WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2019

2019

VM kalendern 2019
24-27 jan Monte Carlo  
14-17 febr Rally Sweden *
7-10 mars Mexico  
28-31 mars Frankrike *
24-28 april Argentina  
9-12 maj Chile  
30-2 juni Portugal  
13-16 juni Italien *
1-4 aug Finland *
22-25 aug Tyskland  
12-15 aug Turkiet  
3-6 okt England *
24-27 okt Spanien  
14-17 nov Australien  
* = Junior-VM  

19-03-11 Ogier captures fifth Rally Mexico win to peg back leader Tänak
Frenchman holds off Estonian to cut title gap to four points heading to Corsica.
Sébastien Ogier claimed his fifth Rally Guanajuato Mexico victory on Sunday afternoon to eat into Ott Tänak’s early season FIA World Rally Championship advantage.

Ogier never relinquished the lead after moving his Citroën C3 to the front of the four-day encounter on Friday afternoon. He headed Tänak by 30.2sec after the Estonian outgunned Elfyn Evans in a final-day fight for second.

His 46th career success was achieved with a third different manufacturer after previous victories with Volkswagen and Ford.

Scorching heat and tough gravel tracks in mountains near León ensured a rally of attrition, but Ogier delivered a measured display for his second consecutive Mexico triumph.

He overcame a differential problem and a trip into a tyre wall on Saturday night, and had to maintain a strong pace today to keep the door firmly closed on a charging Tänak.

Ogier, who made his WRC debut in Mexico in 2008, said: “It has always been a special place since the start of my career and I’m glad it remains that way."

“It’s been a tough weekend in difficult conditions. It wasn’t a trouble-free rally for us, but we managed to make the best of it and came out with maximum points,” added the Frenchman, who also scooped maximum bonus points by winning the Wolf Power Stage by 0.025sec.

Second for Tänak exceeded his dreams. As championship leader, the Toyota Yaris driver opened the roads in Friday’s first leg and faced the worst of the conditions, conceding big chunks of time ploughing a clean line through thick gravel.

He started the final leg, in which temperatures again topped 30°C, 2.2sec adrift of Evans. He overhauled the Welshman in the opening test to eventually end 19.2sec ahead. The pair were the only topline drivers to avoid problems in the gruelling conditions.

Thierry Neuville and his Hyundai i20 were both off-colour en route to fourth. The Belgian fought illness during the rally and struggled for pace in the high-altitude stages. He dropped to third in the championship standings behind Tänak.

Kris Meeke finished fifth, his best result since joining Toyota Gazoo Racing. With a huge time advantage over sixth-placed Benito Guerra, the Ulsterman drove slowly through today’s initial stages to ensure his tyres were in the best condition to chase a Wolf Power Stage win, only to be denied by Ogier.

The championship returns to Europe later this month for the opening all-asphalt fixture. The Corsica Linea - Tour de Corse is based in Bastia on March 28-31.

Final positions:
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 3hr 37min 08.0sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +30.2sec
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +49.9sec
4. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +1min 27.0sec
5. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +6min 06.2sec
6. B Guerra / J Zapata MEX Skoda Fabia +15min 35.5sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 3 of 14)
1. O Tänak 65pts
2. S Ogier 61pts
3. T Neuville 55pts
19-03-11 Citroën secures its second win of the season with Ogier-Ingrassia!
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced an incredibly calm and collected performance on Sunday’s final leg to claim their second win from three events in 2019, the C3 WRC retaining its record of finishing on the podium at every round since the start of the season in Monte-Carlo! Citroën Racing thus extended the record it holds for the most wins at Rally Mexico to eight.

Starting the day with a 27.0s lead over the second-placed crew, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia held their nerve despite the pressure applied by those behind. The pair’s controlled final day performance saw them secure victory with an extended winning margin after the final sixty or so final kilometres. They also collected five bonus points on the Power Stage with a seventh stage win, making them the weekend’s top performers. It was an excellent weekend in terms of points, as they climbed to second place in the world championship, just four points behind the leader.

The six-time world champions had taken the lead on the second pass on El Chocolate (31.57km), the most technical stage on day one, before finishing the first leg with four stage wins and overall lead of 14.8s, despite running third on the road. Although they were briefly unseated from top spot the next day when SS10 was red flagged and they were awarded a notional time that took account of the slow puncture collected during the stage, the French pair – despite no longer having a spare tyre – went back on the attack and managed to retake the lead on the next test, Otates, with the second fastest time just 1.2s off the pace. They then went one better, finishing first on the final stage of the morning loop. The afternoon saw them claim their sixth stage win of the weekend, despite the handicap of being the only crew to carry two spares. Their performance enabled them to build up a substantial lead, allowing them to manage the final leg with the kind of control they are famous for.

Eleven years after making their world championship debut here in a Citroën C2 Super 1600, Sébastien and Julien completed their fifth win in Mexico, after those secured in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018. It’s also their second win of the season, after Monte-Carlo, and the third time in as many rounds in 2019 that Citroën Total World Rally Team has finished on one of the top two steps of the podium. Confirmation, if any was needed, of its competitiveness.

In taking the honours for the second time in Central America after its maiden win in 2017, the C3 WRC has also made it mark at this event, despite its reputation as a particularly demanding rally due to the high temperatures and extreme altitudes, whilst Citroën Racing extended its record at this round to eight wins.

On only their second appearance in Mexico, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm quickly showed their undeniable potential. With a fourth fastest time, 6.2s behind their team-mates on El Chocolate (31.57km), and then a second fastest time (SS7), a mere two tenths off the stage-winning time on Friday afternoon, they ended the opening leg in a promising fifth position, just 2s behind fourth place. The pace set at the start of the next day confirmed that they were at one with their C3 WRC, but unfortunately a sudden change in grip caught them out and left them stranded by the side of the road. The final leg, during which they were first on the road, provided them with an opportunity to add to their experience, whilst preparing for the next few events on gravel. The point scored on the Power Stage, somewhat against the odds and as the championship contenders also battled for bonus points, served as a timely reminded that they will be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season!

REACTIONS FROM…
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Mexico is definitely a special place for me and I’m especially pleased to secure this fifth win here and take maximum points for the championship! That was what we came for, and although it wasn’t a trouble-free weekend, we managed it well from start to finish. The potential I saw in the C3 WRC continues to be borne out. It enabled us to be top performers this weekend. It’s now up to us to keep working hard because the championship looks set to be even closer than ever before. In the meantime, I would like to thank the team for the great job done this weekend! We’ll now head for Corsica looking for a similar outcome.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I'm pleased to have learned how to drive on this specific surface with my C3 WRC and to have equally made progress in understanding the tyre strategy for these stages. We’re now going to concentrate on the Tour de Corse, with the intention of getting back among the frontrunners.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL
What can you say about Citroën Racing’s eighth win in Mexico, and the second this season?

We’re delighted with it, because it is the result of an excellent team effort! Winning here is no easy feat. The combination of high altitude and hot temperatures make it the ultimate challenge for man and machine alike. But everyone was on the ball throughout the weekend and this win is just deserts for our hard work. This event remains unusual, but it’s also always positive to win the championship’s first round on gravel because it’s the surface on which the majority of the rallies are held and although we can't afford to rest on our laurels, it is confirmation that we are right in the mix with the C3 WRC. Three podiums in as many races – we really couldn't have hoped for a better start to the season with our two new crews. Obviously, all of this wouldn’t have been possible without a magnificent performance by Sébastien and Julien. Every day, they showed off their full array of qualities: speed, race craft, ability to react and management skills too. We knew it already, but they really do have it all!

What did you make of Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm’s race?

They made a minor error that proved very costly, but I prefer to focus on the way in which they got to grips with the difficulties of the Mexican roads. They haven't fully mastered them yet, but they gradually upped their game and managed to set a very respectable pace. They had a very good feeling in the C3 WRC on gravel and that augurs well for the rest of the championship.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND
Thomas Breton, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s race engineer, looks back on the opening leg of the rally, perfectly negotiated by his crew.

“They really impressed me on Friday. Obviously, our road position was better than that of Tänak and Neuville, but there were others who tackled the stages on even cleaner roads. It’s also true that these sorts of conditions are always difficult to work on and reproduce in testing. We gave them an easy car to drive and they made very good use of it! They have this incredible ability to adapt their rhythm to the circumstances, to push a bit more whenever it’s necessary and to control their pace when it’s not the right moment to take any unnecessary risks.”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:37:08.0
2. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +30.2
3. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +49.9
4. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:27.0
5. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6:06.2
6. Guerra / Zapata (Skoda Fabia R5) +15:35.5
7. Bulacia Wilkinson / Cretu (Skoda Fabia R5) +18:51.5
8. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +18:55.9
9. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 22:44.1
14. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +1h03’40’’5

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Ott Tänak – 65 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 61 points
3. Thierry Neuville – 55 points
4. Kris Meeke – 35 points
5. Elfyn Evans – 28 points
6. Esapekka Lappi – 20 points
7. Sébastien Loeb – 18 points
8. Jari-Matti Latvala – 14 points
9. Andreas Mikkelsen – 12 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 86 points
2. Citroën Total WRT – 78 points
3. Hyundai WRT – 77 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 45 points
19-03-09 Composed Ogier leads after drama-filled Friday at Rally Mexico
Frenchman keeps cool in fierce heat to lead Evans on dirt in the mountains. Sébastien Ogier kept his cool in the sweltering heat to lead Rally Guanajuato Mexico after Friday’s incident-filled opening leg.

The world champion headed Elfyn Evans by 14.8sec after a tough day of dirt road action in the mountains near León sidelined closest rivals and Hyundai i20 team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo.

Two morning speed test wins earned Mikkelsen a slender 1.6sec advantage over Ogier at the midpoint. The Norwegian’s efforts proved in vain when he retired near the finish of the afternoon’s repeated El Chocolate test with broken suspension after hitting a stone.

His demise left Sordo less than two seconds adrift of Ogier’s Citroën C3. The Spaniard, driving his first rally of the season, was powerless to challenge Ogier when he stopped on a liaison section after the following special stage with a suspected electrical problem.

Temperatures which topped 31°C and altitudes of more than 2750 metres ensured a trying day for crews and hard-working engines and transmissions, but Ogier’s problems were restricted to a puncture.

“It’s been an almost perfect day but it wasn’t easy. Starting third on the road wasn’t ideal and the grip was very low in the first pass. We can benefit from the best start position tomorrow, but we’ll have to stay out of trouble as well,” he said.

Evans’ Ford Fiesta ran hot all day but he had the better of a battle with fellow Briton Kris Meeke, edging clear to end with a 6.3sec advantage.

Meeke was hampered by dust inside his Toyota Yaris but headed championship leader Ott Tänak by 16.0sec. The Estonian overhauled Esapekka Lappi in the final pair of tests at León’s motor racing circuit to claim fourth, a position he could barely have dreamed of.

As road opener, Tänak swept loose gravel from the surface, leaving more grip and a faster line for those starting behind. He lost time in virtually every test, but two stage wins and the high rate of attrition helped him climb the order.

Lappi was disappointed by his pace and lost time with a spin to drop behind Yaris team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. It proved academic when Latvala retired from fourth before the circuit tests with alternator failure.

An unwell Thierry Neuville was sixth in the sole-surviving i20. He dropped nearly 45sec with an early puncture and second in the start order offered conditions only marginally better than Tänak.

Saturday’s leg is the longest of the event. Two identical loops of three tough gravel stages in the mountains north and east of León are followed by re-runs of today’s motor racing circuit and city street tests. The nine stages cover 138.37km.

Leading positions after Friday
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën 1:18.33.8
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford +14.8
3. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota +21.1
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota +37.1
5. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Citroën +39.1
6. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai +1:00.7
19-03-09 The C3 WRC leads the way with Ogier-Ingrassia!
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia took the overall lead on day one in their C3 WRC, also ending today’s opening leg as top performers with four stage wins in sweltering temperatures and high altitudes of close to 3,000 metres above sea level. Fifth overnight, just behind the fourth-placed crew, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm meanwhile made up for their lack of knowledge of the rally by adapting well to the conditions.

Scheduled for Thursday evening in the streets of the famous former mining city of Guanajuato, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the rally’s opening stage was interrupted when the ramp of a purpose-built jump was deemed unsafe after it moved from its initial position. And so it was on Friday’s leg that the battle began in earnest. The highlight was expected to be two runs on the famous El Chocolate (31.57km) stage, reputed for being particularly technical (contested at an average speed of just 80kph).

And it was precisely on this stage – on the second pass as temperatures peaked – that Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia struck a telling blow, moving into the overall lead with their second stage win of the day. The number 1 C3 WRC crew then confirmed their undeniable competitiveness, in spite of the extreme conditions at this unusual round, as they immediately grabbed a third stage win on Ortega 2, the high point of the rally (2,756 metres above sea level). Although they were then held up slightly by a puncture on SS7, they nonetheless made it to the end of day one in the overall lead, 14.8s ahead of the second-placed crew.

ompeting at this rally for only the second time in their fledgling WRC career, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm adopted a considered approach on the first loop. With confirmed pace notes, they upped their pace at the start of the afternoon loop, finishing fourth fastest on El Chocolate (31.57km), 6.2s behind their team-mates. A spin on SS6 did not prevent them from continuing their progress, this time with a second fastest time on the following stage, just two tenths off the pace. They ended the day in a promising fifth position, just 2s behind fourth place. A position that means they will start fifth on the road in tomorrow’s stages, therefore enabling them to continue to nurture high hopes of good result.

The weekend’s longest day, Saturday’s leg sees the crews tackle a competitive distance of 138.37 kilometres (over nine stages). The leg includes two runs on Otates (32.27km), the rally’s longest stage, the technical character of which means drivers and cars alike will be sorely tested.

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Running in third position on the road, Sébastien and Julien produced a remarkable performance today, holding off crews that had significantly better grip conditions than they did. I think that confirms that they also have a good feeling in the C3 WRC on gravel. Esapekka and Janne have a lot less experience on this event but I think they can be pleased with their performance too. Although we’re well aware that the hardest part of the rally is yet to come, with a very long leg scheduled tomorrow and big risks ahead, especially from loose stones, the target is definitely to keep up the momentum with both crews.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Clearly, it has been a very good day for us, despite the very difficult conditions. The level of grip was low, especially this morning, but I enjoyed having a line in front of me. It was important to finish in a good position today so that we are well placed in the running order for the longest leg tomorrow. We’ll still need to make the most of our position and also be careful because I expect there will be a few really tricky sections, with narrow and possibly quite rough roads.”Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver


I'm learning to drive the C3 WRC bit by bit on these low-grip roads. I still lack experience but the times are gradually moving in the right direction. I expect there to be a lot of road cleaning for the rest of the rally and my direct rivals have a better road position than us, but we’re going to keep fighting to secure the best possible result.”

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 1:18:33.8
2. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +14.8
3. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +21.1
4. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +37.1
5. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +39.1
6. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:00.7
19-03-07 Fortsatt rallysatsning med Veiby
Rallysatsningen fortsätter att växa för Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS. Nu är det klart att VM-ledaren i WRC 2, Ole Christian Veiby, tävlar vidare med det Arvika-baserade teamet. Efter succén i Rally Sweden blir det fortsatt samarbete i VM-rallyt på Korsika i slutet av mars.
- Det är en stolthet för vårt lilla team på Koppsängsvägen 5 utanför Arvika att vi får göra det här. Vi har precis hunnit börja med rally, men får redan ett så ansvarsfullt uppdrag, säger Tommy Kristoffersson, teamets grundare och chef.
- Jag är väldigt nöjd med hur det har fungerat hittills. Vi tror att det här är bästa paketet för att kunna visa vem som är bäst i R5-klassen, säger Veiby själv.

Even Management har haft flera tänkbara alternativ för den fortsatta coachningen av Ole Christian Veiby. Målet är seger i WRC 2 och på sikt en plats i stora WRC.
-Det är uppdraget vi har fått. Jobbet vi gjorde på Rally Sweden, det engagemang som teamet visade och det fina betyg vi fick från Volkswagen Motorsport har säkert spelat in. Dessutom tror jag Ole Christian känner sig trygg i vår miljö, menar Kristoffersson.
Ett bevis på detta är den prickfria insats Kongsvinger-föraren levererade i Rally Sweden, där han tog en ohotad seger och gick upp i VM-ledning.
- Absolut den bästa insats han har gjort, dessutom i tuffast tänkbara konkurrens och i svåra förhållanden.

Snabbt och säkert lotsade Veiby sin Polo GTI R5 på snö och is. Härnäst väntar luriga asfaltvägar vid Medelhavet.
- Ole Christian har ju kört där förut, men för oss som team blir det naturligtvis något helt annat än att ställa upp oss på Torsby flygplats.
Kristoffersson räds inte den utmaningen. Teamet är redo!
- Även om det har gått fort så har det här varit målet. Vi började med att integrera den rallykunniga personalen vi tog över från Even Management. Därefter körde vi ett testår med vår Skoda och till i år har vi förstärkt vår infrastruktur. Allt för att så småningom vara beredda att köra VM, så helt överraskade är vi inte.

Med tanke på den snabba expansionen inom rally verkar det som Kristofferssons team än en gång har visat fingertoppskänsla.
- Historiskt sett har vi varit lyckosamma med våra vägval. Vi lämnade racingen istället för att ge oss in i TTA och påbörjade en framgångsrik rallycrossresa. Vi gjorde en lyckad comeback i STCC med det nya TCR-reglementet, men har nu lämnat för den här utmaningen, säger Kristoffersson och fortsätter:
- Att allt har fallit väl på plats ligger också till grund för den långvariga relationen med våra samarbetspartner, med Volkswagen och BAUHAUS i spetsen.

Ett flerårigt samarbete har man också med Ole Christian Veiby, som kom in i Kristoffersson Motorsport redan som 16-åring för att köra Porsche Carrera Cup. Därefter blev det inhopp i rallycross och nu en målmedveten satsning på rally.
- Pojkarna i det här teamet vet hur jag vill ha saker och ting. Vi har så smått börjat förbereda oss för Korsika, berättar 22-årige Veiby, som kommer att göra sin femte raka start i det franska VM-rallyt.

Han kommer där att ratta den Polo GTI R5 som Johan Kristoffersson körde i Rally Sweden. Hur det blir med resten av säsongen återstår att se.
- Det är så långt vi har tittat hittills, förklarar Tommy Kristoffersson.
19-03-06 Championship leader Tänak faces dirt road trial in Mexico
As WRC leader, Estonian has tough task of first man out on gravel. Ott Tänak faces a massive task as he leads the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time into this week’s third round in Mexico.

His ‘reward’ for winning in Sweden last month and moving top of the standings is to head the start order for Rally Guanajuato Mexico (7 - 10 March), the first gravel fixture of the season. There are few more difficult challenges in the WRC.

The sun-kissed mountain roads near León are covered in thick gravel. As road opener in Friday’s first leg, the Estonian can expect to concede big chunks of time as he sweeps the dirt to leave a cleaner and faster line for those behind.

“It won’t be easy but we saw in Mexico last year that it is possible to have a good result from this position, so let’s see how it goes,” said the Toyota Yaris driver, who heads the standings by seven points from Thierry Neuville.

“It was a great feeling to win in Sweden, but we quickly changed our focus to Mexico. We flew straight to Spain for two days of gravel testing on the Monday and Tuesday after the rally.”

“We worked on a number of different things, just trying to be as well-prepared as we can be,” added Tänak, who must contend with plenty of other complexities.

The special stages reach a season high of 2,700 metres above sea level, starving engines of oxygen and depriving them of up to 20 per cent of their usual power.

Temperatures are forecast to top 30°C throughout the event and the Yaris has suffered overheating issues here in both its previous visits.

Tänak has yet to score a podium in Mexico. Arguably his biggest impact on the rally came in 2015 when his car plunged into a lake and sank. He and then co-driver Raigo Mõlder escaped unhurt after wriggling out seconds before it disappeared beneath the surface.

As the roads become faster with the passage of every car, drivers starting further back have a golden opportunity to set the first-day pace. This would put them in a strong position for the last two legs when competitors start in reverse order of classification.

Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen, driving Ford Fiestas, Hyundai i20 duo Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo, and Jari-Matti Latvala, team-mate to Tänak, will have their eyes on taking advantage.

The rally starts on Thursday night with an iconic street test through Guanajuato’s former mining tunnels. Three more days of high-altitude action follow in the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains before Sunday afternoon’s finish in León after 21 stages covering 313.87km.
19-01-27 Sébastien Ogier and Julien ngrassia secrure historic 100 th WRCD win for Citroën
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced a heroic effort in their C3 WRC on today’s final leg to win the Rallye Monte-Carlo by the narrowest margin in the history of the event. A winning margin that reflected the intensity of the fight and the performance delivered, a performance that saw Citroën Racing claim its hundredth WRC win at the start of the year in which the brand celebrates its centenary!

Tackling the last 13.58 kilometres of a Rallye Monte-Carlo held over some 324 kilometres with a lead of just four tenths of a second calls for one hell of a cool head. And never more so when your concentration has been somewhat disturbed by a throttle issue. With six world titles to their names, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have long since mastered the art of managing the pressure in this kind of situation and the adrenalin pumping through their systems, and they demonstrated it once again today. Second fastest on the final stage between La Cabanette and the Col de Braus, the Frenchmen sealed their seventh overall win and their sixth in a row in the Principality by just 2.2s, on their first competitive outing the C3 WRC! The result also means the pair now jointly hold of the record for the number of wins at this prestigious rally and confirms just how much Sébastien and Julien are already at one with their new car.

This exceptional performance is equally Citroën Racing’s hundredth victory in the World Rally Championship, almost twenty years after its first win at this level when the Xsara Kit-Car prevailed at the 1999 Rally de Catalunya, driven by the late Philippe Bugalski and Jean-Paul Chiaroni, who now works as recce and weather coordinator for the team. A historic achievement that reflects the kind of longevity at the highest level that few manufacturers can boast.

All too aware of the pitfalls invariably provided by Monte-Carlo, the French pair adopted a measured, intelligent approach from the outset, grabbing second position after Thursday’s opening two night stages. They then moved into the overall lead the following day in the afternoon (SS7), thanks in large part to two stage wins (SS5 and SS6) on Curbans – Piegut (18.47km) and Valdrome – Sigottier 2 (20.04km), both new stages this year. Having ended Friday’s leg with a narrow 2.0s lead, Sébastien and Julien managed to more than double their advantage on Agnières en Devoluy – Corps (29.82km), the opening speed test on Saturday and the longest of the weekend, and this despite the stage featuring plenty of ice. A lead that they managed for the rest of Saturday’s leg, meaning they began the final day 4.3s ahead of the second-placed crew. They traded blows with their closest challengers on Sunday’s short final leg before pipping them to victory in the last few hundred metres.

Meanwhile, although they were forced to retire on Saturday morning after an engine issues, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm had nonetheless made a promising start to the race, holding a brilliant fourth place on Thursday evening. Clearly, Citroën Total WRT made the right call in deciding to add them to their driver line-up, alongside Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. Given that they are also likely to have a good position in the running order in Sweden, they will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with again.

REACTIONS FROM…
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“We certainly weren't taking anything for granted. The final leg, in particular, was really stressful and difficult with our minor throttle issue, which meant the car kept on accelerating, even under braking. We got some good advice from the team and were able to perform some makeshift repairs on the road section. We then pushed really hard and in the end, it worked out! It was an incredibly intense weekend. It was a non-stop battle, but we managed to come away with the win. Obviously, we’re very proud of this result in our first race with the C3 WRC, especially because, as I’ve often said, this rally is the one that is the most special for me. And it also means we can celebrate Citroën’s centenary in style. In other words, we couldn't have hoped for a better start on our first race back with the team!"

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL
What are your feelings after this historic win?
Well, it certainly was a sensational win. I think, symbolically, it’s quite a big statement. It was extremely important for us to manage to secure this hundredth WRC win at the first round of the season, especially at such an iconic event as Rally Monte-Carlo and which is also held mainly in France. We’re also really pleased to add an eighth win to our joint record with Sébastien and Julien, in this, Citroën’s centenary year. When we decided to join forces again this year, we hoped to be able to add a few new pages to the history of the sport and our first race together couldn’t possibly have worked out any better.

How would you describe the performance of Sébastien and Julien?
At a rally as crazy as this one, with tyre choice once again proving very difficult and really tricky road conditions, quite simply, they produced a majestic performance. Majestic in the control and calm they exuded. It's very interesting working with them, because there’s no standing on ceremony, they speak their minds and they know exactly what we need to focus on. They are helping us to make progress very quickly but it goes without saying that we’re going to need to keep working relentlessly. This opening round has clearly shown that this season is going to be closer than ever. In addition to Sébastien and Julien, who were obviously exceptional this weekend, I would like to pay tribute to the performance of all the members of the team. Their commitment has never wavered, even in our moments of doubt last year, and they have all put in countless hours of hard work so that we could make such a great start to our 2019 campaign. This result is obviously down to them as well!

HIGHLIGHTS
Indispensable partner to Sébastien Ogier and first-hand witness of how comfortable he is behind the wheel, the French co-driver told us about their state of mind as they waited to start the final stage.

“Before the final stage, our engineer asked me if he could do anything for us and I just suggested he should light a candle for us, and perhaps prepare the tow-truck and straps as well, you never know… Because we had no intention of messing about! I think I aged a few years over the course of this morning’s loop of four stages, it was so tense. Once we were underway, we pushed really hard whilst not making any mistakes, which is pretty exceptional from Seb, really, on his first rally in the C3 WRC. And yet, once we passed the finish line, we didn’t know quite what to think. There wasn't much excitement at the stop control and then on the left, I saw Seb’s dad, who had a broad smile on his face. That was when I knew we’d won. Seb, however, didn't notice at the time, he had to look down to get confirmation. He realised we’d won and then there was quite a bit of emotion in the car."

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
1.Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:21.15.9
2.Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2.2
3.Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:15.2
4.Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:28.2
5.Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:29.9
6.Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:36.2
7.Greensmith / Edmondson (Ford Fiesta R5) +13:04.6
8.Bonato / Boulloud (Citroën C3 R5) +13:56.5

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1.Sébastien Ogier – 29 points
2.Thierry Neuville – 21 points
3.Ott Tänak – 17 points
4.Kris Meeke – 13 points
5.Sébastien Loeb – 12 points
6.Jari-Matti Latvala – 10 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1.Hyundai WRT – 30 points
2.Citroën Total WRT – 25 points
3.Toyota Gazoo Racing – 25 points
4.M-Sport Ford WRT – 14 points

19-01-27 Ogier claims sixth straight Monte Carlo win in thrilling finale
Frenchman wins closest Monte Carlo finish in history to open season in style. Sébastien Ogier overcame late drama to secure his sixth consecutive Rallye Monte-Carlo victory in a spellbinding final stage shootout on Sunday afternoon.

He fended off Thierry Neuville by 2.2s in the closest Monte Carlo finish in history to clinch an emotional debut win on his return to Citroën. It marked the 100th world rally success for the French manufacturer.

A throttle sensor problem on his C3 World Rally Car hampered Ogier throughout the fourth and final leg of this opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship in the mountains above Monaco.

Neuville clawed back a 4.3s overnight deficit in his Hyundai i20 to trail the six-time world champion by 0.4s starting the final speed test.
Despite dropping behind the Belgian on the clock before the midpoint, Ogier battled back to extend his slender lead and claim his seventh Monte Carlo win in total, with four different manufacturers.
“It's the rally I want to win the most in the season, that's why I'm so happy now,” said Ogier, whose home town of Gap hosted the opening three days of the rally.
“It was tough today because we had a problem with a sticking throttle which was pushing the car when I was on the brakes. Six years in a row with three different cars – that’s not so bad!” he added.

Neuville could only reflect on a second-day overshoot which cost 15s and, ultimately, victory. “It was a close fight, but we gave him a nice present on Friday when we made a mistake and gave him the lead,” he said.

Snow, ice and dry asphalt in the French Alps prompted frequently contrasting tyre choices by the pair, but they were never split by more than a handful of seconds during a captivating final two legs of the four-day encounter.

Ott Tänak filled the bottom step of the podium in a Toyota Yaris. After a clean sweep of four stage wins on Saturday, the Estonian was fastest in today’s opening two tests to climb from fifth and leave him regretting a broken wheel rim on Friday which cost almost 2m 30s.

He eased clear of Sébastien Loeb’s i20 and Jari-Matti Latvala’s Yaris, split by 1.7s in fourth and fifth. Kris Meeke rounded off the top six in another Yaris and claimed maximum bonus points after winning the final Wolf Power Stage.

Rally Sweden, the only pure winter round of the series, hosts the second round next month. It's based in Torsby from February 14 - 17.

Final positions
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 3h 21m 15.9sc
2. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +2.2s
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +2m 15.2s
4. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Citroën C3 +2m 28.2s
5. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +2m 29.9s
6. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +5m 36.2s

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 1 of 14):
1. S Ogier 29pts
2. T Neuville 21pts
3. O Tänak 17pts

19-01-27 Röjsel och Johansson segrade i SM-premiären
Klassiska Bergslagsrallyt, i Ludvika med omnejd, arrangerades som deltävling ett i Rally-SM 2019. För ekipaget Daniel Röjsel med co-driver Mikael Johansson blev segern ett faktum efter ledning från start till mål.

138 kilometer uppdelat på åtta sträckor under lördagen blev en tuff prövning för de tävlande. Hundratalet kom till start varav 65 ekipage med tvåhjulsdrivna bilar. Daniel och Mikael sågs som en av favoriterna inför start med sin framhjulsdrivna Opel Corsa. Helgen innan hade de vunnit en distrikstävling i Falun med god marginal.

De skulle däremot möta flera SM-medaljörer i material som definitivt inte var sämre än deras.

Som bil nr 61 skulle rallyt handla mycket om att köra taktiskt med däcken. Vilket märktes efter att de började få problem med greppet i slutet på sträcka tre. Isen hade körts bort av tidigare startande och kvar i spåren fanns mycket grus. Framtill detta tillfälle hade Daniel och Mikael däremot redan hunnit köra till sig en ledning på hela 30 sekunder.

Sedan tappade de tid på i stort sett vartenda sträcka. Bilen kunde inte köras till hundra procent, då skulle inte däcken räcka. När marginalen var nere i 6 sekunder till fördel mot Robin Sandberg/Mathias Bengtsson inför sista sträckan, som mätte 10 kilometer, valde Daniel och Mikael att lägga på ett par fräscha framdäck som de haft med sig i bilen som reserv. Det taktiska draget lyckades och de utökade ledningen med ytterligare åtta sekunder.
- Så skönt att vi äntligen får komma i mål med en bil som hållit måttet hela vägen, även om vi sinkades något av oljeläckage i mitten av tävlingen. Vet att farten finns och nu har vi fått visa det, även om vi tråkigt nog inte kunnat köra alla sträckor i maxtempo med tanke på att däcken skulle hålla, sa en nöjd Daniel vid målgång.

I tävlingen blev de dessutom 5:e bil totalt med de två fyrhjulsdrivna klasserna inräknade. Ekipaget leder nu tabellen i både SM och Junior-SM. Deltävling två, South Swedish Rally i Älmhult, körs inte förens första helgen i juni.

Resultat Bergslagsrallyt Trimmat 2WD
Röjsel/Johansson 1:25:12,5
Sandberg/Bengtsson +14,4
Holmberg/Bäck +1:10,3

Kompletta resultat: http://www.raceconsulting.com/rally/resultat/tavling.jsp?tavling=1188
19-01-27 Stabilt och erfarenhetsrikt genrep för Pontus Tidemand i Rallye Monte-Carlo
Pontus Tidemands uppdrag för säsongspremiären och debuten i nya bilen med det nya teamet i Rallye Monte-Carlo var att ta sig ta sig igenom tävlingen och inkassera värdefull erfarenhet. Rutinerat och sansat gjorde han exakt det och efter de 16 sträckorna i utmanande förhållanden har han en skön känsla och är redo att höja insatserna lagom till Rally Sweden.

Pontus Tidemand kom till Rallye Monte-Carlo fast besluten att få träning i den Ford Fiesta WRC som han rattar för M-Sport i VM-säsongens två första tävlingar med hopp om en fortsättning. Det här var inte hans debut i WRC-klassen, han körde även en M-Sport-Fiesta i Rally Sweden 2013 och 2014, men det var tävlingspremiären i den nya generationens WRC-bil. Det är ett relativt stort kliv från WRC 2 till den högsta klassen och Pontus och kartläsaren Ola Fløene ville se till att förvalta sin chans på klokast sätt.
- Vi sa från början att vi ska göra det här ordentligt. Våga låta oss ta tid att lära känna bilen, bygga upp vanan bit för bit och inte stressa upp oss över att andra åker snabbare. Vi kom hit utan förväntningar, vårt enda mål var att ta oss igenom tävlingen och få den erfarenheten vi behöver för att kunna ladda på i Rally Sweden, säger Pontus, som följde den strategin hela helgen.

Efter en solid start på torsdagskvällens två långa mörkersträckor, fortsatte han att plocka betydelsefulla kilometer under fredagen och blev mer och mer hemmastadd i bilen. Just som han började nagga på topptider, slog han i en sten i en innerkurva och ett styrstag gick sönder. Han och Ola tvingades bryta för dagen och missade två sträckor.

Med nya tag på lördagen fick de till en riktigt fin start i svåra förhållanden men åkte på en punktering på morgonens första sträcka. Med endast ett reservdäck med sig fick de ta det försiktigt resten av förmiddagen, men att ha huvudet med sig även under eftermiddagen var av stor vikt.
- Vi var tvungna att bara ta oss igenom sträckorna. Teamet sa detsamma och vi höll den linjen, att säkert ta bilen i mål på kvällen eftersom viktiga teampoäng också stod på spel. Det fanns ingen mer möjlighet att starta om, så hade vi gjort ett misstag kunde det ha varit slutet på tävlingen, förklarar Pontus, som var den enda av M-Sportförarna som klarade sig igenom rallyt utan att vid något tillfälle köra av vägen.

Sista tävlingsdagen utgick från Monaco och med mestadels torr asfalt ute på sträckorna, fick Pontus med sig sin första erfarenhet även från det underlaget med sin Ford Fiesta. Han tog sig säkert i mål och kunde summera helgen med att han gjort sitt jobb.
- Den här tävlingen har gett oss mycket med tanke på framtiden och jag är så tacksam över att vara här. Vi har gjort bra framsteg under de här dagarna i allt från känsla till hur vi måste jobba med noterna så de matchar farten. Mycket nytt på en gång, jag har inte behövt lära mig så här mycket på många år, men jag älskar det. Jag har sagt det många gånger i helgen, men bilen är helt fantastisk, och man vill gärna pusha hårdare när man känner att man kan, men nu hade det kunnat ge motsatt effekt. Rally Sweden är bara några veckor bort och jag är ordentligt taggad för att ge allt på hemmaplan. Där vill vi verkligen vara med och fighta och kunna konkurrera med våra motståndare. Det är vad vi ställer in siktet på nu och ska göra noggranna analyser och se vad vi kan göra för att optimera vår prestation, säger Pontus.

Rally Sweden avgörs mellan den 14:e och 17:e februari med Pontus värmländska hemtrakter som främsta spelplan.

Resultat WRC-klassen Rallye Monte-Carlo 2019
1. Sebastien Ogier 3:21:15.9
2. Thierry Neuville +0:02.2
3. Ott Tänak +2:15.2
4. Sebastien Loeb +2:28.2
5. Jari-Matti Latvala +2:29.9
6. Kris Meeke +5:36.2
7. Teemu Suninen +17:56.8
8. Pontus Tidemand +29:34.6

19-01-26 Ogier and Neuville deliver battle royale at close Rally Monte-Carlo
Less than a handful of seconds split the two rivals after mountain road duel. Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville head into Sunday’s Rallye Monte-Carlo finale split by less than a handful of seconds after another titanic mountain road duel today.

Ogier, hunting a sixth straight victory in the French Alps on his Citroën C3 debut, led by 4.3sec after the penultimate leg. Just four more speed tests covering 64km lie in wait to settle an enthralling opening to the FIA World Rally Championship season.

World champion Ogier extended his 2.0sec overnight advantage to 5.6sec in the opening special stage north of Gap. The Belgian reduced the deficit in the next two tests before Ogier eked out another few tenths in the last one.

“I have a big lead, I’ve doubled it since this morning!” he joked. “I expect easier conditions tomorrow and it will be an intense end. Thierry will not give up. We both want to cross the finish line but we both want to win.”

Neuville acknowledged he had a hard task against Ogier, who hails from Gap, on roads that varied between ice, snow and dry asphalt. “I kept it safe. Ogier is at home, it’s his area. He knows the stages well and I needed to be careful,” said the Hyundai i20 driver.

Sébastien Loeb and Jari-Matti Latvala fought an equally absorbing battle for third, almost two minutes behind the pair ahead. They traded places on three occasions before nine-time champion Loeb, driving an i20 for the first time, ended 2.3sec clear.

Andreas Mikkelsen restarted in third but his podium hopes were shattered when the Norwegian swiped a wall in the final corner of the opening test. The impact destroyed the rear left of his i20 and he retired.

Ott Tänak was unbeatable as he fought back from a broken wheel rim yesterday. Aided by a brave tyre choice this afternoon, the Estonian won all four stages in his Toyota Yaris to climb to fifth. He is just 15.0sec from gatecrashing the Loeb/Latvala scrap.

Kris Meeke was a lonely sixth, more than three minutes further back. The Ulsterman, making his Yaris debut, netted three second place finishes in four stages.

Elfyn Evans crashed out of sixth when his Ford Fiesta plunged down a steep bank while Esapekka Lappi parked his C3 midway through the opener with a suspected engine problem. Rallye Monte-Carlo rules mean none of today’s retirees restart tomorrow.

Sunday’s finale stays true to tradition. Based in the Alpes Maritimes mountains above Monaco, it comprises a double loop of two stages covering 63.98km and two passes over the legendary Col de Turini.

19-01-26 Ogier-Ingrassia double their lead in the C3 WRC!
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced another masterful performance to extend their overall lead to 4.3s, heading into what is set to be a very closely contested final leg! Meanwhile, their team-mates Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were forced into an early retirement due to an engine issue.

The action on day three opened with Agnières en Devoluy – Corps (29.82km), the longest stage of the weekend, providing the crews with a particularly challenging start to proceedings. The constant changes in rhythm on the stage and countless icy patches on the road meant the Citroën Total World Rally Team crews, on the sound advice of their safety crews, opted for four Michelin studded tyres and two super soft compound slicks.

In these tricky conditions, the drivers all reported the same feeling at the finish: that it was difficult to have a true idea of your pace with no split times to refer to, crews having been banned from having this information since 2015. However, once again Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia demonstrated their incredible consistency! Their third fastest time, just 2.8s off the stage-winning time, took their lead over their nearest rival from 2.0s to 5.6s. An advantage that the winners of the last five Rallye Monte-Carlo then worked hard to manage on the following speed test, which started less than five kilometres from the village of Forest-Saint-Julien, Sébastien’s birthplace, and also on the afternoon loop. Something they achieved with considerable success, since they ended the day with a 4.3s lead, determined to continue trying to gain a few seconds on tomorrow’s final leg!

After rejoining the race this morning, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm unfortunately suffered an engine issue on the opening stage of the day, which spelled the end of their rally. Despite starting with the right approach, they have unfortunately not been able to do themselves justice at this opening round. They will head for the next round in Sweden, however, determined to bounce back and with the consolation of having a decent starting position...

With a competitive distance of just 63.98 kilometres (in four stages), tomorrow’s final leg will nevertheless be anything but a Sunday stroll, since the crews will in particular be tackling two runs on the famous Col de Turini. Peaking at some 1,600 metres above sea level, it invariably contains plenty of tricky sections at this time of year…

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“The low-grip conditions were again incredibly difficult, but Sébastien and Julien remained impressively calm and collected, controlling from the front and doubling their lead. Obviously, four seconds isn’t very much, but it’s nonetheless a lead. We really are in one almighty scrap, and clearly I hope that it will work out in our favour tomorrow. In any case, Sébastien and Julien certainly have the talent and experience to secure the win. On the other hand, we’re sorry for Esapekka and Janne. We really wanted to see them rack up the miles in the car over these last two days of racing. We are going to analyse the origin of the problem to try and make sure it doesn't happen again."

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I’m pleased with my day, because once again today we had to find the right balance between pushing when it was dry and being cautious where it was icy and more slippery. But there’s still a long way to go. I'm expecting the final leg to be really close, but perhaps the conditions won't be so tricky, although the top of the Col du Turini always throws up a few surprises. The C3 WRC has proven it is a competitive car on these roads, so I have high hopes that it will
work well on tomorrow’s stages. Obviously, I'm going to try to win this rally, which means so much to me."

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Obviously, it’s a shame that we had this terminal issue with the engine, but it’s just part and parcel of racing. I hope to have a bit more luck in Sweden. In any case, I'm going to try and make the most of my two days of testing, so that I’m fully prepared and ready to fight on the fast stages of this event. It’s a rally that I really like."

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 3
1.Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 2:38:30.0
2.Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4.3
3.Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:58.7
4.Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:01.0
5.Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:16.0
6.Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:26.8
7.Greensmith / Edmondson (Ford Fiesta R5) +10:12.0
8.Bonato / Boulloud (Citroën C3 R5) +11:43.4
19-01-26 Uppåtgående lärokurva för Tidemand i Monte Carlo
Lärokurvan går uppåt för varje kilometer och Pontus Tidemand och kartläsaren Ola Fløene drar maximal nytta av chansen de har att känna bilen i Rallye Monte Carlo. 12 sträckor är avklarade, fyra återstår och trots en punktering håller de siktet stenhårt på att ta sig i mål.

Det var trixiga och komplicerade förhållanden som rådde på Rallye Monte-Carlos vägar under lördagen. Torr asfalt mixades med is och Pontus valde att gå ut med dubbade däck på morgonens första sträckor.
- Det började bra, men sex kilometer in på den första sträckan fick vi en smygpunka och blev tvungna att stanna och byta däck. Vi hade bara ett i reserv med oss så efter det fick vi vara extra försiktiga, särskilt som de torrare sektionerna är svåra med dubbdäck. Det sladdar mycket så visst är det kul, men man sätter inte de snabbaste tiderna, säger Pontus med ett leende.

Att de tvingades bryta under fredagen och dagens punktering kostade tid, men just tiderna är inget de lägger någon fokus på under premiärhelgen. De kör sitt eget race där första prioritet är att bli ett med sin nya Ford Fiesta WRC.
- Vi började bli varma i kläderna och få in rätta känslan redan igår och det känns allt bättre ju mer tid vi har bakom ratten. Bilen är fantastisk och vi njuter även när det är som mest utmanande. Jag vill också passa på att tacka vårt crew som gör isnoter, de gör ett fantastiskt jobb, säger Pontus.

De svårbemästrade förhållandena tvingade flertalet förare att kasta in handduken men Pontus och Ola klarade sig helskinnade efter punkteringen och fick tryggt med sig dagens 93,38 kilometer.
- Jag är glad att vi är här, fortfarande är med i tävlingen och gör exakt vad vi kom hit för, säger Pontus. Nu ska vi fortsätta så här och klara av de sista sträckorna imorgon och sen har vi gjort genrepet inför Rally Sweden.

Under eftermiddagen gled de tävlande in till den sista servicen i Gap innan de påbörjade den långa körningen till Monaco, där starten går på söndag morgon.

Ställningen i WRC-klassen efter SS12:
1. Sebastien Ogier 2:38:30.0
2. Thierry Neuville +4.3
3. Sebastien Loeb +1:58.7
4. Jari-Matti Latvala +2:01.0
5. Ott Tänak +2:16.0
6. Kris Meeke +5:26.8
7. Teemu Suninen +17:13.6
8. Pontus Tidemand +28:04.4
19-01-25 Rallye Monte-Carlo advantage to Alpine master Ogier
Sébastien Ogier held a slender lead in his quest for a sixth consecutive Rally Monte-Carlo victory after a captivating duel in the French Alps on Frida
The world champion, driving a Citroën C3 for the first time, ended the second leg of the FIA World Rally Championship’s season opener with a 2.0sec advantage over arch-rival Thierry Neuville.

The two adopted contrasting tyre strategies all day on the mixed condition speed tests, which varied from bone dry asphalt to snow and ice. It ensured as many twists and turns on the leaderboard as the drivers encountered on the corkscrew roads.

The cancellation of the opening special stage dealt a blow to Ogier, whose studded winter tyres would have allowed him to profit on the snow and ice. Neuville capitalised on the next two tests to depose overnight leader Ott Tänak and head Ogier after the opening loop.

The Belgian dropped 20sec following an overshoot in the afternoon’s opener, when conditions suited him, and Ogier built a 14.0sec advantage. But the Hyundai i20 driver retaliated to win the final test and close in.

“Only myself and Thierry are clear in front but in Monte-Carlo things can change quickly,” said Ogier. “It’s important to be on the limit tomorrow but at this rally the limit is safer than elsewhere. I can do a bit more, but in Monte a strategy that is a little more careful can pay off.”

Andreas Mikkelsen headed a trio of drivers battling for the final podium place. The Norwegian, driving another i20, climbed to third in the final test. He held a 7.4sec advantage over Jari-Matti Latvala’s Toyota Yaris, with the returning Sébastien Loeb 0.8sec further back.

Loeb’s brave tyre choices on his i20 debut saw the nine-time world champion bouncing up and down the leaderboard. He won two stages, despite a low start position meaning he had to contend with mud and gravel dragged onto the roads by those ahead.

Elfyn Evans completed the top six in a Ford Fiesta ahead of a frustrated Tänak. The Estonian, who resumed this morning in the lead, fell adrift of Ogier and Neuville before a broken wheel rim cost 2min 20sec.

Esapekka Lappi retired his C3 after breaking the front left wishbone and driveshaft following an impact, while Pontus Tidemand was sidelined with wishbone damage to his Ford Fiesta.

Saturday’s penultimate leg journeys north of Gap on familiar roads. A double loop of two stages precedes a long journey south to Monaco for Sunday’s finale.
19-01-25 Ogier-Ingrassia grab overall lead in their C3 WRC!
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claimed two stage wins during today’s leg on their way to grabbing the overall lead, proving they have already got to grips with their C3 WRC. Forced to retire after breaking a suspension wishbone on the apex of a corner, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm paid a heavy price for a relatively minor mistake.

After fresh snow fell on Thursday morning, Valdrome – Sigottier (20.04km) and Curbans – Piegut (18.47km), the two new stages that stood out in today’s leg, promised to be especially tricky in the many sections left in the shade, deprived of any warming effect of the sun. The Citroën Total World Rally Team therefore decided to opt for four Michelin studded tyres and two soft compound slicks for their cars, in what should have proven to be the right call on tyre choice. However, the cancellation of SS3 (Valdrome – Sigottier) – the iciest of the morning loop’s three stages – seriously compromised the tactics of the team.

Given the situation, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia managed to produce a sublime performance on SS4! Fitted with two studded tyres and two slicks mounted on opposite corners of the car, on a test more suited to a dry tyre set-up, they nonetheless managed to grab the third fastest time, reducing the gap to the leaders in the process. The pair then secured their first stage win in the C3 WRC on SS5, reaching the midday service just 3.4s off the leader. In the afternoon, the six-time world rally champions confirmed how much they relish this unusual event. They collected a second stage win on SS6 to take them into the overall lead, ended day two with a 2.0s lead over their nearest rivals. All of which suggests that they have already formed an effective bond with C3 WRC!

Following the cancellation of the day’s opening stage, which left him to cope with a tyre set-up that had suddenly become unsuited to the conditions, Esapekka Lappi had a slightly harder time of it. However, he remained in the fight for a top-five spot at the end of the first loop. Unfortunately, an impact broke part of the front left-hand suspension on his C3 WRC when action resumed in the afternoon (SS6), forcing him to retire from the leg. He will rejoin tomorrow, determined to keep building on his promising start with the C3 WRC.

The rally heads towards the Champsaur and Dévoluy mountains tomorrow, on what is home territory for Sébastien Ogier. The local favourite will therefore be determined to keep up his good form on the 93.38 kilometres contested on Saturday’s leg (in four stages).

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“We are clearly delighted to reach service in Gap this evening in the overall lead after another tough day of racing, especially in terms of tyre choice. Sébastien and Julien used all of their experience and talent to produce a very controlled performance today, but there is still a long way to go, with plenty of major difficulties ahead. We’re disappointed for Esapekka and Janne, however, who had shown glimpses of real potential. Sadly, their minor mistake had major consequences, but the main thing is that they can rejoin tomorrow and add to their experience."

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Obviously, I'm pleased to end the day leading the rally after another really difficult day, where there were some really significant changes in the conditions and the rhythm from one stage to the next. We perhaps didn’t have the ideal tyre set-up for this afternoon, but we nonetheless managed to cope with that. I'm driving with confidence in the C3 WRC and our strategy of taking an intelligent approach to the rally has paid dividends thus far, since we haven't made any mistakes at all. I'm going to try and keep it up, especially as tomorrow’s leg looks set to be very tricky again, particularly on Saint Léger Les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve."

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Like several other crews, our tyre strategy was seriously compromised this morning when the first stage was cancelled as it had more or less dictated our choice of going with four studded tyres. Then at the start of the afternoon, I hit something hard on a corner, probably a rock. It immediately broke the suspension wishbone and we were unable to repair it. It’s obviously a shame but we’ll now look to use the rest of the rally to continue to get used to the C3 WRC. We might even try out a few set-up options that we wouldn’t have dared to attempt under normal circumstances."

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1.Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 1:37:17.3
2.Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2.0
3.Mikkelsen / Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:17.7
4.Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:25.1
5.Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:25.9
6.Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:47.5
7.Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:34.9
8.Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:33.0
19-01-25 Tidemand håller sig till planen i Monte Carlo
Pontus Tidemand gjorde en samlad och stabil inledning i WRC-debuten med sin nya Ford Fiesta WRC för M-Sport. Han viker inte av från planen att fokusera på att lära känna nya bilen och känner framstegen komma, trots att han fick bryta med två sträckor kvar på fredagen.

Rallye Monte-Carlo klassas som en av de svåraste och mest oförutsägbara tävlingarna i VM och med tanke på att det här är första tävlingen i en ny bil med ett nytt team och helt andra förutsättningar än Pontus tidigare haft i WRC 2-klassen, är det erfarenheten som står i centrum.
- Bilen var fantastisk att köra från första metern och jag njöt verkligen på de två första sträckorna i mörkret igår kväll. Det är svårt att hålla igen när man vill så mycket och vet att kraften finns där, men vi är inte här för att kriga om pallplaceringar eller visa vart skåpet ska stå. Vi är här för att få erfarenhet i en för oss splitter ny bil och lära oss hur allt fungerar, konstigare än så är det inte och vi gick på den strategin, säger Pontus som låg på tionde plats efter torsdagskvällen.

Fredagens första sträcka blev struken, men Pontus och kartläsaren Ola Fløene tog sig säkert och rutinerat genom de återstående två innan lunchservicen. Laddade med ny energi, gick de ut med ett imponerande tempo på eftermiddagen. På rallyts sjätte sträcka visade splittiderna att han var ruskigt snabb, med höjdare som Sebastien Ogier, Ott Tänak och Thierry Neuville bakom sig. Men kort därefter tog det roliga slut för dagen.
- Vi genade lite och något slog i vänster fram och ett stag gick sönder, berättar Pontus, som blev fast på sträckan i flera timmar. En sådan här sak ville vi verkligen inte skulle hända, men det hände i alla fall inte i en tävling där totalplaceringen var viktig. Vi missar två sträckor med många kilometer som hade varit värdefulla men vi får komma tillbaka imorgon och fortsätta köra vårt race då. Att få erfarenheten med bilen är allt som spelar roll och känslan blir bara bättre och bättre nu när vi låter det ta den tid det behöver. Så strategin blir densamma resten av helgen.

19-01-25 Ott Tänak sets early pace in Monte-Carlo after tricky opening leg
Estonian avoids the many pitfalls in the French Alps to lead Rallye Monte-Carlo. The Estonian, driving a Toyota Yaris, headed world champion Sébastien Ogier by 9.1sec after two typically contrasting night-time stages near Gap. Thierry Neuville was 14.3sec off the lead in third.

The trio who fought such a thrilling battle for the 2018 drivers’ title were the class of the field in the opening action of the new season and nobody else finished within half a minute.

Michelin’s studded tyres were the choice of most drivers for the opening 20.76km speed test from La Bréole to Selonnet which contained patchy snow and ice.

Tänak was quickest and retained his advantage through the following longer stage from Avançon to Notre Dame du Laus, which was dry for virtually the entire 20.59km.

“I guess everything at this rally is a kind of surprise and it’s difficult to expect anything. We knew the start would be tricky and made a safe tyre choice to cover both stages. Some places were even more slippery and tricky than we expected,” he said.

Ogier posted top three times in both tests in his Citroën C3 to hold off Neuville, who was the night’s big gambler.

The Belgian opted for a mix of studded and non-studded rubber in the opener. He knew he would lose time, but it enabled him to capitalise in the following test when his four super soft tyres offered a big advantage in the dry. He was fastest by 11.0sec.

“It was maybe a little bit risky to make that choice but with the information I had it seemed to be a good choice. But it wasn’t enough, I expected to regain more in the second stage,” said the Hyundai i20 pilot.

C3 debutant Esapekka Lappi, Jari-Matti Latvala, driving another Yaris, and Elfyn Evans were clustered together in fourth fifth and sixth. They were blanketed by 3.0sec.

Kris Meeke was on target to make it a Yaris 1-2 but a front right puncture 9km from the finish of the second test cost 45sec and relegated the Briton to seventh.

Teemu Suninen was the night’s biggest casualty. The Finn went off the road 3km into the opening stage and retired his Fiesta.

Friday’s second leg is the longest as drivers face two identical loops of three tests south-west of Gap, covering 125.12km. A mid-leg service in the town splits the day.

19-01-25 Ogier and Lappi well placed
Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm made a promising start on this evening’s opening two stages, ending the first leg second and fourth overall respectively, despite the very tricky conditions.

Beginning a Rallye Monte-Carlo by running at night is never a bed of roses and all the more so when faced with two brand new, partially icy stages. In these testing conditions, Sébastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm, Citroën Total World Rally Team’s two crews, decided to play it safe by taking four Michelin studded tyres and two super soft compound slicks.

Five-time winner of the event and having finished first here last year, Sébastien Ogier knows just how important it is to keep a cool head on such a rally. Third fastest on the opening stage and second fastest on the next, the local favourite immediately moved among the frontrunners and reached service in Gap in second position, just 9.1s behind the leader.

Less accustomed to these roads, Esapekka Lappi gradually picked up the pace. Seventh on SS1, having undoubtedly attempted to look after his studs too much, he then upped his game on SS2, setting the fifth fastest time. He ended this short opening leg in fourth position, 45.2s back.

Day two will see the crews fight it out over a competitive distance of 125.12 kilometres (on six stages), particularly on the equally new stages of Valdrome – Sigottier (20.04km) and Curbans – Piegut (18.47km). Following the snow that fell yesterday morning in the Gap region, these stages may throw up a few surprises…

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Obviously, it's been a positive start for us. Both our crews went about things in the right way, adopting a considered, intelligent approach. Because it’s never easy starting at night, with a combination of studded tyres and slicks, which makes driving pretty difficult. However, they managed to avoid the pitfalls and we are now going to try and keep up the momentum tomorrow."

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“For my first two stages in the C3 WRC, clearly I'm pleased with the outcome, especially in these conditions. Perhaps I was bit too cautious on the first stage, but it’s difficult to really go for it when you are driving a new car competitively for the first time. But I certainly produced a decent time with the studded tyres on the second stage. I think that I made an intelligent start to the rally."

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was easy to make a mistake on tonight’s opening two stages, especially on SS1. I probably thought about that prospect a little too much and ended up being too cautious. We played it safe on the set-up as well. It was perhaps a little too soft. However, the confidence gradually came on SS2 and although there are already big gaps between the crews, I'm right in the mix, especially as there’s still a long way to go and plenty of things can happen yet!"

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1.Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 26:33.0
2.Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +9.1
3.Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +14.3
4.Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +45.2
5.Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +46.4
6.Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +48.2
7.Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +53.8
8.Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 55.2
9.Mikkelsen / Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 WRC) +59.6
10.Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:41.1

19-01-23 WRC returns in style as Ogier and Loeb lock horns on French Riviera
Two greatest drivers in WRC history renew their rivalry at Rallye Monte-Carlo. The two greatest drivers in FIA World Rally Championship history renew their fierce rivalry as the 2019 season roars into action at the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo on Thursday (24 - 27 January).

The French Sébastiens – Ogier and Loeb – have won the last 15 world titles and shared 13 Monte victories, but both might feel a sense of unease as they kick-off the campaign in new environments.

After six consecutive title wins, 35-year-old Ogier returns to the Citroën team after an eight-year absence in an attempt to tame its troubled C3 World Rally Car. He is hunting a sixth Monte win on tricky mountain roads around his home town of Gap in the French Alps.

Loeb, a nine-time champion with a record seven Monte wins, ended his career-long association with the French manufacturer to boost Hyundai’s title bid. His six-round programme in an i20 World Rally Car, his biggest in the WRC for seven years, begins with a mouth-watering clash against his former team-mate.

The pair crossed swords at Citroën between 2009 and 2011 and their relationship was tense as the ambitious young Ogier challenged the WRC’s master. It ended with Ogier’s departure.

“Eight years away from Citroën is a long time,” he said. “At the time we were the young kids trying to learn and now the team is counting on us to help them go forward.

“It’s nice to have Loeb back, we had some great battles. We are both changing environments and it has created a real excitement in the service park, everyone wants to see what will happen.”

It’s hard to imagine a more difficult event at which to learn their new cars. Essentially an asphalt rally, Monte-Carlo is complicated by changeable winter conditions and drivers can encounter snow, ice and dry roads in the same special stage. Shrewd tyre choice and the ability to ‘read’ the conditions is key.

“The most complicated thing is to find the right rhythm and not to fall into any traps,” said Loeb. “There is every possibility of finding ice as the temperature drops overnight. You always have to adapt to the changing and unpredictable conditions.”

Plenty more is new for 2019. Ogier is partnered at Citroën by fellow new signing Esapekka Lappi, who joined from 2018 manufacturers’ champion, Toyota. The Finn is replaced by Kris Meeke, returning after being axed by Citroën midway through last season.

Meeke joins Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala at the Japanese squad, while Loeb will have Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen as team-mates at Hyundai. M-Sport Ford, for whom Ogier won the last two titles, fields Elfyn Evans, Teemu Suninen and Pontus Tidemand.

The four-day rally starts in Gap on Thursday with two night-time speed tests. Drivers face 16 stages covering almost 325km before Sunday afternoon’s Monaco finish.
19-01-23 The Monte-Carlo notebook and Citroën secrets
THE MONTE-CARLO NOTEBOOK BY… SÉBASTIEN OGIER
The six-time world rally champion answered a few questions as he talked to us about his special relationship with Monte.

What’s your favourite stage?
I’ve often really enjoyed Col du Perty – Col Saint Jean. Although it’s not being run in its usual configuration this year, the test that finishes in Laborel, which was held last year in really heavy rain, should be a fantastic stage.

What about your favourite memory?
That’s a tough question, because I have lots of good memories. I guess I would have to say the first time I won the rally in 2009, because it was my first major international win.

And your worst memory?
That would be in 2012, with the S2000. We were on course to finish sixth overall, a fairly exceptional performance up against the WRCs, but we pushed perhaps a bit too much, given the huge crash that ended our race!

Which “spectator spot” would you recommend?
On the St Léger les Mélèzes stage, the finish is always nice, provided you stay within the authorised areas and follow the instructions of the stewards. There are some really fast and spectacular stretches because generally speaking, we come into that section with studded snow tyres, whereas it’s invariably pretty dry.

Which part of the rally you prefer most?
When we drive onto the final podium in front of the Palais Princier! Monte-Carlo has a very special atmosphere as the opening rally of the championship. And often, it’s such a tough race that you feel pleased just to make to the end, so when you manage to win it, it’s even more special. Having said that, it’s still the feeling in the car that is the most enjoyable. This is especially true when you start a stage knowing you have the right tyres to express yourself, because it’s not always the case.

Do you prefer it when the road is wet, damp, icy or covered in snow?
I really like it when there is a bit of mix, with changes in grip levels and you have to adjust your pace, because that’s when you can really make a difference.

CITROËN SECRETS
Whilst competing for Citroën Racing in the WRC, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia made their first appearance at Monte-Carlo in 2009, when the rally was part of the IRC, in a Peugeot 207 S2000. It proved to be a very successful one-off outing! Julien Ingrassia recalls…

We had been selected by BFGoodrich to take part in our home round of the IRC. We had just been crowned Junior world rally champions, but we were still in the early stages of our career. We therefore initially decided to focus on consistency, before gradually upping our pace and claiming our only stage win of the weekend on the snow-covered roads on Montauban sur l’Ouvèze – Eygalayes. That moved us into the overall lead. We had literally overtaken Freddy Loix, side by side, as we started to climb the Col Saint Jean, just after the village of Laborel, which you don't see very often in rallying! But we still had to get over the famous Col de Turini at night. I can still see us realising in the dark at Lucéram that we had claimed our first international win! As the job wasn’t over for the co-driver, however, it was only much later that I was really able to savour the moment, when it hit me that a year or two earlier, I was still just a fan with my mates, sleeping in the car at night on these same stages!”
19-01-21 Tidemand med fokus på erfarenhet i WRC-premiären
Efter fyra år som stammis i WRC 2-serien, inklusive en mästartitel i klassen, kom äntligen chansen som rallystjärnan Pontus Tidemand har väntat på - att få hoppa in i en maxad WRC-bil och tampas med eliten i den högsta klassen i Rally-VM. I en Ford Fiesta WRC för M-Sport gör han och nygamla kartläsaren Ola Fløene säsongspremiär i Rallye Monte-Carlo.

De franska alperna bjuder alltid på spänning när det vankas VM-premiär. Att kunna läsa av vägarna, reagera snabbt och hitta ett mellanting i inställningar och däckval som i så stor utsträckning som möjligt fungerar för både torr asfalt och fullt vinterväglag är något av en nyckel här. Och den nyckeln kommer med erfarenhet.
- Jag har kört Rallye Monte-Carlo en gång tidigare och gjort rekognoseringen två gånger så jag har ett hum om vad som väntar. Det är en väldigt speciell tävling, förmodligen den mest oförutsägbara i VM, och erfarenheten blir otroligt viktigt. Kanske inte på så sätt att man lär sig vägarna, utan snarare vägkaraktären och att hantera växlingen mellan underlagen. En och samma sträcka kan innehålla torr asfalt, snö och is och även om det klassas som ett asfaltrally är det helt unikt i och med väderomslagen uppe i bergen, berättar Pontus, som klämde till med en fjärdeplats i RC2-kategorin i sitt allra första Rallye Monte-Carlo 2017.

Säsongspremiären handlar för Pontus del först och främst att lära känna bilen och teamet helt och fullt, utan någon press eller förhoppningar om en pallskräll. Med sig i högerstolen har han en av världens mest erfarna kartläsare, norrmannen Ola Fløene, som bland annat var med Pontus under succéåret 2013 då han blev juniorvärldsmästare. Rallye Monte-Carlo blir lite av en uppvärmning och generalrepetition inför fortsättningen och Pontus behåller lugnet och tonar ner all form av press.
- Det är fem år sedan jag senast satt i en WRC-bil och det här är en helt ny generations rallybil. Det kändes kanon när vi testade och jag kom snabbt in i det och jag och Ola har hittat tillbaka till vårt samarbete. Men det här är trots allt tävlingsdebuten och jag vet att jag måste ha realistiska förväntningar. Jag har inte tagit mig så här långt för att vara tanklös och försöka bevisa något, nu ska jag ta det steg för steg och verkligen ta hand om chansen på ett klokt sätt med tanke på framtiden, förklarar Pontus.

Efter många år i WRC 2, kände Pontus att det nu var dags för nya utmaningar och när den här möjligheten kom, var han inte sen att nappa.
- Det ligger otroligt mycket hårt arbete bakom satsningen och jag känner en enorm tacksamhet gentemot M-Sport, mina partners och alla som hjälper mig för att jag faktiskt står på startlinjen på torsdag, säger Pontus. Motivationen är högre än någonsin och det är äntligen nu det gäller. Nu kör vi!

Efter starten i kärnan av Gap på torsdag kväll väntar en tuff inledning på årets första VM-rally med två nya sträckor, vardera över två mil, i mörkret i södra Alperna. 125 kilometer action uppdelat på sex sträckor står på fredagens schema medan lördagens fyra sträckor på 93 kilometer leder fram till tävlingens sista service i Gap. Sedan har de tävlande en lång sträcka att köra från Gap till Monaco där de tar kvällen några timmar senare. Söndagen är traditionell och innehåller klassiska och omåttligt populära inslag som Col de Turini innan målgången vid lunchtid.

Tidsschema Rallye Monte-Carlo 2019
Torsdag 24 januari
10:00 Shakedown Gap (3,35km)
19:38 SS1 La Breole - Selonnet (20,76km)
20:41 SS2 Avancon - Notre Dame du Laus (20,59km)

Fredag 25 januari
09:11 SS3 Valdrome - Sigottier 1 (20,04km)
10:14 SS4 Roussieux - Laborel 1 (24,05km)
11:37 SS5 Curbans - Piegut 1 (18,47km)
12:17 Service Gap
14:23 SS6 Valdrome - Sigottier 2 (20,04km)
15:26 SS7 Roussieux - Laborel 2 (24,05km)
16:49 SS8 Curbans - Piegut 2 (18,47km)
17:44 Service Gap

Lördag 26 januari
08:48 SS9 Agnieres en Devoluy - Corps 1 (29,82km)
10:06 SS10 St Leger Les Melezes - La Batie Neuve 1 (16,87km)
11:21 Service Gap
12:47 SS11 Agnieres en Devoluy - Corps 2 (29,82km)
14:08 SS12 St Leger Les Melezes - La Batie Neuve 2 (16,87km)
15:18 Service Gap

Söndag 27 januari
08:20 SS13 La Bollene Vesubie - Peira Cava 1 (18,41km)
09:08 SS14 La Cabanette - Col de Braus 1 (13,58km)
10:55 SS15 La Bollene Vesubie - Peira Cava 2 (18,41km)
12:18 SS16 La Cabanette - Col de Braus 2 (Power Stage) (13,58km)
19-01-19 Emil Bergkvist ser framåt med inspirerande blickar
Efter att det i veckan blivit klart att Emil Bergkvist och Patrik Barth skall tävla i WRC2 med sin Ford flesta R5 under 2019, så blickar vi nu ännu mer framåt.
- Vi jobbar stenhårt för att utveckla teamet och ta ytterligare steg för att nå den yttersta världseliten. Vi har fått tillskott i vår organisation på marknadssidan, och jobbar nu för att utöver WRC även köra tävlingar i Sverige. Men också andra internationella tävlingar, allt för att utvecklas och hitta ett högre tempo, säger Emil Bergkvist

- Vi är ett team och organisation i rörelse som expanderar. Vi söker ständigt nya ömsesidiga samarbetspartners och kunder. Vi har otroligt många olika skräddarsydda lösningar för att utnyttja varandras marknader. Har du själv, eller vet du någon/något företag/person/organisation som vill vara med på resan att utvecklas till ett fullskaligt professionellt rallyteam, på både nationell och internationell nivå så vill vi gärna komma i kontakt. Vi ser fram mot säsongen och att ta ytterligare steg mot den absoluta världseliten, avslutar han
19-01-19 The C3 WRC all set for regal challenge
The WRC season’s traditional opening round, Rallye Monte-Carlo is also one of the toughest challenges faced by the crews – a winter event held in unpredictable conditions. With Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janni Ferm in the team’s two C3 WRCs, Citroën Total World Rally Team will be able to count on the six-time world champions and rallying’s most promising crew to do the team proud.

Citroën Racing’s technical team has done everything to help its new crews rack up as many miles as possible and start the season with confidence. Both crews had three and half days of specific testing with the C3 WRC - generally covering more than two hundred kilometres per day - in order to run through the wide range of set-up options available. The pre-event tests were held on slippery, dry and wet tarmac, snow and ice, in other words, all of the difficulties that Monte is capable of throwing at you in a single stage! The efforts made confirm Citroën’s determination to up its game this season and quickly pass the milestone of a hundred WRC wins.

Understandably, as the defending six-time world champion and winner of the Rallye Monte-Carlo for the last five years, Sébastien Ogier represents the team’s greatest hopes of success at Monte. The local hero, who has proven time and time again his ability to adapt to conditions, has become an expert at reading the local roads and their countless variations in grip.

With three appearances at this round, Esapekka Lappi does not possess the same experience as his French team-mate. Building on his impressive performances in 2018, during which he scored three podiums, the 28 years old Finn is determined to keep improving in what will be only his second full season in the WRC.

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Although Sébastien and Julien recognised a few familiar faces in the team, this wasn't the case for Esapekka and Janne, and yet they have settled in quickly and smoothly. We used the off-season to prepare for 2019 in a composed manner, to learn from one another and enable the crews to get as used to the car as possible. At Monte-Carlo, it’s absolutely essential to feel confident in the car. As Sébastien and Julien are five-time winners of the rally, and finished first here last year, they will obviously be a force to be reckoned with. Esapekka and Janne are less experienced on these unusual stages and will undoubtedly be adopting a more gradual approach."

Olivier Maroselli, Citroën Racing Technical Director
“The C3 WRC has undergone some considerable changes since the 2018 Rallye Monte-Carlo, in terms of the dampers and the design of the suspension, and we now have a good understanding of the basic set-up. We worked on getting a car that was easier to drive, and which is therefore capable of adapting to the varied levels of grip that tend to be thrown up by this event. We had pretty much every condition going during testing: dry tarmac, snow and good quality ice, melting snow and slush. This meant we could analyse a wide variety of settings, such as cross-fitted tyres, which involves paying very careful attention to the set-up in order to ensure the car’s handling remains predictable. We also worked on set-up options that might be adjusted by the crews between stages on a loop, so I think we are well prepared for the rally."

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I had a wide variety of conditions during my three and a half days of testing, which was pretty good and enabled us to work on achieving the best possible compromise. The feeling was good, but it’s always difficult to estimate your level of performance for the first race in a new car. I'm going to do what I’ve always done and trust my feeling. This is especially true because Monte is a rally that you are more likely to win by driving intelligently, rather than on the limit, given how many places there are where you can get caught out. In any case, I’ve always done well here and I hope that my experience will help me again!”

Number of appearances at the event: 9
Number of wins: 6 (2009 in the IRC, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018)

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I’m pleased with our tests since we were able to try out everything, apart from completely dry tarmac. With the team, we found a set-up that suits me and I felt comfortable in the car. Having said all that, the Rallye Monte-Carlo is still a huge challenge. It’s an event you have to treat with great respect, especially as it’s never really the same rally from one year to the next, given the way the conditions are constantly changing. I hope to have amassed enough experience in the past to be able to fight near the front. A top-five finish would be a good start to the season for me."

Number of appearances at the event: 3
Best result: 7th (2018)

KEY FIGURES
16 timed stages covering a total of 323.83 km
43 the maximum number of Michelin tyres that may be used per car, chosen from 24 super soft-compound slicks (Pilot Sport SS6), 20 soft-compound slicks (Pilot Sport S6), 12 non-studded snow tyres (Pilot Alpin A41) and 24 studded snow tyres (Pilot Alpin A41 CL)

7 the number of wins recorded by Citroën at the Rallye Monte-Carlo (2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2013)

1 hr 10 mins at the latest before the first car on stage, the safety crews (Simon Jean-Joseph-Jack Boyère for Sébastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia and Mikko Heikkila-Jan Lonegren for Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm) are allowed to complete the stages. Equipped with a copy of their crew’s pace notes, they describe the condition of the road, something which is critically important at Monte-Carlo.

RALLYE MONTE-CARLO SCHEDULE (GMT+1)
This year’s route, whilst more compact, actually spans five French departments – the Alpes de Haute-Provence, Hautes Alpes, Drôme, Isère and Alpes Maritimes – and once again promises to provide plenty of difficulties and uncertainty. In fact, almost 47%of the stages have been revised, whilst Thursday evening’s stages, held after nightfall, are completely newthis year. The Valdrome – Sigottier (20.04km) and Curbans – Piegut (18.47km) stages, held on Friday’s leg, are also brand new for 2019.

With the weather always changeable at this time of year, where conditions can be radically different from one side of the mountain to the other, this year’s rally is certain to be a huge challenge once again. Monte-Carlo is often described as being all about “tyres and drivers”. More than anywhere else, perhaps, it is critical to make the right call on tyres and to be genuinely at one with your car, so that you can anticipate its reactions to the constantly changing grip levels provided by the roads.

THURSDAY 24 JANUARY
10.00am: Shakedown (Gap)
6.50pm: Start day 1 (Gap – Place Desmichels)
7.38pm: SS 1 – La Breole – Selonnet (20,76 km)
8.41pm: SS 2 – Avançon – Notre Dame du Laus (20,59 km)
9.41pm: Flexi service A (Gap – 48 mins)

FRIDAY 25 JANUARY
7.30am: Start day 2 and service B (Gap – 18 mins)
9.11am: SS 3 – Valdrome – Sigottier 1 (20,04 km)
10.14am: SS 4 – Roussieux – Laborel 1 (24,05 km)
11.37am: SS 5 – Curbans – Piegut 1 (18,47 km)
12.27pm: Service C (Gap – 33 mins)
2.23pm: SS 6 – Valdrome – Sigottier 2 (20,04 km)
3.26pm: SS 7 – Roussieux – Laborel 2 (24,05 km)
4.49pm: SS 8 – Curbans – Piegut 2 (18,47 km)
5.44pm: Flexi service D (Gap – 48 mins)

SATURDAY 26 JANUARY
7.37am: Start day 3 and service E (Gap – 18 mins)
8.48am: SS 9 – Agnières en Devoluy – Corps 1 (29,82 km)
10.06am: SS 10 – St Léger les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve 1 (16,87 km)
11.21am: Service F (Gap – 33 mins)
12.47pm: SS 11 – Agnières en Devoluy – Corps 2 (29,82 km)
2.08pm: SS 12 – St Léger les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve 2 (16,87 km)
3.18pm: Service G (Gap – 48 mins)
8.06pm: Parc ferme (Monaco)

SUNDAY 27 JANUARY
6.22am: Start day 4
8.20am: SS 13 – La Bollène Vésubie – Peira Cava 1 (18,41 km)
9.08am: SS 14 – La Cabanette – Col de Braus 1 (13,58 km)
10.55am: SS 15 – La Bollène Vésubie – Peira Cava 2 (18,41 km)
12.18pm: SS 16 – La Cabanette – Col de Braus 2 – Power Stage (13,58 km)
1.58pm: Parc ferme (Monaco – Quai Albert 1er)
3.00pm: Prize giving (Monaco – Quai Albert 1er)
19-01-16 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson värmer upp inför Rally Sweden
Dennis Rådström från Torsby och hans kartläsare Johan Johansson från Valdemarsvik laddar inför en tredje säsong i Junior-VM i Rally, JWRC, efter ett starkt 2018 där Dennis slutade tvåa i VM bakom Emil Bergkvist och Johan Johansson blev världsmästare för kartläsare.
– Vi fortsätter ett år till i JWRC. Planen var att kliva upp i år, men det blev lite tuffare när vi inte vann efter en tuff kamp med Emil. Men vi håller kvar målsättningen att köra WRC, och då känns JWRC som det mest naturliga. Det är en fantastisk kalender, med passande tävlingar och start i Rally Sweden, säger Dennis.
– Vi vill fortsätta utvecklas, och det naturliga steget nu är att vinna serien.

Teamet har ett intensivt schema med förberedelser inför hemmatävlingen som körs i Värmland den 14 till 17 februari.
– Vi har ett mer intensivt tävlingsschema inför Rally Sweden, efter som det är tid bakom ratten som är bästa träningen. Vi tävlar varje helg inför Rally Sweden för att bli varma i kläderna.
– Vi har redan kört två tävlingar i år, i Boden och Finnskogsvalsen. Vi har utvecklats enormt om man jämfört med våra tider från förra året. Så vi är fyllda med självförtroende, passion och ser fram mot säsongen.

Förra året tog Dennis och Johan sin första seger i VM-serien när de vann Rally Sweden, som gick i mål bara ett par hundra meter från Dennis hem, inför familj, vänner och supportrar. Men trots förra årets framgång känner Dennis ingen press.
– Vi känner ingen speciell press i år, utan vi känner att vi är i bra form och att självförtroendet är på topp. Vi ska bara gå ut och göra vår grej och köra vårt race, fortsätter Dennis.

Närmast kommer Dennis och Johan ställa upp i SM-premiären i Bergslagsrallyt den 26 januari, och helgen efter ställa upp i SM-veckan i Sundsvall, där man får mäta sig med Sverigeeliten som uppladdning inför Rally Sweden.
– Vi har som plan att köra full attack från första metern in till mål. Sen ska vi vara redo för VM, avslutar Dennis.
19-01-15 Emil Bergkvist kör WRC2 tillsammans med J Motorsport
Emil Bergkvist från Torsåker blev 2018 Juniorvärldsmästare i Rally efter en bra säsong där han vann den avslutande deltävlingen i Turkiet tillsammans med kartläsaren Patrik Barth.

Priset för vinsten var en egen Ford Flesta R5 från Brittiska Ford-teamet M-Sport tillsammans med däck och bränsle för WRC2-mästerskapet 2019, och det är nu klart att Emil och Patrik kommer till start i WRC2 i bilen tillsammans med Belgiska teamet J Motorsport.
– Det känns oerhört kul att ha fått till det här efter mycket hårt arbete, och vi ser fram mot säsongen, säger Emil.

Emil kommer inleda säsongen i bilen han vann förra året, och när M-Sport till sommaren presenterar sin nya Flesta R5 kommer man att gå över till den.

Emil och Patrik kommer att starta i följande tävlingar i WRC2-klassen: Sverige, Portugal, Sardinien, Finland, Tyskland, Spanien och Wales.
– Jag är tacksam till alla som har vart med och gjort detta möjligt, framförallt till Jourdan Serderidis och J Motorsport som gör detta möjligt, avslutar Emil.
19-01-14 Mads Østberg is ready for full season in WRC2-Pro with C3 R5
We’re happy to announce that we are back with a complete programme for WRC2 PRO 2019, in collaboration with Citröen Racing. Our first rally-start is only weeks away, on the snow covered winter roads of RallySweden (February 14th – 17th). Mads will be competing behind the wheel of a Citröen C3 R5, run by Belgian team DG Sport.
‘’I must admit I was disappointed when it was clear to me that WRC at the highest level was not an option for me in the 2019 season. Rallying for me is more than a job, it’s a passion, it’s in my blood. It was never an option to give up on my dreams.

I shared many good experiences with Citröen Racing during my three years as a factory driver in the team. That’s one of the main reasons I decided to go for this option.

OK, it will be a challenge. I have no experience with the car and my first rally is coming soon. It will be a busy time for sure. The main focus in the beginning is to develop the car, and hopefully to clinch the first C3 R5 win in WRC2. With the expertise of Citröen Racing and my experience combined, it’s possible.

I’m also happy to say that I will continue my collaboration with Torstein Eriksen as co-driver. He has proved himself as a hard working co-driver, more than good enough to compete at any level of rallying.

It’s been a long rally break since Rally Australia, and while other teams are testing for Monte-Carlo, I’ve been at home. These days I’m planning my test schedule before Sweden. There’s so much to be done in such short time. My first kilometers behind the wheel of the Citroën C3 R5 will be at Rally Hadeland on January 27th. The rally will serve as a test for Sweden.’’
19-01-08 Tom Kristensson satsar på Junior-VM Rally
Efter ett intensivt arbete med att få ihop budgeten är det nu klart att Tom Kristensson från Hörby, och tävlande för SMK Hörby, kommer att starta säsongen i Junior-VM i rally 2019. Efter andraplatsen i Junior EM förra året är det nu dags för att ta nästa steg.
- Budgeten för hela serien är inte i hamn ännu, det har det varit för kort tid för, men så mycket är klart att vi kommer till start till den första deltävlingen Rally Sweden i Värmland i mitten av februari, säger Tom.
- Även om det är en del kvar är det goda förutsättningar och vår absoluta målsättning att få till en budget för hela serien. Tack vare en fantastisk uppbackning av både tidigare och nya samarbetspartners har jag goda förhoppningar för att det skall gå i lås. Men det krävs ytteliggare en hel del arbete, den senaste månaden har verkligen varit intensiv med många möten och kontakter, säger Tom

- Till min stora glädje kommer jag även kommande säsong att ha Henrik Appelskog från Motala, och Östergyllen RC, vid min sida, han har varit min Codriver de senaste 2 åren, och han är väldigt kompetent och vi trivs bra och har kul ihop.
- Jag har sagt att jag inte kan ha en lika intensiv säsong som i fjol. Det fungerar inte med heltidsjobb och familj. Men nu blir det färre tävlingar utspritt på längre tid och Tom vill ju ha med mig. Han vill inte att jag ska sluta och det är ju smickrande, säger Henrik.

För att få delta i Junior-VM, J-WRC, får man vara högst 29 år, och avgörs i fem av de 13 deltävlingarna i Rally-VM, WRC, samtliga i Europa.
De fem deltävlingarna är: Rally Sweden, Sverige, 14-17 feb, Tour de Corse, Frankrike, 28-31 mar, Rally Italia Sardegna, Italien, 13-16 jun, Rally Finland, Finland, 1-4 aug och Wales Rally GB, Wales, 3-6 okt. Resultatet från fyra av de fem deltävlingarna räknas i slutställningen i mästerskapet.
Alla deltagarna i Junior-VM kör med en enhetsbil, en framhjulsriven Ford Fiesta R2 Eco Boost, som byggs och tillhandahålls av brittiska M-Sports avdelning i Polen, och alla kör även med samma däckfabrikat.

- Det är en bil som går i samma bilklass som den Opel Adam R2 som jag körde förra året i EM, säger Tom. Fördelen med att köra med en enhetsbil från samma team är ju att alla har samma förutsättningar, det går ju inte att skylla på materialet om det inte går bra.
- Nu ser jag verkligen fram mot Rally Sweden, avslutar Tom med ett stort leende.



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