WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2020

2020

VM kalendern 2020
23-26 jan Monte Carlo    
13-16 febr Rally Sweden    
12-15 mars Mexico    
4-6 sept Estland    
18-20 sept Turkiet    
15-18 okt Tyskland    
29-1 nov Italien    
19-22 nov Japan    
Aktuell kalender med status pdf uppdaterad 2020-05-06

 



20-07-31 FIA WRC’s Rally Turkey finalises September date change
· Turkey advances one week in FIA World Rally Championship calendar
· Gravel road fixture to run on 18 - 20 September 2020
· Switch increases opportunities to add further rallies to WRC schedule

Turkey’s 2020 FIA World Rally Championship fixture will move forward by one week to 18 - 20 September.

WRC Promoter has agreed a switch with the Turkish Automobile Sports Federation (TOSFED), organiser of the Marmaris-based gravel road encounter, which has been rubber-stamped by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA.

The date change facilitates the opportunity to introduce additional events to the calendar in the second half of the season in what remains an evolving situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The switch means the event, round five of the championship, will be held two weeks after Rally Estonia (4 - 6 September) which restarts the WRC season following lockdown.

WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel thanked Turkey’s Ministry of Youth and Sports and TOSFED for agreeing the change.

“The date switch provides us with options if we wish to introduce further events to the 2020 calendar and we’re extremely grateful to TOSFED for its flexibility in what are challenging times for sport across the world.

“Marmaris, a popular holiday resort in Turkey, is open for business and welcoming tourists. Competitors and fans can feel confident about travelling there again after the Coronavirus lockdown.

“The event will, of course, run with Covid-19 protocols in place. FIA and WRC Promoter guidelines will be applied to Turkey’s health laws to create a safe environment for all involved and for fans to enjoy,” added Siebel.

TOSFED president Eren Üçlertopragi said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming the FIA WRC back to Turkey for the third time and will do all that’s required for running a safe and successful event under the required conditions.”

The 2020 calendar is:
23-26 jan Monte Carlo    
13-16 febr Rally Sweden    
12-15 mars Mexico    
4-6 sept Estland    
18-20 sept Turkiet    
15-18 okt Tyskland    
29-1 nov Italien    
19-22 nov Japan    

20-07-16 Klart med höstens tävlingar i JWRC för Tom Kristensson och Joakim Sjöberg
I dagarna har Internationella Bilsportförbundet, FIA, godkänt vilka tävlingar som i höst skall ingå i Junior VM, JWRC, i rally. Det blir 3 deltävlingar, och totalt 4 deltävlingar i årets mästerskap, mot från början 5 planerade. Den enda hittills avverkade är Rally Sweden i februari där Tom och Joakim vann.

Återstarten blir i Estland och Rally Estonia den 3-6 september, en nyinsatt tävling i WRC-kalendern. Därefter följer Rallye Deutschland den 15-18 oktober och avslutning sker i Rally Italia Sardegna på Sardinien den 29 oktober-1 november. De båda sistnämnda fanns i JWRC-kalendern redan från början, men tävlingen på Sardinien skulle körts i början av juni, men blev på grund av Corona pandemin framflyttad till i höst.

Nu kommer 3 av 4 tävlingar räknas i mästerskapet, och i stället för dubbla poäng i sista deltävlingen kommer det endast att bli 1,5 gånger poängen, medan bonuspoäng för sträcksegrar räknas för samtliga deltävlingar. Priset till den slutlige segraren, en Ford Fiesta R5 plus ett antal däck, kvarstår.
- Jag ser verkligen fram emot att få sitta i rallybilen igen, det har varit en lång och oviss väntan, säger Tom. Nu får vi bara hoppas att det inte kommer en andra våg av Corona pandemin som sätter käppar i hjulen.
- I Estland har jag inte tävlat tidigare, men karaktären på sträckorna liknar dem i både Finland och Lettland. I Finland vann jag förra året i JWRC och i Lettland har jag vunnit två gånger i Rally Liepaja, senast i JERC 2018, så jag har goda och positiva erfarenheter på den här typen av sträckor.
- Det enda orosmolnet är vi från Sverige inte får resa in i Estland just nu på grund av pandemin. Det gäller förutom mej och Joakim även våra svenska medtävlare Pontus Lönnström med co-driver Stefan Gustavsson.
- Arrangören i Estland har diskussioner med de estniska myndigheterna för att hitta en lösning, så jag hoppas att det löser sig på något sätt, det är ju ändå en dryg månad tills det är tid att resa.

I Rallye Deutschland har Tom tävlat både i Opel Adam Cup och för Opel Junior Team, när han körde tävlingen som extratävling, under året i JERC. Årets tävling är i samma område som tidigare, med bland annat sträckor i vinodlingarna på floden Mosels sluttningar, och det beryktade övningsfältet Baumholder med Panzerplatte. Där kör man på alltifrån betong, dålig asfalt och bra asfalt, och vägarna är på många ställen kantade med Hinkelstein, stridsvagnshinder i betong.
- Det gäller att ta i på asfaltvägarna, speciellt på Baumholder, som brukar fälla avgörandet, eftersom det är en stor del av tävlingen. Men där det är lätt att få punktering på de dåliga avsnitten

Finaltävlingen på Sardinien ingick i JWRC även förra året, där fick Tom sin "sämsta" placering för säsongen med en tredjeplats.
- Jag trivs på Sardinien, även om sträckorna till stor del består av lös grus och sand, och i år skall vi ta revansch och förbättra placeringen, avslutar Tom

Ställningen i JWRC efter Rally Sweden är att Tom leder på 28 poäng före Martins Seks från Lettland, 19 poäng och Ken Torn från Estland på 15 poäng.
20-07-09 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson värmer upp inför Rally-EM i Tjeckien
Värmländska rallyföraren Dennis Rådström och hans kartläsare Johan Johansson från Valdemarsvik har den senaste veckan befunnit sig i Tjeckien som uppladdning inför årets Junior-EM i rally, som startar helgen den 24-26 juli i den Italienska huvudstaden Rom. Dennis och Johan, som tävlar för det tjeckiska teamet ORSAK Rally Sport med en Ford Fiesta Rally4 från M-Sport Poland, har den senaste veckan kört ett test med den nya Rally4-Fiestan från M-Sport Poland och ställer nu till helgen upp i Tjeckiska mästerskapstävlingen Rally Bohemia för att få värdefull erfarenhet och mil i bilen innan EM.
– Testet gick bra, och det var första gången vi fick testa på nya Ford Fiesta Rally4 från M-Sport Poland på asfalt. Nya bilen är helt klart snabbare, den har mer grepp i bakvagnen och mer traction med de nya komponenterna i drivlinan. Det var väldigt kul att kunna få en bra känslan direkt. M-Sport Poland har gjort ett fantastiskt jobb med nya Rally4-bilen, säger Dennis.

Dennis och Johan har inte suttit i tävlingsbilen sedan de vann VM-tävlingen Rally Sweden i februari tillsammans med nya teamet ORSAK Rally Sport, och ser fram mot att säsongen äntligen drar igång.
– Det ska bli jättekul att få komma igång igen, säger Johan. Uppehållet har vart väldigt långt, så det känns nästan lite ovant att ta på sig overallen igen.

Helgens Rally Bohemia ingår i det Tjeckiska mästerskapet, och blir ett skarpt genrep för Dennis, Johan, teamet och nya Ford Fiesta Rally4 innan EM-premiären på asfalt i Italien om några veckor.– Känslan inför tävlingen är bra. Vi har kört igenom alla sträckor och det finns både snabba och krokiga partier med bred och smal väg. Man kan gena en del på sina ställen. Vi kommer ta Rally Bohemia som vilken tävling som helst för att komma in i tävlingsbubblan och få en perfekt genomkörare inför Rom. Vi kommer som vanligt att gör vårt bästa här i Rally Bohemia, avslutar Dennis.
20-07-04 Estonia to host September WRC restart as new date found for Italy
Baltic country will become 33rd nation in history to stage championship round. Estonia will become the 33rd nation since 1973 in FIA World Rally Championship history to stage a round when the 2020 WRC season restarts from September 4-6 following the release of the revised calendar.

Three rounds in Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico were staged before the global pandemic lockdown with six-time champion Sébastien Ogier holding an eight-point advantage over his Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT teammate Elfyn Evans thanks to his victory last time out.

Rally Estonia's debut joins the fixture list after running as a WRC Promotional Event in 2019 and was announced at a press conference in Tallinn on Thursday attended by Prime Minister Ju¨ri Ratas and WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla.

It will ensure an emotional weekend for reigning world champion Ott Ta¨nak, who will have the opportunity to compete in front of his home fans for the first time.

Rally Estonia will be a short format event with a shakedown and opening ceremony on Friday, then two legs on Saturday and Sunday. It will be based in Tartu, in the east of the country, with the service park at the Estonian National Museum.

Rally Italia Sardegna, based in Alghero, has been moved up from June to October 29-November 1 and its switch to autumn means crews will face cooler conditions on tough tracks in the north of the Mediterranean island.

Estonia's gravel road encounter precedes scheduled events in Turkey (September 24-27) and Germany (October 15-18) with Italy the penultimate round before the season-closing return of Japan (November 19-22).

Rally Argentina, which was postponed from April and traditionally attracts almost a million fans to Cordoba province, has unfortunately now been cancelled.

The championship will comprise at least eight events and WRC Promoter will continue its already advanced talks with Ypres Rally (October 2-4), with the aim of presenting Belgium as another available host country shortly. Talks with the Croatian Automobile & Karting Federation will also move forward.

2020 revised calendar
Monte-Carlo: January 23-26
Sweden: February 13-16
Mexico: March 12-15
Estonia: September 4-6
Turkey: September 24-27
Germany: October 15-18
Italy: October 29-November 1
Japan: November 19-22
*Belgium's Ypres Rally (October 2-4) and Croatia (TBC) remain as calendar options.
20-07-02 Newcomer Estonia hosts 2020 WRC restart in September
WRC Promoter confirms adjusted 2020 WRC calendar
· Estonia promoted into championship for the first time
· New date for Italy’s delayed round in Sardinia
· News assets available at https://bulldrive.redbull.com/fl/3j3Yo7dnV4

Munich, 2 July 2020 – Estonia will host the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time in September when the 2020 series restarts following an enforced break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rally Estonia (4 - 6 September) joins the fixture list after running as a WRC Promotional Event in 2019. The country will become the 33rd nation to stage a championship round since the series started in 1973.

In a revised calendar announced by WRC Promoter, Rally Italia Sardegna moves to 29 October - 1 November after being postponed in June as the virus temporarily halted the championship after three rounds.

Estonia’s gravel road encounter precedes scheduled events in Turkey (24 - 27 September) and Germany (15 - 18 October) in the new schedule. Next up is Italy, before the season-closing return of Japan (19 - 22 November), whose date also remains unchanged.

The championship will comprise at least eight events and WRC Promoter will continue its already advanced talks with Ypres Rally (2 - 4 October), with the aim of presenting Belgium as another available host country shortly. Talks with the Croatian Automobile & Karting Federation will also move forward.

Rally Argentina, which was postponed from its original date in April, and which traditionally attracts almost a million fans to Cordoba province, has unfortunately now been cancelled for the season.

Estonia’s WRC debut was announced at a press conference in Tallinn today (Thursday) attended by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla.

It will ensure an emotional weekend for reigning world champion Ott Tänak, who will have the opportunity to compete in front of his home fans on a WRC round for the first time.

Rally Estonia will be a short format event comprising two legs on Saturday and Sunday after a shakedown and opening ceremony on Friday. It will be based in Tartu, in the east of the country, with the service park at the Estonian National Museum. Full details will be announced shortly.

Rally Italia Sardegna’s switch from Europe’s early summer to autumn means crews will face cooler conditions on tough gravel tracks in the north of the Mediterranean island. It will be based in Alghero and details of the itinerary will be confirmed soon.

WRC successfully completed the first three rounds in Monte-Carlo, Sweden and Mexico before Coronavirus put the brakes on the series. Six-time champion Sébastien Ogier leads the drivers’ standings with his Toyota Gazoo Racing squad topping the manufacturers’ points.

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said a September restart allowed sufficient lead time for event organisers and competitors to be fully prepared.
“Today’s restart announcement sends a clear signal that the 2020 WRC is back in business,” he said.

“WRC Promoter has worked tirelessly with the FIA, our competitors, teams and potential rallies, in exceptional circumstances, to revise the calendar. Today’s news allows the WRC to restart at an appropriate time and ensure a season worthy of world championship status.

“Fans demonstrate huge passion for WRC in both Estonia and Italy. The expectation there, and across the sport in general, will build rapidly from now ahead of September’s championship restart,” added Ciesla.

FIA rally director Yves Matton said: “I am pleased to announce the 2020 WRC restart calendar following a few months of discussions that have required a great deal of flexibility from all stakeholders in unprecedented times.

“In light of this revised schedule, I am confident we will secure a minimum of eight events this year and this is thanks to the great commitment and work from organisers.

“As one of the newly proposed rounds, Rally Estonia will be reopening the season in September and I know the Estonian Autosport Union and organising team are putting all their efforts to deliver an event to world championship standards from an already solid foundation.

“Also, extensive work was made with ACI and organisers of Rally Italia Sardegna to reschedule the event and I am happy that they could find a workable slot at the end of October for this much-awaited encounter.

“Preparations for these rounds are now in full swing while paying the greatest attention to key planning recommendations for mass gatherings in the current Covid-19 context.

“We are naturally truly disappointed we couldn’t find a logistically viable solution to reschedule Rally Argentina, particularly given all the hard work undertaken by Automóvil Club Argentino and every member of the organisation,” concluded Matton.

All remaining events are eligible for competitors in the WRC 2 and WRC 3 support categories. Future dates for the FIA Junior WRC Championship will be announced separately.

The 2020 calendar is:
1 Monte-Carlo 23 - 26 January
2 Sweden 13 - 16 February
3 Mexico 12 - 15 March
4 Estonia 4 - 6 September
5 Turkey 24 - 27 September
6 Germany 15 - 18 October
7 Italy 29 October - 1 November
8 Japan 19 - 22 November
* Belgium’s Ypres Rally (2 - 4 October) and Croatia (date TBC) remain as further calendar options.
20-07-01 Väntans tider för Tom Kristensson om fortsättningen av årets Junior-VM i rally
Det rådande Corona pandemiläget runt om i världen gör att årets tävlingskalender för både Rally-VM och Junior-VM har ställts helt på ända.
I stora VM, WRC, har endast 3 av totalt 13 deltävlingar körts, Rally Monte Carlo i januari, Rally Sweden i mitten av februari och Rally Mexico i mitten av mars. De två senare blev båda avkortade, "Svenska" på grund av dålig vinter och Mexiko på grund av utbrottet av Corona.

Av de återstående är vårens tävlingar i Argentina, Portugal och Safari Rallyt i Kenya inställda, och den italienska deltävlingen på Sardinien är preliminärt flyttad till i början av december. Av höstens tävlingar är Rally Finland, Rally New Zealand och Wales Rally GB inställda. Kvar i kalendern, ännu så länge, är Rally Turkey i slutet av september, Rallye Deutschland i mitten av oktober och Rally Japan i andra halvan av november. Om dessa kan arrangeras beror på hur läget och restriktionerna ser ut i respektive land i höst, och framför allt vilka restriktioner som då gäller.

FIA och WRC jobbar även på att hitta ev. möjliga ersättningstävlingar, med avkall på att man inte fullt ut uppfyller kraven för en VM-tävling. I nuläget är inget klart. Man har sagt att det skall vara sju deltävlingar totalt för att det skall kunna räknas som ett fullvärdigt VM.

För Tom och hans kollegor i Junior-VM, JWRC, skulle mästerskapet avgöras i fem av de tretton ursprungliga deltävlingarna. Endast en har kunnat köras, Rally Sweden, där Tom och co-drivern Joakim Sjöberg vann.

Nästa deltävling var Rally Italia i början av april, den är preliminärt flyttad till början av december, Rally Finland i början av augusti och Wales Rally GB i slutet av oktober är båda inställda. Kvar just nu i den ursprungliga kalendern är endast Rallye Deutschland i mitten av oktober, men där gäller nuvarande restriktioner, som kan göra det svårt att genomföra tävlingen, till och med oktober.

Vilka tävlingar som eventuellt skall ersätta, eller om det blir färre deltävlingar i JWRC, har FIA och WRC inte kunnat ge besked om ännu.
- Det är bara att vänta och se, det är inget som jag kan påverka eller göra något åt. Det viktigaste är trots allt att man runt om i världen får bukt med pandemin, säger Tom.
- Jag brinner för motorsport och rally och såg verkligen fram emot årets säsong, men jag har största respekt för att detta just nu inte är det viktigaste. Liv, hälsa och arbetssituationen för människor, och funktionerna i samhället, främst belastningen på sjukvården, är det vi måste tänka på i första hand.
- Jag tror och hoppas dock att vi skall få besked snart hur det blir i höst, och att det skall kunna bli någon tävling.
- Under tiden är det bara att fortsätta att hålla fysiken igång, sköta körträningen genom min rallysimulator och njuta av sommaren.
20-06-25 WRC Promoter and ERC Rally Liepaja organiser colclude Combined ERC/WRC event discussions
RA Events and WRC Promoter have concluded their discussions over the possible inclusion of Rally Liepaja on the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship calendar alongside the existing FIA European Rally Championship event.

While there was interest from both parties and the support of Eurosport Events, the ERC promoter, for a combined rally, RA Events will now focus its efforts on making the planned second round of the ERC season from 14-16 August.
"Firstly, we thank WRC Promoter for recognising ERC Rally Liepaja as an event worthy of inclusion in the WRC. This is great testament to the work we have done since 2012 when we started preparations for the first Rally Liepaja in 2013. We also thank the FIA and Eurosport Events for their assistance," comments Raimonds Strokšs, RA Events director.
"In these past few days we have done an enormous job. We have shown to the WRC Promoter that we and the whole of Latvia are not afraid to work hard and accept a challenge as massive as organising a WRC event in such a short amount of time. However, due to various reasons, it has been agreed that the ERC Rally Liepaja will not be a new addition to the revised WRC calendar this year.
"We want to thank the Government of Latvia, our rally host cities, our partners, media and every single one of the rally enthusiasts for the trust they showed and support they provided. But we have to remember that Latvia and ERC Rally Liepaja were offered a unique opportunity. We were a step away from finding an agreement to host a WRC rally in the Baltics for the first time, and we are yet to find out what opportunities this might lead to in future.
"But over the last few weeks we never stopped working on preparing for the second round of the FIA ERC season and we can't wait to deliver another hugely successful edition of our rally, which has always been our objective," says Raimonds Strokšs.

As stated before, Rally Liepaja will host the FIA European Rally Championship round on August 14-16 and the route will lead from Talsi to Liepaja.

20-06-17 Estonian Autosport Union and Rally Estonia continue their joint efforts to host a WRC round in Estonia
A renewed 2020 WRC calendar should be announced in the coming days. Due to the coronavirus pandemic several WRC rounds have been cancelled. There is understanding that at least seven rounds must be held in order to hand out world championship titles. The situation requires new solutions and Estonian organizing team is willing to find and offer these to the World Rally Championship series. This might open a door to Estonia to host a WRC round in 2020 for the first time.

Urmo Aava, Rally Estonia director: „For the last 10 years we have been building our team and rally together with Estonian Government and sponsors. In 2014 Rally Estonia was the best round in FIA European Rally Championship series and this title opened many international doors to us. Also, it introduced Estonia as a country and travel destination. After three successful years in FIA ERC our team felt that we would like to move ahead and aim for the highest level in world rally – WRC. We started the work in 2017, in the next year we hosted a test rally and in 2019 the first official WRC Promotional Event. All these years we have laid a strong foundation to be able to offer an attractive as well as safe rally to the FIA and WRC Promoter. I can confirm that that we are in talks with the WRC Promoter to organize a WRC round in Estonia in 2020. We have submitted applications to several institutions and the answers to them should arrive in the following days. After that we can continue our discussions with FIA and WRC Promoter. Our goal is to present Estonia and Estonian autosport in the best possible light and in front of a maximum worldwide audience. It is important to all the parties involved to work together in order to get best value from such a major event. The Rally Estonia team and Estonian autosport in general are very glad and flattered about this opportunity. Our common goal is to host a great event which globally promotes Estonia and provides a positive economic impact.”

Janis Kaal, Chairman of the board of Estonian Autosport Union: “We are in a good situation where in addition to the reigning World Champions we also have local competence to organize top class sport events. Urmo Aava and his team have proved during the years that they are capable of organizing an event at the WRC level. Also, we are thankful that the Estonian government has been a great supporter. To organize an event at this level without the funding from government is impossible.”

The coronavirus pandemic has forced our sport to take a break. It has given us an opportunity to have discussions about the future of the autosport. Together we have reached an understanding how to strengthen cooperation and support the development of autosport. This helps us to bring the next World Championship titles and World Championship rounds to Estonia and not only in rally.
20-06-16 ERC Rally Liepaja considered for 2020 Season
WRC Promoter and the organisers of Rally Liepaja - RA Events - have begun talks about a possible inclusion of Rally Liepaja, a round of the FIA European Rally Championship, in the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship season.

The FIA World Rally Championship 2020 season has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic that has led to the necessary cancelation of five rallies and further postponement of another two. Last week FIA WRC Managing Director Oliver Ciesla confirmed that the WRC is in search of a unique solution for this season by possibly including rallies that have proved themselves in the international arena. Amongst those is Rally Liepaja. Since it was first run in 2013 Rally Liepaja has been highly regarded by the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) promoter Eurosport Events, FIA and competitors. It is scheduled to host the second event of the 2020 FIA ERC season from August 14-16.
"RA Events and WRC Promoter held the first round of talks on Monday, where we discussed multiple organisational aspects, terms and conditions, and many other topics that need to be covered for Latvia to host a FIA World Rally Championship round alongside a round of the FIA ERC. I want to emphasize that this is just a first round of talks and neither of the parties are close to the final decisions on this matter," said RA Events director, Raimonds Strokšs.

"This will be a very challenging task as there is less than two months until the set event date. We will invite our partners - the Government of Latvia, our rally cities Liepaja and Talsi - to a discussion, in order to evaluate all the organisational workload, financial conditions and other aspects of the proposal. Only by working together and at a very rapid pace, can we find a solution to host a FIA WRC round in Latvia alongside the FIA ERC," concluded Strokšs.

Should agreement be reached to host a FIA WRC round in Latvia, discussions will then be concluded with Eurosport Events as to how a combined event would be managed in the best interests of the ERC and its drivers and teams, many of whom have competed on Rally Liepaja from the outset. Eurosport Events is a founding partner of Rally Liepaja and a key component of the event's ongoing success and the terms of its agreement will be honoured at all times.

Regardless of the result of above discussions, and as it has been previously stated, Rally Liepaja will retain its place in the 2020 FIA European Rally Championship. Running of the event is scheduled for August 14-16, 2020.

20-06-02 eSports WRC series reveals Toyota GR Yaris as top prize
eSports WRC series reveals Toyota GR Yaris as top prize
· 2020 eSports WRC champion to land all-new Toyota GR Yaris*
· Toyota Gazoo Racing becomes eSports WRC Championship presenting sponsor
· WRC manufacturer seals multi-year agreement to back tournament
· Assets to support this release can be downloaded for editorial use from https://bit.ly/2XQtfJG

This season’s eSports WRC champion will drive away with a recently unveiled Toyota GR Yaris* road car in a multi-year agreement with Toyota Gazoo Racing to become the series’ title partner.

The eSports WRC Championship presented by Toyota Gazoo Racing is now in its fifth season with the battle for places in the grand final at a crucial point after seven of the 11 qualifying rounds.

Thousands of gamers are challenging for the Toyota GR Yaris prize on WRC 8, the official game of the FIA World Rally Championship. The tournament features many iconic special stages used in the real-life WRC from classic rallies including Monte-Carlo, Argentina and Finland.

The co-operation between WRC 8 publisher Nacon and Toyota Gazoo Racing celebrates the recent unveiling of the GR Yaris, an exciting new road car incorporating technology developed from the Japanese manufacturer’s successful WRC participation.

Featuring all-wheel drive and a punchy 1.6-litre, three-cylinder turbo engine which delivers 261DIN hp and 360Nm of torque, the lightweight GR Yaris will be a fitting prize for the eSports WRC champion.

After returning to the WRC in 2017 after a 17-year absence, Toyota Gazoo Racing won the manufacturers’ world title the following season with its Yaris World Rally Car. It then lifted the drivers’ crown last year.

WRC 8 is published by Nacon and development studio KT Racing under licence from WRC Promoter, which owns the commercial rights to the FIA World Rally Championship.

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla highlighted the recent growth in eSports competition, particularly fuelled by the current enforced pause in global motorsport.

“Since physical events have been affected by recent circumstances, eSports is, now more than ever, a way for our fans to experience the thrill of motorsports competition even more intensely,” he said.

“The eSports WRC Championship has grown in stature over the last five years to become one of motorsport’s leading virtual competitions. We’re pleased to welcome the enthusiastic participation of Toyota Gazoo Racing, a WRC manufacturer team, to the tournament.”

The agreement between Nacon and Toyota Gazoo Racing will extend into further promotions spanning both WRC 8 and WRC 9, the latest instalment of the highly successful game to be released in September.

“We’re very proud of the progress we’ve made since the creation of eSports WRC, which has become inseparable from the development and work performed all year long on the WRC video games,” said Benoît Clerc, Nacon’s head of publishing.

“It has now become an unmissable event for every fan of off-road racing games. Thanks to the support of Toyota, the 2020 year will benefit from significant reinforcement, and we’re very impatient to continue collectively expanding WRC eSports.”

Andrea Carlucci, director of product and marketing management of Toyota Motor Europe, said: “We’re pleased to partner with eSports WRC to bring the excitement of rallying to more fans around the world.

“As one of the pillars of Toyota Gazoo Racing, e-motorsports is key for us to make motorsport and sports cars more accessible to more people and to foster a new generation of car lovers everywhere.

“With the growing interest in eSports, and our increasing sports car offering, we’re looking forward to working closely with our partners to bring our brand value and exciting products closer to consumers and fans,” he added.

Lebanese competitor Sami-Joe currently leads the 2020 eSports WRC Championship presented by Toyota Gazoo Racing. He claimed his second win of the year at Rally Portugal, moving a point ahead of 2017 and 2019 champion Lohan ‘Nexl’ Blanc with four rounds remaining.

Both could qualify for the grand final with victory at Italy’s Rally Sardinia next month.

WRC 8 is available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
20-05-20 WRC faces Moto GP on virtual Portuguese rally battleground
· WRC’s rising stars challenge home heroes in Portugal sim shootout
· MotoGP rider joins rally line-up for knockout eSports contest
· Three nights of furious WRC 8 competition streamed live for fans

Three of Portugal’s leading motorsport stars will compete for national pride against the FIA World Rally Championship’s young hotshots on the country’s virtual rally roads this weekend.

This week’s WRC fixture in Portugal was called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but fans can enjoy three nights of #RaceAtHome head-to-head sim action in the Vodafone Rally de Portugal eSports WRC Shootout (22 - 24 May). The tournament will be streamed live on Facebook.

Portugal’s home heroes are former national rally champion and WRC support series regular Bernardo Sousa and double national champion José Pedro Fontes. They will be joined by MotoGP World Championship rider Miguel Oliveira, runner-up in the 2018 Moto2 series.

The WRC challenge will be headed by WRC 2 high-flier Rhys Yates. The young Briton made a remarkable virtual driving competition debut to win last month’s eSports WRC Shootout on Rally Argentina’s roads – with a learner driver plate fixed to the back of his gaming rig.

He celebrated with a ‘shoey’ – downing a celebratory drink of tea from his shoe before ripping up the learner plate!

Bolivian WRC 3 driver Marco Bulacia, who lost to Yates in the final, returns in a bid to exact revenge. They will be joined by Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet, who lifted the WRC 2 world title in 2019.

The eight-strong field is completed by driver / co-driver partnership Sean Johnston and Alex Kihurani from the United States.

The shootout will use WRC 8, the official video game of the WRC and all competitors will drive Rally 2 category cars. Fontes, Bulacia, Johnston and Kihurani will be at the wheel of Citroën C3s, Oliveira and Loubet will pilot Hyundai i20s and Sousa and Yates will drive Fiestas.

The eight drivers will be pitted against each other on their simulators in a series of knockout special stages.

Friday night’s quarter-finals will take place on the iconic Fafe test, which climaxes with the famous big-air jump close to the finish.

The fastest driver from each pairing advances to Saturday’s semi-finals in the Amarante stage. Sunday’s title decider will be fought out over two tests. The Viana stage will precede a second pass through Fafe.

Fans can watch the tournament live on Facebook at 21.00 CET each night. The English language version is available on the WRC page at facebook.com/WRC with the Portuguese version streamed at facebook.com/rallydeportugal.

Alongside the shootout, the seventh round of the hugely popular eSports WRC Championship will also take place this weekend on Portugal’s roads. Scheduled on 21 - 24 May, it is open to all players of the WRC 8 game.

Automóvel Club de Portugal president Carlos Barbosa said: “Unfortunately, this global health emergency brought by Covid-19 prevented us from hosting Vodafone Rally de Portugal this week.

“But there’s nothing preventing us from hosting a virtual rally, precisely during the week Vodafone Rally de Portugal should take place. So that’s what we’ve decided to do with professional drivers, at the same time as the Portuguese round of the eSports WRC Championship, aimed at all WRC 8 players. May the best drivers win!”
20-05-05 Carlos Sainz crowned The Greatest WRC Driver
· Double world champion Sainz voted the greatest by WRC fans
· Spanish hero wins knockout poll featuring 20 WRC stars
· Sainz beats nine-time champion Sébastien Loeb in close final
· Over 300,000 votes cast on WRC website during month-long contest
· News assets available at https://bulldrive.redbull.com/fl/xUNFPinFF6

Carlos Sainz has been crowned The Greatest WRC Driver of all time in a poll of fans and expert journalists on the FIA World Rally Championship’s official website.

The double world champion, from Spain, defeated Sébastien Loeb in the head-to-head final. Sainz claimed 57.28 per cent of the vote in a close climax to the contest.

The competition on wrc.com captured the imagination of rally fans across the globe with more than 80,000 votes cast in the final. More than 300,000 votes were polled during the month-long tournament, organised by WRC Promoter and supported by Pirelli.

“I cannot be more happy and more proud about this recognition,” 58-year-old Sainz told fans. “Thank you very much for bringing me first to the final and, of course, secondly for allowing to me to win this recognition against Sébastien Loeb.

“I don’t need to tell you how much I rate Sébastien Loeb and how much he deserves to be the greatest. But I have to say not only him, all the world champions merit this recognition. But somebody has to win and, in this case, it has been myself.

“I gave everything to rallying. Rallying has been my life, rallying has been my dream and today rallying and the whole family of rallying is giving me a big smile and this big recognition,” he added.

Sainz, nicknamed El Matador, won the drivers’ world title in 1990 and 1992 with Toyota and scored 26 WRC wins from 196 career starts. He was one of the WRC’s most consistent performers and also finished second or third in the championship on a remarkable nine occasions.

He stood on the podium in almost half the rallies he started and was renowned for his attention to detail and pre-event preparation.

All 18 champions since the introduction of the WRC drivers’ title in 1979 were joined in the competition by two wildcard entries.

A tournament-style knockout draw brought drivers into head-to-head battles against each other. Every day, fans and a panel of expert journalists voted for their favourite from each pairing.

Sixth seed Sainz defeated Hannu Mikkola in the opening round of the competition before toppling third-ranked Tommi Mäkinen. He then beat six-time champion Sébastien Ogier, seeded second, in the semi-final.

Loeb, nine-time world champion and top seed, eclipsed Richard Burns and Walter Röhrl in the early rounds. He then ousted Flying Finn Juha Kankkunen in the semi-final.

The panel of six expert journalists could not split the two drivers in the final as each gained three votes. It meant the ultimate decision rested with the fans and Sainz’s incredible popularity carried him to victory.

The panel of journalists comprised Julian Porter (WRC commentator and broadcaster), Marco Giordo (Autosprint magazine, Italy), Reiner Kuhn (Motorsport aktuell, Germany), David Evans (DirtFish, USA), Loic Rocci (AUTOhebdo, France) and José-Manuel González (WRC+ All Live commentator, Spain).

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla was bowled over by the huge response to the competition.
“Firstly, my congratulations to Carlos for adding the title of The Greatest WRC Driver to his numerous achievements,” he said.

“He was already a WRC legend thanks to his incredible driving skills in the most brutally tough and unforgiving terrain on the planet. This accolade confirms the esteem in which he is held by both fans and pundits. He is known as King Carlos – now he is officially the King of the WRC!

“Sébastien is statistically the most successful driver in WRC history. But we wanted fans to think beyond the numbers in choosing their greatest.

“The popularity of this competition far exceeded our hopes. We wanted it to provide some fun for our fans when there is no WRC action, but its popularity grew and grew across the media. To receive more than 300,000 votes is remarkable – a big thanks to everyone who took part,” added Ciesla.
20-04-27 Yates wins eSports WRC Shootout on sim driving debut
British driver Rhys Yates triumphs in eSports WRC contest
· Competition viewed by almost 700,000 fans
· WRC’s rising talent showcased in WRC Shootout
· Three nights of furious competition streamed live for fans
Rhys Yates made a remarkable virtual driving debut to win the FIA World Rally Championship’s eSports WRC Shootout.

The young Briton ripped up the learner driver plate fixed to the back of his virtual driving rig after defeating Bolivian teenager Marco Bulacia in a tense head-to-head final in his first #RaceAtHome eSports tournament.

Organiser WRC Promoter turned the spotlight on the sport’s stars of the future during three nights of intense action streamed via the WRC’s social media channels. Nearly 700,000 fans viewed the tournament across the championship’s platforms.

Yates, more usually seen at the wheel of M-Sport Ford’s Fiesta R5 in the WRC 2 support series, overcame 10 other young chargers on WRC 8, the championship’s official video game.

After successfully negotiating the qualifying round, Yates ousted M-Sport Ford team-mate Adrien Fourmaux in the quarter-finals. In the semi-final he defeated Romania’s Raul Badiu, who previously won the Junior WRC eSports warm-up event.

The final was fought out over two classic gravel speed tests from Rally Argentina. The real-life South American event was due to take place last weekend before being postponed due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Yates was fastest through Cuchilla Nevada by more than seven seconds after Bulacia spun off the road. He extended his advantage by a further two seconds with a measured drive through El Condór, while Bulacia’s hopes ended when he rolled his Citroën C3.

Yates prepared for the tournament by acquiring a sim-rig, complete with seat, wheel, pedals and a handbrake in an attempt to match the set-up of his competitors. But the new kit wasn’t an immediate hit.

“I couldn’t get used to it,” he said. “In the end I went back to the hand controller for the qualifying rounds. When I got through that and I knew I was into the more serious competition, then I set aside time each day to get on the sim and go through the stages.

“Waiting on the start line in the final I was really nervous. We were going head-to-head, so I’d changed my approach from going absolutely flat out to make my best possible time and now I was more focused on getting to the finish with no mistakes. There was one shot.

“Winning is what it’s all about for me, so to have won the eSports WRC Shootout is great. There were some big names in there from the world of rallying and to have won and been quicker than all of them is something I’m happy with,” added Yates, who celebrated with a victory drink of tea from his shoe!

Bulacia, who shares the lead in the real-life WRC 3 category after winning in Mexico last month, overcame Oliver Solberg in the semi-finals.

“It was a great competition and a whole lot of fun too. I think the people here in Bolivia were happier yesterday when I beat Oliver to reach the final than after my WRC 3 victory at Rally Guanajauato Mexico!” he joked.

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said the eSports WRC Shootout provided great entertainment for fans and competitors alike.

“The tournament generated some exceptional competition, with a gripping final. To achieve nearly 700,000 views on the WRC’s social media channels was remarkable, and well above our expectations.

“These are trying times for everybody and to be able to bring together some of rallying’s brightest rising stars from around the world was a great achievement.

“Congratulations to Rhys. We’ve seen his speed already this season and now we’ve had this confirmed in virtual time too. He was super-quick throughout the competition and is a worthy winner,” he added.

Video footage of the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final is available to view at https://www.wrc.com/en/archive/videos/.
20-04-20 More than 11,000 gamers join Solbergs at HTB Racing Rally Monte Carlo
Solbergs stunned as 11,405 (and counting) join Solberg World Cup in association with DirtFish
Lukáš Matêja takes opening round HTB Racing Rally Monte Carlo
Codemasters delighted with biggest ever gaming community

It was a classic Monte. In the words of a Solberg, it was a proper one. The conditions were that nightmare mix of snow, ice, melting ice and dry asphalt – more often than not – all in one stage.

But they came to have a go at the opening round of the Solberg World Cup in association with DirtFish.

And they came in their masses to enjoy this DiRT Rally 2.0-based event. By the end of the 12-stage HTB Racing Rally Monte Carlo, an unbelievable 11,405 gamers had signed up to challenge Oliver Solberg and his father Petter – the 2003 World Rally Champion competing in a virtual rally for the first time.

Oliver completed the event 15th overall – the same position he climbed to driving his Volkswagen Polo R5 on the real Rally Monte-Carlo in January – and was pleased with his times through the event.

“It was tricky,” he said. “Monte is never easy and this is where this thing is so realistic! The ice and snow coming in places like the Col de Turini really made you focus so hard on the tyre choices and how hard you wanted to push.

“On the game, we have the damage turned really high, so if you clip a rock or something then you are going to get a puncture or some suspension damage. It’s incredible when you are in the middle of the stage, you completely lose yourself in this game. I came to the end and my concentration was so hard, it was amazing.

“But, more than the competition, the number of people who have joined us in this Solberg World Cup in association with DirtFish. Did you see, more than 11,000 – that’s just incredible. It’s crazy! Thank you.”

Petter testified to the realistic damage simulation, getting a puncture early in the HTB Racing Rally Monte Carlo. He recovered to finish a fine 143rd.

“I’m pretty happy with that,” he said. “It was not easy. Like Oliver said, you get so focused in there. I didn’t have so much experience of driving rally cars like this, so that result is good for me. The pace is so, so high. These guys are completely on the limit everywhere, but I know from experience that the mountains can bite you!

“Like Oliver said, we have to say a big thank you to all of the people who have joined us. When we started talking about doing this, we hoped we would get a few hundred people to take part, maybe even a thousand. But now, 11,000 for the championship, that’s fantastic!”

Lukáš Matêja won the HTB Racing Rally Monte Carlo opener, finishing 11.081s ahead of everybody in his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.

The Solberg World Cup in association with DirtFish moves on to Circle K Norge Rally Värmland for round two, where the winter conditions continue on some of the finest, fastest flowing Swedish roads around.

Circle K Norge Rally Värmland is open for competition between the 11,405 gamers from today (Monday April 20).

Codemasters, the firm behind DiRT Rally 2.0, is delighted with the numbers joining the Solberg family’s gaming community in the game.

Codemasters Game Director Ross Gowing said: “We have been overwhelmed with the response from players who wish to compete in the Solberg World Cup while the sporting calendar takes a backseat. We have a proud history working with Oliver and Petter, and for them to create and deliver our most competitive and active DiRT Rally 2.0 competition is testament to the respect they hold within the world of rally."

Follow the latest Solberg World Cup in association with DirtFish updates on Oliver’s social media channels: @oliversolberg01.
20-04-17 Oliver back to WRC action for #RaceAtHome
Oliver Solberg will take on the world’s finest and fastest emerging rally talents when he tackles the FIA World Rally Championship’s eSports WRC Shootout (#RaceAtHome) Rally Argentina next week.

Prior to the arrival of COVID-19, 18-year-old Oliver would have been making the final preparations for his first trip to compete in South America at Rally Argentina proper, initially scheduled to start from Villa Carlos Paz, west of Buenos Aires, next week.

The global pandemic has, however, spiked global motorsport plans and left Oliver and co. turning to the virtual world via the WRC 8 game.

“The competition will be a cool one,” said Oliver. “The roads and the stages in the game are really technical – just like the ones in real life! It’s going to be a close race, that’s for sure.

“When you are in the simulator practising you can just push the ‘reset’ button when you slide wide or make a spin or something. But in these competitions, if you make a mistake then you are finished – the pressure is really something like what we have in the real life.

The stages chosen for the event are El Condor, Parque Tematico and Cuchilla Nevada, all classics from one of the WRC’s most iconic rallies on the calendar.

The qualifying rounds for #RaceAtHome eSports WRC Shootout start on Monday with the main competition coming in the quarter-finals, screened live on the WRC’s Facebook channel at 2100 CET on Tuesday April 21.

The semi-finals run in the same place at 2100 CET on Wednesday April 22, with the final on Thursday April 23, same time and same place.

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla is looking forward to watching the rivalry between the series’ future champions.

Ciesla said: “While the WRC is paused as the coronavirus outbreak continues, we’ve turned the spotlight on the championship’s stars of the future for the eSports WRC Shootout.

“Of course, our drivers are missing real-life competition, we all are. But I’ve no doubt their competitive spirits and adrenaline will surge as much as ever behind the WRC 8 wheel on Rally Argentina’s tricky stages.

“Virtual driving is a fast-growing part of motorsport and this shootout sits alongside our popular eSports WRC Championship, which continues through the WRC hiatus. I hope our fans will enjoy watching the Shootout from home before competing themselves in our eSports Championship.”

The gaming simulator is pretty busy in the Solberg household right now, with Oliver and his father, 2003 World Rally Champion Petter, competing against over 9000 other racers in their own Solberg World Cup.
20-04-17 WRC’s young stars primed for battle in eSports tournament
· WRC’s rising talent headlines eSports WRC Shootout
· Three nights of furious competition streamed live for fans
· Entry list topped by Loubet, Solberg and Veiby
Eleven of the FIA World Rally Championship’s eager young chargers will fight for virtual rally glory when they face off in WRC Promoter’s eSports WRC Shootout next week (21 - 23 April).

The future stars from the championship’s talent-packed support series will #RaceAtHome in the three-night speedfest on WRC 8, the official video game of the WRC.

Competitors from WRC 2, WRC 3 and the FIA Junior WRC will be pitted against each other on a selection of demanding gravel special stages from Rally Argentina. The real-life South American event was due to take place next week before being postponed due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The cast is headlined by 2019 WRC 2 Pro champion Pierre-Louis Loubet, and current season WRC 2 manufacturer team drivers Adrien Fourmaux, Ole Christian Veiby and Rhys Yates.

Also invited to compete are WRC 3 joint leader Marco Bulacia, fellow teenage star Oliver Solberg and Junior WRC challenger Raul Badiu.

The 11 drivers firstly face a qualifying round. The fastest eight go forward to the quarter-final head-to-head shootout in the classic El Condór stage. The four duels will be streamed on the WRC Facebook page at 21.00 CET on Tuesday (April 21).

The winners move into the semi-finals, to be decided on the famous Parque Tematico theme park stage on the edge of Villa Carlos Paz and streamed at 21.00 CET on Wednesday (April 22).

The final will be fought out over two stages, returning to El Condór and also featuring Cuchilla Nevada. It is scheduled for the same time on Thursday (April 23).

The eSports WRC Shootout follows last weekend’s successful Junior WRC trial event, which attracted tens of thousands of fans from across the world who followed the exciting action on Facebook.

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said the eSports WRC Shootout was a great way to entertain fans and keep competitors in trim.

“While the WRC is paused as the Coronavirus outbreak continues, we’ve turned the spotlight on the championship’s stars of the future for the eSports WRC Shootout,” he explained.

“Of course, our drivers are missing real-life competition, we all are. But I’ve no doubt their competitive spirits and adrenaline will surge as much as ever behind the WRC 8 wheel on Rally Argentina’s tricky stages.

“Virtual driving is a fast-growing part of motorsport and this shootout sits alongside our popular eSports WRC Championship, which continues through the WRC hiatus. I hope our fans will enjoy watching the Shootout from home before competing themselves in our eSports Championship.”

The full list of invited entrants for the eSports WRC Shootout is:
Raul Badiu (Romania): Lies fifth in the FIA Junior WRC after the opening round in Sweden. Won last weekend’s Junior WRC eSports trial event.

Marco Bulacia (Bolivia): Joint leader of WRC 3 after winning the category at last month’s Rally Guanajuato Mexico.

Elia de Guio (Italy): The only co-driver in the event and partner to Junior WRC challenger Enrico Oldrati. Second in the Junior WRC eSports trial.

Adrien Fourmaux (France): Touted as a future WRC star after winning France’s renowned Rallye Jeunes talent-spotting scheme. Drives for M-Sport Ford in WRC 2.

Pierre-Louis Loubet (France): Won WRC 2 Pro in 2019 and will step up to the headline World Rally Car category when the WRC resumes.

Catie Munnings (Great Britain): Former children’s TV presenter and ex-European ladies rally champion. Now competing in the Junior WRC.

Roland Poom (Estonia): Twice a Junior WRC podium finisher in 2019 and stepped up to WRC 3 in 2020.

Yohan Rossel (France): French asphalt champion who competes in WRC 3 with support from Citroën Racing.

Oliver Solberg (Sweden): Teenager competing in WRC 3 after becoming the youngest rally winner in European Championship history in 2019.

Ole Christian Veiby (Norway): Represents Hyundai Motorsport N in WRC 2 and boasts plenty of experience in the WRC’s support categories.

Rhys Yates (Great Britain): Switched from two wheels to four and lifted the English Championship in 2015. Drives for M-Sport Ford in WRC 2.

The fifth round of the hugely popular eSports WRC Championship will also take place next week on Argentina’s speed tests. Scheduled on 23 - 26 April, this event is open to all players of the WRC 8 game.

20-03-28 Solbergs stunned by overwhelming response to race one
The Solberg RACE proves a huge hit with 4,500 gamers joining
Late puncture costs Oliver Solberg a top-10 position in Rally Argentina
Australian racer Jarod Konig takes a six-second win after 12 DiRT Rally 2.0 stages
More The Solberg RACE news to come early next week

When 18-year-old Oliver Solberg first thought about running his own event on DiRT Rally 2.0, he dreamed of a thousand gamers joining him in Argentina.

In the end, more than four times than number came in an overwhelming show of support for the project. And the pace? The pace was incredible, with Australian Jarod Konig taking victory by 6.081s from Frenchman Jonathan Schaeffer. Predictably for the rally hotbed that is Finland, Jyväskylä wasn’t forgotten with Flying virtual Finn Marko Räisänen (resident of Neste Rally Finland’s hometown) taking third place.

The top three will all take away prizes including signed Oliver Solberg gloves and one of Petter’s exclusive TW Steel watches. In addition to the podium places, the Solbergs are also randomly selecting 10 further competitors to send prizes to.
“This has been crazy popular,” said Solberg. “When I started to plan this I was thinking: “It would be really cool if we could get close to 1000 people doing it. But you know 1,000 people is a lot.

“In the end we had nearly 4,500 people competing and that’s really a lot of people! I want to say a massive thanks to everybody for having a go and making this a great event.”

Solberg finished 18th after a late puncture dropped him out of the top 10.
“The competition was so close,” he said. “Those guys at the top were just amazing. Their speed was something else and I have to take off my hat to them. I have to work on this. I know what I am doing to try to make [stage] records, but I don’t know where they find this speed. I was very impressed, but now I need more recce time!”

Solberg is already considering another event – with more details coming next week.
“Why not do this again,” he said. “The reason we are doing this is to take people’s minds from what’s going on - to give them a distraction and something to be happy about. For that week, I think we did that and, if we can do it again, why not?

“But if we do another one, then I need to make a better recce. I need to find some more speed!”
20-03-24 Finnish WRC driver talks Ogier, Rovanperä and his life in motorsports
Esapekka Lappi will not forget the recent Rally Mexico in a hurry after the driver was forced to retire when the Ford he was driving unexpectedly caught fire.

The 29-year-old from Pieksämäki and co-driver Janne Ferm escaped the blaze unhurt but had to withdraw from the race.
Here is what the M-Sport Ford WRT driver had to say now he is back home in Finland:
Now you have had time to reflect on the car burning up in Mexico, how do you feel?

The feeling after the race hasn't really changed. It was a bit of a panic anyway. After seeing it afterwards, for sure you can be wiser always after the accident and maybe it would have been wiser to move the car slightly away from the people and stop quite quickly. Stop pumping the oil out of it. It is easy to say afterwards. Janne is fine. No drama. We were unhurt. It is serious, but I am not in shock.

How did the other drivers feel after Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja's huge crash in Monte Carlo?

We always know that the risk is present every time you jump in the car. We need to understand that if they crash in sixth gear and, let's say, stop immediately then that is going to hurt badly. The car kept continuing all the time, though, which is not normally that bad. If you start to be scared about that, then you will stop your career. The speed is getting higher, but thankfully also the safety is getting better.

Now you have spent a decade in rallying, what has changed most about the sport?

What I didn't like about circuit racing is that when you are competing against each other all the time, another driver can ruin your race very easily. It is not happening in rally and it is what I really like. It is mainly you, the co-driver, the clock and the car. It is only about you. On circuits, when you put a lot of money in and somebody ruins your race in the final race then all your money goes. It is not a nice feeling. I really like the feeling and the atmosphere in the rally paddocks and the service parks. On circuit racing, the drivers are fighting and the parents are fighting. In rallying, it is more friendly!
20-03-22 Solberg WRC RALLY. I've got my racing boots on. Have you?
Hello everybody!
These are difficult times for us all and I want you to know that me and my family are wishing you and your families lots of good wishes. We will get through this!

I know our routines are very different at the moment; many of us are at home and have some time to fill. We want to help you as much as we can and we have an idea..

That's why on Monday (March 23) we are kicking off the The Solberg RACE. We invite all of our media friends, amazing sponsors and incredible fans from across the globe to compete against each other in our very own Argentina Rally on DiRT RALLY 2.0. Full details on how to take part will be revealed on Monday on my social media (@oliversolberg01) and also my father's (@PetterSolbergWRX, @Petter_Solberg, @petterwrc03), After joining you have one week to have one go at the event.

You are only able to compete once on every stage and register one result between Monday and Friday (that doesn't mean you can't make a really long recce, just like the good old days, the good old, old days - even before papa was driving ??).

Argentina is one of the events I was really looking forward to and felt so sad that it has been postponed. So I thought, why don't we just carry on? Why don't we all go to Argentina. Virtually.

This is a really tough time for us all, but we're here and our love of this fantastic sport didn't change. If something good can come from this time, it's the chance for us to bring the media as well as all our fantastic partners and fans even closer to us (you know what I mean!).

So, for now, maybe the time has come to forget the virus for a moment and focus on your set-up for Argentina. It's going to have to be a good one to beat me, my mum and my dad.

My dad would like to talk to you as well, but he's actually already in his recce!

This is the first time we have ever tried to do something like this and you, our friends in the media are such an important part of my new journey – and this new and a little bit unexpected adventure. If you can help to promote this that would be fantastic. We will keep you informed with lots of details about how the rally is going.

#JoinUs
#TheSolbergRACE
20-03-20 Rally Argentina flyttas fram
Rally Argentina flyttas fram pga coronaviruset och landet har stängt sina gränser.

Planeringen för Rally Portugal, Rally Italien och Rally Kenya fortgår.
20-03-18 Dennis Rådström gör ERC3 Junior satsning i nya Ford Fiesta Rally4
Rallyföraren Dennis Rådström från Torsby och hans kartläsare Johan Johansson, Valdemarsvik, kommer i år att satsa på ERC3 Junior-klassen i Rally-EM där de kommer köra den nya M-Sport Polen-byggda Ford Fiesta Rally4 i sin jakt på EM-titeln tillsammans med teamet ORSAK Rally Sport.

Den nyligen lanserade EcoBoost-drivna Ford Fiesta Rally4, är en utveckling av den enormt framgångsrika Fiesta R2 2019 som, liksom den nya Fiesta Rally4, byggdes och utvecklades på M-Sport Polens moderna anläggning i Krakow, Polen.

Rådström kommer att attackera några av de mest ikoniska sträckorna i Europa med ett av de mest ikoniska märkena inom rally. Rådström och den nya Rally4 Fiestan har en tuff utmaning framför sig: Fiesta R2 2019 stod för enormt starka prestationer under ERC3 Junior 2019, med fyra segrar på fem tävlingar.

Den nya Fiesta Rally4 för 2020 är förbättrad på i stort sett alla plan för att leverera mer kraft och vridmoment att driva de förstärkta drivaxlarna med genom uppdaterade och förbättrade utväxlingar. Hjulupphängningen har också uppdaterats för att förbättra Rally4:s väghållning, som har förbättrats ytterligare tack vare en minskning i vikt genom ett lättare avgassystem. För att komplettera detta har Fiesta Rally4 ett aggressivt nytt utseende tack vare tillägg av air vents på motorhuven som också fungerar som ett extra kylhjälpmedel.

Dennis Rådström har tre års erfarenhet från Junior WRC med ett starkt CV i en mycket konkurrenskraftig serie, med 58 sträcksegrar, sju pallplatser och två segrar. I sin debutsäsong i FIA Junior WRC 2017 slutade han aldrig utanför topp-fem, och tog sträcksegrar på fyra av de fem rallyna han körde. 2018 sågs den unga svensken leverera mer imponerande prestationer, inklusive att ta sin debutseger i Junior WRC i Rally Sweden - hans hemmatävling. Han utmanade om mästerskapet igen 2019. Där slutade Rådström på tredje plats i mästerskapet, med två pallplatser och mesta sträcksegrar av alla förare i mästerskapet - med 34 snabbaste tider.

Dennis Rådström sa: ”Jag hade turen att ha varit med i utvecklingen av Fiesta Rally4 under vintern och jag är verkligen imponerad av vad M-Sport Polen har uppnått. R2 2019 var redan ett extremt konkurrenskraftigt paket men Rally4-uppdateringen passar mig verkligen, den extra kraften ger den en ny nivå så att du kan attackera hårdare. Jag har alltid gillat ERC-kalendern, så jag ser verkligen fram emot de exotiska tävlingarna som ERC har att erbjuda, varje rally är speciellt på sitt sätt. Målet för mig i år är, som alltid, att vara så snabb som möjligt och pusha mig till gränsen - det är så jag ser på rally. Vi har tre års erfarenhet av Junior WRC, vilket har varit en riktigt bra skola och jag kommer att använda den kunskapen i ett försök att vinna ERC3 Junior-mästerskapet. Tvåhjulsdrivna klassen har alltid varit väldigt tuff i ERC, vilket är något jag verkligen ser fram mot, jag har inte sett alla konkurrenter i ERC än men jag är säker på att det kommer att vara tight som alltid och jag är redo för utmaningen."

Maciek Woda, styrelseledamot, M-Sport Polen, sa: ”Ford Fiesta Rally4 har uppdaterats för att erbjuda förare ännu bättre förutsättningar för att kunna ta sig an konkurrensen. Dennis är en förare som har visat sin förmåga att konsekvent köra en bil på dess gräns för att nå toppen. Vi alla på M-Sport Polen ser verkligen fram emot att se vad Dennis och Johan kommer att göra i European Rally Championship. Vi har arbetat med Dennis i över tre år nu och har sett honom utvecklas till en extremt konkurrenskraftig förare i FIA Junior WRC Championship, där han var en utmanare till mästerskapet vid två tillfällen. Jag är övertygad om att med den nya Ford Fiesta Rally4 kommer Dennis att vara utrustad med den bästa utrustningen för att köra för ERC3 Junior-segrar och mästerskapet.”
20-03-15 Ogier secures sixth Rally Mexico victory as event ends day early
Frenchman eight points ahead of Evans in title race as Argentina postponed. Sébastien Ogier scored a record-equalling sixth Rally Guanajuato Mexico victory on Saturday night after the event was brought to an early conclusion.

The rally ended a day early in the face of fast-changing travel restrictions connected with the global COVID-19 virus outbreak.

After snatching the lead on Friday morning, the Frenchman kept his Toyota Yaris on the road in sizzling hot conditions. As many of his rivals hit trouble, Ogier was level-headed and ended with a 27.8sec advantage over Hyundai i20 driver Ott Tänak.

In doing so, he claimed his first victory for the Toyota Gazoo Racing team and equalled the six victories achieved by fellow countryman and nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb.

"A victory is a victory of course, but this one feels different from any other. I want to thank my team, they have done a fantastic job," Ogier said after moving to the top of the FIA World Rally Championship standings after three rounds.

Tänak was left to rue what could have been. Had it not been for rear suspension damage when he hit a wall on Friday morning, he could have been in with a shot of the win.

After losing 40sec, the Estonian delivered an impressive comeback drive to leapfrog Teemu Suninen on Saturday afternoon for a gutsy second place.

Suninen was 10.1sec further back, picking up valuable championship points after a difficult weekend for the M-Sport Ford team. His team-mate Esapekka Lappi retired in dramatic fashion when his Fiesta became engulfed in flames on Friday.

"Actually, it's more than I hoped for at this rally. We were able to have a consistent pace and stayed away from problems. At the end, we lost one brake which basically stopped the fight. Even without those issues, I don't think I would have beaten Ott," he said.

Elfyn Evans was fourth, 35.5sec adrift of the podium finishers in another Yaris. The championship leader ahead of the rally was unable to match the pace of the leaders as he struggled with road cleaning duties on Friday.

He ended 1min07.1sec ahead of team-mate Kalle Rovanperä, who gained more valuable experience on his gravel debut in a Yaris.

Thierry Neuville had a disappointing weekend. Mechanical gremlins forced him out on Friday, but he returned to action on Saturday and claimed five stage victories in his i20 en route to finishing 16th.

Final positions:
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris 2hr 47min 47.6sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +27.8sec
3. T Suninen / J Lehtinen FIN Ford Fiesta +37.9sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +1min 13.4sec
5. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +2min 20.5sec
6. P Tidemand / P Barth SWE Skoda Fabia +10min 29.3sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 3)
1. S Ogier 62pts
2. E Evans 54
3. T Neuville 42
20-03-15 Efterlängtad seger för Pontus Tidemand i Rally Mexico
På grund av det rådande krisläget i världen avslutades Rally Mexico på lördagskvällen istället för på söndagen för att ge team och de som jobbar med mästerskapet en chans att ta sig hem innan gränser och flygplatser stängs ner.

Värmländske rallyesset Pontus Tidemand gillar Mexiko - på tre starter i det mexikanska VM-rallyt har han nu tagit lika många vinster. Han visade sig fullkomligen oslagbar under de tre tävlingsdagarna och kunde tillslut säkra segern i WRC 2 tillsammans med teamet Toksport WRT efter en strålande uppvisning på såväl grusvägar som smala stadsgator.
- Det här var exakt hur vi hoppades och kämpade för att helgen skulle sluta. Men inget kommer gratis i Mexiko och det kan svänga snabbt här så vi tog inget för givet även om vinst var målet. Känslan just nu, den har jag verkligen längtat efter, säger en segerglad Pontus.

Redan från Rally Mexicos första meter stod det klart att Pontus och kartläsaren Patrik Barth ville vara med i leken. De kopplade grepp om ledningen i WRC 2-klassen på torsdagens inledande stadssträckor och höll hårt i den.

Under fredagens långa specialsträckor imponerade de stort när de dominerade klassen och utökade ledningen till närmare en minut. Vid fredagens slut hade de varit snabbast på alla då körda sträckor och toppade både WRC 2-klassen och RC2, eller Rally 2, som samlingskategorin för R5-bilarna kallas.
- Allt funkade perfekt för oss från start, berättar Pontus. Det är lite tricky med däckval, omväxlande grepp och mindre kraft i motorerna på hög höjd, men jag gillar utmaningen i att hitta en bra och snabb rytm trots svårigheterna. Teamet gjorde ett grymt jobb och gav oss en fantastisk bil och vi kunde ladda på utan att ta risker som äventyrade chansen till ett bra resultat. Fredagen var en kanondag och vi kunde köra till oss lite luft ner till andraplatsen så vi hade något att ta av ifall oturen skulle vara framme.

Med en god ledning fanns det ingen anledning att vara våghalsig under lördagen, men de tuffa vägarna kunde ändå ha ställt till det för den svenska duon.
- Vi tog det lite försiktigt i början av dagen eftersom vi nog inte gjorde helt rätt däckval. Vi valde hårda, men skulle nog ha kört på mjuka istället. Vi lyckades ändå öka på vårt försprång, men fick en smygpunka som kostade lite tid, säger Pontus.

På eftermiddagen kom beskedet att man beslutat att tävlingen ska avslutas efter lördagens sista sträcka på grund av det globala utbrottet av COVID-19. Många länders gränser och flygplatser stänger och man vill ge tävlade och team en chans att tryggt ta sig hem i tid. På söndagens program stod endast tre sträckor och med mer än 75% av rallyt genomfört, kan fulla VM-poäng ändå delas ut.

Pontus var snabbast på fem av lördagens nio sträckor och kunde säkert kamma hem segern efter kvällens tre avslutande publiksträckor.
- Det har inte varit lätt, men det är det som gör det intressant. Vi försökte hålla balansen mellan ett hyfsat tempo och att ta det säkra före det osäkra och samtidigt undvika stora stenar. Det är oftast när man slår av på farten och slappnar av som misstagen kommer och vi ville verkligen ta den här segern för teamet. Jag är jättetacksam för att vi fick chansen att köra här, helgen kunde inte ha blivit bättre, konstaterar Pontus.

Med detta vinner alltså Pontus WRC 2-klassen och var också totalsnabbast bland R5-bilarna. Totalt i rallyt slutar han på sjätte plats, vilket är hans bästa resultat någonsin.

Resultat WRC 2 Rally Mexico 2020
1. Pontus Tidemand 2:58:16.9
2. Nikolay Gryazin +1:57.7
3. Ole Christian Veiby +5:02.9
20-03-14 Klassisk El Chocolate blev en hård motståndare för Oliver Solberg
El Chocolate - choklad. Alla älskar det, förutom Oliver Solberg. Den 18-åriga rallystjärnan hade ett tufft första möte med det berömda specialsträckan och var tvungen att bryta Rally Mexico redan på fredag.

15 år efter att hans pappa Petter Solberg vann Mexiko-VM kom Oliver för första gången till start i den populära tävlingen. Oliver sökte så mycket erfarenhet som möjligt och en plats på podiet från säsongens första VM-runda utanför Europa, men hoppet släcktes redan på rallyts tredje specialsträckan.

Det som började på det bästa tänkbara sättet, som snabbaste R5-bilen vid shakedown och två sträcksegrar på publikfavoriten Guanajuato, förvandlades plötsligt till en liten mardröm när Oliver och kartläsaren Aaron Johnston skulle bemästra grus, den tunna luften och den krävande terrängen på El Chocolate.

18-åringen var påväg att utöka ledningen i WRC3-klassen och hade positionen som bästa R5-bil innan olyckan var framme.
- En stor sten hade grävts fram och hamnat mitt i spåret av bilarna framför. Jag försökte undvika den, men såg stenen för sent och den slog hårt i skyddsplattan och skadade motorn. Att behöva bryta loppet så tidigt är oerhört ledsamt. Det är också sorgligt för alla runt omkring mig och Aaron som ligger i och jobbar så hårt, sa Oliver Solberg.

Bara timmar tidigare såg allt mycket ljus ut med mycket bra körning framför tusentals åskådare.

Jag har hört många historier om hur otroligt coolt det här rallyt är, och särskilt publiksträckan i Guanajuato, men ändå blev jag väldigt överraskad över den enorma atmosfären och stämningen.

Även med tydliga säkerhetsmarginaler fick 18-åringen den bästa tiden på båda varven på torsdagens sträcka.
- Det var underbart kul. Asfalten var väldigt halkig på vissa ställen, så vi tog det lite lugnare, vilket gav mig tid att kunna njuta av stämningen, sa han.

Efter missödet på fredagen visade det sig att skadorna på motorn var för omfattande för att kunna repareras. Så han var tvungen att kasta in handduken för resten av helgen.
- Jag visste att Rally Mexico skulle vara svårt med värmen, höjden och svårigheterna på sträckorna. Nu fokuserar jag på att åka hem för att arbeta med att utveckla både bilen och mig själv. Mexiko var fantastisk, men levererade inte det resultat vi hade hoppats på, sa Oliver Solberg.

Oliver Solberg i siffror:
Rally starter: 34
Rally segrar: 8
VM-tävlingar startade: 4
VM-debut: Wales Rally GB (2019)
Antal titlar: 9

20-03-14 Ogier tames slippery Friday roads to impress at Rally Mexico
Frenchman opens up lead over rivals as Neuville, Lappi and Sordo suffer. Flying Frenchman Sébastien Ogier edged towards a sixth Rally Guanajuato México victory after building up an encouraging lead in Friday's first full day of competition.

In sizzling hot conditions, the Toyota Yaris man avoided the drama of those around him to end the first full day's competition with a 13.2sec lead over M-Sport Ford pilot Teemu Suninen. Elfyn Evans was third, snatching the position from world champion Ott Tänak in the final speed test.

Ogier grabbed the early lead from Tänak in Friday's opening El Chocolate test and led for the remainder of the day. He capitalised on an uncharacteristic mistake by the Estonian, who nursed his Hyundai i20 to the end of the stage with rear suspension damage.

"I knew that being third on the road would give us a chance to make good time," said Ogier. "I think we have all had challenges today, like slippery roads and a lot of rocks to avoid, so it's never easy to drive here but I enjoyed it. There is a long way to go but at least we have the best road position."

Suninen's strong performance on the tricky gravel roads was overshadowed by the gut-wrenching retirement of team-mate Esapekka Lappi, whose Ford Fiesta became engulfed in flames immediately after the re-run of El Chocolate. Despite the best efforts of fire teams, the car burned out.

"On the stop line, Janne opened the door and said the car is burning. I didn't realise how big the fire was, so I tried to drive. Luckily we are fine, but I don't know what caused it," Lappi explained.

Championship leader Evans ended the leg third in a Yaris. Running first on the road, the Welshman struggled with low grip levels and rounded out the day 33.2sec back from the lead.

Despite dropping over 40sec during the day's opener, Tänak showed determination to climb back up the leaderboard. A daring drive through the Las Minas 2 speed test saw the i20 driver climb four places in one stage. Just 0.2sec separated him and Evans at close of play.

Tänak's return to the sharp end of the timesheets was partly due to the demise of team-mate Thierry Neuville. The Belgian was battling in the top three when his i20 ground to a halt with electrical gremlins. Dani Sordo's similar car also succumbed to technical maladies, making it a day to forget for the Korean manufacturer.

Kalle Rovanperä was fifth after a challenging day. He overcame a slow puncture to lie just 2.3sec further back from Tänak. Gus Greensmith steered clear of trouble to round out the top six in his Fiesta.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris 1hr 23min 09.2sec
2. T Suninen / J Lehtinen FIN Ford Fiesta +13.2sec
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +33.2sec
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +33.4sec
5. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +35.7sec
6. G Greensmith / E Edmondson GBR Ford Fiesta +1min 16.8sec
20-03-14 Tidemand i ledning i Mexiko
Rally Mexico fick en flygande start för Pontus Tidemand. Efter den första långa tävlingsdagen leder han WRC 2-klassen och är snabbast av alla R5-bilarna.

12 av Rally Mexicos 24 sträckor är avklarade och Pontus Tidemand och co-drivern Patrik Barth har briljerat från start. Redan på de inledande publiksträckorna på Guanajuatos gator greppade de WRC 2-ledningen med en tydlig plan för helgen.
- Vi bestämde oss för att köra de första två sträckorna på hårda däck för att spara på de mjuka till resten av helgen. Men vi fick till en bra start, berättar Pontus.

På fredagen gick han från klarhet till klarhet när han fortsatte att vara snabbast i klassen och dessutom dra ifrån och öka tidsglappet bakom sig.
- Vi tappade cirka 30-40 sekunder på morgonens första sträcka när vi kom ikapp Ole Christian (Veiby) som hade problem, men vi gjorde vad vi kunde för att hämta tillbaka så mycket tid vi kunde så snabbt som möjligt, säger Pontus.

De tappade aldrig någon placering utan fortsatte att dra ifrån och när dagen knöts ihop har de inte bara varit snabbast i klassen på samtliga sträckor så här långt i tävlingen, utan är även totalsnabbast bland R5-bilarna.
- Det har varit en riktigt bra dag för oss. Bilen funkar helt perfekt och vi har kört hårt, men på rätt sida om gränsen. Vi har ett försprång på 51 sekunder och det känns bra, men allt kan hända här i Mexiko och rallyt är långt så vi får fortsätta att vara smarta imorgon också, summerar Pontus.

Förutom klassledningen ligger Pontus även så högt som sjua totalt i tävlingen.

Rally Mexico WRC 2 efter 12 av 42 sträckor
1. Pontus Tidemand 1:27:25.9
2. Nikolay Gryazin +51.1
3. Ole Christian Veiby +5:39.1
20-03-11 World Rally Championship leader Evans faces gravel at Rally Mexico
Sweden winner faces the challenge of clearing the gravel roads for his rivals. Elfyn Evans heads the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time going into the opening gravel road fixture of the season in Mexico this week.

Toyota's table-topping star, who grabbed the points lead with victory in Sweden last month, knows his achievement will come at a cost at Rally Guanajuato Mexico (12 - 15 March), the year's first fixture outside Europe.

He must pay up in the mountains around Leon when he heads the start order for Friday's first full day on roads coated in dry and slippery gravel. Those tracks become cleaner and faster with the passage of every car as the dirt is swept aside.

With temperatures topping 30°C and blue skies expected all event, Evans' wish for rain to bind the loose gravel together looks a forlorn one.

"It was a bit of a long-shot for the rain. And it would have had to have been raining for quite a while to make that much difference because the surface dries quite quickly here," admitted the Welshman, who is tied on points with Thierry Neuville but leads on countback.

"We'll just get our heads down and get on with it. There's no point thinking about it or really talking too much about it. We almost have to forget about that and just focus on the job in hand."

Neither Neuville nor five-time rally winner Sébastien Ogier benefit that much from second and third in the order. But one man who does is Neuville's Hyundai i20 team-mate, world champion Ott Tänak, who starts sixth.
20-03-10 Ole Christian Veiby klar for Rally Mexico
Rally Mexico er sesongens tredje VM-runde, og det første løpet på grus. Ole Christian Veiby har ambisjoner om å kjempe om seier i WRC2-klassen med sin Hyundai i20 R5.

Når Rally Mexico starter torsdag kveld, er det første gang Ole Christian Veiby skal være med å konkurrere her. Men løpet er ikke fullstendig ukjent for Kongsvinger-gutten, som har vært med på løpets gjennomkjøring to ganger tidligere. - Rally Mexico er et nytt løp for meg, men vi har jo allikevel godt med erfaring. Jonas har vært kartleser her 9 ganger før, og jeg var med på gjennomkjøring i 2017 og 2018, så vi kommer ikke hit helt uten noe erfaring, jeg har en viss pekepinn på hva som venter. Kartleser Jonas Andersson har kjørt dette løpet 9 ganger før, med en annen plass i 2015 som beste resultat.

Rally Mexico er kjent for å være både varmt, røft og tøft for både bil, dekk og crew. I tillegg kjøres flere av prøvene på hele 2600 moh og den tynne luften gjør det utfordrende både for crew og for motor når det gjelder oksygenopptak. – Dette er ikke ett flat-out løp, her gjelder det å bruke hodet og ta vare på både bil og dekk. Den som gjør det best, er den som vinner. Prøvene i Mexico er en mix av alt, og veldig mange korte publikumsetapper. Men det er også noen raske prøver og prøver hvor du ikke kan kjøre så fort. Du kan ikke kjøre for bredt, det er lett å treffe noe som kan ødelegge hjul eller bil i veikanten. Man må også hele tiden være på vakt for at de foran har dratt med seg noen store steiner inn på veien. Mexico-grusen er mer sand og store steiner enn vanlig grus, og det gjelder å vite nøyaktig hvor du kan gasse på litt mer.

Rally Mexico sparkes i gang torsdag kveld i byen Guanajuato, med det som antagelig er den mest fargerike og spektakulære startseremonien av alle løp på VM-kalenderen. Både SS1 og SS2 kjøres på brostein gjennom tunneler som slynger seg under selve byen. Totalt skal det kjøres 24 etapper gjennom helgen, før det hele avsluttes på søndag. Ole Christian er optimistisk med høye ambisjoner for løpet. - Vi fikk en god dag med test på grus, og det virker lovende. Vi håper å kunne fortsette på den gode utviklingen fra Sverige, og selv om dette rallyet er ganske uforutsigbart, er målet helt klart seier i WRC2!

Dette er den tredje VM-runden for Ole Christian i 2020. Det ble andre plass i Rally Sweden, mens han måtte bryte etter å ha kjempet i teten på siste dag av Rally Monte-Carlo. I februar kjørte han også inn til overlegen seier i Numedalsrally for tredje gang på rad, etter å ha ledet løpet fra start til mål.

Tidsplan Rally Mexico
lokal tid oppgitt (norsk tid er – 7 timer)
Torsdag 12 mars
10:00 Shakedown (5,51km) (norsk tid 17:00) Se LIVE fra Shakedown på Ole’s Facebook side.
20:08 SS1 Street Stage GTO 1 (1,12km)
20:31 SS2 Street Stage GTO 2 (1,12km)

Fredag 13 mars
07:45 Service (norsk tid 14:45)
09:08 SS3 El Chocolate 1 (31,45km)
10:16 SS4 Ortega 1 (17,24km)
11:14 SS5 Las Minas 1 (13,69km)
12:12 SS6 Parque Bicentenario (2,71km)
13:52 Service (norsk tid 20:52
15:35 SS7 El Chocolate 2 (31,45km)
16:43 SS8 Ortega 2 (17,24km)
17:41 SS9 Las Minas 2 (13,69km)
19:21 SS10 Autodromo 1 (2,33km)
19:26 SS11 Autodromo 2 (2,33km)
20:14 SS12 Street Stage Leon (0,73km)

Lørdag 14 mars
07:45 Service (norsk tid 14:45)
08:58 SS13 Guanajuatito 1 (24,96km)
10:01 SS14 Alfaro 1 (16,99km)
11:08 SS15 Derramadero 1 (21,78km)
13:18 Service (norsk tid 20:58)
14:56 SS16 Guanajuatito 2 (24,96km)
15:59 SS17 Alfaro 2 (16,99km)
17:08 SS18 Derramadero 2 (21,78km)
18:38 SS19 Autodromo 3 (2,33km)
18:43 SS20 Autodromo 4 (2,33km)
19:26 SS21 Rock & Rally Leon (1,62km)

Søndag 15 mars
07:30 Service (norsk tid 14:30)
08:38 SS22 Otates (33,61km)
09:56 SS23 San Diego (12,76km)
11:18 SS24 El Brinco Power Stage (9,64km) (norsk tid 18:18)

Eurosport Norge – Rally Mexico på TV i Norge
03:00 fredag 13 mars LIVE fra SS1.
18:00 lørdag 14 mars Høydepunkter fra dag 1
18:30 lørdag 14 mars LIVE fra SS15 (prøven starter kl 18, programmet forskyves 30 minutter)
00:00 søndag 15 mars LIVE fra SS18
18:10 søndag 15 mars LIVE fra SS24 Power Stage
20-03-10 Tidemand ser fram emot högtflygande action i Rally Mexico
Säsongspremiären på hemmaplan gav inte bara en pallplats utan också mersmak. Nu är den värmländska rallyduon Pontus Tidemand och kartläsaren Patrik Barth på plats i Mexiko för att återigen göra upp om de åtråvärda placeringarna i WRC 2-klassen tillsammans med teamet Toksport WRT.

Den färgglada inramningen och de vackra vyerna gör utan tvekan Mexikos VM-rally till en av årets mest uppskattade tävlingar. Men vid sidan av det visuella väntar en utmaning som är krävande för såväl förare som bilar. De höga höjderna, mer än 2700 meter över havet, i kombination med temperaturer uppemot 30 grader ställer höga krav när det gäller uthållighet och material.
- När det är 30 grader på utsidan har vi närmare 50 grader inne i bilen. Den tunna luften stryper också motorerna, som kan tappa närmare 20 procent av effektiviteten. Man måste köra smart och rent eftersom det tar längre tid än vanligt att hämta upp sig från ett misstag, berättar Pontus.

Rally Mexico är säsongens första grustävling och totalt omfattar eventet 24 tuffa specialsträckor. Basen är belägen i staden Leon i området Guanajuato, som finns med på UNESCOs världsarvslista, och helgen inleds med två färgsprakande publiksträckor som varje år lockar ut stora folkmassor på Guanajuatos gator. Därefter väntar tre fullspäckade dagar med klassisk mexikansk rallyaction där de påfrestande långa grusvägarna mixas med intensiva och publikvänliga sträckor - bland annat körs en sträcka som inte ens är en kilometer lång, vilket gör det till den kortaste sträckan i rally-VM:s historia.

Det här blir Pontus tredje Rally Mexico och han kommer till start med goda minnen från tidigare år – i bagaget finns två tidigare segrar i WRC 2-klassen från 2017 och 2018.
- Jag är ett stort fan av Rally Mexico, säger Pontus. Det är en rolig tävling med mycket, och framförallt glada och entusiastiska, åskådare som triggar upp stämningen. Vägarna är häftiga och jag gillar upplägget med varierade sträckor och utmaningen i hur man får ut det bästa ur bilen på så hög höjd.

Under måndagen genomfördes ett test där Pontus och Patrik fick en försmak av vad de har att vänta sig de kommande dagarna.
- Bilen funkar lika bra som sist, precis som vårt teamwork både i och utanför bilen. Vi trivdes otroligt bra med Toksport i Sverige så det känns som vi har ännu en grym helg framför oss. Även om vi bara har haft en liten testdag nu, så är vi redo att ge oss ut och fighta. Vi siktar som vanligt högt och ska göra allt för att få till ett lyckat resultat, säger en laddad Pontus.

Tidsplan Rally Mexico 2020 (svensk tid -7 timmar)
Torsdag 12 mars
10:01 Shakedown (5,51km)
20:08 SS1 Monster Energy Street Stage GTO 1 (1,12km)
20:31 SS2 Monster Energy Street Stage GTO 2 (1,12km)

Fredag 13 mars
07:45 Rally Campus Service Park
09:08 SS3 El Chocolate 1 (31,45km)
10:16 SS4 Ortega 1 (17,24km)
11:14 SS5 Las Minas 1 (13,69km)
12:12 SS6 Parque Bicentenario (2,71km)
13:52 Rally Campus Service Park
15:35 SS7 El Chocolate 2 (31,45km)
16:43 SS8 Ortega 2 (17,24km)
17:41 SS9 Las Minas 2 (13,69km)
19:21 SSS10 SSS Autodromo Shell V-Power 1 (2,33km)
19:26 SSS11 SSS Autodromo Shell V-Power 2 (2,33km)
20:14 SSS12 Street Stage Leon (0,73km)
Rally Campus Service Park

Lördag 14 mars
07:45 Rally Campus Service Park
08:58 SS13 Guanajuatito 1 (24,96km)
10:01 SS14 Alfaro 1 (16,99km)
11:08 SS15 Derra Madero 1 (21,78km)
13:18 Rally Campus Service Park
14:56 SS16 Guanajuatito 2 (24,96km)
15:59 SS17 Alfaro 2 (16,99km)
17:08 SS18 Derra Madero 2 (21,78km)
18:38 SSS19 SSS Autodromo Shell V-Power 3 (2,33km)
18:43 SSS20 SSS Autodromo Shell V-Power 4 (2,33km)
19:26 SSS21 Rock & Rally Leon (1,62km)
Rally Campus Service Park

Söndag 15 mars
07:30 Rally Campus Service Park
08:38 SS22 Otates (33,61km)
09:56 SS23 San Diego (12,76km)
11:18 SS24 El Brinco – Wolf Power Stage (9,64km)
Rally Campus Service Park
14:00 Podium
20-03-08 Oliver Solberg redo för utmanande, tufft och coolt Rally Mexico
Ett halvt decennium efter att pappa Petter körde in till en populär VM-triumf i Mexiko kommer sonen Oliver Solberg att skriva sin egen historia i Guanajuato nästa vecka.

Tillbaka i den familjeägda Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 har 18-åringen lyssnat noga på sin fars råd. Även om bilarna, utrustningen och förarnas namn har ändrats sedan 2005, förblir utmaningarna i ett av rally-VM mest svårkörda tävling desamma.
- Precis som Monte-Carlo var i början av säsongen är Rally Mexico en unik utmaning. I Monaco är snö, is och ständigt föränderligt underlag det svåraste. I Mexiko finns vägar på över 2000 meters höjd, vilket ger mindre motorprestanda i den tunn luft, och själva vägarna är fulla av stenar, vassa kanter och faror, säger Oliver Solberg.

- Pappa har rekommenderat ett lite annorlunda sätt att köra. När man kan tappa upp till 25 procent av motoreffekten på grund av höjden måste man vara mer exakt i svängarna. Om du får problem i en sväng är det inte säkert att motorn har tillräckligt med kraft för att få bilen på rätt köl igen.

- Hur vägarna förändras är också en viktig faktor. Andra rundan på vissa vägar kan erbjuda extremt hårda förhållanden. Man måste vara på sin vakt efter stora stenar utgrävda av bilarna framför. Vi behöver all erfarenhet vi kan få, och det är oerhört viktigt att vi passerar mållinjen på söndagen. Det är mitt övergripande mål, säger 18-åringen.

- Jag har aldrig genomfört ett sådant rally tidigare. (Kartläsare) Aaron Johnston och jag måste arbeta extra noggrant med noterna för att helt lita på dem under hela rallyt. Att hålla sig borta från problem är den säkraste vägen till ett bra resultat.

Det kommer att vara Oliver Solbergs första rally på den sydamerikanska kontinenten, och förväntningarna är höga - särskilt för de mexikanska fansen.
- Jag har varit i Mexiko flera gånger tidigare med mina föräldrar när min pappa var aktiv,, men jag minns inte så mycket. Men vi har bilder av mig som sitter på min fars knä i hans Subaru. Jag har hört att atmosfären i Rally Mexico är väldigt speciell. Jag har studerat rallyt noggrant på video, och jag ser fram emot det första specialsträckan där vi går igenom flera tunnlar.
- Jag hoppas att de mexikanska fansen fortfarande kommer ihåg Solberg-namnet och ger mig lite stöd på vägen.

I Rally Mexico får Oliver också chansen att träffa sin barndoms-idol Ken Block, som också sponsras av energidryckstillverkaren Monster Energy.
- Jag ser fram emot att fa tävla mot Ken. Han är en riktigt cool kille. Det var roligt att han bjöd in mig i filmprojektet Gymkhana 10, och för Monster Energy är det fantastiskt att vi båda kör i Mexiko. Liksom alla andra kan jag inte vänta med att se hans Escort Cossie.

Rally Mexico:
Torsdag 12 mars
Shakedown - (5,51 km) 10:01
SS1 Monster Energy Street Stage GTO 1 (1.12km) 20:08
SS2 Monster Energy Street Stage GTO 2 (1.12 km) 20:31

Fredag ??13 mars
Service Leon 07:45
SS3 El Chocolate 1 1 (31.45km) 09:08
SS4 Ortega1 (17.24 km) 10:16
SS5 Las Minas 1 (13,69 km) 11:14
SS6 Parque Bicentenario (2,71 km) 12:12
Service León 13:52
SS7 El Chocolate 2 (31.45km) 15:35
SS8 Ortega 2 (17.24 km) 16:43
SS9 Las Minas 2 (13,69 km) 17:41
SS10 SSS Autodromo Shell V-Power 1 (2.33 km) 19:21
SS11 SSS Autodromo Shell V-Power 2 (2.33 km) 19:26
SS12 Street Stage León 90,73km) 20:14
Service León 20:44

Lördag 14 mars
Service Leon 07:45
SS13 Guanajuatito 1 (24,96 km) 08:58
SS14 Alfaro 1 (16.99 km) 10:01
SS15 Derramadero 1 (21,78 km) 11:08
Service León 13:18
SS16 Guanajuatito 2 (24,96 km) 14:56
SS17 Alfaro 2 (16,99 km) 15:59
SS18 Derramadero 2 (21,78 km) 17:08
SS19 SSS Autodromo Shell V-Power 3 (2.33 km) 18:38
SS20 SSS Autodromo Shell V-Power 4 (2.33 km) 18:43
SS21 Rock & Roll León (1,62 km) 19:26
Service León 19:56

Söndag 15 mars
Service Leon 07:30
SS22 Otates (33.61km) 08:38
SS23 San Diego (12,76 km) 09:56
SS24 El Brinco - Wolf Power Stage (9.64 km) 11:18
Mål Leon-service 12:38

Rally Översikt:
Rally Mexiko
12-15 mars
Bas: Leon
Yta: Grus
Total längd: 324,85 km (201,86 miles)
Webbplats: https://www.rallymexico.com
20-02-25 Tidemand till start i Rally Mexico
Efter framgångarna i Rally Sweden låter inte fortsättningen vänta på sig för Pontus Tidemand och kartläsaren Patrik Barth. Nu står det klart att de och teamet Toksport World Rally Team redan om några veckor är tillbaka i rally-VM, då i Rally Mexico.
- Teamet var väldigt nöjda med vår insats i Sverige så nästa tävling kom snabbt upp på bordet, berättar Pontus. Jag och Patrik fick verkligen blodad tand i Rally Sweden när allt flöt på så bra och vi var sugna på mer direkt. Toksport är väldigt professionella och samarbetet funkade jättebra så vi är både glada och tacksamma att vi snart är på väg över Atlanten för uppföljningen.

Pontus har tävlat i Rally Mexico två gånger tidigare, 2017 och 2018, och båda gångerna har han slutat som segrare i WRC 2-klassen med sin SKODA Fabia R5. Nu hoppas han att kunna upprepa succén.
- Rally Mexico är en häftig tävling från start till mål och värmen och den tunna luften uppe i bergen där vi kör gör det till ett krävande rally, men jag tror och hoppas att det kan passa oss bra i år också. Vi fick en bra start på säsongen så nu behåller vi den känslan och fortsätter på samma positiva spår. Jag ser fram emot det här och att få tagga igång igen innan overallen kallnar, säger Pontus.

Rally Mexico avgörs mellan den 12 och 15 mars.
20-01-27 Solberg drives ŠKODA Motorsport-supported FABIA Rally2 evo in WRC
•Oliver to drive selected WRC 3 rounds in ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo
•18-year-old working in co-operation with ŠKODA Motorsport
•The 2020 programme will start at Rally Sweden on February 13
•Oliver: “This is a fantastic opportunity and huge honour for me

Eighteen-year-old rally star Oliver Solberg will drive a ŠKODA Motorsport-supported ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo (formerly known as ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo before the R5 category was renamed into Rally2 by the International Automobile Federation FIA) on selected rounds of this year’s WRC3 series, starting at next month’s Rally Sweden.

Oliver, who became the youngest ever winner of an FIA European Rally Championship round last season, tested the FABIA for the first time earlier this month. The ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo will be run in cooperation with ŠKODA Motorsport.

Oliver said: “ŠKODA has such an amazing history in the sport of rallying. Look back all the time and you see them there. From before I was born ŠKODA has been building World Rally Cars and more recently the FABIA R5 has been right at the front and winning in the WRC and all around the world for so many years.

“It’s a fantastic honour and a really huge honour for me to drive with the support of ŠKODA. I went to the ŠKODA Motorsport headquarters in Mladá Boleslav already and, wow, what a cool place that is. It was so impressive.”

Oliver was equally impressed with the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo when he got behind the wheel.
“It’s not so difficult to see how this car is so successful,” he said. “I heard they sold already 330 FABIA rally cars around the world and I can say I agree with the decision those customers made! It’s a great car with really nice balance, grip and power.”

Before his Rally Sweden debut aboard a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, Oliver drove his Monster Energy-backed Volkswagen Polo Rally2 at the season-opening Rallye Monte Carlo (January 23-26).

“We still drive the Polo on some rounds,” said Oliver, who made his WRC debut at October’s Wales Rally GB. “The main thing for me now is to try to make experience on as many WRC rounds as possible this year.

“Everybody talks about how much experience you need and how important it is – I saw that for myself in Wales last year. These WRC rounds are tougher and longer than anything me and Aaron [Johnston, co-driver] have done before. But I’ve got to tell you, this year is like a dream for me. Driving in the world championship is all I ever wanted to do. OK being world champion is also something I’m still dreaming to, and with ŠKODA Motorsport’s support I’m really on the right road.”

Oliver’s co-driver Aaron Johnston is equally keen to get aboard the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo.
“This is such a fantastic opportunity for us. To be supported by ŠKODA Motorsport, who have brought along many young talents over the years, is very special and I’m so proud to be part of this experience.”

Further details of Oliver and Aaron’s full program aboard the ŠKODA Motorsport-supported ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo will be available soon.
20-01-26 WRC2 win for Østberg in season opener Rallye Monte Carlo
The 88th Rallye Monte-Carlo lived up to the winter classic's reputation and proved complex on both the sporting and technical fronts due to the week's changeable, unpredictable weather conditions.

Mads Østberg and his co-driver Torstein Eriksen got to a perfect start for their 2020 title chances with victory in the R5 manufacturer class, WRC2. Mads' confidence behind the wheel of his PH Sport-run C3R5 helped him post six stage wins, as well as the second-best RC2 time on the Power Stage, where he took the time for a donut before the finish line to celebrate with the fans.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Mads Østberg (1st, WRC2 / 10th overall):
"We are very pleased with our performance this week, although we were unlucky on Friday when we dropped around 2m40s due to a damaged wheel rim. Our car was competitive from the start and we set some great stagetimes that led us to the WRC2 win. It was great to see an all-Citroën top five, and all the hard work put in last year means we should be able to target other victories this season."

20-01-26 Neuville seals revenge win at Rallye Monte-Carlo
Belgian driver makes up for narrowly missing out in 2019. Thierry Neuville delivered a stunning final day drive to score his first Rallye Monte-Carlo victory on Sunday – 12 months after missing out in the event’s closest-ever finish.

The Belgian won all four final-leg speed tests in the mountains above Monaco to charge from third, sealing a perfect weekend with maximum bonus points after winning the closing Wolf Power Stage by 0.016sec.

Last year Neuville was pipped by 2.2sec by French hero Sébastien Ogier. Revenge was sweet this time as the Hyundai i20 driver demoted Ogier and overnight leader Elfyn Evans to win the four-day opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship by 12.6sec.

Ogier overhauled Toyota Yaris team-mate Evans in the final speed test to finish 1.7sec ahead in second. Both drivers were making their Toyota Gazoo Racing debuts.

“The target was to win this rally and take revenge and it feels good right now,” said Neuville. “It’s something we’ve been fighting for for a very long time. Rallye Monte-Carlo is one of the most historic events that every WRC driver wants to win at least once, and we’ve done it.”

He led after Thursday night’s opening leg, but could only watch as Evans and Ogier traded the lead several times over the next two days. Neuville was not to be beaten, however, and he ended with nine fastest times from 16 special stages.

Ogier missed out on a seventh consecutive Monte win, but the Frenchman was satisfied with a podium start to his Toyota career. Evans failed to find the same pace which had taken him to the top of the standings ahead of Sunday’s finale.

Esapekka Lappi finished fourth in a Ford Fiesta, securing a record-breaking 250th consecutive points finish for M-Sport Ford. The Finn was almost three minutes adrift of Evans and more than a minute clear of Toyota debutant Kalle Rovanperä in fifth, a career-best result for the teenager.

Both moved ahead of Sébastien Loeb, who ended sixth after sliding off the road and dropping further time when a poor tyre choice left him driving with badly worn rubber.

The series moves to Sweden for round two as Torsby hosts the snow and ice encounter on February 13-16.

Final positions
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 3hr 10min 57.6sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +12.6sec
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +14.3sec
4. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Ford Fiesta +3min 09.0sec
5. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +4min 17.2sec
6. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +5min 04.7sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 1 of 13)
1. T Neuville 30pts
2. S Ogier 22pts
3. E Evans 17pts
20-01-26 Solberg delivers on his Monte Carlo Rally plan
•Monster Energy driver Oliver Solberg impresses on his Monte debut
•18-year-old takes experience from measured approach to the season-opener
•That measured approach is still good enough for some top R5 times though…
•“Driving over the Col de Turini… now that was amazing!”

What happened?
For this week’s Rallye Monte-Carlo the emphasis was very much on Oliver gaining experience of his first ever Tarmac rally and only his second ever round of the FIA World Rally Championship (following his debut at last year’s Wales Rally GB).

Taking safe tyre options throughout the event, Oliver and co-driver Aaron Johnston took a sensible line through some of the world’s toughest stages in ever-changing conditions to pick up knowledge and experience for the coming years.

Even at that safe speed, they were able to post hugely impressive times, with a third fastest of all R5 class cars on the second run at the Cubans – Venterol test. The only incident for Oliver was when he clipped a kerb with the left-rear of his Monster Energy-backed Volkswagen Polo R5.

The highlight of the event came for Oliver when he drove the Monte’s most famous stage, the Col de Turini.

What did Oliver say?
“Everything everybody told me about the Monte was true. It is so difficult rally. So difficult!

“Everything we did on this event was new. I never competed on Tarmac before, everything we had done in the previous years had been getting ready for gravel rallies – which are the ones we will be doing most. We had a test before this event, but when we came to these conditions it was just incredible.

“Everybody said we would be on the wrong tyre for a lot of the time and this was exactly how it was. We were on the ice tyre for a long time on Saturday morning, doing these huge slides as the studs have no grip on the dry asphalt. All the time I was thinking: “Is this right?” And then you come to the full ice and snow and the tyre is perfect. Then you think: “Yes! This is right!”

“It was a real compromise of everything, but you have to come here to learn that and if you go to the ditch on the first day then you learn nothing. Sometimes I was maybe wanting to push a little bit harder, but I knew there was too much at risk.

“Even when I hit the kerb, I learned so much. It was literally at walking speed. I used the handbrake to rotate the car, but on the ice it slid too far. The wheel hit the kerb at a really low speed, but just at the wrong angle. We broke a bolt in the suspension and had to stop and make the repair ourselves. This doesn’t matter. I always said I wasn’t coming here for the race, I was coming here to learn and I learned so much!

“The problem is, I can’t wait another 12 months to come back – I want to go and do it all again now.”

Monster Energy moment of the rally?
“Definitely driving over the Col de Turini. Like every rally fan, for my whole life I watched cars coming over this incredible mountain road and to be there, to drive through that atmosphere with so many fans was just unbelievable. I’ll never forget this.”

What’s next?
Rally Sweden and Oilver’s home round of the World Rally Championship. Solberg Jr is excited every time he steps aboard a rally car, but this one will be special for lots of reasons. Stay tuned…

Rally detail
Rallye Monte-Carlo
January 23-26
Based: Monaco/Gap
Surface: asphalt/snow/ice
Competitive distance: 304.28km (189.07 miles)
Total distance: 1505.64km (935.60 miles)
Website: www.acm.mc/en/edition/rallye-monte-carlo-edition-2020/

Oliver Solberg in numbers:
Rallies started: 33
Rallies won: 8
WRC rounds started: 2
WRC debut: Wales Rally GB (2019)
Number of titles won: 9*
20-01-25 Elfyn Evans holds advantage in Monte-Carlo thriller
Welshman grabs narrow lead over Toyota team-mate Ogier. Elfyn Evans finished Saturday’s penultimate leg of Rallye Monte-Carlo with a narrow lead after a gripping see-saw battle with team-mate Sébastien Ogier in the French Alps.

The Toyota Yaris debutants swapped the lead on three occasions before Evans ended with a 4.9sec advantage over Ogier, with Thierry Neuville hot on their heels in his Hyundai i20.

Neuville won three of the day’s four speed tests and is only 1.5sec further back, leaving this opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship poised on a knife-edge ahead of tomorrow’s closing leg in the mountains above Monaco.

Studded winter tyres were essential for this morning’s two special stages which contained lengthy sections of snow and ice. Overnight leader Ogier stretched his advantage in the first, before Evans struck back to lead at the mid-leg service.

Rising temperatures ensured drier afternoon conditions when the two stages were repeated. The pair were tied after the first, with Ogier ahead on a tiebreak, before Evans fought back to snatch the lead for the third time in the rally.

The Welshman admitted he had a close escape after flirting with a ditch in the final stage.

“On the last corner of ice on the stage I decided to be a little optimistic with the throttle and off she went. I definitely used my lucky card for the weekend - it was a good job there was nothing in the ditch,” he said.

Ogier admitted a safety-first approach cost the lead. “I was a bit cautious in the last stage and I lost too much, but the gap is still very close and it’s a simple reset for tomorrow. We still have the chance to win,” he said.

Neuville was happier with the last-minute information provided by his safety note crew, which drives the stages a couple of hours before competitors to provide condition updates.

“We’re still in the fight for the win which is positive and we’re pleased with the performance today. We’ve had improvements in the corrections to our ice notes and that provided us with more confidence during the day,” said the Belgian.

Sébastien Loeb was fourth in another i20, more than two minutes further back, after swiping a bank this morning and spinning this afternoon. His errors allowed Esapekka Lappi to close to within 14.1sec in his Ford Fiesta.

Kalle Rovanperä was an untroubled sixth in another Yaris, ahead of Takamoto Katsuta who
spun this morning. WRC 3 leader Eric Camilli was eighth, ahead of WRC 2 frontrunner Mads Østberg and Nicolas Ciamin.

Sunday’s finale is based in the Alpes-Maritimes mountains above Monaco. It features two passes of two stages, covering 63.54km, and includes the legendary crossing of the Col Turini. The afternoon finish takes place against the backdrop of Monaco’s famous harbour.

Leading positions after Saturday
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris 2hr 28min 35.1sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRAToyota Yaris +4.9sec
3. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +6.4sec
4. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +2min 24.3sec
5. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Ford Fiesta +2min 38.4sec
20-01-25 Ogier snatches Monte-Carlo lead as champion Tänak crashes badly
Estonian has lucky escape as French legend excels in Toyota debut. Rallye Monte-Carlo master Sébastien Ogier moved into position for a seventh consecutive victory after snatching a slender lead in the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship’s season-opener on Friday night.

The Frenchman, making his Toyota Yaris debut, ended the first full day’s competition with a 1.2sec advantage over Elfyn Evans after demoting his team-mate in the final kilometres. Thierry Neuville was hot on their heels, a further 5.2sec behind.

The main talking point was a massive crash for world champion Ott Tänak on his first drive in a Hyundai i20.

The Estonian’s car flew off the road after a compression in this morning’s Saint-Clément – Freissinières speed test. The car rolled multiple times before coming to rest on a road more than 100 metres down the hillside.

Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja climbed out of the badly-damaged car on their own before being taken to hospital, where they will remain overnight for observation.

"Our priority in such situations is always the condition of the crew first and foremost," said Hyundai Motorsport team principal Andrea Adamo. "It is customary after such incidents for hospital check-ups, the results of which were clear."

The Toyota duo dominated the day. Evans, also making his Yaris debut, won all three morning tests, where icy patches were a constant hazard, to relegate overnight leader Neuville and open a 3.3sec margin over Ogier.

Ogier turned the tables this afternoon. On drier roads, he won two stages to edge ahead.

"This morning I was a little bit cautious and was also having cautious information from my gravel crew," he said. "This afternoon we made some changes to the set-up and had a talk with our gravel crew and we were feeling more comfortable."

Evans admitted to a wary approach this afternoon as mud was dragged onto the road by the cars ahead.

Neuville won the final stage, but was frustrated to drop down the order. He was forced to call-up non competing team-mate Dani Sordo to drive his safety note car after regular pilot Bruno Thiry fell ill.

Sébastien Loeb was a lonely fourth in another i20. The nine-time world champion was 47.5sec adrift of Neuville and 48.3sec clear of Esapekka Lappi, who struggled with his Fiesta on his M-Sport Ford debut. The Finn also lost time after sliding into a field.

Saturday brings two loops of two well-known tests near Gap, totalling 75.20km. Teams then have their final chance to work on their cars before competitors make the long journey south to Monaco for the final overnight halt.

Leading positions after Friday
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris 1hr 43min 31.5sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +1.2sec
3. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +6.4sec
4. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +1min 06.9sec
5. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Ford Fiesta +1min 57.2sec
6. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +2min 19.2sec

20-01-24 Thierry Neuville fires early warning to lead Rallye Monte-Carlo
Belgian rockets into the lead ahead of Ogier and Tänak at season opener. A sensational time through Thursday night’s second speed test rocketed Thierry Neuville into the lead of Rallye Monte-Carlo after the opening loop of stages in the French Alps.

The Hyundai i20 driver headed Sébastien Ogier’s Toyota Yaris by 19.1sec when the cars returned to service in Gap after the brace of night time alpine tests.

Seven-time Monte winner Ogier led after the opener, but not even the Frenchman could contain his rival’s speed through the 25.49km Bayons - Bréziers stage which followed.

Since the recce, all eyes had been on that second stage, with reports of plenty of ice remaining from last weekend’s snowfall. Universally, the drivers talked of the risk and reward of a big attack and it was the Belgian who was bravest.

He was rewarded with an astonishing time that was 25.5sec faster than anybody else. Neuville was calm and collected at the finish, saying: “They were tricky conditions. I was trying to read the road as well as I could and not take risks. I think we have done a good time.”

Like Ogier and his world champion team-mate Ott Tänak, Neuville opted for a mixture of soft and super soft Michelin tyres, shunning the studded option. Leading after the opening stage, a test Ogier described as ‘one of the easiest of the weekend’ courtesy of bone dry conditions, was the perfect start to his season as a Toyota driver.

Tänak was wide-eyed at the end of SS2, admitting: “I’m happy to be alive! That was more of a challenge than I expected.”

The Estonian is just three-tenths of a second ahead of Toyota Yaris newcomer Elfyn Evans. The Welshman was the fastest of the drivers to take a studded option in the second stage.

“The tyres helped us in some places,” he said, “but they hampered us a lot as well.”

Evans’ mood was lifted by news that he was 25.6sec ahead of the Rallye Monte-Carlo’s joint most successful driver, seven-time winner Sébastien Loeb in an i20. Loeb admitted the road was getting dirty in stage one, with plenty of leaves making the line more slippery.

Those leaves caused major issues for M-Sport Ford’s Fiestas. The discarded foliage gathered in the radiators and air intakes, choking the engine of air and sending temperatures soaring on all three works cars of Esapekka Lappi, Teemu Suninen and Gus Greensmith.

Worse was to come when Suninen retired with a transmission problem in the next test.

Friday brings the most intense leg with more than a third of the event’s total competitive distance tackled in three repeated tests south-east and east of the town. They add up to 122.58km.

Positions after leg 1:
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 26min 23.5sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +19.1sec
3. O Tänak / M Jarveoja EST Hyundai i20 +25.1sec
4. E Evans / S Martin Toyota Yaris 26m +25.4sec
5. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +51.0sec
6. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Ford Fiesta +1min 07.8sec
20-01-21 INTERVIEW: "We will fight hard to win" - Ogier excited for Toyota drive
Frenchman opens up on Toyota switch and hopes of winning the WRC title back.
Sébastien Ogier's incredible run of six FIA World Rally Championship titles came to an end last season when Estonian Ott Tänak claimed a maiden triumph, however the Frenchman believes he can win a seventh after his switch from Citroën to Toyota to cap a fine WRC career.

The Japanese team has a rich history in rally driving with 2020 Dakar Rally champion Carlos Sainz, Finnish great Juha Kankkunen and Frenchman Didier Auriol all winning titles driving the Celica, while they also have four constructors' titles.

After testing the latest Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT contender, the 36-year-old explained what he feels the Yaris car can produce from Monte Carlo onwards this week as he looks to win the title with a third different constructor before he finishes his WRC career.

Here is what the Gap native had to say:
Toyota has a rich WRC history with iconic cars and drivers, so what is it like to be part of that story?

It's definitely something special to be competing for Toyota with what they have achieved in the past and, of course, Juha. Toyota is such an iconic brand and we definitely hope to write some history together. On top of that, it's even more special for me personally because when I first started following rally I was rooting for Tommi (team principal Mäkinen) so it's actually a dream come true to be able to work with him now.

What are your first impressions of the Yaris WRC?
The car feels really good. We just had our last test before the season starts and I have a good feeling heading into the first event. Obviously, we don't know where we are compared to the other teams before the first couple of stages at Rally Monte Carlo but I’m confident.

It has been a while since you started the year without the championship, so how have you prepared mentally for 2020?

To be honest, I've been preparing in the same way as before. Nothing has changed really, but we will obviously fight hard to win the championship back.

Have you and Julien (navigator Ingrassia) changed your approach for this season?

As I say, nothing has changed for us. We are still the same as before and, if anything, the fact that we didn't win last year has just given us even more hunger to succeed.

What is it like being reunited with Elfyn Evans as a team-mate?

I know Elfyn from my time at M-Sport and I'm very happy to have him in the team. He is a really good driver and can give a lot of feedback to the team about the car and therefore push the development as well.
20-01-17 Oliver looks to load the odds in his favour in Monte Carlo
Oliver starts his World Rally Championship with a classic, the Monte
18-year-old can’t wait to take on the mountains in world’s most famous rally
Exciting year ahead for Monster Energy’s history-making youngster
Experience is everything for the family-run team in a Volkswagen Polo R5

The challenge:
Rallye Monte-Carlo is the oldest rally in the world. Naturally, things have changed a fair bit since it ran for the first time in 1911, but the concept’s still pretty similar: it’s about a bunch of cars driving through the French Alps, trying to work out who’s fastest.

Monster Energy-backed 18-year-old Oliver Solberg is taking to the hills high above the French Riviera for the first time next week.

Starting from Monaco’s world-famous Casino Square on Thursday (January 23) afternoon, the crews waste no time in getting to some of the season’s most complicated and challenging stages. The itinerary dictates the photographs and adulation of the principality will be followed by the 17.47-kilometre test from Malijal to Puimichel.

Two nighttime stages take Oliver and his co-driver Aaron Johnston back north to the service park in Gap, where the next two days are based. After Friday and Saturday in the Hautes-Alpes, it’s another trip south to the harbourside in Monte Carlo. Sunday’s final day comprises two stages run twice, one of which is arguably the most famous test in the history of the series. The road from La Bolléne-Vésubie to Piera Cava might not be instantly recogniseable, but the name of the mountain pass over which that road passes mostly certainly is. It’s the Col de Turini.

The switchback Alpine stages are just part of the challenge of Rallye Monte-Carlo. The other part comes in the shape of ever-changing weather and meteorological microclimates which deliver widely differing grip levels from one corner to the next.

Driving a Volkswagen Polo R5 run by his family’s team, Oliver will experience dry and wet asphalt, ice, snow, slush and just about everything in between this week. And, what’s more, because of the compromised tyre choice, he can just about guarantee he’ll be on the wrong tyre much of the time.

Get through and an appointment with Prince Albert II awaits you outside his Palace on a Sunday afternoon. Get through faster than anybody else and you become a member of an exclusive and distinguished band of motorsport heroes. You become a Monte Carlo winner.

Oliver’s answers:
Rallye Monte-Carlo’s waiting. How do you feel?
OS: It’s so exciting. I know I have been excited a lot by things in the last 12 months – competing in a Subaru in the same colours as my father in America, making my debut in the WRC with him in Wales, becoming the youngest driver ever to win a round of the FIA European Rally Championship – but this is reallyspecial. It’s Monte Carlo!

How much do you know about the event?
OS: I know it’s tough. One of the toughest. My Dad has told me a lot of stories about how difficult the rally will be. Because of the way rallies run, we have to choose our tyres for a loop of stages really early. Really early in the morning, we’ll be deciding on the tyres we’re still going to be using at lunchtime – you have to try to understand what the weather’s going to do.

It’s a gamble?
OS: It’s a big gamble – starting in the casino!

How was your test?
OS: Good. We drove near to Sisteron, where we were able to find some snow and ice. It’s so important to test in a place like this; it’s really important for me to get the feeling of what the car’s going to be doing when it’s on the wrong tyres. In a test like this, it’s a lot about preparing for the worst kind of situation. We did that.

What’s the key to Rallye Monte-Carlo?
OS: You’re asking me? Honestly, I don’t know for myself. I will find out next week. I think the biggest thing is to be comfortable in the car and to be able to find confidence. If you have those two things then you can deal a little bit more easily with what’s coming. If you go to this rally with a racing car set-up, ready to push hard then it’s easy to have some trouble.

What’s your approach?
OS: To take experience. This rally is so specific – we get one chance each season to come to Rallye Monte-Carlo and to build up some ideas and some knowledge of what the roads can be like and how the pacenotes work. This is the priority for me. I’m really not so worried about the times or the speed or anything like that, I just want to get to the end of the stages and keep building my experience.

You’re not competing in WRC 2 or WRC 3 in Monte Carlo, what’s the reason for that?
OS: I know this rally is going to be complicated. I never did anything like this before. Even if the roads are all dry, I still have done virtually nothing really on Tarmac. OK, we have some snow at home, but we have nothing like the Monte stages. For this time, I don’t want any pressure or anything, I want to go to this rally, enjoy it and make the experience.


Finally, you lived in Monaco for a while – do you remember much about that time?
OS: I do. It was a really cool place to live and the sun was always shining. The only problem with Monaco is that there wasn’t really enough space. When we moved back to the farm in Sweden, I could get out and about on the quadbikes and snowmobiles – there wasn’t much chance of doing that in Casino Square!

Rally detail
Rallye Monte-Carlo
January 23-26
Based: Monaco/Gap
Surface: asphalt/snow/ice
Competitive distance: 304.28km (189.07 miles)
Total distance: 1505.64km (935.60 miles)
Website: www.acm.mc/en/edition/rallye-monte-carlo-edition-2020/

Oliver Solberg in numbers:
Rallies started: 32
Rallies won: 8
WRC rounds started: 1
WRC debut: Wales Rally GB (2019)
Number of titles won: 9*

Want to know more?
Check the Words PR archive for chapter, verse and pictures of Oliver’s career to date.

Make a date
Oliver will be available in the service park, Gap on Wednesday January 22 (2045-2100) for any questions.

*Oliver’s first championship was the Norwegian Crosskart title in 2012, aged 11. He defended that win successfully and added a hat-trick of Nordic Crosskart crowns in 2014, 15 and 16. Two years later he’d switched to cars and harnessed the 600bhp on offer from a DS 3 Supercar to be crowned RallyX Nordic champ. The success kept on coming as he progressed into rallying with a hat-trick of titles (Latvian Rally champion, Baltic Rally Trophy and an Estonian class title) aboard the Volkswagen Polo R5 last season.
20-01-14 Ole Christian Veiby skal kjøre for Hyundai Motorsport i 2020
Ole Christian Veiby har fått fabrikks-kontrakt med Hyundai Motorsport og skal konkurrere i WRC2-klassen i en Hyundai i20 R5 i 2020. – Jeg er ganske stolt over at Hyundai Motorsport, som ble verdensmestere i rally i 2019, velger å satse på meg for neste år, sier Ole Christian.

Kongsvinger-gutten, som er regjerende norgesmester i rally, skal kjøre en Hyundai i20 R5 ‘20 med kartleser Jonas Andersson på minst 8 VM-runder i 2020. Team-kollega blir Nikolay Gryazin. R5-satsingen til Hyundai Motorsport vil driftes av RedGrey Team fra Estland i nært samarbeid med Hyundai Motorsport og de vil konkurrere for Hyundai Motorsport N, i WRC2-klassen, som er det nye navnet på WRC2pro-klassen. Det som tidligere var WRC2-klassen, har nå byttet navn til WRC3.

Ole Christian Veiby sier:
«Det er en ubeskrivelig god følelse, og jeg gleder meg til å kjøre for Hyundai Motorsport neste år. Jeg er ganske sikker på at vi kommer til å bli ett sterkt team. Jeg håper også at erfaringen jeg har fra andre R5-biler kommer godt med i videreutvikling av bilen. Jeg har jo fått konkurrert med i20’en ved ett par anledninger allerede, så jeg føler jeg kan sette ett hårete mål for sesongen, det er vel bare totalseier som gjelder!»

23-åringen har i 2019 sesongen konkurrert både i Rally-VM og Rally-NM, og kan skilte med en imponerende tredjeplass fra det legendariske Rallye Monte Carlo og seier i Sverige. Han vant også 4 av 5 kjørte NM-runder og ble dermed årets norgesmester i Rally.

Roy Snellingen, sportssjef i EVEN management sier:
«Vi i EVEN management er meget godt fornøyd med at Ole Christian og Jonas får denne muligheten i et knalltøft førermarked. Vi har med dette en solid sportslig pakke med mye kjøring som må til for å utvikle gutta ytterligere. Vi er allerede godt i gang med å planlegge neste sesong og det gjelder nå og utnytte erfaringen gutta har, maksimere alle nye muligheter og jobbe systematisk hard med et smil.»

Første løp på agendaen er klassikeren Rallye Monte-Carlo som kjøres på snø og is i de franske alpene 23 – 26 januar 2020. Her er både Ole Christian Veiby og Mads Østberg påmeldt i WRC2-klassen, og vi finner også Oliver Solberg på start-listen i en R5-bil.


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