS2: Sébastien Ogier and Robert Kubica
SS3: Elfyn Evans
15-10-02 Dramatisk start på Rally Kosrsika
Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson i Citroen DS3 WRC ligger på 4. plass i årets 11. runde av Rally VM, Rally Korsika, etter en dramatisk første dag av løpet. Dramatikken ble først og fremst regissert av værgudene. Det har vært skybrudd på skybrudd over øya fra torsdag, formiddag, og forholdene har vært sterkt preget av det. Løpet består av få, kun 9, men lange fartsetapper. Nr. 2 av 3 ble kansellert i dag, p.g.a. værforholdene, mens 1 og 3 gikk med ekstremt vanskelige forhold. Noe som også ga store utslag på tidene. Mads og Jonas, som begge er klare etter skaden de pådro seg i Rally Australia, har mestret de vanskelige forholdene bra. Mads sier følgende:

«Jeg har fortsatt vondt etter smellen i Australia, men adrenalinet overstyrer smertene når vi kjører, så det går bra. Jonas er helt restituert. Det har vært en vanskelig dag. Jeg har aldri før kjørt et asfaltløp på så ekstreme forhold. Det har vært gjørme og sand over veien, overvann på og bekker i sporet, store steiner som har rast ut i veien. Jeg er godt fornøyd med den første prøven, ikke så fornøyd med den andre. Men sammenlagt er 4. etter første dag innenfor målsetningen. Jeg venter på at første pallplassen på asfalt skal komme, den kan godt komme her.»

På SS3 ble resultatene av det absolutt uvanlige slaget. Elfyn Evans, som riktignok hører til toppsjiktet av førere, slo en fører som Jari Matti Latvala, med 33,1 sekunder på 36 km, det er nesten ett sekund pr. km, og Mads med 40,5 sekunder, det er over ett sekund pr. km. På 3 neste plassene etter Evans kom Kevin Abbring, Stephane Sarazzin og Bryan Bouffier. Dette er førere som vanligvis ikke finnes på toppen av WRC-listene. Men all ære til dem, som mestret forholdene, sikkert også godt støttet av en veldig bra jobb fra safety crewene sine, som kjører først og gir detaljopplysninger til førerne. Og klokka lyver ikke.

Sammenlagt etter første dag leder Elfyn Evans, 18,7 sekunder foran Kevin Abbring, som er 4,2 sekunder foran Jari Matti Latvala og deretter Mads, 15,9 sekunder etter.

For detaljerte oppdateringer fra rallyet: www.wrc.com. www.madsostberg.no oppdateres også med Twitter, Instagram og Facebook gjennom løpet.
15-10-02 Van(n)vittig for Mikkelsen
Andreas Mikkelsen har nok aldri opplevd mer spesielle forhold enn han var vitne til under første dag av Rally Frankrike. Enorme vannmengder førte til helt spesielle forhold, og en av etappene måtte avlyses på grunn av at veier sto under vann.
26-åringen har ikke hatt noen problemfri dag under åpningsdagen av årets tredje siste VM-runde.
– Det har vært helt utrolige forhold på de to etappene vi har kjørt. Den første etappen var for så vidt bare våt, mens på den siste var det enorme mengder med grus som hadde kommet med vannet ned fra fjellet. Det var veldig mye grus, gjørme og stein som gjorde det vanskelig, sier nordmannen, som ligger på tredjeplass i VM-sammendraget.

En ting var de utfordrende værforholdene, en annen ting var at han og kartleser Ola Fløene sleit veldig med bremsene på sin VW Polo R WRC.
– Jeg fant aldri helt den gode rytmen, og tapte en del tid på det. Det ble ikke bedre av at jeg sleit med bremsene. Før morgendagen vil mekanikerne skifte hele bremsesystemet, så jeg håper følelsen blir bedre av det. For når du ikke har noen god følelse med bremsene, så påvirker det alt, sier Andreas, som ligger på en beskjeden sjuendeplass til han å være, etter dagens to fartsetapper. Men avstanden fremover er absolutt ikke avskrekkende. Det er under halvminuttet til andreplassen, mens briten Elfyn Evans noe overraskende har tatt ledelsen, og har 44 sekunder på nordmannen.
– Jeg satser på en bedre dag i morgen. Mye kan fortsatt skje, og jeg har på langt nær gitt opp å blande meg inn i tetkampen. Det kommer til å bli to dager hvor mye vil skje før vinneren kåres, forsikrer han.

Rally Frankrike, sammenlagt etter første dag:
1. Evans 46:48.5
2. Abbring +18.7
3. Latvala +22.9
4. Østberg +38.8
5. Kubica +40.3
6. Sarrazin +43.1
7. ANDREAS MIKKELSEN +44.5
8. Meeke +47.0
9. Bouffier +1:04.8
10. Ogier +1:13.2
15-10-02 Midday quotes tour de Corse, section one
Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
“It was a tricky start. The beginning and the end of the stage was particularly difficult as the grip levels were especially low. There was a twisty section in the middle which was more abrasive and generated a lot more grip. You could carry quite a lot of confidence through there but there were certainly mixed conditions and it was a tricky start for sure.

“We didn’t have a perfect rhythm through the wider sections. I wasn’t as efficient as I could have been and could have gone faster, but it’s not a bad start and we can look to build on that as the weekend goes on.”

Ott Tänak (12th) said:
“It’s all about survival in these early stages. The conditions weren’t quite as bad as I was expecting but we were still properly on the safe side with no moments at all.

“We just don’t have the confidence to push in these conditions. When the feeling isn’t there, it isn’t there, and you have to work for it. That’s what we’re doing and we’ll try to build our confidence as the event goes on.”
15-09-29 Ny VM-utmaning väntar Pontus Tidemand på Korsika
I helgen gör Pontus Tidemand sin fjärde VM-start för SKODA Motorsport när Tour de Corse är tillbaka i världsmästerskapet i rally. I sina tidigare tre deltävlingar har han kört till sig pallplatser och som nybliven mästare i Asia-Pacific Rally Championship känner han sig både stärkt och sugen på en helt ny utmaning.

Uthållighet är ett av nyckelorden när Tour de Corse-Rallye de France gör comeback i VM-cirkusen. Tävlingen avviker från dagens typiska WRC-format med sina nio sträckor, vilket är snudd på hälften av antalet sträckor som ett VM-rally vanligtvis innehåller. Men distansen är för den sakens skull inte mindre - helgen på Korsika kommer att testa uthålligheten på såväl de tävlande som på bilarna när de tar sig an de krävande sträckorna som är så långa att de naggar på FIA:s bestämmelser för tillåten sträcklängd.

Tour de Corse var en del av Rally-VM från 1973 till 2008 och blev känt under namnet "De 10 000 svängarnas rally" just tack vare de karaktäristiskt kurviga vägarna på ön. De slingrar sig genom bergsområden och är inte bara kurviga, utan också så smala att misstag kan straffa sig snabbt, och de kantas ofta av en bergvägg på ena sidan och en sluttning rätt ner i havet på den andra sidan. Asfalten är dessutom skrovlig och sliter snabbt på däcken, vilket inte bara gör körningen till en större utmaning utan även gör att den taktiska aspekten spelar in.

Precis som många andra förare i startfältet gör Pontus sin första tävling på Korsika och även om han genom Asia-Pacific Rally Championship har blivit van att tackla nya event, är han beredd på att han och kartläsaren Emil Axelsson har en tuff uppgift framför sig.
- Det här blir en annorlunda men spännande tävling, säger Pontus. Väldigt långa sträckor på den här typen av vägar med helt nya noter kräver mycket, speciellt med tanke på att det här är min första tävling på asfalt i år. Men vi har haft möjligheten att testa ordentligt inför helgen och vår Fabia R5 blir bara bättre och bättre och det ger en riktigt positiv känsla. Vi siktar på pallen och är inställda på att göra Tour de Corse så bra vi bara kan, få med oss betydande erfarenhet och se till att komma i mål. Det är viktigt nu mot slutet av säsongen när alla vill knyta ihop säcken så bra de kan och taggar till lite extra.

De nio specialsträckorna uppmäter sammanlagt 332.57 km och är uppdelade på tre sträckor per dag med start på fredag morgon. De långa distanserna tar ekipagen till Korsikas alla fyra hörn med nattuppehåll i olika städer så gott som varje kväll. Serviceplatsen finns i staden Corte mitt på ön, medan Ajaccio på västkusten står värd för både torsdagens startceremoni och söndagens målgång.

Pontus ligger på sjätte plats totalt i WRC 2-kategorin, det trots att han bara deltagit i utvalda tävlingar under året, och är i nuläget endast 11 poäng från medaljplats. Men konkurrensen i klassen är kanske hårdare än någonsin i år och motståndarna är många. Hittills är 16 bilar anmälda till WRC 2 på Korsika, och SKODA- och EVEN Managementkollegan Esapekka Lappi förväntas bli en av de tuffaste konkurrenterna även den här gången.
15-09-25 M-Sport keen to spring a surprise at the Tour de Corse
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak may be venturing into the unknown when the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) reconvenes for next week’s Tour de Corse, but both will be keen to spring a surprise or two.
The event has been absent from the championship for the past seven years and neither crew has any prior experience of
Corsica’s unique roads. Despite this, both Ford Fiesta RS WRC drivers will be determined to prove a point and depart the Mediterranean island with a strong haul of points.

Success will be no mean feat however with both crews having just two reconnaissance passes to make a completely new set of pacenotes. If that weren’t enough, the rough and abrasive asphalt provides one of the most demanding challenges of the year.

Tight and twisty mountain roads are often set between rock faces and steep drops into the sea – leaving no room for error and demanding a confidence-fuelled run in pursuit of the top positions.

In a throwback to the endurance rallies of old, the event’s 332.73 competitive kilometres will be contested over a mere nine stages and the team will need to be at the top of their game if they are to fight for the sought-after podium.

Following a run of heart-breaking misfortune, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt will be particularly determined to leave Corsica with a strong result.

he Welshman has form on asphalt and was the only driver capable of preventing the leading Volkswagens from securing a clean-sweep of stage wins at the previous sealed-surface event in Germany – something he’ll want to repeat next week.

With the team having analysed the issues faced when first introducing the new Fiesta RS WRC to Tarmac, Evans won’t want to let his inexperience hold him back and could well be on pace through the longer stages which historically suit his ever-improving style.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder are eager to continue their development on asphalt.

Having not piloted a world rally car on black-top speed tests since the latter half of 2012, Tänak admitted to being unfamiliar with the surface in Germany – something he’ll want to change in Corsica.

The Estonian may have no prior experience of the Corsican stages but his raw speed means that he can never be discounted when it comes to predicting who will be well-placed come the end of the rally.

Both drivers have also had an abundance of seat-time since returning from Australia and they’ll be hoping to use that to their advantage next week.

As well as each completing a day and a half of testing on location in Corsica, Evans was entertaining fans at this year’s Rally Day in the UK and both returned to M-Sport HQ to delight a number of team-partner Castrol guests over three days of adrenaline-fuelled passenger rides.

Elfyn Evans said:
“I’m really looking forward to this event. It’s going to be a challenge – three stages a day, all very long and all very demanding with brand new pacenotes – but I’m excited to discover what we can do in Corsica.

“It’s a unique event in many ways, but from what I’ve seen there is a lot more variation in the stages than there perhaps was in the past. Some are actually quite smooth and surprisingly similar to Catalunya. Then there are those which are typically Corsican – abrasive Tarmac that twists through the mountains. It’s going to be a real technical challenge!

“Since the last Tarmac outing in Germany I feel as though we’ve been able to make a step forward. When everything was perfect, our speed was pretty good, but it’s also fair to say that we struggled in the afternoon’s higher temperatures.

“We’ve had a day and a half of testing before this event and I’m feeling quite confident that we’ve progressed. Of course time will tell when we get to the rally, but for the moment, I’m feeling fairly optimistic.

“There’s no hiding the fact that the competition will be very strong next week so we just have to do the best job we possibly can. A podium would be nice, but let’s wait and see what happens.”

Ott Tänak said:
“It’s going to be tough to know what to expect next week as myself and Raigo [Mõlder, co-driver] have never experienced this rally before. It’s a unique event and although I’ve seen some footage from previous years we really don’t know too much about it.

“We had a day and a half of testing to get used to the characteristics of the roads and they’re really twisty with something happening all the time. It’s going to be important to have a good recce and be fully prepared ahead of this one.

“First and foremost we need to gain the experience. The first time at an event like this is always tricky, but we still want to do our best and secure a good result. We learnt quite a lot about the new car on Tarmac in Germany so if we can pull everything together then a good result is definitely possible.

“We just need to stay calm throughout the weekend and see what happens; but hopefully we can surprise a few people and come away with a strong result.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“The Tour de Corse is an event that is truly unique. Experience could well count for a lot next week and with Elfyn [Evans] and Ott [Tänak] having no previous experience of this rally it’s fair to say that they could be at something of a disadvantage.

“Having said that, we know that the car can perform on Tarmac and with a good test under our belts I hope that we will be able to spring a surprise or two. We’ve learnt a lot since Germany and we know that both drivers have the pace to ruffle a few feathers.

“It will be an interesting rally and both drivers are determined to prove a point so I’m excited to see what we can do.”


ADDITIONAL M-SPORT DRIVERS
M-Sport will also run the Ford Fiesta RS WRC of Bryan Bouffier and Thibault de la Haye. The Frenchman has contested the Corsican event on four separate occasions – securing the sought-after victory in 2013.

Despite not competing behind the wheel of a world rally car since Rallye Monte-Carlo earlier this year, Bouffier has all of the experience, speed and determination to secure a strong result next week.

M-Sport will also run the Ford Fiesta R5 of Yurii Protasov and Pavlo Cherepin. The Ukrainians have not registered for WRC 2 and will use next week’s event to further develop their increasing pace on asphalt.
15-09-25 The DS3 WRCs takes on 3 WRCS TAKE ON 10,000 Turns!
The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team heads for Corsica and the eleventh round of the 2015 World Rally Championship season. The two DS 3 WRCs driven by Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson and Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle will be eligible to score points towards the Manufacturers’ standings. A third DS 3 WRC has been entered for the rising star of French rallying, Stéphane Lefebvre, accompanied by his Belgian co-driver Stéphane Prévot. The event will be broadcast live and in full in France on Canal + Sport.

After spending five years on the roads of Alsace between 2010 and 2014, including three memorable wins for Citroën Racing, the Rallye de France heads back to Corsica at the start of October. One of the oldest events in world rallying, the Tour de Corse returns in a classic configuration.

For the Versailles-based team, this return to Corsica brings back many fond memories: a World Championship win in 1999 for Philippe Bugalski and Jean-Paul Chiaroni, the first WRC win for the Xsara of Jesus Puras and Marc Marti in 2001, the first world title for Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena in 2004 and Loeb and Elena’s historic clean sweep, when the pair won every stage at the 2005 rally.

Far from the petal-like itineraries typical of WRC rounds since 1997, the route is as innovative as it is emblematic of the history of the “Ten Thousand Turns Rally”. The crews will complete a tour of the island with the service park based in Corte. However, each day will be a genuine leg, from Ajaccio to Bastia on Friday, from Bastia to Porto-Vecchio on Saturday and from Porto-Vecchio to Ajaccio on Sunday.

This new configuration has called for a lot of work in terms of logistics in order to support the team’s efforts and follow the movements of the drivers throughout the three days of racing. From a sporting perspective, Rally Corsica is set to offer very different conditions to those on the other rounds on the WRC calendar.

A unique, traditional world championship event, the Tour de Corse features a completely revamped course. The event is made up of only nine stages – contested without the crews knowing each other’s split times – and the drivers will have to contend with some very long tests, of up to 48 kilometres.

The roads are just a series of bends on which the DS 3 WRCs will never hit top speed. And more than anything else, the island’s weather is particularly unpredictable in early autumn. A new high of 35°C was set just a few days ago, but storms are never far away, especially in the mountains, with one section peaking at over 1,300 metres above sea level.

Given the challenge posed by tarmac stages of over thirty kilometres, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s technical unit has scheduled three days of pre-event testing in preparation for the rally. The aim is to fine-tune the set-up of the DS 3 WRCs with the Michelin Pilot Sport tyres used this season. The car has to be efficient on the most uneven sections and maintain its balance over long distances. The consistency of the handling will be one of the key factors in determining driver performance.

Forced to withdraw from Rally Australia after suffering an accident during recce, Mads Østberg has recovered from his injuries in time to compete. Required to rest for around ten days, he resumed normal activities a week before the start of the Tour de Corse. Pre-event testing scheduled for this Friday will give him the opportunity to get back up to speed behind the wheel of a WRC before beginning recce on Monday, whilst Jonas Andersson has made a full recovery following the accident.

Kris Meeke is familiar with the previous configuration of the Tour de Corse, having competed here on three occasions in two-wheel drive cars. In securing a podium-finish at Rally Australia, Kris finally turned a series of good performances into a result and established himself as the leading British driver in the championship standings. In Corsica, he returns to a surface on which he has become accustomed to doing well.

As was the case in Germany and Australia, the two Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers will be accompanied by Stéphane Lefebvre. The young Frenchman has once again been given a drive in a DS 3 WRC as he continues to learn about world rallying. He won the Junior European Rally Championship last year in Corsica.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “We are treating the Tour de Corse like a new round on the WRC calendar. Its unusual format makes it a different rally; we started planning for it several months ago. The spread-out nature of the course, especially as regards the parc ferme, is something we needed to analyse in order to factor in all the potential situations. Apart from the logistics side of things, the event isn‘t that different from the others and we always set our sights pretty high on tarmac. Citroën Racing has a lot of experience on this type of event. We’ll fine tune the set-up of our DS 3 WRCs in pre-event testing and then treat the rally with the respect it deserves. The Tour de Corse remains a tough event, but we’ll be looking to collect a large haul of points. Kris and Mads will need to make the most of the performance of their cars and be very competitive right from the start of the race. We may adapt our strategy, depending on how the rally unfolds. By the end, we need to take points off our direct rivals in the manufacturers’ championship.”

Mads Østberg: “I have some very fond memories of the last time I competed in Corsica in a WRC. The roads are fantastic and very technical. It’s just one turn after another with loads of grip. So I’m pleased to be back in Corsica, even though preparations for the rally have been very unusual. Ordinarily, before each event, I do physical training, I work on my pace notes and look at on-board footage… This time, all I could do was rest. To be perfectly honest, I was really bored! Since Monday, I have felt more optimistic, because I have been able to start living normally again. I can drive now. I’m determined and I can’t wait to get back in the car. My aim is secure a top-five finish and defend my position in the championship.”

Kris Meeke: “It’s a new rally, really. I’m pleased to be back in Corsica, because this is a legendary World Championship venue. From what I have seen of the route, the roads should be less typically Corsican in most places than they are around Ajaccio. Although there are still a few narrow, bumpy sections elsewhere, the stages are wider, on the whole. And that just makes me even keener to get started because I love driving on tarmac. There are only nine stages, but they are very long and the weather could influence the outcome of the race. Our pre-event testing will give us the chance to define the set-up and work on the tyres. I am going to try to drive at my own pace and, if things goes well, we should be in a position to fight for a place on the podium.”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “We are going to try and do well at the return of this legendary rally to the world stage. The aim is to confirm and build on our performances in Germany and Australia. We have to up the pace but keep out of trouble. I don’t feel like I’m starting from scratch, because I’ve already found my bearings in the car. Having said that, the course is very different to Germany and is obviously nothing like Australia. But at least I’m on the pace! The rally starts for us with pre-event testing. We’ll need to pinpoint the areas that need improvement and make progress quickly. After finishing in the top 10 in Germany, I would like to move up the standings a little bit. I know that the pace will be very high, so it’s up to me to step up to the challenge. My goal is nonetheless to keep learning and finding my bearings so that I can be competitive if I get the chance to come back next year.”

THE TOUR OF CORSICA
By maintaining just the one service park, based in Corte in the middle of the island, the organisers of the Tour de Corse have designed an itinerary of three distinct legs. >From Ajaccio to Bastia, from Bastia to Porto-Vecchio and from Porto-Vecchio to Ajaccio, the crews will only have nine stages to complete…

After three days of recce, the drivers will take on the shakedown on the Poggio di Venaco test (3.88km) on Thursday morning, completing a minimum of three mandatory runs from 8am onwards.

The rally will officially get underway on Friday morning at 8am opposite the Palais des Congrès in Ajaccio. The first tyre choice will be made at the airport before the crews tackle Plage du Liamone – Sarrola-Carcopino (29.12km) an hour later. After a first service period in Corte, the afternoon will feature two long stages, Casamozza – Ponte Leccia (43.69km) and Francardo – Sermano (36.43km), before a flexi-service and the end of the leg in Bastia.

From Place Saint-Nicolas, the crews will then set off on Saturday morning for Casamozza – Ponte Leccia (43.69km) and Francardo – Sermano (36.43km) before service in Corte. The longest stage of the rally, Muracciole – Col de Sorba (48.46km), which peaks at 1,300 metres above sea level, will be the only timed stage of the afternoon. It will be followed by another flexi-service, with the leg concluding in Porto-Vecchio.

On Sunday, the crews make an early start, setting off at 6.45am for three stages without a service break. The drivers will choose their tyres for Sotta – Chialza (36.71km) and Zérubia – Martini (41.46km) before being able to change them ahead of the Power Stage (Bisinao – Agosta Plage, 16.74km), which will be broadcast live on television from 12 midday. The rally is scheduled to finish in Ajaccio at 1.05pm. In France, the rally will be shown live and in full on the subscription channel Canal + Sport.

15-09-25 The juniors grapple with a legend
Eleven under 28 year-old drivers are set to drive their DS 3 R3-MAXs at the Tour de Corse in the FIA Junior WRC category.
– This, the fifth round of the season marks the return of the Tour de Corse to the World Championship calendar.
– A winner of three events so far this year, Quentin Gilbert will have his first opportunity to seal the title by establishing an unassailable lead in the standings. The champion will earn a WRC2 programme for 2016 in a four-wheel drive DS 3 R5.
On its much-anticipated return to the World Championship, the Tour de Corse welcomes the FIA Junior WRC drivers. Between 2001 and 2008, several promising young rally drivers won on the narrow, winding roads of Corsica, including Sébastien Loeb in a Citroën Saxo Super 1600 and Martin Prokop in Citroën C2 Super 1600.
The eleven FIA Junior WRC crews will be tackling the new Corsican event for the first time, its itinerary closely modelled on the old route which toured the island. Starting in Ajaccio, the crews and teams will stop off in Bastia on Friday evening and in Porto-Vecchio on Saturday evening before making back to Ajaccio on Sunday, with a programme made up of nine stages varying between 16 and almost 50 kilometres in length.

The clear favourite after winning three of the first four rounds, Quentin Gilbert will have his first opportunity to become mathematically certain of winning the title. If he wins in Corsica, Gilbert will have an unassailable lead in the championship and will thus secure a WRC2 programme in a DS 3 R5 in 2016.

With the Finn Henri Haapamaki missing and the Italian Simone Tempestini competing but unable to score points, Ole Christian Veiby will be the championship leader’s main rival. Having secured podium-finishes in Monte-Carlo and in Finland, the Norwegian has been one of the season’s major revelations in the FIA Junior WRC. His progress on the most legendary tarmac rally will be followed with great interest.

The Swiss Federico Della Casa and the Emirati Mohammed Al Mutawaa will also have to contend with a formidable challenge from other French drivers because the home contingent features some of rallying’s most promising young talents.
Jean-René Perry, a regular challenger for a podium spot in the FIA Junior WRC, the young Pierre-Louis Loubet (18 years old), born in Bastia and living in Porto-Vecchio, Terry Folb, consistently one of the quickest since the start of the year, Yohan Rossel, guided by the FFSA, and Charlotte Dalmasso, the only woman competing in the championship, will all be looking to impress in their DS 3 R3-MAXs.

Two other French drivers will be making their bow in the FIA Junior WRC at the Tour de Corse: Jordan Berfa, who first experienced rallying two seasons ago in a DS 3 R1, and the Ajaccian Jean-Philippe Martini will be using the event’s return to Corsica to measure themselves against the category’s more seasoned competitors.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Terry Folb: “This will be my first Tour de Corse. I’ll be relying on the experience of my co-driver Franck Le Floch, who has already taken part in this event and the historic rally, and the experience of the Daumas Racing team. In the first half of the season, we did a lot of work on gravel, a surface on which I had not driven before. The aim is now to achieve some good results to help us to secure the funding to compete next year. The context is fairly specific in Corsica, with some very long stages, but I have prepared well for the event both physically and mentally. I want to show that we are capable of being at the front. My aim is to finish on the podium and I know that I have the resources to achieve that, with a team that works very well.”

Mohammed Al Mutawaa: “I really can’t wait to take part in my first rally on tarmac this season. I still have to work on my pace notes to make them more precise, because there are some details that need fine-tuning. The goal for this rally will be to improve our pace notes on the two runs in recce and see if the corrections help us to make progress.”

THE ELEVEN CREWS ENTERED
51 – Charlotte Dalmasso (FRA) / Marion Renchet (FRA)
Date of birth: 15 October 1991
Team: ISC Distribution
2015 results: Monte-Carlo, 7th, Portugal, 10th.

53 – Ole Christian Veiby (NOR) / Anders Jaeger (NOR)
Date of birth: 17 June 1996
Team: Printsport
2015 results: Monte-Carlo, 3rd – Portugal, 5th – Finland, 3rd.

55 – Mohammed Al Mutawaa (ARE) / Stephen McAuley (GBR)
Date of birth: 02 December 1992
Team: Abu Dhabi Racing
2015 results: Portugal, retired – Portugal, 6th – Finland, 6th.

57 – Yohan Rossel (FRA) / Benoît Fulcrand (FRA)
Date of birth: 13 February 1995
Team: FFSA / PH Sport
2015 results: Monte-Carlo, 5th.

58 – Terry Folb (FRA) / Franck Le Floch (FRA)
Date of birth: 26 May 1990
Team: Daumas Racing / Allsports Management
2015 results: Monte-Carlo, retired – Portugal, retired – Finland, 4th.

60 – Quentin Gilbert (FRA) / Renaud Jamoul (BEL)
Date of birth: 29 May 1989
Team: DG Sport
2015 results: Monte-Carlo, 1st – Portugal, 1st – Poland, 7th – Finland, 1st.

63 – Federico Della Casa (CHE) / Domenico Pozzi (ITA)
Date of birth: 11 July 1991
Team: Delta Rally
2015 results: Portugal, 7th – Poland, 5th – Finland, 8th.

65 – Pierre-Louis Loubet (FRA) / Vincent Landais (FRA)
Date of birth: 18 February 1997
Team: PH Sport
2015 results: Portugal, 2nd – Poland, missed – Finland, retired.

66 – Jean-René Perry (FRA) / Christopher Guieu (FRA)
Date of birth: 25 December 1992
Team: MY Racing / Allsports Management
2015 results: Portugal, 4th – Poland, retired – Finland, 5th.

70 – Jordan Berfa (FRA) / Damien Augustin (FRA)
Date of birth: 31 March 1995
Team: CHL Sport Auto
2015 results: first appearance.

76 – Jean-Philippe Martini (FRA) / Ambroise Fieschi (FRA)
Date of birth: 9 September 1987
Team: Delta Rally

2015 results: first appearance.
FIA JUNIOR WRC STANDINGS
1. Quentin Gilbert 81 points
2. Henri Haapamaki 48 points
3. Simone Tempestini 47 points
4. Ole Christian Veiby 40 points
5. Jean-René Perry 22 points
6. Federico Della Casa 20 points
7. Christian Riedemann, Osian Pryce and Pierre-Louis Loubet 18 points
10. Mohammed Al Mutawaa 16 points
11. Terry Folb and Matthieu Margaillan 12 points
13. Yohan Rossel 10 points
14. Alessandro Re and Kornel Lukacs 8 points
16. Jari Huutunen 6 points
17. Charlotte Dalmasso 5 points
18. Daniel McKenna 4 points

NATIONS TROPHY
1. France 87 points
2. Italy 57 points
3. Finland 51 points
4. Norway 45 points
5. Switzerland 30 points
6. United Arab Emirates 20 points
7. United Kingdom and Germany 18 points
9. Hungary 16 points
10. Ireland 8 points
15-09-13 WRC-titlarna säkrade efter dubbelseger i Australien
Sébatien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia vann Rally Australia före lagkamraterna Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila och säkrade därmed sin tredje WRC-titel i rad för förare och kartläsare. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene kompletterade ett fantastiskt lagresultat med att sluta på fjärde plats.

Triumfen i Australien gav också Volkswagen deras tredje raka konstruktörsmästerskap trots att flera rallyn återstår. Deras försprång är så stort att varken Ogier/Ingrassia eller Volkswagen kan hotas under den sista fjärdedelen av säsongen.

Volkswagen skriver historia
Ett fantastiskt resultat, passionerade firanden och starka känslor. Att framgångsrikt ha försvarat WRC-titlarna redan efter tre fjärdedelar av säsongen innebär att Volkswagen än en gång skrivit rallyhistoria, och teamets framgångar firades stilenligt i Australien. Ingen annan tillverkare har lyckats ta hem alla tre WRC-titlarna så tidigt på säsongen.
Volkswagens förare har vunnit nio av tio rallyn hittills i år. Antingen har Sébastien Ogier eller Jari-Matti Latvala tagit hem segern i Monte Carlo, Sverige, Mexiko, Portugal, Italien, Polen, Finland, Tyskland och Australien. Efter tio rallyn har Polo R WRC nått pallplats 19 gånger, också tack vare Anderas Mikkelsens resultat.

Volkswagens framgångssaga fortsätter
För tredje gången i rad går alla titlarna i FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) till Wolfsburg. När Volkswagens WRC rallybil debuterade 2013 var det många som förvånades över att märket vann mästerskapstitlarna för förare, co-drivers och konstruktörer vid första försöket. 2014 försvarade Ogier, Ingrassia och Volkswagen framgångsrikt sina titlar. Och med andra generationen Polo R WRC fortsätter framgångssagan år 2015. Före Volkswagen har bara fyra tillverkare lyckats vinna konstruktörsmästerskapet tre år i rad, Lancia, Subaru, Peugeot och Volkswagens nuvarande rival, Citroën.

Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia gick ut på de avslutande 68 kilometrarna av Rally Australia bara två billängder före Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL, Citroën), som låg tvåa. Under dagens avslutande fem specialsträckor ökade de på ledningen till 32,6 sekunder. Deras lagkamrater Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila startade på söndagen 2,6 sekunder efter ledaren men kom slutligen in 12,3 sekunder efter Ogier/Ingrassia.

Mikkelsen/Fløene blev lottlösa efter sin imponerande återkomst. Liksom Latvala/Anttila höll de Kris Meeke och Paul Nagle utanför pallplatsen hela vägen till den avslutande dagens sista sträckor. Till slut fick de nöja sig med fjärde plats. En sen ankomst till en tidskontroll gav det norska paret tio sekunders tillägg. I mål var de bara 5,9 sekunder från sin sjunde pallplats för säsongen och slutade som fyra efter Meeke/Nagle.

Polo R WRC mest framgångsrik i WRC-historien
31 vinster på 36 rallyn - med en vinstandel på 86 procent är Volkswagen Polo med marginal den mest framgångsrika bilmodellen i WRC-historien, före sådana legendariska bilar som Lancia Stratos och Delta, Audi Quattro, Ford Focus, Peugeot 206 och Subaru Impreza. Volkswagen har också nått fler milstolpar med Polo R WRC. Sedan januari 2013 har den vunnit 467 av 668 möjliga specialsträckor. 2013 och 2014 vann Polo tolv rallyn i rad över två säsongen och satte ett WRC-rekord för den längsta segersviten i seriens historia. Med 2014 års tolv segrar slog Volkswagen rekord över antal vunna segrar på en säsong, ett rekord som bara Volkswagen själv kan tangera 2015.

Grädden på moset
I Power Stage får de tre snabbaste extrapoäng. I Australien gick alla bounspoängen till Volkswagens förare och kartläsare. Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia klockades för den snabbaste tiden, före lagkamraterna Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila och Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene. Det var 61:a, 62:a och 63:e gången på 30 möjliga tillfällen som Volkswagen tagit bonuspoäng i Power Stage.

Citat efter Rally Australia
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
- Det är en fantastisk känsla att vara världsmästare igen! Jag är överlycklig. Den första WRC-titeln är naturligtvis ganska speciell men känslorna är överväldigande varje gång. Det var en oerhört intensiv kamp här i Australien. Eftersom gapet till Kris och Jari-Matti var så litet hela helgen, hade jag ingen tid till att tänka på titeln. Även idag hade jag bara en inställning; full fart hela tiden. Just nu är jag bara lycklig över att Julien och jag vann vår tredje titel tack vare en seger. Det kommer troligen att ta ett tag att förstå vad vi åstadkommit tillsammans med vårt fantatiska team under tre år. Att vi också vann konstruktörsmästerskapet för Volkswagen är naturligtvis grädde på moset.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
-Att vinna alla tre titlarna här gör det här till en fantastisk dag för Volkswagens team. Jag är verkligen lycklig över att ha gjort min del för den här stora framgången. Jag försökte allt idag och vi fortsatte att pressa på ända till sista sträckan, även med en krossad vindruta. Tyvärr räckte det inte utan jag får nöja mig med andraplatsen idag. Å andra sidan har jag ökat på försprånget till tredjeplatsen i sammandraget. Grattis till min teamkollega Sébastien Ogier. Han vann välförtjänt och han är en värdig världsmästare.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
- Jag är helt nöjd med vår prestation och det var ett riktigt bra rally. Vi gjorde vårt bästa från start - till slut fick vi nöja oss med fjärde plats. Sett till hur vi körde kunde vi ha slutat som trea eftersom vi tog in mer än de 8,8 sekunder vi hade till Kris Meeke inför de sista 70 kilometrarna. Men vi fick ett tio sekunders tidstillägg för att efter att ha checkat in för sent till servicen på söndag. Det var för mycket för att kunna köra in även om vi gjorde ett bra försök. Det är synd att vi missade vår sjunde pallplats för säsongen med bara 5,9 sekunder - men vi har stärkt vår tredjeplats i mästerskapet. Om vi ser tillbaka är jag i huvudsak nöjd med Rally Australia och jag ser fram emot de återstående tävlingarna i Frankrike, Spanien och Storbrittanien.

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
-Vilket fantastiskt rally. Vilket drömresultat. Och vilken framgång att ha säkrat alla tre titlarna så tidigt på säsongen. Volkswagen-teamet överträffade sig självt idag. Våra förare och kartläsare fick ge allt för att komma på pallen här i Australien. Och liksom teamet bakom dem gjorde de ett felfritt jobb. Man kan inte vara mer nöjd med hela teamet än jag är idag. Det är alltid svårare att försvara en titel än att vinna den för första gången. Att försvara den en andra gång är en ännu större utmaning. Det faktum att våra mekaniker, tekniker, förare, kartläsare, tränare och läkare, chefer och organisatörer än en gång nått enastående resultat och säkrat WRC-titlarna tidigare på säsongen än någonsin visar vilket enastående team vi har. Alla, utan undantag, är extremt motiverade och ingen tar framgången för given. Men vi vet verkligen hur man ska fira - och det visar vi idag.

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Australia – resultatet
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 2t 59m 16.4s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 12.3s
3. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën + 32.6s
4. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen + 38.5s
5. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai + 55.1s
6. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford + 1m 38.0s
7. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai + 2m 08.3s
8. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai + 2m 15.2s
9. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB), Ford + 4m 33.7s
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (Q/F), Ford + 11m 46.5s

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Australia – resultat i Power Stage
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 5m 11.2s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 1.1s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen + 1.9s

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), ställningen
Förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 235
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 134
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 111
4. Mads Østberg 90
5. Thierry Neuville 86
6. Kris Meeke 71
7. Elfyn Evans 63
8. Ott Tänak 62
9. Hayden Paddon 56
10. Dani Sordo 56

Konstruktörsmästerskapet poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 343
2. Hyundai Motorsport 177
3. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 164
4. M-Sport 148
5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 76
6. Hyundai Motorsport N 49
7. Jipocar Czech National Team 43
8. FWRT 9
15-09-13 Australia win seals Ogier’s title
Sébastien Ogier claimed his third consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title with victory at Coates Hire Rally Australia on Sunday.

His seventh win of the season enabled the Frenchman to enter an exclusive club of multiple title winners. He joins Sébastien Loeb (nine), Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Mäkinen (four each) as the only drivers with more than two titles to their name.

Ogier won the final seven speed tests of the three-day gravel road event in New South Wales to climb from fourth to first and defeat Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by 12.3sec. Kris Meeke finished third, a further 20.3sec behind.

“It’s an amazing season, the best I’ve ever done. No mistakes, so many great performances and this one is once again a very high one. It’s the most difficult rally to open the road and still we managed to win. It’s the perfect way to get my third title,” he said.

Ogier had the worst conditions of the frontrunners for the opening two days, sweeping gravel from the roads to leave a cleaner and faster line for those behind. But he snatched the lead from Meeke in Saturday’s night stage and was unmatched through Sunday’s five tests.

Volkswagen’s 1-2 secured a third manufacturers’ crown for the German squad, but there was a late scare for Latvala as he finished the penultimate stage with an alternator warning light flashing in the cockpit. He fitted a new belt to clinch the runners-up spot.

Meeke admitted he had no answer to the pace of the Polo Rs on Sunday. Having started just three-tenths of a second behind Ogier courtesy of better road conditions in the opening two legs, he quickly fell back and looked set to concede third to Andreas Mikkelsen.

However, Mikkelsen checked in to Sunday’s mid-leg service late and a 10sec penalty gave Meeke the breathing space he needed in Citroën’s DS 3. He eventually finished 5.9sec ahead of the Norwegian to end a depressing sequence of results.

New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon finished fifth in a Hyundai i20 to the delight of his army of fans who journeyed across the Tasman Sea to cheer him on. He was 16.5sec behind Mikkelsen after briefly flirting with the lead battle on Saturday morning.

Ott Tänak was sixth, despite a noisy transmission in his Ford Fiesta RS, heading Hyundai duo Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo in seventh and eighth. Sordo led for the first three stages on Friday before brake problems delayed the Spaniard.

Elfyn Evans struggled for confidence throughout and ended a disappointing weekend in ninth in his Fiesta RS, with WRC 2 winner Nasser Al-Attiyah 10th.

The championship returns to asphalt for round 11 next month. The Tour de Corse Rallye de France is based in Corte on 1 - 4 October.

Read 'Ogier on the top of the word ... again' on redbull.com
For Full Results, click Here.

15-09-13 A deserved podium finish for Kris Meeke
Day 3– Leaders for almost half of Rally Australia, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle finished third overall in their DS 3 WRC. Last-minute replacements for Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson, who had been forced to withdraw after an accident in recce, Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot made it to the end and scored a point for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. The next round sees the World Rally Championship return to Corsica on 1-4 October!

Second overall this morning, just 0.3 seconds behind Sébastien Ogier, Kris Meeke was involved in a four-way battle at the front. With five stages to go, there were only 9.1 seconds between the top four.

The running order was changed for the short final leg. Kris Meeke continued to set a strong pace from the opening kilometres. Although he was unable to hold off Jari-Matti Latvala, the Northern Irishman defended his third place to finish ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen. After just missing out on a podium at Rally Australia in 2014, Kris Meeke made sure of a top-three result this year.

Second on the road today, Stéphane Lefebvre acquired more experience in his first competitive outing on gravel in the DS 3 WRC. Having taken advantage of the first loop to check his pace notes, he was quicker on the second pass and managed to finish thirteenth overall, claiming one manufacturers’ championship point in the process.

The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team now heads back to Europe for the eleventh round of the season. In France, the DS 3 WRCs are set to contest the Tour de Corse for the first time. The last four occasions the rally featured in the WRC, between 2005 and 2008, it was won by Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena in the Citroën Xsara WRC and Citroën C4 WRC.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Kris Meeke:
“We achieved the first target which was to make it to the finish and be consistent. I would point out that we led the rally for almost two days. I think we did a very good job and we couldn’t really have expected to do much more on the final leg. We have to keep working hard.”

Stéphane Lefebvre:
“I hadn’t expected to be competing here. We came to Australia only to take part in recce and we ended up lining up at the start. Nothing was easy, but we had to adapt quickly. I have gained a lot of experience here. My aim had been to gradually reduce the gap to the leading guys, but we have to do more work on our pace notes in order to improve.”

Marek Nawarecki (Deputy Team Principal):
“We knew that Kris could be very competitive in Australia. He got the best out of the car, the conditions and his strategy. He was able to grab the lead in the early stages of the rally and defended his podium spot right to the end. Obviously, we’re sorry that Mads was injured during recce. We hope he will recover quickly, in time to take part in pre-event testing for the Tour de Corse. He was replaced here by Stéphane Lefebvre, for whom everything was new. He drove a DS 3 WRC on gravel for the first time. Given the conditions, his performance were significant. He gained experience and scored an important point for the manufacturers’ championship.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS13 – Bucca Long 1 (21.95km) – Stage win for Sébastien Ogier who extended his overall lead. Second quickest, Jari-Matti Latvala moved ahead of Kris Meeke, who set the fourth fastest time. Second on the road, Stéphane Lefebvre grabbed 13th place overall.

SS14 – Wedding Bells 1 (9.23km) – Sébastien Ogier went fastest again, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. Kris Meeke set the fifth fastest time and found himself under pressure from the Norwegian. Stéphane Lefebvre set the tenth fastest time.

SS15 – Settles Rd (6.40km) – Ahead of the midday service, Sébastien Ogier stretched his overall lead to 7.3 seconds. In the fight for third, Kris Meeke defended his position but his advantage was cut to 4.2 seconds. Stéphane Lefebvre set the tenth fastest time again.

SS16 – Bucca Long 2 (21.95km) – While Sébastien Ogier continued to extend his lead, Andreas Mikkelsen was given a penalty for arriving late at the time control. Kris Meeke took advantage to increase his lead a little and was therefore able to adopt a more conservative approach in the final test.

SS17 – Wedding Bells 2 (Power Stage) (9.23km) – Sébastien Ogier won the Power Stage, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. At the finish, Ogier won the rally, ahead of Latvala and Kris Meeke. Sébastien Ogier’s win means he can no longer be caught in the Drivers’ World Championship standings. Stéphane Lefebvre ended the rally in thirteenth position.

FINAL PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:59:16.4
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +12.3
3. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +32.6
4. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +38.5
5. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +55.0
6. Ott Tänak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:38.0
7. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:08.3
8. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:15.2
9. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:33.7
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumer (Ford Fiesta RRC) +11:46.5…
13. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +16:10.4

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier, 8 – Jari-Matti Latvala and Dani Sordo, 3 – Hayden Paddon, 2 – Kris Meeke, 1.

LEADERS
SS1 to SS3: Dani Sordo
SS4 to SS7: Kris Meeke
SS8: Jari-Matti Latvala
SS9 to SS11: Kris Meeke
SS12 to SS17 (finish): Sébastien Ogier

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Sébastien Ogier 235 points
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 134 pts
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 111 pts
4. Mads Østberg 90 pts
5. Thierry Neuville 86 pts
6. Kris Meeke 71 pts
7. Elfyn Evans 63 pts
8. Ott Tänak 62 pts
12. Khalid Al-Qassimi 9 pts
28. Stéphane Lefebvre 1 pt

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1.Volkswagen Motorsport 343 pts
2.Hyundai Shell WRT 177 pts
3.Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 164 pts
4.M-Sport WRT 148 pts…
15-09-13 Tänak proves potential down under
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak showed his potential at this weekend’s Rally Australia. The Estonian finished in sixth place – an impressive feat on what was his first taste of the Australian stages with M-Sport’s top-specification Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

Getting to grips with the nature of the region’s unique roads, Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder came into their own through yesterday’s speed tests.

Out performing a number of their more experienced rivals, they secured a third fastest time on SS9 followed by a second fastest time on SS10 – just 0.6 seconds adrift of the stage victory.

Considering that his only previous experience of these distinct stages came at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R5, his pace was highly encouraging – underlining the performance of the Ecoboost-powered Fiesta and firmly stating his speed potential.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC however, Elfyn Evans simply could not get to grips with the nature of the Australian roads. The Welshman struggled for confidence all weekend and the pace he was able to extract from the unfamiliar terrain was far from what his talent deserved.

Gradually improving their pace as the event went on, he and co-driver Daniel Barritt were able to make some inroads, but with little to fight for this is an event they’ll be keen to forget.

As the FIA World Rally Championship returns to asphalt next month, the Brits will be keen to turn their season around with a positive result on the notorious Tour de Course.

Elsewhere in the WRC 2 category, M-Sport cars completely dominated the time sheets which resulted in a podium lock-out for the Ford Fiesta RRC.

Following an intense battle for victory, Nasser Al-Attiyah claimed the spoils 13.5 seconds ahead of Yurii Protasov who suffered a 10 second penalty for a jump start on SS15. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari rounded off the top-three in third place.

Ott Tänak (6th) said:
“It’s been a really tough rally. This was my first experience of these stages with a world rally car so there was a lot to discover. We made a lot of changes to the notes and it was good to see that the speed was still good enough to set some competitive stage times.

“With the experience we have, it was very hard to follow the top crews but we have learnt a lot and I am sure that we will be able to compete at the highest level in the future.”

Elfyn Evans (9th) said:
“It’s been a really tough rally for us. We managed to make some small inroads throughout the weekend, but we still weren’t where we wanted to be. It’s important that we go back to the office and work out what was wrong so that we can ensure that we don’t have another rally like this for a very long time!

“Now, my mind is firmly fixed on Corsica where I hope that we can rebuild our confidence and start to show the speed we know we are capable of.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We have seen some encouraging performances from Ott [Tänak] this weekend. Considering that he has never driven these stages with a world rally car, the times that he was able to set clearly show that the potential is there.

“Obviously this is a rally that Elfyn [Evans] will want to forget, but we need to understand why he wasn’t able to compete at the level we all know he is capable of. We’ll analyse all of the data when we get back to the UK and I know that he’ll already be focussing on Corsica.

“In the WRC 2 category it is fantastic to see the Ford Fiesta dominating once again and I must say congratulations to Nasser [Al-Attiyah], Yurii [Protasov] and Abdulaziz [Al-Kuwari] for their podium results.

“We saw a fantastic battle between Nasser and Yurii today, and this result has seen Nasser extend his lead at the head of the WRC 2 standings.”

ADDITIONAL M-SPORT DRIVERS
Yurii Protasov (2nd WRC 2) said:
“It’s been a really good rally for us and I’m very happy. We had a great battle with Nasser [Al-Attiyah] and we were able to drive 100 percent all weekend.

“We’ve gained a lot of experience and I need to thank the team and Pavlo [Cherepin, co-driver] for the great work they’ve done.

“We had one small mistake with a jump start on SS15, but I don’t think it would have been enough to take the victory away from Nasser and I am very happy with this result.”

Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (3rd WRC 2) said:
“It’s been a very good rally and I am very happy to have finished on the podium here in Australia. We had good pace on most of the stages. We lost a bit of time on the long one, but in general the speed has been good and a big improvement on the start of the season.

“The whole team have done a very good job and of course I must thank the sponsors and also Marshall [Clarke, co-driver]. Now we are third in the championship and I am very happy with that.”


15-09-13 Misset pallen etter tidsstraff
Tidsstraff på 10 sekunder frarøvet Andreas Mikkelsen en plass på seierspallen under Rally Australia. Med fjerdeplass befestet han likevel tredjeplassen i VM-sammendraget, samtidig som teamkamerat Sebastien Ogier sikret seg VM-gull selv om tre runder gjenstår.

Før siste dag hadde Andreas Mikkelsen et håp om å kjempe om seieren. Kun 9,1 sekunder skilte han og Ogier som ledet før siste dag. Men franskmannen viste hvorfor han er verdens beste rallyfører og vant årets tiende VM-runde, og sikret seg med det også sitt tredje strake VM-gull.
– Det er bare å gratulere Seb (Ogier) med både seier i Australia og ikke minst med å ha blitt verdensmester igjen, sier Andreas om teamkameraten i Volkswagen Motorsport.

Selv er han fornøyd med VM-runden ”down under”. På de avsluttende etappene viste det seg at kampen om den siste pallplassen skulle stå mellom nordmannen og briten Kris Meeke. Meeke hadde et forsprang på nesten ni sekunder da dagen startet, men Andreas og kartleser Ola Fløene nærmet seg sekund for sekund. De kjørte raskere enn briten, men dessverre fikk de en tidsstraff på 10 sekunder for å ha kommet for sent inn til service. Det var avgjørende for at Meeke sikret seg tredjeplassen bak Ogier og Jari-Matti Latvala, mens Andreas kom på fjerdeplass. Inkludert tidsstraffen var det bare snaut seks sekunder som skilte Andreas og Ola fra nok en pallplass.
– Jeg er fornøyd med løpet. Jeg tror kanskje dette er ett av vårt beste løp noensinne. Vi gjorde ingen store feil, og holdt hele tiden et høyt tempo. Fjerdeplass er riktignok ikke det vi kom hit for, og jeg legger ikke skjul på at det er veldig frustrerende med en tidsstraff på 10 sekunder. Men vi fortsatte å kjempe helt til siste etappe, og fikk heldigvis med oss et ekstra VM-poeng ved å bli nummer tre på den avsluttende Power Stage-etappen, sier han.

Rally Australia 2015
1 Sebastien Ogier
2 Jari-Matti Latvala +12,3
3 Kris Meeke +32,6
4 ANDREAS MIKKELSEN +38,5
5 H. Paddon +55,0
6 O. Tanak +1.38,0

VM-sammenlagt etter 10 av 13 VM-runder
1 Ogier (VW) 235 poeng
2 Latvala (VW) 134
3 Mikkelsen (VW) 111
4 Østberg (Citroen) 90
5 Neuville (Hyundai) 86
6 Meeke (Citroen) 71
7 Evans (Ford) 63
8 Tänak (Ford) 62
9 Paddon (Hyundai) 56
10 Sordo (Hyundai) 56
15-09-12 Kris Meeke in the mix at the finish!
After leading the rally until sunset and holding off their rivals in the dark and the dust, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle are on course to secure a great result in Australia. The Ulsterman lies second overnight in his DS 3 WRC, just 0.3 seconds behind the leader! Faced with the unenviable task of being first on the road today, Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot once again added to their experience in the second Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team car.

Leader of Rally Australia on Friday afternoon, Kris Meeke had relinquished first place to Jari-Matti Latvala on the final stage of the opening day… and history more or less repeated itself today. The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver once again grabbed the overall lead following Saturday’s first stage.

On the 50.80 kilometre-long Nambucca, Kris Meeke had moved back into the lead by finishing 4.6 seconds ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, even though the choice of soft compound Michelin tyres may not have been ideal. On Valla, and then the second pass on Nambucca, the Northern Irishman held onto his position as he contained the fightback of Sébastien Ogier.

However, on the leg’s final test, held after dark, Kris Meeke was hampered by the dust as he was seventh to complete the stage. And whilst the first three to set off improved their times compared with the first run, all the other crews lost several seconds due to the impaired visibility.

At the end of day two, Kris Meeke holds second place overall, just 0.3 seconds behind the leader Sébastien Ogier. The top four cars ended the leg with just 9.1 seconds between them.

Back in action after having missed the final few kilometres of SS8, Stéphane Lefebvre produced a flawless performance today. First on the road, he continued to learn about rallying at this level with the DS 3 WRC in very difficult conditions. This evening, he lies fourteenth overall.

Tomorrow’s final leg is due to get underway at 7.10am (UTC+10). The final sprint for the tape will feature a first loop of three stages before a service and two final stages at 11.42am (Bucca Long/21.95km) and 1.08pm, the latter being the televised Power Stage (Wedding Bells/9.23km). The podium ceremony will be held from 3pm.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Kris Meeke: “After two days’ racing, we are 0.3 seconds behind the leader. To be honest, we made a mistake when we opted to go with soft tyres this morning. I’m still very pleased with my second loop and the good time we set on the long stage. I’m going to do my best tomorrow, although I know it will be difficult.”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “Well, that was a new experience! As we were first on the road, the stages were very slippery. This morning, the grip was consistent. I was able to get used to the conditions and adapt my driving style. On the second pass, the grip was constantly changing. I had a few hairy moments, which weren‘t due to me being overly optimistic, I was just trying to manage the differences in road surface. It wasn’t easy but I’m pleased with how my day went.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS9 – Nambucca 1 (50.80km) – Having rejoined under Rally2 rules, Stéphane Lefebvre was first on the road this morning. He continued on his learning curve as he carved out the line. Hayden Paddon, who was tenth in the running order, won the stage ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, Ott Tänak and Kris Meeke. Kris thus reclaimed the overall lead. Lorenzo Bertelli stopped due to a mechanical problem.

SS10 – Valla 1 (7.94km) – Another stage win for Hayden Paddon, ahead of Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala. Half-way through the day, Kris Meeke remained the overall leader, 2.3 seconds ahead of Latvala and 3.9 seconds clear of Ogier. Stéphane Lefebvre recorded the tenth fastest time.

SS11 – Nambucca 2 (50.80km) – On the second run on the rally’s longest stage, Sébastien Ogier went fastest, just ahead of Kris Meeke and Andreas Mikkelsen. The top four in the overall standings were all bunched together, with only 7.1 seconds between them. Stéphane Lefebvre fought back up to fourteenth place.

SS12 – Valla 2 (7.94km) – The Stewards allowed five-minute intervals between each crew to let the dust settle between each run. The first three to tackle the stage improved on their time from the morning pass. From Andreas Mikkelsen onwards, the conditions became more difficult and each driver lost time. With the stage win, Sébastien Ogier became the new overall leader, ahead of Kris Meeke. Stéphane Lefebvre set the eighth fastest time.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:20:51.8
2. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +0.3
3. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +2.6
4. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +9.1
5. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +19.4
6. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +39.1
7. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:03.9
8. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:10.2
9. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:15.1
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumer (Ford Fiesta RRC) +8:30.4…
14. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +14:09.2

FASTEST TIMES
Jari-Matti Latvala, Dani Sordo and Sébastien Ogier, 3 – Hayden Paddon, 2 – Kris Meeke, 1.

LEADERS
SS1 to SS3: Dani Sordo
SS4 to SS7: Kris Meeke
SS8: Jari-Matti Latvala
SS9 to SS11: Kris Meeke
SS12: Sébastien Ogier
15-09-12 Tänak climps as Fiesta dominates WRC 2
Ott Tänak propelled his M-Sport World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC to sixth position on the second day of Rally Australia; as the Ford Fiesta RRC continued to dominate WRC 2.

Despite this being Tänak’s first, full-speed encounter with the Australian stages, he showed some highly encouraging pace to prove how competitive he and the Ecoboost-powered Fiesta can be.

Making the most of their advantageous road position through the first pass of Nambucca (SS9), he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder set the third fastest time to jump two places in the standings. The best was yet to come however, and the Estonians posted the second fastest time through the following speed test (SS10) – just 0.6 seconds adrift of a stage win.

As the conditions evened for the second pass, Tänak was still competitive – outshining a number of his more experienced rivals with a string of competitive stage times.

Were it not for a stall and a spin on the first day of competition, Tänak would have been in the mix for the podium positions – an impressive feat considering that his only previous experience of this event came at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R5 last year.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Elfyn Evans continued to struggle. The Welshman was able to improve on yesterday’s pace but remained out of his comfort zone on Australia’s unique stages – his times far from what his talent deserved.

He and co-driver Daniel Barritt ended the day in ninth position and made some further set-up changes to try and recover the confidence they have been lacking ahead of tomorrow’s final speed tests.

Elsewhere, M-Sport cars continued to dominate the WRC 2 category with the top-three drivers all behind the wheel of a Fiesta RRC.

Privateer Nasser Al-Attiyah led the way with a healthy 50 second lead going into the first stage, but Yurii Protasov slashed that to less than 15 seconds by the end of the day; with Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari holding the final podium position in third.

As the two championship contenders head into tomorrow’s final stages, fans can expect an epic battle with both drivers hungry for victory.

Ott Tänak (6th) said:

“It’s been a good day for us, and quite a big improvement from yesterday when we were struggling quite a lot. We managed to improve and have really enjoyed the driving – the long one [SS9 and SS11] in particular was great fun with some really nice fast sections.

“Tomorrow we will go flat-out. There’s only 20 seconds ahead of us, and 25 seconds behind, so we need to keep pushing. With some proper Rally Australia stages left to run it will be a tricky day and important to keep focused, but it could be really interesting so let’s see what happens.”

Elfyn Evans (9th) said:

“The feeling’s still not been 100 percent and we still haven’t been where we want to be. For sure the times have been a bit better as a whole, but that doesn’t mean to say that we’re happy with the position we’re in and we still have some work to do.

“We’ll try some new things with the set-up tonight and see if we can make any in roads. With such massive gaps ahead and behind we might as well use the rest of the event as a bit of a test to see if we can improve for the future.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“It’s been a much better day for us. Ott [Tänak] has shown some really good pace with a third and second fastest time which was encouraging for the team and shows how competitive he and the car can be.

“Elfyn [Evans] managed to improve a little this morning but he also had two massive moments which makes it all the more difficult to regain the confidence he’s lacking.

“We have a lot of work to do when we get back to the office to try and understand why he hasn’t been able to show the pace we know he’s capable of. But first, it’s important to leave here with his confidence on the up.

“We’ll try a few different things with the set-up this evening and hopefully that will give him the feeling he needs to be closer to where we all know he should and can be.

“In the WRC 2 category however, the Fiesta is totally dominating once again with some impressive performances from a number of drivers.

“There’s a great battle at the head of the field as Nasser [Al-Attiyah] and Yurii [Protasov] are separated by less than 15 seconds. Knowing how fiercely competitive those two are, I think we’re in for a great battle through tomorrow’s final stages.”

ADDITIONAL M-SPORT DRIVERS
Yurii Protasov (2nd WRC 2) said:

“It’s been a really strong day for us and we’ve given nothing but 100 percent. I’ve really enjoyed the stages and we’ve had a lot of fun driving. I like tomorrow’s stages too so let’s wait and see what we can do there. I do not want to say that I’ll push for the win right now, but let’s see what happens.”

Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (3rd WRC 2) said:

“It’s been a very good day for us. We’ve had good speed in some stages but also a couple of small mistakes so we have to improve on that. Tomorrow we aim to have a smooth run with no mistakes to bring home this podium.”


15-09-12 Mikkelsen med i seierskampen
Rally Australia ligger an til å bli årets mest spennende VM-runde. Før siste dag, er det kun 9,1 sekunder som skiller de fire førerne i tet – og Andreas Mikkelsen er en av dem.

Før helgens VM-runde uttalte Andreas Mikkelsen at han hadde tro på at han kunne vinne sin første VM-runde i karrieren i Australia. Og den norske Volkswagen Motorsport-føreren har fortsatt sine ord i behold. For før de siste fem fartsetappene ligger han på fjerdeplass, kun 9,1 sekunder bak teamkamerat Sebastien Ogier som leder.
– Jeg startet dagen 12,9 sekunder bak lederen, og har nærmet meg med noen små sekunder i løpet av dagen. Planen før de siste etappene er klar. Det er kun flat out som gjelder, og slik er det vel for alle fire i teten, sier Andreas Mikkelsen.

Rally Australia har base i Coffs Harbour, som ligger åtte timer foran Norge. I natt, norsk tid, ble to etapper kjørt to ganger, blant annet enn 50 kilometer lang etappe.
– Å kjøre en så lang etappe byr på både utfordringer og muligheter. Du har sjansen til å gjøre det bra, men samtidig er det fort gjort å tape mye tid på en så lang etappe, sier Andreas, som var nest raskest første gang etappen ble kjørt, og tredje raskest da etappen ble kjørt senere på dagen.

Selv om dagen ikke har vært perfekt, er han likevel fornøyd med å ha nærmet seg lederen og at seiershåpet lever i høyeste grad.
– Dagen har vært ganske bra, og vi har knappet inn tid til teten. Andre gjennomkjøringa var spesielt bra, selv om vi har hatt mye støv og dårlig sikt. Innimellom var det som å se i en vegg. Selv om jeg er fornøyd, kan jeg ikke si at det har vært en perfekt dag. Jeg har konsentrert meg om tetkampen, og henge med der. Det har jeg lykkes med, understreker han.

Det norske rallyesset ser frem til de avsluttende etappene, og vet at mye kan skje når fire førere gjør alt for å vinne.
– Det er utrolig jevnt i toppen, og det tror jeg alle vi fire i teten føler på. Planen for morgendagen er å holde meg i seierskampen. Og da er det bare full gass som gjelder. Så får vi se hvor langt det rekker, sier han.

Resultat totalt dag 2 Rally Australia
1.Sebastien Ogier
2.Kris Meeke +0,3
3.Jari-Matti Latvala +2,6
4.ANDREAS MIKKELSEN +9,1
5.H. Paddon +19,4
6.O. Tanak +39,1
7.T. Neuville +1.03,9
8.D. Sordo +1.10,2
9.E. Evans +3.15,1
10.S. Lefebvre +14.09,2
Elfyn Evans (9th) said:
“The feeling was a bit better today. I felt I could commit a lot more in the first half of the long one [SS9] but we struggled to get back into the rhythm after the twisty section. The car was moving around quite a lot, but overall it was a better feeling for sure. We need to keep that up this afternoon and see if we can find some further improvements.”
15-09-12 Midday quotes Rally Australia, seciton five
“It’s been a good morning for us with a third and second fastest time. It was difficult to be 100 percent confident as I have never driven these stages at high speed and there were quite a few surprises along the way!

“We’ve made quite a lot of changes in the notes to improve that, and we’re feeling good for the afternoon loop. The changes that we made to the car last night have really improved the handling and I’m feeling a lot more confident.”

15-09-11 Kris Meeke tow swconds off the pace
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle ended day one of Rally Australia in second position in their DS 3 WRC, just two seconds behind the overall leader. Ninth at the start of the final stage of the day, their team-mates in the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot had to retire for the day in the final few kilometres after hitting a rock. They will rejoin the rally tomorrow.

The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team started Rally Australia with a somewhat altered line-up. After an accident during recce for the event, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson were already on their way back to Europe yesterday, so Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot were tasked with driving their number 4 DS 3 WRC. Originally in Australia only to take part in recce, the two Stéphanes seized the opportunity to support Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle.

Despite a few overnight showers in the area, the roads were dry by this morning. During a series of three brand new tests, Kris Meeke established himself in the top three. He then won the longest stage of the morning (SS4, Newry Long), meaning that he headed for midday service as the overall leader.

In the afternoon, the conditions changed. With the racing lines partially swept clear of dust, Kris had to defend his position as the earlier starters began to make up ground. Overall leader ahead of the day’s final stage, he ended the leg in second overall, just two seconds behind Jari-Matti Latvala after having been held up by the hanging dust on his run.

Three weeks after making his competitive debut in the DS 3 WRC at Rallye Deutschland, Stéphane Lefebvre discovered an entirely different setting this morning as he tackled gravel stages for the first time. With his experience of the surface limited to 25 kilometres during shakedown, the young Frenchman gradually found his bearings, first of all with soft tyres and then on the hard compound. Ninth overall at the start of the day’s final test, he hit a rock and was forced to retire just a few kilometres short of the end of the stage. The number 4 DS 3 WRC will rejoin the rally on Saturday and will be first on the road.

Tomorrow’s leg only features four stages. The cars are due to leave parc ferme at 8.40am (GMT+10) as they set off for Nambucca. The rally’s longest stage (50.80km) will get underway at 10.18am, before the crews then tackle Valla (7.94km) which will be broadcast live on television. Following a thirty-minute service, the stages will be repeated in the afternoon, the second run on Valla being held after nightfall, at 6.10pm. The cars are due back in Coffs Harbour 7.30pm.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Kris Meeke: “I’m pleased with my day. We took advantage of our starting position this morning to make a good start to the rally. We lost first place on the final stage of the day, but I couldn’t do much more to defend the position, given the dust clouds that reduced our visibility. There will be more sweeping tomorrow. We’ll see how the rally goes, bearing in mind that the most important thing is to make it to the finish and be consistent. If the opportunity presents itself, then we’ll try to fight for the win.”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “I have really enjoyed driving the DS 3 WRC on these roads. I’m perhaps not very quick as yet, but I’m learning. We weren’t expecting to be as competitive in the first three stages. The conditions undoubtedly helped us, but we had never driven the DS 3 WRC competitively on gravel. This afternoon, we tried to improve. Unfortunately, we broke a ball-joint on the suspension wishbone when he hit a rock on the final stage. We’ll be able to rejoin tomorrow, but we’ll be first on the road. So that’s something else we’ll have to tackle for the first time!”

Marek Nawarecki (Deputy Team Principal): “Kris Meeke made a very good start to the race in the DS 3 WRC. For his first day in the DS 3 WRC on gravel, Stéphane Lefebvre was able to see how the two types of tyres handle differently. He learned a lot and it’s important that he keeps going tomorrow so he can acquire more experience for the future.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS1 – Utungun 1 (7.88km) – Dani Sordo grabbed the early overall lead after winning the opening stage. He finished less than a second ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen and Ott Tänak. Kris Meeke was fifth fastest and Stéphane Lefebvre was seventh on his first gravel stage in the DS 3 WRC.

SS2 – Bakers Creek 1 (16.75km) – Dani Sordo maintained his strong early pace to notch a second stage win, beating Hayden Paddon and Kris Meeke who also formed the new top three in the overall standings. Stéphane Lefebvre set the tenth fastest time.

SS3 – Northbank 1 (8.42km) – Dani Sordo made the most of the conditions to top the timesheets for a third consecutive stage, finishing ahead of Kris Meeke and Thierry Neuville. No change in the top three overall, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre scored another top ten finish.

SS4 – Newry Long 1 (29.51km) – Kris Meeke set the fastest time to become the new overall leader, ahead of Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon. Stéphane Lefebvre was ninth fastest ahead of the midday service.

SS5 – Utungun 2 (7.88km) – On the second run, Jari-Matti Latvala took advantage of different conditions to go fastest on Utungun, just ahead of Kris Meeke and Ott Tänak. Stéphane Lefebvre maintained his morning pace to grab ninth place.

SS6 – Bakers Creek 2 (16.75km) – Another stage win for Jari-Matti Latvala, ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke. Kris Meeke remained the overall leader and Stéphane Lefebvre held onto ninth position.

SS7 – Northbank 2 (8.42km) – Jari-Matti Latvala moved up into second place behind Kris Meeke as he topped the timesheets on Northbank. No change in position for Stéphane Lefebvre.

SS8 – Newry Long 2 (29.51km) – At the end of the day, dust tended to hang in the air over the road. First on the road, Sébastien Ogier set the fastest time, trailed by Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke. Latvala therefore snatched the overall lead, just 2.0 seconds ahead of Kris Meeke and 4.6 seconds clear of Sébastien Ogier. Stéphane Lefebvre stopped on the stage when he broke the front suspension after hitting a rock.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:15:29.1
2. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +2.0
3. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +4.6
4. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +12.9
5. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +15.9
6. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +25.5
7. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +37.2
8. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +40.2
9. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:21.8
10. Lorenzo Bertelli / Lorenzo Granai (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:37.9…
17. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +11:25.5

FASTEST TIMES
Jari-Matti Latvala and Dani Sordo, 3 – Kris Meeke and Sébastien Ogier, 1.

LEADERS
SS1 to SS3: Dani Sordo
SS4 to SS7: Kris Meeke
SS 8: Jari-Matti Latvala
15-09-11 Tough day for M-Sport down under
Despite a tough day’s rallying for the M-Sport World Rally Team, Ott Tänak was proving his potential with a number of encouraging times on what is his first taste of a world rally car on the Rally Australia stages.

Piloting an Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC, the Estonian proved that he and the car were capable of some impressive times. Despite their inexperience, he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder set the third fastest time through both passes of ‘Utungun’ (SS1 and SS5) – asserting their speed and underlining the Fiesta’s performance on gravel.

Unfortunately, a stall on SS4 followed by a spin on SS6 cost him vital seconds. Due to the sprint-like nature of the day’s stages, it was extremely difficult to claw back the time – something which was made all the more tricky as he was one of a number of drivers to report a strange feeling with the handling throughout the day’s extremely slippery closing stages.

The team changed the transmission on his Fiesta RS WRC, in an impressive 13 minutes, to ensure there were no potential problems and Tänak ended the day in eighth place – something he’ll be looking to improve as he gains experience of this unique event.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, the event did not start as Elfyn Evans had intended. Lacking feeling and confidence, the Welshman’s times were down on what his talent deserved and worse was to come.

Suffering a spin and hitting a bank through the first pass of ‘Newry Long’ (SS4), he picked up a left-rear puncture which cost him more than a minute to the leading pack.

The Welshman currently sits in ninth position and he’ll be looking to improve his pace as the event continues.

Ott Tänak (8th) said:
“Some stages have been quite good today but unfortunately we made a few little mistakes and I was struggling with the car for the last few stages this afternoon.

“We know what we need to do to improve and even though this is my first time here in a world rally car we still need to push hard.

“My target is higher than where we are at the moment so we want to climb higher. We know that we and the car have the potential to go faster, so we just have to go out there and prove it tomorrow.”

Elfyn Evans (9th) said:
“It’s fair to say that we have really struggled today. The spin and the puncture [on SS4] obviously didn’t help, but I’ve mainly been lacking the confidence and the feeling to drive like we know we can.

“If you have the confidence, then the times rocket up. Unfortunately it’s going in the opposite direction for us at the moment. I’m not 100 percent happy, that’s affecting the level of confidence and that’s affecting the times in turn.

“We just need to look at everything for tomorrow and try again. I know that I can be better than this so we need to go out there, give it all we’ve got, and see what happens.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We certainly expected a little bit more coming here. Elfyn [Evans] in particular has had an extremely tough day and he’s struggling to understand why he’s so off the pace of what we all know he’s capable of.

“He [Evans] really does carry the weight of the world on his shoulders and he’s so desperate to do well. As a team we just have to try and relax him for tomorrow so that he can go out there and enjoy his driving. If that happens, the times will come.

“Ott [Tänak]’s pace has been quite good and if you take away the few little set-backs he has had then he would certainly have been a lot higher up. He started well with a couple of third fastest times this morning but when you’re competing with the best here you can’t afford to make any mistakes.

“He’s quite confident for tomorrow and we’re going to make a few changes to the set-up which should hopefully see him being even more competitive.”


15-09-11 Mikkelsen med i tetkampen
Etter nattens etapper under Rally Australia, henger Andreas Mikkelsen med i tetkampen. Men det har vært en vanskelig åpningsdag av VM-runden ”down under”.

Etter de åtte første fartsetappene, ligger Andreas Mikkelsen og kartleser Ola Fløene på fjerdeplass, men avstanden er bare 12,9 sekunder frem til Jari-Matti Latvala som leder.
– Det har vært en dag hvor vi har jaktet godt feste i veien, samtidig som vi har vært nødt til å ta hensyn til dekkene og spare dem mest mulig. Enkelte steder hadde vi godt feste, mens andre steder hadde vi ikke det i det hele tatt. Under slike forhold er det vanskelig å finne en god rytme i kjøringen, forteller den norske Volkswagen Motorsport-føreren.

Som bil nummer tre på veien, bidro han til å vaske etappene for grus for førerne med senere startnummer.
– Det er ingen fordel, men jeg synes vi fikk noen gode tider da vi kjørte etappene før andre gang i dag. Dessverre var jeg litt for tøff med dekkene på asfaltseksjonen på den første etappen, og måtte svi litt for det. Men vi henger med i tetkampen, og alt i alt var det en bra dag selv om jeg ikke er helt fornøyd med den siste etappen. Da følte jeg at bilen ikke ville samarbeide, så det får mekanikerne se nærmere på, sier han.

Årets 10. VM-runde har base i Coffs Harbour i Australia, som ligger åtte timer foran Norge. Det betyr at de fleste etappene foregår om natten, norsk tid. Morgendagens etapper foregår i større grad i skogen, noe som er en fordel for bilene først i feltet. Da slipper de i langt mindre grad å vaske veiene for grus.
– Jeg liker dette løpet, og ser frem til fortsettelsen. Det kommer til å bli en spennende kamp om seieren, mener Andreas.

Sammenlagt etter første dag av Rally Australia
1.Jari-Matti Latvala
2.Kris Meeke +2,0
3.Sebastien Ogier +4,6
4.ANDREAS MIKKELSEN+12,9
5.D. Sordo +15,9
6.H. Paddon +25,5
7.T. Neuville +37,2
8.O. Tanak +40,2
9.E. Evans +2.21,8
15-09-11 Midday quotes Rally Australia, section two
Ott Tänak (7th) said:
“We were on different tyres to all of the other teams but it’s hard to say whether that was right or wrong. We know that we were struggling in places but also that everyone else was a little cautious about the wear so it’s difficult to say if one was markedly better than the other.

“We are here and the pace has been reasonably good so let’s see what we can do over the second loop. We’ve been trying to improve the notes all morning and we’ll make a few small changes to the car so hopefully we can push a bit more this afternoon.”

Elfyn Evans (10th) said:
“The feeling just wasn’t there this morning and we were struggling with overall confidence. We also had a puncture in the last one [SS4]. We had a spin and hit the bank which is most likely where we picked it up. It’s not been a great morning, but we’ll make some changes in service and see if we can turn it around.”
15-09-09 Third world title beckons for Ogier
Sébastien Ogier can secure his third consecutive world championship at Coates Hire Rally Australia (10 - 13 September) and join an exclusive club of drivers with three or more titles.

Only Sébastien Loeb (nine), Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Mäkinen (four each) have lifted the crown on three or more occasions, and Ogier’s sixth win of the season in Germany last month puts him within touching distance of joining them.

He leads Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by 93 points and if he finishes ahead of the Finn, no matter in what position, the title will be his. If Latvala wins, second and a bonus point from the Power Stage would be sufficient for Ogier with three rounds still to come.
“Now I have a real chance to get it. I have the cards in my hand to secure it in Australia and why not? It is a rally I really love, a very special event,” said Ogier, who began rally week with a visit to Sydney.

“As it is an overseas rally, there is a little less hustle and bustle. It’s a bit more intimate and I like that and the special stages are very nice to drive. I always have a lot of fun in the car here,” he added.

The Frenchman is the form driver in Australia, having won in 2013 and 2014, but must overcome the potential disadvantage of opening the roads on Friday and Saturday, sweeping slippery gravel from the roads.

Volkswagen starts Australia on the back of a 1-2-3 at its home round in Germany and the team can also secure its third straight manufacturers’ title.

“We obviously want to take the momentum our home win has given us to Australia, although the conditions will be completely different Down Under,” said motorsport director Jost Capito.

“We would like to wrap up all three titles (drivers’ co-drivers’ and manufacturers’) with rallies to come and we have a realistic chance of doing just that. We will have to do another perfect job in order to emerge successful,” he added.
15-09-09 Mads Østberg replaced by Stefane Lefebvre
Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson have had to pull out this year’s Rally Australia following an accident during recce for the event. •Initially in Australia to complete recce of the course, Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot have been chosen to step in as last-minute replacements in the no.4 DS 3 WRC. The Franco-Belgian crew has therefore been nominated to score points on behalf of Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team in the manufacturers’ championship.

Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson have never made such a bad start to a rally, after becoming involved in a road accident during the first day of recce. “We collided head on with a truck, which was also driving on the wrong side of the gravel road,” explained the Norwegian driver. “We simply couldn’t avoid it. Fortunately, the car’s safety features did their job.”

With two cracked ribs for Mads and extensive bruising for Jonas, the crew has nonetheless had to pull out of Rally Australia. “We tried to continue with recce, but it would be impossible for us to compete properly and safely in the rally. We have therefore pulled out on the grounds of force majeure. We’re very disappointed, because we believed we would be competitive and could fight to regain third place in the Drivers’ World Championship.”

Having flown out to Australia to take part in recce for the event as preparation for a future appearance here, Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot have been unsurprisingly chosen by Citroën Racing to take part in Rally Australia in the no.4 DS 3 WRC.

“First and foremost, the entire team is very disappointed for Mads and Jonas. They had the motivation and the potential to secure a very good result on this surface,” commented Marek Nawarecki, Deputy Team Principal, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. “When it became clear that they would have to pull out, we decided to maintain the entry of the no.4 DS 3 WRC, entrusting it to Stéphane Lefebvre et Stéphane Prévot. Without any pre-event preparation, we are not expecting him to be competitive. But it will be another opportunity for him to learn about rallying at this level. We’ll be asking him to finish the rally to score some points in the Manufacturers‘ World Championship.”

“I feel very sorry for Mads and Jonas, because we’re all part of a big family at Citroën Racing. I hope they’ll be back to full fitness very quickly,” added Stéphane Lefebvre. “I have never driven the DS 3 WRC on gravel so I’m expecting it to be a tough weekend. Ordinarily, I prepare for a rally several weeks in advance by watching on-board camera footage from previous years to get a feel for the stages. I won’t be able to do that here, but all experience is welcome and I’m grateful to Citroën Racing for having put their faith in me. I’ll be treating this first rally with the respect it deserves, to try and meet the target set for me by the team.”

Rally Australia begins on Thursday, 10 September with the shakedown from 9.30am local time (GMT+10).
15-09-09 Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson trekker seg fra Rally Australia
Mads og Jonas gjennomførte dagens reccy, begge med sterke smerter. Etter avsluttet gjennomkjøring ble det tatt en felles beslutning av begge utøverne, teamet og det medisinske apparatet om at Mads og Jonas trekkes fra løpet, som følge av skadene.
«Vi har kjørt i dag med sterke smerter både Jonas og jeg,» sier Mads i en kommentar etter at avgjørelsen er tatt. «Det er egentlig verre i dag enn det var i går, og det er en helt naturlig utvikling med den type skader vi har fått. Vi kan selvsagt ikke ta sterke smertestillende. Og det ble klart for oss at vi ikke kan kjøre løp om bare 2 dager, på et forsvarlig vis. Vi kunne kanskje ha presset oss gjennom ved å trosse smerter, men smertene tar så mye energi at det rett og slett hadde vært farlig. Vi oppfatter ikke det vi driver med som risikosport, men det blir fort det om vi ikke er 100% fokusert på det vi skal.»

Både Mads og Jonas skal på en ny sjekk på sykehus i morgen tidlig lokal tid. Det er ikke mistanke om noen farlige skader, kun smertefulle. Men forholdreglene tilsier en ny sjekk før de får lov til å reise hjem senere på dagen i morgen.

Ellers er det klart at ulykken har reist spørsmål om sikkerhet ved gjennomkjøringen. To av WRC teamene var involvert i kollisjoner i går. Man skal langt tilbake før man finner tilsvarende. Men sikkerhetsrutinene må og vil bli tatt opp til vurdering.

Vedlagt bilde er tatt av Mads med mobilkamera, og kan benyttes fritt selv om oppløsningen ikke er som man skulle ha ønsket.
15-09-09 Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson trekker seg fra Rally Australia
Mads og Jonas gjennomførte dagens reccy, begge med sterke smerter. Etter avsluttet gjennomkjøring ble det tatt en felles beslutning av begge utøverne, teamet og det medisinske apparatet om at Mads og Jonas trekkes fra løpet, som følge av skadene.
«Vi har kjørt i dag med sterke smerter både Jonas og jeg,» sier Mads i en kommentar etter at avgjørelsen er tatt. «Det er egentlig verre i dag enn det var i går, og det er en helt naturlig utvikling med den type skader vi har fått. Vi kan selvsagt ikke ta sterke smertestillende. Og det ble klart for oss at vi ikke kan kjøre løp om bare 2 dager, på et forsvarlig vis. Vi kunne kanskje ha presset oss gjennom ved å trosse smerter, men smertene tar så mye energi at det rett og slett hadde vært farlig. Vi oppfatter ikke det vi driver med som risikosport, men det blir fort det om vi ikke er 100% fokusert på det vi skal.»

Både Mads og Jonas skal på en ny sjekk på sykehus i morgen tidlig lokal tid. Det er ikke mistanke om noen farlige skader, kun smertefulle. Men forholdreglene tilsier en ny sjekk før de får lov til å reise hjem senere på dagen i morgen.

Ellers er det klart at ulykken har reist spørsmål om sikkerhet ved gjennomkjøringen. To av WRC teamene var involvert i kollisjoner i går. Man skal langt tilbake før man finner tilsvarende. Men sikkerhetsrutinene må og vil bli tatt opp til vurdering.

Vedlagt bilde er tatt av Mads med mobilkamera, og kan benyttes fritt selv om oppløsningen ikke er som man skulle ha ønsket. deltakerne på veien. I en uoversiktlig sving møtte de en stor tømmerbil, som tok hele veien, og en kollisjon var uunngåelig.

«Jeg prøvde å komme unna ved å kjøre av veien, men det var en «bank», eller skråning, på innersiden, så vi kom ikke langt ut. Lastebilen var så stor at den traff oss uansett, på stive hjul. Vi ble skjøvet bakover og nærmest tredd opp skråningen, klistra inni lastebilens plog av en kufanger,» sier Mads etter krasjen. «Både Jonas og jeg fikk noen ordentlige trøkker, men heldigvis kjører vi bil med sikkerhetsbur og 5 punkts belter. Vi hadde ca. 60 til 70 km da det smalt, og i en vanlig bil hadde det nok gått ganske ille. Vi fikk en reservebil og kom gjennom de siste 4 km.»

I etterkant har de både vært undersøkt, og for Mads sin del også vært en tur innom sykehuset. Begge har noen «vondter», men forutsetter at de er tilbake på reccy i morgen. Også reserve reccy bilen var involvert i en kollisjon i dag på en annen fartsetappe. Ikke så alvorlig som den Mads og Jonas hadde, men alvorlig nok til at den ikke er kjørbar i morgen. Så det blir gjennomkjøring i vanlig personbil.

«Da skal vi i hvert fall ikke ligge først på veien», avslutter Mads.

Sjåføren av tømmerbilen forklarte at han ikke hadde noe info på at det var rallytrening på veien. Han visste at det var løp til på denne etappen lørdag, men hadde ingen info om at det var trening i dag. Så kan man spørre seg i hvilken grad sikkerhetsopplegget er godt nok ivaretatt fra arrangørens side, når ikke informasjon om dette er publisert lang løypa?
15-09-08 Volkswagen siktar på WRC-titeln i Rally Australia
Efter succén på hemmaplan i Tyskland beger sig Volkswagens team nu till andra sidan jordklotet. Det gör man med tre mål: Rally Australia ger Volkswagen dess första chans att ta hem alla tre titlarna i FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) trots att flera tävlingar fortfarande återstår. Skulle de försvara den ledning de har i förar- kartläsar- och konstruktörsmästerskapen efter nio omgångar, skulle de säkra alla tre mästerskapen.

Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) och Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), som tog en fantastisk trippelseger i Tyskland, skulle än en gång kunna skriva historia "Down Under". Aldrig tidigare har mästerskapstitlarna avgjorts så tidigt på säsongen.

Trippeln i Tyskland nyligen är inte enda anledningen till att Volkswagen är fullt av självförtroende inför kommande omgång. Det var i Australien 2014 som Volkswagen tog sin första 1-2-3-seger i Polo R WRC någonsin. Sedan förra året känner besättningarna till ungefär tre fjärdedelar av de utmanande grusvägarna runt Coffs Harbour i staten New South Wales. De sjutton specialsträckorna är tillsammans 311 kilometer långa.
- Vi vill naturligtvis ta med oss vårt momentum efter hemmasegern till Australien även om förutsättningarna är helt annorlunda "Down Under", säger Volkswagens motorsportschef Jost Capito.
- Av det skälet kommer vi att vara fullt fokuserade när vi jagar våra mål i Rally Australia som vi förberett oss noggrant inför. Vi skulle vilja säkra alla tre titlarna trots att flera tävlingar åtgerstår - och vi har en realistisk chans att göra det. I varje tävling måste vi försvara den ledning vi har. Men det är inte så enkelt som det låter. Vi måste än en gång göra allt rätt. Om vi gör ännu en felfri tävling är chansen stor att vi får något speciellt att fira i Australien.

Förar- och kartläsarmästerskapet
Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia leder nu med 93 poäng och håller ödet i sina egna händer när de siktar mot deras tredje WRC-titel i förar- och kartläsarmästerskapet. För att den drömmen ska slå in måste de behålla en ledning med minst 84 poäng över Latvala/ Anttila och Mikkelsen/Fløene. Bara något av de tre Volkswagen-paren kan fortfarande matematiskt krönas till mästare 2015. Ogier/Ingrassia har inte råd att missa mer än nio poäng till Latvala/Anttila - skulle Latvala vinna räcker en andraplats och poäng i Power Stage för Ogier. Kommer de före Latvala/Anttila är titeln deras. Mikkelsen som ligger 109 poäng efter ledarna har nu mer en matematisk än realistisk chans att ta titeln.

Konstruktörsmästerskapet
Av ledningen med 139 poäng inför Rally Australia måste 129 poäng återstå efter tävlingen för att Volkswagen ska ta hem konstruktörstiteln i FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) för tredje gången i rad. Om antingen Jari-Matti Latvala eller Sébastien Ogier vinner räcker det för att försvara ledningen. Eller, om deras närmaste konkurrent i Hyundai vinner i Australien, skulle en andra- och en fjärdeplats också vara tillräcklig.

Vild, vildare Rally Australia
“Newry”, “Nambucca” and “Wedding Bells” är unika specialsträckor i World Rally Championship-kalendern. “Wild by nature” är den slogan som arrangörerna av det tionde rallyt för säsongen valt. Specialsträckorna varierar från vidsträckta, rytmiska högfartssträckor genom öppen terräng till smala vindlande sektioner genom tät skog. Den hårda vägbanan är ofta täckt av ett löst lager av sand. Därför blir inställningen av bilarna någonstans mittemellan de som användes i Mexiko och de som användes i Finland.

Men det är inte det enda som gör Rally Australia så speciellt. Specialsträckan "Valla" på lördagkväll är en åtta km lång nattsträcka som kommer att sändas direkt på TV och plus.wrc.com. “Wedding Bells” kommer också att sändas direkt och den utgör avslutande Power Stage som kan spela en avgörande roll i kampen om titlarna i förar- och kartläsarmästerskapet.

Drygt 28 procent av specialsträckorna är nya för förarna 2015. Särskilt på fredagen måste de anpassa sig till nya vägar i form av “Utungun”, “Northbank” och “Bakers Creek”.

Tre Polo R WRC redo för våren i Australien
Det är bara tre veckor mellan Rally Germany och Rally Australia. Det är ett tätt schema med ett rally som körs på hemmaplan och nästa rally som innebär den längsta resan i WRC-kalendern. De tre Polo R WRC som körs av Ogier, Latvala och Mikkelsen började sin resa till den femte kontinenten med flyg onsdagen efter rallyt på hemmaplan. Det gav bara några få dagar för att preparera chassit som senast användes i Rally Finland. Logistikteamen avslutade en viktig del av förberedelsena redan i Rally Argentina. Därifrån fraktades rekognosceringsbilar och utrustning direkt till Australien med båt - noggrant tvättade och dammade eftersom de australiska importrestriktionerna är särskilt strikta. Totalt skickades cirka 100 ton utrustning på resan runt jorden, varav 18 ton gick med flyg.

Citat inför Rally Australia
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
- Jag älskar Rally Australia. Det är en mycket speciall tävling. Eftersom det är en tävling på andra sidan jorden är det litet mindre spektakel än i till exempel Volkswagens hemmarally i Tyskland. Det är mer intimt och jag gillar det. Dessutom är specialsträckorna i Australien väldigt trevliga att köra. Förra året blev en fantastisk duell mellan Latvala och mig och det var till slut bara 6,8 sekunder som skiljde oss åt. Jag förväntar mig fler spännande fajter med mina team-kollegor i år. Vi åker "Down Under" med ett perfekt team-resultat i ryggen. Rally Germany var absolut fantastiskt och en av säsongens höjdpunkter. Vi vill naturligtvis följa upp det med nästa höjdpunkt. Det viktigaste målet är så klart att försvara våra titlar. Vi har ännu en matchboll i Australien. Liksom när det gäller konstruktörsmästerskapet kan vi också säkra titlarna för förare och co-drivers när flera tävlingar ännu återstår. Vi kommer att göra vårt bästa för att lyckas med det - helst med ett perfekt team-resultat.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
- Rally Australia är unikt. Skogarna, hamnen och hela atmosfären. Det påminner mer om en semester - men självklart blir det ingen semester för mig eller teamet. Visst, vi kommer att acklimatisera oss litet i Coffs Harbour och omgivningarna före rallyt. Men när det drar ihop sig till allvar kommer vi att vara klarvakna och helt fokuserade. Jag tycker om de snabba, svepande specialsträckorna i Rally Australia - särskilt kombinationen av breda och smala vägar genom skogar och över öppna ytor. Det är litet som Rally Finland och det passar mig som bekant. På andra ställen är det full gas nära stora träd. Men man måste vara försiktig, underlaget är annorlunda än i europeiska skogar. Bilen måste vara perfekt inställd. I Australien behöver man en bil med en inställning som är någonstans mellan den i Rally Mexico och den i Rally Finland. Vi har bra referensvärden som vi kan använda. Jag känner mig mycket trygg inför Rally Australia. Förra året var det mycket tätt mellan Sébastien Ogier och mig och mitt mål för i år är att vara däruppe och utmana om segern igen.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
-Efter det lyckade rallyt i Tyskland är vi tillbaka på grus igen med vår Polo - och jag ser verkligen fram emot det. Rally Australia är ett av mina favoritrallyn. Jag gillar specialsträckorna och de olika utmaningarna. Till exempel finns det många skymda kurvor i skogen. De kräver mycket känsla för bilen å ena sidan, och en stor portion mod å andra sidan. Det är långt ifrån enkelt och ett litet misstag kan förstöra hela tävlingen. Förra året fick Volkswagen sin första 1-2-3-seger. Det var ett fantastiskt team-resultat och visade hur starka vi är "Down Under". Jag var mycket nöjd med min tredjeplats. Ola och jag gjorde några mycket snabba tider så jag är full av självförtroende. Jag har en god chans att vinna mitt första WRC-rally i Australien. Det förblir mitt mål som jag hoppas nå så snart som möjligt.

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), totala ställningen
Förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 207
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 114
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 98
4. Mads Østberg 90
5. Thierry Neuville 80
6. Elfyn Evans 61
7. Kris Meeke 56
8. Ott Tänak 54
9. Dani Sordo 52
10. Hayden Paddon 46

Kartläsarmästerskapet poäng
1. Julien Ingrassia 207
2. Miikka Anttila 114
3. Ola Fløene 98
4. Jonas Andersson 90
5. Nicolas Gilsoul 80
6. Daniel Barritt 61
7. Paul Nagle 56
8. Raigo Mõlder 54
9. Marc Marti 52
10. John Kennard 46

Konstruktörsmästerskapet poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 300
2. Hyundai Motorsport 161
3. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 148
4. M-Sport World Rally Team 138
5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 64
6. Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team 45
7. Jipocar Czech National Team 43
8. F.W.R.T.
15-09-04 The pacific awaits the DS3 WRC´s
The World Rally Championship changes surface at the next round: sandwiched between two tarmac events, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team lands on the Australian gravel. Two DS 3 WRCs have been entered for Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson and Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle. 17,000 kilometres from Versailles, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team will be looking to bring home a large haul of points.

More than halfway through its tour of Europe and following two trips to the Americas, the World Championship prepares for the longest journey of the 2015 calendar. On the other side of the world, Oceania is set to host the DS 3 WRCs.
Organised on the Pacific coast, halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, Rally Australia has been held around Coffs Harbour since 2011. Far removed from its former base in Perth, both in terms of distance and character, this year’s event has a very different identity.

Although it is less distinctive in nature than some of the other WRC rounds, the style of Rally Australia boasts a multitude of characteristics. In addition to the dust that covers the roads, the small jumps – which can look like the whoops you get on a motocross track – introduce a degree of vertical lift that must be taken into account when defining the set-up of the cars.

Competitive here last season, the DS 3 WRCs will benefit from the new parts introduced earlier in 2015 and the experience acquired in previous rallies in order to keep on improving. These upgrades will undoubtedly provide an advantage, especially on day two. On Saturday, the crews will have to complete two runs on the very long Nambucca stage (50.80km), as well as taking on Valla II (7.94km) after nightfall, where greater emphasis will be placed on driving skills.

Fourth in the World Rally Championship with three podium finishes on gravel this season, Mads Østberg remains on a run of twelve consecutive top ten finishes, begun just after the 2014 Rally Australia. The Norwegian will arrive in Coffs Harbour determined to fight at the front.

Leader of the rally last season, Kris Meeke has already shown his potential on the roads of New South Wales. Competitive in 2013 and 2014 in the DS 3 WRC, the Northern Irishman – currently seventh in the Drivers’ standings – will also be looking for a very good result.

As part of the programme implemented this year to support the learning and development of Stéphane Lefebvre and his progress towards the top level of the sport, the young French driver will be taking part in recce at Rally Australia. He will be back in competitive action, with his co-driver Stéphane Prévot, at the Tour de Corse in a DS 3 WRC.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal):
“The aim is to come back from this long trip to Australia with a hatful of points. Both our crews are still free to define and manage their own tactics for the rally. Mads and Kris are motivated, they are very aware that they have real assets available to them and that everything is in place to enable them to achieve good results. At this stage of the season, it is important to score points, both for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team and for our drivers.”

Mads Østberg:
“I’m happy to be back on the Australian gravel. It’s a unique surface with a fairly specific character. The profile of the stages change often and sometimes quite dramatically. It’s fairly common to switch from very wide roads, which you don’t see very often in the WRC, to much narrower sections. There are also a lot of small jumps which you need to judge carefully in recce so you don’t lose your rhythm in those sections. I feel perfectly prepared for this event and I really want to be among the frontrunners. I have already shown I can be fast in Australia, but it’s the only gravel rally on which I have yet to record a good result. The target is therefore to improve on my performance in previous years and fight for a place on the podium.”

Kris Meeke:
“I have some very fond memories of my last two appearances at Rally Australia in the DS 3 WRC. I was competitive here in 2013 and 2014, and last season, I was challenging for a podium spot. This year, the itinerary has changed a bit. But the new stages look magnificent and like they will be very fast. Generally speaking, the roads are very interesting although the forest sections, when you get rays of sunshine coming through the trees, can be especially tricky. If the weather stays dry, my starting position should be an advantage. The idea is not to push to the maximum at the start. I have to maintain the pace I have shown in the last few rallies and avoid even making the slightest mistake. If we manage to do that, then along with my starting position for the first two days, we should be well placed.”

UPSIDE DOWN BUT WHEELS ON THE GROUND!
In spite of the 17,000 kilometres separating them from Versailles and the eight-hour time difference, the DS 3 WRCs will nonetheless be competing on a largely familiar course. The only entirely new stages all feature at the start of the event. Three brand-new tests will be held in the Nambucca region, widely acclaimed in previous years for its beautiful roads.
After two days of recce, the crews will take on the shakedown on the Olgas Road test (4.98km) on Thursday morning, completing a minimum of three mandatory runs from 8am onwards. The ceremonial start will then get underway in the centre of Coffs Harbour from 4pm.

The rally proper will kick off on Friday morning at 7am. The drivers will set off in championship order to tackle the new stages. With Utungun (7.88km), Bakers Creek (16.75km) and Northbank (29.51km), the start will be new for everyone before the crews tackle the more familiar Newry Long (29.51km), which has been partly altered compared with the last two years. After a midday service at 12.12pm, the loop will be contested a second time in the afternoon. The cars are due back in Coffs Harbour from 5.19pm.

Saturday’s programme only features four stages. However, with two runs on Nambucca (50.80km), it nonetheless promises to be a busy day. The crews will set off at 8.40am to reach the rally’s longest stage, before tackling Valla (7.94km), which will be broadcast live on television. In the evening, a second run on Valla will be held after nightfall. Two service periods are scheduled, at 1.28pm and 7.30pm respectively.

On Sunday, the P1 crews will set off in the reverse order of the overall standings for the rally. Five stages will be contested with Bucca Long (21.95km), Wedding Bells (9.23km) and Settles Rd (6.40km) held before a 30-minute service, then second runs on Bucca Long and Wedding Bells. The final test, which will also serve as the Power Stage, will be broadcast live on television at 1.08, local time (5.08am in France). The rally is scheduled to finish in Coffs Harbour from 3.00pm.
15-09-03 M-Sport await Australian adventure
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak are awaiting another opportunity to showcase their speed and progression as the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) returns to Rally Australia next week.

The new Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC has already proven its pace on gravel, and the team’s young squad will be looking to utilise that as they build experience of an event on which they have relatively little experience.

Nestled on the Gold Coast between Brisbane and Sydney, this picturesque setting masks a more sinister side. The route combines fast, flowing roads with tighter, twistier sections that require total concentration.

Shire roads are lined with trees that threaten any competitor who dares to venture even slightly off line and the low angle of the sun can create a strobe effect through the forests – all of which make precise pacenotes of vital importance.

Both M-Sport drivers had their first taste of the Australian stages last year – Evans at the wheel of the Fiesta RS WRC and Tänak with the Ford Fiesta R5 – but that didn’t stop them hinting at the potential they could produce in years to come.

Evans improved his pace significantly over the course of last year’s event – posting a fourth fastest time to challenge the leaders on the final day – and will be looking to build on that performance this year.

The Welshman – who is partnered by co-driver Daniel Barritt – is determined to showcase his progression on gravel; and if they can get into a good rhythm from the off, the Brits have the potential to spring a few surprises next week.

Tänak’s one and only experience of the Australian stages came as part of the WRC’s premier support series last year. The Estonian displayed impressive pace and outperformed a number his WRC rivals on several stages.

Partnered by compatriot co-driver Raigo Mõlder, Tänak has the speed to exceed expectations on what will be his 50th appearance in the WRC. His limited experience won’t deter him and he’ll be looking to challenge for a strong result as the championship returns to his preferred surface.

Elfyn Evans said:
“I’m looking forward to getting back to gravel. We’ve had a few loose-surface events in the new car and I want to continue the progression we’ve shown so far.

“It’s a nice event for a driver as the stages and scenery are incredible. The biggest challenge is the visibility. Sometimes we can be hampered by hanging dust and when the sun is low it can create a strobe effect through the trees which makes it difficult to read the road. You need to have complete confidence in your notes to do well.

“I experienced Rally Australia for the first time 12 months ago and I want to improve on that performance this year. Now that we’re almost up to speed we’re always looking to challenge for the podium, but I know that there will be a lot of drivers pushing for the top positions next week. If we can finish in the top-five, I think that would be a strong result given our limited experience.”

Ott Tänak said:
“It’s a nice feeling to be heading back to gravel. It’s a more familiar surface for me and we know that we can be competitive so I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve only done this event once before and that was with a [Ford] Fiesta R5 but that doesn’t really change my approach. Of course it means that it will be one of the more challenging events for me and Raigo [Mõlder, co-driver], but the stages are fast and smooth which should suit us. If we can have a good recce, then I’m sure we’ll be ready for it.

“The biggest challenge coming to Australia is how different it is. The nature and even the stages themselves are very different to anything else we experience throughout the year. The gravel is almost red in colour and the forests can cast some very unfamiliar shadows so you have to drive to your notes and have complete confidence in them.

“It’s difficult to say how competitive we will be having never driven a world rally car at this event, but I definitely want to be competitive and the top-five is the minimum we’ll be aiming for.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“This is an event that holds a lot of special memories for the team. We have historically performed well on the Australian stages, but we also need to remember that neither driver has a lot of experience when it comes to this event.

“Both drivers experienced the Australian stages for the first time last year, and Ott [Tänak] has never driven a world rally car here. That said, we know that they and the car have the pace. If they can find a good rhythm early on, a strong result could well be on the cards.”
15-08-24 Tyska VM-rallyt avklarat med gott betyg
Emil Bergkvist och Joakim Sjöberg deltog i ADAC Rallye Deutschland för att i första hand samla erfarenhet av WRC-evenemang efter att de i början av sommaren säkrat europeiska mästartiteln för juniorer. Teamet som Emil och Joakim kör för, Opel Motorsport, prioriterade också tävlingen högt då det gav en möjlighet att visa hur konkurrenskraftig deras Opel Adam R2 är.

Erfarenheten fick de gott om då de lyckades, trots tre punkteringar, ta sig igenom samtliga sträckor av tävlingen. Det hela var dock ovisst då en punktering på lördagens sista sträcka, SS 17, resulterade i gummirester i hela motorutrymmet och en svåridentifierad kortslutning. Teknikerna i teamet gjorde dock en heroisk insats och arbetade natten igenom för att ha bilen färdig för start på söndag.

Punkteringar och kortslutning medförde tyvärr att totaltiden inte återspeglade det tempo som Emil och Joakim visade upp med sin Opel Adam R2.
”På söndagen förstod jag att vi tog in i storleksordning 3 minuter mot andra R2-bilar. Opel Motorsport har verkligen visat sig från sin bästa sida den här helgen med en bil som fungerat utmärkt och en serviceinsats olik någon annan.” säger Emil och fortsätter ”Självklart är vi lite missnöjda med punkteringarna och sviterna av den sista men jag vill ändå tro att vi har visat det vi kom hit för att visa”.

Nästa tävling för Emil och Joakim blir Barum Czech Rally den 28-30:e augusti. Tävlingen är sista deltävlingen i Europeiska Juniormästerskapet och en chans för teamkollega Marijan Griebel med co-driver Stefan Clemens att ta en andraplats i mästerskapet.
15-08-23 Volkswagen triumferar på hemmaplan
Etta, tvåa och trea på hemmaplan. Volkswagen dominerade Rally Germany från första stund. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) är det första paret som vunnit rallyt i Tyskland i en tysk bil sedan starten av WRC. Volkswagen tog också andra och tredje platsen med Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) och Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N).

Fram tills nu är Rally Germany det enda rallyt som Volkswagen inte lyckats vinna. Men efter det här bästa tänkbara resultatet står det klar att årets värlsmästare kommer att sitta bakom ratten på en Polo R WRC. Rallyfansen behöver inte vänta längre än till nästa omgång i Australien för att få veta vilken av de tre fabriksparen som blir mästare. Efter att ha tagit sin 30:e seger i karriären har Ogier/Ingrassia nu en realistisk chans att ta sitt tredje världsmästerskap för förare och co-drivers i rad trots att flera rallyn återstår. Detsamma gäller för Volkswagen och konstruktörsmästerskapet.
- Trippelsegern i Rally Germany är en fantastisk framgång för Volkswagen, säger Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, styrelsemedlem i avdelningen för teknisk utveckling
- Perfekt förberedelse, maximal koncentration och en fantastisk laganda ligger bakom den här framgången. Polo R WRC har än en gång bevisat att det är den snabbaste bilen också på asfalt och den bemästrade de tyska vägarnas utmaningar på ett perfekt sätt. Jag vill av hela mitt hjärta tacka alla som varit inblandade i den här viktiga segern. Jag vill också berömma organisationen. ADAC och alla tusentals volontärer har gjort ett förstklassigt evenemang med stöd av Bundeswehr. Det understyks också av de väldiga åskådarmassorna med över 225 000 besökare.

Polo R WRC mest framgångsrik
Sverige, Mexico, Portugal, Grekland, Italien, Finland, Australien, Frankrike, Spanien, Storbritannien, Monte Carlo, Argentina, Polen ... och nu Tyskland. Trippelsegern på vägarna runt Trier fyllde i en viktig lucka i Polo R WRC:s CV. I början av veckan var Rally Germany det enda rally som Volkswagen ännu inte vunnit. Turen hade tidigare övergett Volkswagens förare på deras hemmaplan. Nu har märket kommit överens med den tyska tävlingen. Och liksom tidigare, när Jost Capitos team har hamnat under press, har det svarat genom att ta en trippelseger. Efter förlusten i Rally Germany 2014 tog teamet sin första trippel i Volkswagens WRC-historia. Besvikelsen i Argentina i år följdes av det mest framgångsrika rallyt med Polo R WRC i Portugal. Volkswagen har nu tagit fyra trippelsegrar och den tredje för säsongen. Och den bedriften lyckades man med inför 225 000 åskådare under rallyhelgen.

Ogier lika med Grönholm
Siffran 30 spelade en nyckelroll för Volkswagen på dess hemmabana. Inte bara tog Polo R WRC sin 30:e seger på 35 rallyn utan Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia tog också sin 30:e seger i karriären. Det ger dem en särskild plats i statistiken över World Rally Championship. De delar nu andraplatsen med Marcus Grönholm i listan över dem som vunnit flest rallyn. Franska förare har nu dragit ifrån i den pågående tävlingen med de finska förarna. Frankrike har nu 175 segrar, en mer än Finlands 174. Sébastien Ogier och Jari-Matti Latvala är den enda regelbundna förarna från sina respektive länder som kör i World Rally Championship.

Endast Volkswagens förare på pallen
För en av dem var det en bekant känsla, för de andra var det nytt. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila och Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene gjorde en fantastisk prestation och kunde delta i Volkswagen-festen på pallen. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka pressade Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia extremt hårt och var nära hela tiden fram till den ikoniska “Panzerplatte” på det militära övningsområdet Baumholder. Här drog Ogier/Ingrassia ifrån ordentligt - även från team-kamraterna.
Det här var Latvala/Antillas 19:e pallplats med Volkswagen och den elfte gången som Mikkelsen/Fløene nått pallen.

Bonuspoäng till Latvala
Aldrig har bonuspoängen kommit så i skuggan som i Rally Germany 2015. Målet att vinna på Volkswagens hemmabana överskuggade alla ansträngningar att ta extrapoäng på den avslutande sträckan. Trots det lyckades Jari-Matti Latvala vinna Power Stage och ta de tre extrapoängen.

Volkswagen nära VM-titeln
Volkswagen har tre matchbollar i kampen om världsmästartiteln i WRC tack vare toppresultatet i Rally Germany. Medan det fortfarande finns maximalt 112 poäng att vinna i mästerskapet för förare och Co-driver är en sak säker, bara ett Volkswagen-par kan ta hem titeln 2015. Om Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia lämnar Rally Australia med 84 poäng kvar av deras nuvarande ledning med 93 poäng över märkeskollegorna Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila och Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene, så kan den försvarande mästaren kalla sig mästare för tredje gången i rad. Volkswagen blir också mästare i konstruktörsmästerskapet oavsett hur det går för konkurrenterna.

Citat efter dag tre i Rally Germany
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
- Jag är helt överväldigad efter den här segern! Det faktum att Julien Ingassia och jag äntligen kunde ger vårt fantastiska team den så efterlängtade segern på hemmaplan gör oss extremt stolta. Alla i teamet har gjort så mycket för att försäkra sig om att förare och co-drivers kan utmana om segern. Segern i Rally Germany är vårt sätt att säga tack. Och det behöver inte sägas att den här segern inte varit möjlig utan Volkswagens laganda. Före starten påminde vår teamchef Jost Capito om löftet som vi gav styrelseordföranden professor Winterkorn vid prisutdelningen förra året. Vi behövde inte mer motivation än så. Sista dagen var det bara en fråga om att behålla ledningen och ta hem vår Polo R WRC i ett stycke. Nu har vi äntligen lyckats, med en trippeseger. Ett otroligt känslosamt tillfälle!

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
- Det är en stor dag för Volkswagen och hela teamet. En trippelseger är helt klart det rätta sättet att komma tillbaka efter de två senaste årens resultat. Alla stod emot trycket på ett bra sätt och jobbade hårt för att göra den här framgången möjlig. De förtjänar alla stort beröm från min sida. Personligen är jag mycket nöjd med min andraplats. Det är trots allt ett asfaltrally och det betyder att det är inte precis ett favoritunderlag för en finne. Jag skulle naturligtvis helst upprepat framgången från Finland men min team-kollega Sébastien Ogier var helt enkelt för bra den här helgen. Det måste jag ge honom. Jag lyckades utöka mitt försprång före tredje platsen i VM-tabellen. Det förblir mitt mål. Vad som än händer kommer jag att satsa hårt inför den sista tredjedelen av säsongen.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
- Vilket absolut fantastiskt resultat för Volkswagen och så trevligt att se så många glada ansikten i serviceparken. Aldrig tidigare har längtan efter en seger varit så tydlig i teamet som den här gången. Det var viktigt för oss att komma tillbaka med ett fenomenalt resultat efter de senaste årens besvikelse. Det känns fantastiskt att ha varit del i det. Efter den fina starten i fredags hade vi en relativt säker tredjeplats - med en stor lucka både framåt och bakåt. De två senaste dagarna handlade det bara om att behålla placeringen utan att ta några onödiga risker. Vi klarade det men det var inte särskilt spännande. Men vi fick precis det vi ville, ett Rally Germany utan dramatik.

Jost Capito, chef för Volkswagen Motorsport
-En trippelseger på ens hemmarally är utan tvekan mycket speciell. Men med vår bakgrund i WRC, där det här var det enda rallyt vi inte vunnit, är den här segern mer känslosam än alla andra vi firat. Som vanligt var alla i teamet helt motiverade och gjorde sitt bästa för att den här magnifika framgången skulle vara möjlig. Men man lyckades faktiskt höja ribban ytterligare. Alla i teamet - vare sig det är mekaniker, tekniker, logistik, chefer, tränare, läkare, ledning, markandsförare eller PR - har satsat så hårt för den här segern. Det är vad som gör den så speciell. Mina största komplimanger går ändå till förarna och kartläsarna. De stod emot det hårda trycket, levde upp till enorma förväntningar och gjorde ett absolut fantastiskt jobb. Jag tror att alla i Volkswagen är otroligt stolta över vad vi åstadkommit. Jag vet att jag är det i alla fall.

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Germany – slutresultat
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 3t 35m 49.5s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 23.0s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen + 1m 56.6s
4. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai + 2m 09.3s
5. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai + 2m 33.8s
6. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB), Ford + 2m 52.1s
7. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën + 3m 12.5s
8. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford + 4m 26.6s
9. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai + 4m 46.8s
10. Stéphane Lefebvre/Stéphane Prévot (F/B), Citroën + 4m 54.5s

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Germany – resultat i Power Stage
1. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen 9m 07.4s
2. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën + 1.2s
3. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai + 1.7s

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), totalställningen
Förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 207
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 114
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 98
4. Mads Østberg 90
5. Thierry Neuville 80
6. Elfyn Evans 61
7. Kris Meeke 56
8. Ott Tänak 54
9. Dani Sordo 52
10. Hayden Paddon 46

Konstruktörsmästerskapet poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 300
2. Hyundai Motorsport 161
3. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 148
4. M-Sport 138
5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 64
6. Hyundai Motorsport N 45
7. Jipocar Czech National Team 43
8. FWRT 9
15-08-23 Ogier closes on title with Germany win
Sébastien Ogier moved within touching distance of a third FIA World Rally Championship title after leading Volkswagen to an emotional 1-2-3 in its home event at ADAC Rallye Deutschland on Sunday afternoon.

He finished the three-day asphalt rally 23.0sec ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala with team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen rounding out the German squad’s podium lockout a further 1min 33.6sec behind. All three were driving Polo R World Rally Cars.

Ogier will seal a third consecutive drivers’ title at Coates Rally Australia (10 - 13 September) if he finishes ahead of Latvala. His sixth success of the season moved him level with Marcus Grönholm in second place in the all-time wins list with 30 victories.

Volkswagen has now won every round in the calendar since it entered WRC in 2013, ending a home round jinx which frustrated the team.

“It’s a big relief to win this rally especially,” said the Frenchman. “The pressure was on all weekend because everyone expected us to be successful on our home round but we made it. I’m so close to my third title and it’s been a fantastic weekend for us.”

Ogier led for all but two of the 21 asphalt speed tests on Baumholder’s military roads, Saarland’s country lanes and Mosel vineyard tracks near Trier. He ended Friday’s leg 10sec clear of Latvala after a tight battle, but extended it to more than 30sec on Saturday.

Latvala was deflated at being unable to match his team-mate over the daunting tank training tracks on Saturday, but second provided some consolation after crashing out of the lead on the final day 12 months ago.

Mikkelsen was chased by Kris Meeke initially but when the Ulsterman went off the road on Friday, the Norwegian measured his pace to the finish.

Dani Sordo claimed his best result for almost 12 months after coming out on top of an inter-team fight with Hyundai i20 colleague Thierry Neuville. Elfyn Evans prevented Volkswagen achieving a clean sweep of stage wins on Sunday en route to sixth in a Ford Fiesta RS.

Mads Østberg finished seventh in a disappointing weekend for Citroën, with Ott Tänak eighth after twice going off the road. Hayden Paddon was a frustrated ninth following turbo problems in his Hyundai i20, with World Rally Car debutant Stéphane Lefebvre rounding off the top 10.

Meeke eventually finished 12th behind Kevin Abbring, but Martin Prokop retired his Fiesta RS on Sunday’s opening stage with a double puncture.

Full Final Results
2015 FIA Drivers´ Standings
15-08-23 Tthe DS3 WRCs finish in the points
The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team notched up more points at the end of Rallye Deutschland, as Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson claimed seventh overall and Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle finished in twelfth position.
– Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot produced a very strong performance, finishing in the top ten on their maiden appearance in the DS 3 WRC.
– The next round of the FIA World Rally Championship will be held in Australia on 10-13 September.

The aim of the DS 3 WRCs was to make it to the end of this short final leg, whilst remaining ready to seize any opportunities to move up in the overall standings.

On the first run on Stein & Wein (SS18), Kris Meeke made the most of Martin Prokop’s misfortune – a double puncture – to move up another place in the overall standings. The British driver – who had lost around ten minutes on Friday’s leg – ended the event on a positive note, since he finished second on the Power Stage. His performance enabled him to grab twelfth position.

Meanwhile, Mads Østberg battled it out with Elfyn Evans for sixth as he gradually reduced the gap to the fastest drivers. Despite spinning on the Power Stage, the Norwegian finished seventh overall.

Winner of last year’s FIA Junior WRC title in a DS 3 R3 and having learned more about rallying at this level since the start of the season in a DS 3 R5 and a DS 3 RRC, Stéphane Lefebvre produced a flawless performance on his debut in the DS 3 WRC. Meticulous and incredibly consistent on his maiden WRC appearance, he concluded the event in tenth place, scoring his first point in the World Rally Championship!

After the German tarmac, the DS 3 WRCs will shortly head for Oceania’s dusty gravel roads. Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke will be competing at Rally Australia on 10-13 September.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal:
“Kris Meeke confirmed that he was competitive on tarmac and on gravel. Unfortunately, his mistake was a very costly one in terms of the overall result. After losing time on the first day as he looked for the right rhythm, Mads Østberg showed he was capable of fighting in the midfield on a surface which is difficult to get to grips with. On his first rally in the DS 3 WRC, Stéphane Lefebvre had an impressive race, which will have surprised many onlookers. He applied the instructions given to him by the team to the letter and the end result is beyond our expectations. His stage times and his splits were very interesting. We are keen to keep supporting him as he improves.”

Mads Østberg:
“I had a good feeling in the car at the end of the rally and we progressed throughout the race. We went faster and faster the more stages we completed. I’m fairly pleased to see that my driving on tarmac improved during the rally, even though seventh position isn’t really what we were aiming for at the start.”

Kris Meeke:
“As our chances of a good result disappeared after my mistake on Friday, we had to find other sources of motivation. Three kilometres into the Power Stage, I felt confident so I decided to push to try and score a few points. It means that the rally ends on a positive note, but overall it has been a disappointing weekend. I’m going to keep working to eliminate these errors and I hope to do better at the next few rounds on tarmac, especially the Tour de Corse, which will be new for everyone.”

Stéphane Lefebvre:
“The aim was to finish in the top ten, and we did just that and so I scored my first point in the World Championship! We improved as we completed more stages and we managed to reduce the gap separating us from the leading crews. It was a positive weekend and we didn’t make any major mistakes. I’m really pleased to finish this race and to have collected so much experience. I hope it’s the start of a long series with the DS 3 WRC!”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS18 – Stein & Wein 1 (19.59km) – Elfyn Evans claimed the stage win as he fought with Mads Østberg for sixth place. The Norwegian slipped back to 7.3s behind the Welshman. Stéphane Lefebvre set the eighth fastest time, just ahead of Kris Meeke.
SS19 – Dhrontal 1 (14.08km) – The Power Stage rehearsal was won by Jari-Matti Latvala, followed by Dani Sordo and Elfyn Evans. Kris Meeke grabbed the fifth fastest time, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre was ninth and Mads Østberg was eleventh.
SS20 – Stein & Wein 2 (19.59km) – After the service period, overall leader Sébastien Ogier claimed another stage win, ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg. Stéphane Lefebvre was ninth fastest to close on Hayden Paddon in the overall standings.
SS21 – Power Stage Dhrontal 2 (14.08km) – Jari-Matti Latvala won the Power Stage, trailed by Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo. Sébastien Ogier secured the overall win, followed by his team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. Mads Østberg finished seventh overall, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre was tenth and Kris Meeke ended in twelfth position.

FINAL PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:35:49.5
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +23.0
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:56.6
4. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:09.3
5. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:33.8
6. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:52.1
7. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +3:12.5
8. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:26.6
9. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:46.8
10. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +4:54.5…
12. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +11:00.7

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier, 14 – Jari-Matti Latvala, 6 – Elfyn Evans, 1

LEADERS
SS1 and SS2: Sébastien Ogier
SS3 and SS4: Jari-Matti Latvala
SS5 to SS21 (finish): Sébastien Ogier

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Sébastien Ogier 207 points
Jari-Matti Latvala 114 pts
Andreas Mikkelsen 98 pts
Mads Østberg 90 pts
Thierry Neuville 80 pts
Elfyn Evans 61 pts
Kris Meeke 56 pts
Ott Tänak 54 pts
Khalid Al-Qassimi 9 pts
Stéphane Lefebvre 1 pt

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Volkswagen Motorsport 300 pts
Hyundai Shell WRT 161 pts
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 148 pts
M-Sport WRT 138 pts…
15-08-23 Speed goes urewarded for M-Sport
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak experienced all the highs and lows of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at this year’s Rallye Deutschland. The Ford Fiesta RS WRC drivers displayed some pace-setting speed, but it went unrewarded at the first pure asphalt event of the year.

Evans had the potential to challenge for the top positons this weekend, but he was unable to sustain his impressive pace over the course of the whole rally.

In the cooler morning temperatures, he and co-driver Daniel Barritt were the only crew to consistently split the leading Volkswagens. Setting the second fastest time on SS9 and the third fastest time on SS19, they were also the fastest crew through SS18 – making Evans the only man other than Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala to secure a stage win.

Unfortunately, the M-Sport man was unable to maximise the available grip in the unseasonably high temperatures that blighted the afternoon speed tests – an issue which demoted him to sixth place overall.

Despite failing to reach their true potential, M-Sport drew strength from the fact that Evans has the speed to challenge for the podium on asphalt.

There will be some hard work behind the scenes to ensure that the team’s pace can be maintained over the course of a full weekend, and they’ll be looking to make another vital step forward on the next sealed-surface event in Corsica.

n the sister Fiesta RS WRC, Tänak was enjoying his first taste of a world rally car on Tarmac since this time three years ago. There was a lot to learn and the Estonian was swiftly reminded of how much respect these challenging stages demand.

Having been caught-out by an unexpected patch of gravel on the opening speed test, he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder were lucky to escape with mere cosmetic damage.

Following that time loss, the pairing focused on determining the optimum set-up and were able to increase their pace significantly over the second pass – posting the fourth fastest time through SS14 as well as the points-paying Power Stage (SS21).

Experimenting with various set-up configurations, Tänak has gained the experience that should see him enhance his asphalt performance. Before then however, he’ll be looking forward to putting all that he has learnt on gravel to the test when the WRC reconvenes in Australia next month.

Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
“I can’t say I’m satisfied with the rally as a whole, but there were a lot of positives and I was certainly satisfied with our performance on a couple of individual stages. We came very close to winning two stages – and we did win one – but we didn’t get everything 100 percent right this weekend.

“In the mornings the pace and the feeling in the car was good but as the temperatures increased, we just didn’t seem able to keep that same speed. It’s clearly something we need to work on, but the potential is there and we know we can be challenging for the top positions when everything is right.

“I’m sure there’ll be a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes as we prepare for Corsica, and we hope that will result in us fighting towards the very top when the championship returns to Tarmac in October.”

Ott Tänak (8th) said:
“I knew before the start that this would be a tricky event for us as we haven’t driven a world rally car on pure Tarmac for quite a long time. Also this was the first event with the new car on this surface so there was always going to be a lot to learn and a lot to discover throughout the weekend.

“I didn’t feel as confident or as natural with the driving as I have more recently on gravel so I had to push myself and we made a couple of small mistakes because of that.

“Today we didn’t have much to push for so we just played around with the set-up and actually found quite a few things so that was good. There’s been an improvement and we have collected some good data for the next Tarmac rallies where there’s no doubt we can improve.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“I think it’s fair to say that we expected a little bit more from this weekend, but we didn’t get everything 100 percent perfect and that’s something we need to work on ahead of Corsica.

“When Elfyn felt confident in the car, his pace was extremely strong and there’s no doubting the huge potential he and the Fiesta have on this surface. This event was completely dominated by Sebastien [Ogier] and Jari-Matti [Latvala]; so for Elfyn to be the only other driver to secure a stage victory just goes to prove how strong that potential is.

“There will be a lot of hard work behind the scenes as we prepare for the next Tarmac event. We know that we have the speed, we just need to ensure that we have everything in place to sustain it over the course of a full weekend.”
15-08-23 Andreas gjorde dagen komplett for Volkswagen Motorsport
For sjette gang på ni VM-runder denne sesongen, kom Andreas Mikkelsen på seierspallen. For Norges rallyess ble det løp som handlet om å kontrollere inn til tredjeplass.

Etter at briten Kris Meeke forsvant ut av tetkampen fredag formiddag, kunne Andreas Mikkelsen og hans kartleser Ola Fløene kjøre uten press. Avstanden frem til nordmannens teamkamerater i Volkswagen Motorsport, Sebastien Ogier og Jari-Matti Latvala i tet, var for stor til at det var fornuftig å kjøre helt på grensen for å knipe noen sekunder. Samtidig var også avstanden ned til fjerdeplass såpass stor at Andreas og Ola ikke behøvde å frykte for å bli tatt igjen. Kun uhell kunne gjøre noe med de tre VW Polo R WRC-førene i tet.

– Sånn sett ble det et kjedelig rally for vår del. Samtidig er det aldri helt enkelt å ligge i en slik posisjon. Mister du konsentrasjonen, vil det kunne gå galt selv om du kjører kontrollert, sier han.

Derfor ble de to siste dagene av Rally Tyskland først og fremst en konsentrasjonsprøve. Og den besto de med glans. For så fort Dani Sordo tok innpå noen sekunder på lørdag, svarte Andreas, og økte forspranget igjen. Før søndagens fire avsluttende fartsprøver var avstanden såpass stor, at 26-åringen kontrollert lot Sordo ta innpå gjennom hele dagen. I mål skilte det 12,6 sekunder mellom de to førerne.
– Jeg hadde mer å gå på, men det var ikke noe poeng i å ta sjanser. Jeg følte jeg hadde full kontroll på tredjeplassen, sier Andreas, som dermed kopierte tredjeplassen fra i fjor. Da var han beste Volkswagen Motorsport-fører. I år gikk det langt bedre for verdens beste rallyteam. Med tapetsering av seierspallen, ble VM-runden på hjemmebane en gedigen suksess for det tyske teamet. Sebastien Ogier tok et langt steg mot sin tredje strake VM-tittel, mens Jari-Matti Latvala endte på andreplass. I mål jublet de tre VW Motorsport-førerne sammen, og Ogier legger ikke skjul på at dette var en stor triumf for teamet.
– Vi skuffet med å ikke vinne i fjor, og vi har hatt et stort press på oss foran årets løp. Når vi slår tilbake med å bli nummer én, to og tre, så er det helt fantastisk, sa Ogier.

Også i VM-sammendraget ligger Ogier, Latvala og Andreas Mikkelsen på første-, andre- og tredjeplass. Nøyaktig slik VM-sesongen endte i fjor.
– En plass på seierspallen var målet før løpet, og jeg er veldig glad for at vi klarte det. Og jeg er glad for at vi også klatret til tredjeplass i VM-sammendraget igjen. Å ta medalje i VM er et opplagt mål denne sesongen, sier Andreas Mikkelsen, som har levert en meget jevn og god sesong så langt. Tredjeplassen i Tyskland var hans sjette tur på seierspallen etter ni VM-runder.
– I og med at situasjonen i løpet ble som den ble, fikk vi muligheten til å teste forskjellige innstillinger på bilen, og på den måten være enda bedre forberedt til Rally Frankrike, som er neste VM-runde på asfalt. Det tok litt tid til å venne seg til det nye oppsettet på bilen, og bilen ble litt for mye understyrt til at vi klarte å levere de helt gode tidene. Men erfaringene vi fikk med oss, er gull verdt før neste asfaltrunde, sier han.

Resultater i Rally Tyskland
Sebastien Ogier, Frankrike, 3.35.49,5
Jari-Matti Latvala, Finland, +23
Andreas Mikkelsen, Norge, +1.56,6
Dani Sordo, Spania, + 2.09,3
Thierry Neuville, Belgia, + 2.33,8
Elfyn Evans, Storbritannia, + 2.52,1
Mads Østberg, Norge, + 3.12,5
Ott Tanak, Estland, + 4.26,6
Hayden Paddon, New Zealand, + 4.46,8
Stephan Lefebvre, Frankrike, + 4.54,5

VM-sammenlagt etter ni av 13 runder
Ogier (VW) 207 poeng
Latvala (VW) 114
MIKKELSEN (VW) 98
Østberg (Citroen) 90
Neuville (Hyundai) 80
Evans (Ford) 61
Meeke (Citroen) 56
Tänak (Ford) 54
Sordo (Hyundai) 52
Paddon (Hyundai) 46
15-08-22 The DS3 WRC move up the standings
The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team took advantage of day two of Rallye Deutschland to make up places in the overall standings. Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson now lie seventh overall, whilst Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle are fourteenth.In the third DS 3 WRC, Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot continued their error-free race in the top ten. Day two of Rallye Deutschland is widely regarded as especially daunting, featuring the full array of tricky sections that the event can serve up. With the winding roads through the Mosel vineyards, the very fast forest roads in Saarland and the concrete of the Baumholder military base, the crews’ ability to adapt to the conditions was tested throughout the leg.
On dry roads, but with mud dragged onto the racing line in places as more cars came through the stages, Mads Østberg was consistently quicker than Hayden Paddon. The Norwegian overtook his rival after setting the sixth fastest time on the 45.61 kilometre-long Panzerplatte Lang 1. In the afternoon, the third-placed driver in the World Championship standings continued to push and gained another position and moved ahead of Ott Tanak. He will start the final day hoping to take sixth place from Elfyn Evans, who holds a slender 3.2s lead.

Having dropped down to 25th position last night after ending the leg at a reduced pace, Kris Meeke set off again this morning with a perfectly prepared DS 3 WRC. The Northern Irishman started his long fightback. With four top-three stage times, he returned to Trier this evening in fourteenth place.

Continuing his learning experience, Stéphane Lefebvre managed to negotiate all of the day’s stages without making any mistakes. The young French driver, who is making his debut appearance in the DS 3 WRC at this year’s Rallye Deutschland, even came close to recording a maiden stage win when he finished second on SS12. He will begin tomorrow’s leg in tenth position.

The final day of 2015 Rallye Deutschland features four stages. The crews will leave parc ferme at 6.10am for two identical loops on Stein & Wein (19.59km) and Dhrontal (14.08km). The first and second passes will be split be a service period. At 12.08pm, Dhrontal 2 will be used for the televised Power Stage, shortly before the rally is scheduled to finish opposite the Porta Nigra Roman gate in Trier at around 3pm.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Mads Østberg:
“We tried to make up a few positions today. The DS 3 WRC was working perfectly and I tried to adopt a good rhythm. It worked pretty well on Panzerplatte. This stage is really demanding. The surface can provide a lot of grip, and then it changes in nature and becomes very slippery. You have to get used to it, but I really like this place with huge jumps and a great atmosphere. We managed to get ahead of Paddon and Tanak and we’re only three seconds behind Evans. It’s going to be very interesting again tomorrow!”

Kris Meeke:
“After Ogier and Latvala, we were probably the quickest out there today. After we spent the first few kilometres getting back up to speed this morning, our pace was good this afternoon. I think we drove well, especially on Panzerplatte where we managed the tyres well. It’s always enjoyable to drive a WRC, although the situation is pretty frustrating. We just have to keep going tomorrow.”

Stéphane Lefebvre:
“Today’s itinerary was very different from one stage to the next. We had to adapt. My first time on Panzerplatte in a four-wheel drive car was a memorable experience. I tried to put into practice the advice I had been given by not pushing too much and looking after the tyres, and the result was fairly encouraging. We learned a lot and I’m starting to get a good feeling in the DS 3 WRC. I’m beginning to understand its reactions and to anticipate them. We have to make it to the end tomorrow and keep on improving.

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS9 – Grafshaft 1 (18.35km) – With no retirements at all among the WRC drivers, the running order was identical to the day before. First on the road, Sébastien Ogier went fastest, followed by Elfyn Evans. The DS 3 WRCs of Mads Østberg, Kris Meeke and Stéphane Lefebvre finished the stage bunched together between ninth and eleventh place.
SS10 – Boseberg 1 (17.13km) – The stage win went to Jari-Matti Latvala who cut Ogier’s lead to under ten seconds. Kris Meeke set the fourth fastest time, whilst Mads Østberg was eighth and Stéphane Lefebvre was twelfth.
SS11 – Arena Panzerplatte 1 (2.87km) – On the first run on the short Panzerplatte test, Sébastien Ogier racked up another stage win, ahead of Dani Sordo. Sixth fastest time for Meeke, just ahead of Lefebvre. Mads Østberg was ninth fastest.
SS12 – Arena Panzerplatte 2 (2.87km) – Second fastest time for Stéphane Lefebvre, just behind the overall leader, Sébastien Ogier. Kris Meeke was sixth and Mads Østberg finished ninth.
SS13 – Panzerplatte Lang 1 (45.61km) – First pass on the longest stage of the rally: Sébastien Ogier claimed the stage win, beating Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg got past Hayden Paddon to claim eighth position. Stéphane Lefebvre set the tenth fastest time. Kris Meeke finished the morning in seventeenth place.
SS14 – Grafshaft 2 (18.35km) – After the midday service, Kris Meeke continued to make progress in the standings with the third fastest time behind Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier. Seventh fastest, Mads Østberg was fighting with Ott Tanak for seventh overall, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre consolidated his tenth position.
ES15 – Arena Panzerplatte 3 (2.87km) – Third fastest time for Kris Meeke, just 0.2s slower than Jari-Matti Latvala’s stage-winning time. Further back, just a tenth of a second separated Mads Østberg and Stéphane Lefebvre’s times.
SS16 – Panzerplatte Lang 2 (45.61km) – The second run on Panzerplatte Lang saw Kris Meeke produce another fine performance, finishing just behind Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala. Seventh fastest time for Mads Østberg, who disposed Ott Tanak of seventh place. Stéphane Lefebvre closed on Hayden Paddon with the ninth fastest time.
SS17 – Boseberg 2 (17.13km) – Sébastien Ogier ended the day with another stage win. Mads Østberg was fifth fastest, putting Elfyn Evans under pressure ahead of the final leg. Kris Meeke recorded another third fastest time, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre ended the day in tenth place.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:55:42.5
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:47.5
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +2:14.3
4. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:23.8
5. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:53.5
6. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:53.5
7. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +2:56.7
8. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:10.7
9. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:34.6
10. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +4:43.3…
14. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +10:59.5

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier, 13 – Jari-Matti Latvala, 4

LEADERS
SS1 and SS2: Sébastien Ogier
SS3 and SS4: Jari-Matti Latvala
SS5 to SS17: Sébastien Ogier ”
15-08-22 Highs and lows for M-Sport in Deutschland
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak remain well within the top-ten as this weekend’s Rallye Deutschland continued into the second day of competition.

In a day of highs and lows for the M-Sport team, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC drivers currently hold sixth and eighth places respectively – within touching distance of another solid points haul.

Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt got off to a flying start. Posting the second fastest time through the opening speed test, the pairing proved the pace the new Ecoboost-powered Fiesta has to offer on asphalt.

The stage is a favourite of the Welshman as it formed last year’s points-paying Power Stage and played host to his first FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) stage win. It provided similar success for the M-Sport man this year as he was the only man to get close to rally-leader Sebastien Ogier through the first pass – finishing just 0.7 seconds adrift of the world champion.

But as the sun rose over some of Germany’s most famous speed tests, Evans struggled to maximise the available grip in the uncharacteristic heat of this year’s Central European summer.

Despite his frustrations at not being able to post the times he knew he was capable of, the Welshman kept his head – defending his position and remaining on course to challenge for good points through tomorrow’s final stages.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta, it was a steady start for Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder who focused on perfecting their notes and set-up for a bigger push over the second pass.

Adopting a new set-up for the afternoon loop, the Estonians were able to increase their pace – setting the fourth fastest time through the second pass of Grafschaft (SS14).

Unfortunately, they went off the road 12 kilometres into the second pass of Panzerplatte Long (SS16) – losing over a minute to their rivals and conceding what was a strong seventh place.

Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
“There was a big positive this morning when we set such a strong time on the first stage [SS9] so obviously it’s very frustrating that we weren’t able to continue that throughout the day.

“I know that we’re better than this afternoon’s times – we proved that this morning – so we need to work hard to understand why we weren’t able to continue that same pace.

“We need to make a change. We need to start tomorrow as we did today, and ensure we keep it going throughout the day.”

Ott Tänak (8th) said:
“We were struggling with the set-up throughout this morning’s stages and I didn’t have a good feeling in the car. This afternoon, we decided to make quite a few changes – it was a lot faster to drive and we were definitely improving.

“I was trying to push closer to the limit and improve the speed but in one place I pushed too much and we understeered off the road. Luckily we didn’t have any damage, but we struggled to get the car restarted and it took us a long time to get going again.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We didn’t have the right set-up for the longest stage of the rally [SS13 and SS16]. We tested there [in Baumholder], but clearly didn’t find the optimum performance from the new car.

“It’s been a big learning curve for the team today, but the drivers and engineers have spent a lot of time studying all of the data and we’re confident that we can be competitive tomorrow.

“We know that the speed and the potential of both the car and the crews is there – that’s clear from the stunning time Elfyn [Evans] was able to set through the first stage of the day [SS9]. Unfortunately, we just haven’t been able to make the progress we should have done today.”
15-08-22 På stø kurs mot seierspallen
Andreas Mikkelsen har kjørt kontrollert og holder tredjeplassen før siste dag av Rally Tyskland. Bare et uhell kan hindre nordmannen en plass på seierspallen.
– På en måte har det vært en litt kjedelig dag. Det er langt frem til de to første, og det er lang ned til fjerdeplassen. Så det har handlet mer om å kontrollere de bak meg, og kjøre med minst mulig risko for å trygge tredjeplassen, sier Andreas Mikkelsen.

For Volkswagen Motorsport er VM-runden på hjemmebane i ferd med å bli en gedigen suksess. Det tyske teamet er i ferd med å gjøre rent bord og tapetsere seierspallen. Det er nemlig Andreas sine teamkamerat Sebastien Ogier og Jari-Matti Latvala som ligger foran han på resultatlista. Ogier har skaffet seg et forsprang på et drøyt halvminutt til Latvala, mens finnen har 40 sekunders forsprang på Andreas. Ned til Dani Sordo på fjerdeplass, skiller det ytterlige 26,8 sekunder. Før morgendagens fire avsluttende etapper, ser det ut til at kampen om de tre fremste plassene er avgjort. Kun et uhell kan rokke ved det.
– Taktikken før de siste etappene er den samme som den har vært i dag. Det handler om å ta meg trygt gjennom dagen, sier han.

Sammenlagt etter 17 av 21 etapper i Rally Tyskland
Ogier
Latvala +33,8?3
Andreas Mikkelsen +1.47,54
Sordo +2.14,35
Neuville +2.23,86
Evans +2.53,57
Østberg +2.56,7
15-08-22 Mads og Jonas klatret opp to plasser under dag 2 i Rally Deutschland
Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson i Citroen DS3 WRC ligger på 7. plass etter dag 2 i Rally Tyskland.
«Det har vært bra framgang gjennom dagen» sier Mads. «Vi fortsatte der vi slapp på siste prøven i går, og har hevet oss gradvis, med dagens beste på siste etappen også i dag. Det er vi fornøyd med. Den store utfordringen er at å attakkere på grus og snø og å attakkere på tørr asfalt med godt feste, er to helt forskjellige ting. På grus kan man være rå og det går fort, for å si det på den måten, på tørr asfalt går alt ut på å være 100% presis i overgangen mellom brems og gass. Programmet vårt tillater meg ikke å trene på forskjellen, så jeg må ta det i løp. Så det jeg jobber med nå er å ikke pushe for hardt, for da går det saktere. Jeg er fornøyd med det vi har fått til i dag,» avslutter han.

Mads og Jonas har kjørt seg opp 2 plasser i løpet av dagen, og har god fart mot 6. plass om de fortsetter der de slapp i dag. Ford føreren Elfyn Evans ligger bare 3 sekunder foran Mads, og det blir en spennende kamp om posisjoner på løpets siste dag. Løpet avsluttes med 4 fartsetapper i morgen, på til sammen 67 km., bl.a. power stages som starter kl. 12:08, og hvor det utdeles ekstrapoeng til de 3 første.
Dette kan følges live på TV2 sportskanalen og SUMO i morgen. Der sendes også highlights fra dagens prøver kl 23:10 i kveld, samt hightlights fra løpet søndag kl 00:30. Det sendes også reprise på mandag kl 15.

Kommentarer og oppdateringer kan følges på Mads hjemmeside www.madsostberg.no
15-08-22 Midday Quotes Rallye Deutschland, section three
Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
“The first stage [SS9] was really good. I like that stage and even though we were not perfect everywhere, we had the confidence through the fast sections and the time was good. The second stage [SS10] was a new one for us so it wasn’t easy to be fully on it, and on Panzerplatter [SS11-13] I just didn’t seem to get into my rhythm. We were a bit too cautious in the first part and lost grip towards the end but I’m determined to do better in there next time.”

Ott Tänak (7th) said:
“Generally it’s been a really smooth morning with no issues and no dramas. We’ve driven cleverly without taking any risks and have been able to check all of the notes. We’ll try a few small things with the set-up this afternoon and see if we can push a little bit more.”

15-08-22 Another race begins
Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson ended day one of Rallye Deutschland in ninth position, just ahead of tenth-placed Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot. Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle ended the leg down in twenty-fifth place, after an off meant they completed the day at a reduced pace. Another rally starts for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team on day two, with the aim of securing as many points as possible on Sunday afternoon.
Following several months touring the world on gravel roads, the crews returned to tarmac this morning in Germany. Specifically prepared for the change in surface, the DS 3 WRC set off on new Michelin tyres.

Today’s opening leg took the drivers to the north of Trier with two stages on fast roads through the German countryside, before tackling some daunting, highly technical sections on the other two tests in the heart of the Mosel vineyards.
Kris Meeke had established himself in fourth place by the end of the first stage. Consistently quick, he remained fourth overall as the crews set off to tackle SS6. Caught out on a slippery corner, he ran wide into a field, damaging part of the front suspension in the process. The Northern Irishman managed to keep going, but was forced to drop his pace in the final few stages, losing around ten minutes on the leaders.

Meanwhile, Mads Østberg took a little time to readjust on this return to tarmac. Looking for the set-up that would enable him to feel as comfortable as possible, the Norwegian nonetheless stayed within striking distance of his main rivals as he negotiated the many hairpins in the vineyards on the banks of the Mosel river. He ended the day in ninth place, only ten seconds or so adrift of a top-six spot, as he set better times in the afternoon.
Stéphane Lefebvre was starting his first rally in the DS 3 WRC. It was all new today for the young Frenchman, who won the FIA Junior WRC title last year. Competitive from the very first stage, in which he finished an impressive ninth, Stéphane acquired a lot of experience throughout the day, even grabbing the sixth fastest time on SS5 and finishing the leg in tenth position.

Saturday’s programme will be very different. The crews and teams face an early start, setting off at 6.10am for a total of nine stages that they are due to complete at 8.52pm. The day will begin with a first run through the heart of the vineyards on Grafschaft, followed by the fast roads of Bosenberg in Saarland. The crews will then head for the Baumholder military base to tackle a very short version of Panzerplatte (2.87km) and then a very long version (45.61km). The morning and afternoon loops will be split by a 30-minute service.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Mads Østberg:
“We got faster and faster as the day progressed. After service, I felt that we were closer to the pace and our stage times improved. The final test of the day showed that we are moving in the right direction. The standings are very close ahead of us. We have to keep improving gradually and try and get the best result we can. I prefer the stages on tomorrow’s itinerary, so I’m looking forward to continuing with this rally.”

Kris Meeke:
“On the second stage of the afternoon, there was some mud on a second-gear corner. We slid wide in the middle of the bend and ended up in a field. It took me about thirty seconds to be able to get back onto the road. Once we were going again, I got back up to full speed. But four or five kilometres later, part of the front suspension broke under heavy braking. We had to drive slowly to make it back to service. I’m really disappointed because our pace was good from the start.”

Stéphane Lefebvre:
“The DS 3 WRC is very fast! The first two stages came fairly naturally for me, but in the vineyards, it was much more difficult. We’re not really paying any attention to the standings, only to see where we are in relation to the most experienced drivers. We set a sixth fastest time by driving really cleanly, so that is very encouraging. The types of roads we tackle tomorrow will be very different, so it’s going to be a totally new experience for me!”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS1 – Sauertal 1 (14.84km) – Sébastien Ogier began the rally with a stage win. The championship leader finished ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, Andreas Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke. Stéphane Lefebvre produced a fine performance on his first competitive outing in the DS 3 WRC with the ninth fastest time, just ahead of Mads Østberg.

SS2 – Waxweiler 1 (16.40km) – A second stage win for Sébastien Ogier, once again trailed by Latvala, Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke. Stéphane Lefebvre kept his strong start going with the eighth fastest time. Mads Østberg set the eleventh fastest time.

SS3 – Moselland 1 (23.24km) – By winning the longest stage of the morning, Jari-Matti Latvala grabbed first place overall ahead of Ogier, Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg was eleventh, with Stéphane Lefebvre just behind him.

SS4 – Mittelmosel 1 (13.67km) – Joint third fastest time for Kris Meeke, whilst Sébastien Ogier ended the morning by closing to within 0.1 seconds of the leader, Jari-Matti Latvala. Mads Østberg finished in eighth position, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre gathered experience in the vineyards.

SS5 – Sauertal 2 (14.84 km) – After the midday service, Sébastien Ogier grabbed another stage win to reclaim the overall rally lead, ahead of Latvala, Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke. Stéphane Lefebvre began the afternoon loop with an impressive sixth position, closing the gap to Mads Østberg in tenth place.

SS6 – Waxweiler 2 (16.40km) – Kris Meeke lost 1m 39s after going off the road. Ogier consolidated his overall lead ahead of Latvala and Mikkelsen, whilst Dani Sordo took advantage of the Northern Irishman’s problems to grab fourth position. Mads Østberg and Stéphane Lefebvre were both running in the top ten in their DS 3 WRCs.

SS7 – Moselland 2 (23.24km) – Back among the vineyards, Sébastien Ogier once again set the fastest time. Mads Østberg and Stéphane Lefebvre consolidated their positions in the top ten, whilst Kris Meeke limped home in his DS 3 WRC having lost another five minutes.

SS8 – Mittelmosel 2 (13.67km) – Seventh stage win out of eight for Sébastien Ogier, who ended the day in the overall lead ahead of Latvala and Mikkelsen. Sixth fastest, Mads Østberg made up a few seconds on his main rivals in the overall standings. Stéphane Lefebvre set the tenth fastest time. Kris Meeke made it to the end of the stage three minutes later than the leaders.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:19:13.5
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +9.5
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +34.9
4. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:06.8
5. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:08.7
6. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:22.1
7. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:27.8
8. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:31.4
9. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +1:35.4
10. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +2:27.3…
25. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +10:02.1

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier, 7 – Jari-Matti Latvala, 1

LEADERS
SS1 and SS2: Sébastien Ogier
SS3 and SS4: Jari-Matti Latvala
SS5 to SS8: Sébastien Ogier
15-08-21 M-Sport well-placed to challenge
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak are well-placed to challenge for the top-positions as Rallye Deutschland continues into the weekend. The Ford Fiesta RS WRC drivers currently hold sixth and seventh place after a challenging opener to the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

Running as the seventh and eighth cars on the road, there were plenty of surprises for the pair to negotiate. Their expert gravel crews provide them with a wealth of information about how the conditions have changed since the pre-event reconnaissance, but with six cars ahead of them, dirt and gravel can be pulled into the most unlikely of places – making the going tough and the route treacherous.

Having a good record at the German fixture, Evans knows this better than most. The Welshman struggled with the grip levels throughout much of the morning but refused to let his frustration deter him from the prospect of a good result.

The M-Sport man admitted to over-driving though the opening speed tests, but he and co-driver Daniel Barritt remained focused on the task in hand. Regrouping for the final stage (SS8), he set the fourth fastest time which made him one of only two drivers to split the pace-setting Volkswagens.

With 238.13 kilometres left to run, there remains all to play for and Evans is well aware of the rewards this event can provide when given the appropriate respect.

Having not driven a world rally car in Germany for the past three years, Tänak was quickly reminded of the consideration these stages deserve. The Estonian was caught out by an unexpected patch of gravel through the first speed test which launched his Fiesta through a fence, into a field, back onto the road and into a barrier.

Despite losing time to his rivals, he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder regrouped with great intelligence. Rebuilding his confidence and increasing the speed with each new kilometre, Tänak holds seventh place and is starting to prove that he can be just as formidable on asphalt as he is on gravel.

As the action reconvenes tomorrow, the M-Sport pairing will be focused on more of the same – a clean and tidy run which sees them make good on their potential whilst climbing the overall standings.

Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
“The day has been a bit up and down for us but that last stage [SS8] was a lot more like it. I found a better feeling in the car and was able to relax. I actually pushed a bit less and the time was much better.

“I think it’s been a case of over-driving at some points. When we reined it in, the time was pretty much where we were expecting and wanting to be. We’ve got a long and difficult day of rallying ahead of us, so we need to try and carry that forward to tomorrow.”

Ott Tänak (7th) said:
“This afternoon was a lot better than the morning. The feeling was quite good and we had a much better rhythm out on the stages. We made some changes during the service which perhaps weren’t in the right direction, but now we know where we can improve.

“I’ve really enjoyed being back on Tarmac with a world rally car and I can feel the confidence and the speed building with each new kilometre. We have a good base to build on for tomorrow, and hopefully we can continue to improve as we have today.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We’ve seen some encouraging performances from both drivers, so it’s a shame that we haven’t been able to string those together over the course of the day. Having said that, both were extremely relaxed this evening. They’ve been able to perfect the set-up and are looking forward to tomorrow when there’s a good chance of us mounting a challenge for one of the top positions.”
15-08-21 Solid åpningsdag av Andreas Mikkelsen
Det var en spent og revansjesugen Andreas Mikkelsen som sto på startstreken under Rally Tyskland. Men det viste seg raskt at smellen under Finland i forrige VM-runde var glemt. Etter første dag av asfaltrunden ligger han på en komfortabel tredjeplass.

Det er bare nordmannens to langt mer rutinerte teamkamerater Sebastien Ogier og Jari-Matti Latvala som har holdt et høyere tempo enn den norske VW Motorsport-føreren. Dermed er det tre VW Polo R WRC på topp etter første dag av Rally Tyskland. En bedre start på hjemmebane kunne ikke verdens beste rallyteam fått.
– Før service handlet det om å finne rytmen på asfalt, for det er så lenge siden vi har kjørt på dette underlaget. Det gikk bra fra start, for vi var ikke langt bak Ogier og Latvala. På etappene etter service gikk det veldig bra. Kris Meeke hadde heng på meg, helt til han gjorde en feil. Etter det hadde vi 30 sekunder ned til fjerdeplassen, og da skrudde vi litt ned på tempoet og forsøkte å kontrollere, sier Andreas Mikkelsen.

26-åringen og kartleser Ola Fløene hadde en brutal rulling under Rally Finland. Men nordmennene, som har vært på pallen i fem av årets åtte VM-runder så langt, er altså på vei til en ny tur på seierspallen. De har kjørt meget jevnt gjennom hele åpningsdagen. På seks av de åtte etappene var de inne blant de tre beste. Frem til Ogier som leder, er det et drøyt halvminutt, mens det er 25 sekunder frem til Latvala. Dani Sordi er beste ”ikke-Volkswagen” med sin fjerdeplass etter åtte fartsetapper. Et drøyt halvminutt skiller nordmannen og spanjolen.
– Vi kunne selvsagt satset enda hardere for å ta innpå Ogier og Latvala, men avstanden var såpass stor at vi ikke ønsket å ta den risikoen. Vi er godt fornøyde med første dag, oppsummerer Andreas Mikkelsen.

Tidsskjema lørdag og søndag
Lørdag 22 august
07:34 SS9 Grafschaft 1 (18,35km)
09:02 SS10 Bosenberg 1 (17,13km)
10:32 SS11 Arena Panzerplate 1 (2,87km)
10:45 SS12 Arena Pazerplatte 2 (2,87km)
11:05 SS13 Panzerplatte Long 1 (45,61km)
13:54 Service Messepark
15:31 SS14 Grafschaft 2 (18,35km)
17:06 SS15 Arena Panzerplatte 3 (2,87km)
17:26 SS16 Panzerplatte Long 2 (45,61km)
18:47 SS17 Bosenberg 2 (17,13km)
20:52 Service Messepark

Søndag 23 august
07:07 SS18 Stein & Wein 1 (19,59km)
08:11 SS19 Dhrontal 1 (14,08km)
09:21 Service Messepark
10:31 SS20 Stein & Wein 2 (19,59km)
12:08 SS21 Dhrontal 2 (Power Stage) (14,08km)
13:11 Service Messepark
15:00 Podium
15-08-21 Mads og Jonas på 9 etter første dag - kjører på instinktene i morgen
Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson ligger på 9. plass etter første dag av Rally Deutschland. Men med en fin stigning på slutten av dagen er ikke veien opp til teten veldig lang. Ett minutt opp til pallen er mer enn man hadde håpet på, men 4. plassen kan hentes inn på mindre enn 30 sekunder.

«Jeg er ikke fornøyd med kjøringen i dag,» sier Mads i en kommentar, «men jeg har ikke helt klart å finne ut hva som har vært galt. Sekundene går så raskt den gale veien med smådetaljer på asfalt. Vi har prøvd ut noen endringer på kjørestilen, som på papiret skal få det til å gå fortere. Kanskje har det blitt for mye tenking? Etter den den nest siste fartsetappen, sa jeg til meg selv at jeg bare måtte nullstille helt, og bare kjøre på instinktet. Det funket bra, og vi gjorde dagens beste etappe. En bra avslutning på dagen, som vi kan sove på. Så fortsetter vi å kjøre på instinktene i morgen,» avslutter han.

Morgendagen fortsetter med 9 fartsetapper på til sammen 171 km.

Følg fortsettelsen av løpet på Mads hjemmeside: www.madsostberg.no , der kan man følge oppdaterte Tweets, Instagram- og Facebook-status gjennom hele løpet.
15-08-21 Midday Quotes Rallye Deutschland, section one
Elfyn Evans (7th) said:
“It’s been a very mixed morning. We’ve not had the best feeling inside the car and – although there have been flashes of speed – we’ve just not had the confidence. I’ve struggled to find the grip and been too hesitant in places, and then we had an issue with the handbrake which cost us quite a lot of time [in SS3]. The speed is in there, we just need to make a few changes to try and extract it this afternoon.”

Ott Tänak (10th) said:
“It was an interesting start. The first section [of SS1] was quite slippery and when we got to the first corner on the wider section – where we were expecting it to be clean – it was covered with dust and gravel. We went straight into the fence and over the road again into the barrier. We stalled and had to turn around so lost quite a lot of time and confidence.

“After that we’ve just been trying to build everything back up and keep improving. It’s very dirty in places so it’s really difficult to drive with confidence. The conditions should be a bit more consistent for everyone this afternoon and our notes will be better too so let’s just wait and see what happens.”
15-08-19 På schemat: Tyska VM-rallyt
Europeiska juniormästarna i rally, Emil Bergkvist och Joakim Sjöberg förbereder sig i detta nu inför start i Tyska VM-rallyt, ADAC Rallye Deutschland. Torsdagen den 20/8 på kvällen rullar Emil och Joakim över startrampen i Tyska Trier med sin Opel Adam R2 för att inleda tävlingen med första specialsträckan på fredag morgon. Målgång är planerad till söndag eftermiddag.

Emil och Joakim tävlar för Opel Motorsport som deltar med två Opel Adam R2-bilar i ADAC Rallye Deutschland. Teamet har inte deltagit i VM-serien och bilarna ingår egentligen inte i någon av de klasser som tävlar i VM. Teamet är dock fulla av självförtroende inför tävlingen då man gång på gång visat Emil och Joakims snabbhet i Opeln. ”Vi räknar inte med att vara snabbaste tvåhjulsdrivna bil i tävlingen men vi hoppas och tror att vi ska kunna hänga med bra trots att vår bil tillhör en mindre avancerad klass”. säger Emil. Övriga tvåhjulsdrivna bilar i VM-cirkusen tillhör normalt den mer avancerade R3-klassen med mer avancerad hjulupphängning och starkare motorer. ”Under vår förberedelse i Rallye Wartburg kunde vi konstatera att vårt tempo räckte långt i konkurrensen mot andra långt mer effektstarka bilar.” fortsätter Emil.

För Emil och Joakim är Tyska VM-rallyt en stor möjlighet att utöka sin erfarenhet av stora internationella evenemang. ”Det märks verkligen att allt är mycket större i en VM-deltävling än i EM-serien vi har kört hittills.” säger Joakim och fortsätter ”Det är ju också mycket mer sträckor att förbereda med nästan 37 mil fräna sträckor. De är ganska tekniska med många tempoändringar, det borde passa Emil.”
15-08-18 Volkswagen väntar på första hemmasegern
Segerrika överallt utom i Tyskland så här långt. Om Volkswagen får som man vill kommer antingen Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) eller Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) att täppa till den luckan i resumén över Polo R WRC. Rally Germany körs mellan den 20:e och 23:e augusti 2015.

Rally Germany, den nionde deltävlingen i FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), är det enda rallyt hittills som Volkswagens WRC-bil inte vunnit. Även om Volkswagen inte precis varit lyckosamma på sin hemmaplan runt Trier under 2013 och 2014 och tvingats bryta med olika förare i ledningen i vart och ett av rallyna, närmar sig teamet uppgiften på sitt vanliga noggranna och motiverade sätt. Men det är allt annat än lätt att vinna på hemmaplan, Rally Germany är det första riktiga asfaltrallyt i WRC 2015 och betraktas som en best som skapar stor dramatik.

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC),
- En sak är säker, våra resultat på vår hemmabana avspeglar varken våra ambitiösa mål eller våra tidigare prestationer i Tyskland, säger Volkswagens motorsportchef Jost Capito.
- Det finns inget annat WRC-rally vi så gärna vill vinna. Vi kunde ha vunnit av egen kraft 2013 och 2014 men tvingades bryta när Sébastien Ogier respektive Jari-Matti Latvala låg i ledningen. Men även om vi inte precis har haft turen med oss i vårt hemmarally finns det inget skäl att inte kämpa om segern igen 2015. Med Sébastien Ogier och Jari-Matti Latvala har vi två vinnare på asfaltsträckor och Andreas Mikkelsen är mer än mogen för sin första seger någonsin och han är snabb på alla underlag. Och teamet bakom dem är också ett gäng vinnare. De kompromissar inte under Rally Germany, var och en av dem kommer att ge det lilla extra.

Ingen rädd för Rally Germany
Volkswagen kommer att närma sig Rally Germany med samma respekt som inför alla WRC-tävlingar, men absolut utan rädsla. Till skillnad från tidigare år kommer Volkswagen inte att använda ett nybyggt chassi för Sébastien Ogier och Jari-Matti Latvala, i stället används ett utprovat och testat chassi som var med i "Monte", i Mexico, Portugal och Polen. Och en annan sak som skiljer från förra året, Jari-Matti Latvala och Miikka Anttila har visat att de är vinnare på asfalt. I Rally France firade de den första finska segern på asfalt på 14 år, elva månader och 23 dagar. Det var också det snabbaste asfaltrallyt någonsin.

Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene tog också tillfället i akt att visa att de är allround genom att bli tvåa på asfalten efter att ha nått samma placering på snö och is i Sverige och på grus i Polen.

Volkswagen har förberett sig noggrant för de speciella förhållandena i Rally Germany genom att testa på Korsika och i Tyskland och man har fintrimmat andra generationen Polo R WRC för alla tre förarparen.

Panzerplatte gånger fyra
Förarna och kartläsarna kommer att känna igen sig i 2015 års Rally Germany. Ingen av specialsträckorna är helt ny för de tävlande. Den beryktade Panzerplatte på det militära övningsområdet vid Baumholder med sina obevekliga stenhinder är med i roadbooken fyra gånger på lördagen med två olika sträckningar. Det här området, som bara är öppet för allmänheten under Rally Germany, har skapat all slags dramatik under åren på grund av sin ovanligt hala asfalt i kombination med stenhindren som är avsedda att stoppa stridsvagnar.

Elitförarna ger sig ut på specialsträckorna med den respekt de förtjänar. Den kortaste är 2,9 km och den längsta 45,6 km. Men höjdpunkten är de två sträckorna på söndagen. "Stein & Wein" och "Drohntal" kännetecknas av serpentinvägar längs vingårdar, typiskt för Rally Germany. Andra passagen på "Drohntal" utgör avslutande Power Stage där bonuspoäng delas ut till de tre snabbaste förarna och kartläsarna.

Andreas Mikkelsen på pallen 2014
Andreas Mikkelsen och Ola Fløene är Volkswagens enda förarpar som nått pallplats i Tyskland hittills. De slutade på tredje plats i Rally Germany 2014. Sex veckor senare visade de sin fart på asfalt igen och blev tvåa i Rally France som kördes i Alsace 2014. Vid sin 60:e start i WRC har Mikkelsen tio pallplatser - bara en fattas, en seger.
En matchboll

Bara vinst skulle kunna ge Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia världsmästartiteln redan vid Rally Germany 2015. Och även då skulle de behöva hjälp från sina närmaste rivaler Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila, Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S, Citroën), Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene och Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai). Ogier/Ingrassia skulle behöva utöka sin ledning 89 poäng med ytterligare 23 till 112. En seger ger 25 poäng och en vinst i Power Stage ger tre poäng till.
Ouppklarade affärer

Jari-Matti Latvala och Miikka Anttila är ute efter att komma överens med rallyt runt Trier i Tyskland. 2014 var de i en klass för sig och hade byggt upp en ledning med mer än en minut innan de körde av vägen sista dagen och tvingades ge upp drömmen om sin första seger på asfalt. Den kom dock strax därefter i Rally France. Om Latvala/Anttila slutar bättre än sjua kommer de att stoppa Ogier/Ingrassia från att ta hem VM-titeln tidigt.
Citat inför Rally Germany

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
- Jag har blandade känslor inför Rally Germany. Å ena sidan vann jag här 2011 och jag har alltid varit snabb. Å andra sidan fick jag lida av några mindre misstag längs de smala vägarna 2014. Men det är historia. Vi vill förbättra oss det här året och det är definitivt möjligt. Men vi måste vara fokuserade och undvika misstag. Före Rally Germany har vi också testat bromsar under testerna i Trier så att vi är ordentligt förberedda för utmaningarna på asfaltvägarna. Många sträckor på årets Rally Germany liknar förra årets eller är identiska. Jag gillar särskilt de vindlande specialsträckorna längs vingårdarna. De är underbara att köra och så roliga i vår Polo. Julien och jag kan säkra VM-titeln för förare och co-drivers i Tyskland. Men vi kommer bara att fokusera på oss själva och vi vill avsluta rallyt framgångsrikt - helst i mitten av pallen naturligtvis.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
- Naturligtvis är hemmarallyt i Tyskland speciellt för teamet. Jag är definitivt redo. Vinsten i Finland gav mig massor av motivation. Saker och ting hade inte gått så smidigt dessförinnan men i mitt hemmarally visade jag att jag kan hålla emot i en man-mot-man kamp. Michelin förser oss med nya däck inför Rally Germany, H4, som vi anpassade inställningarna av Polo R WRC för under testerna för en vecka sedan. Vi testade också på Korsika i år så att jag kunde anpassa mig till att köra på asfalt. Asfaltrallyn är något speciellt eftersom vi förare måste vänja oss vid olika underlag och olika egenskaper på kort tid.
- Det är särskilt svårt i Rally Germany på "Panzerplatte" - min favoritsträcka. Det är litet som i Finland, backigt och vägen är bred, väggreppet förändras hela tiden och farten är hög. Jag gillar den för den är följsam att köra. Det är mycket mer tekniskt längs vingårdarna. 2013 ledde jag Rally Germany till lördag eftermiddag, och förra året till söndag morgon. det här året skulle det vara trevligt om vi kunde leda ända till slutet. En topp-tre-placering är realitisk. Det är mitt mål.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
- Rally Germany är som tre asfaltrallyn under en weekend eftersom underlaget under de tre dagarna är så olika. Inför Rally Germany testade jag kring vingårdarna så att jag kunde vänja mig vid underlaget i rallyfart. Jag har inte kört på asfalt sedan Rally Monte Carlo. Men jag ser fram emot det. Jag gillar specialsträckorna i Tyskland och jag hoppas att jag kan finna rytmen snabbt. Förra året var jag Volkswagens bästa förare med en tredjeplats. Naturligtvis vill vi som team förbättra oss i år. Jag förväntar mig att vi kommer att slåss om att ta ledningen. Men vi kan inte glömma konkurrenterna. Min vän Thierry Neuville och Hyundai vann här förra året. Dessutom är Citroën med Kris Meeke och Mads Østberg alltid snabba på asfalt. Vädret kan också vara avgörande eftersom det förändras hela tiden. Så det är många utmaningar att bemästra. Att jag tvingades bryta i Rally Finland innebar att jag förlorade andraplatsen i VM för förare. Jag vill ta tillbaka den med en bra placering i Rally Germany. Mitt mål är att kämpa om en plats bland de tre bästa.

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), ställningen
Förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 182
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 93
3. Mads Østberg 84
4. Andreas Mikkelsen 83
5. Thierry Neuville 70
6. Kris Meeke 54
7. Elfyn Evans 53
8. Ott Tänak 50
9. Hayden Paddon 44
10. Dani Sordo 39

Kartläsarmästerskapet poäng
1. Julien Ingrassia 182
2. Miikka Anttila 93
3. Jonas Andersson 84
4. Ola Fløene 83
5. Nicolas Gilsoul 70
6. Paul Nagle 54
7. Daniel Barritt 53
8. Raigo Mõlder 50
9. John Kennard 44
10. Marc Marti 39

Konstruktörsmästerskapet poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 257
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 141
3. Hyundai Motorsport 139
4. M-Sport World Rally Team 126
5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 49
6. Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team 43
7. Jipocar Czech National Team 43
8. F.W.R.T. 9
15-08-14 The DS3 WRC move onto tarmac
After a series of six gravel rounds, during which the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has established itself in second place in the Manufacturers’ standings, the World Championship returns to tarmac in Germany. Three DS 3 WRCs will be competing in Trier, driven by Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson, Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Stéphane Lefebvre/Stéphane Prévot. It will be the talented young Frenchman’s first competitive outing in the DS 3 WRC, after winning the FIA Junior WRC and WRC3 titles last season in a DS 3 R3.

aving secured eleven consecutive wins here between 2002 and 2013, Citroën Racing boasts an impressive record on the roads of Rallye Deutschland. Very competitive again in 2014 thanks to the efforts of Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team returns to a familiar hunting ground nestled between the Luxembourg border and the banks of the Mosel river.

With rallies in Germany, France and even Spain – the majority of which will be contested on tarmac – the final part of the season is set to be punctuated by this surface. For the entire team, the month of August goes hand in hand with applying a new configuration. The drivers, engineers and mechanics all need to adopt specific methods for this surface.

As regards the DS 3 WRC, although the body shells remain unchanged, the suspension, shock absorbers and brakes are all adapted for use on tarmac. The set-up is specifically defined for the challenges thrown up by an event like Rallye Deutschland. A test session held in France, close to the German border, enabled the crews to begin work on adjusting to the pace of the surface ahead of recce.

On tarmac, the DS 3 WRCs will benefit significantly from the upgrades made during the first half of the season. The improved engine performance, the rear suspension geometry and the 2015-spec aerodynamics will all help the drivers. The recent tests also provided an opportunity to work with the new range of Michelin tyres, which are available from Rallye Deutschland onwards. Tyre choice will once again be a key aspect at this event. In August, the weather in the region can change very suddenly and this can have a significant impact on the race set-up.

For Mads Østberg, Rallye Deutschland will give him the chance to finish in the top 10 for the twelfth event running, a feat that has only been achieved once in the last four seasons. Consistent and quick with three podium finishes this year, the Norwegian currently lies third in the World Championship standings.

Leader of Rallye Deutschland with three stages to go last year, Kris Meeke knows how this highly specific event can catch you out. The Northern Irishman, winner of Rally Argentina in the spring, will be in with a good chance on tarmac.

Competing in a third DS 3 WRC with the support of his partners, Stéphane Lefebvre will be making his competitive debut in the top-flight category. Having risen to prominence in the PSA Peugeot Citroën group’s promotional formulas, he won the FIA Junior WRC and WRC3 titles last year in a DS 3 R3. This year, he has continued to learn about rallying at this level in a DS 3 R5 and a DS 3 RRC as part of the WRC2 championship.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal):
“Rallye Deutschland marks the start of the run-in and the return to tarmac after two very fast gravel rallies. It’s a radical change of setting and surface and it’s also a very special event for Citroën Racing, one where we have enjoyed a lot of success over the years. The team has an awful lot of experience here. This first round of the season on tarmac will give us the chance to assess the progress of the DS 3 WRC on this surface. Kris and Mads will be free to choose their strategy for the race. Kris has already shown his potential on asphalt, especially in Germany, and Mads is continuing to make progress on tarmac. For Stéphane Lefebvre, this will be another opportunity for him to keep on learning. This first appearance in a DS 3 WRC shows that the formula offered by Citroën Racing works. Sixteen months ago, he made his World Championship debut in a DS 3 R3. He has worked hard to get to w here he is today. A totally new challenge now lies ahead for him.”

Mads Østberg:
“The DS 3 WRC is an exceptional car on tarmac, so I can’t wait to get going on this, the first proper rally on this surface on the 2015 calendar. Testing went very well. I was able to fully concentrate on my driving, to get my bearings again. The upgrades made by the technical team are undoubtedly going to help us to compete with our main rivals. I know Rallye Deutschland pretty well now, having competed here five times before. It’s a great event, which calls for a lot of concentration. My aim is to do my best and be as quick as possible. The roads vary a lot throughout the rally, with stages in the vineyards, the forests and the military base and so you need to keep adjusting your driving style. A top 5 or top 6 finish would be a pretty good result, because we need to score points for the championships.”

Kris Meeke:
“I can’t wait to get started. Rallye Deutschland is an event that I particularly enjoy. Last year, we were on the pace. For my first race on tarmac in the DS 3 WRC, I had found the confidence to push very quickly. The car is just incredible on this surface. I hope that the experience I’m accumulating at each round will help me to be among the frontrunners again. I’d prefer it to be hot and dry, although the weather is always very difficult to predict in this region. If it rains, the early runners drag a lot of mud on the lines and it becomes more difficult. Finishing on the podium here is a realistic goal. If I manage to be consistent and keep out of trouble, I know that we’ll be at the front. But anything can happen!”

Stéphane Lefebvre:
“I really enjoyed getting to grips with the DS 3 WRC during my first runs in testing. This is not the first time that Citroën Racing has given a driver a debut in a WRC, so I felt like I had plenty of support and encouragement from the team whilst learning about rallying at this level. There is more power under the bonnet and the braking is breath-taking on tarmac. I have, of course, been thinking about this event since the start of the year, although I never became fixated on this date. I’m trying not to put any extra pressure on myself. I see it as another step forward as I progress towards competing with the top drivers. The aim is to start well with the DS 3 WRC and get as many miles as I can under my belt. If the conditions are right and I feel good, then I’ll try and show what I can do!”

PANZERPLATTE AND MANY OTHER TRICKY SECTIONS
Although the 45.61 kilometre-long Panzerplatte test, run twice on Saturday’s leg, may go a long way towards determining the outcome of Rallye Deutschland, almost all of the other stages are exceptionally difficult with road surfaces that change from one section to another.

On Thursday morning, each of the crews will be using the shakedown, held on Konz (4.60km), to get their bearings one final time before the start. The ceremonial start of the rally will see the crews pass under the Porta Nigra Roman gate in Trier before returning to parc ferme.

In championship standings order, the cars will arrive in the service park from 8am on Friday morning to prepare for an opening loop of four stages located to the north, each run twice: Sauertal (14.84km), Waxweiler (16.40km), then Moselland (23.24km) and Mittelmosel (13.67km) through the heart of the vineyards. The morning and afternoon loops will be broken up by a 30-minute service at 1.10pm. The leg is due to finish from 7.20pm in Trier.

The crews and teams face an early start on Saturday morning, setting off at 6.10am for Grafschaft (18.35km) in the vineyards and the very fast Bosenberg (17.13km). They then head for the Baumholder military base with two runs on the short Panzerplatte Arena (2.87km), followed by the monster Panzerplatte (45.61km). More of the same in the afternoon after a service, but with just one run on Panzerplatte Arena. The crews are expected back in Trier from 8.42pm.

On Sunday, the priority crews will start in reverse order of the overall rally standings, tackling two runs on Stein & Wein (19.59km) and Dhrontal (14.08km), along the banks of the Mosel. The Power Stage is due to get underway at 12.08pm. The rally is scheduled to finish in front of the Porta Nigra from 3pm.
15-08-14 New challenge for M-Sport in Germany
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak will face a new challenge next week as the 2015 Ford Fiesta RS WRC makes its asphalt debut at the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) – ADAC Rallye Deutschland.

The new Ecoboost-powered Fiesta has already proven its pace on gravel and next week will see it let loose on the sealed-surface roads of the German Rhineland.

Both drivers were present at an extensive research and development test in the hills above Sanremo earlier this year, and the team are currently in the midst of a five-day, pre-event test – experiencing roads similar to those that give the German fixture one of the most intriguing routes of the year.

For many, Rallye Deutschland is considered three rallies in one. The character of the stages differ considerably – from twisting tracks through the Mosel vineyards, to the open roads of Saarland and the perilous ‘Hinkelstines’ that line the Baumholder military ground. It’s important to have the correct set-up for each variation, and the M-Sport team have focused on this.

Both drivers have historically performed well on asphalt and Evans in particular can boast an impressive track record from the Trier-based event.

The Welshman won the rally as part of the FIA WRC Academy in 2012 and was locked in an intense battle for the WRC 2 win in 2013 – trading the lead with Robert Kubica before conceding victory by just over 10 seconds.

In 2014 – his first season behind the wheel of a world rally car – he and co-driver Daniel Barritt produced a breakthrough performance. Out-performing a number of their more experienced rivals, the pairing secured a string of top-three stage times throughout the final day, including the sought-after Power Stage victory.

Last year’s impressive final-day performance saw Evans finish just 5 seconds adrift of the podium, and the Welshman will certainly have earmarked this year’s Rallye Deutschland to showcase his progression. Needless to say, the British duo has the potential to be knocking on the door of the podium once again.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Tänak may not have contested a pure asphalt event with the power and performance of a world rally car since 2012, but his previous performances mean he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder could also be a dark horse for next week’s podium positions.

The Estonian won the event as part of the S-WRC in 2011. Off the back of a number of impressive sealed-surface performances that year, he caught the eye of the Ford Motor Company and was elevated to the manufacturer squad for the 2011 edition of Rallye du Var.

Both drivers will have set their sights high for the ninth round of the WRC, and in true Rallye Deutschland fashion, anything is possible.

Elfyn Evans said:
“Rallye Deutschland is one of my favourite events and one that I look forward to year on year. We’ve had a lot of good results there in the past and we’ll be hoping to continue that trend next week.

“It’s a difficult rally, but I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy it so much. Unlike other events, the stages don’t have the same general characteristics. Some are fast and open, some are tight and twisty, and then there’s Panzerplatte which is unlike anything else on the calendar.

“There’s so much to consider – the weather, the road conditions, the stages themselves – and you really have to be at the top of your game to do well there. We’ve had two extensive tests in the lead-up – one in Sanremo and one currently on-going in Germany – so I’m feeling well prepared and can’t wait to get out there.

“We’ve not had the best of luck in the last few events, but this is where I want to turn that around. We’ll be looking for a clean and tidy rally in which we can show some good speed. If we can do that, anything is possible.”

Ott Tänak said:
“I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do at Rallye Deutschland. I enjoy Tarmac rallying, but my last proper Tarmac event with a world rally car was at the end of 2012 so there will be a lot to learn.

“This is one of my favourite Tarmac rallies and we have done well in the past. Each stage is different so it’s a real test of how quickly you can adapt to the changing conditions. You also have to have a strong relationship with your gravel crew and the best up-to-date information from the stages and weather reports.

“We’re currently in the middle of an extensive pre-event test in which we’re trying to get a taste for as many of the different roads and conditions as possible. Set-up is very important here and we want to be as prepared as possible before the event.

“It’s one of those rallies where anything can happen and I’m really interested to see where our pace will be. It will be a challenging weekend, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“At the start of the year, our strategy was to start targeting podiums in the second half of the season and Rallye Deutschland is certainly an event we have set our sights on. As the first asphalt event with the new car, there is an element of the unknown but our Tarmac test programme has been extremely encouraging.

“Both drivers have historically performed well in Germany. Elfyn [Evans] proved just how competitive he could be last year and, although he has not competitively driven a world rally car on pure asphalt since 2012, Ott [Tänak] also has the potential to perform strongly.

“The entire team is highly motivated ahead of this event and we’re looking forward to seeing what rewards the pace of Elfyn, Ott and the new car can produce on Tarmac.”
15-08-02 Jari-Matti Latvala vinner sitt hemmarally
Fartkungen Jari-Matti Latvala och hans co-driver Miika Anttila vann det snabbaste WRC-rallyt någonsin på sin hemmabana i Rally Finland. I den åttonde omgången av FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), slutade det finska paret 13,7 sekunder före team-kollegorna i Volkswagen, Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), tack vare en snittfart av 125,44 km/tim. Därmed klättrade de upp till andra plats i VM-ställningen.
I nästa rally, Rally Germany, har Ogier/Ingrassia den första chansen att säkra en tredje VM-titel i rad. I konstruktörsmästerskapet ökade Volkswagen på sin ledning till 116 poäng, vilket ger Volkswagen en komfortabel fördel inför de avslutande fem rallyomgångarna i Tyskland, Australien, Frankrike, Spanien och Storbritannien.
Men Volkswagen stötte på en motgång i Finland. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) körde av vägen och rullade flera varv i hög fart på den femte av 20 specialsträckor. De kröp ur sin Polo R WRC oskadda, men skadorna på bilen var för omfattande för att man skulle kunna reparera den på plats och återuppta rallyt enligt Rally 2 reglementet. Säkerhetsburen stod emot de kraftiga påkänningarna utan skador och chassit prepareras redan nu för nästa rally.

Seger
Seger nummer två för säsongen för Latvala/Anttila och deras tredje totalt i Rally Finland gick på ren vilja. Efter inledningen av 2015 års säsong som varit en besvikelse gjorde den finska duon sin starkaste prestation för året och var snabbast på hälften av de 20 specialsträckorna och slutade före sina team-kollegor med något som är en relativt stor marginal i Rally Finland.

Efter sin 14 seger i karriären kan Latvala/Anttila kalla sig högfartsspecialister. 2015 vann de det snabbaste grusrallyt någonsin i Rally Finland. 2014 vann de också i Frankrike det snabbaste asfaltrallyt någonsin. WRC-rundan i Finland blev också Miikka Anttilas 162:a start. Därmed passerar han Luis Moya, som också är en del av Volkswagens team och som har gjort 162 starter.

Rekordsnabbt
125,44 km/tim är den högsta snittfarten någonsin i WRC-historien. Med den anmärkningsvärda siffran slog Rally Finland sitt eget rekord från 2012 där snittfarten var 122,89 km/tim. Rally Finland har nu nio platser bland de tio snabbaste rallyna genom tiderna - inklusive de fyra första platserna.
Bilen

Polo R WRC har inte bara varit "Das Auto" under de senaste två och en halv säsongerna, utan också "Das Auto" för höga farter. Volkswagens rallybil har hittills tagit 29 av 34 möjliga segrar och 56 av 97 möjliga pallplatser. Den 318 hk starka fyrhjuldrivna bilen förblir obesegrad på snabba banor som i Polen och Finland. Framgången för Polo R WRC beror inte bara på skickliga förare och starka insatser från teknikerna på motoravdelningen utan också på chassiteknikerna. Med alla långa och höga hopp i Rally Finland måste förarna var helt samspelta med alla specialister i teamet.

“Ouninpohja”
“Ouninpohja” är en av de ikoniska sträckorna i World Rally Championship. I banracing betraktas Nürburgrings nordslinga som det verkliga testet av människa och maskin. Rallyvärldens motsvarighet är den här fullfartssträckan genom de finska skogarna runt Jyväskylä. Jari-Matti Latvala och Miikka Anntila tog ett stort steg mot segern på den här sträckan 2015. Med sträckseger nummer 400 i karriären gick "JML" upp i ledningen. Han klockades också för den snabbaste tiden, 132,18 km/tim i 2015 års version av den berömda sträckan.

"Myhinpää”
Den snabbaste Power Stage någonsin: Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia vann "Myhinpää” med en snittfart av 135,25 km/tim och tog då den 123:e, 124:e och 125:e bonuspoängen för Volkswagens förare. Jari-Matti Latvala och Mikka Anttila tog ytterligare två bonuspoäng till Volkswagen, 127 - fler än någon annan tillverkare. Det var den 23:e segern i Power Stage för Ogier/Ingrassia och den 26:e för Volkswagen-teamet.

Mästerskapet
De stora vinnarna i Rally Finland var inte bara Latvala/Anttila utan också VM-ledarna Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia. De dubbla världsmästarna har nu en ledning med 89 poäng när de ställs inför Volkswagens hemmatävling Rally Germany. Bara åtta förare/co-drivers har nu matematiskt möjlighet att hindra dem från att vinna en tredje titel. De som ligger närmast är tvåan i VM-tabellen Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila, Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S, Citroën på tredje plats, 98 poäng bakom), fjärdeplacerade Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (99 poäng efter) och på femte plats Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai, 112 poäng efter).
Citat efter dag tre i Rally Finland

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
-Det var en otrolig duell. Jag tror vi bjöd fansen på en riktig show. Grattis till Jari-Matti and Miikka. De var verkligen starka hela helgen. Jag sade före rallyt att Jari-Matti var den man måste slå på hans hemmarally. Som alltid gjorde Julien och jag vårt bästa men liksom förra året var de bara för bra här i Finland. Trots det är jag mer än nöjd med andraplatsen eftersom vi utökade vår ledning i sammandraget. Även utan den fina andraplatsern är Rally Finland än en gång en fantastisk upplevelse. Som förare är man aldrig lyckligare eller känner adrenalinet rusa som på de supersnabba sträckorna genom den finska skogarna.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
- Jag kan inte med ord uttrycka hur lycklig jag är! Jag var så motiverad och segersugen inför det här rallyt. Efter alla upp- och nedgångar under säsongen betyder den här segern enorm mycket. Jag vill tacka hela teamet för deras arbete. De har alltid trott på mig även när allt inte har gått perfekt. Som väntat var dagens sträckor en berg och dalbana och en perfekt avslutning på 2015 års Rally Finland. Stort tack till fansen för deras stöd i service-parken och längs sträckorna. Nu vill jag bara njuta av ögonblicket!

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
-Vi hade satt upp höga mål inför Rally Finland. Framför allt ville vi försvara vår andraplats i VM-sammandraget och om möjligt öka på till vår fördel. Tyvärr var det inte vår dag och vi kraschade och fick bryta. Mina fartnoter var litet för optimitiska på femte delsträckan. Jag lättade i en lång vänsterkurva över ett krön som man borde kunna ta i full fart under perfekta förhållanden. Men det visade sig inte räcka. Vägen tog slut och vi rullade flera gånger. Som tur var är Polo R WRC mycket robust och inget allvarligt hände med oss. Vi var naturligtvis mycket besvikna över att skadan var så allvarlig att vi inte kunde reparera den på plats. Vi ser nu fram emot Volkswagens hemmarally i Tyskland.
Jost Capito, chef för Volkswagen Motorsport
-Vilket fantastiskt rally Jari-Matti Latvala, Miikka Anttila, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. De var i en klass för sig. Jari-Matti och Miikka är utan tvekan "Kings of Speed" eftersom ingen någonsin har varit så snabba som de vare sig på grus eller asfalt. Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia har sin första chans att ta hem VM-titeln i kommande omgång i Tyskland. Alla som känner dem vet att de inte gillar att sluta som tvåa, och de kommer att göra allt i sin makt för att vinna igen i Tyskland. Även om Andreas Mikkelsen och Ola Fløene tvingades bryta på fredagen är vi extremt nöjda. Vi är obesegrade i Finland - det snabbaste rallyt i kalendern.

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Finland – slutresultat
1. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen 2t 33m 03.8s
2. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen + 13.7s
3. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën + 1m 36.8s
4. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai + 3m 58.7s
5. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford + 4m 29.3s
6. Juho Hänninen/Tomi Tuominen (FIN/FIN), Ford + 4m 44.3s
7. Martin Prokop/Jan Tománek (CZ/CZ), Ford + 6m 20.3s
8. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN), Škoda + 7m 11.2s
9. Pontus Tidemand/Emil Axelsson (S/S), Škoda + 8m 52.2s
10. Lorenzo Bertelli/Lorenzo Granai (I/I), Ford + 9m 37.4s

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Finland – resultat i Power Stage
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 6m 16.1s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 0.4s
3. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën + 2.9s

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), ställningen
Förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 182
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 93
3. Mads Østberg 84
4. Andreas Mikkelsen 83
5. Thierry Neuville 70
6. Kris Meeke 54
7. Elfyn Evans 53
8. Ott Tänak 50
9. Hayden Paddon 44
10. Dani Sordo 39

Konstruktörsmästerskapet poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 257
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 141
3. Hyundai Motorsport 139
4. M-Sport 126
5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 49
6. Hyundai Motorsport N 43
7. Jipocar Czech National Team 43
8. FWRT 9
15-08-02 Quentin Gilbert hords of fightback from Henri Haapamäki
Led by a flying Henri Haapamäki, on a charge right to the finish, the Finnish clan was beaten by the Frenchman Quentin Gilbert at Rally Finland. This was Quentin Gilbert’s third win in four events this season. At Jyvaskylä, he finished ahead of the Finn Henri Haapamäki ­– by just half a second – and the Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby. The next round, held on tarmac, is the Tour de Corse on 1-4 October.

The battle commenced on Thursday evening, Finland against the rest of the world, with a super special stage held in the streets of Jyvaskylä. Leader of the FIA Junior WRC, Quentin Gilbert got off to the best start ahead of his fellow countryman Terry Folb and Henri Haapamäki.

On Friday morning, Haapamäki got into his stride with an opening stage win on Pihlajakoski. He was trailed by the Irishman Daniel McKenna and Jari Huttunen. However, the next test turned the proceedings on their head. Henri Haapamäki picked up a puncture and lost 2m 30s to the Italian Simone Tempestini, who took over the category lead.
The race then took on a whole new form at the start of Ouninpohja. Henri Haapamäki began a run of form worthy of some the greatest Finnish drivers! With six consecutive stage wins, he shot up the standings from tenth to third position. At the front, Quentin Gilbert grabbed the lead at the end of SS4 and began to counter the rapidly closing Haapamäki.
By the end of the opening day, Gilbert was 1m 23s ahead of Ole Christian Veiby and 1m 32s clear of Henri Haapamaki. Federico Della Casa, Jari Huttunen, Jean-René Perry, Terry Folb, Mohammed Al Mutawaa and Simone Tempestini (stopped after going off) completed the standings. Daniel McKenna (radiator leak after a jump), Pierre-Louis Loubet (roll) and Matthieu Margaillan (personal reasons) all retired from the rally.

On Saturday, only Jari Huttunen managed to stop Henri Haapamäki from achieving a clean sweep. Haapamäki racked up another seven consecutive stage wins to finish the leg just 22.8 seconds behind Quentin Gilbert. Federico Della Casa (rolls) and Jari Huttunen (puncture and damaged front suspension) were forced to retire. Third-placed Ole Christian Veiby was followed by Terry Folb, Jean-René Perry and Mohammed Al Mutawaa, all some way back.

The short final day served up an incredibly dramatic finale for the spectators. Quentin Gilbert arrived a minute late at the time control for SS19. Henri Haapamäki claimed another stage win to move to within 2.4 seconds with just the final stage to go. Despite recording a sixteenth stage win out of a total of twenty, Haapamäki missed out on the overall victory, which went to Quentin Gilbert, by just 0.5 seconds! Ole Christian Veiby took the final podium spot and the other points went to Terry Folb, Jean-René Perry, Mohammed Al Mutawaa, Jari Huttunen, Federico Della Casa and Simone Tempestini.

After this fourth event of the season, Quentin Gilbert now has a 33-point lead over Henri Haapamäki. Simone Tempestini is 34 points back and Ole Christian Veiby is 41 points off the lead. In the Nations Trophy, France leads the standings, ahead of Italy and Finland.

The FIA Junior WRC competitors now switch to tarmac for the Tour de Corse on 1-4 October.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Quentin Gilbert: “It was really tough up against the Finns! We managed to hold them off by controlling our pace perfectly, although it was really close on the final stage. Since the start of the season, we have had a bit of a safety margin. Here, we really had to go for it to secure the win on the final stage. I knew that we had to keep a tenth ahead. And we finished five tenths clear! This is my greatest win and a superb result for the championship. We’ll now have to prepare well for the Tour de Corse and go for position to try and secure the title.”
Henri Haapamäki: “We tried to put Quentin under pressure right to the end. I drove really well after picking up the puncture and losing time behind Simone Tempestini at the start of the rally. With sixteen stage wins, it was difficult to do much better, really. At the finish, I’m disappointed with the result. Perhaps I’ll feel better about my performance tomorrow.”

PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. Quentin Gilbert / Renaud Jamoul 2:54:43.6
2. Henri Haapamaki / Marko Salminen +0.5
3. Ole Christian Veiby / Andres Jaeger +3:09.1
4. Terry Folb / Franck Le Floch +9:27.3
5. Jean-René Perry / Joshua Reibel +10:30.3
6. Mohammed Al-Mutawaa / Stephen McAuley +28:16.4
7. Jari Huttunen / Antti Linnaketo +30:17.5
8. Federico Della Casa / Domenico Pozzi +31:48.2
9. Simone Tempestini / Matteo Chiarcossi +43:51.8

FASTEST TIMES
Henri Haapamaki, 16 – Quentin Gilbert,2 – Simone Tempestini and Henri Haapamaki, 1.

LEADERS
SS1: Quentin Gilbert
SS2: Henri Haapamaki
SS3: Simone Tempestini
SS4 to SS20 (finish): Quentin Gilbert

FIA JUNIOR WRC STANDINGS
1. Quentin Gilbert 81 points
2. Henri Haapamaki 48 points
3. Simone Tempestini 47 points
4. Ole Christian Veiby 40 points
5. Jean-René Perry 22 points
6. Federico Della Casa 20 points
7. Christian Riedemann, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Osian Pryce 18 points
10. Mohammed Al-Mutawaa 16 points
11. Matthieu Margaillan and Terry Folb 12 points
13. Yohan Rossel 10 points
14. Alessandro Re and Kornel Lukacs 8 points
16. Jari Huttunen 6 points
17. Charlotte Dalmasso 5 points
18. Daniel McKenna 4 points

NATIONS TROPHY
1. France 93 points
2. Italy 57 points
3. Finland 51 points
4. Norway 45 points
5. Switzerland 30 points
6. United Arab Emirates 20 points
7. Germany and Great Britain 18 points
8. Hungary 16 points
9. Ireland 8 points
15-08-02 Another podium finish for Mads Østberg
Like in Mexico and Argentina, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson finished on the podium at Rally Finland in their DS 3 WRC. The Nordic crew remains third in the World Championship and the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team consolidates its second place in the Manufacturers’ championship standings. The WRC switches to tarmac for the next round, Rallye Deutschland, on 20-23 August.

All three DS 3 WRCs set off again this morning for a short loop featuring just two stages. Kris Meeke, Khalid Al Qassimi and Mads Østberg used the first run on Myhinpää to find their marks before the Power Stage.

First on the road, Kris Meeke set the third fastest time, just ahead of Mads Østberg. After a long regroup, the crews tackled this very fast stage for a second time in the final showdown. Kris Meeke claimed a bonus point by grabbing the third best time. Mads Østberg was fifth fastest on the Power Stage, securing his third podium finish of the season. Meanwhile, Khalid Al Qassimi enjoyed an error-free rally.

Thanks to his third place finish, Mads Østberg scored 15 points to remain third in the Drivers’ World Championship. With the extra point claimed by Kris Meeke, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team now holds a slender advantage in second position in the Manufacturers’ standings.

Third in the WRC2 category since the opening day, Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot also completed the event on the podium in their DS 3 RRC. This highly positive result serves as the perfect warm-up for the young French driver’s competitive debut in the DS 3 WRC at Rally Germany in three weeks’ time.

In the FIA Junior WRC, the Frenchman Quentin Gilbert snatched the win by the narrowest of margins, finishing just 0.5 seconds ahead of the Finn Henri Haapamäki. The Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby took the final podium place.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “We let our drivers decide on their own strategy for this weekend. They showed their ability to drive very fast on these roads, which are regarded as something of a benchmark in the World Championship. Both Kris and Mads showed that they were capable of being among the frontrunners in Finland with the DS 3 WRC. The work done by the entire team has clearly paid dividends. Kris’ mistake does not call this approach into question. Both drivers will be able to decide upon their own tactics in Germany and in Australia. Another podium finish is also further proof that the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team is making progress and it gives us confidence for the rest of the season.”

Mads Østberg: “It’s been an excellent weekend for us. Although we lost a bit of time at the start, we were able to find our rhythm pretty quickly. We showed that we could be competitive and set some good times throughout the rally. I’m very happy to finish on the podium. The feeling was particularly good in the DS 3 WRC. It’s incredibly enjoyable to drive such a fast and responsive car on these super-quick roads. All I had to do was listen to the pace notes and drive fast. It was really great fun. And that’s also why I’m a rally driver. I love my job!”

Kris Meeke: “In terms of competitiveness, we showed that we have progressed compared with where we were last season here. The changes to the DS 3 WRC have been very positive and we were able to get very close to the leaders. It’s always frustrating when you don’t come away with a result, but the conditions were particularly difficult this weekend. It was good to rejoin this morning and score a point in the Power Stage. At the end of the day, there are lot of positive points and one small negative…”

Khalid Al Qassimi: “Given the conditions we encountered throughout the weekend, I decided not to take any risks. On some stages, our pace notes weren’t always perfect. I therefore preferred to take it easier and try to get the balance right, because this was the first time I have driven the DS 3 WRC on these roads. On the last test, I upped my pace by about 20% and it went pretty well. The stages are difficult, but really beautiful. It’s really enjoyable to race here!”
Stéphane Lefebvre: “I had been hoping for a top-five finish ahead of this weekend in Finland. So to finish on the podium is especially pleasing. We are now going to concentrate on preparing for Rallye Deutschland, where I’ll be driving the DS 3 WRC for the first time competitively. I hope I can adapt to it quickly.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS19 – Myhinpää 1 (14.13km) – With the roads still damp, the rally leader Jari-Matti Latvala took the stage win ahead of Sébastien Ogier, Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg. Khalid Al Qassimi set the sixteenth fastest time. In the FIA Junior WRC, Quentin Gilbert was handed a ten-second penalty, enabling Henri Haapamäki to close to within just 2.4 seconds.
SS20 – Power Stage Myhinpää 2 (14.13km) – Sébastien Ogier topped the timesheets to net three bonus points, followed by Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke. Latvala therefore won the fastest ever World Championship rally, at an average speed of over 125kph. Sébastien Ogier and Mads Østberg took the other podium places. Khalid Al Qassimi and Kris Meeke ended up in 17th and 18th positions. In the WRC2, Stéphane Lefebvre finished in third position whilst Quentin Gilbert claimed his third win in four events in the FIA Junior WRC, ending just 0.5 seconds clear of runner-up, Henri Haapamäki.

FINAL PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:33.03.8
2. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +13.7
3. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +1:36.8
4. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:58.7
5. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:29.3
6. Juho Hänninen / Tomi Tuominen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:44.3
7. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +6:20.3
8. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Skoda Fabia R5) +7:11.2
9. Pontus Tidemand / Emil Axelsson (Skoda Fabia R5) +8:52.2
10. Lorenzo Bertelli / Lorenzo Granai (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +9:37.4…
17. Khalid Al Qassimi / Chris Pattersson (DS 3 WRC) +16:20.7
18. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +21:39.7…

FASTEST TIMES
Jari-Matti Latvala, 10 – Sébastien Ogier, 9 – Kris Meeke, 1

LEADERS
SS1: Sébastien Ogier
SS2: Kris Meeke
SS3 to SS7: Sébastien Ogier
SS8 to SS20 (finish): Jari-Matti Latvala

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Sébastien Ogier 182 points
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 93 pts
3. Mads Østberg 84 pts
4. Andreas Mikkelsen 83 pts
5. Thierry Neuville 70 pts
6. Kris Meeke 54 pts
7. Elfyn Evans 53 pts
8. Ott Tänak 50 pts…
9. Khalid Al-Qassimi 9 pts
15-08-02 Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson på pallen i Rally Finland
Mads Østberg og kartleser Jonas Andersson, i Citroen DS3 WRC, har avsluttet den 8. VM runden i årets rally VM med en 3. plass i Rally Finland.

Løpet ble vunnet av Jari Matti Latvala og kartleser Miikka Anttila, mens Sebastian Ogier og kartleser Julien Ingrassia ble nummer 2.
«Det har vært et veldig bra løp for oss,» sier Mads, «og et utrolig morsomt rally. Vi gjorde et dårlig rally i Polen, og følte at mye av feilen lå i at teamet bestemte at vi ikke skulle teste. Før Finland har vi hatt 1 og ½ dags test, og vi er tilbake i fighten. Jeg er veldig glad for det. I dag har vi kjørt veldig safe, midt i veien, og uten å risikere noe som helst. Det var ingen sjanse til å kjøre oss opp, og enda mindre mulighet for noen bak oss til å ta oss igjen. Med den andre teambilen uten poeng p.g.a. gårsdagens avkjøring, blir det litt ekstra press for at det ikke må skje noe med den andre. Vi er kjempefornøyd med løpet og 3. plassen, det er den klare konklusjonen.»

Sammenlagt i VM beholder Mads og Jonas den 3. plassen de hadde før løpet. Mens Latvala og Anntilla har gått opp på 2. Mikkelsen og Fløene falt ned på 3.

Mens Ogier holder en klar ledelse med 182 poeng, er det kamp om 2. og 3. plassen, hvor det kun er 10 poeng som skiller mellom 2. og 4.
Neste løp går mesterskapet til Mosel dalen og Rally Deutschland, hvor underlaget er asfalt.
15-08-02 Veiby imponerte i Finland
Ole Christian Veiby imponerte i sin debut i Rally Finland. 19-åringen klinte til med tredjeplass, og klatret med det også opp på tredjeplass i junior-VM.

Kongsvinger-gutten smilte bredt da han kom i mål i Rally Finland. For første gang deltok han i det som av mange blir beskrevet som den vanskeligste VM-runden – og når han fullfører løpet med tredjeplass i JWRC, så kan han ikke si seg annet enn strålende fornøyd.
– Dette har vært veldig utfordrende og et vanskelig løp. Det er en stor fordel å ha erfaring fra Rally Finland og kjenne etappene fra før. Målet var å komme på seierspallen, og når vi lykkes med det, er det en helt fantastisk følelse, sier Ole Christian Veiby, som roser sin kartleser Anders Jæger for jobben han gjorde i helga.

Noe av det som gjør Rally Finland så vanskelig, er høy fart og mange hopp.
– Linjevalg og riktig fart inn mot hoppene betyr alt. Det er flere som rett og slett hopper ut i skogen fordi de bommer på inngangen til hoppene, sier han.

Med tredjeplass i JWRC, rykket de norske gutta opp på tredjeplass også i VM-sammendraget i juniorklassen. I WRC3-klassen ligger de nå på andreplass.

Rallytalentet legger ikke skjul på at han var ekstra spent før løpet.
– Jeg må være så ærlig å si at jeg kjente presset etter at jeg kjørte av i den forrige VM-runden i Portugal, og fulgte opp med å kjøre av under EM-runden i Estland. Det lå litt i bakhodet, og derfor var det viktig for selvtilliten å slå tilbake med dette resultatet, forteller han.

I den grad det er mulig å kjøre kontrollert i Finland, så gjorde Ole det.
– Vi beholdt roen gjennom hele løpet, og følte at vi kjørte midt i veien uten å ta den helt store risikoen. Det var imidlertid et par etapper hvor vi fant flyten skikkelig, og da gikk kjøringen nesten av seg selv. På de etappene kjørte vi også like fort som franskmannen Quentin Gilbert, som vant klassen og leder JWRC. Det viser at vi har tempoet inne, understreker han.

Selv om de kjørte uten å ta de store sjansene, så hadde de likevel en ”hjerte i halsen-opplevelse” på den nest siste etappen.
– Vi kom over et hopp, og hadde full gass på sjettegir. Jeg tipper vi hadde rundt 160 km/t da vi landet litt feil, og skled sidelengs og snurret midt i veien. Heldigvis gikk det bra, men da banket hjertet litt ekstra. Det ville vært utrolig kjedelig om det hadde gått rett til skogs når vi bare skulle kjøre for å fullføre løpet, sier han.

Det ble en dramatisk duell om seieren i JWRC. Det skilte kun 0,5 sekunder mellom Quentin Gilbert og hjemmehåpet Henri Haapamaki etter 20 fartsetapper, mens Ole Christian Veiby altså endte på tredjeplass.
15-08-02 Tänak recovers fifth in Finland
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak overcame all adversity to secure a strong fifth place at this weekend’s Rally Finland – keeping the team in contention for second place in the manufacturers’ FIA World Rally Championship.

The Estonian’s speed was there, but a small mistake through Friday’s first pass of ‘Päijälä’ (SS3) undoubtedly cost him a second successive podium. Having over-corrected a corner, he clipped a rock and had to drive seven of Friday’s stages with a broken front-left damper. The mistake relegated him outside of the top ten, but he regrouped brilliantly.

Adopting a risk-free strategy for the following speed tests, the Estonian took the opportunity to perfect his pacenotes; having not experienced the event with the power and performance of a world rally car since 2012.

Despite erring on the side of caution, the pace of Tänak and co-driver Mõlder was highly encouraging. With no need to push the same limits as the leaders, they were still able to set a string of top-three times behind the wheel of their Ford Fiesta RS WRC – highlighting their potential and what could have so easily been another impressive result.

There was a similar story for Elfyn Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt who ran wide and broke their Fiesta’s rear suspension on ‘Finland’s biggest rock’ through the first pass of ‘Ouninpohja’ (SS4) on Friday morning.

A less determined driver would have called it a day, but Evans affected a genius repair that saw him safely through all of the stages. Cleverly using his Snap-On spanner from the in-car toolkit to reinforce the broken suspension arm, the fix lasted six stages and allowed Evans to experience the entire route – something that could prove vital in years to come.

Unfortunately, his time loss was more severe than that of his team mate, and the Welshman found himself with little hope of breaking back into the top-ten.

Embarking on the final day of competition, the crews had to master a new configuration of a Finnish classic – two high-speed runs through a daunting 14.13 kilometres of ‘Myhinpää’.

Team Principal Malcolm Wilson set the fourth fastest time through a longer version of the stage in 1990, and the M-Sport duo were keen to replicate their boss’ success.

Tänak did just that – setting the fourth fastest time through the points-paying Power Stage to prove that he had the pace to have challenged for the podium this weekend.

Ott Tänak (5th) said:
“It’s obviously a little disappointing because I think we could have been on the podium this weekend. Unfortunately, I made a mistake on Friday morning and with no midday service it turned out to be extremely costly!

“But we can still take a lot of positives away from the weekend. After losing as much time as we did, you’re never really in the mood to push the limits and you never really find that sweet spot that brings the quick times. But even though we weren’t on the limit, the times were still pretty good and that’s really encouraging for the future.

“It’s a fantastic rally, and looking at the performance as a whole, I know that we have the potential to be challenging for the very best results next year.”

Elfyn Evans (13th) said:
“Hitting a rock is never a very clever thing to do, but I think we did well to get through all of Friday’s stages. I didn’t know if it would be possible with six stages and broken rear suspension, but we persevered and were rewarded with some good experience from all of the stages.

“There’s no other event on the calendar like Finland, so experience really does count for a lot and I think we can be happy with the progress we’ve made from this time last year. The pace was there or there abouts and I can see where there are areas for improvement. We’ve still got work to do, so if we can improve by half again then we’ll be challenging right at the top next year.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“When you consider what Ott [Tänak] and Elfyn [Evans] could have achieved this weekend there is of course a little disappointment. But on the other hand it’s fantastic to see both cars at the end of the rally.

“On Friday morning I really didn’t think it would be possible, but Elfyn’s road-side repair was incredible and the whole team worked hard to ensure we salvaged good points that keep us in contention for second place in the manufacturers’ championship.

“We’ve seen some great times from both drivers throughout the weekend which is really encouraging – especially when you consider that they weren’t taking the same risks as the front runners.

“We’ll turn our attention to Germany now where I think we can be strong. Elfyn proved that he could be competitive there last year, and even though he has not driven on asphalt since the end of 2012, Ott has had good pace in the past. Hopefully it will provide us with an opportunity to close the gap.”
15-08-02 Tidemand stark tvåa i Finland
Pontus Tidemand körde till sig ytterligare ett toppresultat när han slutade tvåa i Rally Finland - VM-rallyt med de ökänt höga hastigheterna. Det här blir andra tävlingen i rad där ŠKODA Motorsport dominerar WRC 2 och Pontus är nöjd med att komma hem med sin tredje VM-pokal efter lika många event med Fabia R5.
- Fantastiskt för ŠKODA att säkra ett-två på pallen igen, säger en glad Pontus efter tävlingens sista sträcka. Teamet har gjort och gör fortfarande ett strålande jobb med bilen och vi bevisar verkligen potentialen både i den och teamet i sig. Vi kommer utan tvekan att bli ännu starkare under resten av säsongen!

Efter starten på den nya stadssträckan i Jyväskylä på torsdagskvällen låg Pontus och kartläsaren Emil Axelsson på en sjätte plats, dock bara två sekunder från ledningen. Redan på fredagens första sträcka klättrade de upp till andraplatsen tack vare en stark start när rallyts verkliga utmaning började. Programmet för dagen, som var tävlingens längsta, innehöll 9 sträckor på totalt 157 km - utan serviceuppehåll under dagen. En mindre incident på förmiddagen, där Pontus kom lite för brett i en sväng och gjorde ett besök i diket, kostade tid och blev en påminnelse om vikten av att undvika risker för att ta sig i mål i slutet av dagen. Med en lätt skamfilad bil och mer än halva dagen kvar, såg Pontus till att få en felfri eftermiddag och lyckades samtidigt köra in tillräckligt för att ta tillbaka andraplatsen.

Vid lördagens start hade Pontus en minut till teamkompisen Esapekka Lappi i ledning och tack vare farten hos de båda ŠKODA-bilarna i toppen, ökade även avståndet till trean Stéphane Lefebvre under dagen till över en och en halv minut. Även om de relativt stora tidsglappen minskade spänningsfaktorn i toppstriden, gjorde de knappast uppgiften lättare. Att visa konkurrenskraftig fart på samma gång som du bevakar din placering utan att ta onödiga risker är en utmaning även för de bästa. Pontus såg till helheten och trots att han satte riktigt imponerande tider och tog flera sträckvinster, var fokus i första hand på att nå den slutliga mållinjen på söndagen med ännu ett gott resultat säkrat.

Genom att fortsätta att hålla huvudet kallt gick allt enligt planerna även på den sista tävlingsdagens två sträckor och Pontus landade sin tredje pallplats i Rally Finland - de två tidigare var i Junior-VM 2012 och 2013 i en betydligt mindre kraftfull bil.
- De här vägarna har varit helt otroligt roliga att köra och det finns egentligen ingen gräns för exakt hur hög hastighet man kan få upp, det är bara förnuftet som sätter ett stopp, skrattar Pontus. Vi hade en tajt fight om sträckvinster med Esapekka igår och det var kul att se hur nära våra resultat var, trots att ingen av oss gick på 100%. Men jag är riktigt nöjd med min och Emils prestation i helgen, särskilt som det här var mitt första Rally Finland med en så här snabb bil, vilket var en helt annan upplevelse!

Om knappt en vecka åker Pontus och Emil till Malaysia för att börja förberedelserna inför nästa deltävling i Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. Det handlar om Malaysian Rally och det avgörs mellan den 14 och 16 augusti.

Rally Finland WRC 2 topp 5
1. Esapekka Lappi (FIN) 2:40:15.0
2. Pontus Tidemand (SWE) +1:41.0
3. Stéphane Lefebvre (FRA) +3:31.5
4. Yuiry Protasov (UKR) +4:58.3
5. Scott Pedder (AUS) +6:45.6
15-08-02 Latvala wins fastest WRC rally ever
Jari-Matti Latvala won the fastest event in FIA World Rally Championship history when he claimed his third victory at Neste Oil Rally Finland on Sunday afternoon.

The Finn triumphed in an event affectionately known as the ‘Finnish Grand Prix’ at a remarkable average of 125.44kph, eclipsing the previous best of 122.89kph set at the same rally in 2012 by Sébastien Loeb.

Latvala headed Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Sébastien Ogier by 13.7sec after a thrilling duel over rollercoaster gravel roads near Jyväskylä. The win, his second of the season and 14th of his career, promoted Latvala to second in the championship behind Ogier.

Ogier and Kris Meeke both led before Latvala moved to the front midway through Friday. But Ogier refused to allow the Flying Finn to break clear by more than a handful of seconds, and only when he took a chunk out of a wheel against a rock on Saturday afternoon could Latvala breathe more easily.

“This was one of the greatest drives of my life,” said a delighted Latvala, who was greeted at the end of the final stage by father Jari. “I’m proud to be a Finn today. I’ve had a tough season but winning my home event is like winning half a world championship.

“I’ve focused fully on this rally for three weeks. After my disappointment at the last round in Poland, I decided my title hopes had gone and concentrated fully on preparing for Finland. It paid off today,” he added.

Ogier, who took the maximum three bonus points by winning the final live TV Power Stage, extended his championship lead to 89 points and could clinch a third title at ADAC Rallye Deutschland later this month.

“It was an amazing battle and the show we delivered this weekend was fantastic for the sport. I have no problem being beaten by Jari-Matti when he is this strong,” he said.

Citroën’s Mads Østberg secured his third podium of the season in third, 1min 23.1sec behind Ogier. The Norwegian inherited the place when team-mate Kris Meeke broke his car’s suspension yesterday after hitting a tree.

Thierry Neuville finished fourth in a Hyundai i20, a feat that seemed impossible shortly before Thursday’s start when his team faced a race to rebuild the car after the Belgian crashed heavily in the warm-up stage.

Fifth went to Ott Tänak, who recovered well after driving most of Friday with a broken damper on his Ford Fiesta RS after clipping a rock. Juho Hänninen completed the top six in another Fiesta RS.

Martin Prokop was seventh and headed WRC 2 winner and runner-up Esapekka Lappi and Pontus Tidemand, with Lorenzo Bertelli taking his first point of the season in 10th.

The first pure asphalt round of the season comes next, when Trier hosts ADAC Rallye Deutschland on 20 - 23 August.
15-08-01 Mads Østberg moves into the fast lane
Picking up the gauntlet after Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle they went off on Jukojärvi, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson lie third overall at Rally Finland ahead of Sunday’s short final leg. The Nordic duo is aiming for their third podium finish this season to consolidate their third position in the World Rally Championship.

Continuing to drive at breathtakingly high speeds, the crews tackled some of Rally Finland’s most famous stages today. Mökkipera, with its highly technical sections, Jukojärvi, with its rock-laden verges, Surkee, with its flat-out section and Horkka, with its famous jumps, all featured on today’s programme.
Third at the end of the opening leg, Kris Meeke began the morning’s loop by losing just two seconds to the leader on the first fifty kilometres of stages. The Northern Irishman was stopped in his tracks, however, on the second run on Jukojärvi (SS16). He ran wide on a right-hand bend and clipped a tree, damaging the front axle of his DS 3 WRC. He should be able to rejoin tomorrow under Rally2 regulations.

Fourth this morning, Mads Østberg matched the pace of his team-mate. He inherited third overall on SS16 and had consolidated his position by the end of the day by remaining faster than his closest rivals.

Stéphane Lefebvre continued to learn about the special demands of rally driving on the formidable Finnish roads. In his DS 3 RRC, he managed to tighten his grip on third place as he aimed to secure a second podium in the WRC2 category.
In the FIA Junior WRC, the Finn Henri Haapamäki dominated the leg with a series of stage wins. He quickly retook second position in the standings and closed the gap to the leader, Quentin Gilbert, ahead of tomorrow’s final sprint. The Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby holds third place.

The short final leg features just two runs on the very fast Myhinpää stage. The 14.13 kilometre test will be completed twice, with the Power Stage due to start at 1.08pm, local time.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Mads Østberg: “It was an excellent day. We showed we had the right pace to keep putting the leaders under pressure. We also had to contend with the rain and I had quite a few moments on the sections where the grip levels were inconsistent. My aim is to continue to be quick tomorrow and try to score a few bonus points on the Power Stage.”

Kris Meeke: “With the rain, we had changed the set-up before setting off on Jukojärvi 2. After a few kilometres, there was a right-hand bend which tightened over a jump. I stayed in the middle, like I did on the first run, but when I turned into the corner I was already in the mud. I tried everything to keep control of the car despite the aquaplaning. The car hit a tree on the outside of the corner, breaking the front left-hand suspension. It’s a real shame, because we were on course for a good result. We had an excellent feeling in the car. I wasn’t under pressure and I felt good, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.”

Khalid Al Qassimi: “When I felt that the roads were too slippery, I was even more focussed and took absolutely no risks. When the surface was more suited to pushing, with more grip, I enjoyed myself on the stages. Throughout the day, I tried to find the right balance depending on the conditions.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS11 – Mökkiperä 1 (13.84km) – Quicker into his stride than his rivals, Jari-Matti Latvala grabbed the stage win ahead of Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg ended the stage 3.5 seconds off the pace.

SS12 – Jukojärvi 1 (21.14km) – Sébastien Ogier regained the time lost on the opening stage with fastest time. Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg finished in the top four to consolidate their positions.

SS13 – Surkee 1 (14.95km) – Further top-four finishes for both Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers, whilst Sébastien Ogier closed to within two seconds of Latvala in the overall standings.

SS14 – Horkka 1 (15.59km) – Jari-Matti Latvala responded immediately, finishing one second ahead of Sébastien Ogier. Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg consolidated their third and fourth positions before heading for the midday service. Khalid Al Qassimi continued his error-free race in 19th place.

SS15 – Mökkiperä 2 (13.84km) – Dani Sordo went off and lost just over five minutes. Juho Hänninen therefore inherited sixth place. At the front, the head-to-head battle between Latvala and Ogier continued with a stage win for the latter, by just 0.1 seconds.

SS16 – Jukojärvi 2 (21.14km) – Jari-Matti Latvala topped the timesheets to almost double his lead in just one stage. Kris Meeke went off at the start of the stage and broke his front left-hand wheel, spelling the end of his day. Mads Østberg inherited third position.

SS17 – Surkee 2 (14.95km) – Jari-Matti Latvala continued to increase his lead. For the first time since the start of the rally, he held a ten-second lead over Sébastien Ogier. Mads Østberg, third overall, increased the gap to fourth position to almost two minutes.

SS18 – Horkka 2 (15.59km) – On the final stage of the day, Jari-Matti Latvala claimed another stage win, ending the day in first position with a 13.2-second lead over Sébastien Ogier. Mads Østberg held onto third place and Khalid Al Qassimi ended the day in seventeenth.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:20.20.6
2. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +13.2
3. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +1:28.0
4. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:26.5
5. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:19.1
6. Juho Hänninen / Tomi Tuominen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:21.0
7. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:41.2
8. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Skoda Fabia R5) +6:32.6
9. Pontus Tidemand / Emil Axelsson (Skoda Fabia R5) +7:55.9
10. Lorenzo Bertelli / Lorenzo Granai (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8:56.8

FASTEST TIMES
Jari-Matti Latvala, 9 – Sébastien Ogier, 8 – Kris Meeke, 1

LEADERS
SS1: Sébastien Ogier
SS2: Kris Meeke
SS3 to SS7: Sébastien Ogier
SS8 to SS18: Jari-Matti Latvala
15-08-01 Tänak jumps to fifth in Finland
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak jumped – quite literally – back into Rally Finland’s top-five today after an intelligent approach paid dividends following yesterday’s costly mistake.

Having damaged the front-left damper of their Ford Fiesta RS WRC when colliding with a rock at the end of ‘Päijälä 1’ (SS3), Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder were relegated outside of the top-ten.

It was a bitter blow for the Estonians who undoubtedly had the pace to challenge for the podium this weekend, but they regrouped brilliantly with a highly intelligent approach.

Having only contested the event’s fast and technical stages with the power and performance of a world rally car on one previous occasion, Tänak focused on perfecting his notes and lines for the years to come.

After losing time and knowing that a fight for the top positions would demand a drive on the limits; he and Mõlder opted to err on the side of caution through the eight stages that made up today’s 131.04 competitive kilometres.

Despite focusing on gaining the vital experience required to conquer the Finnish roads, the Estonians’ times were highly encouraging – securing three fourth fastest times as well as a further three third fastest times throughout the day.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt were also ruing a mistake through yesterday’s stages.

Damaging the rear suspension after a heavy impact with what has been dubbed ‘Finland’s biggest rock’ on the first pass of ‘Ouninpohja’ (SS4), the pairing affected a genius fix which saw them back to service, albeit with substantial time loss.

Putting the error well and truly behind them, they perfected their pacenotes and highlighted various areas for improvement – developing the speed they had shown at the start of the event to set the fourth fastest time through a rain soaked second pass of ‘Jukojärvi’ (SS16).

Thanks to their determination and intelligence, both drivers are now on course to secure manufacturer points for the team with just two passes of ‘Myhinpää’ left to run.

Ott Tänak (5th) said:
“After such a frustrating day yesterday, it has been a good one for us today. After yesterday’s disappointment, there was no need to push the limits so we were fairly careful without taking any risks.

“ We were basically just perfecting the notes because I’ve only done this event in a world rally car once before and that was three years ago! Experience is really important here so we focused on getting that; but it was good to see that our times weren’t too far away, even when we were taking it really steady.

“I really didn’t expect to be sitting in fifth place tonight, but that just goes to show how much respect you need to show these stages. Hopefully we can continue tomorrow as we have today and bring home some good points for the team.”

Elfyn Evans (14th) said:
“It’s not been a bad day by all means. Okay the pace wasn’t quite as good as it was at the start of the rally, but after driving with a broken suspension for almost all of yesterday it was difficult to get into the perfect rhythm and it’s still a massive improvement on last year.

“We’ve got the mileage and the pacenotes from all of the stages, and the feeling in the car has been really good. After the experience we’ve gained this weekend and the pace we were able to show without really pushing, I’m confident that we’ll be in a position to fight for the top results next year.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“I don’t think Ott [Tänak] expected to be in fifth place this evening, but he deserves it. He set some good times, but he also drove cleanly and cleverly without taking any risks which is really encouraging.

“Elfyn [Evans] too displayed some good pace today. It was always going to be a bit more difficult for him to get up to speed having had to drive with broken rear suspension for most of yesterday, but the potential is clearly there.

“Both drivers have gained experience of all of the stages, which is vastly important; and as a result I think they’ll both be capable of fighting for the top positions next year.”
15-08-01 Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson avanserer i Rally Finland dag 3
Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson i Citroen DS3 WRC har gjennomført 3. dag av årets 8. runde i Rally VM, Rally Finland. Dagen har bestått av 8 fartsetapper på til sammen 132 km, bestående av superraske grusveier og mange lange hopp. Mads og Jonas har hatt en bra dag på jobb, og ligger på en sikker 3. plass før de to avsluttende etappene i morgen. Løpet ledes av Jari Matti Latvala, mens Sebastian Ogier ligger på 2.

«Det har vært en bra, men også en vanskelig dag. Mange avkjøringer i dag også, som det beste beviset på at det er vanskelig å kjøre på glatte men superraske grusveier, og også kontrollere landingene på hopp som svinger over bakketoppene, med landinger rett i neste sving. Det ligger masse klipp ute på nettet, og det er kan anbefales og ta en titt. Tenk på at det er mye bedre å sitte inne i bilen og være med på flyturen, enn det er å se på film eller ute på prøvene» gliser Mads, «det er nemlig ubeskrivelig rått her.»

Dagen startet med to fighter om de øverste plassene på lista, en mellom Latvala og Ogier, om 1. og 2. plass, og en mellom Kris Meek og Mads, som er teamkollegaer i Citroen Racing, om 3. og 4 plassen. Med ca. 20 sekunder mellom gruppene fra morgen av. Disse 4 kjørte markant raskere enn de øvrige på prøve etter prøve. Statistisk sett pleier denne type fighter å ende med et offer, som gjør feil og taper. Det gjelder å ikke bli en del av den statistikken. Derfor tok Mads omgående avgjørelsen på å gå til «safe mode» da det kom harde regnbyger rett i forkant og under SS16, og meget vanskelige forhold fulgte med. Det ble avgjørende for kampen om 3. plassen, da Kris Meek kjørte av veien og slo av et hjul etter et par km. på etappen. Det var hårfint fra at det ble et offer til. På nøyaktig samme sted som Meek kjørte av hadde Ogier et godt «tilbud», men slapp unna med skrekken og en ødelagt felg (som holdt prøven ut).

«Det skjer alltid noe i sånne fighter,» fortsetter Mads, «og da himmelen åpnet seg, og vi merket at grepet ble skikkelig dårlig, tok jeg en rask avgjørelse på å slå av til et safe tempo. Gjør de andre det samme, ville jeg ikke tapt noe. Gjorde de det ikke var sjansen stor for at det kom til å skje noe. Bare synd at det gikk utover teamkameraten. Ogier kom seg unna med hårfine marginer,» avslutter han.

Det er 2 korte etapper igjen, samme etappe 2 ganger, på til sammen ca. 28 km. I utgangspunktet kan det da ikke skje en endring i toppen. Men løpet avsluttes med en etappe, direkte sendt på TV2 Sportskanalen, hvor det utdeles tre, to og ett bonuspoeng til topp 3. Derfor er spenningsmomentet fortsatt til stede. Det er bare et par rallier siden 2 av toppførerne, Andreas Mikkelsen var en av dem, krasjet ut på samme sted, etter en litt for hard satsing på å få med seg ekstrapoeng.

Løpet har god dekning i TV2 sportskanalen, ellers vil det komme løpende oppdatering fra teamet, så følg gjerne Mads på www.madsostberg.no. Der finner man også Facebook , Instagram og Twitter kontoene hans. På www.WRC.com. er det live sending med intervjuer etter hver prøve, og en meget god resultatservice, etappe for etappe, -inkludert mellomtider.
15-08-01 Midday quotes Rally Finland, section four
Ott Tänak (8th) said:
“It’s been an okay morning. This is more or less my first time in Finland with the speed of a world rally car so there is a lot to learn. There are a few surprising moments at times and we don’t always have the right line. It’s quite tricky, but the experience is good.

“We just have to keep building the confidence. To be on the pace of the leaders you have to be on the limit all of the time. There’s no need for us to take those sorts of risks now so we’re just focusing on improving the feeling and clawing back as many points as possible.”

Elfyn Evans (17th) said:
“Obviously we don’t want a repeat of yesterday but we still want to keep developing the speed. The first stage [this morning, SS11] felt okay, but I could have certainly attacked it a bit harder. I didn’t quite settle on the next couple. They’re a bit more technical – narrow and twisty – which didn’t suit me quite as well. There’s still work to do but it’s going okay and we’ll try to push a bit harder this afternoon.”
15-08-01 The finnish Grand Prix is go, go, go!
Day1– With Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle third overall and Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson in fourth position, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Ral ly Team mastered the first leg of Rally Finland.
– Having completed over 160 kilometres of timed stages, the DS 3 WRCs stayed with the leaders whilst pulling more than a minute clear of their closest challengers.

he opening day of Rally Finland served up an extremely rich and varied route for the crews at this legendary World Championship event. With tens and tens of thousands of spectators lining the roads, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers had to tackle some of the most beautiful stages of the season to complete the first half of the route.
The day’s key stage, Ouninpohja is a very special test for all rally drivers and fans alike. The WRCs complete around 75 jumps in 34 kilometres, spending over thirty seconds in the air without touching the ground! For decades, regardless of the configuration, this has been the decisive stage that all the drivers want to add to their competitive record.

The crews had eight stages to complete. After making a successful start to the rally in the streets of Jyväskylä last night, the DS 3 WRCs set off on this morning’s stages nestled between lakes and forests at average speeds in excess of 130kph.
Kris Meeke began the day in style, setting the second-fastest time on the opening stage (SS2) to grab the overall lead. Throughout the leg, with a stage win on Päijälä (SS7), he matched the pace of Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier. Despite a minor moment on Ouninpohja (SS4) and a penalty for arriving late at a time control at the end of the afternoon, the Northern Irishman remained among the front-runners and made it back to Jyväskylä in third overall, around twenty seconds behind the leader.

At a similar pace, Mads Østberg held fourth place overall at the end of the first pass on Ouninpohja. The Norwegian consistently moved further ahead of this nearest challengers, whilst remaining ready to pounce just behind the top three.

Back on a surface that was somewhat unfamiliar after a four-year absence, Khalid Al Qassimi gradually found his bearings as he completed more stages. Despite a brief run-in with a ditch, he ended the long first leg in seventeenth place, having acquired additional experience that will prove very important for the rest of the rally.

Competing in the WRC2 category, Stéphane Lefebvre was sandwiched between a group of Nordic drivers. He ended the opening day in a very encouraging third position in his DS 3 R5.

In the FIA Junior WRC, the championship leader Quentin Gilbert finished day one ahead of the Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby and local favourite Henri Haapamäki.

Saturday’s leg features eight stages on gravel roads between Jyväskylä, Keuruu and Jämsä. The cars are due to leave parc ferme at 7am for two loops, separated by a midday service at 1.14pm. The crews will complete 130 kilometres of timed sections before returning to Jyväskylä from 7.40pm onwards.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Mads Østberg: “The day went well. We lost a few seconds at the start of the morning. From stage three onwards, we were more or less on the pace. We are going to keep going and continue to push in order to put pressure on the leaders. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, because I really love the stages on this loop.”

Kris Meeke: “I felt just as good in the car as I did last year on this very fast course. I had a strange feeling with the car after the first run on Ouninpohja. I heard a noise at the front; first of all, I thought it was a puncture and then that it was a transmission issue. We’re going to take a look in service. In the afternoon, I concentrated even harder to keep the car on the racing line and even managed to claim a stage win!”

Khalid Al Qassimi: “I’m not really happy with my performance. I thought I would improve more between the two loops. In these conditions, with the rain and the slippery roads, I wasn’t able to up my pace as much as I would have liked. It was very difficult to build my confidence on these very fast roads with so many blind jumps. I tried to minimise the risks and I hope that tomorrow’s leg will go better than today.”

SS1 – Harju 1 (2.27km) – Shown live on television, the opening stage of Rally Finland was held in the streets of Jyväskylä. On Thursday evening, in front of huge crowds, Sébastien Ogier took the overall lead by finishing ahead of Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg was sixth fastest whilst Khalid Al Qassimi finished 11.9 seconds off the pace.

SS2 – Pihjakoski 1 (14.51km) – The first full day began on Friday morning with a narrow forest test. Latvala won the stage ahead of Kris Meeke. The Briton became the new overall leader. Mads Østberg finished seventh.

SS3 – Päijälä 1 (23.56km) – Sébastien Ogier topped the timesheets again on this practice run for Ouninpohja. With the second fastest time, Kris Meeke remained within a second of the leader. Mads Østberg ended the stage in seventh overall. Khalid Al Qassimi leapt six places up the leaderboard in the overall standings.

SS4 – Ouninpohja 1 (34.39km) – The first pass on the most famous stage at Rally Finland enabled Sébastien Ogier to consolidate his first position. He finished ahead of Latvala, Østberg and Meeke after 34 kilometres completed at an average speed of more than 130kph. Mads Østberg moved up into fourth place.

SS5 – Himos 1 (5.62km) – The crews ended the loop with this incredible descent to Himos. Ogier took the stage win, as Meeke and Østberg consolidated their positions before the midday tyre-fitting period.

SS6 – Pihjakoski 2 (14.51km) – Fastest time for Latvala, leaving the top four unchanged with Ogier, Latvala, Meeke and Østberg. Khalid Al Qassimi moved up another three places.

SS7 – Päijälä 2 (23.56km) – At an average speed of 133.2kph, Kris Meeke claimed the stage win on Päijälä. The Northern Irishman closed to within 7.2 seconds of the leader. Mads Østberg held onto fourth place and Khalid Al Qassimi moved into the top 20.

SS8 – Ouninpohja 2 (34.39km) – New record for Jari-Matti Latvala on Ouninpohja in this configuration with a time of 15:36.8. Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg kept pace with Ogier. The Norwegian moved over a minute clear of his nearest challenger in the overall standings.

SS10 – Harju 2 (2.27km) – Another stage win for Ogier, who ended the day just 2.6 seconds behind the overall rally leader, Jari-Matti Latvala. Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg followed in third and fourth respectively. Khalid Al Qassimi ended the leg in 17th overall.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:16.19.2
2. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +2.6
3. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +24.0
4. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +34.1
5. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:49.6
6. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:52.3
7. Juho Hänninen / Tomi Tuominen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:22.5
8. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:46.6
9. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Skoda Fabia R5) +3:18.5
10. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:30.2…

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier, 5 – Jari-Matti Latvala, 4 – Kris Meeke, 1

LEADERS
SS1: Sébastien Ogier
SS2: Kris Meeke
SS3 to SS7: Sébastien Ogier
SS8 to SS10: Jari-Matti Latvala
15-08-01 Determination and damage limitation
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak know how demanding Rally Finland can be, but the youngsters were cruelly reminded of that fact today – having to muster all of their determination in pursuit of damage limitation.

Without the luxury of a midday service, two small mistakes behind the wheel of their Ford Fiesta RS WRCs meant that our determined duo had to limp through six of today’s eight speed tests – nursing their damaged cars back to the end of day service.

Both drivers looked under control and on pace through the day’s opening stages. Two third fastest times saw Tänak hold fourth place while an impressive display of speed propelled Evans into a strong sixth position.

But as the crews prepared for the first pass of ‘Ouninpohja’ (SS4), their hard work and promising performances were undone.

Over-correcting what they thought was an overly ambitious pacenote towards the end of SS3, Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder clipped a rock which damaged the front-left damper.

One stage later, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt were to fall foul of 'Ouninpohja' – running wide less than five kilometres into the stage and hitting a rock which damaged the rear suspension.

The subsequent fix that the pairing then affected was genius – reinforcing the broken suspension arm with the Snap-On spanner from their in-car toolkit!

As two of the most determined competitors in the field, Tänak and Evans refused to give up the fight. The Gravel Grand Prix can be cruel, but thanks to the will of our drivers and the strength of the EcoBoost-powered Fiesta RS WRC, an encouraging result may yet be possible with both cars fully repaired ahead of tomorrow's action.

Ott Tänak (10th) said:
“A couple of kilometres before the end of the second stage [of the morning, SS3] I over-corrected one corner. It looked tighter than what we had it down as in the notes and we were fully sideways on the exit. There was a big stone and we clipped it which damaged the damper.

“It was of course really frustrating because I think we could have had the pace to be challenging for the podium again this weekend. Thankfully, we were able to get the car back to service, but we have lost a lot of time as a result.

“Tomorrow I think we just need to go out there and have some fun on these amazing stages. There is still a long way to go, and there is still a good chance of points so let’s just see what tomorrow has to offer.”

Elfyn Evans (20th) said:
“We ran wide at the start of Ouninpohja [SS4] and there was a huge stone on the exit of the corner which we hit and damaged the rear suspension arm. We managed to make a temporary repair that got us back to service, but we lost so much time and the whole afternoon was mainly about nursing the car back.

“It’s been frustrating, but it’s from my own doing so I have nothing to blame other than myself. It’s been a long afternoon, on what would have been massively enjoyable stages, so we’re obviously very disappointed.

“We were feeling really good in the car for the first two stages [SS2 and SS3]. It didn’t feel particularly risky and we felt that we were reasonably clean so we just need to put today behind us and focus on developing that same pace tomorrow.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Both Ott [Tänak] and Elfyn [Evans] started really well. Unfortunately there were a couple of little mistakes which has cost us dearly today.

“Ott went too deep into a corner and hit a rock which damaged the front-left suspension. Then on the very next stage, Elfyn went a little wide and hit what we think must be the biggest rock in Finland!

“The fix he and Dan [Barritt, co-driver] did on that car was phenomenal. It’s incredible that they managed to get back to service and I think both drivers displayed a real determination today.

“Both cars were fully repaired in service and we’re looking forward to seeing what they can do tomorrow.”
15-08-01 Mads og Jonas med sikte på pallplass etter dag 2
Etter 10 farts-etapper på til sammen ca. 16 mil, er Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson i mål etter en meget tøff 2. dag i Rally Finland. Dagen har vært gjennomført helt uten service, noe som er et ekstra konkurranseelement man vanligvis ikke har. Normalt har man i det minste en remote-service, altså en utenfor serviceplass. Når det i tillegg er superraske etapper på skogsveier, med snitthastigheter så høye som 140 km/t, og hopp så lange at det ser ut som «bil-flyvning», er det store utfordringer både fører og kartleser må gjennom. Det gjelder ikke minst også for Citroen DS’en. Ingen mulighet for å resette gjennom dagen, verken for mannskap eller utstyr.

Mads og Jonas ligger på 4. plass, men tilhører en gruppe på 4, som har stukket fra de andre. Det er 34 sekunder opp til Jari Matti Latvala, som leder 2,6 sek foran Sebastian Ogier, med Kris Meek på 3, 24 sek bak. Det er ikke mer enn 10,1 sekunder opp til pallen for Mads og Jonas, og absolutt noe å kjøre for. Ned til Tierry Neuville på 5. plass, er det 1 minutt og 16 sekunder.

«Jeg er ikke fornøyd med den første etappen til morgen i dag, der tapte vi alt for mye, og endte som 7. raskest. Det var ikke bra,» sier Mads. «Jeg fant ikke helt ut av festet, og var for langt unna grensen av det jeg kunne ha kjørt. Etter det har det vært bra, fortsetter han. Det har vært utrolig morsomt på disse superraske veiene. Så jeg er totalt sett fornøyd med dagen.»

Det har vært to store krasjer blant førerne i toppen. Både Andreas Mikkelsen og Hayden Paddon hadde fullfart utkjøringer, men ingen skade verken på fører eller kartleser. Men tvilsomt om noen av dem får bilene sine reparert til såkalt Superrally i morgen.

«Vi skal pushe på i morgen, jeg har litt mer å gå på når det gjelder tempo, skal prøve å kjøre fortere, så får vi se hva det holder til. Jeg gleder meg veldig, og vi skal gjøre det beste vi kan,» avslutter Mads smilende.

Detaljerte resultater finnes på wrc.com. Følg Mads og Jonas på www.madsostberg.no .
15-08-01 Stygg smell for Andreas Mikkelsen
Det ble bråstopp på den femte fartsetappen for Andreas Mikkelsen under Rally Finland. Det er uvisst om 26-åringen får reparert bilen og kan stille til start igjen i morgen.
– Jeg synes det var vanskelige forhold i dag. Enkelte steder var det godt feste, mens andre steder var det dårlig feste. Derfor forsøkte jeg å kontrollere og slapp gassen i en venstresving, hvor jeg normalt kan holde full gass når forholdene er bra. Dessverre var det ikke nok bare å slippe gassen. Vi mistet festet, og dro av og begynte å rulle inn mot skogen. Selv om dette er utrolig kjedelig, så er det en del av gamet i rally, sier Andreas.
VW Motorsport-føreren, som ligger på andreplass i VM, sa før løpet at han trodde Rally Finland ville bli et vanskelig løp – selv om målet var å kjempe i toppen. Og han viste på publikumsetappen torsdag kveld at han hadde til hensikt å slåss om en pallplass. Med tredjetid, kun åtte tiendedeler bak teamkamerat Sebastien Ogier, som vant åpningsetappen, var han med fra start. Men på SS5 rullet han altså ut av tetkampen. Selv om smellen var kraftig, gikk det heldigvis bra med både han og kartleser Ola Fløene.
– Det gjorde egentlig ikke så vondt, men det er verre med bilen. Den er ganske kvestet, sier Andreas, som er usikker på om skadene på bilen lar seg reparere slik at han kan stille til start igjen i morgen. Hvis ikke sikkerhetsburet er skadet, skal det imidlertid mye til for at de ikke klarer å få bilen på veien igjen – selv om VM-toeren er ute av tetkampen i Finland.

Hvor mange ganger bilen gikk rundt, er han usikker på.
– Jeg hørte bare noen kraftige smeller, og fikk bare med meg blå himmel og skog. Alt gikk så fort, før bilen stoppet i skogen, sier Andreas, mens mekanikerne undersøker bilen for skader.
15-07-31 Midday quotes Rally Finland, section two
Ott Tänak (10th) said:
“A couple of kilometres before the end of the second stage [of the morning, SS3] I over-corrected one corner. It looked a bit tighter than what I had it down as in my notes and I got a bit too much sideways. I had ‘don’t cut’ there because there was a big stone and we touched it with the inside of the wheel which damaged the damper.

“We were still able to limp through the following stages and that’s all we can look to do this afternoon – try to limp through the day and limit the time loss as much as possible.”

Elfyn Evans (15th) said:
“I felt quite comfortable in the car over the first two stages [today, SSS2 and SS3]. We weren’t taking any risks and it all felt fairly under control; but then at the start of the third one [SS4] I don’t know what happened.

“We were running wide through a sequence of corners. Then we ran wide again and there was a huge stone on the exit of the corner which damaged the suspension arm. We kept going at a fairly high speed for a while but then something broke and we’re struggling to continue. We’ll give it a good go, but even if we make it back to service we’re going to lose a huge amount of time!”
15-07-28 Tidemand redo att flyga i finska VM-rallyt
Pontus Tidemand fortsätter sin hittills mest hektiska säsong med ännu ett WRC-event. Formen är vässad sedan andraplatsen i Polen för en månad sedan när det nu är dags för en av säsongens höjdpunkter och ultimata farttester - Rally Finland.
Rally Finland blir Pontus och hans co-driver Emil Axelssons tredje VM-start för ŠKODA Motorsport och även den tredje tävlingen med Fabia R5 som är ŠKODAs stora nyhet för året. I de tidigare tävlingarna har det gått bra, riktigt bra till och med.
- Vi har främst varit fokuserade på att ta bilen i mål i de första tävlingarna. Den har fungerat väldigt bra och teamet har gjort ett fantastiskt jobb samtidigt som vi har haft kul under vägen. Det är kanske just det som är receptet för ett lyckat resultat, säger Pontus, som fått kliva upp på pallen både i Portugal och Polen.

Temat för sommaren är just hög fart, både händelsemässigt och bokstavligen. Efter Pontus och Emils vinst i den tredje deltävlingen i Asia-Pacific Rally Championship i Australien i mitten av juni, var det full fart mot VM i Polen, en tävling som bjöd på de högsta hastigheterna hittills i årets rally-VM. Nu är det alltså dags att fortsätta på samma spår i grannlandet.
- Med några bra tävlingar i ryggen är det klart att man är stärkt inför utmaningen och har förhoppningar om en extra kul helg, säger Pontus. Finland är ett krävande rally och kombinationen av hög fart och svåra passager ger många risker att få helgen förstörd. Men man siktar alltid på att förbättra sitt tidigare resultat och vi har jobbat hårt med våra förberedelser, inte minst med att få noterna så perfekta som möjligt. Marginalerna är små här och det är många som kommer att åka snabbt, kanske allra mest finländarna som vill glänsa inför hemmapubliken.

Rally Finland refereras ofta till som det snabbaste rally i WRC-serien med sina jämna grusvägar genom skogar, längs med sjöar och de kryddas av enorma hopp och krön. Till skillnad från Polens mjukt flödande och rytmiska sträckor, innehåller de finska vägarna fler tekniska sektioner som avsmalnande vägar och gömda krön som ställer höga krav på koncentration såväl som perfekta noter.

Nytt för i år är att torsdagens inledande publiksträcka körs i Jyväskylä, där även serviceplatsen är belägen och som med all säkerhet kommer att förvandlas till rallyfansens Mecka under helgen. Fredagen är rallyts längsta dag med nio sträckor, däribland den legendariska Ouninpohja som är tillbaka på programmet i år, och precis som i Polen ska den klaras av utan serviceuppehåll. Lördagens åtta sträckor innehåller klassiker som Mökkiperä och Jukojärvi, medan söndagen erbjuder en sista utmaning med en sista krävande sträcka på en och en halv mil som körs två gånger. Sammanlagt omfattar de tjugo specialsträckorna nästan 320 km.

Trots att Pontus bara har deltagit i tre av de sju VM-deltävlingarna som har körts så här långt (varav de två senaste för ŠKODA), ligger han ändå sexa i den totala ställningen - endast 24 poäng efter Jari Ketomaa, som just nu är i ledning i WRC 2-mästerskapet. Ketomaa missar dock sin hemmatävling på grund av en ögonskada, men det råder inte brist på svåra konkurrenter. Omkring 25-talet bilar kommer till start i WRC 2 i helgen och förutom det stora motståndet i Pontus ŠKODA- och EVEN Managementkollega Esapekka Lappi, kommer han även få tampas mot bland andra den snabbe estländaren Karl Kruuda, förra årets juniorvärldsmästare Stéphane Lefebvre från Frankrike, norrmannen Eyvind Brynildsen och landsmannen Fredrik Åhlin.
15-07-28 Flyguppvisning väntas i Rally Finland
Alla fyra hjulen i luften 77 gånger, ren flygning i mer än en halv minut - den legendariska specialsträckan ‘Ouninpohja’ är tillbaka i ‘Neste Oil Rally Finland’. Det Nordslingan i Nürburgring är för racerförare är den här fullfartssträckan genom skogarna kring Jyväskylä för rallyförare, där säsongens åttonde deltävling i World Rally Championship (WRC) körs med start torsdagen den 30 juli och målgång söndagen den 2 augusti.

Dubbla världsmästarna och ledarna i årets VM-tabell, Volkswagens Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), har fartrekordet på ‘Ouninpohja’ sedan 2013. De siktar på att ta hem segern i årets Rally Finland. Men två av deras många konkurrenter är teamkollegorna Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) som har fördelen av hemmabana. Det tredje Volkswagen-paret Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) känner sig särskilt hemma på snabba banor och skuggar nu på andra plats i VM-tabellen.
- Många beskriver Rally Finland som skogens Formel 1, säger Volkswagens motorsportsdirektör Jost Capito.
- På Volkswagen menar vi att flygning på fyra hjul är en riktig beskrivning av det här ikoniska rallyt. Det finns inget annat rally där förarna upplever så många krön och så långa hopp. Och det finns inget annat ställe med så snabba och smala grusvägar som i Finland. Det handlar om precisionskörning, och om att förarna har förtroende för sina rallybilar och om att inställningarna är perfekta. Med Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala och Andreas Mikkelsen har vi inte bara världens bästa förare utan också de bästa tekniska förutsättningarna för Rally Finland i form av Polo R WRC. Och det är precis vad vi vill bevisa nu för tredje gången i rad.

Mest spektakulära rallyt
Rally Finland är essensen av vad rally är för de verkliga fansen. Rallyt runt Jyväskylä, som tidigare kallades "De tusen sjöars rally", har varit Finlands inslag i World Rally Championship i mer än fyra decennier utan avbrott. Vid sidan av Rally Monte Carlo är det det mest prestigefyllda rallyt i kalendern och bara Rally Great Britain har körts lika många gånger som WRC-rally, 41 gånger.

Det vann sitt rykte som "Grand Prix på grus" med sina typiska snabba och följsamma specialsträckor med hastigheter nästan lika höga som på asfaltsrallyn. WRC-förarna får sin ultimata adrenalinkick i Rally Finland i allmänhet och på specialsträckan ‘Ouninpohja’ i synnerhet. På 2013 års version av den legendariska, 33 kilometer långa specialsträckan, blev WRC-bilarna luftburna vid exakt 77 tillfällen och förblev i luften totalt 30,4 sekunder- utan motstycke i rallyvärlden. Markko Märtin har rekordet för det längsta hoppet i WRC-historien när han 2003 flög 57 meter i 171 km/tim. Sébastien Ogier har ett annat rekord från 2013 när han körde sträckan med en snittfart av 130,75 km/tim.
Vid sidan av "Ouninpohja", som är tillbaka efter ett års uppehåll, erbjuder Rally Finland 2015 många klassiker, som ‘Himos’, ‘Jukojärvi’ och andra. År 2015 körs 20 specialsträckor, totalt exakt 320 km. De enda helt nya partierna av rallyt är Power Stage ‘Myhinpää’ och några korta sektioner av andra specialsträckor.

Finland mot Frankrike
Med sin seger i Rally Poland gav Sébastien Ogier Frankrike ledningen i tävlingen om vilket land som har segrar med 174 vinster, Finland ligger omedelbart bakom med 173 segrar. Sedan handlar det naturligtvis om äran, på sin hemmabana vill Jari-Matti Latvala jämna ut resultatet för sitt hemland Finland. "JML" har utomordenligt stora chanser statistiskt sett. Han är den ende av de nuvarande WRC-förarna som vunnit rallyt två gånger. Och dessutom vann han med knapp marginal förra året. Segermarginalen i den eviga duellen med Sébastien Ogier var bara 3,6 sekunder vilket gör det till ett av de tio tätaste resultaten i WRC-historien.

Citat inför Rally Finland
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
-Jag tog några dagars semester inför rallyt vilket alltid är bra för att rensa skallen. Det gör att man hinner ladda batterierna halvvägs genom säsongen. Vad gäller Rally Finland så är det definitivt en av mina favoriter i kalendern. Man får verkligen en känsla av fart i bilen. Vi brukar jämföra det med en berg och dalbana. Det går upp och ned hela tiden, det är aldrig riktigt platt. Det är många, långa hopp över skymda krön. Ofta kan man inte se vart vägen går och därför är korrekta noter extremt viktiga. Man måste också veta hur bilen reagerar när man går över ett krön så att man inte får några otrevliga överraskningar. Höjdpunkten i Rally Finland är ‘Ouninpohja’. Om vi blev ombedda att lista de bästa sträckorna i hela mästerskapet skulle ‘Ouninpohja’ definitivt vara med. För två år sedan körde vi hela sträckan och jag slog rekordtiden. Jag vill vara längst fram i år också. Men det kommer inte att bli lätt eftersom finländarna ofta är mycket starka på hemmaplan. Jag förväntar mig att min team-kollega Jari-Matti Latvala kommer att vara en utmaning i år igen. Han är mannen man måste slå.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
-Finland är ett av de mest krävande och snabba rallyna i WRC-kalendern. Varje hopp måste hanteras med försiktighet. Mina team-kollegor Sébastien Ogier och Andreas Mikkelsen är i god form för tillfället och kommer utan tvekan att ge allt för att vinna. Men jag vill detsamma. Det gör det ännu viktigare för mig att köra med full koncentration från första stund och kämpa om varje meter. Mitt mål är att än en gång få uppleva känslan från förra året av att stå på segerpallen. Rally Finland var otroligt för mig då. Jag kommer aldrig att glömma ögonblicket då jag stod på podiet, höll segerpokalen i min hand och alla fans hurrade. Rally Finland är min hemmabana, vilket naturligtvis gör mig motiverad men också sätter press på mig. I sådana ögonblick är min mentala coach Christopher Treier särskilt viktig för mig. Han hjälper mig att komma till start lugn och samlad.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
-Det senaste rallyt i Polen gick bra för oss. Vi höll konstant press på Ogier. Låt oss se om vi lyckas med det i Finland. Jag väntar mig att rallyt blir mycket svårare för mig. Polen var mer eller mindre ny terräng för alla förarna. Det var många nya specialsträckor. Rally Finland däremot innehåller många traditionella sträckor som många av förarna känner till. Jag har lärt mig mycket i Finland genom åren och tror att jag kan hålla jämna steg med täten. Men jag skulle vara mer än nöjd med en pallplats. De många hoppen över krön som ibland är skymda och sker i en otrolig hastighet är vad som gör Rally Finland så krävande. Jag gillar det verkligen. Man måste ställa upp bilen perfekt före hoppet så att man inte landar fel och riskerar att köra av vägen. Noterna måste vara perfekta och därför är "recce", rekognoseringen, så extremt viktig. Höjdpunkten i Rally Finland är specialsträckan ‘Ouninpohja’. Den är extremt snabb och krävande. De första 20 kilometrarna är särskilt utmanande. Man kör i hög fart över långa sträckor med det ena hoppet efter det andra. Under "recce" är det svårt att beräkna hur fort man kan köra över krönen eftersom man inte får köra fortare än 70 km/tim under inspektionen, medan man under rallyt kör i nästan 200 km/tim. Fartnoterna är avgörande här också. Man får oerhörd respekt för den specialsträckan.

Tre frågor till motorteknikern Phil Barret
Vi är mitt i fartveckorna i WRC, Polen ligger bakom och vi ser fram emot Finland - vad gör Finland så speciellt för en motortekniker?

Phil Barret: det handlar om fart, helt enkelt. Finland är ett av flera rallyn där motorprestanda är mer avgörande för hela paketet än på andra ställen. Förutom Finland gäller det även Mexiko och Sverige. Dessutom har Finland den längsta historien och mesta traditionen som ett fullfartsrally. Finland är den största utmaningen för motoravdelningen, så att säga.
Vilka är de speciella krav som Rally Finland ställer på motorerna?

Phil Barret: Man måste ha så många hästkrafter som möjligt, det är helt klart. Men det finns en annan mindre känd effekt. Enligt reglementet får motorn inte varva högre än 8 500 varv per minut. Att ligga så nära det värdet som möjligt utan att överskrida det på de långa fullfartssträckorna med långa hopp är inte så lätt som det låter. Om varvtalet överskrids intervenerar ett FIA-system, mycket kraftfullt och abrupt. Så man måste försäkra sig om att man håller så hög fart som möjligt utan att systemet griper in. Men man kan också förlora fem kilometer i timmen i toppfart om motorstyrningen är för konservativ.

Polo R WRC håller hastighetsrekordet för ‘Ouninpohja’. Tror du att rekordet slås i år?
Phil Barret: Jag skulle vilja svara med ett definitivt "ja". Men jag tror att det beror på omständigheterna under rallyt. Om det blir lika tätt som i Polen kommer alla förare att köra fullt utan kompromisser. Och vad gäller Polo R WRC har den förbättrats i alla avseenden sedan 2013, som var när ‘Ouninpohja’ kördes senast. Motorn har vidareutvecklats och det har även aerodynamik och chassi. Det är särskilt chassit som gjort hela paketet bättre. Så i teorin är det möjligt.

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), totalställningen
Förarmästerskapet poäng
01. Sébastien Ogier 161
02. Andreas Mikkelsen 83
03. Mads Østberg 69
04. Jari-Matti Latvala 66
05. Thierry Neuville 58
06. Kris Meeke 53
07. Elfyn Evans 53
08. Hayden Paddon 44
09. Ott Tänak 40
10. Dani Sordo 39

Kartläsarmästerskapet poäng
01. Julien Ingrassia 161
02. Ola Fløene 83
03. Jonas Andersson 69
04. Miikka Anttila 66
05. Nicolas Gilsoul 58
06. Paul Nagle 53
07. Daniel Barritt 53
08. John Kennard 44
09. Raigo Mõlder 40
10. Marc Martí 39

Konstruktörsmästerskapet poäng
01. Volkswagen Motorsport 214
02. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 125
03. Hyundai Motorsport 123
04. M-Sport 114
05. Volkswagen Motorsport II 49
06. Hyundai Motorsport N 43
07. Jipocar Czech National Team 35
08. FWRT 3
15-07-24 M-Sport´s summer of speed continues in Finland
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak continue their summer of speed next week as the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) embarks on what is arguably the highlight of the season – Rally Finland and the ‘Gravel Grand Prix.’

Famed for its flat-out speed tests, the Finnish fixture is one the most eagerly anticipated events of the year and the return of one of rallying’s most legendary stages – Ouninpohja – is sure to make this year’s offering all the more exciting.

After the high-speeds of Poland, there will be no let-up in pace. Nine of the fastest ten WRC rallies on record have been recorded in Finland and the crews will need to muster all of their ‘sisu’ – a Finnish phrase which loosely translate to ‘having courage’ – if they are to master the fast straights, jumps and concealed corners that make this one of the most thrilling events of the year.

Split second decisions and minute set-up changes can make all the difference. Bravery and precision are a must. And an extensive pre-event test is of vital importance to best prepare the cars – and the crews – for this high-speed challenge.

In light of this, the team completed an extensive pre-event test with Reiger to unlock further performance from the suspension of the new Ford Fiesta RS WRC. With so many ‘yumps’ – that’s Finnish for ‘jumps’ – various damper configurations can provide a big advantage and the team focused on enhancing stability and traction which could prove crucial next week.

Having lost mileage with a water pump failure in Poland, Evans was particularly encouraged by the test as he and co-driver Daniel Barritt became accustomed to the nature of the Finnish roads.

Following a string of bad luck on the previous three events, the Welshman is keen to prove what he could have achieved in Poland and to showcase the progress he has made in the past 12 months.

Evans certainly knows what it takes to tame the Finnish stages having won the event as part of the FIA WRC Academy in 2012. As an event the Welshman enjoys, he’ll be keen to showcase his development and should have his eyes firmly fixed on the top-five.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Tänak is relishing the opportunity to continue his recent good form. The Estonian was the only man to challenge the dominant Volkswagens on the Polish speed tests and he’ll be looking to do the same again next week.

A lot will depend on what the Finnish summer has to offer in terms of weather and road condition, but a huge number of Estonians are expected to cross the Gulf of Finland in support of their latest hero and Tänak won’t want to let them down.

If the speed he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder displayed last year is anything to go by, their loyal band of supporters won’t be disappointed – the pairing regularly out-performing their world rally car rivals when they completed the event behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R5 in the WRC’s premier support series.

Elfyn Evans said:
“Heading to one of the more enjoyable events of the year I am feeling good and ready to put our recent string of bad luck well and truly behind us. I want to prove what we were capable of in Poland, but more than anything I want to enjoy these amazing stages and really make the most of it.

“I got to experience Rally Finland for the first time with a world rally car last year and I have to say that it was an incredible experience. The high speed combined with the technical nature of the stages is incredible and when you hook-up a good rhythm to post a really good time, it’s a phenomenal feeling.

“But it’s not all fun and games. We know that the margins are very close in Finland and as the speeds are so high it’s very difficult to gain time on the leaders. There are so few opportunities to claw back any time loss so it’s important to get up to speed and be clean and tidy from the very beginning.

“Myself and Ott [Tänak] both had three days each of testing in preparation and the feeling is good. This is one of the highlights of the season and an extensive pre-event test is important for an event as specific as this one. There really isn’t anything else like it on the calendar and it is so important to fine-tune the cars – and the crews – for what is a very specific challenge.”

Ott Tänak said:
“I’m really looking forward to Rally Finland. The speed is high, and if you have a good feeling in the car it is so enjoyable and so much fun to drive. We’ll work hard in the lead-up to the rally so that we have everything perfect and can hopefully get that feeling once again.

“I know that the bar has been set quite high after Poland, but the stages are very different in Finland. The speed is similar, but the roads themselves are a lot more technical with lots of jumps and crests which make it so important to always have the correct line. In Poland it was completely flat with almost no blind corners, but in Finland there is something happening all of the time and you really need to keep your focus.

“We had a really extensive test in which we have been able to fine-tune the car and I’m feeling fairly confident ahead of the event, but I know that we will need to push hard. The Volkswagens will all be very strong and I’m expecting a number of other crews to up their game as well. There’ll be no points from Poland in Finland and we’ll need to work hard to achieve the result we want.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We were always targeting the second half of the season for a bigger push. The plan was for both drivers to get to the mid-point with a good base of experience and a good feeling in the car. Then, they could look towards results at the events that favour them a little bit more.

“It’s fantastic to see our plans taking shape, and for both drivers to have already secured a podium for the team – Elfyn [Evans] in Argentina and Ott [Tänak] last time out in Poland.

“Our plan will be the same for Finland. Being realistic, a win might be stretching it, but we want to see both drivers pushing to see what’s possible and although we will face strong competition from the other three manufacturers, I believe we have the pace to challenge for the podium.”

ADDITIONAL M-SPORT DRIVERS
As well as the two 2015-specification Ford Fiesta RS WRCs of Evans and Tänak, M-Sport will also run earlier specification models of the top-class Fiesta for this year’s Rally Estonia winner, Alexey Lukyanuk, and home-hero Juho Hänninen.

The team will also run the Ford Fiesta RRC of Yurii Protasov and the Ford Fiesta R5 of 2014 DDFT victor Sander Pärn as the pair continue their respective WRC 2 campaigns
15-07-24 Faster, higher, harder!
At the height of the summer, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team enters the second ha lf of the season in Finland.
– Around Jyväskylä, the team’s three DS 3 WRCs will be driven by Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson, Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Khalid Al Qassimi/Chris Patterson.
– The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team lies second in the Manufacturers’ World Rally Championship after the opening seven rounds.

The WRC calendar features several legendary events. Bang in the middle of its world tour, covering three continents, the Finnish round is an eagerly anticipated moment of the year, both for the crews and WRC fans alike.

Sometimes known as the “Jyväskylä Grand Prix”, it is the fastest race in the championship. When they won here in 2012, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena set an all-time record in a DS 3 WRC with an average speed of 122.89kph!

At that pace, the experience of the drivers and co-drivers and their commitment can make all the difference. In order for the crews to feel confident at these impressive speeds, the DS 3 WRCs undergo specific preparation.

Four days of testing are scheduled up until the day before recce starts. To go faster, higher and harder, the drivers need raw speed. The chassis must be especially responsive, with less balance than at other rounds. The speeds reached are high, because the majority of the corners are taken in one of the top three gears. The type of ground also affects the set-up. Mads Østberg goes as far as to compare his options to a tarmac set-up adapted to a gravel configuration!

The only driver to finish in the top ten at every event this season, the Norwegian currently lies third in the Championship standings. He will be starting his tenth Rally Finland this year with high hopes.

Able to draw on his growing experience, Kris Meeke also regards this event as one of his favourites. The Northern Irishman finished on the podium last year in only his second appearance at Rally Finland in the DS 3 WRC.

The third driver entered by the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi returns to Finland for what will be his sixtieth World Championship rally. He hasn’t driven in Jyväskylä since 2011.

In the WRC2 championship, Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot will be competing in a DS 3 RRC. Their apperance in Finland is another stage before Rally Deutschland, held three weeks later, where they will competing in a DS 3 WRC.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal):
“Rally Finland is a particularly important event on the calendar. The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team prepares for this legendary rally in minute detail. Four days of testing will be used by our three crews to find the right feeling in the car and be competitive from the word go. We know the extent to which this rally is a sprint and that every second counts. The entire team is really up for it!”

Mads Østberg:
“I can’t wait to be there! Finland is rallying’s Grand Prix and it’s always a very exciting event. We are going to benefit from a good testing programme. It will help us to prepare and fine-tune the set-up of the DS 3 WRC, which showed it could be competitive in Finland last year. The recent aerodynamic developments and the 2015 parts are going to strengthen our position even further. We’ll need to concentrate on maximising our potential, because my aim is to fight at the front. And if everything goes well, we should be able to finish on the podium!”

Kris Meeke:
“I have more experience on the events in the second half of the season. Finland is therefore a round that I am really looking forward to. The stages are fairly similar to the ones we saw last year. There’ll be plenty of excitement and everyone is delighted that the long version of Ouninpohja is back this year. We’ll be able to prepare for the rally with testing before recce. It’s essential to be effective starting with taking pace notes. Adopting the right pace makes the job of reading the lines easier. We’ll also be able to work on the set-up, which is very specific to the high speeds and the big jumps. One of the challenges will be adapting the car to the conditions if the roads become rutted on the second runs. In 2014, I kept up with the front two until the start of the final day. It would be perfect to maintain the same kind of pace, although I know there are quite a few of us who want to fight at the front!”

Khalid Al Qassimi: “I’m pleased to be back in Finland after four years away. The roads are so fast that you have to be incredibly focused. The driver and co-driver must react quickly and with courage. Even the pace notes have to be taken in this mindset. The main objective is to make it to the end in the best position possible. It would be fantastic to finish in the points. I wish the entire team the very best at this Finland Grand Prix!”

OUNINPOHJA IS BACK
Of the eleven different stages featured in 2015, three are strictly identical to the route used in last season’s event. Only the Power Stage is completely new. The legendary Ouninpohja test returns in a long version that includes sections already used in 2002, 2013 and 2014.

On Thursday morning, the crews will have to complete a minimum of three runs on Ruuhimäki for the shakedown, which uses the route of the final stage in last year’s rally. The rally kicks off in the service park at the end of the day with the opening city-centre stage, Harju (2.27km), due to get underway at 7pm.

The cars are due to leave parc ferme at 7.30am on Friday. The running order will be based on the championship standings. The Pihlajakoski (14.51km), Päijälä (23.56km), Ouninpohja (34.39km) and Himos (5.62km) loop will be repeated in the afternoon without any service. The crews will be able to change tyres at midday, before heading back to Jyväskylä. The leg ends will a second run on Harju at 7pm, followed by a 45-minute flexi-service.

On Saturday morning, parc ferme will be open at 7am ahead of a succession of classic Finnish stages: Mökkiperä (13.84km), Jukojärvi (21.14km), Surkee (14.95km) and Horkka (15.59km). After a thirty-minute service, the crews will set off for second loop before finishing the day in Jyväskylä from 7.40pm onwards.

For Sunday’s leg, the priority crews will start in reverse order of the overall rally standings, tackling two runs on Myhinpää (14.13km), the only completely new stage on the course. The Power Stage is due to get underway at 1.08pm. The rally is scheduled to finish in the Jyväskylä Paviljonki at 4pm.
15-07-24 High stakes for the juniors in Finland
Twelve crews line up at the start of Rally Finland in the FIA Junior WRC category.
– The Frenchman Quentin Gilbert, the Italian Simone Tempestini and the Finn Henri Haapamäki take top billing among the under-28 year-old drivers competing in their DS 3 R3-MAXs.
– The winner of the FIA Junior WRC will earn a WRC2 programme next season in a DS 3 R5.

Although the same number of points are available in each round, perhaps certain rallies count a bit more than others. Rally Finland, an unmissable event on the World Rally Championship calendar, undoubtedly falls into that category.
The FIA Junior WRC has now become an iconic category and has done a fantastic job of identifying talented young drivers since it was first introduced in 2001. Citroën Racing has helped drivers to learn the ropes on the roads of the WRC in the Junior championship. Sébastien Loeb (2001), Dani Solà (2002), Dani Sordo (2005), Sébastien Ogier (2008), Martin Prokop (2009) and Stéphane Lefebvre (2014) have all won titles in this championship, dedicated to young rally drivers. Beyond the actual results, the manner in which young drivers handle themselves – especially in Finland – also counts in the development of a driver’s career. Kris Meeke, who racked up almost 100 stage wins in JWRC, is a very good example of this.
Around Jyväskylä, there will be several drivers looking to make a name for themselves. Already top of the standings, Quentin Gilbert (winner in Monte-Carlo and Portugal) and Simone Tempestini (first in Poland) will be fighting for the championship lead as the season enters the final sprint.

After confirming his talent at the start of the season, the young Frenchman was off the pace in the third round, whilst the Italian Simone Tempestini revelled on the fast gravel roads in Poland. After finishing on the podium in Mikolajki, the Finn Henri Haapamäki will undoubtedly also be a force to be reckoned with at his home event.

Another title challenger, the Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby missed the Polish round. However, the points scored at Monte-Carlo and Portugal keep him in contention in the race for the programme in a DS 3 R5. He also leads the FIA WRC3 standings.

Outside of the podium places in Poland, the French trio of Matthieu Margaillan, Jean-René Perry and Pierre-Louis Loubet will all be looking for a good result here. Another Frenchman, Terry Folb, and the Irishman Daniel McKenna, who have both set impressive times this year, will also be serious outsiders.

Eighth in the championship standings, just 14 points adrift of third place, Federico Della Casa will be determined to keep improving. Mohammed Al Mutawaa, winner of a driver detection programme organised by Citroën Racing and Abu Dhabi Racing, scored his first points in Poland. He will be looking to take advantage of his recently acquired experience.
The second Finn to be competing here, Jari Huttunen will be making his FIA Junior WRC debut with the DS 3 R3-MAX. Named “Future Rally Star” by his national federation, he has been driving a C2-R2 MAX in the Finnish Rally Championship this season.

Rally Finland features twenty stages this year, including two runs on the legendary 34.39 kilometre-long Ouninpohja!

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Henri Haapamäki: “Like last year, the goal is to win our category. We won’t be happy with any less. I was a bit disappointed with my result in Poland, although the feeling in the car was good. We are hoping to make the most of two days of testing in order to be perfectly prepared before recce. Some stages are the same as last year, so I should be able to find my bearings. The results have been pretty good since the start of the season, but I would have preferred to be quicker. A win here in Finland would be perfect for the championship.”

Federico Della Casa: “Rally Finland is one of the greatest events I have taken part in. The atmosphere is extraordinary and I love the scenery with the lakes and forests. The stages here are some of the most interesting. I like the speed and the jumps. I also like the atmosphere of the FIA Junior WRC. It is very friendly between the drivers, even during the competition. I really enjoy driving the DS 3 R3-MAX, there is a huge potential to be harnessed. Gradually, my times are improving and I feel comfortable in the car. In Finland, my aim will be make it to the finish. I haven‘t reached the end of the rally for the last two years!”

THE TWELVE CREWS ENTERED
52 – Simone Tempestini (ITA) / Matteo Chiarcossi (ROU)
Date of birth: 12 August 1994
Team: Napoca Rally Team / Keane Motorsport
2015 results: Monte-Carlo, 4th – Portugal, 6th – Poland, 1st.

53 – Ole Christian Veiby (NOR) / Anders Jaeger (NOR)
Date of birth: 17 June 1996
Team: Printsport
2015 results: Monte-Carlo, 3rd – Portugal, 5th.

54 – Daniel McKenna (IRL) / Andrew Grennan (IRL)
Date of birth: 03 April 1987
Team: RR Logistic
2015 results: Monte-Carlo, retired – Portugal, 8th.

55 – Mohammed Al Mutawaa (ARE) / Stephen McAuley (GBR)
Date of birth: 02 December 1992
Team: Abu Dhabi Racing
2015 results: Portugal, retired – Portugal, 6th.

58 – Terry Folb (FRA) / Franck Le Floch (FRA)
Date of birth: 26 May 1990
Team: Daumas Racing / Allsports Management
2015 results: Monte-Carlo, retired – Portugal, retired.

60 – Quentin Gilbert (FRA) / Renaud Jamoul (BEL)
Date of birth: 29 May 1989
Team: DG Sport
2015 results: Monte-Carlo, 1st – Portugal, 1st – Poland, 7th.

62 – Henri Haapamäki (FIN) / Marko Salminen (FIN)
Date of birth: 6 January 1989
Team: Hannu’s Rally Team
2015 results: Portugal, 3rd – Poland, 3rd.

63 – Federico Della Casa (CHE) / Domenico Pozzi (ITA)
Date of birth: 11 July 1991
Team: Delta Rally
2015 results: Portugal, 7th – Poland, 5th.

65 – Pierre-Louis Loubet (FRA) / Victor Belloto (FRA)
Date of birth: 18 February 1997
Team: PH Sport
2015 results: Portugal, 2nd – Poland, missed.

66 – Jean-René Perry (FRA) / Joshua Reibel (FRA)
Date of birth: 25 December 1992
Team: MY Racing / Allsports Management
2015 results: Portugal, 4th – Poland, retired.

68 – Matthieu Margaillan (FRA) / Mathilde Margaillan (FRA)
Date of birth: 14 October 1986
Team: AFC Racing
2015 results: Portugal, retired – Portugal, 4th.

69 – Jari Huttunen (FIN) / Antti Linnaketo (FIN)
Date of birth: 28 February 1994
Team: Printsport
2015 results: first appearance.

FIA JUNIOR WRC STANDINGS
1. Quentin Gilbert 56 points
2. Simone Tempestini 45 points
3. Henri Haapamaki 30 points
4. Ole Christian Veiby 25 points
5. Christian Riedemann, Osian Pryce and Pierre-Louis Loubet 18 points
8. Federico Della Casa 16 points
9. Matthieu Margaillan and Jean-René Perry 12 points
11. Yohan Rossel 10 points
12. Alessandro Re, Kornel Lukacs and Mohammed Al Mutawaa 8 points
15. Charlotte Dalmasso 5 points
16. Daniel McKenna 4 points

NATIONS TROPHY
1. France 68 points
2. Italy 49 points
3. Finland 33 points
4. Norway 30 points
5. Switzerland 20 points
6. United Kingdom 18 points
7. Germany 18 points
8. Hungary 16 points
9. Ireland and United Arab Emirates 8 points

2015 CALENDAR
22-25 January – Rallye Monte-Carlo
21-24 May – Rally de Portugal
2-7 July – Rally Poland
30 July – 2 August – Rally Finland
1-4 October – Rallye de France
22-25 October – Rally de España
12-15 November – Wales GB Rally

15-07-06 i Mads Østberg og kartleser Jonas Andersson i DS3 WRC endte på 9. plass
7. runde av rally-vm, Rally Polen, ble avsluttet i dag. Mads Østberg og kartleser Jonas Andersson i DS3 WRC endte på 9. plass, godt under pari for duoen, som ligger på 3. plass i VM/WRC etter helgen.

«Selvsagt er vi ikke fornøyd med den plasseringen», sier Mads i en kommentar. «Vi kom hit for å kjempe i toppen, og når vi sitter igjen med en 9., er det ingenting å rope hurra for. Men jeg vet egentlig ikke hva jeg kunne gjort annerledes underveis. Jeg har kjørt det jeg har kunnet hele tiden, og samarbeidet mellom Jonas og meg har gått bra som alltid. Men tidene har ikke kommet. Skulle noe endres måtte det eventuelt vært å forberede oss med test i forkant. Rally Polen går på veier som skiller seg ut fra alt annet vi kjører gjennom sesongen, og vi hadde nok ikke tapt noe på å teste, for å si det sånn. Men det er det ikke Jonas og jeg som bestemmer.»

Tidene underveis har svingt mye, både på enkeltetapper, og på de forskjellige sektorene på hver etappe, hvor det måles mellomtider. Det er ikke vanlig kost, og tyder på at noe ikke har stemt i dette løpet. Samme tendens har gjort seg gjeldende for Mads’ teamkamerat, Kris Meek, og man kan forvente at det blir gjort en grundig analyse i teamet, for å finne ut hva som gikk galt.

«Nå skal jeg har en 2 ukers ferie, kombinert med bryllupsreise, som jeg ikke rakk p.g.a. et tett program da jeg giftet meg i fjor høst,» sier Mads, «så starter forberedelsene til Rally Finland, som går siste helgen i Juli. Vi skal ha en dags test før løpet, og jeg er skikkelig innstilt på at vi skal revansjere oss der,» avslutter han.

For detaljerte resultater vises til www.wrc.com.
15-07-06 Ogier och Mikkelsen ger Volkswagen dubbelseger
Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia Volkswagen tog sin femte seger för säsongen i Rally Poland med teamkollegorna Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) bara 11,9 sekunder bakom. Det tredje Volkswagen-paret Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) kämpade om tredjeplatsen mot Ott Tanak/Raigo Mölder (EST/EST, M-Sport-Ford) men slutade på femte plats efter en miss på slutet.
Volkswagen har nu ställt upp i 33 rallyn i WRC och vunnit 28 av dem. Av de 28 har dubbla världsmästarna Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia segrat 22 gånger.

Utmanaren mot mästaren
Kampen mellan Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia och Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene i Rally Poland kommer att bli ihågkommen som en av de mest spännande i rallyhistorien. I extrem hetta med temperaturer som aldrig sjönk under 30-gradersstrecket och långa sträckor som kördes på full gas, presterade de två paren felfri körning. Utmanaren Mikkelsen pressade försvarande mästaren Ogier hela vägen in i mål. Till slut skiljde det bara 11,9 sekunder till Ogiers fördel.

Gasen i botten i en och en halv timma
Volkswagens unge Andreas Mikkelsen körde fortast på den här säsongens två snabbaste sträckor “Gorklo” och “Wieliczki” med en snittfart på 131,09 km/tim respektive 128,13 km/tim. Sébastien Ogier säkrade segern efter en hård kamp med en snittfart av 121,41 km/tim. Dubble världsmästaren höll gasen i botten under 60,31 procent av Rally Poland. Det är 1:28,1 timmar av rallyts vinnartid 2:26,11 timmar. Rally Poland är nu nummer tolv på listan över de 15 snabbaste WRC-rallyna i historien där Rally Finland varit med elva gånger. Som jämförelse kördes WRC-historiens snabbaste rally i Finland 2012 med en snittfart av 122,9 km/tim.

Dramatisk avslutning för Latvala
De sista kilometrarna blev dramatiska för Jari-Matti Latvala. Tvåan i VM 2014 kom till Polen utan att ha nått pallen i Masuria och det blev ingen pallplats 2015 heller. I försöken att ta tredjeplatsen från Ott Tanak sladdade Latvala av vägen på den absolut sista sträckan och körde in i ett träd. Men han lyckades klara femte platsen trots skadad kylare tack vare en heroisk insats från sina mekaniker. Inför avslutande Power Stage var Latvala bara 1,1 sekunder bakom Ott Tanak/Raigo Mölder (EST/EST, M-Sport Ford).

Alla 14 WRC-bilar kom i mål i Rally Poland. Liksom i Monte Carlo och Sverige kunde Volkswagen glädjas åt ännu en omgång utan tekniska problem och bara rutinmässig service vid de sex servicetillfällena. Det enda undantaget var den sjunde och sista servicen på Jari-Matti Latvalas Polo R WRC som kunde repareras i tid efter kraschen på Power Stage inför den sista 2,1 kilometer långa transportsträckan.

Framgången fortsätter
Rally Poland blev Volkswagens tolfte dubbelseger sedan starten med Polo R WRC. Totalt har Polo R WRC tagit 54 pallplatser på 33 rallyn. Av 610 specialsträckor har Volkswagen vunnit 417. Power Stage är Volkswagens territorium och märket har tagit bonuspoäng vid 57 tillfällen. De tre bonuspoängen gick nu till Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia som nu varit snabbast i Power Stage sex gånger under 2015. Andreas Mikkelsen och Ola Fløene fick en bonuspoäng för sin tredjeplats.

Etta och tvåa i VM-tabellen
Andreas Mikkelsen och Ola Fløene klättrar till andra plats i VM efter det utmärkta resultatet i Polen. Ogier/Ingrassia leder VM 78 poäng före Mikkelsen/Fløene och 95 poäng före Latvala/Anttila som nu ligger fyra efter Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S, Citroën). Volkswagen har också utökat sin ledning i konstruktörsmästerskapet och ligger nu 89 poäng före sin närmaste konkurrent Citroën.

Citat efter dag tre i Rally Poland
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
- Ett fantastiskt Rally Poland! Jag är överlycklig över att ha kunnat upprepa förra årets seger här. Julien och jag gjorde en helt perfekt körning. De många fansen och de sensationellt snabba specialsträckorna gjorde det här rallyt till en fantastisk händelse. Vår Polo gick perfekt. Ett stort tack till teamet för det. Bortsett från de höga temperaturerna hade jag jätteroligt i cockpiten. Segern är också ett stort steg mot VM-titeln. Vi har nu en komfortabel ledning efter första halvan av säsongen, men det är fortfarande sex rallyn kvar.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
- Jag satsade absolut allt då jag desperat försökte nå pallplats. Tyvärr blev det inte så. Kraschen på Power Stage betydde att jag halkade ned till femte plats. Som tur var är Polo en robust bil och till slut var vi tacksamma över våra mekaniker vars energiska insats höll oss kvar i rallyt. Utan deras ansträngningar hade vi inte nått målet. Grattis till mina team-kollegor Andreas och Sébastien. Jag kunde inte hålla deras tempo den här helgen. Nästa omgång är Rally Finland - min personliga höjdpunkt för säsongen. Jag vill naturligtvis upp på pallen på min hemmabana. Det är vad jag siktar emot.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
- Det var med god marginal det bästa WRC-rallyt i min karriär. Jag gillar karaktären och snabba rallyn som här i Polen. Jag var nära att ta min första seger och i slutet var det bara detaljer som avgjorde. Jag är otroligt stolt över vår prestation här i Polen. Visst, vi var nära i Sverige också men det var vårt hemmarally. Att kämpa om segern jämsides med världsmästaren här är något helt annat, det betyder mycket mer. Jag är säker på att det bara är en fråga om tid innan vi tar vår första seger. Andraplatsen i Polen är långt ifrån dålig och det är värt sin vikt i guld i världsmästerskapet. Nu har vi tagit tillbaka andraplatsen i VM-tabellen för förare och co-drivers.

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsports chef
-Rally Poland var praktiskt taget perfekt för Volkswagen. För det första visade våra förare eftertyckligt att de är de tre bästa i World Rally Championship. För det andra var de involverade i spännande kamper mellan varandra och med våra konkurrenter och gjorde ett bra jobb för att promota sporten. Rallyt var också optimalt ur teknisk synvinkel, utan det minsta problem. Våra tekniker kan vara extremt stolta över det - eftersom det inte kan tas för givet i säsongens varmaste och snabbaste rally. Teamet kunde inte vara tätare när det gäller laganda och hälsosam rivalitet. Andreas Mikkelsen gjorde ett fantastiskt rally och missade precis sin första seger. Det visade att Jari-Matti Latvala inte är den ende vår världsmästare Sébastien Ogier måste se som ett allvarligt hot.

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Poland – slutresultat
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 2h 26m 11.5s
2. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen + 11.9s
3. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford + 23.0s
4. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai + 1m 14.6s
5. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 1m 24.7s
6. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai + 1m 44.5s
7. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën + 1m 57.7s
8. Robert Kubica/Maciej Szczepaniak (PL/PL), Ford + 2m 08.3s
9. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën + 2m 18.2s
10. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai + 2m 48.4s

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Poland – Power Stage resultat
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 6m 52.0s
2. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford + 0.1s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen + 3.8s

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), totala ställningen
Förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 161
2. Andreas Mikkelsen 83
3. Mads Østberg 69
4. Jari-Matti Latvala 66
5. Thierry Neuville 58
6. Kris Meeke 53
7. Elfyn Evans 53
8. Hayden Paddon 44
9. Ott Tänak 40
10. Dani Sordo 39

Konstruktörsmästerskapet poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 214
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 125
3. Hyundai Motorsport 123
4. M-Sport 114
5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 49
6. Hyundai Motorsport N 43
7. Jipocar Czech National Team 35
8. FWRT 3
15-07-06 Simone tempestini confirms good form in Poland
Following stage wins in Monte-Carlo and Portugal, the Italian Simone Tempestini confirmed his early season form as he took his maiden win in the class at Rally Poland. He finished ahead of Welshman Osian Pryce and the Finn Henri Haapamaki. After the three first events of the 2015 calendar, Quentin Gilbert remains the championship leader, ahead of Simone Tempestini and Henri Haapamaki.

One of the nine FIA Junior WRC competitors taking part in Poland, Pierre-Louis Loubet was forced to retire on Thursday. Caught out during the shakedown, he went off the road and was unable to start the first stage.

The rally got underway on Thursday evening, with a super special stage on the Mikolajki Arena track. Quentin Gilbert set the fastest time, ahead of Henri Haapamaki and Simone Tempestini.

On Friday morning, the rhythm changed. On incredibly fast roads, British driver Osian Pryce showed off his turn of speed. In his DS 3 R3-MAX, he went fastest on Gorklo (SS2) at an average speed of over 115kph to grab the overall lead in the class.

With another two stage wins, Pryce dominated this opening morning, before being held up by a driver on the long SS5 test (39.12km). Simone Tempestini therefore moved into first place ahead of Quentin Gilbert and Osian Pryce, who trailed by around twenty seconds.

In the afternoon, Osian Pryce went back on the attack. Two stage wins enabled him to reclaim the class lead, whilst Quentin Gilbert (jammed gearbox) and Simone Tempestini (power steering issue) completed the podium places at that point, ahead of the Finn Henri Haapamaki, the French pair of Jean-René Perry and Matthieu Margaillan, the Swiss Federico Della Casa and the Abu Dhabi driver, Mohammed Al Mutawaa.

Forced to retire on SS10 with a broken clutch, Quentin Gilbert left Osian Pryce and Simone Tempestini to battle it out for the win. The Welshman increased his lead throughout Saturday’s leg, before being slowed up by a misfiring engine. Ahead of Sunday’s short final leg, Tempestini held a minute lead over Osian Pryce and Henri Haapamaki. Matthieu Margaillan, Federico Della Casa and Mohammed Al Mutawaa completed the standings, whilst Jean-René Perry was forced to retire halfway through the day with sunstroke.

On Sunday morning, Osian Pryce again topped the timesheets on both stages. However, Simone Tempestini managed his lead to claim his maiden FIA Junior WRC win. Osian Pryce and Henri Haapamaki took the two other podium places. Matthieu Margaillan, Federico Della Casa, Mohammed Al Mutawaa and Quentin Gilbert also finished in the points.

With three events completed, Quentin Gilbert now has 56 points in the championship standings. He leads Simone Tempestini by 11 points and Henri Haapamaki by 26 points. In the Nations Trophy, France leads the standings, ahead of Italy and Finland.

Next up for the FIA Junior WRC drivers and teams is Rally Finland on 30 July-2 August.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Simone Tempestini: “I’m very happy to win in Poland. I love the fast stages we have had throughout the event here. The team has done a fantastic job. We did our best to win and it worked out for us. The goal will be the same in Finland. It’s another very fast rally, although the road surface is different.”

Osian Pryce: “We showed that we had the pace to fight for the win. We were near the front on every stage. It’s very encouraging for the next few events. I’m just a bit disappointed not to have won. I feel slightly frustrated, but then again if you’d offered me second place before the start of the rally, I’d have bitten your hand off!”

Henri Haapamaki: “I was fairly cautious on some stages. At the start of the rally, I felt that I wasn’t driving at the level I know I’m capable of. Simone Tempestini and Osian Pryce were very quick. This second podium finish is a good result before we tackle Rally Finland.”

PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. Simone Tempestini / Matteo Chiarcossi 2:47:32.3
2. Osian Pryce / Dale Furniss +47.9
3. Henri Haapamaki / Marko Salminen +1:42.2
4. Matthieu Margaillan / Fabrice Gordon +4:16.1
5. Federico Della Casa / Domenico Pozzi +10:07.0
6. Mohammed Al-Mutawaa / Stephen McAuley +17:47.2
7. Quentin Gilbert / Renaud Jamoul +49:27.0

FASTEST TIMES
Osian Pryce, 9 – Simone Tempestini, 6 – Quentin Gilbert and Henri Haapamaki, 1.

LEADERS
SS1: Quentin Gilbert
SS2 to SS4: Osian Pryce
SS5 to SS8: Simone Tempestini
SS9 to SS15: Osian Pryce
SS16 to SS19 (finish): Simone Tempestini

FIA JUNIOR WRC STANDINGS
1. Quentin Gilbert 56 points
2. Simone Tempestini 45 points
3. Henri Haapamaki 30 points
4. Ole Christian Veiby 25 points
5. Christian Riedemann, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Osian Pryce 18 points
8. Federico Della Casa 16 points
9. Jean-René Perry and Matthieu Margaillan 12 points
11. Yohan Rossel 10 points
12. Alessandro Re, Kornel Lukacs and Mohammed Al-Mutawaa 8 points
15. Charlotte Dalmasso 5 points
16. Daniel McKenna 4 points

NATIONS TROPHY
France 62 points
Italy 49 points
Finland 33 points
Norway 30 points
Switzerland 20 points
4 Germany and Great Britain 18 points
Hungary 16 points
Ireland and United Arab Emirates 8 points
15-07-06 Citroën Racing remains second in the World Championship
Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle secured seventh overall and Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson finished in ninth position at Rally Poland, ensuring that the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team holds onto second place in the manufacturers’ standings. In the WRC2 category, the DS 3 R5 driven by Karl Kruuda and Martin Jarveoja finished on the podium. The WRC heads to Finland for the next round on 30 July-2 August.

The final day of Rally Poland was something of a short sprint for the tape. Featuring just the one stage, contested two times, Kris Meeke set off in pursuit of Robert Kubica in an attempt to secure two extra points for the Drivers’ championship.

Quicker than his rival, he beat the Pole by 4.8 seconds on SS18 to close the gap to just 5.4 seconds ahead of the Power Stage. And after setting the fastest time on the final stage at that point, Kris then saw Robert Kubica pick up a puncture. He therefore gained another place.
After establishing a comfortable lead over Dani Sordo, Mads Østberg ended the rally in ninth overall with seventh-fastest and ninth-fastest times on today’s twice-run stage.

Competing in the WRC2 category, Karl Kruuda and Martin Jarveoja secured third place in their DS 3 R5. Among the top-three since Friday morning, the Estonian crew scored a significant result for the DS 3 R5 at the fastest event of the season.
In the FIA Junior WRC, the Italian Simone Tempestini celebrated his maiden win. In his DS 3 R3-MAX, he managed to turn his good early season form into a first victory. The podium was completed by Welshman Osian Pryce and the Finn Henri Haapamaki.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “We can’t be especially pleased with the actual result at this year’s Rally Poland. Perhaps we underestimated the impact that not organising specific, pre-event testing would have on this rally. Kris was able to up the pace as the rally progressed, although he didn’t feel fully confident after he went off during the shakedown. Mads spent a large part of the rally in second position on the road. From Saturday, he was able to hold his place to score some points for the championship. We’ll now focus on preparing for Rally Finland, an event where our drivers have already shown that they are capable of producing good performances. We’ll head for Jyvaskyla to try and fight for a good result!”

Kris Meeke: “It was important to acquire experience by completing all of the stages. After going off on Thursday, it became difficult to match the pace of the leaders. We’re going to make use of what we have learned this weekend to keep improving. I’m really looking forward to Finland. Last year, we were fast, so that augurs well for the next round.”

Mads Østberg: “It was a very tough rally, but both cars managed to finish in the top 10. The result helped us to score some points for the manufacturers’ championship. We’re now going to concentrate on our preparations for Finland.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS18 – Baranowo 1 (14.60km) – Sébastien Ogier began the final day with a stage win. Kris Meeke finished sixth fastest to take a large chunk out of Robert Kubica’s lead in seventh. The gap between the two drivers dropped to 5.4 seconds. Mads Østberg set the seventh fastest time.

SS19 – Baranowo 2 (14.60km) – Kris Meeke moved up a place in the overall standings in setting the fourth-fastest time. Robert Kubica picked up a puncture and was therefore unable to hold off the Ulsterman. Overall rally winner in Mikolajki, Sébastien Ogier rounded off his weekend by winning the Power Stage, ahead of Ott Tanak and Andreas Mikkelsen.

FINAL PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:26:11.5
2. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +11.9
3. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +23.0
4. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:14.6
5. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:24.7
6. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:44.5
7. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +1:57.7
8. Robert Kubica / Maciej Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:08.3
9. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +2:18.2
10. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:48.4…

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier, 8 – Ott Tanak, 6 – Andreas Mikkelsen, 2 – Jari-Matti Latvala and Martin Prokop, 1 (one stage cancelled).

LEADERS
SS1: Sébastien Ogier
SS2: Andreas Mikkelsen
SS3 to SS6: Ott Tanak
SS7 to SS19 (finish): Sébastien Ogier

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Sébastien Ogier 161 points
Andreas Mikkelsen 83 pts
Mads Østberg 69 pts
Jari-Matti Latvala 66 pts
Thierry Neuville 58 pts
Elfyn Evans 53 pts
Kris Meeke 51 pts
Hayden Paddon 44 pts
Khalid Al-Qassimi 9 pts

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Volkswagen Motorsport 214 pts
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 125 pts
Hyundai Shell WRT 123 pts
M-Sport WRT 114 pts
15-07-06 Andraplats för Pontus Tidemand efter stabil insats i Polen
Pontus Tidemand visade både imponerande hastighet och mogen körning i sin ŠKODA Fabia R5 i helgens deltävling i Rally-VM. Efter att ha bemästrat tävlingens 18 specialsträckor, slutade han tvåa i WRC 2 och tog därmed sin femte pallplats av fem möjliga som ŠKODA-förare.
Polen bjöd på årets kanske varmaste dagar när helgens VM-rally gick av stapeln. Våta och leriga vägar var inget orosmoln denna gång, men däremot gav dammridåerna tillsammans med hettan en extra prövning under de fyra tävlingsdagarna.

Efter en fin start på torsdagens inledande publiksträcka, där Pontus var näst snabbast i sin klass, väntade de första fullängdssträckorna på fredagen. Trots att han höll sig i toppskiktet, var inte Pontus helt nöjd med sin körning och fick kämpa för att hitta rätt känsla. Med åtta specialsträckor utan serviceuppehåll under dagen, gjorde han och co-drivern Emil Axelsson vad de kunde för att komma tillrätta med det. Känslan blev bättre framåt eftermiddagen men Polens snabba sträckor gör att man snabbt förlorar tid och tidsdifferensen till ledande finländaren Esapekka Lappi var uppe i 50 sekunder vid slutet av dagen. Men Pontus kunde ändå glädja sig över att ha tagit sina två första sträckvinster i WRC 2 för ŠKODA och även över att ha satt den tredje bästa tiden totalt på kvällens superspecial med de flesta av WRC-bilarna bakom sig.
Följande dag föll alla bitar på plats. Pontus trivdes bättre med sin körning och visade verkligen framfötterna när han utmanade sin teamkollega Lappi. Han kammade hem fem sträckvinster och plockade sekunder efter sekunder allteftersom dagen flöt på. Men faktumet kvarstod - avståndet till Lappi var lite för stort för att kunna rå på enbart genom att köra snabbt.
- Vi började dagen med ett betydligt större tidsglapp till Esapekka och realistiskt sett är det väldigt svårt att komma ikapp om inget oförutsett händer, säger Pontus. Men det är en del av sporten, det är det som gör rally både utmanande och intressant. Vi tog igen en hel del och det var det bästa vi kunde göra i situationen.

Pontus avslutade lördagen med ännu en kanontid på den tredje rundan på superspecialen på Mikolajki Arena, endast 1.9 sekunder bakom bästa WRC-tid. I WRC 2-klassen låg han då på en stabil andraplats, 37 sekunder från ledningen och med närmare en och en halv minut till estländaren Karl Kruuda på tredje plats.

Rallyts sista dag innehöll bara en sträcka som kördes två gånger och med såpass stora tidsskillnader både framför och bakom, höll Pontus fullt fokus på att lugnt och kontrollerat ta sig i mål utan misstag eller risker. Planen gick i lås och vid lunchtid på söndagen kunde han säkra andraplatsen och ta sin andra pallplats i WRC 2 för ŠKODA Motorsport i tillägg till hans tre toppresultat i Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.
- Vilken fantastisk helg för ŠKODA! Det kan inte bli mer perfekt än plats ett och två och det säger mycket om teamet och bilarna vi kör. Esapekka är värd den här vinsten samtidigt som jag absolut är nöjd med vårt resultat, även om det hade varit ännu roligare om vi hade kunnat ha en sekundfight ända till mål. Vi har fått ett ordentligt fart- och uthållighetstest med vår Fabia R5 och verkligen njutit av de snabba vägarna. I vår förra VM-tävling slutade vi trea och nu tvåa så det går ju åt rätt håll. Om den trenden håller sig bör vi vinna nästa gång, skrattar Pontus.
Nästa tävling i Pontus kalender är Rally Finland, också det en VM-deltävling som är känd för höga hastigheter, som körs mellan den 30 juli och 2 augusti.

Rally Polen WRC 2 topp 5
1. Esapekka Lappi (FIN) 2:32.02.6
2. Pontus Tidemand (SWE) +56.1
3. Karl Kruuda (EST) +2:05.3
4. Jari Ketomaa (FIN) +4:54.1
5. Armin Kremer (DEU) +5:11.9
15-07-06 Fulgte Ogier som en skygge
Andreas Mikkelsen kjempet om seieren helt til siste meter under Rally Polen, men teamkamerat Sebastien Ogier ble til slutt for sterk. – Dette er et av mine beste løp noensinne, sier Andreas.

I år som i fjor handlet VM-runden i Polen om de to VW Motorsport-førerne Andreas Mikkelsen og Sebastien Ogier. Og som i fjor, var det den dobbelte verdensmesteren som var sterkest. Men det er ikke ofte franskmannen må svette så hardt for å dra seieren i land. I mål var det bare 11,8 sekunder som skilte de to teamkameratene – som også er nummer en og to i VM. Og det etter over to timer og 26 minutter med kjøring. Det sier alt om hvilken rallythriller helgens VM-runde har vært.
– Dette var nesten perfekt, men det må være helt perfekt for å slå Seb (Ogier). Likevel er dette et av mine beste så langt i karrieren, slår nordmannen fast.

Foran søndagens to etapper, hadde Ogier en beskjeden luke på 5,6 sekunder. Selv om Andreas gjorde det han kunne for å kutte ned på forspranget, var det Ogier som vant søndagens åpningsetappe – 2,5 sekunder foran Andreas, som var nest raskest på etappen. Dermed hadde verdensmesteren et forsprang på 8,1 sekunder før den avsluttende powerstage-etappen. Bare et uhell kunne frariste den rutinerte rallymesteren nok en seier.

Andreas og kartleser Ola Fløene viste nok en gang at de trives når det går fort. Da han vant SS2 viste bilens datalogg at han hadde holdt full gass i 70,8 prosent av etappen – det vil si 4 minutter og 12,8 sekunder. Etappetiden var 5,57,0, noe som gir en gjennomsnittsfart på 131,09 km/t – den raskeste fartsetappen i VM så langt i sesongen. 26-åringen vant også SS15, da med en gjennomsnittsfart på 128,13 km/t. Det er for øvrig den nest raskeste etappen i VM i 2015.
– Det har vært en utrolig morsom fight med Seb (Ogier). Han er de siste to års verdensmester og jeg ga han kamp til døra. Selv om det hadde smakt ekstra godt med seier, så er jeg fornøyd med andreplass. Det betyr også at jeg tok tilbake andreplassen i VM-sammendraget. Det var hovedmålet før løpet, og da kan jeg ikke si meg annet enn fornøyd med helgen, sier Andreas, som med fem pallplasser på årets sju VM-runder har levert en meget sterk første halvdel av sesongen. Ogier er suveren i VM, med sine 161 poeng. Andreas har 83 poeng, og har med det en luke på 14 poeng ned til Østberg på tredjeplass.
– Nå skal det bli godt med litt ferie og samle krefter før neste VM-runde i Finland i starten av august. Jeg er veldig fornøyd med første halvdel av sesongen, og skal gjøre det jeg kan for å følge opp også i siste halvdel, sier han.

Rally Polen, sammenlagt:
1) Sebastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2:26:11.5
2) Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC +11.9
3) Ott Tänak, Ford Fiesta RS WRC +23.0
4) Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC +44.7
5) Hayden Paddon, Hyundai i20 WRC +1:14.6
6) Thierry Neuville, Hyundai i20 WRC +1:44.5
7) Kris Meeke, Citroën DS3 WRC, +1:57.7
8) Robert Kubica Robert, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, +2:08.3
9) Mads Østberg Mads, Citroën DS3 WRC, +2:18.2
10 Dani Sordo, Hyundai i20 WRC, +2:48.4

World Rally Championship (WRC) etter 7 runder:
1) Ogier 161 poeng
2) MIKKELSEN 83 p
3) Østberg 69 p
4) Latvala 66 p
5) Neuville 58 p
6) Meeke 53 p og Evans 53 p.

Se også: www.andreasmikkelsen.no

15-07-06 Relentless Ogier sees off Mikkelsen to confirm second Rally Poland Win
MIKOLAJKI (Poland): Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sébastien Ogier maintained his composure and produced a stunning final morning’s performance to see off a fierce challenge from Andreas Mikkelsen and confirm an 11.9-second victory in LOTOS 72nd Rally Poland.

Leading by 5.6-seconds at the overnight halt, the Frenchman and navigator Julien Ingrassia left their rivals trailing in their wake through the last two stages to confirm a fifth victory of the season. A second successive Polish triumph marked the double World Champion’s 29th career WRC victory and he closed to within one win of Marcus Grönholm (30), who lies second in the all-time ‘Hall of Fame’.

“I have had so many great wins, but no-one wanted to help me on this one,” said a delighted Ogier, who won eight of the 18 stages. “I was first on the road for 90% of the rally and I have 28 points again. We had to push from the first metre to the last one and I enjoyed that. Now I have a small break and I go on the beach in the Bahamas...”

Mikkelsen and Ole Floene proved their future potential and sealed a deserved second place in a second Volkswagen Polo R WRC. The Norwegian won just two stages, but he kept the pressure on the sport’s leading star for three days and edges ever closer to a maiden WRC victory.

Ott Tanak provided the M-Sport World Rally Team with a well deserved and much-needed podium finish. The talented young Estonian won six special stages and defended a 1.5-second overnight lead over Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala to close out the final podium place. An under-pressure Latvala crashed heavily on the final stage, hit a tree and stopped on the road section after the special with radiator and front end damage. He somehow managed to reach the final control on time to conserve fourth.

“I pushed like crazy and I am so happy,“ said Tanak. “M-Sport have done a great job. Thanks to Malcolm (Wilson) for giving me this second opportunity. This is a proper podium. The last one was because everyone retired.”

Hayden Paddon was the quickest and most consistent of the four Hyundai Shell World Rally Team drivers and, when Belgian Thierry Neuville rolled on the first stage of the morning and damaged his i20 WRC, the challenge for the Kiwi’s fifth place had gone. Neuville regrouped to finish sixth.

Kris Meeke’s confidence had been shattered by a multiple roll on the shakedown stage and the Ulsterman admitted that his “rally was over before it had even started”, but the Rally Argentina winner dug deep to grind out a seventh-placed finish for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally when local hero Robert Kubica punctured on the Power Stage and slipped to eighth.

Citroën team-mate Mads Østberg complained about a lack of pre-event testing and struggled to find his usual pace on this high-speed seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Norwegian crossed the flying finish of the last stage in ninth. Spaniard Dani Sordo was unable to find his usual pace either and rounded off the top 10.

Flying Finn Esapekka Lappi took a comfortable WRC 2 advantage into the final two stages and the Skoda Fabia R5 driver found a useful pace through the Baranowo stage to confirm victory and 12th overall. Sweden’s Pontus Tidemand finished second, 56.1 seconds behind the Finn, and Estonia’s Karl Kruuda was third after a puncture cost him time on Friday.

“I cannot be more satisfied,” said Lappi. “We only had to push on Friday and the rest of the rally was about controlling. We had good pace notes and the car worked perfectly.”

Simone Tempestini collected a maximum haul of WRC 3 points at the wheel of a Citroën DS3 R3T. The Italian hit the front on Saturday afternoon when Welshman Osian Pryce lost the lead with a niggling engine misfire and he cruised to the finish with a winning margin of 47.9 seconds.

Pryce held off the advances of Finland’s Henri Haapamaki to finish second with his car still plagued by a minor engine issue. “This was 20 times better for me than Portugal and we proved we had the pace,” said Pryce. “Now we need to see what the future holds.”

Sunday – as it happened

Only two runs through the 14.60km of the Baranowo stage stood between Ogier and his 29th WRC victory. The Frenchman began the day with a 5.6-second lead over Mikkelsen, while a fierce battle waged between Tanak and Latvala for third; the former held a 1.5-second advantage heading into the opening twisty and demanding special that would also count as the event’s Power Stage three hours later.

Massive crowds had flocked to the stages in searing heat on Saturday and the sheer number had forced the cancellation of the second Mazury stage. There was an obvious concern that this could occur again and Volkswagen’s team director Jost Capito pleaded publicly at the end of Saturday’s post-leg press conference that all fans adhered to the sensible places from where to watch what promised to be a thrilling morning’s battle at the top of the field.

Baranowo started on schedule and Elfyn Evans, who was running under Rally 2 after repairs had been made to his Ford’s water pump, set the target time of 7min 12.9sec. Meeke managed to steal 4.8 seconds off Kubica and closed to within 5.4 seconds of the Pole’s seventh place, but Neuville survived a roll on the stage and lost his slim chance of catching Paddon. “I took a curve and I rolled the car,” said the Belgian. “Something tripped me up, but we were lucky and got away with it.”

Latvala admitted that he made a couple of small mistakes and was pushing a little too hard but the Finn carded a time of 7min 01.sec. It was sufficient to beat Tanak by four-tenths of a second, but the Estonian would take a 1.1-second hold on third place into the Power Stage. “I will make some changes to the notes and can be even quicker,” said a determined Tanak. “Whatever happens now, we have made some big improvements and have had a good rally.”

Mikkelsen was on the ragged edge to set a stunning time of 6min 58.8sec, but the contest was all but settled in the World Champion’s favour when Ogier stopped the clocks with a staggering time of 6min 56.3sec. He headed to the Power Stage with a lead of 8.1 seconds. “I knew I had to do my job like always,” admitted the Frenchman. “I don’t need the points on the Power Stage, but it is a nice stage. I just need a clean drive like this morning.”

Evans was the first into the cauldron of the final timed test. Temperatures were into the high twenties Centigrade and the special attracted a massive number of enthusiastic spectators. The Welshman shaved 11 seconds off his morning’s time to post the target of 7min 01.4sec. Østberg was the first driver to break the seven-minute barrier with a time of 6min 59.2sec, although Meeke was 1.7 seconds quicker to take the early lead.

Kubica sustained a rear puncture that cost him a chance to push for the Power Stage win and he lost 15 seconds, which also pushed him behind Meeke and into eighth. But the drama was happening behind on the stage; Latvala smashed his Polo into a tree, after going too fast into a corner, and damaged the radiator and the front of the Volkswagen. He needed to reach service before the car overheated, but it gifted Tanak third place in the M-Sport Ford.

Mikkelsen was not able to get inside the time of 6min 52.1sec set by Tanak, but the Norwegian admitted that the runner-up spot was the best result of his WRC career. But there was no stopping Ogier and the Frenchman crossed the line one-tenth of a second in front of Tanak to claim the three bonus points for winning the Power Stage and he sealed outright victory by 11.9 seconds in what developed into a thrilling finale to a nail-biting rally.

LOTOS 72nd Rally Poland - positions after SS19:
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 26min 11.5sec
2. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Ole Floene (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 26min 23.4sec
3. Ott Tanak (EST)/Raigo Molder (EST) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2hr 26min 34.5sec
4. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 26min 56.2sec
5. Hayden Paddon (NZL)/John Kennard (NZL) Hyundai i20 WRC 2hr 27min 26.1sec
6. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC 2hr 27min 56.0sec
7. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën DS3 WRC 2hr 28min 09.2sec
8. Robert Kubica (POL)/Maciej Szczepaniak (POL) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2hr 28min 19.8sec
9. Mads Østberg (NOR)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Citroën DS3 WRC 2hr 28min 29.7sec
10. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Marc Marti (ESP) Hyundai i20 WRC 2hr 28min 59.9sec
11. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2hr 30min 54.8sec
12. Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) Skoda Fabia R5 (WRC 2) 2hr 32min 02.6sec

Rally leaders
SS1 Sébastien Ogier
SS2 Andreas Mikkelsen
SS3-6 Ott Tanak
SS7-19 Sébastien Ogier

Stage winners
SS1 Sébastien Ogier
SS2 Andreas Mikkelsen
SS3 Ott Tanak
SS4 Ott Tanak
SS5 Ott Tanak
SS6 Sébastien Ogier
SS7 Sébastien Ogier
SS8 Jari-Matti Latvala
SS9 Martin Prokop
SS10 Sebastien Ogier
SS11 Ott Tanak
SS12 Ott Tanak
SS13 Sébastien Ogier
SS14 cancelled
SS15 Andreas Mikkelsen
SS16 Ott Tanak
SS17 Sébastien Ogier
SS18 Sébastien Ogier
SS19 Sébastien Ogier

Website www.rajdpolski.pl/en
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15-07-06 Tänak in intense battle for polish poduim
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak is right in the fight for the top positions at this weekend’s Rally Poland. Currently holding third place, the Estonian has delivered his best ever performance behind the wheel of a world rally car and is on course to secure his best result of the year.

Continuing to showcase the power and performance of the new Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Tänak was on top-form through the fast gravel stages. Setting two fastest times through the opening loop, he was thoroughly enjoying the high-speeds and edged out Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala to regain a podium position.

His good form continued into the afternoon – another fastest time bringing his tally to six and extending his lead over the Finn. Clearly excited by the intense battle, the spirited Estonian had some playful, yet select, words for his rivals which loosely translated to, “don’t forget, we’re here, and we’re fast!”

Finding confidence in himself and the Ecoboost-powered Fiesta, Tänak was never more than 3.8 seconds adrift of the fastest time on each of today’s eight speed tests. Establishing themselves as real contenders for the remainder of the season, he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder find themselves a mere 17.6 seconds adrift of the lead after more than 260 competitive kilometres.

There was however less good fortune for the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC of Elfyn Evans as the Welshman was forced to retire with a water pump failure on the liaison to SS11. As a tried and tested part carried over from the previous car, it was a bitter blow for Evans who was gearing himself up for a big push through today’s stages.
The Welshman had displayed a vast increase in pace from this time twelve months ago. The lack of a pre-event test certainly wasn’t standing in the way of the M-Sport drivers showcasing their potential and Evans outshone a number of his more experienced rivals through yesterday’s opening loop.

A soft tyre selection halted his progress and relegated him down the field in the afternoon, but he came back this morning determined to make amends. The pace looked to be there. Despite losing time with a stall on the start line of SS10, he was faster than a number of his rivals and dropped just 0.7 seconds to fellow Brit Kris Meeke.

Unfortunately, there would be no chance to show what he was truly capable of. Unable to resolve the issue with the water pump, he and co-driver Daniel Barritt were left with no option but to restart under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow.

Ott Tänak (3rd) said:
“It feels so good to be in the fight. Everyone wants to win and everyone is pushing as hard as possible so the fact that we are so close to the lead is really good and really positive for the rest of the season.

“I’ve had good results in the past, but never anything like this. We’ve been able to show pace throughout the whole rally so far and I think it’s definitely my best performance to date. I’m enjoying every single stage and just loving being behind the wheel.

“But we need to stay focused. The rally is not over yet and Jari-Matti [Latvala] will be pushing tomorrow, there’s no doubt about that! We just have to keep pushing too.”

Elfyn Evans (Rally 2) said:
“They say bad luck happens in threes so hopefully that’s the end of it now! Our rally came to an end pretty early on today with a water pump failure before SS11. It’s just one of those things – another tried and tested part carried over from the previous car – and we just have to move on and put it behind us.

“I feel as though our pace was more or less in the ball park. There is still some work to be done for sure and the stall on the start line [on SS10] didn’t help, but I felt as though we could have achieved the speed we were looking for this weekend. Unfortunately we haven’t had chance to prove that, so let’s try and prove it in Finland.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Over the past two days there is no doubting that we have witnessed Ott [Tänak] and Raigo’s [Mõlder, co-driver] best ever performance. They’ve been quick throughout and withstood the pressure from Jari-Matti [Latvala] who is a vastly more experienced competitor.

“Their performance proves the steps forward that we have made with the new car along with the experience Ott and Raigo have gained over the past six months.

“There may only be 30 kilometres tomorrow, but it won’t be easy and we have the potential for a thrilling finale with four crews capable of taking the spoils.

“Unfortunately for Elfyn [Evans] he suffered an electric water pump failure. It was really frustrating as it was a carry-over part that has been on the car since 2011. Thankfully there wasn’t much damage as Elfyn and Dan [Barritt, co-driver] were sensible enough to turn the engine off straight away.

“They’ll be back out tomorrow, but I know that Elfyn will be extremely frustrated as he was keen to show what he was capable of today.

“I’m not superstitious, but they say that bad things come in threes and this is three events of bad luck for him now so I hope that he can move forward in Finland and start to plan for the rest of the season.”

15-07-06 Just two stages to go for Kris and Mads
Day 2
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle ended day two of Rally Poland in eighth position. Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson moved up a place in the overall standings today, making it back to Mikolajki in ninth position. Just two stages and less than thirty kilometres are left to go in tomorrow’s final leg.

In the same starting order as Friday, the day’s eight stages were contested on roads that were just as quick as yesterday, with average speeds of close to 130kph.

Second in the running order, Mads Østberg had to sweep the road again in the morning. Trailing Dani Sordo by 6.1 seconds after SS10, the Norwegian moved ahead of his rival on Swietajno (SS12) to grab ninth position, just behind his team-mate Kris Meeke.

The Ulsterman was gradually closing on Robert Kubica, who was running seventh. At top speeds of around 191kph, Kris Meeke closed to within ten seconds of the former Grand Prix winner, a hero in Poland.

Thanks to a good tyre choice for the second section, both crews made up ground, edging closer to Robert Kubica in seventh place. They have two stages left to complete tomorrow before the end of the rally.

In the FIA Junior WRC, Welshman Osian Pryce lost first position on the penultimate stage due to a misfiring engine. Forced to retire this morning, championship leader Quentin Gilbert was unable to take advantage. It was Italian Simone Tempestini who inherited the class lead and will start the final day over a minute ahead of Osian Pryce and the Finn Henri Haapamaki.

The final day’s racing will be something of a sprint finish. The crews will tackle two runs on the only stage of the day, the 14.60 kilometre Baranowo test. Priority 1 and 2 drivers will start SS18 in reverse order of the overall standings at 9.10am. At 12.08pm, Baranowo will also be used for the televised Power Stage. The rally is scheduled to finish in Mikolajki at 1.35pm.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Mads Østberg: “We had to find the right feeling in the car. It wasn’t easy to start in second position on the road but compared with the drivers who started later on, our pace was pretty good. It’s all about the details, small things can make a difference in making up a little bit of time. At the midday service, we changed the set-up and made the right tyre choice. On the swept roads, we were much closer to the leaders in the afternoon and the results were encouraging.”

Kris Meeke: “Since going off during the shakedown, I’ve been struggling to find that extra bit of confidence you need to be at the front on this kind of surface. We are trying to maintain a good pace to score some points. This afternoon, we chose to go with three hard tyres and one soft.It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty close the ideal balance. Despite the dust, we were very close to the times of the leaders. So it’s fairly encouraging. Robert Kubica isn’t too far ahead of us. It won’t be easy to get past him but we’ll see what we can do tomorrow!”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS10 – Mazury 1 (17.70km) – Sébastien Ogier began the day with a stage win. Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg finished eighth and eleventh to retain their positions in the overall standings.

SS11 – Wieliczki 1 (13.00km) – Ott Tanak won the stage the furthest to the east on the loop. The positions remain unchanged in the overall standings with Meeke eighth and Østberg in tenth position.

SS12 – Swietajno 1 (21.25km) – Whilst Ott Tanak claimed another stage win and edged closer to the podium places, Mads Østberg moved ahead of Dani Sordo into ninth position, just behind Kris Meeke.

SS13 – Paprotki (23,15 km) – Sébastien Ogier consolidated his lead with the fastest time and Ott Tanak moved up into third overall as the crews headed back to service. Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg pulled further clear of Dani Sordo, their nearest challenger.

SS14 – Mazury 2 (17.70km) – The rally organisers cancelled the stage on safety grounds.

SS15 – Wieliczki 2 (13.00km) – With a mix of soft and hard tyres, Meeke and Østberg closed on Neuville and Kubica, who were ahead of them in the overall standings. At the front, Latvala retook third place from Ott Tanak.

SS16 – Swietajno 2 (21.25km) – Ott Tanak won the stage to reclaim third position, followed by Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen. Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg continued to close on the drivers ahead, making up eight seconds on Robert Kubica.

SS17 – Mikolajki Arena 3 (2.50km) – The final run on the Mikolajki Arena super special stage saw Sébastien Ogier consolidate his overall lead. No change in the standings for Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg, who remain eighth and ninth respectively.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:12:23.2
2. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +5.6
3. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +17.6
4. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +19.1
5. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +55.7
6. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:15.1
7. Robert Kubica / Maciej Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:29.2
8. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +1:39.4
9. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +1:56.0
10. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:17.1…

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tanak, 6 – Andreas Mikkelsen, 2 – Jari-Matti Latvala and Martin Prokop, 1 (one stage cancelled).

LEADERS
SS1: Sébastien Ogier
SS2: Andreas Mikkelsen
SS3 to SS6: Ott Tanak
SS7 to SS17: Sébastien Ogier

15-07-06 Jager den dobbelte verdensmesteren
Siste dag av Rally Polen blir en thriller av de sjeldne, hvor Andreas Mikkelsen spiller en av hovedrollene. Før søndagens to siste etapper ligger han på andreplass – kun 5,6 sekunder bak Sebastien Ogier.

Akkurat som i fjorårets VM-runde i Polen ser det ut til at seierskampen står mellom de to teamkameratene i Volkswagen Motorsport. Franskmannen Sebastien Ogier har vunnet VM de to siste sesongene, men nå må han han ”stå i ramme” for å holde Andreas Mikkelsen bak seg i sesongens sjuende VM-runde. Med et forsprang på fattige 5,6 sekunder etter over to timers kjøring, øyner Andreas et håp om å hente hjem sin første seier i en VM-runde.
– Alt er mulig, jeg kjører for seier. Jeg vet at det kommer til å bli tøft, for Seb har ingen planer om å lette på høyrefoten. Men ingen skal si at jeg ikke prøver, for det kommer til å bli et vanvittig angrep fra min side. Jeg har en del andre- og tredjeplasser fra VM, og nå har jeg lyst til å vinne, sier Andreas med et smil. De to teamkameratene har fulgt hverandre som skygger gjennom hele løpet. Så fort en av dem har knepet noen sekunder på en etappe, har den andre svart på angrepet.
– Jeg er godt fornøyd med dagen, men det har ikke vært noen perfekt dag. Jeg har gjort noen småfeil, og var blant annet av veien en gang. Da mistet jeg rytmen i kjøringen, og tapte også tid på det. Men når det går så fort, så er det nesten umulig ikke å gjøre noen små feil. Klarer jeg å minimere dette i morgen, skal Seb få noe å bite i, sier Andreas.

Kun en etappe, som kjøres to ganger, står på programmet i morgen.
– Dette er en etappe jeg liker godt, så det skal bli spennende, slår han fast.
15-07-06 Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson i DS3 WRC ligger på 9. plass
Dag 3 er avsluttet i årets 7. VM-runde i rally, Rally Polen. Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson i DS3 WRC ligger på 9. plass. For duoen, som sammenlagt ligger på 2. plass i VM, har også dagen i dag vært vanskelig. De fleste av etappene kjøres likt to ganger i løpet av dagen, og mønsteret er det samme som i går; Mads og Jonas er lenger unna raskeste bil på første gjennomkjøring enn på andre. Det samme mønsteret kan man se hos Mads’ team kollega, Kris Meek, selv om ham kjører 7. bil på veien, men Mads kjører 2., (førerne starter etter VM-stillingen), og derfor har renere spor. De to følger hverandre også på resultatlisten, med Meek på 8.

«Vi gjorde noen justeringer på service i går, som fungerte i riktig retning, og vi er nærmere raskeste bil i dag på første gjennomkjøring enn vi var i går. På 2. gjennomkjøring, er det bedre grep og mindre «cleaning» for oss som kjører tidlig, og da henger vi bedre med.

Vi har vært gjennom utrolig raske og morsomme prøver, så selv om vi ikke får de resultatene vi ønsker, har vi hatt en veldig morsom kjøre-helg. Motivasjon og «guts» har vært opp gjennom hele helgen. Vi har ikke gjort feil, og jeg vet egentlig ikke hva jeg kunne gjort annerledes på noen prøvene. Men dette løpet er ganske annerledes enn andre løp i mesterskapet, med mye mer sandete underlag enn vi er vant til, og begge bilene våre straffes nok litt av at vi ikke har testet før løpet. Vi kan i hvert fall konstatere at dette løpet ikke har passet oss, komme best mulig gjennom morgendagens to etapper, og se fram mot Rally Finland, som er neste løp.»

Det er to fartsetapper igjen i morgen, samme etappen to ganger. Det vil ikke være store muligheter til å kjøre seg opp i sammendraget. Men siste prøve er power stage, hvor det deles ut tre, to og ett bonuspoeng til de 3 raskeste på etappen.

«Er det godt feste og ikke mye cleaning, skal vi gjøre det vi kan for å hente noe der. Men realistisk er vi avhengig av å ha underlag som passer, for å lykkes. Vi skal uansett gjøre så godt vi kan,» avslutter han.

For detaljerte resultater vises til www.WRC.com.

Vedlagte bilder kan benyttes fritt ved å kreditere Citroen Racing Media.

15-07-06 Midday quotes Rally Poland, section four
Ott Tänak (3rd) said:
“It’s been a nice morning although we had a bit of a silly mistake in the first stage [SS10] - spinning and having to reverse which cost us about eight seconds. After that I just pushed as hard as I could and we made quite a lot of time back which was good.

“Everything is working really well and I feel great in the car. I feel really confident so we just have to keep the same pace and see where we end up. We need to take everything step-by-step. Andreas [Mikkelsen] is 13 seconds up the road, but first we need to work to stay on the pace of Jari-Matti [Latvala] and keep him behind us.

“All in all though, I think we have done a pretty good job.”

Elfyn Evans (Rally 2) said:
“They say bad luck happens in threes so hopefully that’s the end of it now! Our rally came to an end pretty early on today with a water pump failure before SS11. It’s just one of those things – another tried and tested part carried over from the previous car – and we just have to move on and put it behind us.

“I feel as though our pace was more or less in the ball park. There is still some work to be done for sure and the stall on the start line [on SS10] didn’t help, but I felt as though we could have achieved the speed we were looking for this weekend. Unfortunately we haven’t had chance to prove that today, so let’s try and prove it in Finland.”
15-07-06 Rally Poland kicks off at full speed!
The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s crews made it to the end of the daunting opening leg of Rally Poland. Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle finished day one in eighth place overall in the first DS 3 WRC. Their team-mates Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson lie tenth after today’s 155 kilometres of timed stages.

The hard work of the technical team was quickly rewarded, after Kris Meeke went off in yesterday’s shakedown. Fully repaired after rolling four times on Thursday morning, the DS 3 WRC lined up at the start of yesterday evening’s opening stage. After making a good start to the rally on the Mikolajki Arena track, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team set off this Friday morning to tackle the long opening leg.

The crews had eight stages to complete. In the middle of two asymmetric loops, the drivers and co-drivers had to make changes to the set-up of their cars and put on tyres for the second half of the day’s itinerary.

At average speeds of over 130kph, Kris Meeke made a fine start to the day with a third-fastest time. Looking to find the right feeling in the car whilst running second on the road, Mads Østberg adopted a more measured pace to slot into the top 10. By the end of SS5, after a run on one stage of almost 40 kilometres, Kris Meeke held fifth place, whilst Mads Østberg was just a few seconds behind.

At Goldap, the crews chose their tyres for the next loop. Kris opted for five Michelin LTX Force S4 soft tyres. Meanwhile, Mads mixed the compounds, with four soft S4s and two hard H4s.

In the very high temperatures, the soft compound tyres reached their limits on the second run on the 39km-long Stanczyki stage. Kris Meeke lost around twenty seconds before spinning on SS8. He ended the day in eighth position. Meanwhile, Mads Østberg’s decision to opt for two hard tyres paid dividends. Despite being handed a penalty for jumping the start on Goldap, the Norwegian moved up the standings and closed to within ten seconds of his team-mate.

Saturday’s leg features eight stages on gravel roads between Mikolajki and Suwalki. The cars are due to leave parc ferme at 6.40am for two loops, separated by a midday service. The crews will complete 130 kilometres of timed sections before returning to Mikolajki from 8.38pm onwards.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Mads Østberg: “It was tricky running second on the road and sweeping the loose gravel off the racing line. I think I did a good job at the start of the rally, even though the times didn’t necessarily reflect my feeling in the car. At the end of the day, the times improved significantly. This is not the easiest event to get to grips with. Our second fastest time on SS8 is a good starting point for the second leg.”

Kris Meeke: “It’s always difficult to get the pace right at the start of rallies that are as quick as this. I was nonetheless fairly pleased with my performance this morning when we were fifth. For the second loop, we didn’t make the right tyre choice and we lost a lot of time as a result.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS1 – Mikolajki Arena (2.50km) – The super special stage held close to the service park served up a number of spectacular head-to-head battles for the many fans gathered. Sébastien Ogier set the fastest time, ahead of local hero Robert Kubica. In his DS 3 RRC, Stéphane Lefebvre managed to beat Mads Østberg, who was eleventh, and Kris Meeke, who finished seventeenth after stalling at the start.

SS2 – Gorklo (13.00km) – The cars lined up for the day’s first stage at 8 o’clock this morning. Andreas Mikkelsen won the stage, at an average speed of 131.1kph. He thus became the new overall leader. Kris Meeke was third fastest to move up to fifth overall. Mads Østberg was still trying to get his bearings in tenth position.

S5 – Stanczyki 1 (39.12km) – Another test driven at average speeds of over 120kph, the first run on the longest stage of the day provided Ott Tanak with another chance to shine. Kris Meeke also produced a strong performance to retake fifth position. Mads Østberg remained in eleventh position. Forced to plug his leaking radiator, Stéphane Lefebvre continued to drive at a frenetic pace. However, with a 50-second penalty, he dropped to seventh position in the WRC2.

SS6 – Babki 2 (14.65km) – After changing tyres at Goldap, the crews set off again for another four stages. Sébastien Ogier claimed the stage win on Babki. Kris Meeke grabbed the fourth fastest time, whilst Mads Østberg was tenth.

SS7 – Stanczyki 2 (39.12km) – As temperatures rose, the crews had to manage tyre wear on this long stage of almost 40 kilometres. Sébastien Ogier went fastest to retake the overall lead. Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke followed one another in eighth and ninth positions. The Norwegian moved up two places in the overall standings.

SS8 – Goldap 2 (14.75km) – With two hard tyres, Mads Østberg produced his best performance since the start of the rally with the second fastest time, just 0.8 seconds adrift of Jari-Matti Latvala’s stage-winning time. Fighting with his worn tyres, Kris Meeke was unable to avoid going off and dropped 24.6 seconds on the leaders.

SS9 – Mikolajki Arena (2.50km) – The second run on the Mikolajki Arena super special stage saw Martin Prokop take the honours. Mads Østberg produced a good performance in fifth, ahead of Kris Meeke, who finished ninth.

SS3 – Goldap 1 (14.75km) – The stage was won by Ott Tanak, who also claimed the overall lead. Kris Meeke held on with the eighth fastest time, just ahead of Mads Østberg in eleventh. In the WRC2, Stéphane Lefebvre held a top-three position in the category.

SS4 – Babki 1 (14.65km) – Ott Tanak maintained his pace. He claimed another stage win, adding slight to his overall rally lead. Kris Meeke continued to fight for a top 5 spot, as Mads Østberg scrapped to get into the top 10.

Competing in the WRC2 category, Stéphane Lefebvre spent the morning in the top three. After going off on SS8 in his DS 3 RRC, however, he was forced to retire for the day.

In the FIA Junior WRC, British driver Osian Pryce leads the standings from the Frenchman Quentin Gilbert and the Italian Simone Tempestini. The top five DS 3 R3-MAXs also dominated the WRC3 category.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:17:42.5
2. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +2.1
3. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +10.8
4. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +16.7
5. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +35.9
6. Robert Kubica / Maciej Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +37.4
7. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +41.3
8. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +1:07.1
9. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:15.0
10. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +1:15.5…

FASTEST TIMES
Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tanak, 3 – Andreas Mikkelsen, Jari-Matti Latvala and Martin Prokop, 1.

LEADERS
SS1: Sébastien Ogier
SS2: Andreas Mikkelsen
SS3 to SS6: Ott Tanak
SS7 to SS9: Sébastien Ogier
15-07-06 En vanskelig start på løpet for Mads Østberg og Jonas Andersson
Mads Østberg og kartleser Jonas Andersson i DS3 WRC, som kjører for Citroen Racing, kjører Rally Polen denne helgen. Løpet starter i den Polske feriebyen Mikolaijki, og er den 6. runden av årets VM, eller World Rally Championship (WRC).
Mads og Jonas ligger på 2. plass i VM før løpet. Franskmannen Sebastian Ogier og kartleser Julien Ingrassia leder, med norske Andreas Mikkelsen og Ola Fløene på 3.

Det har vært en vanskelig start på løpet for Mads og Jonas, og duoen ligger på 10. plass etter første dag.
«Jeg har egentlig hatt en helt annen følelse enn tidene har vist,» sier Mads i en kommentar. «Vi har kommet i mål uten feil, og følt at det har gått bra, men tidene har ikke vært gode,» fortsetter han. «Bilen er bra og har fungert 100%, men vi gjorde noen justeringer i går, som fungerte godt da vi testet det på shake down, men som ikke har gitt oss gode tider i dag.»

Bortsett fra helt på slutten av dagen har det ikke gått i Mads og Jonas retning, men på den avsluttende etappen snudde det. Der satt Mads en 2. tid og var plutselig med i toppen på etappen.

«Jeg følte ingen forskjell,» avslutter Mads, «men plutselig satt vi en topp-tid. Den eneste forklaringen jeg har er at underlaget var hardere, og derfor fungerte oppsettet. Innenfra bilen var det ingen forskjell. Vi tar det med oss det som en positiv opplevelse, gjør noen endringer på kveldens service, og så håper vi å være med å sloss i toppen i hele morgen. Da klarer vi eventuelt å avansere noen plasser.»

Som en kuriositet kan det nevnes at Mads og Jonas fikk 10 sekunders straff i dag som følge av tjuv-start på en etappene. Dette måles elektronisk. Mads følte at det ikke var riktig, og ba om å få se laseren som kontrollerer hver start. Ved detaljert granskning viste det seg at han hadde startet etappen 2/1000 deler før han skulle. Dette fanget systemet opp, og ga straffene. Små marginer med andre ord.

For detaljerte resultater vises til www.WRC.com. Løpet fortsetter i morgen med 8 fartsetapper og avsluttes søndag med 4.
15-07-06 Tänak fights for the win in Poland
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak remains in contention for a potential win at this weekend’s Rally Poland. Despite having to contend with a number of set-backs throughout the day, his speed has been highly impressive and he remains in the fight for the top positions.

The Estonian set an outstanding pace through the opening loop. Notwithstanding an intermittent brake issue, Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder were the ones to watch – claiming three out of a possible four stage wins to secure an early lead.

At home on the fast-paced gravel, Tänak was reminding the world what he and new Ford Fiesta RS WRC are capable of and entered the midday media zone as the rally leader. Unfortunately, he was to find himself on the back-foot for the afternoon pass.

As his brake issues continued, the Estonian’s speed was also tempered by selecting six of Michelin’s soft compound tyres as opposed to the optimum hard tyre. Tänak was not the only one to be caught out by the hotter than usual Polish summer and was amongst a number of crews to experience significant tyre wear and a subsequent loss of traction.

But the strong-willed Estonian refused to give up the fight, ending the day in a competitive fourth place just 16.7 seconds adrift of the lead. Looking strong, Tänak is relishing the opportunity to rekindle his fight for the win.

n the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt were displaying a marked improvement from this time 12 months ago. Enthralled in an intense battle for the top-five, the Welshman had the upper hand over a number of his more experienced rivals. Unfortunately, his fortunes also took a downward turn through the afternoon loop.

Opting for five of Michelin’s soft compound tyres, he suffered the same issues as Tänak. With little traction, he was caught out under braking 30 kilometres into SS7 – overshooting into a field and losing more than 30 seconds to the leading pack.

Despite being relegated outside of the top-ten, the Welshman will be looking to regain his speed and rein in his rivals as the event continues amidst the searing temperatures of the Polish Lake District.

Ott Tänak (4th) said:
“We had quite a few issues today. They weren’t particularly major but they were affecting the confidence and the performance of the car quite a lot. We were struggling in a lot of places but we were also fighting really hard and considering what problems we had I think we have done a pretty good job today.

“We weren’t so smart with the tyre choice this afternoon but we are here and we’re not so far from the lead. We just need to keep pushing in the morning and if we can get the car fixed then I’m confident that we can challenge for the best result. If we can have everything perfect, we should be competitive and I’m really hungry for tomorrow!”

Elfyn Evans (11th) said:
“I think it’s fair to say that we made a fairly major mistake when selecting tyres for this afternoon. Half way through the long one [SS7] we already knew that was the case and the tyres had started to go off.

“Then I got slightly caught out in a braking point and with so little grip had a big overshoot into a field. There was no grip in the last 10 kilometres and we really lost a lot of time. When we saw the condition of the tyres we knew there was nothing we could do. We just had to get back to service with four tyres on the car.

“Having said that I think there were improvements this morning for sure. There’s still some work to be done until I can really say that I’m where I want to be, but we’ll start afresh tomorrow and see what we can do.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Ott [Tänak] has shown great pace today which put him into the lead of the rally this morning with three stage wins to boot. As you can imagine I was absolutely delighted with his performance, but in fairness he has had to deal with a niggling little issue with the brakes throughout the day and that hasn’t helped his confidence. Then of course this afternoon he took six soft tyres which wasn’t the optimum choice and we paid the price for that.

“We weren’t alone [in the tyre choice] and it didn’t cost Ott as much as it cost other people. It cost Elfyn [Evans] a tremendous amount as he only had the five [tyres] and he’s down in 11th place as a result which really doesn’t justify the massive improvement he has made in the space of 12 months.

“But all in all I think it’s been a good day for us. Ott has proven how competitive he and the new car can be. He’s only 16 seconds off the lead with two days still to go. If you look at his pace from this morning then I think it’s going to be a very exciting day tomorrow.”
15-07-06 God start på Rally Polen for Andreas Mikkelsen: Kjemper om seieren
Fattige 2,1 sekunder skiller Andreas Mikkelsen og de siste to års verdensmester Sebastien Ogier, som leder etter første dag av Rally Polen.
Før VM-runden i Polen, sa Andreas Mikkelsen at han var nødt til å gi full gass fra første meter for å kunne henge med i toppen. 26-åringen gjorde ord til handling. Han åpnet med tredjetid på den korte publikumsetappen torsdag kveld, og satte standarden da han vant fredagens første etappe. Med en gjennomsnittsfart på 131 km/t var det ingen som kunne tukte nordmannen på den 13 kilometer lange etappen.

– Det var en bra etappe av meg, hvor jeg fant rytmen fra start. Jeg tok ikke de store sjansene, men er likevel fornøyd med tempoet, forteller Andreas, som sammen med kartleser Ola Fløene var bil nummer tre på veien. Å starte så tidlig er ingen fordel i et grusrally, men det så ikke ut til at VW Motorsport-føreren tapte mye tid på å vaske veiene for grus for førerne som kom bak i feltet. Estlenderen Ott Tanak hang bra med under første gjennomkjøring, og ledet etter de fem første etappene. Men Ford-føreren tapte tid da etappene ble kjørt for andre gang og han ikke lenger hadde fordel av å starte bak i feltet.

Mot slutten av dagen var det Sebastien Ogier som overtok ledelsen, tett fulgt av teamkamerat Andreas Mikkelsen. Og det var nettopp de to som duellerte om seieren også under fjorårets VM-runde i Polen. Da trakk franskmannen det lengste strået, og Andreas måtte nøye seg med andreplass etter at han fikk bremseproblemer og snurret. Nå har han planer om å revansjere dette, og er fornøyd med grunnlaget han har lagt etter første dag av årets sjuende VM-runde.
– Vi har hatt ett uhell, hvor vi var av veien og tapte tid. Bortsett fra det har dagen gått knirkefritt og jeg er fornøyd med tempoet, sier Andreas, som har planen klar for morgendagen.
– Det skiller ikke mer enn to sekunder mellom Seb (Ogier) og meg, så det er skikkelig jevnt i toppen. Vi skal forsøke å fortsette der vi har vært i dag, og holde tempoet oppe og knipe noen sekunder på Seb. Det kommer til å bli en interessant og spennende dag. Jeg skal i hvert fall gjøre mitt for at han skal måtte svette for å kunne holde på ledelsen, slår Andreas fast.

Rally Polen, sammenlagt etter 9 av 19 fartsetapper:

Sebastien Ogier 1:17:42.5
ANDREAS MIKKELSEN +2.1
Jari-Matti Latvala +10.8
Ott Tanak +16.7
Hayden Paddon +35.9
Robert Kubica +37.4
Thierry Neuville +41.3
Kris Meeke +1:07.1
Dani Sordo +1:15.0
Mads Østberg +1:15.5
15-07-06 Tidemand tvåa efter Rally Polands andra dag
Den polska deltävlingen i Rally-VM är i full gång och när de nio första specialsträckorna är avklarade, ligger Pontus Tidemand på andra plats i WRC 2-klassen med sin ŠKODA Fabia R5.

Pontus inledde sin helg genom att vara näst snabbast på torsdagskvällens korta publiksträcka, endast 0.1 sekunder efter bästa tid. Det gav honom ett bra utgångsläge inför fredagen, då hela åtta av Rally Polens snabba och rytmiska sträckor skulle köras utan serviceuppehåll under dagen. Pontus höll sig borta från problem och även om han till en början fick kämpa för att hitta rätt känsla, kunde han avsluta tävlingens andra dag som tvåa, 50.1 sekunder efter sin ledande teamkompis i ŠKODA Motorsport, Esapekka Lappi. Pontus tog även sina två första sträckvinster i WRC 2 för ŠKODA och som om det inte var nog, satte han även den tredje snabbaste tiden totalt på fredagens avslutande superspecial - före storfräsare som den regerande världsmästaren Sebastien Ogier.

- Jag var inte helt nöjd med min körning på de första sträckorna idag, men på eftermiddagen kändes det mycket bättre och jag fick med mig farten ur kurvorna, berättar Pontus. Bilen fungerar utmärkt och Emil gör ett felfritt jobb med noterna så jag kan fokusera fullt ut på min uppgift. Vi är med i toppen och fightar, men Esapekka är extremt snabb och det är svårt att köra in tiden. Det finns absolut mer att ge, men då måste vi börja ta risker så det är något vi får diskutera innan starten imorgon. Halva tävlingen är kvar så vi kommer fortsätta att göra vårt bästa och njuta av de här otroliga vägarna.

Imorgon lördag väntar ytterligare åtta sträckor medan de sista två körs på söndag.

Rally Poland WRC 2 topp tre efter dag två:
1. Esapekka Lappi (FIN) 1:20.06.0
2. Pontus Tidemand (SWE) +50.1
3. Karl Kruuda (EST) +1:47.1
15-07-06 Midday quotes Rally Poland, section two
Ott Tänak (1st) said:
“It’s been a really enjoyable morning. The stages are so fast and really good fun to drive. In places I’ve actually been pushing quite hard just because I love it so much!

“We’ve had quite a few issues with the brakes. On the second half of the long stage [SS5] we only had the front brakes and no brakes at all in some corners! It was a bit challenging but I really want to keep the speed up and we are looking to manage the situation.

“Luckily this is a fast rally so you don’t need to use the brakes too much. We’ll just keep it flat.”

Elfyn Evans (9th) said:
“The feeling hasn’t been too bad but there is certainly scope to push a bit more. We have some areas to work on this afternoon – mainly in the slower sections as I don’t feel we’re quite clean enough there. Also I think we can afford to slide the car a little bit less and with more confidence on the second loop we can look to do that.”


15-06-30 Tidemand redo för fartfylld helg i Polen
Efter en strålande VM-debut med ŠKODAs Fabia R5 för en dryg månad sedan, är det nu tid för uppföljaren för 24-årige Värmlänningen Pontus Tidemand. I helgen deltar han i Rally Polen, ett VM-rally han aldrig tidigare kört, men med en skön känsla i maggropen hoppas han att återigen bjuda konkurrenterna på hårt motstånd.

Pontus, som gör sin första säsong som fabriksförare för ŠKODA Motorsport, har minst sagt ett fullspäckat år. Han deltar i Asia-Pacific Rally Championship och halvvägs in i serien har han skaffat sig en god total ledning. I tillägg till APRC kör han även utvalda VM-deltävlingar i klassen WRC 2, varav den första var Rally Portugal i slutet av maj. Trots att han då gjorde sin premiärtävling med ŠKODAs helt nya Fabia R5 räckte hans prestation ända till pallen och en fin tredjeplats. Med start på torsdag väntar nu uppföljaren i Polen, en tävling som är relativt ny i VM-kalendern och som Pontus kör för första gången.
- Det är alltid spännande med nya rallyn, säger Pontus. 90% av sträckorna är dessutom nya jämfört med förra året så erfarenheten härifrån väger inte lika tungt som i många andra tävlingar där samma vägar körts år efter år. Sträckorna i Polen är väldigt snabba så det gäller att hänga med från start och inte få för stora differenser till konkurrenterna om man ska ha en chans.

Även om det här blir Pontus första tävling på polsk mark, har han hunnit få en försmak av de polska vägarna när han och co-drivern Emil Axelsson hade några intensiva testdagar i slutet av förra veckan.
- Bilen har varit bra från början, men ŠKODA utvecklar den ständigt och nu känns den bättre än någonsin, berättar Pontus. Vi kommer till Polen med fart i kroppen, en riktigt skön känsla och även om vi har med i bakhuvudet att det här bara är vår andra tävling med Fabia R5, så ska vi ge allt för att få till en så bra helg som möjligt.

Konkurrensen som väntar i helgen kan bäst beskrivas som tuff. I det stora startfältet på närmare 30 bilar i WRC 2-klassen finns en uppsjö snabba förare, bland andra den totale ledaren Nasser Al-Attiyah från Qatar. Då Polens snabba vägar har flera likheter med Finlands fartfyllda sträckor, kan man också räkna med att förare som finländarna Jari Ketomaa och Pontus ŠKODA- och EVEN Management-kollega Esapekka Lappi kommer att bli svårslagna.

Rally Polen är ett av världens äldsta rallyn och har körts sedan 1921. Det ingick i VM 1973 och blev därefter en asfalttävling i EM. I VM-sammanhang gjorde det inte comeback förrän 2009 och tog därefter en paus tills det återinfördes igen 2014 och är numera ett grusrally. Tävlingen har sin bas i Mikolajki och inleds på torsdag kväll med en 2,5 km lång publiksträcka i värdstaden. På fredagen väntar en stor utmaning när åtta sträckor, bland dem den längsta i den polska rallyhistorien på 39.12 km, ska klaras av utan serviceuppehåll under dagen. Ytterligare åtta sträckor väntar på lördagen, men då med en service mitt på dagen, innan de avslutande två sträckorna körs på söndagen. Totalt uppmäter de 19 specialsträckorna 313.53 km.
15-06-30 Fullfartsfest väntar i Rally Poland
Rally Poland har WRC-kalenderns snabbaste specialsträckor. Med ett snitt strax under 140 km/tim räcker det inte med bara motorstyrka på grussträckorna. Förarna måste vara både skickliga och beslutsamma. Volkswagen ställer upp med Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) och Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), just nu på första, tredje och fjärde plats i VM-tabellen. Rallyt inleds torsdagen den 2:a juli med målgång på söndag den 5:e juli.
19 specialsträckor, totalt 314 kilometer, kommer att köras i norra delen av landet och nästan 75 procent av dem är nya för året. 2014 var den ultrasnabba specialsträckan “Wieliczki” med 137 km/tim i snitt den snabbaste sedan Volkswagen gick in i World Rally Championship (WRC). Den sträckan är något förändrad inför 2015.
- Bara de som verkligen trycker till på gasen kommer att vara framgångsrika de närmaste veckorna, säger Volkswagens motorsportsdirektör Jost Capito.
- Med Rally Poland och Rally Finland väntar "fullfartsveckor" i WRC. Vi har goda minnen från de här tävlingarna för vi är fortfarande obesegrade i Polen och Finland. Men hittills har den här säsongen visat att tillverkarna närmat sig varandra och alla har goda chanser att vinna. Vi kommer att få ge allt och vi får inte göra några misstag om vi ska vinna i Polen igen. Vi kan lita på de tre bästa förararna och kartläsarna i världen. Snabba banor har alltid varit favoriter hos Sébastien Ogier, Andreas Mikkelsen och Jari-Matti Latvala. Så det kommer definitivt att bli ett intressant Rally Poland, säger Jost Capito.

Okänd terräng för förare och kartläsare
Av de 314 kilometrarna specialsträckor är 235 okänd terräng för förarna i World Rally Championship. Sedan Rally Poland förra året återkom i WRC-kalendern för första gången sedan 2009, och då var nytt för teamen, blir det en ny utmaning i år. Cirka tre fjärdedelar av sträckorna är helt nya och dessutom måste teamen skriva nya noter för 88 procent av totalsträckan. Stora delar av de kända sträckorna kommer i år att köras i motsatt riktning.

När förare och kartläsare tvingas börja från "scratch", det är då Andreas Mikkelsen slår till. Han gladde fansen i Polen 2014 genom att bjuda på en duell med försvarande mästaren Sébastien Ogier. Mikkelsen är den som jagar VM-ledande Ogier i år igen. Jari-Matti Latvala har revansch att kräva i Polen efter två skador på däck och hjulupphängning 2014.
“Wieliczki” snabbaste sträckan för Polo R WRC
12,9 kilometer på 5:39,0 minuter - 2014 avverkade Andreas Mikkelsen och Ola Fløene den snabbaste specialsträckan någonsin för Polo R WRC . Ett snitt på 136,88 km/tim är snabbare än på någon specialsträcka sedan Rally Monte Carlo 2013. “Wieliczki” körs i år igen men något annorlunda än förra året. De första sju kilometrarna är identiska med 2014 års sträcka, men därefter går den på en annan - lika snabb - grussträcka till målet efter 12,87 km.

En annan delvis välkänd höjdpunkt från förra året är sträckan "Goldap". Den 6,67 km långa sträckan, med spektakulära krön och hopp samt långa kurvor, kommer i år att köras i andra riktningen. Åskådarsträckan “Mikolajki Arena” har körts tre gånger och trots att den bara är 2,5 kilometer lång har den alltid bjudit på dramatik. Den sträckan har inte ändrats sedan 2009.
Volkswagen etta, trea och fyra i VM-tabellen
Volkswagens förare ligger bra till för att ta sig an andra halvan av WRC-säsongen. Ogier/ingrassia leder med 66 poäng före Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S, Citroën) på andra plats. Mikkelsen/Fløene ligger fyra poäng efter på tredje plats i VM-tabellen. Latvala/Anttila är ytterligare åtta poäng bakom sina teamkollegor på fjärde plats. Volkswagen har också byggt upp en komfortabel ledning i konstruktörsmästerskapet, 64 poäng före Citroën.

Volkswagen förbereder sig för fartfesten
Före "fartveckorna" förbereder sig Volkswagen intensivt inför det förändrade tempot i WRC. Polen och Finland i juli är de två snabbaste rallyna i WRC-kalendern. Snittfarten ökar med nästan 30 km/tim från 90 till 120 km/tim. Det senaste rallyt i Sardinien med sina kurvor och smala vägar är det långsammaste efter Rally Argentina. På grund av de fundamentala skillnaderna kommer alla tre Volkswagen-paren testa Polo R WRC en dag vardera i Polen inför Rally Poland.

Citat inför Rally Poland
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
- Jag älskar snabba rallyn! Adrenalinkicken är mycket större och det är fantastiskt och passar mig verkligen, trots att Polen är en annan typ av grusrally och banprofilen inte alls liknar de tidigare rallyna. Vägarna är inte alls så smala som i Sardinien nyligen. I Polen är ungefär tre fjärdedelar av sträckorna nya jämfört med förra året och flera av de kända sträckorna körs åt andra hållet. Så rallyt är något nytt för alla förare och vi har alla samma förutsättningar. Alla kan visa vad de kan och jag ser verkligen fram emot det.
- Recce, rekognoceringen, och samspelet mellan förare och kartläsare kommer att spela en stor roll, precis som i Rally Italy. Det är ingen tvekan att om att turen spelar in för att vinna ett så krävande rally utan några incidenter. Men vi hade en bra strategi i Italien och varierade farten vid rätt tillfällen och på rätt platser. Efter den segern och med ledningen i VM kommer jag inte att göra några stora förändringar i mitt sätt att köra. Jag vill vinna i Polen också och för att göra det krävs det att man gasar på.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
- Jag har en räkning att göra upp Rally Poland. Jag hade otur förra året när jag skadade främre hjulupphängningen. Men jag lyckades i alla fall kämpa mig upp till femte plats från sjunde. Jag var på andra plats 2009 när jag fick bryta på sista specialsträckan. Det hade jag naturligtvis i bakhuvudet förra året men det är glömt nu. Jag vann i Portugal och hade bra fart i Rally Italy. Så jag är optimistisk inför Rally Poland och har alla möjligheter att hänga med mina team-kollegor.
-Rally Poland är snabbt och jag gillar det. Det är avgörande att hitta rätt rytm och sedan är allt möjligt. Vi har tillfälle att vänja oss vid underlaget och få en känsla för inställningarna under testerna i Polen. Jag känner mig förberedd efter de långa heta dagarna i Italien. Rally Poland är ungefär lika långt men det blir inte lika fysiskt ansträngande som Sardinien.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
- Jag hade kul i Rally Poland förra året och gjorde en bra insats genom att sluta som tvåa - även om jag inte vann kampen mot Sébastien Ogier. En sak räknas i Rally Poland; fart. Med 136,88 km/tim körde jag den snabbaste specialsträckan sedan vi började tävla med Polo R WRC. Vi får se vad jag kan göra i år. Om man ska kunna vinna rallyt måste man köra fullt, ha gott självförtroende och ta vissa risker. Sträckorna är ganska förlåtande men man får inte tappa respekten för dem och man måste vara alert och beredd på allt.
- Sträckningen i år är nästan helt ny, precis som 2014. Jag har redan visat mer än en gång att nya specialsträckor som jag inte tävlat på tidigare passar mig. Så jag är optimitisk. Mitt mål inför Rally Poland är definitivt att ta tillbaka andraplatsen i VM-tabellen och bygga vidare på mitt resultat från förra året.

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), totala ställninhgen
Förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 133
2. Mads Østberg 67
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 64
4. Jari-Matti Latvala 56
5. Elfyn Evans 53
6. Thierry Neuville 50
7. Kris Meeke 47
8. Dani Sordo 38
9. Hayden Paddon 32
10. Martin Prokop 27

Kartläsarmästerskapet poäng
1. Julien Ingrassia 133
2. Jonas Andersson 67
3. Ola Fløene 64
4. Miikka Anttila 56
5. Daniel Barritt 53
6. Nicolas Gilsoul 50
7. Paul Nagle 47
8. Marc Martí 38
9. Jan Tománek 32
10. Raigo Mõlder 27

Konstruktörsmästerskapet poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 179
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 115
3. Hyundai Motorsport 113
4. M-Sport 99
5. Jipocar Czech National Team 34
6. Hyundai Motorsport N 31
7. Volkswagen Motorsport II 31
8. FWRT 3
15-06-14 Ogier vann Rally Italy och ökar ledningen i VM
Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia tog ett stort steg närmare VM-titeln genom segern i Rally Italia. Deras tredje seger i rad i Sardinien ökar Volkswagens ledning i VM-tabellen för förare, kartläsare och konstruktörer. Efter nästan halva säsongen i FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) ligger Ogier/Ingrassia 66 poäng före närmaste konkurrent och Volkswagen leder konstruktörsmästerskapet med 65 poäng.
Volkswagen hade en tuff resa till den femte segern av sex möjliga för säsongen i Italien. Under extremt svåra förhållanden, i stekande hetta och med den längsta rallydagen på över tio år visade sig Polo R WRC vara den snabbaste och mest tillförlitliga rallybilen och tog 14 sträcksegrar. Trots motgångar lyckades Jari-Matti Latvala kämpa sig tillbaka och slutade på sjätte plats. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene som startade om två gånger under Rally 2-reglementet tog en bonuspoäng i Power Stage genom att bli trea endast slagen av sina märkeskollegor.

TurbOgier på pallen för 25 gången i Volkswagen
Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia var helgens största vinnare, och inte bara tack vare den tredje segern i rad på Sardinien. De körde klokt i ett rally som utsatte bilen för enorma påfrestningar, ökade trycket vid exakt rätt tillfälle och kunde gå upp i ledningen och sedan försvara den på de sista specialsträckorna. Alla toppteam fick problem i Rally Italia då de svåra förhållandena tog sin tribut - alla utom Ogier och Ingrasia. Med segern tog Ogier/Ingrassia sin 25:e pallplats med Polo R WRC - 21 gånger som vinnare och fyra gånger som tvåa.

Ren viljestyrka gav Latvala poäng
Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) däremot hade sin beskärda del av problem och förlorade tid vid flera tillfällen. Men de visade upp en exemplarisk inställning och räddade värdefulla poäng till sig själva och till Volkswagen. Två punkteringar på fredagen och lördagen kostade dem cirka tre minuter. En skada på hjulupphängningen efter att de kört på en sten kostade dem ytterligare fem minuter. Trots det lyckades Latvala/Anttila med hjälp av en självuppoffrande mekaniker, och en magnifik körning, minimera effekten av skadan. Totalt vann det finska paret sju specialsträckor - fler än deras teamkamrater. Slutresultatet en fantastisk sjätteplats med tanke på alla problem.

Andreas Mikkelsen spurtade i Power Stage
Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) tog en moralisk seger. Paret tvingades bryta på fredagen efter att ha kört ned i ett hål och inte heller på lördagen kunde de fullfölja. Men efter att ha startat om enligt Rally 2-reglementet för andra gången tog de på söndagen vara på chansen att slippa lämna Italien tomhänta. I Power Stage där de tre snabbaste får bonuspoäng fick de en poäng till VM-tabellen med sin tredje plats. De förlorade bara mot teamkollegorna Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia och Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila.

Nästan 30 grader
Hettan som nästan blivit tradition på Sardinien gjorde Rally Italy till en pärs med temperaturer omkring 29 grader i luften och upp till 43 grader på sträckorna. Extremt sönderkörda grusvägar med stora stenar tvingade förare och kartläsare att vara fullt fokuserade hela tiden. Det var särskilt utmanande på lördagen som med 213 kilometer blev den längsta rallydagen sedan Safari Rally 2002. De långa dagarna betydde också att teamet pressades till det yttersta. Mekanikerna arbetade till strax före midnatt och väckarklockan väckte dem igen klockan fem på morgonen. Men teamet backade upp Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen och ställde tre perfekta Polo R WRC på startlinjen varje morgon.

Citat efter tredje dagen av Rally Italia
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
- Segern här på Sardinien var mycket viktig i vår kamp om världsmästerskapet. Vi har nu en stor ledning över konkurrenterna. Den avgörande faktorn för vår framgång var, förutom en perfekt bil och ett fantastiskt team, att Julien och jag jobbade i perfekt harmoni den här helgen. Det är inte något ovanligt men det var så många nya sträckor här och dagarna var så långa att vi behövde vara helt fokuserade hela tiden. Dessutom, värmen i bilen och de krävande och hårda sträckorna - på kvällen var man helt slut när man kom i säng. Det här är det fysiskt mest krävande rallyt under säsongen hittills. Därför är jag så glad och stolt över segern i Italien.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
- Min Polo R WRC fortsatte att gå perfekt idag men efter gårdagens händelser var det egentligen inte möjligt att komma tillbaka. Därför fokuserade vi på Power Stage och med framgång. Jag kan vara nöjd med sjätteplatsen och totalt tio poäng efter Power Stage med tanke på alla problem jag haft den här helgen. Trots det finns det positiva saker att ta med sig hem. Vi var snabba genom hela tävlingen. Vi kan bygga ifrån det i Polen. Jag ser redan fram emot det!

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
- Den enda möjligheten idag var att ta poäng i Power Stage. Jag satsade allt på det och det gick bra. Jag körde bra i Power Stage och gjorde inga misstag utan gjorde det bästa jag kunde från den startpositionen. Det är skönt att vi fick med oss något som räknas. Naturligtvis är jag besviken att vi hade ett så besvärligt rally här och vi kommer att lära oss något av det. Jag ser redan fram emot nästa tävlingshelg i Polen. Det passade mig bra förra året och vi fick till en bra duell med Sébastien Ogier om segern. Jag hoppas vi kan bygga vidare på det om två veckor.

Jost Capito, chef Volkswagen Motorsport
- Rally Italy innebar många toppar och dalar för Volkswagen. Och till slut en bra avslutning. Tredje vinsten i rad för Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia tar dem ett stort steg närmare VM-titlarna för förare och kartläsare. Det är också värt sin vikt i guld för Volkswagen i konstruktörsmästerskapet. Att vinna det här stekheta rallyt som är mycket krävande för bilarna är allt annat än lätt. Det lärde vi oss den hårda vägen av Jari-Matti Latvala och Andreas Mikkelsen. Men de gjorde det bästa av den svåra situationen efter sina motgångar. Jag har den största respekt för deras insatser. Jag är glad och nöjd med hela teamet och vi kan se tillbaka på en extremt framgångsrik första del av säsongen. Alla kuggar har passat perfekt i hela teamet - från förare till mekaniker, från ingenjörer till kockarna, från logistiker till läkarteamet. Vi kan alla vara mycket stolta över det.

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Italy – slutresultat
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 4t 25m 54.3s
2. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai + 3m 05.4s
3. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai + 4m 22.5s
4. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB), Ford + 5m 34.8s
5. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën + 7m 50.1s
6. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 8m 06.7s
7. Yurii Protasov/Pavlo Cherepin (UA/UA), Citroën + 14m 57.7s
8. Paolo Andreucci/Anna Andreussi (I/I), Peugeot + 15m 03.3s
9. Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ), Škoda + 17m 41.7s
10. Khalid Al Qassimi/Chris Patterson (UAE/IRL), Citroën + 19m 12.0s
...
36. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen + 1t 36m 52.0s

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),
Rally Italy – Power Stage resultat
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 7m 15.9s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 3.8s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen + 4.1s

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), ställningen
Förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 133
2. Mads Østberg 67
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 64
4. Jari-Matti Latvala 56
5. Elfyn Evans 53
6. Thierry Neuville 50
7. Kris Meeke 47
8. Dani Sordo 38
9. Hayden Paddon 32
10. Martin Prokop 27

Konstruktörsmästerskapet poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 179
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 114
3. Hyundai Motorsport 113
4. M-Sport 99
5. Jipocar Czech National Team 34
6. Hyundai Motorsport N 31
7. Volkswagen Motorsport II 30
8. FWRT 5

15-06-14 Back from the brink for Mads Østberg
Third at the start of the final day of Rally Italia Sardegna, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson just about managed to hold onto fifth place in the overall standings. This result takes the Norwegian up to second position in the Drivers’ World Championship. Khalid Al-Qassimi and Chris Patterson finished in the top 10, whilst Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle collected precious points for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, still second in the Manufacturers’ World Championship. The next round of the WRC will be Rally Poland, held on 2-5 July.

fter two long legs, the final day of Rally Italia Sardegna looked set to be less hectic. The crews nonetheless had to tackle four stages, with 45.80km of timed sections and completed without any service period.

As there were clear gaps between the cars, the DS 3 WRC drivers were not considering making any out-and-out attacks. However, during the first pass on Olmedo Monte Baranta (SS20), Mads Østberg went off the road after a bizarre and unfortunate series of circumstances. Distracted by losing one of his ear plugs, the Norwegian ran wide on a corner where he had a bad pace note!

The no.4 DS 3 WRC ended the stage over a minute off the pace and dropped down to fourth position. With his rear suspension and brakes damaged, Mads was forced to drive slowly to the end of the event. He could do nothing as he dropped another place on the next test, but just about managed to hold off Jari-Matti Latvala and hang onto fifth at the end.

Having taken tenth position on the opening stage of the day, Khalid Al-Qassimi continued his sensible, disciplined race to add another point to his tally. Kris Meeke finished a long way back from the leaders but secured two extra Manufacturers’ points for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.

After two retirements due to an off (Friday) and electrical problems (Saturday), Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévôt rejoined again this morning in their DS 3 RRC. The 2014 Junior WRC champion showed some real form to grab two top-three stage times in the WRC 2 class.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Marek Nawarecki (Deputy Team Principal Citroën Racing): “This rally has more than lived up to expectations as an extreme event, with long legs, very rough stages and soaring temperatures that have been very demanding for the crews and the cars. Apart from the winner, the final overall standings have been largely determined by the number of problems encountered by the various drivers! In losing one of our DS 3 WRCs on the second stage, we weren’t in the best situation. Mads gradually picked up his pace, but he also had a number of issues to contend with. We have to be fairly pleased with fifth place, which takes him into second position in the Drivers’ World Championship. The points scored by Kris also ensured the team holds onto second place in the Manufacturers’ standings.”

Mads Østberg: “I simply made a mistake and it has ended up costing us a podium spot. Sometimes, you manage to get away with an overly optimistic pace note, but that wasn’t the case today. The corner was very tight and I ran too wide into a rock hidden behind a bush. We damaged the rear right-hand suspension and the brakes when we hit it. We then spent our time repairing the car and trying to nurse it to the finish. So I’m pleased to have made it to the end of the rally! After a series of very rough events, I can’t wait to tackle the faster, smoother stages at Rally Poland.”

Khalid Al Qassimi: “It was a long event with extremely rough stages and a timetable that meant we only had three or four hours of sleep per night. I was struggling to get the right feeling and so I couldn’t really push. Having said that, it was perhaps just as well I didn’t push on such a brutal course for the cars and the tyres. I’m pleased to make it to the end and finish in the top 10.”

Kris Meeke: “After a disastrous start to the race, rejoining under Rally2 rules yesterday was an interesting and rewarding experience. My times were pretty good, especially in the afternoon. Today was just about getting around and collecting some points for the team in the Manufacturers’ World Championship. We did just that and now I’ll switch my attention to Rally Poland. We know about the potential of the car and we’ve got a chance of getting a good result provided we work hard.”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “During the first leg, I got caught out after braking too hard on a downhill section. We rejoined yesterday under Rally2 rules, but the day was also cut short due to an electronic unit failure. Finally, today I was able to set some good times on the Olmedo stage, where I had good pace notes. This weekend enabled by to get my first experience in the DS 3 RRC, which is very different to the R5. It’s an experience that will prove useful in the future.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS20 – Olmedo Monte Baranta 1 (11.13km) – Mads Østberg went off the road, the main consequence being that his brakes lost some of their efficiency. He ended the stage a minute off the pace and dropped down to fourth position, behind Ogier, Paddon – the stage winner – and Neuville. Khalid Al-Qassimi gained a place to sneak into the top 10 of the overall standings.
SS21 – Cala Flumini 1 (11.77km) – Mads lost another place, as Elfyn Evans grabbed fourth. The no.4 DS 3 WRC ended the stage 1:23.4s adrift of Ogier, who set the fastest time.
SS22 – Olmedo Monte Baranta 2 (11.13km) – Jari-Matti Latvala topped the timesheets to make up 1:16.7s on Mads Østberg. Ahead of the final stage, the Norwegian’s fifth place was under threat, as he only had a one-minute lead over Latvala. Kris Meeke set the second fastest time on this stage.
SS23 – Cala Flumini 2 (11.77km) – Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen grabbed the bonus points awarded to the top three in the Power Stage. Mads managed to limit the damage: at the end of this year’s Rally Italia Sardegna, he held onto a top-five spot by just 16.6s!

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 4:25:54.3
2. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:05.4
3. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:22.5
4. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:34.8
5. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +7:50.1
6. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +8:06.7
7. Yurii Protasov / Pavlo Cherepin (Ford Fiesta RRC) +14:57.7
8. Paolo Andreucci / Anna Andreussi (Peugeot 208 T16) +15:03.3
9. Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +17:41.7
10. Khalid Al-Qassimi / Chris Patterson (DS 3 WRC) +19:12.2
24. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +1:04:11.4

FASTEST TIMES
Latvala and Ogier, 7 each – Paddon, 4 – Østberg, 2 – Prokop, Tänak and Neuville, 1 each.
LEADERS
SS1: Prokop
SS2 to SS16: Paddon
SS17 to SS23: Ogier

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Sébastien Ogier 133 points
Mads Østberg 67 pts
Andreas Mikkelsen 64 pts
Jari-Matti Latvala 56 pts
Elfyn Evans 53 pts
Thierry Neuville 50 pts
Kris Meeke 47 pts
Dani Sordo 38 pts
Khalid Al-Qassimi 9 pts

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Volkswagen Motorsport 179 pts
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 115 pts
Hyundai Shell WRT 113 pts
M-Sport WRT 99 pts
Jipocar Czech National Team 34 pts

15-06-14 Evans fights back to fourth
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans fought back to secure a strong fourth place at this weekend’s Rally Italia. Team mate Ott Tänak had been on course for a podium finish until an issue with the transmission dropped him outside of the top-ten on Saturday afternoon.
Rally Italia is an event that demands respect, and that is something that Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt fully understand. It is one thing to be fast in Sardinia, but it is quite another to be clever and a purely flat-out approach rarely reaps the rewards.

Evans always competes with an air of intelligence in his driving and that faired him well this weekend. The Welshman may have lost more than three minutes to the leaders with a driveshaft issue on Friday morning, but he stormed through the field and quickly broke back into the top-five.

Having rebuilt his confidence throughout yesterday’s mammoth 212.83 kilometre route, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver displayed a clear increase in pace which continued into today’s final stages – setting the third fastest time through the first pass of ‘Olmedo Monte Baranta’ (SS20)

The Welshman admitted that the rhythm he had enjoyed at the start of the season had not fully returned, but the future is looking promising for Evans who is becoming stronger ahead of his more favoured events.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, the Sardinian fixture was immensely cruel to Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder. Despite struggling to find their rhythm, the duo displayed a near-perfect combination of speed and caution which had propelled them into a podium position at yesterday’s midway point.

Pushing when confident and reigning in his true speed when not, the Estonian set the fastest time through SS7 and looked comfortable in a strong third place. Unfortunately it was not to be. Following a heavy landing after a jump on SS17, his Fiesta developed an issue with the transmission which forced him to accept Rally 2 regulations for the final day.

It was an unjust end to the Estonian’s event but he has once again proven how competitive he and the new Fiesta RS WRC can be.

Tänak may have missed out on the top-ten this weekend, but he secured six manufacturer points for the team which keeps them in touch with their two closest rivals.

Elfyn Evans (4th) said:
“It’s a very unexpected result after the issues we had on Friday. It’s fair to say that we had a difficult start for various reasons. Obviously we had the issue with the driveshaft on Friday morning and then after that I just couldn’t seem to get into the flow of it.

“We needed to start again on Saturday and I think it was a fairly solid run. We didn’t take any risks or chances but had a good rhythm which was a nice change from the day before! By the end of the day our fifth place was secured and when Mads [Østberg] encountered problems we moved up another place today.

“It’s been a difficult couple of rallies, but the feeling is gradually coming back and I’m sure we’ll be back on it in Poland. It’s a fast rally so it could be a bit of a shock to the system, but hopefully we can get up to speed and have a good run.”

Ott Tänak (14th) said:
“There are definitely a lot of positives to take away from this weekend. We were struggling a lot in the beginning of the event but we were able to learn and improve as the rally went on which was a really big positive. Also when everything was working well, we were right on the pace without having to take too many risks.

“Obviously it’s a big disappointment for the whole team because we’ve all put in a really big effort and a good result is just what we needed. Of course these things happen. We’ll learn from it and just push harder in the next rallies.

“The potential is there and I’m really looking forward to Poland and giving it a proper go. I think I was driving really safely in Portugal, I was pushing a bit more here – with a couple of small moments – and in Poland we can try to do the next step. We need to take it step by step to get where we ultimately want to be, and that’s what we’ll do.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“This was an exceptionally difficult event and there are a lot of positives that we can take away. Ott [Tänak] and Raigo [Mõlder, co-driver] showed great speed in the new car – without feeling 100 percent comfortable – and they were extremely unlucky not to come away with the podium they deserved. They have come a long way in the past couple of events and I’m sure that a podium is just around the corner.

“Elfyn [Evans] was waylaid by some issues on Friday, but he knows this rally well and he was able to use that knowledge to progress well up the leader board. I think it’s fair to say that he didn’t expect to finish in fourth position following the troubles he had on Friday, but he kept it together and stayed out of trouble.

“We’ve scored a good haul of points and managed the gap to our two closest rivals. Second place in the manufacturers’ championship is up for the taking and the whole team are looking forward to the events to come. We’ve shown some good speed here and both crews have shown how much potential they have moving forward.”

PROTASOV WINS THRILLING WRC 2 BATTLE
Locked in an intense battle that went down to the final split, Ford Fiesta RRC driver Yurii Protasov claimed a stylish and thoroughly well-deserved victory at this weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna along with an impressive seventh place overall.

Holding a seven second lead following a heroic fightback through yesterday’s stages, Protasov suffered a puncture on the opening test of the morning (SS20). Losing his lead, the Ukrainian had it all to do but rose to the challenge with real flair and enthusiasm.

An epic battle ensued and Protasov held a mere 0.5 second advantage going into the final stage. It was all to play for, but he and co-driver Pavlo Cherepin came out on top – securing the win by a comfortable 5.6 seconds.

His WRC 2 victory came hand-in-hand with a seventh place finish – his best overall performance and the best finish for a WRC 2 competitor so far this year.

Yurii Proatsov (1st) said:
“For me, this was such a fun rally. To have such a close fight with Paolo [Andreucci] – right up until the last split – was great and much more interesting than had there been no fight at all.

“We had to work hard all rally – listening to the notes and moving with the car – and I am very happy with what we have done this weekend and with our result which is the best of my career so far.”

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“This is a fantastic result for Yurii [Protasov] and the Ford Fiesta range – claiming the WRC 2 victory as well as a very impressive seventh place overall.

“Going into the final stage he was locked in one of the most exciting battles of the weekend and I am delighted to see him and Pavlo [Cherepin, co-driver] come out on top with their best ever WRC result.

“It really is a fantastic achievement for them. They worked extremely hard all weekend with what I think was one of their best ever performances. They thoroughly deserved this victory. They are getting better and better and should both be extremely proud of the job they have done
15-06-14 Mads Østberg solid as a rock!
Fifth at the start of the longest WRC leg since 2002, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson ended the day on the provisional podium at Rally Italia Sardegna. Khalid Al-Qassimi and Chris Patterson enjoyed an error-free day, also making a fine fightback that sees them head into the final leg just outside the points. After rejoining under Rally2 regulations, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle found the right balance between pace and control, enabling them to rack up additional, precious experience.

The coffee machine was running at full capacity when the teams left parc ferme bright and breezy this morning, bang on six o’clock. After retiring yesterday, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle were the first to reach service. Faced with the unenviable job of running first on the road for this leg, the Irish pair were aiming to regain their confidence in the car, rack up as much experience as possible and try to get into a position to score a few points for the Manufacturers’ World Championship.

Fifth overall on Friday evening, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson were feeling confident in spite of the mammoth challenge posed by today’s leg. The day’s nine stages added up to a lengthy total of 212.83km, a distance not seen in the WRC since the 2002 Safari Rally held in Kenya.
On roads that he particularly enjoys, Mads helped himself to a stage win on SS13, Coiluna – Loelle. His time enabled him to grab fourth place from Jari-Matti Latvala. The Norwegian then dropped around forty seconds on SS14 (Monti di Ala’) due to a slow puncture. He nonetheless managed to hold onto fourth position, heading for the midday service with renewed confidence.

The afternoon’s racing unfolded in more or less the same manner as in the morning for Mads and Jonas: a stage win on the second run on Coiluna, a slow puncture on Monti di Ala’ and one position gained during the loop. The no.4 DS 3 WRC ended this marathon leg of over fifteen hours on the provisional podium!

Despite feeling tired, Kris Meeke also had more to smile about at the end of a very positive day. Looking sharp on the second runs, the Rally Argentina winner finished consistently in the top three!

Sixteenth after making hard work of the first day, Khalid Al-Qassimi and Chris Patterson kept out of trouble Saturdays’ long leg. The regularly moved up the standings to make it back to parc ferme in Alghero in eleventh place, just outside the points!

Following two very full days, Sunday’s schedule may seem somewhat modest. Having already been sorely tested, the drivers and their cars nonetheless have to complete another four stages, covering a total of 45.8km.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Mads Østberg: “It was a difficult leg, with extremely rough road conditions. I think we managed our race well and I think it’s worth stressing how reliable the DS 3 WRC has been. We didn’t have any problems at all. I just lost time due to the wheel valves, which caused my two slow punctures. If I hadn’t lost those two minutes, I would be second tonight. We’re still in with a chance, but I really don’t know how much of a chance we’re talking about. Sometimes, this rally can be pretty gruelling!”

Kris Meeke: “Today was an interesting experience for me. We were first on the road for the wrong reasons, but one day I hope to be in this situation as leader of the World Championship! This morning, above all we were looking to get a good feeling in the car after not driving for most of yesterday. Gradually, the feeling came and we set some pretty decent times. On the second runs, I was able to push hard as the racing line was already swept clean. Although we had a few minor issues with the gearshift selector, we had four good stages, with times similar to the guys who are fighting for the win.”

Khalid Al Qassimi: “What an exhausting day! As well as the stages themselves, the road sections were long too and we needed a lot of coffee to make it through! After a pretty disastrous opening leg, things went a lot better today. Thanks to the hard work of the engineers, we managed to improve the set-up over the course of the stages. I was cautious, perhaps too much so, but that’s what enabled us to move up the standings.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS11 – Ittiri Arena 1 (1.40km) – The crews set off on this relatively insignificant stage at the ungodly hour of 6.57am. Mads Østberg finished among the leaders, setting the fourth fastest time.
SS12 – Monti di Ala’ 1 (22.49km) – Latvala won the stage, ahead of Ogier, who cut Paddon’s lead slightly. Fifth fastest, Mads Østberg moved a few seconds further clear of Thierry Neuville, his direct rival in the overall standings.
SS13 – Coiluna – Loelle 1 (36.69km) – Drama aplenty as Mikkelsen and Prokop went off, Latvala picked up a puncture and Neuville ran into technical problems. Meanwhile, Mads Østberg secured his first stage win of the rally. The Norwegian moved up to fourth overall.
SS14 – Monte Lerno 1 (42.22km) – Having made a strong start to the longest stage of the rally, Mads Østberg ended up losing 40s due to a slow puncture. He nonetheless held onto fourth place, sandwiched between Tänak and Latvala, who won the stage.
SS15 – Ozieri – Ardara (7.23km) – Latvala went fastest once again, making up 4.9s on Mads. The Finn closed the gap to the DS 3 WRC driver to 7.8s. Having rejoined under Rally2 regulations in his DS 3 RRC, Stéphane Lefebvre was forced to retire before the start, due to an electrical issue.
SS16 – Ittiri Arena 2 (1.40km) – Thierry Neuville won the stage, ahead of Kris Meeke. No change in the overall standings on this short test.
SS17 – Monti di Ala’ 2 (22.49km) – Hayden Paddon span his car, losing around twenty seconds and allowing Sébastien Ogier to become the new rally leader! Ott Tänak had to stop due to mechanical problems, enabling Mads Østberg to climb into the top three. The Norwegian increased his lead over Latvala, who was having to tread carefully with his suspension.
SS18 – Coiluna – Loelle 2 (36.69km) – As on this morning’s run, Mads Østberg was unbeatable on this stage. He set the fastest time, trailed by Ogier and Meeke. Latvala lost over two minutes and dropped down to sixth overall.
SS19 – Monte Lerno 2 (42.22km) – History repeated itself, as Mads Østberg once again lost a minute due to a slow puncture on the second pass on this stage, but he made it to the end of the leg in third position overall! Thanks to Paddon’s problems, Ogier found himself with a comfortable lead of over two minutes at the end of day two.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:54:43.9
2. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:13.6
3. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +3:25.6
4. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:57.0
5. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:15.5
6. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +8:08.6
7. Yurii Protasov / Pavlo Cherepin (Ford Fiesta RRC) +13:32.4
8. Paolo Andreucci / Anna Andreussi (Peugeot 208 T16) +13:39.4
9. Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +15:30.8
10. Yazeed Al-Rajhi / Michael Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC) +16:28.8
11. Khalid Al-Qassimi / Chris Patterson (DS 3 WRC) +17:07.4
Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +1:03:51.7

FASTEST TIMES
Latvala, 6 – Ogier, 5 – Paddon, 3 – Østberg, 2 – Prokop, Tänak and Neuville, 1 each.

LEADERS
SS1: Prokop
SS2 to SS16: Paddon
SS17 to SS19: Ogier
15-06-14 Heartbreak for Tänak as Evans fights back
There were mixed fortunes for M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans through an arduous day at Rally Italia today. Tänak was on course for a strong podium finish until a transmission issue forced him out of contention, but Evans fought back into the top-five.

Proving how much he has developed as a driver, Tänak was producing what was arguably his best FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) performance to date. The Italian fixture is notoriously difficult and demands speed as well as respect – something the Estonian duly gave.

It is one thing to be fast in Sardinia but it is another to be clever and Tänak had driven with real intelligence this weekend. Despite struggling to find a comfortable rhythm, he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder remained focused on the job in hand – pushing when comfortable and conserving their true speed when not.

Heartbreakingly however, their intelligent approach was to go cruelly unrewarded. Following a hard landing over a crest part-way through the second pass of Monti di Ala’ (SS17), their Ford Fiesta RS WRC developed an issue with the transmission system. Although the pairing desperately tried to affect a repair, it proved unsurmountable.

It was an unjust end to what had been an impressive drive from Tänak who will restart under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Evans was the event’s comeback kid. Despite being waylaid by a driveshaft issue on Friday morning that cost him more than three minutes to the leading pack, his knowledge and understanding of the stages saw him storm up the leader board.

Rebuilding his confidence following yesterday’s disappointment, the Welshman was getting back up to speed and delivered a number of competitive stage times behind the wheel of his Fiesta RS WRC.

Continuously identifying areas for improvement, he and co-driver Daniel Barritt are gradually regaining their true speed and currently hold a strong fifth place with one day of rallying left to run.

Elfyn Evans (5th) said:
“After the issues we had on Friday I definitely didn’t expect to be in the top-five this evening. Obviously a lot of drivers have had issues, but we’ve also had a much better feeling in the car. We’re still not 100 percent where we want to be, but with nothing to fight for and a lot of new stages there wasn’t a lot of point in taking any big risks.

“I think there have been points where we have shown good speed today which was a big improvement on yesterday. Of course there are another 45 kilometres left to run, but if we can continue like this then we can move onto Poland in a positive frame of mind.”

Ott Tänak (16th) said:
“In the middle of the stage [SS17] after a jump we got caught between the gears and then got stuck in sixth gear. I couldn’t down-shift and as there was still a long way to go, including a steep uphill, there really was no chance of making it through and we had to stop.

“Of course it’s disappointing because we were on course for a strong result, but there are definitely a lot of positives to take away from this weekend. We were struggling with the rhythm yesterday but we managed to improve a lot which shows how much we have learnt. Also I made a couple of small mistakes this morning but generally we had really good pace and were able to keep up with the leaders.

“We can see what level we should be at soon, but there is still some work to do. We just have to keep fighting and push even harder in Poland. I’m actually feeling really good ahead of Poland and Finland. The roughest part of the season is almost over and the next events are more driver-friendly which I’m really looking forward to.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It goes without saying that the whole team are all immensely disappointed for Ott [Tänak] and Raigo [Mõlder, co-driver]. This has been one of their best ever performances and the speed they were able to set without being 100 percent comfortable was highly impressive.

“It looks as though he was very unlucky – a heavy landing after a jump which damaged the transmission mechanisms. I know he will be disappointed, but he’ll be back out tomorrow and should not dwell on the events of today.

“By contrast, Elfyn [Evans] has had a much better day. He has regained some confidence and although he hasn’t quite found the rhythm he had earlier in the season, he’s gradually regaining his true pace.

“He knows how punishing these stages can be and has stormed through the field as a result. He’s currently holding fifth place which I think he will be happy with considering Friday’s time loss and also sees the team set to take a good haul of points.”
FORD FIESTA RRC STORMS TO WRC 2 LEAD
It was a great day for the Ford Fiesta in the FIA World Rally Championship’s premier support series as Yurii Protasov stormed into the lead of the WRC 2 category.

The Ukrainian is also holding a strong seventh place overall which could become the best overall performance from a WRC 2 competitor this year.

In addition to this, the Fiesta secured six out of a possible nine stage wins – highlighting the strength of the Fiesta range.

Yurii Protasov (1st) said:
“We have been able to push all day and I am really happy to be in this position. We probably eased off a little too much on the last stage, but we only lost 20 seconds and gained two minutes throughout the day so I am still really happy. We’ll keep pushing tomorrow and hope to bring this result home.”

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It was great to see the strength and depth of the Fiesta range in the WRC 2 category today. Yurii [Protasov] has done a fantastic job climbing from fourth to first and his seventh place overall could prove to be the best result for a WRC 2 competition this year. The Fiesta has also shown its speed – claiming six out of a possible nine stage wins today.”

15-06-13 Midday quotes Rally Italia, section four
Ott Tänak (3rd) said:
“The feeling has been better than yesterday. The stages have more of a flow which suits us a bit better and I think we’ve been able to continue at a good, solid speed.

“We had a few little set-backs with a slow puncture at the end of SS12 which meant we had to use the softs for SS13 and a spin at the start of SS14, but I’m really starting to enjoy myself out there.”

“We can’t think too much about the position at the moment though. We just have to think about our own driving and remain positive.”

Elfyn Evans (7th) said:
“It’s been going much better for us today. We’ve had some respectable stage times, but we are still struggling in some of the trickier places. It’s definitely an improvement on yesterday, which is important, but I know there is more to come.

“I think tyre wear could be a bit more of an issue this afternoon so it will be good to get some experience of that and we’ll perhaps try to drive a bit smoother.”
15-06-13 Tänak knocking on the door of a Podium
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak is knocking on the door of a podium at this weekend’s Rally Italia having once again proven the huge potential he and the new EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC possess. The Estonian currently holds a strong fourth place with team mate Elfyn Evans recovering to 10th position following an early driveshaft issue.

Rally Italia is notoriously difficult. The cars, the tyres, even the crews themselves are tested by the demanding nature of the stages but that didn’t stand in the way of Tänak showcasing his speed behind the wheel of the new EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

Like a number of his rivals, the Estonian opted for Michelin’s hard compound tyre for the morning loop. A mixed configuration was later proven to be the optimum choice, but the Fiesta driver was still able to set the third fastest time through ‘Grighine Nord 1’ (SS3) and was the fastest man on the hard compound by some margin through the opening stages.

During the second loop, he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder followed up an impressive performance with a stage win through ‘Sinis – Mont’e Prama’ (SS7) – their first of the season which puts Tänak’s career tally into double figures.

Reigning in their nearest rivals, the pairing were up to fourth position at the end of the day with all to play for through an arduous 212.83 kilometre route tomorrow.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Elfyn Evans was keen to secure more competitive mileage at the wheel of his new Fiesta RS WRC. Unfortunately, his bad luck continued and the Welshman was delayed by a broken rear-right driveshaft through the second stage of the morning (SS3).
Having to complete the remaining two stages with only two-wheel drive, he and co-driver Daniel Barritt lost three minutes to the leading pack. Making it back to service, the technicians were able to repair the damage and Evans worked to regain his confidence throughout the afternoon.

Climbing the leader board, the Brits will be keen to get into a good rhythm and affect further gains tomorrow.

Ott Tänak (4th) said:
“We were in a much better mood this afternoon and it was easier for Raigo [Mõlder, co-driver] because he had some experience from the morning stages. Okay we know that we still have a long way to go to be at our best, but we also know where we can improve.

“When we felt more comfortable, we pushed a bit more, and the times were good. It’s really encouraging to know that we can be fighting at the front when everything is right, but this is a rally where you have to know your limits and think about everything intelligently.

“It’s another really long and tricky day tomorrow so we just need to carry on like we have today. If we can improve the pace, of course we will, but first we need to focus on having a good rhythm and get everything working smoothly inside the car.”

Elfyn Evans (10th) said:
“It just hasn’t been our day today. We struggled this morning with what probably wasn’t the optimum tyre choice and then we had some issues with the car. But when we went back out this afternoon I just didn’t perform well. I didn’t feel comfortable and since the rhythm wasn’t there I got more and more frustrated which basically just made it worse!

“We need to look to tomorrow and see what we can do there. I need to learn from what we’ve done wrong today, but at the same time there’s no point dwelling on it. I know that I can perform better than what I have today, and that’s the objective for tomorrow.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been a great start for the new car with a stage win for Martin [Prokop] last night and again for Ott [Tänak] this afternoon – reaffirming the improvements we have made.

“Ott has had a really solid day and his fastest time was a real encouragement as we know he hasn’t felt comfortable today. It’s a difficult rally but it’s fair to say that it has been especially difficult for Ott and Raigo [Mõlder, co-driver] who have really struggled to get the rhythm into their notes.

“It’s great to see them sitting in fourth place at the end of the day, and if they continue like this tomorrow then they have a real chance of a very strong result. It will be another difficult day, but I have been very impressed with the way they have both coped with the challenges they’ve faced today.

“It’s been a tough start for Elfyn [Evans]. He had some technical issues with the driveshaft this morning and then this afternoon he struggled to find his confidence. The more he tried to force it, the less it came. He knows this and I know that he won’t dwell on today. He needs to start afresh tomorrow and just enjoy himself out on the stages.”
15-06-12 Midday quotes Rally Italia, section two
Ott Tänak (6th) said:
“It’s been a really difficult morning for us. We’ve been struggling to find rhythm in the notes, but it’s the first time for Raigo [Mõlder, co-driver] with a world rally car in Sardinia which really is not easy.

“I feel like we’ve been fighting through the stages, but we are here and that is the most important thing. We have to look to find a solution this afternoon. It’s such a tricky event with something happening all of the time; it might just take us a little time to get comfortable and fully up to full speed.”

Elfyn Evans (17th) said:
“We weren’t expecting the rain overnight and the start wasn’t what we wanted. It was a bit too steady for my liking and we struggled to find the grip and therefore the confidence.

“In the tricky stage [SS2] we decided not to take too many risks then in the second stage of the morning [SS3] a rubbing noise developed in the car quite early on. About six kilometres from the end we lost part of the drive completely and were limited to just two-wheel-drive for the rest of the morning.

“It was a testing first loop and we lost a lot of time, but we’re still here and we just need to regroup for the afternoon.”

15-06-09 Medvind för Volkswagen inför Rally Italia
VM-ledande Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), och deras närmaste konkurrenter i sammandraget, Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), samt Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) kommer till Rally Italia med stora förhoppningar om att lyckas lägga ytterligare en seger till Volkswagens imponerande samling.

Den sjätte omgången i WRC-säsongen körs i år från och med den 11:e till och med den 14:e juni och som vanligt sedan 2004 på Sardinien. Rallyt är en stor utmaning för människa och maskin med klassiker som specialsträckan "Monte Lerno" och det beryktade hoppet "Micky´s Jump", lika populärt bland förare som bland publik.

Lördagen blir den längsta dagen för de tävlande hittills under säsongen med 213 av rallyts 395 km specialsträckor. Volkswagens tre förarteam Ogier/Ingrassia, Mikkelsen/Fløene och Latvala/Anttila slåss om poängen i tre identiska Polo R WRC så som de nyligen gjorde i Rally Portugal. Där gjorde Volkswagen sitt bästa resultat i WRC-historien med både trippelsegern och de tre första platserna i Power Stage.
- Man kan inte gå in i ett rally med större självförtroende än vi har just nu, säger chefen för Volkswagen Motorsport, Jost Capito.
- Maxpoängen vi fick i Portugal var en riktigt kick och alla tre förarna, Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala och Andreas Mikkelsen, har vad som krävs för att vinna i Italien. Men det kommer definitivt inte vara en promenadseger. Vägförhållandena på Sardinien är svåra och förändras från en bil till nästa. Dessutom är konkurrenterna mer beslutsamma än någonsin om att göra livet surt för oss efter 1-2-3-segern i Portugal.

Volkswagen har vunnit Rally Italia två gånger i rad, 2013 och 2014. Men det är inte bara den sportsliga framgången som väcker trevliga minnen. Det världsberömda "Micky´s Jump" drar inte bara publik och ger rysningar längs ryggraden, utan Sébastien Ogiers hopp över krönet 2013 utnämndes också officiellt till "FIA Motorsport Moment of the Year". Snabbspolning framåt tolv månader och ett annat minne väcks till liv. 2014 avslutade förare, kartläsare och teamledning prisceremonin genom att kasta sig vattnet i hamnen i Alghero för att fira Ogiers andra seger i Italien. Alla kastade sig inte i frivilligt men inofficiellt var det ett av Volkswagen-teamets bästa minnen från 2014.

Den längsta dagen
"Micky´s Jump" är ett av de mest spektakulära i WRC-kalendern. Rallybilarna kommer fram emot krönet i cirka 100 km/tim. Förarna gör en kort inbromsning före högersvängen och sedan är det bara att vänta. Tack vare att det sluttar nedåt efter krönet kan bilarna flyga upp till 40 meter.

När förare och kartläsare kommit så här långt har deras koncentrationsförmåga redan satts på prov. Den 42 km långa specialsträckan "Monte Lerno", rallyts längsta, avslutar lördagen. Den längsta rallydagen för säsongen innehåller 213 km specialsträckor, litet mer än hälften av hela rallyt.

Men torsdag, fredag och söndag kan inte heller avfärdas. Den 2,5 kilometer långa åskådarsträckan "Città Di Cagliari" inleder rallyt efter den ceremoniella starten i Cagliari. Svårigheterna börjar på fredagen när "Grighine Sud" tvingar de tävlande att ständigt bryta rytmen längs den 26 km långa specialsträckan. Men den sportsliga höjdpunkten kommer i form av söndagens "Cala Flumini", vars 12 km långa specialsträcka utgör Power Stage när de tävlande kör den för andra gången. Här får de tre snabbaste bonuspoäng till VM-ställningen.

Stabil ledning
Framgångskurvan har hela tiden pekat uppåt för dubbla världsmästarna Sébastien Ogier och Julien Ingrassia. Mästarna vann på Sardinien 2013 och 2014. Och de kommer med stora förhoppningar inför 2015 års rally. Efter tre segrar och en andraplats på de fem första tävlingarna för säsongen leder Ogier/Ingrassia med 42 poäng före team-kollegorna Mikkelsen/Fløene. Därmed har de en större ledning än konkurrenterna kan ta in på en enda tävling. Det maximala antalet poäng man kan få i ett WRC-rally är 28 poäng och då krävs både seger och snabbaste tiden i Power Stage.

Ett år tillsammans
Det är exakt ett år sedan Andreas Mikkelsen och hans co-driver Ola Fløene började samarbetet. Mikkelsen körde tidigare med Mikko Markkula i världsmästerskapet. Norrmannen följde upp sin första pallplats med Mikkula vid 2014 års Rally Sweden med ytterligare åtta pallplatser tillsammans med Fløene efter Rally Italy 2014. Det helnorska paret har tagit poäng vid ytterligare tre tillfällen vilket betyder att Mikkelsen/Fløene på tretton rallyn bara lämnat två utan poäng.

Mikkelsen/Fløene "uppgraderades" till andra generationen Polo R WRC i Rally Portugal och kände sig direkt hemma i den nya bilen. Tredje plats och den fjärde för säsongen blev resultatet efter jungfrufärden. Deras remarkabla jämnhet har har gjort Mikkelsen/Fløene till närmaste konkurrent till Ogier/Ingrassia och de ligger nu på andra plats totalt. Men en sak återstår, att ta den första segern.

I vinnarspåret
Efter tre rallyn utan poäng är Jari-Matti Latvala och Miikka Anttila tillbaka som vinnare efter segern i Rally Portugal. I och med det klättrade de fyra placeringar till femte plats i VM-sammandraget. De är 59 poäng efter ledande Ogier/Ingrassia men de har fortfarande drömmen om att vinna VM vid liv. I Portugal utrnyttjade Latvala/Anttila skickligt fördelen av sitt startnummer och lyckades använda all sin erfarenhet till att behålla ledningen ända in i mål och ta sin första seger för säsongen, den 13:e i karriären och den sjätte för Volkswagen.

Citat inför Rally Italy
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
- För mig är Rally Italy ett av de bästa rallyna i WRC-kalendern. Jag har lyckats bättre vid varje tillfälle hittills och jag vann de två senaste åren. Specialsträckorna är trevliga, landskapet är vackert och atmosfären är superb, det är ett bra rally på alla sätt. I år är ett antal specialsträckor nya och vi kör totalt 1 500 kilometer - det längsta rallyt för säsongen hittills. Det ställer högre krav på form och uthållighet än vanligt särskilt om tänker på hur varmt det är i bilarna. Mitt mål är naturligtvis att vinna igen men konkurrenterna kommer inte att göra det lätt för mig. Trycket är inte mindre än vanligt men det är inte min fighting spirit heller. Jag kommer att kämpa ända in i mål och jag ser redan fram emot doppet i hamnen tillsammans med mina kollegor om vi skulle vinna. Efter en så het weekend är det definitivt bästa sättet att kyla ned sig. Men först måste vi vinna.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
- Jag har en räkning att göra upp med Rally Italia. Båda de senaste åren har en punktering hindrat mig från att vinna - jag blev trea vid båda tillfällena. Jag vill naturligtvis vinna i år. Min startposition borde vara en fördel, jag startar från femte plats i det som är årets längsta rally. Dagarna blir otroligt långa och de 40 milen specialsträckor går på smala vägar intill klippväggar. Men jag älskar att köra på Sardinien. Vad många inte inser är att det här rallyt är lättare att köra än det ser ut att vara vad det gäller utformningen. Det betyder att vi kan gasa på ordentligt. Segern i Rally Portugal var otroligt viktig för mig. Det lyfte en tyngd från mina axlar. Efter tre rallyn utan att vinna någon poäng börjar man tvivla på sig själv. Jag skulle vilja säga stort tack till min mentala coach Christopher Treier. Han sade: Lita på dig själv. Lita på din fart. Det gjorde jag och det kommer jag att göra igen i Rally Italy.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
- Jag har kommit trea fyra gånger hittills den här säsongen. Jag skulle vilja följa upp den prestationen i Rally Italy och definitivt bli en av de fem bästa - helst ännu bättre. Rally Portugal gick jättebra för mig och jag blev genast förtjust i min nya Polo RWRC. Den nya transmissionen gör att bilen praktiskt taget kör sig själv - den här bilen är som gjord för mig. Jag är i god form och teamet gör ett förstklassigt jobb. Därför är jag optimistisk om att göra ett bra resultat. Ola och jag har nu kört tillsammans exakt ett år. Vi har ett särskilt ‘je ne sais quoi’ som jag har svårt att beskriva. Vi har totalt förtroende för varandra och Ola har verkligen hjälpt mig att utvecklas.

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), totala ställningen
Förarmästerskapet poäng
1. Sébastien Ogier 105
2. Andreas Mikkelsen 63
3. Mads Østberg 57
4. Kris Meeke 47
5. Jari-Matti Latvala 46
6. Elfyn Evans 41
7. Dani Sordo 38
8. Thierry Neuville 35
9. Martin Prokop 27
10. Ott Tänak 23

Kartläsarmästerskapet poäng
1. Julien Ingrassia 105
2. Ola Fløene 63
3. Jonas Andersson 57
4. Paul Nagle 47
5. Miikka Anttila 46
6. Daniel Barritt 41
7. Marc Martí 38
8. Nicolas Gilsoul 35
9. Jan Tománek 27
10. Raigo Mõlder 23

Konstruktörsmästerskapet Poäng
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 146
2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 103
3. Hyundai Shell World Rally Team 94
4. M-Sport World Rally Team 81
5. Jipocar Czech National Team 34
6. Volkswagen Motorsport II 30
7. Hyundai Motorsport N 13
8. FWRT 3
15-06-09 Another Challenge for the DS 3 WRCs!
With an extensively altered course, Rally Italia Sardegna serves up a new challenge this season. Three DS 3 WRCs will line up at the start of this, the sixth round of the 2015 World Championship, driven by Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson, Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Khalid Al Qassimi/Chris Patterson. Competing in the WRC2 category, Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot will be making their competitive debut in a DS 3 RRC.

The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team lies second in the Manufacturers’ World Rally Championship a third of the way through the 2015 season. Following a podium finish in Mexico and an impressive one-two in Argentina, the DS 3 WRCs produced a solid performance in Portugal.

In Italy, Citroën Racing returns to a venue that proved to be a happy hunting ground for Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson in 2014. The Nordic crew had finished as runners-up at last year’s Rally Italia Sardegna, one of their best performances of the season.

The technical upgrades introduced prior to the Portugal round will provide an extra advantage on the daunting roads of Sardinia. With a set-up close to that which enabled Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg to grab stage wins in the Porto region, the DS 3 WRCs will be tackling some of the most demanding stages on the calendar.

On narrow, rough roads with plenty of exposed rocks, the drivers will need to manage their allocation of tyres in the high temperatures and throughout loops of up to 80 kilometres. The presence of dust, even more of a disadvantage than sweeping the road clear of loose gravel, may also play a key role during this incredibly tough event.

Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson are currently third in the World Championship, just ahead of Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle in fourth. Having competed in two rallies since the start of the season, Khalid Al Qassimi and Chris Patterson lie in twelfth position.

Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot continue their campaign in the FIA WRC2. Currently fourth in the category standings, they will be competing in a DS 3 RRC for the first time in Italy and will be aiming to collect a large haul of points. This will be an opportunity for the talented young Frenchman to move to the next level on his learning curve, ahead of his first outing in a DS 3 WRC in just over two months’ time.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has extensive experience at Rally Italia Sardegna and this is one of the rounds at which our crews have excelled in the past. Mads was very fast and effective in finishing as runner-up in 2014. As regards Kris, this is one of the rallies he knows the best. The recent upgrades to the DS 3 WRC will provide an extra advantage here. The constraints of this demanding event should give our cars the opportunity to do well. The goal is to ensure both our DS 3 WRCs finish in good positions and secure as many points as possible for the championships just ahead of the half-way stage of the season.”

Mads Østberg: “This is one of the rallies that I know the best and one where I have had some very good results in the past. The Sardinian route is fairly technical. There are a lot of changes in ground level and there are very few real landmarks. You need to have very precise pace notes, suited to the conditions. The surface is pretty sandy and can be rough in places. The exposed rocks and the high temperatures mean that tyre wear can be very significant, so we’ll need to manage the tyres well. My aim is to produce the same kind of pace as in Mexico and Argentina, and fight at the front all the way to the finish.”

Kris Meeke: “The route is fairly different for 2015. Although Rally Italia Sardegna is one the events I am most familiar with, I think it’s a very good thing that a lot of the stages are new this year. Everyone will start with new pace notes. This is one of the roughest rallies in the championship. The roads are narrow with stones and exposed rocks just off the racing line. So, this event calls for very precise notes and very clean driving. Some sections are bit like a marathon. And the high temperatures are also going to add to the difficulties. Since Mexico, we have shown that we are capable of consistently fighting at the front, so we need to keep up our good form. A podium finish would therefore be a perfect result.”

Khalid Al Qassimi: “The character of Rally Italia Sardegna won’t be all that different to last year, even though the route has changed significantly. The roads are very difficult, especially the 42-kilometre Monte Lerno stage. There is no room for even the slightest error on these fast, narrow stages lined with rocks and bushes. We are going to adopt the same strategy as in 2014. We’ll have to drive cautiously. This is equally one of the rallies where the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has enjoyed the most success and I think Kris and Mads will manage to score as many points as possible.”

NEW ROUTE
More than half of the 2015 route is completely new. There is a new shakedown and a new opening day, with only sections of the route on Saturday’s leg and the Power Stage featuring familiar roads, either in the usual or opposite direction.

The shakedown will be held at Le Bombarde. It is scheduled to take place on Thursday morning between 7am and 11.30am. The rally will get underway at 7.30pm in Cagliari, the largest city on the island. Following a 2.5 kilometre super special stage on tarmac, the cars will remain in parc ferme on Via Roma.

The cars will head north on Friday morning with an early start time of 6.30am. The first section, featuring four new stages, will take the crews through Grighine Sud (26.40km), Grighine Nord (18.70km), Montiferru (14.90km) and Sagama (2.60km). After a thirty-minute service period in Alghero, the competitors complete another pass on Sagama, then Sinis – Mont’e Prama before second runs on Grighine Sud, Grighine Nord and Montiferru before returning to Alghero at 9.25pm.

Parc ferme will be open at 6am on Saturday, ahead of a marathon day featuring some 212 kilometres of timed stages. At sunrise, Ittiri Arena (1.44km) will provide a short warm-up for the long Monti di Ala (22.50km), Coiluna – Loelle (36.70km) and Monte Lerno (42.20km) stages, the latter featuring a peak in excess of 1,000 metres above sea level, before the crews complete a run on Ippodromo di Ozieri (3.45km). Following a thirty-minute service, the route will be rerun in the afternoon with high temperatures expected… The first car is due back in Alghero at 9.40pm.

Four stages are scheduled for Sunday’s leg, with no service period. The action kicks off at 7.30am with two passes on Olmedo Monte Baranta (11.00km), with an opening run on Cala Flumini (11.70km) sandwiched in between. The second run on Cala Flumini 2 (SS24) will serve as the Power Stage and be broadcast live at 12.08pm, before the rally concludes with the podium ceremony, held at 1.45pm.


Detaljerte resultater finnes via www.madsostberg.no eller på www.wrc.com.