VM kalendern 2019
24-27 jan Monte Carlo  
14-17 febr Rally Sweden *
7-10 mars Mexico  
28-31 mars Frankrike *
24-28 april Argentina  
9-12 maj Chile  
30-2 juni Portugal  
13-16 juni Italien *
1-4 aug Finland *
22-25 aug Tyskland  
12-15 aug Turkiet  
3-6 okt England *
24-27 okt Spanien  
14-17 nov Australien  
* = Junior-VM  
VM kalendern 2020
23-26 jan Monte Carlo  
13-16 febr Rally Sweden  
12-15 mars Mexico  
16-19 april Chile  
30-03 maj Argentina  
21-24 maj Portugal  
04-07 juni Italien  
16-19 juli Safarirallyt Kenya  
6-9 aug Finland  
3-6 sept Nya Zeeland  
24-27 sept Turkiet  
15-18 okt Tyskland  
29-1 nov England  
19-22 nov Japan  


19-11-27 BREAKING: Sébastien Ogier signs deal with Toyota Gazoo Racing
Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanperä join Japanese squad for the new season. Toyota Gazoo Racing will field an all-new driver line-up in next year’s FIA World Rally Championship after confirming the signings of Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanperä on Wednesday (27 November).

Ogier, 35, joins the Japanese manufacturer from Citroën Racing in a one-year deal which is expected to be his final campaign before retiring from the WRC. Evans and Rovanperä have inked two-year contracts.

Evans, 30, joins from M-Sport Ford for whom he has driven his entire WRC career. He links up again with Ogier after two seasons together at the British squad in 2017 and 2018.

Nineteen-year-old Rovanperä is one of the sport’s most exciting young prospects. He steps up to the headline World Rally Car category from Skoda Motorsport, for whom he won the WRC 2 Pro title this season.

The trio replaces newly-crowned world champion Ott Tänak, who has switched to Hyundai Motorsport, and the out-of-contract Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke.

Team principal Tommi Mäkinen said the experience of six-time world champion Ogier and Evans, allied to Rovanperä’s potential, provided a great balance as Toyota targets more titles with its Yaris World Rally Car.

“We know how strong Sébastien is and we’re all looking forward to working with him and Julien (co-driver Ingrassia). I think that being able to attract a driver with his record says a lot about what we have achieved in such a short space of time with this team.

“Elfyn is a driver I have been watching for some time. We’ve seen he can have the speed to win on almost any surface, but he can also be very clever when needed and score good points.
19-11-12 Rally Australia cancelled
The Rally Australia organisers have been forced to cancel this year’s event due to the devastating bushfires affecting much of the New South Wales region, close to where the stages were due to be held. Citroën Total WRT is fully supportive of this sensible decision.

After briefly considering holding the event with a revised schedule over a significantly reduced route, the Rally Australia organisers were left with no choice but to cancel the event on Tuesday afternoon (local time in Coffs Harbour), as conditions failed to improve. Serious bushfires have hit the State of New South Wales in recent days, devastating the local area.

The Citroën Total World Rally Team would like to pay tribute to the rally organisers and WRC promoter’s selfless actions in putting safety first, as well as the transparency and professionalism they have shown in handling what is a difficult situation. In conjunction with local authorities, they have taken the right decision, given the serious nature of events. Citroën’s thoughts are obviously with all those affected by the terrible situation. Our support and respect also goes to the firefighters who have been working tirelessly over the last few days to protect people and properties.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“It’s the right decision, given the circumstances. Clearly, we have been affected by what is happening here and all our thoughts go to the local population and everyone who has lost loved ones, livelihoods and homes due to the fires. From a sporting point of view, we would obviously have preferred not to end our season with the result in Spain and instead finish the season like we began it in Monte-Carlo, but there are more important things to consider at the moment. I would like to thank my team for all the efforts they have put in this season.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Obviously, I’m sad the rally has been cancelled but given the circumstances, there really was no other choice. I had hoped to finish the season with a good result, but clearly there are other priorities right now in the state. My thoughts are with all those affected directly or indirectly by this terrible situation.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“My thoughts are with the people who have lost everything and with the firefighters and emergency personnel who are battling to prevent the fires from causing further damage. I think we had a great chance this weekend at this event, which I really love, but obviously cancelling the rally is the right decision.”
19-10-28 Mads Østberg og kartleser Torstein Eriksen, vinner av RallyRACC Catalonia – Rally Spain WRC2 Pro
Mads Østberg og kartleser Torstein Eriksen, i Citroen C3 R5, vant RallyRACC Catalonia – Rally Spania i kategori WRC2 Pro denne helgen.
Dette var den 13. runden av årets Rally VM, og med seier sikret Mads og Torstein seg sølvet i årets VM.

Løpet, som går over 3 dager, er det eneste i mesterskapet med full mix mellom grus og asfalt. 130 km grusveier på fredag. Deretter konverteres bilene til asfalt spesifikasjon på service fredag ??kveld. Så to dager 200 km asfalt lørdag og søndag. Dette gjør rallyet til det mest utfordrende gjennom sesongen m.h.t. å beherske forskjellige type underlag for sjåførene. Og det mest utfordrende teknisk sett for teamene bak.

Til tross for noen tekniske problemer på to av grusetappene fredag, hvor omtrent 30 sekunder gikk tapt, ledet Mads og Torstein WRC2Pro med 41,2 sekunder etter grusen.

Den første dagen med asfalt ble brukt til eksperimentering, med blandet resultat. Men ledelsen ble øket til 42,1 sekunder. Søndag ble strålende både for lag og med bil, og vinnermarginen økte til 54,7 sekunder. Mads og Torstein var også den sammenlagt raskeste bilen i WRC2 / R5-klassen, 22,6 sekund foran Eric Camilli og kartleser Benjamin Veillas, også i en Citroen C3 R5.

”Jeg er veldig fornøyd med resultatet. Vi beviste at vi kan være raskest på både på grus og asfalt. Noen tror at jeg bare er rask på grus, men jeg vet at jeg også er rask på asfalt, så jeg viste de som tviler. Noen viktigere enn andre”, kommenterer Mads med et smil.

“Jobben min denne sesongen var å utvikle bilen sammen med Citroens ingeniører. Det har vært en veldig interessant jobb. Vi startet med en bil i Sverige som jeg må kunne å si ikke var veldig bra, selv om vi vant WRC2Pro. Vi avslutter sesongen med en vinnerbil på alle underlag. Jeg tar noe av æren, men sammen med Citroen og Citroen utviklingsingeniører. Det har vært mye jobb og god innsats. R5-biler er de mest avanserte rallybiler for markedet. Rallybiler er teknisk overlegne andre motorsport-biler, på grunn av miljøet vi opererer under. Citroen C3 R5 må derfor være den beste bilen i verden som du kan kjøpe for penger i det åpne markedet,» avslutter Mads med tommel opp.

Mads og Torstein er påmeldt av Citroen Racing for å kjøre Rally Australia i WRC-kategorien. Australia er det siste WRC Rally i 2019. «Jeg var på pallen der i WRC i 2018, og Citroen tok meg i utgangspunktet med for at jeg skulle ta poeng fra Ogiers konkurrenter om å vinne VM», sier Mads, «men mesterskapet ble sikret av Tanak i helgen. Da kan min påmelding bli trukket tilbake. Jeg venter på instruksjoner fra Citroen» avslutter han.
19-10-27 Estonian Tänak wins maiden WRC title after thrilling finish in Spain
Toyota driver finishes second behind Belgian rival Neuville to clinch crown. Ott Tänak became the first Estonian to win the FIA World Rally Championship in a tense finale to Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España on Sunday afternoon.

He snatched second place in the closing Wolf Power Stage to secure the 2019 crown with a round to spare, ending a 15-year French domination by the sport’s most successful drivers, Sébastiens Loeb and Ogier.

It is Toyota’s first drivers’ title since Didier Auriol won in 1994 and follows the Japanese squad’s manufacturers’ championship success last year.

Tänak started the final asphalt speed test in third place. He needed to finish no lower than one position behind leader Thierry Neuville in the final bonus points-paying stage to prevent the Belgian carrying the fight into next month’s Australian finale.

He didn’t require the bonus points, sweeping past home hero Dani Sordo to claim second place in a Toyota Yaris and spark wild celebrations among the Estonian fans. He finished 17.2sec behind Neuville’s Hyundai i20, with Sordo, in another i20, a further 0.4sec adrift.

Tänak presented a calm figure throughout the championship’s only mixed surface event, but later revealed the stress he had carried.

“It’s difficult to say the pressure I felt this weekend - it was next level. To manage all this and get through it has been the target of my life. When you are on the verge of this you cannot imagine it,” said Tänak.

“I never wanted to take risks but my mother said yesterday evening that if I want something I can make it happen. I just had to make it happen.”

Neuville had led since Saturday morning in a bid to keep his title dream alive. His third victory of the season, allied with Sordo’s podium, enabled Hyundai Motorsport to extend its manufacturers’ championship lead to 18 points over Toyota Gazoo Racing.

As on Saturday, Loeb struggled for pace on the smooth flowing asphalt roads in Tarragona. Having led on Friday night, the Frenchman fell away from the podium battle to finish fourth in another i20, 36.3sec behind team-mate Sordo.

Jari-Matti Latvala bagged solid points for Toyota in fifth, the Finn ending 14.0sec clear of Elfyn Evans’ Ford Fiesta.

The season closes at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on November 14-17. The gravel event is based in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales.

RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España result:
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 3hr 07min 39.6sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +17.2sec
3. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +17.6sec
4. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +53.9sec
5. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +1min 00.2sec
6. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +1min 14.2sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 13 of 14):
1. O Tänak 263pts (new champion)
2. T Neuville 227
3. S Ogier 217

19-10-27 Veiby fyra i Spanien
Ole Christian Veiby och Jonas Andersson avslutade sin WRC 2-säsong med en fjärdeplats i Rally Spanien. En punktering under lördagsetappen grusade segerplanerna, men Volkswagen-duon var i övrigt med i toppen på de flesta av sträckorna.
- Det har inte varit stolpe-in i år, men positivt är att vi har varit med och kämpat om pallplats i alla tävlingar vi har kört, summerar Veiby.

Det spanska VM-rallyt började med en grusetapp på fredagen. Veiby/Andersson hade farten uppe från start med sin Polo GTI R5 och låg trea efter första dagen.
- Vi tappade tio sekunder på SS 2 när vi var tvungna att backa efter att ha kört rakt fram i en sväng, men i övrigt var det väldigt bra fart på gruset under första loopen.

På fredagskvällen var det ett digert jobb för alla mekaniker att ställa om bilarna till asfalt inför de kommande två etapperna.
- På asfalten började det riktigt bra och vi fann rytmen snabbt, men på tredje sträckan fick vi punktering och fick stanna för att byta hjul, berättar 23-åringen från Kongsvinger.
Veiby tappade flera minuter och trillade förstås ner i sammandraget, utan rimlig chans till klassvinst. Dessutom blev det lite följdfel efter punkteringen vilket stökade till det ytterligare.

Resten av rallyt blev det till att försöka plocka de placeringar som gick. Inför söndagen låg Veiby på femte plats i WRC 2.
- Sista dagen var målet att sätta så bra sträcktider som möjligt och det tycker jag att vi gjorde, men det blev också en smygpunktering. Lite för många punkteringar som gör att vi inte är med och slåss i toppen denna helgen.

Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS-chefen Tommy Kristoffersson är inne på samma spår i sin analys.
- Vi vet inte varför vi har fått de här punkteringarna. Det är tråkigt, för tempot är ju där. Ole Christian tog flera sträcksegrar när det fungerade.
Kristoffersson nämner också den psykologiska effekt återkommande punkteringar kan få.
- Det stör alldeles för mycket om man känner en oro för att det ska hända igen. Det finns inte marginal för sånt när det är många som åker fort. Man måste kunna åka flat out och lita på att det fungerar, säger Tommy.

Veiby tog sig ändå upp på fjärdeplats i klassen på sista sträckan och var alltså inte långt från pallen, trots problemen.

WRC 2-säsongen är nu över för den svensk-norska duon, som under året också har hunnit med att köra hem ett guld i norska mästerskapet. Hur relationen mellan Veiby och Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS kommer att se ut framöver återstår att se. Tommy Kristoffersson förklarar:
- Vi får analysera och titta över det vi har gjort i år tillsammans med Ole Christian, Jonas och Even Management. Vi har ju själva inte klart med en fortsättning från Volkswagen, men bilen finns här och personal har vi. Så sett är vi tillgängliga för ett uppdrag.
19-10-27 Sterk 4. plass til Ole Christian Veiby i Spania
På tross av punkteringer kjørte 23-åringen fra Kongsvinger i dag inn til en sterk fjerde-plass i WRC2-klassen, og avsluttet VM-sesongen med overbevisende kjøring på den spanske asfalten. – I dag var målet og sette gode etappetider, og det syns jeg absolutt vi har gjort, sier Ole Christian, som på avslutningsetappen kjørte seg opp en plassering, og tok dermed fjerdeplassen sammen med kartleser Jonas Andersson.

Rally Spania startet fredag med etapper på grus, Ole Christian og Jonas hadde farten inne fra første prøve, og endte dagen på en 3. plass. - Det begynte veldig bra på grusen, tapte 10 sekunder på SS2 hvor vi måtte rygge etter at det gikk litt rett fram i en sving. Ellers var vi veldig bra på fart på grus på første loopen, både bra split-tider og bra etappetider. Sliter litt mer med bilen andre gangen igjennom etappene. Har egentlig strevd litt generelt på andre loopen gjennom hele året, for å få demperne til å fungere ordentlig når det er blitt litt røffere.

Lørdag og søndag kjøres det på asfalt, og både bil og hode skal endres til nytt underlag og ny kjørestil. En overgang som Ole Christian klarte bra, og satte beste tid allerede på den andre asfaltprøven. Dessverre satte punkteringer og bremse-problemer, som ett resultat av ett ødelagt hjul-lager, en stopper for seiersjakten. - Over på asfalt så begynte det veldig bra, vi fant fort rytmen. Men så fikk vi en punktering på den tredje asfaltprøven, hvor vi måtte stoppe å bytte hjul. Andre loopen på asfalt var også ganske bra, men vi var jo da utenfor kampen om pallen etter at vi tapte så mye på punkteringen. Siste dag var målet og sette gode etappetider, og det syns jeg absolutt vi har gjort. Kjørte veldig bra på den første og den tredje prøva i dag, og det er vi veldig fornøyd med. Fikk også en snikpunktering bak i dag. Litt for mange punkteringer gjør at vi ikke er med og kjemper i toppen denne helgen.

Rally Spania er det siste løpet for Ole Christian og Jonas i år. Sesongen 2019 begynte med seier i Sverige og en pallplass i Monte-Carlo. På Korsika lå det også an til en knallsterk pallplass før en avkjøring søndag. Seieren glapp i Portugal etter en plutselig brann i bilen, mens det ble en kjedelig start på Rally Sardinia med en 10 minutters tidsstraff etter at de måtte bryte med ødelagt støtdemper allerede på første fartsetappe. I Wales var Ole Christian helt på pace med de raskeste, men måtte bryte etter å ha ødelagt en bære-arm i ett møte med en trestubbe. - Vi har vist at vi er sterke på alle løp, men jeg syns vi har fått litt dårlig betalt for den gode pace’n vi har hatt. Vi har hatt litt uflaks med bil og litt deler som ikke har vært helt optimale. Det skulle vi jo gjerne vært foruten, det har ikke vært helt stang inn i år. Men vi får ta med oss det som er positivt og vi har vist at vi er sterke og er med i toppen på alle løpet som vi har kjørt, vi har jo vært med å fighta om pall-plasser i WRC2 på alle løpene vi har kjørt.

Hjemme i Norge kan Ole Christian kalle seg regjerende Norgesmester i Rally etter seier på Rally Hedemarken. Han vant 4 av 5 NM-runder totalt.

Resultat Rally Spania 2019 WRC2
1 Camilli
2 Lindholm +1.40,7
3 Kajetanowicz +1.56,5
4 Veiby +3.10,3
5 Loubet +3.42,6
19-10-27 Pontus Lönnström visade imponerande fart i Spaniens VM-rally
Rallytalangen Pontus Lönnström från Nora, som är en del av Team Ramudden, har under den gånga helgen vart på plats i Salou utanför Barcelona för att köra det Spanska VM-rallyt som en del i uppladdningen inför nästa års satsning på Junior-VM tillsammans med sin kartläsare Stefan Gustavsson, Ludvika. Tävlingen var den första för Pontus utanför Sverige, och första gången han tävlade på asfalt.
– Vi är jättenöjda med vad vi presterat denna helgen, och känner att vi bara blivit bättre och bättre hela tiden. Allt har gått bra och vi har kört städat, säger Pontus.

Trots sin knappa erfarenhet av VM och asfalt har Pontus och Stefan visat imponerande fart på de Spanska vägarna i sin tvåhjulsdrivna Ford Fiesta R2T. Redan under fredagens inledande etapp på grus tog de tre av sex sträcksegrar och ryckte åt sig en ledning i klassen på över en minut. Under lördagen fick de känna på asfalt för första gången och satte konstant topptider och tog även sin första sträckseger på asfalt, ledningen vid dagens slut var nästan fyra minuter.
– Största utmaningen med att köra på asfalt är att fatta hur fort det går att åka i kurvorna och sätta bromspunkterna. Men det känns som vi kom in i det på ett bra sätt, men det finns mycket mer att jobba på, fortsätter Pontus.

Tyvärr fick Pontus och Stefan inte se målflagg i tävlingen, då de tvingades bryta på söndagens första sträcka. Men de tar med sig en bra känsla och lärdomar inför framtiden.
– Även om det är tråkigt att vi fick bryta har vi fått med mycket viktig erfarenhet för framtiden och framförallt haft väldigt roligt, avslutar Pontus.
19-10-26 Neuville fights to disrupt Tänak’s WRC title claim in Spain
Belgian eager to take battle to last race in Australia ahead of Sunday finale. Thierry Neuville led RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España on Saturday night in a bold bid to carry his FIA World Rally Championship title fight with Ott Tänak into the final round.

He ended the penultimate leg with a 21.5sec advantage over Hyundai i20 team-mate Dani Sordo. Championship leader Tänak lies just 3.1sec further back after demoting Sébastien Loeb’s i20 by 0.6sec in the final speed test.

While Neuville’s lead looks comfortable with only Sunday’s short leg remaining, he is praying his colleagues can repel Tänak’s attack which could secure the Estonian a maiden world crown ahead of next month’s final round in Australia.

After teams transformed their cars from gravel to asphalt set-up last night for the final two days, Neuville won the opening two speed tests to relegate Loeb, who struggled to replicate the pace he had on Friday’s dirt roads.

The Belgian added another fastest time in the final test to put himself on the cusp of victory. That could prove in vain if Tänak beats Sordo and Loeb, meaning he could secure the crown with bonus points in Sunday’s closing Wolf Power Stage.

“I’ve done my job so far and my team-mates are really trying to resist, but obviously Tänak was fast this afternoon. We’re going to try and finish the job we started yesterday morning and let’s see whether Tänak can claim second or if he stays in third,” said Neuville.

Tänak, driving a Toyota Yaris, started the day fifth and a run of four stage victories enabled him to close on the Hyundai trio and set his sights on finishing second tomorrow.

“This morning I wasn’t feeling too relaxed but now I’ve been able to learn a bit and get into a rhythm. We would like to keep the pressure, but to take the time back will be difficult,” said Tänak.

First and second for Hyundai Motorsport at tomorrow’s Salou finish would enhance the Korean squad’s manufacturers’ championship lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing.

Jari-Matti Latvala was fifth in another Yaris, the Finn a vital cog in Toyota’s title chase after team-mate Kris Meeke crashed this morning. After demoting Sordo to climb to third, Meeke drifted wide in a left corner, hit a barrier and ripped off a rear wheel.

The Finn suffered understeer but was 22.4sec clear of a frustrated Elfyn Evans, who struggled for pace in his Ford Fiesta.

Sunday’s finale is the shortest of the rally at 74.14km. Two stages are driven either side of service in Salou and the final La Mussara test forms the potentially crucial Wolf Power Stage, with bonus points on offer to the fastest five drivers.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 2hr 25min 15.8sec
2. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +21.5sec
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +24.6sec
4. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +25.2sec
5. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +46.8sec
19-10-26 Citroën confirms progress made on tarmac
After their misfortune on day one, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia bounced back today like true champions, finding the resources necessary to move back into the points (8th place) whilst showing the improved competitiveness of the C3 WRC on tarmac.

With the configuration of the cars switched in service yesterday evening, today the crews tackled 121.72 kilometres of timed stages held on the wide and sweeping circuit-style tarmac roads of Catalonia.

After yesterday’s disappointment, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again showed great professionalism, giving their all to try and make up as much ground as possible, whilst also trying out some set-up options for future tarmac events. The third fastest time secured on the day’s opening stage (14.08km), just 2.5s off the leading mark, immediately confirmed the step forward made in the performance of the C3 WRC on tarmac. The French crew’s efforts were then rewarded by being promotion to 8thplace, therefore into the points, on the next stage. Although they were then left without any realistic target to go for, Sébastien and Julien nonetheless continued to post some very competitive times, despite the close battle raging at the front. They claimed two second fastest times in particular, just 1.2s and 1.7s off the stage-winning times, on SS9 and SS12 (24.40km). In conjunction with the team, the six-time world champions also made use of the mid-leg service to make some changes to the set-up, as they continued to improve the C3 WRC for future outings on this surface.

Determined to keep fighting, the Citroën Total World Rally Team will try to maintain its momentum on the 74.14 competitive kilometres and four stages scheduled tomorrow, whilst aiming to grab as many points as possible in the Power Stage.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“One positive from today’s second leg is that it confirmed that the work recently done on tarmac has been valuable and effective, and showed that we have improved the performance of the C3 WRC on this surface. It also gave our technical team the chance to explore a few ideas on set-up options, looking ahead to the next time we compete on tarmac.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Although it wasn't easy to find motivation today, I did my best to remain very focused and push hard. We ended up setting some decent times. I'm pleased that my good feeling in testing has been confirmed here in the rally. The balance of the C3 WRC is better and I have more confidence in the front axle. We’re not quite there, however, there’s still a little something missing. We’re going to keep working hard to find the last few tenths, which are always difficult to get.”

1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:25:15.8
2. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +21.5
3. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +24.6
4. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +25.2
5. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +46.8
6. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:09.2
7. Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:24.5
8. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +4:09.9
9. Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +6:35.2 (1st RC2 & WRC2Pro)
10. Camilli / Veillas (Citroën C3 R5) +6:38.2 (2ndRC2 & 1st WRC2)
19-10-25 Citroën remains committed despite difficulties
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia made the perfect start in winning the opening stage, but unfortunately then suffered a hydraulic failure that dashed any realistic hopes of victory. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were forced to retire from the rally altogether with an engine related issue. It was a tough day for a team that came to Spain determined to fight all the way.

The only mixed-surface event on the WRC calendar, Rally de España began today on gravel with the weekend’s longest leg, featuring one hundred and thirty kilometres of competitive stages. The highlight was expected to be two runs on the stage formerly known as Terra Alta, renamed La Fatarella – Vilalba (38.85km). The stage includes several kilometres on very technical, tarmac roads, but is contested with gravel tyres and can therefore prove decisive.

An astute tyre choice (four medium and one hard Michelin tyres), designed to compensate for the disadvantage of running second on these cleaning, gravel roads, helped Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia win the opening stage. There could be no doubt that the pair were determined to defend their title right to the end. However, a hydraulics issue at the start of SS2 meant they lost the car’s power steering, and shortly afterwards the steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles, thus dropping more than three and half minutes by the end of the morning loop. The Citroën Total World Rally Team mechanics once again showed tremendous endeavour, managing to repair their C3 WRC during the forty-five minute mid-leg service, enabling the French crew to get back on the roads in the afternoon. This evening, the six-time world champions lie 17th overall and will now try to move back up into the points.

Gradually improving their pace here in Spain, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made it to the mid-leg service among the frontrunners, just 12s behind the leader. Citroën’s two Finns had even moved to within just 4s of the podium when unfortunately they suffered an engine related issue, leaving them with no choice but to retire from the rally altogether.

As the action now switches to tarmac for the next two days, the mechanics achieved the minor feat during this evening’s service of converting the cars to the right configuration in just an hour and a quarter. Over to the crews now, who will have to tackle the 121.72 kilometres of timed stages on smooth and flowing circuit-like tarmac roads.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Obviously, it’s been a very tough day. It’s hard to take after all the work that has been put in by the members of the team in order to be in the best possible shape for this rally. Although it’s real blow, it’s not totally over yet in the championship for Sébastien and Julien. Obviously, in due course, we’ll learn the lessons from what's happened today, but for now we all remain united and committed in this difficult moment.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I lost the power steering pretty much at the start of SS2, then the gearshift paddles went and finally the central differential. It was so hard physically to drive the car without power steering, I ended up with blisters on my hands. Obviously, it’s disappointing because the intention was there. We made the right call on tyres and the time on the opening stage confirmed the good feeling we had. Everyone in the team is disappointed this evening, but obviously we’re professionals and our approach has always been to never give up and see where we are at the end of the rally.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I'm disappointed that my rally has come to a premature end, especially as I had enjoyed a pretty solid and consistent day up to that point, in terms of pace. The gaps were small and we were up for the fight, because I felt comfortable in my C3 WRC. I will now look forward to Australia and finishing the season on a high with the best possible result.”

1. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) 1:21:24.7
2. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1.7
3. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +7.6
4. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +13.0
5. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +21.7
6. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +30.1
7. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +44.0
8. Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +51.8
9. Katsuta / Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:50.3
10. Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +2:59.8 (1st RC2 & WRC2Pro)
17. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +4:01.4
19-10-25 Legend Loeb grabs late Friday lead in Spain as Tänak nears 2019 title
Estonian 21.7s back in fifth spot behind French nine-time WRC champion. Nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb snatched the lead of RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España late in Friday’s opening leg on a day when Ott Tänak took a massive step towards his maiden WRC title.

Loeb, the most successful driver in FIA World Rally Championship history, charged from third to first in the closing gravel road speed test to head a Hyundai i20 1-2-3. He led Thierry Neuville by 1.7sec with Dani Sordo a further 5.9sec adrift.

Championship leader Tänak ended fifth in his Toyota Yaris. His title hopes were boosted when closest rival Sébastien Ogier conceded almost four minutes when a hydraulic pipe came loose on his Citroën C3, leaving the Frenchman with no power steering.

Ogier led initially before hitting trouble and allowing Neuville, the only other driver capable of lifting the crown, into top spot. He was overhauled by Sordo, who led for three of the six tests, before Loeb’s late smash-and-grab to become the day’s fourth leader.

“I pushed really on the limit in the last stage,” said the 45-year-old Frenchman, who was only sixth at the midpoint but ended the day with three stage wins.

“The grip was very good and I tried hard from the start until the last metre. It’s incredible to have three cars at the front. We didn’t believe that when we started and I didn’t believe I would lead.”

Neuville never put a foot wrong, despite struggling with visibility in the late-evening sunshine. The Belgian must win this weekend, but even that may not be enough to deny Tänak.

Sordo headed Neuville by almost five seconds before the closing stage. He was powerless to explain a 20sec deficit to Loeb through the test, and also slipped behind Neuville.

Kris Meeke held fourth despite a close call this morning when a bump threw his Yaris onto two wheels. The Briton was 5.4sec behind Sordo and 8.7sec clear of Tänak, who could secure the championship this weekend.

Finn Jari-Matti Latvala improved throughout the day to climb to sixth in the final stage.

Ogier ended 17th and with blistered hands after wrestling his car through two stages without power steering. Repairs were made during mid-leg service but his hopes of securing a seventh straight world title require a miracle.

Teams had an extended service tonight as mechanics raced against the clock to switch the cars from gravel to asphalt set-up for Saturday’s sealed surface action. Competitors face two loops of three tests before a closing blast along Salou seafront. The seven stages total 121.72km.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +1hr 21min 24.7sec
2. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +1.7sec
3. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +7.6sec
4. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +13.0sec
5. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +21.7sec
6. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +30.1sec

19-10-23 Ott Tänak out to make history in Spain with his first WRC crown
The Estonian can secure his maiden title with a win on the gravel and asphalt. Victory in Spain this week would seal a maiden FIA World Rally Championship title for Ott Tänak – but he will not risk everything with the buffer of Australia’s final round to come.

The Toyota Yaris driver carries a 28-point lead into RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España. If he extends that to 30 during the gravel and asphalt encounter, the only mixed surface round in the series, the title is his.

Tänak accepts there is pressure on him, but believes the pressure is greater on his two rivals. Six-time champion Sébastien Ogier is his closest challenger while Thierry Neuville is 41 points adrift and the outsider.

“I guess the focus will be on me, but at the same time Seb and Thierry have to go all-out,” he said. “There’s no doubt about that from their side. For me, there’s no need to risk everything.

“I don’t need to do anything if the feeling isn’t there. If I’m comfortable with the car then I’m sure we can make the fight, but let’s see how it goes.

“We’ll focus on ourselves and do all we can. If it takes more than that, then there’s no need to push it. If we don’t do it here, we can take the fight to Australia.”

Tänak is on form with five wins from the last seven rounds. Last year his title hopes disappeared when he crashed into a tree on the final morning of the season in Australia and he has left nothing to chance this time.
19-10-23 Veiby laddad för stark avslutning
Ole Christian Veiby och Jonas Andersson är på plats i Katalonien för Rally de Espana. Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS-ekipaget gör sin sista VM-tävling för säsongen och jagar sin tredje pallplats för året.
- Vi vill avsluta året som vi började, med en helg när allting sitter som det ska, så som det gjorde i Rally Sweden, säger stallchefen Tommy Kristoffersson.

Där vann Veiby och Andersson WRC 2-klassen efter en övertygande uppvisning.
- Då gick Ole Christian från klarhet till klarhet ju längre tävlingen gick och antog utmaningarna en efter en. Nu hoppas vi att han ska få visa sin fulla kapacitet igen, påpekar Kristoffersson.

Det vägvinnande flytet har inte infunnit sig efter det svenska VM-rallyt. I senaste deltävlingen i Wales tvingades Veiby bryta tidigt. Därför är det ett extra laddat team som kommer till start i Salou med en Polo GTI R5 i toppskick.
-Vi har jobbat kontinuerligt med förbättringar på bilen hela året, men nu har vi verkligen gått all-in med de allra senaste delarna, de nyaste uppdateringarna och har dessutom satt i en ny motor, berättar teamchefen.

De första rapporterna från Spanien andas också stor tillförsikt.
- Mycket positiva signaler. Det var en bra testdag i början på veckan. Allt fungerade perfekt och alla i teamet är taggade.

Det inkluderar förstås även Ole Christian själv.
- Vi fick ju inte det resultat vi hade önskat i Wales, så nu är vi väldigt laddade för ett bra resultat, både Jonas och jag. Detta är sista VM-tävlingen för i år, så nu måste vi vara med och kämpa i toppen, och det ska vi!

Veiby har goda upplevelser av tidigare tävlande på sydeuropeiska vägar.
- Rally Spanien är en tävling som jag tycker mycket om och nu är det femte gången jag startar här, så jag har ju lite erfarenhet. Det var faktiskt här jag gjorde min VM-debut 2014 och körde min allra första VM-tävling.

Att rallyt körs på blandat underlag är också en omständighet som tilltalar Veiby.
- Den enda tävlingen med både grus och asfalt, och jag trivs på båda underlagen. Asfaltvägarna här är de coolaste i VM, så jämna och fina. Nästan som asfaltracing. Detta blir skoj!

Närmare 20 ekipage är anmälda i WRC 2-klassen. På torsdag kväll är det ceremoniell start i Salou, sydväst om Barcelona. Första specialsträckan körs på fredag morgon och följs sedan av ytterligare fem sträckor samma dag. Efter första dagens grusetapp väntar två dagar på asfalt fram till avslutande SS 17 på söndag vid lunchtid.
19-10-21 Rally de Espana - Catalunya notebook & Citroën secrets
55thRallyRACC Catalunya Costa Daurada Rally de España (24 – 27 October 2019) – Story

With eleven appearances in Catalonia, including three overall wins, Sébastien Ogier’s co-driver has had plenty of opportunities to rack up a few notable memories…

Your relationship with this rally almost got off to a bad start in 2008, when a crash might have ended up costing you and Sébastien the Junior World Championship title…

Yes, you’re right! We had done the hard part throughout the season and all we had to do was to get over the line, so to speak. But we hit a huge patch of loose gravel, lost control and went off. And that was that, we had to retire. It put a lot of pressure on us at the next round in Corsica, where we absolutely had to make it to the finish in order to score the points we needed to win the title. I remember that we ended up driving around Corsica with a car full of spare parts. Our C2 S1600 looked more like the Citroën Racing shop!

What is your worst memory at this round?
Over the years, we have seen that it’s a rally that can play a few tricks on you and throw up a few surprises. I suppose I tend to think back to when we went off on the Power Stage in 2015, when we had the race pretty much sewn up.

And what is your favourite memory?
We won the world championship there in 2014 and 2016, so obviously they were great times! They were also titles that we wrapped up before the end of the championship, which was also a bit special. And you know, at this rally, there are often a lot of French fans who come down for the weekend, as well as friends and family, so it was really nice to share the experience with them. There must be a few photos of me wearing an old blue, white and red cap that came from a rugby team. My friends put it on my head during the final interview at the end of the Power Stage in 2016!

As someone who has competed on both versions of this rally, did you prefer it when it was held exclusively on tarmac or is it more enjoyable now that it is mixed-surface event?

I like the mixed-surface concept because it’s always nice for the fans to see the mechanics at work for an hour and a quarter, switching the car from the gravel to tarmac configuration. It’s an impressive sight and it highlights the work of the team. It also shows how easy it is to transfer the car from one version to another. Having said that, from a racing point of view, with the opening leg on gravel and the issues that come with being high up the running order, you can easily lose a lot of time – fifteen, twenty or even thirty seconds – that you just can’t make up on tarmac because the gaps are much narrower. There are tenths of a second between the leading times on tarmac, whereas on gravel it’s more a matter of seconds. It’s the slightly unfair nature of the rally, where it’s almost impossible to make up time.

Which surface do you prefer?
I would say that I prefer gravel because it’s a livelier form of racing, with a bit more sliding and drifting, and improvisation… Tarmac is impressive because you have to be incredibly precise in your lines. It’s also a lot rougher ride as a co-driver and in general, you feel a bit more shaken up physically by the end of the rally. As the car is literally stuck to the ground, you feel it every time you hit the brakes, every time you accelerate, every turn of the wheel and on every left-hander, even the insignificant ones, whereas on gravel, sometimes you barely notice them.

Eleven-time winners in Catalonia, Citroën has achieved the minor feat of winning at least once with each of its cars since it first entered the WRC, starting with the Xsara Kit-Car (1999), then its big sister the Xsara WRC (2005 and 2006), the C4 WRC (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010), the DS3 WRC (2011 and 2012) and finally the C3 WRC for the last two years. Didier Clément, Citroën’s famous race engineer and now Technical and Sporting Coordinator, recalls their first win in Spain in 1999, the French brand’s maiden WRC success...
“At the time, no-one believed that one day, we would be competing full-time in the WRC. It was a pipe dream back then. With the two-wheel drive Xsara Kit-Car, we knew there were just three rounds on tarmac (Catalonia, Corsica and Sanremo) where we might be able to do something against the powerful four-wheel drive cars of the time, but we only seemed have a real chance in Spain. There were a lot of acceleration points on dirty concrete on one of the legs in Sanremo, where we would clearly be at a disadvantage, whilst the feeling was that there were too many turns in Corsica and we would end up destroying the front tyres there. In actual fact, we were wrong on that score, because we followed up our win in Spain with a second victory in Corsica. But the first win is clearly the one that stands out for me. It sent shock waves through the entire rallying world and it kicked off the series of events that has taken us to where we are now!”
19-10-17 Pontus Lönnström kör Spaniens VM-rally
Rallytalangen Pontus Lönnström från Nora, som tävlar för Team Ramudden, blev Svensk Juniormästare i rally tillsammans med kartläsaren Stefan Gustafsson från Ludvika i slutet av september. Pontus och Stefan, som nästa år ska köra Junior-VM i rally, börjar nu förberedelserna genom att köra VM-deltävlingen i Spanien nästa helg.

Tävlingen blir den andra för Pontus i VM-sammanhang, efter att ha kört Rally Sweden tidigare i vintras. Han och Stefan kommer köra den Ford Fiesta R2T som man under året kört i Sverige för att skaffa erfarenhet från VM-cirkusen och att köra på asfalt, ett underlag som är nytt för Pontus.
– Det ska bli riktigt roligt att köra min första tävling utomlands, och framförallt att få köra asfalt för första gången. Det kommer bli viktig träning inför nästa säsong, säger Pontus.

Tävlingen i Spanien körs på blandat underlag, där allt inleds med grus under fredagens sträckor för att sedan avslutas med två dagar asfalt. RallyRACC Catalunya utgår från staden Salu utanför Barcelona.
19-10-07 Tom Kristensson och Henrik Appelskog tvåa i Wales Rally GB och silvermedaljörer i JWRC 2019!
Efter en dramatisk 5:e och sista deltävling i årets Junior-VM i rally, JWRC, tog Tom Kristensson från SMK Hörby och Henrik Appelskog från Östergyllens RC en andra plats i Wales Rally GB i helgen, efter spanjoren Jan Solans, en av de tre som hade en reell möjlighet att vinna årets JWRC. I och med att Solans vann tog han även hem årets titel och första priset en Ford Fiesta R5.

Tävlingen blev svårkörd, då kraftigt regn i början av veckan hade gjort sträckorna extra leriga och hala med skiftande grepp.
Redan på SS 3 brast en bärarm för Dennis Rådström, den andre svenske föraren med chans att vinna titeln, han tvingades bryta för dagen, med många straffminuter.

Tom och Solans hade sedan en sekundkamp resten av dagen, och även under de första sträckorna på lördagen, men på SS 13, den välkända Sweet Lamb Hafren, var oturen framme för Tom och Henrik, då en punktering efter ca 10 km på den 26 km långa sträckan, tvingade dem att stanna och byta hjul. Man förlorade här drygt 3 minuter, men behöll ändå sin andra plats.
- Det var antagligen en av de vassa stenarna som det finn gott om på de Walesiska vägarna som orsakade punkteringen och bytet tog lite tid eftersom hjulmuttrarna var fulla av lera och gräs, men tidsförlusten hade ändå varit för stor för att kunna köra igen den, säger Tom.

Resten av tävlingen fram till avslutande SS 22 på söndagen blev det mer av en bevakning av placeringarna både för Tom och Solans, och undvika punkteringar och andra misstag på de svårkörda vägarna.
- Trots att vi inte nådde ändra fram är jag och Henrik väldigt stolta och glada över vad vi åstadkommit under året, säger Tom vid målgången i Llandudno. Det var första året med VM-tävlingar och med allt vad det innebär. Vi har skaffat oss massor av erfarenhet, lärt oss mycket om hur allt fungerar, fått uppleva fantastiska platser och haft kul på resan.
- Och resultatet med placeringarna1-2-3-1-2 är vi ensamma om att ha varit på pallen i samtliga deltävlingar, fyller Henrik i.
- Jag vill även tacka alla mina partners för ett fantastiskt stöd och engagemang som gjort den här resan och drömmen möjlig, det är stort att få jobba med dem, säger Tom
- Och inte minst ett tack till de supportrar från Hörby och Motala som var här i Wales och hejade på oss. Att se flaggorna och hejandet på sträckorna gav inspiration och stöd, avslutar Tom

Nu blev inte Tom lottlös, utan vann priset som årets Rookie, ett pengabidrag till nästa års tävlande.

Slutställningen i JWRC blev: Jan Solans, Spanien, 151 poäng, Tom Kristensson, Sverige, 133 poäng, Dennis Rådström, Sverige, 75 poäng..
19-10-06 Tempot fanns men motflyt för Veiby
Wales Rally GB blev inte den framgång som Ole Christian Veiby hade siktet inställt på. Efter en lovande inledning tvingades Veiby bryta under fredagen och fick starta om utan chans till tätplacering i WRC 2.
- Det blev inte det rally vi hade hoppats på. Vi kom hit med en plan för ett bra resultat, seger eller åtminstone pallplats, säger en besviken Ole Christian.

När rallyt drog igång på allvar under fredagsmorgonen visade Veiby bra tempo med sin Polo GTI R5. På SS3 var han snabbast och låg så långt på en andraplats i WRC 2.
- Vi började bra, var snabba och tog en sträckseger, men så träffade vi en stubbe och tvingades bryta på SS4. Det förstörde vårt rally.

Veiby och co-drivern Jonas Andersson startade om på lördagen, men förstås med tilläggstid och därmed långt ner i totalställningen. Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS-ekipaget visade ändå att tempot fanns genom hela etappen.
- Även om vi inte hade den allra högsta farten så lyckades vi sätta topp tre-tider i WRC 2 på alla sträckor den dagen, summerar den 23-årige norrmannen.

Veiby fortsatte göra bra tider under slutetappen på söndagen, men var ändå inte helt nöjd.
- Söndagen var lite frustrerande. Vi fortsatte leta efter mer fart, gjorde några ändringar och anpassade körstilen. Det hjälpte till en del.

Ole Christian slutade elva i sin klass och kunde därmed inte stärka sin position i VM-sammandraget.
- Det finns en del positiva saker att ta med sig ändå och vi ska komma tillbaka starkare.

Teamchefen i Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS, Tommy Kristoffersson, följde rallyt från hemmaplan och delade Veibys frustration.
- Topp tre-tider på de flesta sträckor. Det är bra. Ole Christian har tempot för att bli världsmästare, men det har varit några ödesdigra incidenter under säsongen, så även denna gång, konstaterar Kristoffersson.

Det finns en hemläxa att göra för att nå fortsatt progression, konstaterar stallchefen.
- Vi måste tillsammans noggrant analysera de här incidenterna och lära oss inför fortsättningen. Sedan ska man också komma ihåg att det är en bil som går första året i VM-sammanhang. Utveckling tar tid.

Av Veibys VM-säsong återstår nu deltävlingen i Spanien 25-27 oktober.
19-10-06 Tänak wins Rally GB to close on WRC
Estonian digs in to take fifth win from the last seven rallies. Ott Tänak clinched a hard-earned win at Wales Rally GB on Sunday afternoon to move within touching distance of a maiden FIA World Rally Championship title.

His fifth victory from the last seven rounds was topped off with maximum bonus points from the final Wolf Power Stage. He will secure the crown if he wins the penultimate round in Spain later this month.

His 10.9sec success was far from easy. Muddy forest roads, rain and fog in north and mid-Wales meant the Toyota Yaris driver had to be at his best to fend off title rivals Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier.

They snapped at Tänak’s heels after he claimed the lead from team-mate Kris Meeke late on Friday night. The Estonian held them at bay and the pair helped Toyota Gazoo Racing cut Hyundai Motorsport’s manufacturers’ championship lead to eight points.

“It was a long weekend with long days and short nights and a lot of pressure. I guess the gap was never bigger than 10 seconds and every stage I was on the limit,” Tänak admitted.

“It was a hard one, but it feels good at the moment. We still have two more rallies to go and we have seen plenty of drama in the past, so we need to keep focused.”

Neuville, without a win since April, emerged as the closest challenger in his Hyundai i20. However, in a rally where the time gaps were small despite the tricky conditions, the Belgian couldn't make inroads in Sunday’s closing four speed tests close to the rally base in Llandudno.

Ogier completed the podium in his Citroën C3, a further 12.9sec back. The Frenchman’s hopes of a seventh straight title are dwindling as he trails Tänak by 28 points with a maximum 60 available. Neuville is 41 points off the lead.

Meeke led throughout Friday’s first full day in his Yaris but couldn't reproduce the same pace over the weekend. He finished 11.8sec behind Ogier and a similar margin clear of the battle for fifth between Elfyn Evans and Andreas Mikkelsen.

Evans trailed the Norwegian on Sunday morning after damaging his Ford Fiesta’s suspension when he ran wide at fast corner on Friday. The Welshman, the winner in Britain in 2017, charged back up the order and relegated Mikkelsen by 9.6sec.

The WRC moves to Spain later this month for the penultimate round and the only mixed surface fixture of the year. RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España is based in Salou from October 24 - 27.

Final positions:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 3hr 00min 58.0sec
2. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +10.9sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +23.8sec
4. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +35.6sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +48.6sec
6. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +58.2sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 12 of 14)
1. O Tänak 240pts
2. S Ogier 212pts
3. T Neuville 199pts
19-10-06 Citroën and Ogier take bronze in Wales GB
Wales Rally GB lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest events on the WRC calendar as Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia negotiated the unpredictable Welsh weather and muddy conditions to finish third overall. Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made it to the end of the rally, having been forced to rejoin under Rally 2 rules, gathering considerable experience in the process.

With today’s final leg only covering 38.42 kilometres, and held on stages well known to the all the crews, it was asking a lot of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia to make up the deficit to the top two crews. Matters were only made worse when the Great Orme stage (4.74km), where some big gaps appeared last year, was cancelled this year for safety reasons. At that point, the French pair focused on keeping clear of trouble in the many tricky sections, before going for it in the Power Stage. They were second fastest on the final stage, therefore adding four bonus points to those awarded for finishing third overall.

This result is Citroën Total World Rally Team’s eleventh podium in twelve rounds this season and the French crew’s eighth top-three finish, and ensures they remain in second position in the championship, twenty-eight points behind the leaders.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia moved into the top three after the rally’s first proper stage, before driving really aggressively in the C3 WRC on Friday afternoon, claiming two stage wins and confirming their intention to try and secure a sixth win at this round. They ended the opening leg just 3.4s off the lead. Determined to pursue their push on Saturday, not only the longest leg of the weekend but also contested without a mid-leg service, the six-time world champions once again pushed as hard as they could in an exciting and closely-fought scrap at the front. Unfortunately, they weren't quite able to match the pace of the other two championship contenders. They therefore began today’s final leg in third place, 17.3s behind the leaders and 6.3s off second place.

After driving somewhat cautiously on the first proper stage as they got to grips with the handling of the C3 WRC on the greasy Welsh roads, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm immediately upped their pace with a fourth fastest time, 4.0s off the pace on the following stage (Penmachno, 16.19km). A third fastest time, just 1.0s off the leading pace on Aberhirnant (SS5, 10.26km) meant they made it the mid-leg service on day one just 7.8s off the podium. However, they were then caught out by one of the stages’ many changes in grip, overestimating the grip available on a braking point at the start of the second loop. They went no further on the opening leg. Having rejoined the action under Rally 2 rules on Saturday, they focused on improving their knowledge of the subtleties of the event and learning what it is like to start first in the running order on muddy, slippery roads, sometimes flooded with standing water. They nonetheless showed impressive speed at certain points, scoring a third fastest time on the Power Stage, within a second of the stage-winning time.

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“The Power Stage sums up our weekend in many ways: we have been a couple of tenths back throughout the rally. We tried our best and gave it absolutely everything, but we were just a bit short of performance whilst Ott had a super weekend. It’s not a great result for us in terms of the championship with just two rounds to go, but we’re going to keep fighting tooth and nail for as long as it remains possible mathematically to win the title.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“For sure, it’s a shame to find yourself out of contention on the Friday. But there are some positives because learned a lot here. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of performance we managed to show in the C3 WRC despite having had totally dry conditions for our pre-event test.”

What is your analysis of this slightly disappointing weekend?
Yes, I suppose we have slightly mixed feelings about our weekend. Obviously, there are many things we can be pleased about, not least securing the brand’s eleventh podium in twelve rounds this season. We also showed great reliability with the C3 WRC, especially on Saturday when we had to cover almost half of the total distance with no service period. On the other hand, we had hoped to be more competitive so that Sébastien and Julien could keep moving upwards in the championship standings, especially as they once again showed incredible fight at this rally. It’s an event where they excel, as can be seen in their performance on the Power Stage. Instead of making up ground, however, they have dropped a little further back. Similarly, we were hoping for better for Esapekka and Janne, but they were a little unlucky in drifting marginally off the line at the wrong place. We saw afterwards in the pace they showed that they obviously could have secured a strong result this weekend, but you need quite a bit of experience to read the grip on these muddy gravel roads, something that they are still in the process of gathering. They also learned a lot during the rest of the rally, by being consistent.

How do see the final two rounds?
Obviously, the situation in the championship is more difficult now and we’re going to need a bit of good luck to turn things in our favour. But we’re not about to give up. We now have to work hard to give Sébastien and Julien a car that enables them to fight for victory at these two remaining rounds. Last week, Sébastien spent a day testing on tarmac at our Satory test track. This week, we had another test there and next week, we’ll be holding a four-day test in Spain. We’re going to give it our very best shot, so we have no regrets at the end of the year.

Until the end of the Power Stage, the Citroën Total World Rally Team tried everything to limit the points dropped in the championship, with a team strategy that was close to perfect.

Despite their misfortune on day one, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm constantly showed their competitiveness on the Welsh roads, whenever they weren’t too hampered by the conditions. This is why the team encouraged them to express their talent on the Power Stage, as part of a team strategy designed to nick as many points as possible from their rivals. The Finnish pair executed their part perfectly, topping the timesheets as many other crews completed, until Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia moved ahead of them by less than five tenths. Neuville tried and failed to dislodge the two
Citroën crews, before Tänak finally managed to grab the top time by just over four tenths of a second.

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:00:58.0
2. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +10.9
3. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +23.8
4. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +35.6
5. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +48.6
6. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +58.2
7. Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5:23.8
8. Breen / Nagle (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 9:25.0
27. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +35:53.7

1. Ott Tänak – 240 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 212 points
3. Thierry Neuville – 199 points
4. Andreas Mikkelsen – 102 points
5. Kris Meeke – 98 points
6. Elfyn Evans – 90 points
7. Jari-Matti Latvala – 84 points
8. Esapekka Lappi – 83 points
9. Teemu Suninen – 83 points
10. Dani Sordo – 72 points
* Subject to publication of the official standings by the FIA

1. Hyundai WRT – 340 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 332 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 278 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 200 points
* Subject to publication of the official standings by the FIA
19-10-06 Säsongsbästa för Pontus Tidemand i Wales Rally GB
Under långa tävlingsdagar i tuffa förhållanden på Wales blöta och leriga vägar, tog Pontus Tidemand stora kliv framåt i M-Sports Ford Fiesta WRC. Utan misstag tog han sig i mål på en sjundeplats - hans bästa resultat hittills under 2019. "Det känns som att jag har knäckt koden till hur man kör en WRC-bil" säger Pontus.

Fyra VM-tävlingar har det blivit så här långt för Pontus Tidemand under sitt första år i högsta klassen. Debuten skedde i Rally Monte-Carlo på asfalt och is, sen väntade hemmatävlingen Rally Sweden på snö. Efter det blev det ett sju månader långt uppehåll från VM-cirkusen innan Pontus gjorde comeback i september i det turkiska VM-rallyt, en tävling som anses vara det hårdaste grusrallyt i serien, för att under den gångna helgen ta sig an Wales Rally GB, som är en krävande tävling på halt och lerigt underlag med det omväxlande vädret som största utmaningen.
- Det är fyra rallyn med helt olika karaktärer, berättar Pontus. Varje gång har jag fått hantera bilen på nya underlag med nya svårigheter och på så sätt lärt mig massor och konstant fått nya erfarenheter, samtidigt som det ur det perspektivet har varit lite att börja på nytt i varje tävling. Men det är också så här man verkligen lär känna bilen och det är den enda vägen till att kunna vara med och kriga ordentligt framöver.

Helgens Wales Rally GB började aningens kämpigt för Pontus och hans kartläsare Ola Fløene som slet med att få till inställningarna och bli ett med bilen. Framåt fredagens slut började Pontus kunna njuta av körningen och startade lördagen med samma känsla. Utan någon service under själva tävlingsdagen lyckades de både ta hand om bilen och visa framsteg när de satte allt bättre sträcktider.

Av söndagens fem sträckor kunde fyra genomföras som planerat. SS20 blev tvungen att strykas på grund av hårda vindar som når Wales kust och det blev en säkerhetsrisk att genomföra sträckan som gick längs med vattnet. Med en fortsatt bra känsla gjorde Pontus en fin sista insats och knyter ihop det brittiska VM-rallyt som sjua totalt, vilket är hans starkaste resultat i värstingklassen.
- Vi har haft en riktigt bra utveckling den här helgen. Det har blivit bättre och bättre för varje dag och många stora bitar har fallit på plats. Det känns som att jag har knäckt koden till hur man kör en WRC-bil och jag hade gärna kört på ett par dagar till för att fortsätta finslipa. Nu tappar vi cirka en halv sekund per kilometer och mycket handlar om att lära sig bromsa senare och gå på maxfart där man kan. Efter en såhär tuff tävling som började kämpigt, är det otroligt skönt att ändå åka hem med en positiv känsla av att vi definitivt är på rätt spår. Jag hoppas vi snart är tillbaka för att fortsätta fighta oss framåt och uppåt, säger Pontus.

Resultat WRC-klassen Wales Rally GB 2019
1. Ott Tänak 3:00:58.0
2. Thierry Neuville +10.9
3. Sebastien Ogier +23.8
4. Kris Meeke +35.6
5. Elfyn Evans +48.6
6. Andreas Mikkelsen +58.2
7. Pontus Tidemand +5:23.8
8. Craig Breen +9:25.0
9. Esapekka Lappi +35:53.7
19-10-05 WRC leader Tänak tightens his grip on Rally GB
Estonian extends his lead while Neuville emerges as main challenger. Ott Tänak delivered a determined Super Saturday drive to stretch his lead at Wales Rally GB over FIA World Rally Championship title rivals Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier.

The tussle for victory through the wet, muddy and foggy mid-Wales forests echoed the battle for the world crown between the trio, and Tänak had to work hard to gain vital seconds that extended his lead to 11.0sec with Sunday’s short finale remaining.

It was the first time in three days that the rally lead reached double figures – a far from comfortable margin on greasy gravel tracks where grip levels changed constantly and with more rain forecast for the final day.

The championship leader only won one of the seven speed tests covering 151.24km, almost half the rally’s total competitive distance, but his consistency allowed him to increase his overnight 3.4sec advantage as Neuville emerged as his main challenger in second.

The Estonian’s only problem came when the rear bumper was torn from his Toyota Yaris this afternoon, making it almost impossible for Tänak to hear co-driver Martin Järveoja’s pace notes.

Neuville climbed from fourth in his Hyundai i20, the Belgian winning two tests and conceding only 2.6sec to Tänak during the day.

Sébastien Ogier retained second in his Citroën C3 this morning, despite hitting a bank after a pace note mix up. The Frenchman could not fend off Neuville as the road surface became more polished and ended 6.3sec further back in third.

Kris Meeke, who led for virtually all of Friday, started 3.6sec off the lead but couldn't reproduce the same speed on faster and wider roads in his Yaris. He ended 26.5sec behind team-mate Tänak, but in a vital points-paying position for Toyota Gazoo Racing’s manufacturers’ title challenge.

Andreas Mikkelsen won a stage en route to retaining fifth in his i20. The Norwegian came under fierce pressure from Elfyn Evans, who won all three morning stages in his Ford Fiesta. The Welshman was less dominant this afternoon but was only 4.5sec adrift tonight.

Sunday’s finale returns to north Wales. Two loops of two forest stages sandwich an asphalt test around the rocky Great Orme headland on the edge of host town Llandudno. It totals 38.42km and the final Wolf Power Stage offers bonus points to the fastest five drivers.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 2hr 42min 02.7sec
2. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +11.0sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +17.3sec
4. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +26.5sec
5. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +46.9sec
6. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +51.4sec
19-10-05 Citroën on podium with Ogier-Ingrassia redy to pounce
Determined to keep challenging for victory after spending yesterday’s opening leg among the frontrunners, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia unfortunately dropped a few seconds today in a breathtaking battle at the front. They still ended the day third overall, just 17.3s behind the leaders and 6.3s off second place. Back in action today, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm focused on racking up the miles in their C3 WRC in the truly unique grip conditions you get at this round.

With a competitive distance of almost one hundred and fifty-two kilometres and no mid-leg service, day two was widely expected to be the rally’s decisive leg. Gaps were expected to appear as the muddy gravel roads, flooded in places, gradually became slipperier as more cars came through the stages. And that is precisely what it turned out to be.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who started the day second overall 3.4s behind the leaders, pushed relentlessly on these extremely tricky roads, determined to hold onto their podium spot. They set a fine third fastest time on Myherin (SS12, 22.91km), just a tenth behind the rally leaders. However, the efforts made by the six-time world champions were not fully rewarded since they kept dropping the odd second here and there, meaning they reached service this evening in third position, 17.3s behind the leaders and just 6.3s off second place. The French crew will be intent on keeping up the pressure on the guys ahead tomorrow and trying to move up place or two, whilst the gaps remain small and the chance of drama is always significant.

Having rejoined under Rally 2 rules after their off yesterday, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were above all focused on getting their bearings again, before quickly showing pace more consistent with their level of competitiveness. For example, they set the second and fourth fastest times on SS13 and SS15, which confirmed that had things gone differently, they might well have had a good shout of a top-five finish. They also acquired valuable experience for the future.

Tomorrow’s final leg sees the crews fight it out over a competitive distance of only 38.42 kilometres in five very short stages (the longest is just 10.41km). Grip levels are expected to remain very unpredictable, especially as more rain is forecast overnight…

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“I suppose we are slightly disappointed with today’s leg because we had hoped to be more in the race. Unfortunately, there was a little something missing for Sébastien and Julien who, despite fighting really hard, weren't able to push for the lead today. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we’re going to use tonight’s service to try and improve the set-up of the C3 WRC. The car certainly showed superb reliability on today’s leg, which was almost half of the rally, with no service period. We’re not that far behind and this rally often provides drama and incident right to the finish. Meanwhile, Esapekka and Janne got their bearings back and produced a focused and committed performance today, gathering experience that will undoubtedly prove useful in the future.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a tough day, with constant changes in grip, some fog too. We literally gave everything today. I'm glad we made it to the end, but I would love to have been faster. We consistently lost a little bit of time without being able to bounce back. There are still some tricky sections to tackle tomorrow and although Ott is quite far ahead now, none of us is immune to making a mistake in slippery conditions like these.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“We had a decent day and it was interesting for me to experience what it’s like to be first on the road in muddy conditions. Sometimes, it was an advantage in terms of grip. At other times, it was definitely a handicap, with quite a lot of puddles and standing water that I was the first to come across and clear, but it was nonetheless a good learning experience.”

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:42:02.7
2. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +11.0
3. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +17.3
4. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +26.5
5. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +46.9
6. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +51.4
7. Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:07.9
8. Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:59.6
9. Breen / Nagle (Hyundai i20 WRC) +9:16.0
20. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +35:45.7
19-10-05 Tidemand gör framsteg i Wales
Med mer än 150 kilometer specialsträckor i fortsatt svåra förhållanden utan service mitt på dagen, stod de tävlande ekipagen för en stor utmaning under lördagen. Pontus Tidemand har haft en bra dag på de walesiska vägarna och befinner sig på åttonde plats inför finaldagen.

Efter en något kämpig inledning av Wales Rally GB avslutade Pontus Tidemand fredagen med en bra känsla och vetskapen om att han började hitta rätt med bilen. Redan på lördagsmorgonen visade han att han höll kvar den känslan när han bjöd på fin körning och började förbättra sina sträcktider.
- En god natts sömn och lite egna analyser av min körning i kombination med några mindre ändringar i inställningarna på bilen gav ytterligare ett steg i rätt riktning, förklarar Pontus. Bilen kändes riktigt bra idag och jag tyckte verkligen om dagens sträckor. Kul helt enkelt!

När sträckorna kördes för andra gången på eftermiddagen blev utmaningen ännu större med leriga och uppkörda vägar, men Pontus och kartläsaren Ola Fløene anpassade sig efter underlaget och fortsatte göra en bra insats efter sina förutsättningar.
- Vi har haft en bra dag, summerar Pontus. Jag är glad att vi förbättrar oss, även om vi har en bit kvar. Men att vi faktiskt gör framsteg är ett kvitto på att vi är på rätt spår. Där vi är nu i resultatlistan har vi ganska stora avstånd både uppåt och neråt så morgondagen handlar främst om att göra det mesta av de sista sträckorna för att visa vart vi är på väg. Vi får ta en titt på vad vi har gjort idag, analysera och se vad vi kan göra inför morgondagen.

Fem sträckor återstår i den slutliga uppgörelsen imorgon, söndag.
19-10-05 Citroën lie swcond after day one with Ogier-Ingrassia
Consistently among the frontrunners throughout today’s opening leg, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia ended day one in second position, just 3.4s behind the leaders. Considerably less experienced at this tough, unusual round than their team-mates, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were unfortunately caught out by one of the many tricky sections, despite having adopted a steady approach. They will nonetheless rejoin the action tomorrow under Rally 2 rules to get as many miles in the car as possible.

With heavy rainfall over the last few days in Wales, particularly after Hurricane Lorenzo swept past the west of the UK and Ireland, today’s first proper leg (following last night’s opening super-special stage) looked set to be a serious challenge. A test for the crews, who had to deal with the very slippery and changeable conditions, but also for Citroën Total World Rally Team’s mechanics, who were forced to adapt the C3 WRC’s set-up after pre-event test had been held in perfectly dry conditions...

It had to be said that the Red Army came through these testing circumstances remarkably well once again. Moving into third overall after the day’s opening stage, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia immediately confirmed the competitiveness of the C3 WRC. They briefly held second position, before making it the mid-leg service in fifth, but just 2.8s behind second place. In the afternoon, they upped their pace again, securing two consecutive stage wins on the very narrow and technical Elsi and Penmachno stages (SS6 and SS7). They then took a slightly more cautious approach on the night stages to end the day ideally placed in 2ndposition, just 3.4s behind the leaders, ahead of what is widely expected to be the decisive leg.

Having made a careful start to the day on this extremely tricky surface, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were gradually getting to grips with the C3 WRC in the mud, reflected in the 4th and 3rd fastest times set on SS3 and SS5 respectively. However, unfortunately, they made a mistake at the start of the afternoon loop, caught out by the very limited grip under braking, and had no choice but to retire for the day. They will be back in action tomorrow under Rally 2 rules, aiming to get more miles under their belts in these very specific conditions and to work hard for the team.

Tomorrow’s leg looks like it may be even tougher than today: crews have to cover a competitive distance of some 151.24 kilometres but with only a mid-leg tyre-fitting zone and therefore no service period. However, with the leg featuring wider and faster stages, it may well suit the Citroën Total World Rally Team crews…

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Obviously, we’re pleased to see that Sébastien and Julien are able to fight for the win. They used all their experience to manage the day really well. They were very quick this afternoon and then perhaps a little bit more cautious this evening, but they are very much in contention. Tomorrow promises to be another very difficult day. We might get some fog, for example, so all bets are off. Clearly, we’re disappointed about Esapekka and Janne’s misfortune, but this can happen when you are driving on the limit on this kind of surface. You need a good deal of experience in order to read the changes in grip on the Welsh roads and neither of them has a great deal of that here as yet.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Obviously, we have had a good day today, even though we lost a bit of ground on the last two stages. It was difficult to read the grip and I probably hesitated a bit too much whereas in the end, the level of grip wasn't that bad. When you look at how small the gaps are at the front, everything is still up for grabs, so we’ll keep pushing flat out tomorrow. The roads on Saturday’s stages are expected to be quicker and wider, and they are very beautiful too, but they will undoubtedly still be very tricky in places, depending on the conditions.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“The morning went well for us, since we had gradually upped our pace and our rhythm was pretty good. At the second corner on the afternoon’s opening stage, I overestimated the level of grip, ran wide and as it was pretty narrow at that point, I hit the bank and broke the suspension wishbone. And that was that. For tomorrow, we need to talk about it properly with the team but I’m going to do whatever I can to help, possibly testing stuff that may be useful for Seb, whilst trying to keep driving quickly on stages that are faster and more flowing than the ones we tackled today.”

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:14:30.8
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +3.4
3. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3.6
4. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +8.4
5. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +25.7
6. Breen / Nagle (Hyundai i20 WRC) +33.5
7. Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +37.4
8. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +51.8
19-10-05 Slitsam dag slutar positivt för Tidemand i Wales Rally GB
Efter en lång och krävande tävlingsdag med mycket slit i klassiska blöta och leriga Walesförhållanden ligger Pontus Tidemand på nionde plats i det brittiska VM-rallyt.
- Det startade lite motigt imorse, halt och svåra förhållanden - som det ska vara i Wales. Vi kämpade med inställningarna till en början, men när vi kom in på service gjorde vi lite ändringar och det blev bättre under eftermiddagen. Sen blev två sträckor strukna och vi hade otur som inte hann köra någon av dem i full speed, man tappar ju chanser att förbättra sig. Men det är inget man kan göra något åt, säger Pontus som trots det svårbemästrade underlaget har tagit sig igenom dagen utan misstag.

På grund av de två stoppade sträckorna, en ströks av säkerhetsskäl och den andra efter en incident med en av tävlingsbilarna, blev resten av dagen något förskjuten. För Pontus och hans co-driver Ola Fløene innebar det att de fick köra dagens två sista sträckor i mörker.
- Det var en utmaning, men det var då jag kände att jag kunde börja njuta av att köra. Känslan med bilen och självförtroendet blir bättre och bättre. Jag ser verkligen fram emot morgondagen, vägarna har lite annan karaktär då. De blir bredare och lite jämnare överlag även om det varierar lite från sträcka till sträcka, säger Pontus.

Ännu en lång dag väntar under lördagen när ytterligare sju sträckor står på schemat och det blir distansmässigt den längsta tävlingsdagen på 152,50 kilometer specialsträckor totalt.
19-10-04 Tänak lights up Rally GB after grabbing late lead
WRC leader secures early advantage on exciting first day in Wales. Ott Tänak snatched the lead of Wales Rally GB from team-mate Kris Meeke in the closing kilometres of Friday’s second leg after a thrilling fight in typically unpredictable weather.

The FIA World Rally Championship leader relegated his Toyota Yaris colleague in the darkness of the final Aberhirnant speed test to carry a 3.4sec advantage into Saturday’s marathon leg.

Meeke took the lead in last night’s curtain-raising test. Despite failing to win any of today’s nine gravel road special stages in north and mid-Wales, the Ulsterman fended off a string of challengers until the last test. His only issue was a spin after overshooting a hairpin.

He was also overhauled by world champion Sébastien Ogier, Tänak’s closest challenger in the exciting battle for the 2019 world title, but the leading trio are blanketed by only 3.6sec.

Tänak was fortunate to remain in contention after a problem with his auxiliary lights in the penultimate test as dusk was turning to full darkness.

“It was quite stressful in there,” he said at the finish of the last test. “In the previous stage we lost the lights and the wires were damaged, so we had a lot of work to do on the liaison section before the final one. Luckily we had some lights in there,” said the Estonian, who won both tests.

Although the tail end of Hurricane Lorenzo failed to bring the extreme weather predicted, steady rain made the gravel tracks in the Snowdonia mountains extremely slippery and grip was at a premium all morning.

As the sun broke through this afternoon, Ogier upped the pace in his Citroën C3, climbing from fifth to pose an ominous presence behind Tänak in his quest for a fifth GB win in six years.

Thierry Neuville, the third driver in the title battle, ended up fourth in his Hyundai i20, 4.8sec behind Meeke. The Belgian had no major problems, but a tyre selection mix-up at mid-leg service cost valuable seconds this afternoon.

Team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Craig Breen completed the top six, half a minute off the lead.

The leaderboard was missing Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi following crashes. Latvala ran as high as third before rolling his Yaris heavily and he will not restart tomorrow. Lappi slid his C3 into a ditch and could not regain the track.

Tomorrow’s Super Saturday comprises almost half the rally’s competitive distance. Six mid-Wales stages are followed by a closing test along Colwyn Bay promenade. Reliability is key, with no service after competitors depart Llandudno at 05.40 until they return at almost 20.00.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 1hr 14min 30.8sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +3.4sec
3. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +3.6sec
4. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +8.4sec
5. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +25.7sec
6. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +33.5sec
19-10-03 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson redo för guldfight i Wales
Till helgen är det dags för final i Junior-VM i rally. Dennis Rådström, Torsby, och hans kartläsare Johan Johansson, Valdemarsvik, finns på plats i Wales med goda chanser på guld.
– Känslan är väldigt bra inför helgen, säger Dennis.
– Efter att vi fick bryta senast i Finland fick vi ett mejl med info om hur vi skulle kunna ta VM-titeln. Sedan dess har vi jobbat stenhårt med förberedelser och en vinnarinställning. Vi har kört test här i Wales och även kört en tävling i Slovenien som vi vann.

Dennis och Johan ligger trea i Junior-VM inför helgens avslutande tävling, där landsmannen Tom Kristensson leder. Men i finalen delas det ut dubbla mästerskapspoäng, och som tidigare även en poäng per sträckseger. Vilket gör mästerskapet nästan helt öppet.
– För oss finns bara ett läge denna helgen. Vi måste verkligen prestera på topp hela tiden. Det gäller att komma in i tempot så fort som möjligt och bara köra på, fortsätter Dennis.
– Vi har höga förväntningar på att göra ett bra rally, och jag tror vi kommer göra det. Vi har någonting på gång, säger Johan.

Tävlingen I Wales är ny för Dennis och Johan, och har inte ingått i Junior-VM på flera år. Tävlingen är känd för utmanande sträckor med mycket lera och blöta vägar som ofta körs i mörker.
– Största utmaningen är att det är ett nytt rally, med helt nya förhållanden. Men vi har testat här i en likadan bil som vi kör i VM. Så vi är förberedda, säger Dennis.

Det är upplagt för en hård kamp om guldet hela vägen in i mål, där Dennis och Johan fokuserar på att göra en så bra insats som möjligt.
– Gör vi bara vårt bästa är vi nöjda oavsett placering. Men om vi gör vårt bästa är jag övertygad om att det kommer räcka riktigt långt, avslutar Johan.

Wales Rally GB avgörs över fyra dagar och 22 sträckor. Med start torsdag 3/10 och målgång söndag 6/10. Dennis och Johan tävlar för Kungliga Automobil Klubben, KAK, och kör Junior-WRC. En serie som drivs at polska Ford-teamet M-Sport, där alla förare tävlar i identiska Ford Fiesta R2T Mk8.

Mer info om JWRC, tabeller, resultat etc:
19-10-02 Rally: Oliver Solberg klar for VM-debut
18 år og ni dager gammel legger Oliver Solberg ut på sitt livs eventyr. I VM-debuten torsdag får det norsk-svenske stortalentet omsider måle hestekrefter mot verdens beste rallyførere på noen av verdens vanskeligste og mest legendariske rallyveier i Wales.

Ekstra spesielt er det at pappa Petter Solberg (44) stiller på samme startstrek og i samme klasse for å avslutte sin profesjonelle motorsportskarriere sammen med kartleser Phil Mills. Far og sønn Solberg skal kjøre identiske biler (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5).

I sin debutsesong i R5-klassen (WRC2) har yngstemann Solberg fullstendig dominert det latviske mesterskapet med fem seirer og en annenplass. Da han EM-debuterte i estiske Rally Liepaja i mai, sjokkerte Oliver Solberg rallyverden med totalseier i løpet. Selv fullspekkede WRC-biler måtte gi tapt.

Nå står VM for tur. Debutløpet finner sted på samme plass som pappa Petter vant sin første VM-runde i rally noensinne i 2002, der han ble verdensmester i 2003 og fullførte verket med sin tredje og fjerde seier på rad i 2004 og 2005.

For første gang skal den norsk-svenske 18-åringen møte det finske supertalentet Kalle Rovanperä (19) under like forutsetninger. Sønnen til legenden Harri Rovanperä eier de fleste aldersrekorder i rallyverden og er tidenes yngste WRC2-vinner som 17-åring i Australia 2017.

Sammen med norske Mads Østberg, britiske Guy Greensmith, tsjekkiske Jan Kopecky og newzealandske Hayden Paddon deltar Rovanperä i WRC2 pro-klassen, som er fabrikkmesterskapet i R5-klassen.
Oliver og Petter Solberg deltar som privatførere.

Det samme gjør onkel Henning Solberg, som vant VM-runden i Tyrkia forrige sesong. Han er en av kun fire nordmenn med VM-rundeseier i R5-klassen ved siden av Mads Østberg, Ole Christian Veiby (2 seirer) og Andreas Mikkelsen (3 seirer).

Mikkelsen er den eneste R5-vinner i Storbritannia (2010).

Målet for Oliver Solberg i VM-debuten blir å fullføre løpet sammen med sin irske kartleser Aaron Johnston. Håpet er at 18-åringen, som besto førerprøven for bil i svenske Karlstad senest forrige uke, skal kjempe i toppen i R5-klassen.

Første fartsprøve i Wales Rally GB finner sted torsdag kveld. Deretter fortsetter rallyet med ni fartsprøver fredag, sju lørdag og fem søndag formiddag.
19-10-02 Sébastien Ogier eyes a sixth British win in thrilling WRC title chase
Frenchman fighting for seventh straight FIA World Rally Championship title. Sébastien Ogier scents a seventh straight FIA World Rally Championship title – and nobody is better placed than the Frenchman to boost his chances at this week’s Wales Rally GB (3 - 6 October).

No driver has enjoyed more success in Britain than the Citroën Racing star and the five-time winner, who reignited his championship hopes with victory in Turkey last month, reaches the business end of the campaign ominously poised in the standings.

Ogier’s Turkish delight promoted him into second and within striking distance of leader Ott Tänak. He trails the Estonian by 17 points and is 13 clear of third-placed Thierry Neuville, with a maximum 90 available from the final three rounds.

Five wins in the last six years mean Ogier is a master of the fiendishly tricky conditions on the log-lined gravel forest tracks of north and mid-Wales. Constantly changing grip, mud, rain and fog hold no fears for the Citroën C3 pilot.

“I’m determined to really go for it and have a say in the outcome, especially as the running order isn’t an issue for those starting at the front. It’s all about reading the changes in grip and dealing with the conditions,” he explained.

“This rally can offer a very big difference in conditions, which are challenging, and it’s so important that you need to stay calm.

“When you’re in the fog and struggling to see the road, you really have the feeling that you are going too slow. But in this moment your head is very important to keep cool. You must do the best with what you have and remember the others are going to struggle as well.”

Despite leading in Britain on his first attempt 11 years ago, and in his very first start in a World Rally Car, Ogier admits this week has been one of the toughest to get to grips with.

“Early in the career you struggle to find the right rhythm and believe you need to drive at 120 percent to be fast. It’s maybe only later on, with more maturity, that you understand it’s not the way to win rallies,” he added.

Tänak aims to bounce back after retiring his Toyota Yaris with an electrical problem in Turkey, ending a run of four wins from five rallies.

“The gap in the championship is closer now, but we have three rallies to go and we know we were fast on each of them last year. Now we just have to finish the job, starting in Wales,” he said.

Welshman Elfyn Evans, a winner on home ground in 2017, returns to his M-Sport Ford Fiesta after missing three rounds with an injured back.

The rally starts in Liverpool on Thursday night and drivers face 22 special stages totaling 309.76km before Sunday afternoon’s finish in Llandudno.
19-10-02 Veiby tillbaka i VM efter långt uppehåll
Det har varit ett långt uppehåll från rally-VM för Ole Christian Veiby, men nu är det dags igen. Kommande helg väntar en riktig klassiker för Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS-föraren: det brittiska VM-rallyt.
- Är väldigt förberedd för Wales Rally GB nu och vi går helt klart för seger, säger Veiby, som i vanlig ordning har Jonas Andersson som kompanjon i teamets Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.

Senaste VM-tävlingen duon körde var Rally Sardinien i Italien i mitten av juni. Då blev det en femteplats efter en del tekniskt strul. Säsongen började annars bra med en tredjeplats i Monte Carlo och seger i Rally Sweden. Veiby siktar förstås på de nivåerna igen. Tempot har funnits där när allt har fungerat.
- Vi skulle haft fler segrar i år, så det är på tiden att vi tar en. Vi har varit med i toppen på alla tävlingar vi har kört, så vi kommer att ta i från start.

23-åringen från Kongsvinger har stor erfarenhet från det ofta regniga rallyt på brittiska öarna.
- Det är sjätte gången jag kommer till start i Wales, så det är väl faktiskt det rally jag har kört flesta gånger, vann där i junior-VM 2015.

Veiby ligger för närvarande femma i WRC 2-tabellen. Högre ambitioner än så finns, men konkurrensen i helgens tävling är stentuff, med sexton anmälda R5-ekipage. Tre av de fyra förarna som ligger före Ole Christian i totalställningen kommer till start: Kajetan Kajetanowicz, Benito Guerra och Pierre Louis Loubet. Dessutom blir det en uppmärksammad kamp mellan Veibys Volkswagen-kollegor Petter och Oliver Solberg, far och son i samma tävling.
- Det är många norrmän som ska köra R5 och det är väldigt kul. Jag räknar med att det kommer att bli en bra fight mellan oss, och då tänker jag att Oliver Solberg också är lite norsk, även om han kör med svensk flagg.

Ole Christian kommer till start med gott självförtroende i bagaget, nykorad norsk mästare som han är.
- Vi vann ju sista NM-rundan förra helgen och tog därmed hem mästerskapet. Det ger en extra bra känsla att ha med sig in i VM-tävlingen, avslutar Veiby, som också har hunnit med en givande testdag inför helgens drabbning i Storbritannien.

Tommy Kristoffersson är teamchef i Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS och han ser Wales Rally GB som en svår uppgift.
- Med det startfältet så blir det en tuff utmaning. Personligen tror jag det gäller att ha is i magen. Det är ett mycket krävande rally och jag tror det kommer att bli manfall.

Trots det långa uppehållet från VM tror Kristoffersson att Veiby är i gott slag för uppgiften.
- Han är säkert taggad till max efter att ha gjort några mycket bra tävlingar i norska mästerskapet på sistone. Självförtroendet på topp!

Mekanikerteamet har också en utmanande uppgift framför sig i denna en av världens förnämsta rallyklassiker.
- Det är så oerhört små marginaler när det gäller att få till bilen och en del vanskliga däckval att göra, men vi kommer väl förberedda, avslutar Kristoffersson.
19-09-30 I Wales Rally GB avgörs vem som blir juniorvärldsmästare i rally
Sent på torsdag eftermiddag startar den femte och sista deltävlingen i årets Junior-VM, JWRC, i rally från Liverpool, och avslutas på söndag eftermiddag i Llandudno i nordvästra Wales, där även tävlingens Servicepark är. På plats är Tom Kristensson från Hörby med co-driver Henrik Appelskog från Motala för att fightas om segern i JWRC i skogarna i Wales.

Tom och Henrik leder inför den avgörande tävlingen med 1 poäng före spanjoren Jan Solans och 24 poäng före den andre svensken i mästerskapet, Dennis Rådström. I finaltävlingen gäller dubbla poäng, 50 poäng till segraren, och dessutom finns det 22 sträcksegerpoäng att tävla om. Det gör att det finns ett antal kandidater till slutsegern, men mest sannolikt kommer det att stå mellan de tre främsta, men även estländaren Roland Poom har möjligheten, om de som ligger före i tabellen, mer eller mindre misslyckas
- Det finns många olika scenarier om hur poängfördelningen kan bli, eftersom en deltävling får räknas bort och alla sträcksegerpoäng räknas, men det är inte något vi lägger krut på, utan vi focuserar helt på tävlingen, säger Tom.

22 specialsträckor på drygt 31 mil totalt skall avverkas, på grusunderlag, frånsett några kortare publiksträckor på asfalt, bl.a. en på klassiska racingbanan Oulton Park, på torsdagskvällen, och Great Orme runt halvön utanför huvudorten Llandudno, på söndagen. De flesta sträckorna är välkända från tidigare VM-tävlingar i Wales, där underlaget kan skifta, mycket beroende på vädret, allt från ösregn till behagligt höstväder. De sista sträckorna, både på fredagen och på lördagen, kommer dessutom att köras i mörker. Lördagen kommer att bli en tuff dag, då man skall köra drygt 15 mil specialsträckor utan service. Man har endast ett däckbytesuppehåll efter första rundan på dagens sträckor.
- Jag har sett fram emot den här tävlingen hela säsongen, det är en dröm att få komma hit och tävla, så det skall verkligen bli kul, säger Tom.
- Sträckorna här i Wales är mera likt det jag är van vid, både beträffande karaktär och underlag, men det gäller att läsa av underlaget, eftersom det kan skifta en hel del, allt från bra fäste till snorhalt.
- Vi skall jobba på att få till noter och setup på bilen och hitta rytmen. Får vi samma känsla som i Finland, kan vi vinna både tävlingen och mästerskapet, och att vinna mästerskapet är helt klart målet.
- Säsongen har gått långt över förväntan, planen var att detta år skulle bli ett läroår, då det både var ny bil och nya tävlingar, men med två första platser, en andra och en tredje plats, visar att jag är på rätt nivå, och är, om allt går vägen, redo att ta nästa steg, avslutar en samlad Tom från Wales, där

19-09-30 Tidemand vill visa framsteg i Wales
Debuten med M-Sports Ford Fiesta WRC på grus är gjord och nu ser Pontus Tidemand fram emot chansen att både visa framsteg och fortsätta sin utveckling på just grus. Med oberäkneligt väder och långa tävlingsdagar, väntar ännu en tuff utmaning när VM-klassikern Wales Rally GB drar igång på torsdag.
- Wales Rally GB är en tävling jag verkligen gillar och som passar min körstil rätt bra. Vetskapen om att jag har gjort bra ifrån mig där tidigare ger mig mer självförtroende, men jag är också väl medveten om att jag tävlar mot de bästa förarna i världen och jag är fortfarande i läroprocessen, säger Pontus, som vid sina tre tidigare tävlingstillfällen i Wales tagit en seger och två andraplaceringar i WRC 2-klassen.

Det turkiska VM-rallyt för några veckor sedan var Pontus första tävling på grus med den nya generationens WRC-bil. Som ett av de svåraste eventen på VM-kalendern, var det en krävande grusdebut, men Pontus och hans kartläsare Ola Fløene gjorde en stabil insats och slutade nia samtidigt som de fick värdefull erfarenhet för att kunna ta ytterligare kliv framåt.
- Den sista dagen i Turkiet kände jag verkligen att jag hade hittat rätt inställningar och kunde köra på mitt sätt, vilket också märktes på tiderna, berättar Pontus. Min förhoppning nu i Wales är att vi kan fortsätta där vi slutade. Vi hade ett bra test med teamet förra veckan och jag känner mig mer och mer hemma i bilen. Wales Rally GB blir bara vår andra tävling på grus med Fiestan men jag siktar på att få visa att vi utvecklas i rätt riktning.

Vägarna i Wales är kanske inte de mest tekniskt krävande, men de blir snabbt förrädiska när de är blöta - och blött väder brukar i regel Wales Rally GB årligen bjuda på. Det omväxlande vädret i kombination med långa tävlingsdagar ger inte mycket utrymme för avslappning - uthållighet och förmåga att läsa av vägarnas föränderliga grepp är två faktorer som väger tungt.
- Den största utmaningen i Wales är alltid det oberäkneliga vädret. Det är svårt att förutspå exakt vad man möter under sträckorna som är det svåra. Man måste vara förberedd på allt - regn, dimma, lera och konstant omväxlande grepp. Sträckorna har också olika karaktärer beroende på vilket område vi kör i, så det är också viktigt att kunna anpassa sig till de här förändringarna, förklarar Pontus.

Hela 22 sträckor på drygt 312 kilometer totalt väntar de tävlande ekipagen under helgen. Nytt för i år är att serviceplatsen flyttar från Deeside där den tidigare huserat, och istället blir det kustorten Llandudno som står värd för rallybasen. Efter torsdagen startceremoni i Liverpool körs en publiksträcka på motorbanan Oulton Park och sedan väntar tre dagars fight på vidsträckta skogsvägar, inklusive några av VM-seriens mest legendariska sträckor.
19-09-27 New Zealand secures coveted World Rally Championship slot
· Rally New Zealand confirmed for world stage return in 2020
· Kiwi event named in WRC calendar following seven-year absence
Auckland announced as host city for September gravel fixture
New Zealand has reclaimed its place in the FIA World Rally Championship for 2020 after a seven-year absence.

Rally New Zealand was named in WRC Promoter’s 14-round calendar which was confirmed today (Friday) by the FIA, world motorsport’s governing body.

The gravel road rally, which will form round 10 of the WRC, will return to its former North Island base of Auckland from 3 - 6 September next year.

New Zealand has a strong WRC heritage, having hosted the series 32 times since 1977. Only twice did it not feature on the international calendar between then and 2008. Its last appearance was in 2012.

Drivers regard the country’s smooth, cambered gravel rally roads among the best in the world and the event is also renowned for stunning coastal and inland scenery.

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said the championship’s return to the harbour city of Auckland would be welcomed by all.

“The country is noted for its magnificent picture-postcard scenery, which will be enjoyed by fans across the world, roads of the highest quality and a strong rally community and we’re excited to take the WRC back to Auckland in 2020.

“New Zealand has a close affinity with the WRC and ranks in the top 10 of the championship’s most-visited host countries. With a population of more than 1.5 million people, the picturesque city of Auckland is an ideal host city and offers easy access for fans to the special stages.

“The rally will be new to many of our competitors, but those who have driven the magnificent flowing roads in the countryside around Auckland will tell you there are few, if any, in the world that are better,” he added.

Rally New Zealand 2020 chairman Peter Johnston is looking forward to his country’s WRC return.

“This event has been an iconic part of our sporting landscape in New Zealand for many decades and it’s a historic day for motorsport to confirm the event will return,” he said.

Nineteen different drivers have stood on the top step of New Zealand’s podium in its WRC history. The roll of honour is led by double world champion Marcus Grönholm with five wins, followed by Carlos Sainz on four.
19-09-27 Citroën determined to continue the charge in Wales
Buoyed by its recent one-two finish in Turkey, the Citroën Total World Rally Team heads for Wales Rally GB in confident mood. Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm, who finished first and third here last year, will be aiming to be among the leaders this time around and keep moving up in the championship standings.

After adding a record fifth win at Wales GB last year (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018), bettering the four victories of Hannu Mikkola and Petter Solberg, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia clearly have a special relationship with this rally. It was here, of course, that the pair made their debut in a WRC at the end of 2008 in a C4, having secured the Junior World Championship title in the C2 Super 1600. Even back then, they made their mark in winning the opening stage and leading the race until SS5. They will undoubtedly be aiming to show the same energy and verve in the C3 WRC at this year’s event. For once, running second on the road is unlikely to be a major disadvantage: grip levels tend to go down on the muddy Welsh forest tracks as more cars come through the stages. The six-time world champions are therefore determined to make the most of their position to close the gap to the current championship leaders.

At a round where many of their fellow countrymen have enjoyed great success, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm wasted no time in demonstrating their liking for the fast Welsh forest roads, winning the WRC2 class on their first appearance here in 2016. The Finns went even better last season, finishing third overall and claiming two stage wins as they proved their ability at this round. It is therefore hardly surprising that they come into this year’s event with genuine hopes of a strong result, especially as they have now reached a high level of confidence in the C3 WRC on gravel, confirmed by their excellent performances in Finland and Turkey. Although their eighth position in the running order may not be ideal if it rains, Esapekka and Janne remain determined to keep up their current good form.

The Citroën Total World Rally Team recently enjoyed a three-day pre-event test in Wales, improving the C3 WRC’s ability to adapt to the local conditions and, as usual, Thursday’s traditional shakedown will provide an opportunity to fine-tune the last few details.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“With Sébastien starting from second on the road and Esapekka eighth, we won't have all our eggs in one basket, as it were, depending on the weather. But the target is clearly for them both to get the very best out of their positions, so we keep moving up in the championship standings. Sébastien has competed in Wales many times before, where experience counts and can make the difference, whilst Esapekka has shown his ability to adapt in scoring a podium on his third appearance here last year. So I think we are well equipped to get a strong result here, especially as we have worked well again during testing on the C3 WRC.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“The target at Wales GB will be to keep up the momentum from Turkey and continue to put as much pressure on Ott as possible. I’ve always done well as this rally. I’m determined to really go for it and have a say in the outcome, especially as the running order isn't an issue for those starting at the front. It’s all about reading the changes in grip and dealing with the conditions, which are often tricky, especially the low-grip sections. Although it took me a while to work out how to manage this unusual event, it’s now a rally that I really enjoy.”
Number of appearances at the event: 11
Number of wins: 5 (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018)

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“This rally is an iconic test. You’ve got it all, stages in the dark, fog, rain and wind – it’s always a serious challenge. You need to guts too, because the stages are pretty fast and flowing. One of the key things will undoubtedly be having a car that isn't too sensitive to the changes in grip, because they are non-stop. We worked well in testing, even though the roads were dry. Given our position in the running order, rain would clearly be something of a disadvantage. Having said that, in Turkey I had a good feeling with my C3 WRC when it started raining on Friday’s long stage. ”
Number of appearances at the event: 3
Best result: 3rd (2018)

22 timed stages covering a total of 309.76 km
151.24 km of timed stages on Saturday with no service period
32 Michelin tyres available, to be chosen from 32 medium compound and 16 soft compound tyres
3 overall wins secured by Citroën at Wales Rally GB with C4 WRC (2008 to 2010)

Often beset by treacherous weather conditions – rain and fog are commonplace in Wales at this time of year – with grip levels on the local roads very changeable and unpredictable, this rally serves up a huge challenge every year. It is also one of the few events where stages are still contested in the dark, with lamp pods fitted to the cars. And on the very rare occasions where the weather is kind, the stages – held in the dank, dense Welsh forests – remain extremely tricky.

After a new mixed-surface stage (gravel and tarmac) at Oulton Park to kick off proceedings on Thursday evening, the real action gets underway on Friday’s long leg, with some 116.52 kilometres of timed stages. However, Saturday looks set to be the weekend’s decisive leg, with a competitive distance of some 151.24 kilometres but only a mid-leg tyre-fitting zone and so no service period. Crews and teams will therefore need to be wary of excessive optimism or any reliability issues, which could prove terminal on day two. In contrast, Sunday’s leg will be no more than a sprint to the finish with just 38.42 kilometres to cover in five very short stages.

In addition to the new Oulton Park super special stage (3.58km), this year also sees the introduction of the Colwyn Bay stage (2.40km), which will be exclusively contested on tarmac. However, the rest of the itinerary is largely familiar, with a few stages contested in the opposite direction to previous years and some new sections.

08h00 : Shakedown Gwydir (4,68 km)
12h30 : Départ du parc d’assistance (Llandudno)
16h00 : Cérémonie de départ (Liverpool)
19h08 : ES 1 – The Dayinsure Oulton Park Stage (3,58 km)
21h17 : Parc fermé (Llandudno)

06h10 : Départ et assistance A (Llandudno – 17’)
07h18 : ES 2 – Elsi 1 (11,65 km)
07h46 : ES 3 – Penmachno 1 (16,19 km)
09h56 : ES 4 – Dyfnant 1 (19,36 km)
10h53 : ES 5 – Aberhirnant 1 (10,26 km)
13h07 : Assistance B (Llandudno – 42’)
14h40 : ES 6 – Elsi 2 (11,65 km)
15h08 : ES 7 – Penmachno 2 (16,19 km)
15h57 : ES 8 – Slate Moutain (1,60 km)
18h11: ES 9 – Dyfnant 2 (19,36 km)
19h08 : ES 10 – Aberhirnant 2 (10,26 km)
21h11 : Flexi assistance C (Llandudno – 47')

05h40 : Départ et assistance D (Llandudno – 17’)
08h06 : ES 11 – Dyfi 1 (25,86 km)
10h08 : ES 12 – Myherin 1 (22,91 km)
11h02 : ES 13 – Sweet Lamb Hafren 1 (25,65 km)
12h18 : Zone de changement de pneus (Newtown – 15')
14h08 : ES 14 – Myherin 2 (22,91 km)
15h02 : ES 15 – Sweet Lamb Hafren 2 (25,65 km)
16h19 : ES 16 – Dyfi 2 (25,86 km)
19h13 : ES 17 – Colwyn Bay (2,40 km)
19h49 : Flexi assistance E (Llandudno – 47’)

06h00 : Départ et assistance F (Llandudno – 17’)
07h28 : ES 18 – Alwen 1 (10,41 km)
08h08 : ES 19 – Brenig 1 (6,43 km)
09h26 : ES 20 – Great Orme (4,74 km)
09h42 : Assistance G (Llandudno – 17’)
11h10 : ES 21 – Alwen 2 (10,41 km)
12h18 : ES 22 – Brenig 2 Power Stage (6,43 km)
13h32 : Arrivée (Llandudno)
19-09-27 East Africa’s iconic Safari Rally restored to WRC itinerary
· Kenyan classic returns to FIA World Rally Championship in 2020
· Safari back in WRC after 17-year absence
· President Uhuru Kenyatta reveals rally’s WRC comeback

Kenya’s fabled Safari Rally, one of global motorsport’s legendary fixtures, will return to the FIA World Rally Championship in 2020.

President Uhuru Kenyatta confirmed the Safari’s WRC comeback today (Friday) in capital city Nairobi after the FIA World Motorsport Council approved WRC Promoter’s calendar.

The East African event will form the eighth round on 16 - 19 July and marks the beginning of the second half of the 2020 campaign following a mid-season break.

Efforts to return the Safari to the championship have enjoyed strong Government support and President Kenyatta and other ministers attended July’s successful candidate event at which the rally sealed its place in the calendar.

The Safari, which means journey in the Swahili language, was regarded as one of motorsport’s most prestigious and celebrated events of its time, before departing the championship in 2002.

It was notorious for being by far the WRC’s toughest round. Rocky and rutted open-road gravel tracks, unpredictable weather which could transform dry and dusty trails into glutinous mudbaths in minutes and a route three times longer than other rallies created hazards unmatched elsewhere – but also ensured a Safari win was one of motorsport’s most coveted prizes for manufacturers.

The nature of the rally, organised by the WRC Safari Rally Project, a joint venture between the Kenyan Government Sports Ministry and the Kenya Motor Sports Federation, has evolved to fit the modern-day WRC. But its character remains with challenging closed dirt roads, stunning picture-postcard scenery and exotic African wildlife.

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla congratulated the Safari Rally Project team and CEO Phineas Kimathi for their tireless work.

“The Safari holds iconic status across East Africa, with fans from countries like Uganda and Tanzania as enthusiastic about the rally as those from Kenya itself,” he said.

“But its return holds as much importance on a global level. Africa’s absence from the WRC for almost two decades has been significant and the championship’s return to the world’s second biggest continent is a landmark achievement in our strategy to further globalise the series.

“The Safari has its own chapter in motorsport’s history and we appreciate the huge commitment the Kenyan Government has made in restoring it to the top table of world rallying, as well as the support from FIA President Jean Todt.

“Its heritage will be recalled by all, but at the same time this is a modern-era Safari that sits comfortably alongside our other 13 rounds. That doesn’t mean its challenge is diminished and we can be sure 2020’s version will test our drivers, teams and cars to the full,” he added.

The Safari was first held in 1953 as a celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and covered Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika (now Tanzania).

Ugandan-born Kenyan Shekhar Mehta holds the record for Safari WRC wins with five victories, including four consecutively. Former world champions Björn Waldegård (four), Juha Kankkunen and Colin McRae (both three) were all acknowledged Safari masters.

The rally will be based in Nairobi with the service park and stages located near Lakes Naivasha and Elmenteita, north-west of the city in the Great Rift Valley.
19-09-27 Japan returns to FIA World Rally Championship in 2020
· Japan restored to WRC fixture list following nine-year absence
· Rally named in coveted final round slot
· Asphalt event to be based in Nagoya, on main island of Honshu
· Rally Japan return brings WRC footprint to mainstream Asia

Japan will return to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar in 2020, it was confirmed today (Friday).
Ten years after it last appeared in the WRC fixture list, Rally Japan secured a sought-after place in next year’s 14-round schedule after WRC Promoter’s calendar was agreed by the FIA World Motorsport Council.

The confirmation marks mainstream Asia’s return to the WRC for the first time since Japan left the series in 2010, achieving a long-term goal for WRC Promoter, which owns the commercial rights to the championship.

The rally will be held on 19 - 22 November, securing the honour of hosting the final round and meaning the outcome of both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ world titles could be decided in Japan.

Unlike previous editions which were held on the northern island of Hokkaido, the all-new asphalt event will be based in Nagoya, on the country’s main island of Honshu.

This will allow demanding special stages in the mountain regions of Aichi and Gifu, boasting a population of approximately nine million people and about three hours’ drive from capital city Tokyo.

“Today’s confirmation is the culmination of years of hard work by the WRC Japan Round Bid Committee, local promoter San’s Inc. and Japan Automobile Federation,” said WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla.

“Rally Japan will be a hugely popular addition to the WRC and provide a fitting finale to the 2020 campaign.

“Our strategy is to further globalise the championship by incorporating more events outside Europe and Japan’s resumption after a decade’s absence strengthens our presence in this huge market.

“More than 50,000 fans flocked to last year’s candidate event. With the continued success of Japanese car manufacturer Toyota in the WRC, I have no doubts next year’s attendance will be well in excess of that.”

Japan first appeared in the WRC in 2004. Based in Obihiro, the twisty gravel road encounter was won by Petter Solberg in a Subaru Impreza.

Marcus Grönholm, Sébastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen each won over the next three years before the rally moved to Sapporo, Hokkaido’s biggest city, in 2008.

Hirvonen claimed his second straight victory and although the rally was not part of the championship the following season, it returned in 2010 when Sébastien Ogier claimed top honours.

A test event, called Central Rally Aichi / Gifu 2019, will be held in November to trial special stages planned for inclusion next year and to train organisers and marshals.

The two-day non-championship event, on 9 - 10 November, will take place the week before Kennards Hire Rally Australia, allowing team representatives to make inspections en route to the WRC’s season-closing round.
19-09-19 Pontus Lönnström kör VM i rally för juniorer 2020
Pontus Lönnström kommer att satsa på junior-VM i rally nästa år. Tävlingarna går samtidigt med rally-VM, WRC, men juniorerna tävlar vid färre tillfällen. Förarna i JVM kör identiska bilar, Ford Fiesta R2t, och mekaniker, däck m m lottas ut på de olika förarna inför varje tävling. Allt för att förutsättningarna ska vara så lika som möjligt.

Pontus Lönnström, som idag tävlar för Nora MK i Team Ramudden, kommer att satsa på JVM i rally under nästa säsong. Det betyder att han endast kommer att tävla i SM när det fungerar inom ramen för de internationella tävlingarna. Pontus, som vann junior-SM för trimmade tvåhjuls-drivna bilar 2018, ligger i år på andra plats i JSM för otrimmade tvåhjuls-drivna bilar inför den sista deltävlingen om drygt en vecka. Co-driver är Stefan Gustavsson, Ludvika MS. De två har redan kört en tävling tillsammans – SM-tävlingen utanför Linköping – och bildar nu ett team för satsningen på junior-VM.
- Jag är jätteglad för att få den här chansen att gå vidare i min utveckling och jag kommer naturligtvis att göra mitt allra bästa tillsammans med Stefan, säger Pontus. Vi har varit i Krakow i Polen och bekantat oss med M-Sport som bygger bilarna inför nästa år, fortsätter han. Jag har förmånen att ha extremt mycket bra folk runt mig och det är jag mycket tacksam för.

Bilarna som Pontus och Stefan ska tävla i byggs och sköts av M-Sport. Företaget har ett avtal med internationella bilsportförbundet, FIA, som formellt utser vem som blir världsmästare. Företaget ägs av Malcolm Wilson som tidigare själv kört rally framgångsrikt och som ledde Ford till seger i konstruktörs-VM 2006.

Poängberäkningen i serien följer i stort de internationella reglerna med 25 poäng till segraren och 18 poäng till tvåan osv. Dock höjs spänningen inför den sista deltävlingen då denna ger dubbla poäng att köra om. Dessutom ger varje vinst på en specialsträcka en extra poäng. Detta ska garantera en spännande serie ända in på sista specialsträckan i finalomgången.

Årets deltävlingar har följt följande schema:
• Svenska Rallyt
• Korsika
• Sardinien
• Finland
• Wales

Tävlingarna för 2020 kommer att offentliggöras i oktober. Det brukar vara en blandning av deltävlingar på snö, asfalt och grus. VM-tävlingarna är mer krävande än SM-tävlingar då de omfattar längre och fler specialsträckor och går över flera dagar.
– Nu fokuserar jag på sista SM-tävlingen i Karlshamn i slutet på nästa vecka och sedan ställer vi om till att sikta på JVM. Jag ska bland annat träna mer på asfalt redan i år, avslutar Pontus med ett leende.

Pontus och Stefan var i förra veckan i M-Sports fabrik i Krakow för att träffa teamchef, koordinatorer och övrig personal.

Pontus Lönnström kommer förutom JVM-tävlingarna att köra i olika rallyn i Sverige och då blir det med den nuvarande bilen, också det en Ford Fiesta R2t men av förra versionen.
19-09-15 Frenchman Ogier's Rally Turkey victory rekindles WRC title defence
Title gap to leader Tänak now 17 points with three 2019 races left this season. Sébastien Ogier headed a Citroën Racing one-two finish at Rally Turkey on Sunday afternoon to reignite his hopes of a seventh straight FIA World Rally Championship title.

He finished 34.7sec ahead of longtime leader Esapekka Lappi to claim his first victory since March and climb to second in the standings. He closed the gap on series leader Ott Tänak to 17 points with a maximum 90 available from the final three rounds.

Ogier made it clear before the start that nothing less than a win would keep his title hopes alive. While Tänak and fellow championship rival Thierry Neuville fell by the wayside in intense heat on rock-strewn mountain tracks, Ogier and Citroën were masterful.

Lappi took the lead on the third of the 17 speed tests on Friday morning and remained on top as Ogier climbed to second. The Frenchman moved to the front late on Saturday when Lappi stalled his C3’s engine in a hairpin and eased through Sunday’s finale for his third victory of the year.
“This win was really needed and our only chance to get back in the championship fight,” said Ogier. “We knew anything could happen because it’s a super-rough rally but the bad luck we had on the previous round in Germany was behind us.”

Tänak retired his Toyota Yaris on Saturday with an electrical problem, but returned on Sunday to claim maximum bonus points with an all-or-nothing drive through the final Wolf Power Stage. Neuville languished in eighth after an accident on Saturday.

Lappi survived a half-spin and a puncture in the final two stages to take a contented second after a torrid season. The Finn finished 29.8sec ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, who delivered vital points to extend Hyundai Motorsport’s lead in the manufacturers’ series to 19 points.

Teemu Suninen was unable to fight Mikkelsen for the final podium place on Sunday, but fourth in a Ford Fiesta was a strong result for the Finn after a lacklustre display on the previous dirt road round in his home country.

Dani Sordo was fifth in another Hyundai i20, ahead of early leader Jari-Matti Latvala, who lost time with a puncture in his Yaris.

The championship continues at Wales Rally GB (October 3-6). The 11th round of the 14-round series is based in Llandudno.

Rally Turkey result:
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 3hr 50min 12.1sec
2. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Citroën C3 +34.7sec
3. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +1min 04.5sec
4. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +1min 35.1sec
5. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +2min 25.9sec
6. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +2min 59.1sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 11 of 14)
1. O Tänak 210 points
2. S Ogier 193
3. T Neuville 180

19-09-15 Citroën claims a one-two finish and moves back into the title hunt
Brilliantly reliable and competitive, the C3 WRCs of Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi Janne Ferm claimed a magnificent one-two finish at Rally Turkey, enabling the French crew to move back into serious contention in the race for the drivers’ and co-drivers’ world titles.

The tactics were fairly straightforward for the Citroën Total World Rally Team on today’s remaining 38.62 kilometres. Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm’s job was to maintain a decent pace so as to secure second place and avoid the risk of being caught out. Meanwhile, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia needed to confirm their pace notes on Marmaris (7.05km), the day’s opening speed test that would also be used as the Power Stage. They then had to look after their tyres on the next two stages so they could push as much as possible on the final test in the hope of collecting a few bonus points. Citroën’s crews stuck to the plan, securing the one-two finish, whilst Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia scored three extra points with the third fastest time on the Power Stage.

This one-two finish is the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s first such result since the 2015 Rally Argentina and is the team’s third win this season, following victories in Monte-Carlo and Mexico. It also sees them take their ninth and tenth podiums of the year. It equally signals the team’s return to the front with an impressively fast and robust C3 WRC this weekend and illustrates its determination to fight all the way in the championship. The result is certainly excellent news for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who move back up to second in the standings, just seventeen points behind the leaders, with some ninety points left up for grabs in the three remaining rounds of the season.

Third on the road on Friday, Sébastien and Julien got off to a frustrating start with a puncture six kilometres from the end of the first proper stage. However, they moved back up to third place on the next stage and ended the day in second overall, 17.7s behind their team-mates, setting two consecutive third fastest times in the process. A bold tyre choice for Saturday morning’s opening stage in the very hot conditions (three medium and two hard Michelin tyres) enabled them to claim their first stage win of the weekend on Yesilbelde (33km). Their rivals were left at least a minute behind. They then focused on taking as few risks as possible and controlling their pace. They nonetheless grabbed the second fastest time on the repeat of Yesilbelde, which took them into the overall lead. This morning, they were therefore well placed to bring home their third win in the C3 WRC and also secure their seventh podium in 2019.

Making the most of their position down the running order (ninth) on day one, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm impressed on SS2 with a second fastest time. They then took the overall lead on the following test with their first stage win! Clearly at home in the C3 WRC, Citroën’s Finns were as calm and focused as they were impressive, despite their road position being a disadvantage on certain very rough sections of Friday’s afternoon loop and having a tyre package ill-suited to the rain that began to fall late in the day. They even added two stage wins to their tally and led the rally until a brief stall on SS12 saw them relinquish the lead to their team-mates. A minor mishap that didn’t prevent them from heading into today’s final leg in a strong position to claim their third podium of the season, after also finishing as runners-up in Sweden and Finland.

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“We really needed this win if we were to have a chance of getting back into contention in the championship so I’m really happy to bring it home for the team this weekend. We knew that anything could happen at a rally like this where it is really rough but we managed to keep out of trouble by adopting a smart approach. It’s a good morale boost for everyone as we move into the end of the season! We all know that we have to keep working really hard. We’ll savour this win and then get down to work again tomorrow.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a very demanding event, one which I didn't really enjoy last year so I’m obviously pleased with my performance this weekend. We managed to have two very good first legs, displaying the same kind of pace as Seb and Julien, which is no easy feat. Today, the challenge for us was to get the car over the line and help them as much as possible. Our C3 WRC was perfect this weekend. We had no issues whatsoever and that was one of the keys to us securing this great result.”

What can you say about the team’s one-two finish this weekend?
I'm incredibly proud of what we have all managed to achieve this weekend! It’s certainly going to do us a whole lot of good. After the disappointment in Germany, I think the team proved that it had recovered. We were united and have shown real strength of character to manage to bounce back like that this weekend. We came away from four days of testing in Greece feeling optimistic about our chances and we had confirmation this weekend that we were right to feel positive. Everyone worked really hard to provide our crews with a C3 WRC that was both extremely robust and very quick on these rough gravel roads, which are some of the most demanding all season. The crews rounded off the job with a great deal of talent. They both produced an authoritative, dominant performance this weekend, claiming five stage wins in total. Rest assured, we’ll be driven by the same determination and fighting spirit right until the final stage of Rally Australia.

How would you describe the performances of your crews?
Perfect! Esapekka and Janne made the most of their road position on Friday morning, before proving to be extremely solid when the conditions were no longer particularly kind. They led the rally for nine stages, finding the right balance between pushing and controlling. They then clearly understood that the team needed them to not risk ruining what was shaping up to be a great result. I would like to pay tribute to their superb team spirit. They have clearly made another step forward in the C3 WRC on gravel and will now be a definite asset in our attempt to win the world title with Sébastien and Julien. Speaking of whom, Messrs Ogier and Ingrassia managed perfectly to deal with their position in the running order on Friday, ending the day ideally placed. They then produced the kind of performance of which they alone are capable on Saturday morning, showing their unrivalled ability when it comes to tyre management. The sign of a true champion is knowing when is the right time to strike. Over the years, they have also become known for never giving up and they certainly reminded everyone of that this weekend!

Yesilbelde (33km), Saturday’s opening stage and one of the slowest and most technical of the weekend with average speeds of just over 75kph, saw the Citroën Total World Rally Team crews establish their future one-two finish with authority.

This very rough stage was clearly the big challenge of Saturday’s leg. Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm, having already been at the sharp end in the C3 WRCs the day before on the very long Çetibeli stage (38.15km) disregarded the length of the test and the stifling heat to produce impressive performances. The French crew recorded a genuinely breathtaking time thanks to a bold tyre choice, whilst the Finns finished 16.7s behind to make it a one-two on the stage. Further back, only Andreas Mikkelsen came close to the Citroën crews, whilst the rest of the field was at least a second per kilometre off the pace, a huge gap at this level. This performance also left the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s closest rivals a minute adrift, enabling the team to approach the afternoon loop, expected to be very demanding, in a more relaxed mood.

1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:50:12.1
2. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +34.7
3. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:04.5
4. Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:35.1
5. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:25.9
6. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:59.1
7. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:53.3
8. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +5:34.8
9. Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +7:22.9
* subject to the publication of the official classification by the FIA

1. Ott Tänak – 210 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 193 points
3. Thierry Neuville – 180 points
4. Andreas Mikkelsen – 94 points
5. Kris Meeke – 86 points
6. Jari-Matti Latvala – 84 points
7. Teemu Suninen – 83 points
8. Esapekka Lappi – 80 points
9. Elfyn Evans – 78 points
10. Dani Sordo – 72 points

1. Hyundai WRT – 314 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 295 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 259 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 184 points
19-09-15 Pallplass for Andreas Mikkelsen i Tyrkia
Hyundai-sjåfør Andreas Mikkelsen og kartleser Anders Jaeger-Amland avsluttet Rally Tyrkia i dag på en sterk 3. plass og tok dermed sin tredje pallplass i år og avanserte til fjerdeplass i VM-sammendraget. – Det har vært en bra helg for oss, vi har kjørt fort og klart å unngå problemer, sa Andreas etter målgang.

Rally Tyrkia er ett av de røffeste løpene i Rally-VM, men også ett av de løpene som Andreas har sett på som ett av sine favoritt-løp til å vinne. Og allerede fra første prøve så viste han at denne seieren var innen rekkevidde. Han var raskest gjennom åpningsprøven torsdag kveld, og fortsatte med imponerende fart og kjøring fredag. Selv med road-cleaning holdt han andre plassen lenge. På ettermiddagen var det meldt regn og tordenbyger, og med det gjaldt det å gjøre ett riktig og viktig dekkvalg. Dessverre slo ikke dekkvalget ut til Andreas’ fordel, og dagen ble avsluttet på femte plass.

Lørdag var det klart for en spennende fight med finnen Suninen om tredjeplassen, men Andreas og Anders avgjorde den kampen allerede på lørdagens andre prøver. Søndag var det bare å holde seg unna trøbbel og å sikre plassen på pallen.
- Jeg er absolutt fornøyd med tredje plass! Det ble litt vanskelig på fredag ettermiddag med det dekkvalget vi gjorde, men så kjørte vi oss opp igjen på lørdag. Veldig fornøyd med farten jeg har første gangen gjennom etappene, men sliter litt andre turen igjennom. Bruker mye dekk, så det må vi finne ut av. Utenom det, veldig fornøyd med helgen. Det er ett tøft løp og vi hadde en bra strategi som jeg syns fungerte veldig bra.

Rally Tyrkia ble vunnet av Sebastien Ogier, mens Team-EVEN kollega Esapekka Lappi tok andre plassen. Tanak, Neuville, Latvala og Meeke fikk alle erfare hvor røft dette løpet kan være, og måtte tidlig se at de var ute av tet-kampen.

Neste løp på kalenderen er Wales Rally GB som kjøres 3 – 6 oktober. I år vil service-parken være spredd rundt i gatene av kystbyen Llandudno, mens starten på løpet vil foregå i Liverpool.

Rally Tyrkia 2019 totalt:
1 Ogier
2 Lappi +34,7
3 Mikkelsen +1.04,5
4 Suninen +1.35,1
5 Sordo +2.25,9
6 Latvala +2.59,1
19-09-15 Stabil insats och viktig utveckling för Tidemand i Turkiet
Efter ett sju månader långt uppehåll från rally-VM, gjorde Pontus Tidemand comeback i det turkiska eventet. Han vet var han vill nå långsiktigt, bygger erfarenhet från grunden och värdesätter varje kilometer. - Jag siktade på att göra en solid insats och det känner jag är precis vad vi har gjort" säger Pontus.

Som en av de svåraste och tuffaste tävlingarna i årets VM-serie var det ingen lätt match för Pontus att armbåga sig in i, särskilt med tanke på att han bara gjort två rallyn tidigare i den här bilen - då på snö, is och asfalt. Nu var det grus som gällde och den krävande utmaningen med höga temperaturer och extrema vägar med väldigt grovt grus, gör Rally Turkiet till en tävling i en klass för sig.

Pontus och hans norske co-driver Ola Fløene fick till en imponerande start på torsdagen. På kvällens publiksträcka satte de en tredje bästa tid, endast 1,6 sekunder från ledningen. Men följande dag fick inte en lika flygande start. En punktering på morgonens första sträcka bromsade upp den svensknorska duon, som både förlorade tid och placeringar under en och samma sträcka.
- Det är klart att man tappar flytet lite, men punkteringar är knappast förvånande eller oväntat här i Turkiet, säger Pontus. Med tanke på vår plan och strategi den här helgen kanske det inte var det mest förödande som kunde hända. Vi visste att vi ändå måste köra vårt eget race och inte jämföra oss för mycket med de andra som har betydligt mer erfarenhet.

Resten av fredagen var en svår prövning på sträckor som inte kan liknas vid några andra i VM och där många tampades med problem. Stora stenar som drogs upp i spåren på vägen och regn som började falla blev en påminnelse om vikten av att det inte bara är fart som räknas i Turkiet - att använda huvudet och dessutom ha turen på sin sida är minst lika viktigt.

Från tionde plats fortsatte Pontus och Ola att jaga utveckling och erfarenhet under lördagen på snabbare och bredare vägar. För varje sträcka inkasserade de nya lärdomar i och med att de var första bil på vägen och hittade en allt bättre känsla.
- Under de två sista sträckorna på lördagen kände jag att vi började hitta och komma in i rytmen. Vi inledde söndagen lika positivt och då startade vi dessutom näst först istället för först och kunde följa Tänaks linjer. Vi avslutade tävlingen med några av helgens bästa sträckor tidsmässigt för oss och det är ett bra besked att packa med oss hem, konstaterar Pontus.

På söndagens samtliga sträckor hängde Pontus bra med i tempot hos toppförarna och var inte långt efter. På tävlingens allra sista sträcka, där många av förarna gav allt för att få bonuspoäng, var Pontus inte mer än tio sekunder efter snabbaste tid. Det räckte till en nionde plats totalt.
- Inför rallyt sa jag att jag siktar på att göra en solid insats, inga hjälteinsatser, och det känner jag är precis vad vi gjort, säger Pontus. För att kunna vara med och kriga på riktigt inom en snar framtid måste jag få tid i bilen och jag måste få utmaningar för att växa in i det. Turkiet var en perfekt tävling ur det perspektivet. Vi har lärt oss massor och det finns fortfarande mycket kvar att lära, men erfarenhet är nyckeln och jag är väldigt glad och tacksam att jag fick chansen att köra här för att bygga vidare. Nu kommer vi hem med många stenhårda kilometer i bagaget och massor med material att analysera. Sen är vi redo för Wales!

Nästa tävling för Pontus är alltså Wales Rally GB som avgörs redan den 3-6 oktober.
19-09-14 Dominant C3 WRCs Conssolidate their lead
Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm secured two stage wins apiece as they tightened their stranglehold of the rally to end day two first and second overall, following another dominant performance that saw them increase their advantage over the chasing pack.

Featuring two of the slowest and most technical stages of the weekend as well as Kizlan, a new and very fast speed test (contested at an average speed of almost 110kph), today’s 109.80km-long leg looked like it would be extremely challenging once again. Conditions were all the more testing for the fact that ground temperatures reached 50 degrees Celsius.

In such extremely hot conditions, and despite there being a hard, very sandy base on the roads, you had to be very confident in your ability to look after your tyres in order to gamble on taking three medium compound and two hard Michelin tyres, from so far down the running order (ninth). And yet that was exactly the approach adopted by Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia this morning. It paid off immediately as the French crew claimed their first stage win of the weekend on Yesilbelde (33km), having spent more than twenty-five minutes combining serious pace and expert tyre management in the C3 WRC! With their rivals more than a minute behind, the six-time world champions focused on adopting a rhythm that would enable them to minimise the risks as much as possible on these very rough roads. Sébastien and Julien added another stage win on the second pass on Yesilbelde, taking over from their team-mate at the top of the leaderboard. They remained there at the end of the day and head into tomorrow’s final leg very determined to complete what would be an excellent overall team performance and a good result for the championship.

With a tyre package favouring hard compound tyres (four, plus one medium), Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm also impressed on the morning loop. They claimed two consecutive second fastest times, then a stage win (SS10), all done without taking any unnecessary risks in the C3 WRC. Aware of the need for the Citroën Total World Rally Team to secure a one-two finish tomorrow, they pursued the same rhythm in the afternoon, enabling them to keep out of trouble. They Finns managed to score another stage win on the repeat of Kizlan and although they lost the overall lead to their team-mates after stalling on SS12, they still remain way ahead of their nearest challengers.

The Citroën Total World Rally Team members will now get to work on the C3 WRCs – once again incredibly reliable – to ensure the Citroën crews make it through the 38.62 kilometres of timed stages left to complete tomorrow.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“We had the perfect day today! It was demanding once again, but our crews showed great intelligence in managing the leg. They also showed the speed of the C3 WRC with a total of four stage wins and its strength. It’s just rewards for they guys in the technical team, who have been working their socks off. It is crucial now to go on and finish the job tomorrow and secure the one-two finish, and score as many points as possible on the Power Stage.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a very good leg for us, with a decent pace and no technical issues whatsoever on our C3 WRC. It wasn't an easy day, however, but we made a bold call on tyre choice this morning and it paid off. This afternoon, we had to deal with incredibly hot and abrasive conditions for the tyres. I tried to be careful and not take too many risks to minimise any problems. Our goal now is to get to the finish line in this position and if we can add some points in the Power Stage then that would be a bonus.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It doesn't matter if we are leading or second this evening, the main thing is to bring home this result for the team. I'm very pleased with my own performance so far, despite my small mistake on SS12. We set some good times again today by adopting a sensible approach and with a C3 WRC that is clearly quick on this surface.”

1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:20:12.0
2. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +0.2.
3. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:17.1
4. Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:26.9
5. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:24.7
6. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:14.4
7. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:29.5
8. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:38.2
9. Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6:55.8
19-09-14 Utmaningar och utveckling för Tidemand i Turkiet
Pontus Tidemand och hans kartläsare Ola Fløene fortsätter suga åt sig all erfarenhet de kan få i Rally Turkiet. Ny dag innebar nya utmaningar från nionde plats kan de konstatera att de gör framsteg.

Efter en tuff fredag men med en uppåtgående lärokurva, var Pontus första bil ut på lördagens sträckor istället för sista WRC-bil som föregående dag. Nu väntade vägar av annan karaktär - mer öppna, snabbare och jämnare - särskilt i jämförelse med fredagens extremt steniga, snäva och kurviga vägar.
- Fördelen med att starta först är att inga stora stenar har dragits ut i vägen av bilarna innan som fallet var igår. Nu kan man ha en renare linje, men samtidigt får man sopa vägen för de efterföljande och det är väldigt halt på det lösa gruset innan det körts bort. Men att få båda situationerna under ett och samma rally är väldigt lärorikt, säger Pontus.

På eftermiddagen upprepades i vanlig ordning morgonens sträckor och trots att det fortfarande var halt, förbättrade Pontus sin tid på samtliga sträckor jämfört med förmiddagens resultat.
- En av de största utmaningarna är att hitta balansen mellan tempo och att ta hand om däcken, förklarar Pontus. Det sliter otroligt hårt på dem i det här grova gruset med hjälp på traven av värmen. Nöter man ut dem för tidigt tappar man greppet totalt.

När tävlingsdagen är över, ligger Pontus och Ola nia i totalen och summerar ännu en lärorik dag:
- Idag har vi fått njuta av några riktigt fina sträckor och haft kul även om det verkligen inte har varit lätt. Tidsmässigt har vi en bit kvar, speciellt från den här positionen när man endera väljer spår själv under första loopen, men måste öppna upp de gamla spåren på andra loopen eftersom en WRC-bil går bredare än R5-bilarna. Men vi jobbar vidare och har lärt oss mer nu än vi hade vid samma tid igår. Nu har vi bara fyra sträckor kvar och vi får försöka göra det bästa av dem också. Om vi kör på med samma strategi eller justerar den, det får vi se när vi kommer dit. Framförallt ska vi nå mållinjen med maximal erfarenhet, säger Pontus.

Rally Turkiets finalsträckor avgörs under söndagsförmiddagen med målgång omkring lunchtid.
19-09-13 Lappi leads Ogier at Rally Turkey after Friday to delight Citroën
Neuville third as title leader Tänak suffers puncture back in eighth place.
Esapekka Lappi headed a Citroën Racing 1-2 at Rally Turkey as Friday’s topsy-turvy opening leg gave fresh impetus to WRC title challengers Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville.

Lappi ended a long and tough day, in which the elements threw all they could at the competitors, with a 17.7sec lead over Citroën C3 team-mate and world champion Ogier. Neuville was 0.7sec further back in a Hyundai i20.

Championship leader Ott Tänak languished in eighth after a troubled day aboard his Toyota Yaris offered fresh hope to his title rivals. Neuville trailed the Estonian by 33 points in the championship with Ogier 40 behind going into round 11 of 14.

Intense heat and rock-strewn mountain roads above Turkey’s Turquoise Coast provided a fierce morning challenge. The afternoon was even more demanding as rougher roads and heavy rain meant grip was at a premium.

Jari-Matti Latvala took the lead in the opening special stage from Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen, who were tied after Thursday night’s short curtain-raiser. Lappi moved ahead in the next and extended his advantage in each of the four remaining speed tests.

“I’ve never seen this kind of stage, I had at least 15 huge hits on the car,” he said after this afternoon’s penultimate stage. "We’ve had no dramas so far, apart from a stall in a hairpin. A 17-second lead is a lot in Finland, but on this rally even one minute is not a lot,” said Lappi.

The penultimate 38.15km Çetibeli stage turned the leaderboard upside down. Rain made conditions treacherous for those who opted for Michelin’s hard compound tyres, the logical choice for hot and dry weather. Those using medium compounds prospered.

Fastest time for Neuville promoted the Belgian from seventh to third after a frustrating morning in which he fought against his i20’s handling. In the final test, he closed further on Ogier, who survived with only a puncture to delay him.

Teemu Suninen steered his Ford Fiesta into fourth, despite an opening stage spin. The Finn ended 25.0sec behind Neuville and 19.7sec ahead of Mikkelsen, who held second all day before losing almost a minute on the wrong tyres in Çetibeli.

Tänak was more than 90sec off the lead after losing time carving a clear line through the loose gravel this morning and dropping almost 80sec with a puncture.

Saturday follows a similar format of two groups of three stages, but this time the route heads west of Marmaris. More than 110km of competition are packed into six tests, with stunning picture-postcard views of the Mediterranean coastline.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Citroën C3 1hr 59min 53.7sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +17.7sec
3. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +18.4sec
4. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +44.4sec
5. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +1min 04.1sec
6. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +1min 25.2sec
19-09-13 The C3 WRC take control!
Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm and Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia produced a controlled, committed performance today, perfectly negotiating what many regarded as the weekend’s biggest challenge to end day one in the top two places.

The stakes were high on today’s opening leg, which, at 159.14 kilometres, accounted for more than half of the rally’s total competitive distance. It also featured some of the roughest stages of the weekend, not least two runs on Çetibeli, also the longest of the rally (38.15km).

The Citroën Total World Rally Team showed impressive form in these very demanding conditions, confirming the quality of its pre-event preparation as well as its determination to turn things around in the championship.

Making full use of their starting position down the running order (ninth), Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm kicked off the day with a second fastest time in the C3 WRC, before grabbing the overall lead with a stage win on the first run on the decisive Çetibeli stage. Totally at one with their Citroën, the Finns held onto their lead until the end of the day, despite their road position becoming a distinct disadvantage on certain sections of the afternoon loop, with more and more sharp stones pulled loose by those higher up the running order. In fact, it was quite an achievement that they held onto the lead: they were the only crew to be running on hard Michelin tyres and therefore had to soldier on when rain appeared on the final two stages of the day.

Faced with less grip from their position of third on the road, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia also had a trickier start to the day with a puncture six kilometres from the end of the opening stage. The stroke of misfortune cost them a few seconds and also compromised their tyre strategy for the loop, but it did not prevent them from climbing back up to third overall on the next stage. Another two consecutive third fastest times in the afternoon confirmed the excellent form of the C3 WRC on these roads and meant the French crew ended the day just 17.7s behind their team-mates. Both Citroën crews are now certain to enjoy a good road position for the rest of the rally.

Day two sees the competitors tackle 110.10 kilometres of timed stages. The highlight will undoubtedly be Yesilbelde (33.00km), one of the slowest stages contested last year (around 75kph), where the crews and their cars can expect to be sorely tested.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“We had to get through this opening leg without any hitches, as it always decisive for the rest of the weekend. Both our crews did a great job, staying calm and collected. They managed to find the right balance between pushing and looking after their cars and tyres when the extremely rough roads became treacherous. Today also confirms that the C3 WRC is competitive again. We’re now going to use this evening’s service to make sure we keep up the momentum tomorrow because our rivals are not far behind.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a really tricky day and I’m pleased to finish it in this position. I lost the splitter on the front bumper on the opening stage of the afternoon and that probably affected the car’s aerodynamics towards the end of the loop. Although conditions on tomorrow’s leg are expected to be a little less rough than today, there will still be some very tricky sections that we’ll need to get through without incident. I think we can expect it to be another big fight and you can count on us to be pushing hard!”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Obviously, it’s been a good day for us! We didn't have any issues at all and I could do what I wanted in my C3 WRC. I think we adopted a smart approach and managed to find the right rhythm, trying to stay in the lines as much as possible. I'm not really a huge fan of slow, technical stages, so I'm pleased with my performance today. But there’s still a long way to go. We'll just try to keep doing what we are doing and see how we get on.”

1. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) 1:59:53.7
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +17.7
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +18.4
4. Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +44.4
5. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:04.1
6. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:25.2
7. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:32.1
8. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:37.4
9. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:42.5
10. Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:45.4
19-09-13 Tidemand bygger erfarenhet i krävande Rally Turkiet
Efter en tredjeplats över natten började fredagen tufft för Pontus Tidemand med en punktering. Men han är fortfarande med i spelet och kör med huvudet för att få med sig den viktiga erfarenheten från VM-seriens mest krävande grusvägar och tid i sin Ford Fiesta WRC.

Pontus öppnade starkt när Rally Turkiets startskott gick på torsdagskvällen. I kvällsmörkret på stadssträckan i Marmaris var han tredje snabbaste man och fann sig endast 1,6 sekunder från ledningen över natten.

På fredagen väntade den riktigt krävande utmaningen när det var dags för de längre sträckorna, däribland tävlingens längsta på närmare fyra mil. Redan på morgonens första sträcka fick Pontus och Ola smaka på konsekvenserna av det fruktade gruset när de åkte på en punktering. De tappade tid, och trillade ner till tionde plats.
- Det var oturligt, men varken den första eller sista punkteringen den här helgen. Men det ändrade egentligen inte hur vi tar oss an rallyt. Det är svårt att veta vilken strategi man ska ha men vi kör på spåret vi börjat på. Jag är inte här för att få folk att tappa hakan, jag är här för att bygga erfarenhet i bilen som förhoppningsvis tar oss framåt rally för rally, förklarar Pontus.

Eftermiddagens sträckor försvårades inte bara av att de var uppkörda från förmiddagen, utan även på grund av vädret. Mitt i den längsta sträckan öppnade sig himlen och bjöd bitvis på ordentliga regnskurar.
- Det var otroligt halt, till och med halkigare än det är i leran i Wales, kommenterar Pontus, som kämpade med hårda däck på bilen.

Pontus knyter ihop fredagen på tionde plats, tre minuter och 45 sekunder från ledningen.
- Det har varit en extremt trixig dag ute på vägarna och jag märker att det fortfarande är mycket att lära sig och förstå för att kunna nå dit jag vill och vara med och kriga på riktigt. Men det är en process och jag är samtidigt glad att vi hela tiden gör framsteg. Imorgon är en ny dag och då tar vi nya tag, summerar Pontus

19-09-09 Taggad Tidemand tar sig an tuffa Rally Turkiet
Ett av säsongens tuffaste VM-rallyn väntar när Pontus Tidemand är tillbaka i M-Sports Ford Fiesta WRC. Han har laddat upp ordentligt och är taggad för tävling och att återigen ta plats i värstingbilen. - En fantastisk känsla att få sitta bakom ratten på den här bilen igen, det är här jag vill vara och känner att jag hör hemma, säger Pontus.

Rally Turkiet må vara det grusrally under säsongen med lägst hastigheter, men det kommer med desto fler utmaningar. Den brännande hettan med temperaturer på en bra bit över 30 grader tär på både förare och material. För att öka på svårigheterna körs tävlingen även på krävande vägar i bergsmiljö med riktigt grovt grus där stora, vassa stenar snabbt kan bli förödande.
- Det är helt klart ett svårbemästrat rally, säger Pontus. Vägarna är extrema och jag vet från förra året att det knappt går att undvika stenarna eftersom de är överallt. Det i kombination med värmen sätter stora prov på både man och maskin. Det gäller att vara smart och ta hand om bil och däck för att ta sig igenom sträckorna samtidigt som man, som vanligt, måste våga ha lite speed.

Ett av de viktigaste stegen i de grundliga förberedelserna för Pontus och hans kartläsare Ola Fløene var ett test tillsammans med M-Sportteamet och efter ett par dagars intensiv körning känner Pontus sig varm i kläderna och redo för att kasta sig tillbaka in i VM.
- Det var en fantastisk känsla att få sitta bakom ratten på den här bilen igen, det är här jag vill vara och känner att jag hör hemma. Vi testade i Frankrike på vägar av liknande karaktär som i Turkiet och jag utnyttjade tiden maximalt. Jag är nöjd med bilen, det är väldigt kul att vara tillbaka med teamet och det var bra för mig och Ola att få plocka upp tråden där vi slutade i vintras, säger Pontus och fortsätter:
- Med ett bra test i bagaget och en hel del analyserande utöver de vanliga förberedelserna inför tävling, är vi redo för det här. Målet är att göra ett stabilt rally där vi får ut det mesta av den här otroliga bilen, har en bra utveckling under tävlingens gång och förhoppningsvis kan sätta några snabba tider, säger Pontus.

Rally Turkiet avgörs mellan den 12 och 15 september med basen i Asparan, nära staden Marmaris. Närmare 320 kilometer distans, uppdelat på 17 specialsträckor ska klaras av under helgen.
19-09-06 A Heavywight challenge for the C3 WRC
As the Citroën Total World Rally Team returns to Turkey, the country in which it won its very first WRC gravel rally back in 2003 with the Xsara WRC, its two crews Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm are determined to emulate the success of their celebrated predecessors. To do that, they will need to overcome the incredibly rough gravel roads at round eleven of the world championship.

After finishing last year’s event as top performers with five stage wins and briefly holding the overall lead, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia proved once again their innate ability to adapt to new stages and take effective pace notes on a new event. There is little doubt therefore that they will be among the frontrunners again at this year’s Rally Turkey, the second to be based in Marmaris, after Kemer (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008) and Istanbul (2010). Determined to fight tooth and nail to defend their title, the six-time world champions can also draw upon their considerable racecraft, a quality that is often critical at this type of event, where it is not all about pure speed. In running third in the starting order, the French crew will have the beginnings of a racing line to follow left by their two championship rivals, as they try to get the most out of the C3 WRC.

Galvanised by their impressive performance on gravel last time out in Finland, where they finished as runners-up, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm have clearly made a big step forward in handling the C3 WRC on this surface. After hovering just outside the top five for long periods in 2018, the Finns are keen to show their talent on gravel again this year. They will be looking to adopt an intelligent approach, finding the right balance between pushing and keeping out of trouble. Provided those higher up the order do not loosen too many sharp rocks, starting in ninth position on the road means they should have cleaner roads and better grip.

In order to prepare for this extremely demanding event as effectively as possible, the Citroën Total World Rally Team headed to Greece and the feisty stages used on the Acropolis Rally for a pre-event test, on roads long considered to be the benchmark when it comes to rough gravel. Citroën technicians spent four days working particularly on the C3 WRC’s damper systems as they tried to improve its ability to cope with the uneven surface, whilst looking after the tyres on the incredibly rocky and hot Turkish gravel roads.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“After last year’s event caught everyone by surprise in terms of the demands placed on the cars, this year we’re well aware of the challenge ahead of us in Turkey and have prepared accordingly. In particular, we had some productive test sessions on some of the most demanding stages in Greece. Reliability is bound to play a key role this weekend, as will the ability to keep out of trouble. It’s up to us to make sure we are at our best, because we are determined to get back on the podium and fight hard for the championship.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Last year’s stages were without question the roughest I have ever had to face in my entire career. The crew that won were clearly not the quickest, so perhaps we’ll need to adapt our approach this year, especially as we can no longer afford any mistakes in the championship. Testing went well, on roads that provided the kind of difficulties we’ll face this weekend. I hope the good feeling we had in testing will continue into the rally itself.”
Number of appearances at the event: 2
Best result: 4th (2010)

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“You need to use your head at this rally and understand when it’s possible to push and when it’s better to take your foot off the accelerator and look after the car. It’s not necessarily my favourite type of rallying, but if we can manage to combine endurance, reliability, a bit of speed and some luck in avoiding punctures, then we shouldn’t be too far away from securing a good result.”
Number of appearances at the event: 1 (2018), retirement.

17 timed stages covering a total of 309.86 km
78.30 kph the average speed of last year’s winners, which was the lowest in the entire 2018 championship
34 degrees Celsius, the maximum temperature forecast in Marmaris for the week of the rally
4 overall wins secured by Citroën in seven appearances at Rally Turkey: 3 with Xsara WRC (2003, 2004 and 2005) and 1 with C4 WRC (2010).

Extremely high temperatures, very low average speeds and tricky, technical roads with trouble around every corner and sharp rocks galore: the Marmaris version of Rally Turkey, added to the WRC calendar last year, has all the ingredients to become a modern day Acropolis Rally, previously regarded as the season’s rough gravel event par excellence. There are challenges everywhere you look for the teams at this round, with tyre wear, the risk of a puncture and cooling the major issues.

Although some stages have a different length to last year – some shorter, some longer meaning new pace notes will be required – the overall route remains unchanged. Only one new stage has been added, Kizlan (13.30km), on Saturday.

Like last year, the event starts in earnest on Friday with a very substantial main course, a 159.14 kilometre-long leg that is certain to test the mettle of the crews and their cars. It includes two runs on the very long Çetibeli stage (38.15km). Saturday still offers plenty for the crews to get their teeth into, with 110.10 kilometres of timed stages to negotiate, whilst Sunday’s sprint finish will be a lot shorter (38.62km).

10.00am: Shakedown (4,70 km)
6.00pm: Start from service park (Asparan)
6.30pm: Ceremonial start (Marmaris)
8.08pm: SS 1 – Super Special Stage (2,00 km)
8.33pm : Parc ferme (Asparan)

7.30am: Start & service A (Asparan – 15 mins)
8.08am: SS 2 – Içmeler 1 (24,85 km)
9.31am: SS 3 – Çetibeli 1 (38,15 km)
10.54am: SS 4 – Ula 1 (16,57 km)
1.14pm: Service B (Asparan – 40 mins)
2.17pm: SS 5 – Içmeler 2 (24,85 km)
3.40pm: SS 6 – Çetibeli 2 (38,15 km)
5.03pm: SS 7 – Ula 2 (16,57 km)
7.08pm: Flexi service C (Asparan – 45 mins)

7.57am: Start & service D (Asparan – 15 mins)
8.50am: SS 8 – Yesilbelde 1 (33,00 km)
10.08am: SS 9 – Datça 1 (8,75 km)
11.06am: SS 10 – Kizlan 1 (13,30 km)
12.32pm: Service E (Asparan – 40 mins)
1.50pm: SS 11 – Yesilbelde 2 (33,00 km)
3.08pm: SS 12 – Datça 2 (8,75 km)
4.06pm: SS 13 – Kizlan 2 (13,30 km)
5.27pm: Flexi service F (Asparan – 45 mins)

8.55am: Start & service G (Asparan – 15 mins)
9.38am: SS 14 – Marmaris 1 (7,05 km)
10.36am: SS 15 – Gökçe (11,32 km)
11.24am: SS 16 – Çiçekli (13,20 km)
1.18pm: SS 17 – Marmaris 2 Power Stage (7,05 km)
1.38pm: Finish (Asparan)
2.15pm: Podium
19-09-06 RaceNetWork säkrar ännu ett VM-rally för Pontus Tidemand
Strax efter att RaceNetWork med sin vision att skapa möjligheter för svensk bilsport blev verklighet, kunde konceptets första projekt - Pontus Tidemand - få sitt nästa VM-rally klart. Under den gångna veckan säkrades ytterligare en tävling för den värmländske rallystjärnan.

Från nästa veckas Rally Turkiet är det full fart mot Wales Rally GB som avgörs några veckor senare. Pontus har med sig goda resultat från tidigare år i den ikoniska brittiska VM-tävlingen där han konsekvent presterat på topp med en seger och två andraplatser. Skillnaden är att denna gång sitter han inte i en WRC 2-bil, utan bakom ratten i M-Sports WRC-Fiesta i rallysportens främsta rum.
- Vi är glada att kunna ge Pontus den här möjligheten tack vare att framförallt det värmländska näringslivet entusiastiskt hjälpt till att göra projektet till en realitet. Pontus är laddad som tusan för att verkligen ta till vara chanserna och vi tror stenhårt på att de här tävlingarna kommer innebära ett stort steg framåt för hans utveckling, säger RaceNetWorks Lennart Augustsson.

Pontus själv är redo att ge allt för att förvalta förtroendet från sina partners och det är en tacksam rallyförare som nu gör sista uppladdningen och packar väskan för inte en utan två VM-tävlingar.
- Det här är den bästa nyheten jag kunde få just nu och jag är otroligt tacksam för de partners som tagit steget in i det här projektet och de människor jag har runt mig som jobbar outtröttligt för att jag ska få de här möjligheterna. Att få starta Rally Turkiet nästa vecka med vetskapen om att det inte är min enda chans, det är en skön känsla. Jag vill verkligen göra det mesta av det här och ser fram emot att få fortsätta det vi påbörjat med tydliga mål att nå ännu högre, säger Pontus.
19-09-06 Fler VM-chanser för Tidemand - kör även Wales Rally GB
Med bara en vecka kvar till starten av Rally Turkiet står det klart att ytterligare en chans väntar på Pontus Tidemand hos M-Sport i deras Ford Fiesta WRC. I oktober kör han även Wales Rally GB och det är en tävling som han gillar och där han tidigare gjort bra ifrån sig med tre pallplatser av tre möjliga i WRC 2-klassen.

Pontus är just nu mitt i de slutliga förberedelserna för sin nästa stora VM-utmaning i Turkiet kommande vecka och han behöver knappt lämna VM-cirkusen förrän det är dags igen. Redan den första helgen i oktober står han på startlinjen till Wales Rally GB.
- Det är verkligen en positiv boost inför nästa vecka att veta att fler chanser väntar, särskilt så nära i tid, säger Pontus. Ett rally är inget rally, det måste sättas in i en större plan så jag får möjligheten att ta kliv framåt utan att starta på noll varje gång. Wales är en tävling som passar mig bra och som jag har flera bra minnen ifrån. Jag har kört där tre gånger i WRC 2 och vunnit en gång och slutat tvåa de övriga gångerna. Det blir något annat nu med WRC-bil men det ska bli spännande att se vad jag kan göra. Jag är väldigt tacksam för M-Sport, RaceNetWork och mina partners som tror på mig, stöttar och hjälper mig framåt. Nu är det inget annat än full fart mot framtiden som gäller!

Även det brittiska teamet är exalterade att få mer tid med Pontus och följa hans intensiva resa under den närmsta framtiden.
- Det är toppen att Pontus har ytterligare ett event med vår Ford Fiesta WRC och ännu en möjlighet att visa vad han kan göra på sportens högsta nivå. Han tillhör nästa generation och jag tror att alla fabriksteam är spända på att se hur han utvecklas under de här två eventen. Vi vet hur konkurrenskraftig han var i WRC 2, särskilt i Wales, och jag ser fram emot att få vaka över hans framsteg de kommande veckorna, säger M-Sports teamchef Richard Millener.
19-08-25 Citroën already focused on Turkey
Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm ended Rallye Deutschland a disappointing seventh and eighth overall, as both crews struggled throughout the event to deliver their full potential in the C3 WRC, the French pair also collecting two harsh punctures. A tough weekend that the Citroën Total World Rally Team nevertheless leaves in determined mood, aiming to bounce back at the next round in Turkey (12-15 September).

With their chances of a podium place dealt a serious blow by the two punctures picked up by Ogier – Ingrassia yesterday on Panzerplatte, the Citroën Total World Rally Team concentrated today on improving the handling of the C3 WRC. The work done highlighted a few ideas on how to change the set-up, whilst also underlining the need to go further still. Today’s final leg concluded with Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in seventh place, whilst Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were just behind in eight overall, after briefly fighting back up to sixth position. This result means the French crew, who also scored a bonus point in claiming fifth place on the Power Stage, now lie third in the provisional world championship standings.

Although they very quickly noted that the set-up wasn't quite right and the C3 WRC was understeering, meaning they had to push really hard to compensate, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia ended the opening leg in third place. This despite making a few minor mistakes, unsurprisingly so given they were having to drive on – or over – the limit to keep in touch with the leaders. With day two including stages in the Baumholder military base, where they have delivered some formidable performances in the past, they had high hopes of being able to consolidate their position. Unfortunately, they fell foul of the very unpredictable nature of the Panzerplatte stage. They lost a little time with a slow puncture on the first run but worse was to come on the repeat, with a second puncture costing them more than 1m 30s. Their poor luck dropped them out of contention for the leading positions, leaving them to use the final leg as a test.

Less experienced on this demanding event, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were nevertheless just 7.3s off fourth place halfway through the first leg. However, they too made a mistake, a spin on SS5, as they struggled to push despite the set-up of the car not being entirely to their liking. They ended day one in seventh position. Whilst setting two second fastest times (SS9 and SS11) on Saturday, reflecting the progress made on the set-up of the C3 WRC, they were unable to avoid another minor error, but they dug in to make their contribution to the efforts undertaken by the team.

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Obviously, it was not the weekend we were hoping for, but I gave it everything. I was flat out a lot of the time, but it wasn't enough. The times just weren't there and the punctures certainly didn’t help. We had hoped to buck the trend here, but unfortunately, our situation in the championship hasn't improved. I'm still going to keep fighting, like I have always done.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a very difficult weekend for us. We had difficulty finding confidence in the car and the speed to fight with the leading crews. We managed to make some small steps during the weekend but it wasn't enough. We need more. I have faith in our ability to find the right solutions together for the future.”

What is your analysis of your disappointing performance this weekend?
We thought we had understood the reasons for our below-par performance in Corsica and had made the necessary changes for this tarmac round. We had hoped to be among the frontrunners this weekend, but the truth is that wasn't really the case. We were closer to the leaders this weekend than in Corsica, but still too far away to be satisfied. We clearly missed something in our preparations. The only full day of testing conducted by Sébastien and Julien was disrupted by rain, something we didn't have during the rally in the end. So that prevented us from completing our test programme on dry tarmac. We were also unlucky with the two punctures picked up by Sébastien and Julien in the Baumholder military base, when they were definitely still in contention for a podium place. In any event, our crews tried really hard all week, always looking to get the absolute maximum from the car, regardless of the circumstances. That is also why, as they tried to compensate for the handling issues, they ended up making a few minor mistakes. The technical team never let up either, despite the obvious disappointment, and it is this fighting spirit – combined with the lessons learned here – that will enable us to come away stronger from this test.

How do you see the rest of the championship developing?
We are obviously in a more difficult situation in the championship now. But we’re not the kind of people to give up whilst there is still hope. There are four rallies still to go, including some of the most difficult events in the championship, so a lot can still happen. We have a pre-event test for Turkey coming up next week and we’ll be fighting right to the end of the season with togetherness, commitment and passion.
19-08-25 Ott Tänak secures Rallye Deutschland hat-trick
Estonian survives brake problems to extend championship lead. Ott Tänak won his third consecutive ADAC Rallye Deutschland on Sunday afternoon to take another huge stride towards a maiden FIA World Rally Championship title.

He survived a late scare to claim his fourth victory in five rounds, leading Toyota to their first clean sweep of the podium since 1993 and the first in the WRC since this rally four years ago.

Brake problems on his Toyota Yaris in the penultimate speed test forced Tänak to drive cautiously through the closing Wolf Power Stage, but he had enough in hand to head Kris Meeke by 20.8sec with Jari-Matti Latvala a further 15.2sec behind.

The Estonian extended his championship lead to 33 points with four rounds remaining. His Toyota Gazoo Racing squad closed to within eight points of leaders Hyundai Shell Mobis in the manufacturers’ standings after a 1-2-3 finish.

The four-day encounter was fought out on bumpy vineyard tracks in the Mosel, gruelling multi-surface tank training roads and smooth country lanes in the Saarland countryside.

Tänak gained control yesterday afternoon after a thrilling duel with title rival Thierry Neuville came to a premature end when the Belgian stopped to change a puncture on his Hyundai i20.

He admitted he had mixed feelings after being unable to attack for bonus points in the final test.

“We started to have some issues in the previous stage so I couldn’t push. We only had one brake at the front. I’m not really happy about that, but we’re here and I am happy about that. The team has missed out on a 1-2-3 a few times so it is good to do that finally,” he said.

Meeke and Latvala eased through the final leg among the Mosel grapes, content to hold their positions and guarantee a stellar result for the Japanese manufacturer.

Dani Sordo completed the stages in fourth, but the Spaniard sacrificed the place when he incurred a penalty by leaving the final service late to allow team-mate Neuville to move up from fifth and collect more championship points.

There were more team tactics behind. Esapekka Lappi was sixth, but adopted the same strategy as Sordo to enable Citroën C3 team leader Sébastien Ogier to climb from eighth to seventh. Lappi dropped two places and Andreas Mikkelsen also profited as he inherited sixth.

Ogier and Lappi both struggled with major understeer and world champion Ogier now trails Tänak by 40 points and Neuville by seven.

The championship reverts to gravel next month for Rally Turkey, which takes place in Marmaris from September 12-15 .

Final positions
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 3hr 15min 29.8sec
2. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +20.8sec
3. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +36.0sec
4. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +58.5sec
5. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +1min 16.6sec
6. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +1min 46.2sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 10 of 14)
1. O Tänak 205pts
2. T Neuville 172pts
3. S Ogier 165pts

19-08-24 Citroën fall foul of Panterplatte
The leg involving stages in the Baumholder military base is often decisive – and invariably unforgiving – and can also be something of a lottery. The 2019 rally proved to be no exception to this rule. After a morning loop in the Saarland countryside, where the gaps remained very small, this afternoon’s stages – held on extremely abrasive concrete roads littered with sharp stones that are ordinarily used by tanks from the military base – provided a great deal more drama.

After having vigorously defended their third place on the morning loop, whilst still not being entirely happy with the set-up, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia unfortunately saw their good luck escape them in the afternoon. A slow puncture on the first run on Panzerplatte (41.17km) meant they lost their third position, but they were still just five tenths off the podium and 3.1s off second place. With an improved set-up for the final loop of the day, the French crew held real hopes of regaining a podium spot. Unfortunately, they initially dropped time by stalling on SS14. Then another puncture cost them more than 1m 30s on the repeat of Panzerplatte, a bitter blow after recording a positive first split. Down in eighth overall this evening, the six-time world champions will now focus on trying to score as many points as possible.

Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made a strong start this morning, claiming the second fastest time on SS9, just 0.5s off the lead pace, and closing to within just 4.6s of sixth place. However, on the next stage, the Finns were slightly late on the brakes on a dirty section at a junction and ended in a spin that cost them 20.1s. Although they dropped to eighth place, they didn't lose heart, setting another second fastest time on the next stage.

They also used the rest of the leg to work with the team on the set-up of the C3 WRC for future events. Work that saw them record a decent fifth fastest time on the second pass on Panzerplatte (+9.9s over 41.17km).
With 79.50 kilometres of timed stages still to go, including two runs on Grafschaft (28.06km) through the Mosel vineyards, Sunday will be no stroll in park on what is set to be an unusually long final leg.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“The outcome is harsh on Sébastien and Julien, who once again showed extraordinary fighting spirit. Clearly, they were unlucky in falling victim to the very unpredictable nature of the Panzerplatte stage. Esapekka and Janne managed to show the progress made with the C3 WRC in flashes. As our chances of a strong finish have been dealt a serious blow, we’re now going to run some in-competition testing to try and keep improving the set-up of the car, because we obviously want to do better.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Obviously, it’s been a frustrating day. We all knew that the Baumholder military base was something of a lottery and unfortunately, over the last couple of years, I haven't picked the winning numbers. It’s even more of a shame because the car had improved and I was managing to get it to turn into the corners better.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a long and hard day, but we managed to improve the car on this surface, even though we had trouble with the grip on Panzerplatte. It was nevertheless better on the second loop. It’s not enough just yet but we are going to keep moving in this direction.”
19-08-24 Tänak in charge at Rallye Deutschland after Neuville despair
Estonian driver holds a lead of over 30 seconds going into final day. Ott Tänak is on course for a third straight ADAC Rallye Deutschland victory after leading a Toyota Gazoo Racing clean sweep of the top three places on Saturday night.

Tänak, bidding to extend his FIA World Rally Championship lead, ended the longest leg of the four-day asphalt event with a 32.4sec advantage in his Yaris over Kris Meeke.

Jari-Matti Latvala overcame a ragged morning to hold third, a further 9.4sec behind after a stellar day for the Japanese manufacturer.

Tänak’s delight contrasted with title rival Thierry Neuville’s despair. For a second day the pair duelled at the head of the leaderboard, never split by more than a handful of seconds through the morning’s four country lane tests in Saarland.

Despite briefly stalling his engine, Neuville reached mid-leg service only 5.0sec down after winning two special stages.

The daunting multi-surfaced Baumholder tank training roads were predicted to be a pivotal point of the rally and they lived up to that forecast. Neuville punctured early in the marathon 41.17km Panzerplatte test and dropped nearly 90sec stopping to replace it.

“We had a puncture on the rear left. It’s a lottery and we were really unlucky. We were in the middle of the road so I don’t know where that came from,” he said.

With the pressure removed, Tänak eased though the second pass of Baumholder, the first occasion on which he had been able to relax.

“This morning Thierry was faster than me and I didn’t want to take risks. Unfortunately he hit problems and we have a comfortable lead. Baumholder is so, so tricky so I think you need to have some luck if you're pushing and come out without punctures,” he said.

Meeke and Latvala could not find a way past Sébastien Ogier, who continued to struggle with his understeering Citroën C3 in third, until the first pass through Panzerplatte. Both overhauled the Frenchman and Meeke widened the gap over his team-mate in the final test.

Dani Sordo recovered from last night’s gearbox problem to hold fourth in his i20. He was almost 25sec clear of Neuville, who lost more time in the final stage when he spun and inadvertently deactivated the gear-change system after hitting an in-car button.

Neuville still managed to overtake team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, who ended 2.1sec behind in sixth despite twice sliding off the road.
Ogier’s day went from bad to worse when he stopped to change a puncture in the final test, losing 90sec and sinking to eighth.

Sunday’s final leg reverts to the Mosel vineyards. Two runs through Grafshaft (28.06km) and Dhrontal (11.69km) total 79.50km, the second pass through Dhrontal forming the crucial bonus-point finale as the Wolf Power Stage.

Leading positions
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 2hr 27min 21.9sec
2. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +32.4sec
3. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +41.8sec
4. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +1min 10.8sec
5. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +1min 35.2sec
6. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +1min 37.3sec
19-08-23 Tänak holds off dogged Neuville for Rallye Deutschland Friday lead
WRC leader claims precious gap to Belgian rival and Frenchman Ogier. Ott Tänak fended off a determined challenge from FIA World Rally Championship title rival Thierry Neuville to hold a narrow lead at ADAC Rallye Deutschland on Friday night.

Championship leader Tänak, chasing a fifth victory of the season in his Toyota Yaris, won four of the six speed tests to head Neuville by 2.8sec after a thrilling duel.

In baking temperatures nearing 30°C, the pair distanced their opponents on bumpy and narrow vineyard roads above the Mosel river and country lanes in Saarland with world champion Sébastien Ogier third in a Citroën C3 - 22.1sec off the lead.

Tänak led after Thursday night’s curtain-raising test, but was relegated by Neuville in this morning’s opener. He moved back in front on the next stage and although his Belgian rival narrowed the deficit when the stages were repeated, Tänak retained a narrow advantage.

“There is nothing comfortable when the fight is like it is,” said the Estonian. “Thierry is doing very well but rallying is never a walk in the park and there is still a big battle.

“It’s exactly what we expected - fast stages and small gaps. Tomorrow is a very difficult day and the long military road stage will be so important.”

Neuville won the opening test of the loop on both occasions in his Hyundai i20 and there was little Ogier could do to stay in touch as he wrestled with an understeering Citroën C3. He lost more valuable seconds after stalling his engine and later sliding into a field.

Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo were closely matched in a battle for fourth. Meeke held the initiative all day in his Yaris, until Sordo edged ahead in the penultimate test, only for his i20’s gearbox to jam in first gear in the final stage. He lost almost a minute to plunge to ninth.

Finn Jari-Matti Latvala capitalised to climb to fifth in his Yaris, despite sliding into a field in the final test and struggling to perfect his braking. He was 2.2sec adrift of Meeke and 12.2sec clear of Andreas Mikkelsen in sixth.

Teemu Suninen was the only major retirement, stopping early in the opening special stage with fly-by-wire motor failure in his Ford Fiesta.

Saturday features a double loop of two country lane tests in Saarland before the action shifts to the intimidating multi-surfaced Panzerplatte military roads. Four abrasive stages there, packed with awkward junctions and lined by car-breaking kerbstones, raise the day’s total to 157.92km.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 59min 12.4sec
2. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +2.8sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +22.1sec
4. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +25.6sec
5. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +27.8sec
6. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +40.0sec

19-08-23 Ogier-Ingrassia on podium in the C3 WRC ready to punce
Despite not being entirely happy with their car, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia spent the opening leg fighting hard in their C3 WRC to end day one in third overall, 22.1s off the leaders. Less at home on this very specific event and suffering similar issues with the car, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm saw their progress somewhat slowed by a spin and ended the leg in seventh position.

A mix of stages held in the Saarland countryside and in the Mosel vineyards, this opening leg immediately served up two of the difficulties that have established the reputation of this event as an extremely challenging rally. And although the Citroën Total World Rally Team was once again among the frontrunners, the Red Army didn't quite enjoy the level of success it had hoped for.

Immediately in the top three after yesterday evening’s opening stage, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia confirmed their hopes of a podium when the action resumed this morning. However, a stall on SS3 and some set-up issues – causing understeer – prevented them from expressing themselves fully in the morning. They nonetheless ended the first loop in third place, 13.7s behind the leader. With the balance of the C3 WRC improved during the mid-leg service, the six-time world champions summoned all their strength in the afternoon to make up some ground, but they were slowed by hitting a hay bale on SS6 and running wide into a field on SS7. Having ended the day in third place, 22.1s behind the leader, they will certainly be determined to keep fighting tomorrow to try and close the gap, whilst the technical team will be trying to improve the set-up of C3 WRC further.

Less familiar with this event, where experience counts, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm understandably encountered a few more difficulties than their more seasoned team-mates. They still managed to make it to mid-leg service just 7.3s adrift of the fourth-placed crew, having claimed a fourth fastest time on SS4. Unfortunately, a spin on the opening test of the afternoon (SS5) meant they ended the leg in seventh place, 52.9s off the pace, despite another fourth fastest time on the day’s final stage (SS7).

Day two, the weekend's longest leg (157.92km of timed stages), looks like it might provide plenty of drama. There are two runs on the two stages in the Baumholder military base, this year contested in the opposite direction to usual and where there appears to quite a lot of dirt and debris on the roads, meaning that punctures may be an issue…

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Obviously, we were hoping for more from this opening leg. Although we have undoubtedly made progress on tarmac since Corsica, we need to keep improving the handling of the C3 WRC, like we did with some minor adjustments during the mid-leg service. Everyone in the team is working hard and is extremely focused on trying to ensure our crews can keep fighting and moving up the standings.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Clearly, I'm not happy with first leg. We had quite a bit of understeer today. I was driving over the limit but was still slower than our two rivals. Unfortunately, I also made some small mistakes which cost us time. There is still a very long way to go on this rally, with a very difficult leg ahead tomorrow. We’ll keep giving it everything and try to find some solutions.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a tough day, with understeer and a general lack of grip in the car. The afternoon wasn't much better for me. We’re now going to try and understand what is causing our issues with the technical team.”

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 59:12.4
2. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2.8
3. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +22.1
4. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +25.6
5. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +27.8
6. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +40.0
7. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +52.9
8. Greensmith / Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:05.5
9. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:15.1
19-08-21 Tänak hunts hat-trick in Germany to boost his WRC title challenge
The Estonian looks to win and take a massive step towards a maiden WRC title. Ott Tänak chases an ADAC Rallye Deutschland (22 - 25 August) hat-trick this weekend to take a massive step towards his maiden FIA World Rally Championship title.

Despite having won in south-west Germany for the last two years, Tänak knows a third victory is a tough ask at one of the season’s most complex fixtures.

Essentially an asphalt rally, a mix of bumpy and narrow corkscrew vineyard tracks, daunting multi-surface tank training roads and smooth country lanes mean grip levels change constantly and drivers struggle for rhythm.

“It’s certainly not an easy rally. I think last year was one of the most difficult wins in my career, as the competition was very strong and I had to push really hard from the beginning,” said the Estonian, who has 10 WRC victories.

“It’s a big challenge for a driver to have so many different types of road in one rally, and to try to be fast on all of them and not make any mistakes.”

Tänak is on blistering form. He has won three of the last four rallies to build a 22-point championship lead, and only damaged steering a handful of kilometres from the finish in Italy in June prevented a four-timer and an even more handsome advantage.

Six-time champion Sébastien Ogier is his closest rival and eager to shift the title momentum in his favour, but the Citroën C3 driver refuses to throw caution to the wind to stop the Tänak train.

“I can’t take big risks here because of the way things are in the championship, so I’ll have to tread a fine line between attacking and finishing. It’s extremely important to get a good result and secure points,” explained the Frenchman, who is winless since March.

Thierry Neuville is three points further back and the only other driver in title contention. The Hyundai i20 pilot won the last asphalt round in Corsica and warmed up with a remarkable win on his circuit racing debut during a guest appearance at the Nurburgring last weekend.

Elfyn Evans is ruled out for a second event with a back injury and will again be replaced by Gus Greensmith in M-Sport Ford’s Fiesta, while Japanese youngster Takamoto Katsuta makes his WRC World Rally Car debut in a Yaris.

The rally starts at Bostalsee on Thursday evening and drivers face 19 tests covering 344.04km before Sunday afternoon’s finish.
19-08-16 Tidemand har nästa VM-start klar - Turkiet väntar
Efter mer än ett halvårs uppehåll är väntan äntligen över för Pontus Tidemand och han får dyka tillbaka in i VM-cirkusen. I september väntar det tuffa Rally Turkiet och precis som i årets första tävlingar rattar han en Ford Fiesta WRC för M-Sport i högsta klassen.
- Det ska bli så kul att vara med och fighta igen, säger Pontus. Jag har sett fram emot det här sen jag klev ur bilen på Rally Swedens sista dag i februari. Vägen hit har kantats av otroligt hårt arbete men det har lönat sig och nu tar vi nya krafttag för att slå oss fram bit för bit.

Det 28-årige rallyesset från Värmland och hans norske kartläsare Ola Fløene inledde året med att ta klivet upp till rally-VM:s värstingklass, WRC-klassen, och köra Rallye Monte-Carlo och hemmatävlingen Rally Sweden. De fullföljde stabilt båda tävlingarna trots ny bil, nytt team och några tekniska problem, men att det behövs mer erfarenhet i bilen för att kunna nagga på toppresultaten - det är ett faktum

I det stenhårda jobbet mot nästa start fick Pontus hjälp på traven av RaceNetWork, som är ett nystartat koncept som går ut på att skapa möjligheter för svenska förare genom ett nära samarbete med investerande företag. Under veckan som gått kunde nästa VM-start säkras och nu ligger det främsta fokuset på att förbereda varenda liten detalj för att vara hundraprocentigt beredd när tävlingen startar den andra helgen i september.
- Jag har M-Sport, mina partners, RaceNetWork och alla de runt omkring mig som hjälper mig att tacka för det här, säger Pontus. Det är en ny chans och jag ska ta tillvara på den. Till skillnad från i vintras börjar vi inte helt på ruta noll, men det blir första gången på grus med den här bilen och jag hoppas på en bra utveckling under tävlingen. Men det är verkligen den häftigaste bilen jag någonsin kört och jag älskade den från första stund jag tog plats bakom ratten. Jag vet från förra året att Rally Turkiet är en grymt tuff tävling, men jag ska se till att vara så förberedd jag bara kan vara. Jag är mer än redo för en ny utmaning, det är ju det här jag väntat på det senaste halvåret!

Även M-Sport välkomnar Pontus tillbaka till teamet och det är inga som helst tvivel på att de tror på sin svenske förare och med spänd förväntan ser de fram emot den väntande tävlingen.
- Det är härligt att ha Pontus tillbaka i teamet och tillbaka bakom ratten på vår Ford Fiesta WRC. Det här är något många ville se, inklusive jag själv, och jag ser fram emot att se hur han presterar i Turkiet, säger teamchefen Richard Millener och fortsätter:
- Han hade lite otur tidigare i år med en startposition och tekniska problem som jobbade emot honom, men när man slår samman hela hans prestation var det en riktigt stabil debut och vi är spända på att se vad han kan göra på grus. Pontus är en all-rounder som är konkurrenskraftig på alla underlag. Han har talangen och vi vill se honom ta nästa steg i sin karriär. Han kommer göra ett test tillsammans med teamet på tuffa grusvägar som förberedelse för Turkiet, och vi vet att han kommer göra det mesta av den här möjligheten.

Den turkiska VM-deltävlingen körs den 12-15 september och är den 11:e tävlingen av 14 i årets rallyvärldsmästerskap.

Även M-Sport välkomnar Pontus tillbaka till teamet och det är inga som helst tvivel på att de tror på sin svenske förare och med spänd förväntan ser de fram emot den väntande tävlingen.
- Det är härligt att ha Pontus tillbaka i teamet och tillbaka bakom ratten på vår Ford Fiesta WRC. Det här är något många ville se, inklusive jag själv, och jag ser fram emot att se hur han presterar i Turkiet, säger teamchefen Richard Millener och fortsätter:
- Han hade lite otur tidigare i år med en startposition och tekniska problem som jobbade emot honom, men när man slår samman hela hans prestation var det en riktigt stabil debut och vi är spända på att se vad han kan göra på grus. Pontus är en all-rounder som är konkurrenskraftig på alla underlag. Han har talangen och vi vill se honom ta nästa steg i sin karriär. Han kommer göra ett test tillsammans med teamet på tuffa grusvägar som förberedelse för Turkiet, och vi vet att han kommer göra det mesta av den här möjligheten.

Den turkiska VM-deltävlingen körs den 12-15 september och är den 11:e tävlingen av 14 i årets rallyvärldsmästerskap.
19-08-04 Imponerande seger för Tom Kristensson och Henrik Appelskog i Rally Finland
Tom Kristensson med codriver Henrik Appelskog tog en imponerande seger i JWRC-delen i Neste Rally Finland. Det var parets andra seger i årets JWRC, och har nu den fina serien 1-2-3-1 i de fyra deltävlingarna som avverkats.

Tävlingen inleddes med en kort stadssträcka i Jyväskylä på torsdagskvällen och här var tysken Julius Tannert snabbast, 0,9sekunder före Tom på tredje plats. Redan på den andra specialsträckan på fredagsmorgonen tog man kommandot, genom att vinna denna, och släppte sedan aldrig ledningen. Man visade tävlingen igenom stabil körning i högt tempo. Vinstmarginalen skrevs till slut med 1 minut och 28 sekunder före spanjoren Jan Solans, efter 23 specialsträckor på nästan 31 mil.
- Supernöjd och jättelycklig, jag hittar inte riktigt ord för hur jag känner mej just nu, säger Tom direkt efter målgången på söndagseftermiddagen.
- Första gången i Rally Finland och seger! Jag har inte varit här tidigare, inte som åskådare ens, men visste att det är en frän tävling med sina snabba vägar och många krön. Nu kan jag intyga att det stämmer, även om det fanns partier med smalare och sämre väg.
- Allt har gått enligt plan för oss, inte ett misstag eller missöde, inga punkteringar trots att det fanns en del uppkörda stenar.
- Henrik har gjort ett kanonjobb, man måste verkligen kunna lita på noterna när det går fullt över krönen, avslutar Tom, innan det är tid för honom och Henrik att möta fansen på plats.

Efter fredagens sträckor ledde Tom och Henrik med 24,2 sek. över Jan Solans och 28,0 sek. över det andra svenska ekipaget, och en av huvudkonkurrenterna, Dennis Rådström. Det var tätt i toppen med 6 förare inom en minut.

Lördagen blev dramatisk, och de snabba finska grusvägarna krävde sina offer. Först försvann estländaren Martins Sesks, sedan i tur och ordning finnarna Sami Pajari och Aluksi Röyhkiö, Julius Tannert och den andre estländaren Roland Poom efter avåkningar. Samtliga kunde dock starta om på söndagen enligt de s.k. Rally 2 reglerna, dock med tidstillägg. På lördagskvällen, efter 19 specialsträckor, var ledningen för Tom och Henrik 25,2 sek. före Dennis Rådström och 1 min. 11 sek till Jan Solans, så det såg lovande ut för svensk dubbelseger.

Dramatiken uteblev inte heller på söndagen, då Dennis fick bryta på den 21:a sträckan med trasig kylare efter en avåkning. Det innebar att Roland Poom tog den tredje pallplatsen. Tom och Henrik tog även 8 sträcksegrar och de ger 8 extra poäng utöver de 25 man får för segern. Närmast var Dennis Rådström och Jan Solans med 5 sträcksegrar var.

I JWRC återtog nu Tom ledning på 95 poäng, Jan Solans har 94 och Dennis Rådström 61 poäng. I den sista deltävlingen, Wales Rally GB i början av oktober, är det dubbla poäng, både för placering och för sträcksegrar, så än är det inte avgjort vem som blir årets vinnare i JWRC.
19-08-04 Tänak wins Rally Finland to stretch WRC points lead
Back-to-back victories on Sunday create gap at the head of the championship. Ott Tänak secured back-to-back Neste Rally Finland victories on Sunday to create daylight between himself and his rivals at the head of the FIA World Rally Championship.

His third win from the last four rallies, by 25.6sec from home hero Esapekka Lappi, opened a 22-point lead over reigning champion Sébastien Ogier in his quest for a maiden title.

Tänak’s success banished memories of the crushing disappointment last time out in Italy, when broken steering on his Toyota Yaris deprived him of victory a handful of kilometres from the finish.

Finland is the fastest event on the WRC calendar. Smooth gravel roads that wind around forests and lakes near Jyväskylä, huge jumps and blind corners over crests demand the utmost bravery - and this year’s encounter did not disappoint.

Roared on by thousands of Estonian fans who crossed the Baltic Sea to support him, Tänak shrugged off the disadvantage of opening Friday’s slippery roads to fight tooth and nail with team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke and Citroën C3 pilot Lappi.

Fractions of a second blanketed the quartet until Latvala and Meeke hit the same rogue rock on Saturday and fell away, while Lappi could not match Tänak’s pace.

Tänak eased through Sunday’s short final leg and ensured a maximum score by winning the Wolf Power Stage to gain five bonus points.

“It's been a big weekend. I believe the summer break came at the right time as I was really devastated after Italy. Now we got the perfect result and we need to continue in the same way. There are still five rallies to go, so there’s a big job to do,” he explained.

Second for 2017 rally winner Lappi represented a welcome return to form after a lean season. He finished 7.6sec clear of Latvala, who recovered his composure after his rock-bashing escapade which punctured a rear tyre.

Andreas Mikkelsen was another to rediscover his pace. Driving a Hyundai i20, he held off Ogier by 2.7sec to finish fourth. Ogier battled sickness for the final two days but fended off Craig Breen in their three-way fight.

Breen impressed on his first WRC drive in an i20 and the Irishman lent a helping hand to team-mate Thierry Neuville in the Belgian’s title bid. He deliberately incurred a 20sec penalty, allowing Neuville to leapfrog him into sixth and score extra points.

The championship reverts to asphalt in Germany later this month for the first time since March. ADAC Rallye Deutschland is based at Bostalsee on 22 - 25 August.

Final positions:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 2hr 30min 40.3sec
2. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Citroën C3 +25.6sec
3. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +33.2sec
4. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger NOR Hyundai i20 +53.4sec
5. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +56.1sec
6. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +1min 32.4sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 9 of 14)
1. O Tänak 180pts
2. S Ogier 158pts
3. T Neuville 155pts
19-08-04 Citroën´s flying finns grab second place!
Runners-up at their home round after a high quality performance in their C3 WRC, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm consolidated their pedigree as “Flying Finns”, the local crews who each year add another page to the history of this legendary event! Their performance, Citroën Total World Rally Team’s eighth podium of the season, was supplemented by a fine fifth place for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia who, in spite of the French driver having suffered physically yesterday, were determined to hang in there and claim precious points for the championship.

With the final leg starting with the stage on which they went off last year, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm knew that a tough job lay ahead of them today. Their off in 2018 also meant that they had no experience of driving the second stage of the loop at full speed. Totally in control of proceedings throughout the weekend in the C3 WRC, the Finns nonetheless had to show great steel today. After limiting the time lost on the first runs, whilst also confirming their pace notes, they then moved clear of the third-placed crew on the second pass. They went on to equal their best result so far with the Red Army (runners-up in Sweden) and secured a richly deserved podium at their home round, just rewards for their undeniable improvement!

This second podium of the season for the Lappi-Ferm crew, the sixth of their short WRC career, is also the eighth in nine rounds this season for the Citroën Total World Rally Team.

Esapekka and Janne showed their intentions right from the word go, setting the second fastest time – just a tenth down on the lead time – on the first proper stage (19.34km). They then confirmed their promising start as they made it to the end of the opening leg in third position, just 2.4s off the pace. Full of confidence in the C3 WRC on these roads that leave no room for hesitation, they went even better on Saturday’s leg. Two more stage wins (SS16 & SS18) amidst the four-way battle for the lead took them up to second place, with handy lead of 12.4s over the third-placed crew. An advantage that they managed masterfully on today’s short final leg, like a couple of seasoned campaigners!

Second on the road on Friday and therefore obliged to sweep the fine layer of loose gravel off the roads, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia managed to limit the time lost, ending day in seventh position, just 12.9s off the podium. Unfortunately, Sébastien then suffered a disrupted night’s sleep after falling ill and was forced to reset his sights for Saturday’s leg. He nonetheless showed great persistence and determination to fight against the exhaustion he felt and move up to fifth overall, within striking distance of fourth place. Having enjoyed a better night’s sleep, he went back on the offensive on Sunday with the same tenacity, but missed out on fourth place by just 2.7s. The points scored at this rally, including two bonus points earned in the Power Stage thanks to setting the fourth fastest time, mean he still lies second in the drivers’ championship and in contention for a seventh consecutive world title.

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a tough weekend for us. To be honest, I had higher expectations at the start. As always, I gave it absolutely everything. For sure, Saturday’s leg – when I was really low on energy – didn't help matters, but even today, when I felt better, unfortunately I wasn’t able to do more.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I’m very pleased for the team – they deserve this result for having been patient and supportive during the first part of the season, when things were difficult. We worked really hard – and well – together so that the C3 WRC suited my driving style more effectively, especially on the front diffs and I really felt full of confidence driving the car this weekend. I literally felt like I could do what I liked in it! From the first run in the shakedown, I knew that things were looking good. I now hope to keep up this level of performance for the rest of the season.”

What can you say about Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm’s performance this weekend?
Obviously, we are delighted to see them back near the top after an up-and-down first half of the season, when they struggled to turn their undeniable potential into results.We knew that they were extremely fast and we never doubted their ability to get back to where they belong. They just needed a bit of time to adjust to the car and get the most out of it. We have also tried to support them in managing this situation as best we could, and the relaxed attitude we’ve seen in them this weekend makes me think that the hard work done is beginning to pay dividends. It’s richly deserved for the commitment and trust they have placed in the team, day in, day out. But it’s also satisfying for everyone in the team, who continue to work relentlessly, without counting the hours... I have high hopes that they can keep up the momentum at the next few rounds.

Once again showing their incredible fighting spirit, Sébastien and Julien leave Finland with precious points in the battle for the drivers’ and co-drivers’ title…

Yes, even though they were definitely hoping for a better outcome, and so were we. But they didn't have an easy job in second position in the running order here, where there is a lot of loose gravel on the roads. And the very disrupted night between Friday and Saturday really knocked the stuffing out of Sébastien, just when he intended to try and make up lost ground. Despite all of this, they once again showed their legendary grit and tenacity, limiting the damage and remaining in with a very good chance of winning the championship. Sometimes, championships are won by making it to the end of difficult weekends like this one without suffering too much damage. In any case, we’ll be redoubling our efforts to ensure our crews have an even more competitive C3 WRC at the forthcoming rounds.

Christophe Witschi, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm’s race engineer, witnessed first-hand the race craft and assurance with which the Finns built their podium finish, particularly on Sunday morning when they put paid to Jari-Matti Latvala’s hopes of snatching second. He recalls the experience…

“Esapekka was very relaxed this morning and very clear about how he intended to manage his 12.4s lead today. He clearly said that on the first run on the first stage, he was going to ease off slightly on the corner where he went off last year, in order to avoid making the same mistake and that’s obviously what he did. The second stage of the loop was changed a bit last year so his off in 2018 was quite a disadvantage, as he had not driven it at full racing speed. Latvala, on the other hand, has driven this stage many times before, given that it has been used previously as the shakedown stage. But once again, Esapekka and Janne managed to deal with this handicap perfectly, before reminding their fellow countryman that he wasn’t going to catch them on the repeat of Laukaa! It was undoubtedly at least as impressive as their performance on Saturday afternoon when they moved ahead of Latvala.”

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:30.40.3
2. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +25.6
3. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +33.2
4. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +53.4
5. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +56.1
6. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:32.4
7. Breen / Nagle (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:38.2
8. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:33.8

1. Ott Tänak – 180 points
2. X. Sébastien Ogier – 158 points
3. Thierry Neuville – 155 points
4. Elfyn Evans – 78 points
5. Andreas Mikkelsen – 71 points
6. Teemu Suninen – 66 points
7. Kris Meeke – 60 points
8. Esapekka Lappi – 58 points
9. Jari-Matti Latvala – 56 points
10. Dani Sordo – 50 points
19-08-04 Imponerande debut av Kristoffersson
Debutanten Johan Kristoffersson imponerade stort i Rally Finland. Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS-föraren följde sin strategi till fulländning, gjorde inga misstag och slutade trea i WRC 2-klassen.
- På slutet matchade vi de allra snabbaste förarna. Det känns riktigt bra för att vara första gången i Finland, säger Kristoffersson.

De klassiska rallyvägarna runt Jyväskylä erbjuder den ultimata utmaningen och faktiskt kunde det ha tagit stopp för Johan och co-drivern Stig Rune Skjaermoen redan på shakedown i torsdags. En stor sten låg mitt i vägen när Volkswagen-duon dundrade fram i 160 km/h.
- Oljepumpen sprack och oljetråget plattades till. Jag trodde faktiskt det skulle vara slutkört där, men ett stort tack till teamet som gjorde att vi kunde genomföra tävlingen.

Johan var sedan snabbast på den korta sprintsträckan under torsdagskvällen, men fick en jobbigare fortsättning under fredags-etappen. Strategin var att öppna lite försiktigt för att lära känna vägarnas karaktär, men avståndet till de bästa blev onödigt stort.
- Lite frustrerande. Jag hade gärna kört lite fortare än vår plan, men det föll sig naturligt att det inte gick. Vägarna var så tuffa, med mycket spår och stenar, att vi helt enkelt inte kunde åka fortare.
Kristoffersson/Skjaermoen låg så långt femma i WRC 2 med sin Polo GTI R5 och det tuffa rallyt hade redan skördat en del offer bland konkurrenter som satsade hårdare från start.

Under lördagen skruvade Johan upp tempot ett snäpp och sänkte sina kilometer-tider jämfört med de allra snabbaste.
- Med en dag i ryggen och bredare vägar som passade mig bättre så kändes det riktigt riktigt bra, menar Kristoffersson, som låg trea inför söndagens avslutande fyra sträckor.

Under slutetappen matchade han ettan och tvåan i WRC 2, Nikolay Gryazin och Jari Huttunen, och var inte heller långt efter vinnaren i WRC 2 Pro, Kalle Rovanperä.
- Det har stadigt gått bättre och bättre. Jag är mycket nöjd med vår progression.

Belöningen blev en tredjeplats, den andra pallplatsen på två försök i årets VM-serie. Johan slutade trea även i Rally Sweden i februari.

Helgen i Finland gav mycket bra erfarenhet till Kristoffersson, efter en påfrestning både för kropp och huvud.
- Drygt 30 mil specialsträckor. Det känns bra att få med sig, men det är tufft. Fyra långa dagar när man kliver upp sex på morgonen lägger sig vid ett på natten.

Teamchefen Tommy Kristoffersson följde rallyt hemma i Arvika och kunde nöjt konstatera att adepten utfört sitt uppdrag till fullo.
- Jag var lite tveksam när Johan sa att han ville köra i Finland, men med facit i hand så blev det mycket bra, som ett rejält träningsläger med många mil i kroppen, säger Tommy och berömmer hela staben.
- Väldigt proffsigt hanterat av alla som var där.
Särskilt vill han ändå lyfta fram co-drivern Stig Rune Skjaermoen.
- Det kräver mycket för att kunna läsa noter i det tempot. En stor eloge till Stig Rune för att han antog den utmaningen.

Samarbetet mellan 33-åringen från Elverum och 30-åringen från Arvika fick sig ytterligare en finputsning under svåra förhållanden.
- När det går 190 över ett krön är det bra att veta var det svänger efteråt, konstaterar Johan Kristoffersson, som härnäst blickar mot fortsättningen i SM, med Kolsvarundan som nästa punkt på programmet.
- Nu har vi fått en bra genomkörare och kan fokusera på de svenska tävlingarna framöver.
19-08-04 Imponerende prestasjon og knallsterk 4 plass i Finland for Andreas Mikkelsen
Endelig stemte alt for Andreas i Finland, og i ettermiddag kjørte han inn til en fjerdeplass sammenlagt i Rally Finland. Og han kunne ikke vært mer fornøyd med en fjerdeplass. «I dag kjennes det som en plass på pallen, endelig har vi knekt Rally Finland koden» sa Andreas etter målgang.

Etter 23 fartsetapper og en utrolig spennende fight med Sebastien Ogier om fjerdeplassen, var det til slutt Andreas Mikkelsen og Anders Jaeger-Amland som trakk det lengste strået og tok fjerdeplassen, 2,7 sekunder før franskmannen. Før den siste fartsprøven var det 2,2 sekunder mellom de to, men nordmannen var raskest og sikret seg i tillegg 3 ekstra bonuspoeng for tredjetid på Power Stage.

«Denne fjerde-plassen kjennes akkurat ut som en pall-plass i dag! Rally Finland har aldri vært vårt sterkeste rally, men nå tror jeg at vi har knekt koden. Når vi i tillegg slår verdensmester Ogier i en tett fight, så er det en ekstra bonus. Jeg må takke alle i teamet som har jobbet så hardt det siste halve året, både med forbedringer av bilen men også med å få den til å passe bedre med meg. Det har de klart med glans, denne helgen stemte alt, og da var det bare å kjøre på.»

Rally Finland kjøres på super-raske grusveier og er kjent for sine mange store og små hopp, hvor mange av de ender opp i en krapp sving som man ikke ser før man omtrent lander. Den høye hastigheten gjør at tidsforskjellene ikke nødvendigvis blir så store, men henger man ikke med så faller man fort ned på resultatlista.

Etter fredagens etapper lå Andreas og Anders på en sjette plass totalt, men det var utrolig tett i teten. Kun 15 sekunder skilte mellom topp 7 førerne. Lørdag overtok de femte plassen allerede etter dagens første prøve, og den spennende og tette kampen om fjerdeplassen var i gang. Andreas og Anders var raskeste bil gjennom lørdagen’s siste prøve, og startet siste dagen fortsatt på fjerde plass. Søndag ble nok en super-søndag, og de klarte å holde franskmannen bak seg. #Team89 ble beste Hyundai, og sikret dermed viktige poeng i VM-sammendraget.

«Det er en drøm å kjøre Rally Finland når alt stemmer. Det går så fort, og når du bare svever over hoppene, det er en helt fantastisk følelse, det er helt rått! Når vi i tillegg klarer å holde verdensmesteren Ogier bak oss i en ordentlig fight, det er nesten som å vinne. Denne god-følelsen er viktig å ta med seg videre, nå blir det fullt fokus på neste løp! Og kanskje litt fysio, alle landingene kjennes i ryggen akkurat nå.»

Resultat Rally Finland 2019
1 Tanak
2 Lappi +25,6
3 Latvala +33,2
4 Mikkelsen +53,4
5 Ogier +56,1
6 Neuville +1.32,4
7 Breen +1.38,2
19-08-04 Nostalgitrippen blev en tung historia i Rally Finland för Flodin och Bergsten
Det finska VM-rallyt blev en tung historia för Patrik Flodin, Ilsbo MK, och hans co-driver Göran Bergsten, Forshaga MC.Tillsammans med MAX PRM fick de chansen att göra comeback i Rally Finland. Målet var att få många mil i kroppen under premiären med R5-bilen där. Men med en punktering på fredagen, brutet rally på lördagen med bränslestopp och inkastad handduk för gott med trasig hjulupphängning under söndagen blev rallyt en tung historia.
– Rally Finland var inte vårt rally den här gången helt enkelt, säger Patrik.

Målsättningen var att gå ut i ett lite lugnare tempo och successivt förbättra tiderna på andra vändan. Och det var just vad Patrik och Göran gjorde under fredagen. De noterade runt åttonde-tionde tid på sträckorna. Dessvärre fick de inte köra så många sträckor efter serviceuppehållet.

Två av sträckorna ströks under eftermiddagen för deras del. Trots att de låg före Johan Kristoffersson och hade noterat de flesta sträcktider bättre än honom, var deras idealtid sämre så de tappade sin tiondeplats.
– Det var ingen fara med det. Planen är att köra tillbaka den tiden, sa Patrik.

Tyvärr sprack planen när de på sjunde sträckan drog på sig en punktering som kostade en massa tid. Men de två övriga sträckorna som de körde en andra gång förbättrade de sina tider på.

Under lördagen gick Patrik och Göran ut som tia bland alla R5-bilar på SS12. De satte två nya åttondetider och avancerade upp till åttondeplats i resultatlistan. Men på transporten ut till SS14 tog det stopp.
– När vi tankade bad vi om 40 liter, men en kommunikationsmiss gjorde att de tyckte vi sa 14. De tankade 14 liter och vi skrev in 40. Därför sa mätaren att vi hade bränsle kvar, medan vi helt enkelt fick soppatorsk. Riktigt surt, säger Patrik besviket.

De startade om idag, söndag, med superrallyregler och 45 minuter i tidstillägg. Men de hann bara köra en sträcka innan hjulupphängningen rasade på transporten ut till SS21. En bult till bärarmen hade lossnat och det tog tvärstopp.
– Det är ändå tur i oturen att det hände i en korsning på transporten. Bulten är helt borta så vi tappade hjulupphängningen i 30 km i timmen. Det kunde lika gärna hänt i 160 km inne ute på sträckan. Ingenting är trasigt, men vi hittar inte bulten, säger Patrik.

Därmed var Rally Finland färdigkört. Killarna fick bara köra 12 av 23 sträckorna den här gången.

Men som vanligt har stämningen varit hög i bilen:
– Det har varit kul, lite som en nostalgitripp. Vi blev bättre och bättre ju längre vi åkte. Surt att vi inte fick köra fler kilometer bara. Det var helt enkelt inte vår tävling det här, säger Göran.

Patrik är självklart mycket besviken, men samtidigt är han tacksam över att ha fått möjligheten att köra i Finland igen:
– Det var fantastiskt kul att få vara tillbaka. Det är verkligen ett av värdens häftigaste och fränaste rallyn. Vi har haft jäkligt kul i bilen. Synd bara att vi inte hann få fler kilometer så vi kunde börja bygga upp ordentligt med fart. Det hade vi behövt inför Kolsvarundan. Rally Finland var inte vårt rally den här gången helt enkelt, avslutar han.

Nästa rally för Patrik, Göran och MAX RPMs del är SM-deltävlingen Kolsvarundan som körs 16-17 augusti.

Mer info hittar du på där vi följt Patrik, Göran och de andra förarna i R5 sträcka för sträcka.
19-08-03 Tänak in charge after furious Rally Finland fight
Estonian driver Ott Tänak led Neste Rally Finland on Saturday night.
Ott Tänak led Neste Rally Finland on Saturday night after a rogue rock ruined an incredible three-way fight for supremacy at the FIA World Rally Championship’s fastest round.

The series leader completed the penultimate leg of the four-day event with a 16.4sec advantage in his Toyota Yaris over Esapekka Lappi. Tänak’s team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala, trailed the Citroën C3 driver by 12.4sec in third.

Finland’s fast and furious Friday turned into a super speed Saturday as just six-tenths of a second blanketed leader Latvala, Tänak and the third Yaris of Kris Meeke this morning as Toyota Gazoo Racing controlled this ninth round of the season.

It all went wrong in the blisteringly fast Kakaristo special stage where Latvala punctured his rear left tyre and Meeke retired with broken rear left suspension after both struck the same rock shortly before the midpoint.

“It happened on a small road at a right corner,” said Latvala. “There was concrete there last year so I had my note.

“They had removed the concrete so I made my note a bit faster and that was my mistake. I went a little bit into the ditch but there was a stone the size of a head there.”

Finn Latvala, who had lost and then regained his overnight lead from Tänak over the previous two tests, dropped more than 14sec. The Estonian’s advantage was sufficient to be able to moderate his pace over the afternoon’s heavily rutted sections.

“It’s been a good clean day for us. It started with quite a big push but this afternoon has been a clean run. It’s nice to have some breathing space. Yesterday and this morning the time gaps were all 0.something,” said Tänak, who won three stages.

Lappi, who appeared to be dropping away from the lead fight this morning, upped his speed this afternoon. He won two tests to overhaul Latvala for second, his rival aware he could not afford further mistakes in Toyota’s quest for the manufacturers’ title.

While one battle ended, the fight for fourth intensified. Andreas Mikkelsen, Hyundai i20 team-mate Craig Breen and champion Sébastien Ogier, who had been up all night with sickness, swapped places on virtually every stage.

Each enjoyed a spell at the head of the trio but as the rally returned to Jyväskylä after almost 133km of relentless action, Mikkelsen headed Ogier by 2.6sec, with Breen 6.0sec back.

Two runs of Laukaa (11.75km) and the big jumps of Ruuhimäki (11.12km) decide the rally on Sunday over 45.74km. The second pass of Ruuhimäki forms the Wolf Power Stage, with bonus points for the fastest five drivers.

Leading positions after leg 2:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 2hr 08min 49.4sec
2. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Citroën C3 +16.4sec
3. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +28.8sec
4. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +50.5sec
5. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +53.1sec
6. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +59.1sec
19-08-03 Lappi-Ferm move into second position in the C3 WRC
One of the big movers on Saturday’s leg, notably grabbing two stage wins, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm climbed to second overall and are now ideally placed to claim the C3 WRC’s eighth podium of the season. Despite suffering the effects of overnight illness, Sébastien Ogier nonetheless managed to make up two positions, to end the day fifth overall. He and Julien Ingrassia now have their eyes set on fourth place…

A combination of iconic, ultra-fast stages (Päijälä and Kakaristo) and other more technical tests (Leustu and Pihlajakoski), with almost ten new kilometres on the latter, day two promised to be the biggest challenge of the weekend. Its length (132.98 kilometres of timed stages) and the range of difficulties featured were only exacerbated by the intensity of the battle at the front.

In these testing conditions, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm once again produced a talented, masterful performance in the C3 WRC. Whilst keeping the second-placed crew under pressure in the morning loop, notably with two second fastest times, they upped the pace again in the afternoon. Perfectly at one with the French WRC on these roads, which call for total confidence behind the wheel,the Finns won the opening stage of the second loop (SS16) to move into second place, and hold honorary first place among the Finnish crews, always highly motivated at home. They subsequently went on to consolidate their position throughout the rest of the day, taking another stage win on Kakaristo (18.70km), the modern version of the legendary Ouninpohja stage. Now 12.4s ahead of their nearest rival and 16.4s behind the leader, they will head into tomorrow’s short final leg in a good position to equal their best result so far with Citroën (runners-up in Sweden).

Decidedly off colour after being up all night with sickness, Sébastien Ogier –perfectly supported by his loyal co-driver Julien Ingrassia – nonetheless remained determined to achieve his aim of moving up the standings. The six-time world champions’ efforts were rewarded as they moved up from seventh to fifth overall on the day’s third stage. They even managed, albeit briefly, to snatch fourth place in the afternoon after setting the second fastest time on SS16, proof of their unwavering commitment and the competitiveness of the C3 WRC at this event. Although they were unable to hold onto the place until the end of the leg, you can be sure that Sébastien will spend tonight resting and recharging his batteries, before attempting to make up the 2.6s that he needs to reclaim fourth place.

Sunday’s fairly short (45.74 kilometres in four stages) final leg looks set to provide plenty of action again. The highlight will undoubtedly be the impressive, seemingly never-ending series of jumps on Ruuhimäki: one of the ultimate challenges in rallying!

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Esapekka and Janne once again had a perfect leg, managing to improve their position in the standings after what was yet another intense day of racing. Apart from their undoubted speed, they have shown great race management and maturity, pushing when the time was right. Finishing on the podium at their home round would be just rewards for their very strong performance. Sébastien has nothing to be ashamed of either, especially given his condition. I am sure that tomorrow, along with Julien, he’ll give it absolutely everything, as usual, to come away from this round with the maximum number of points.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I'm pleased that it’s over because I was running really low on energy this afternoon. I can't wait to get to bed, to be honest. I had to really push myself all day so I'm glad to have made it through the leg without making any mistakes because it was sometimes very difficult to keep up the concentration. Tomorrow will be another day and I hope that I will be able to recover sufficiently tonight so that I can do myself justice and fight all the way to the finish.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Obviously, it's been a very positive day for us! After what happened in the morning loop, I was expecting to suffer on the second runs on these wide and fast stages, but I really went for it and it has worked out pretty well for me so far. We found the right balance to push without overdriving the stages or drifting outside of the lines. I’m going to continue at the same pace tomorrow and am absolutely determined to secure the result.”

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:08:49.4
2. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +16.4
3. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +28.8
4. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +50.5
5. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +53.1
6. Breen / Nagle (Hyundai i20 WRC) +59.1
7. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:19.3
8. Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:05.3
9. Greensmith / Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:09.7
19-08-03 Home hero Latvala grabs slim Friday lead in Rally Finland thriller
Meeke, Lappi and Tanak close behind as Ogier and Neuville stay in hunt. Jari-Matti Latvala held a slender Neste Rally Finland lead on Friday night after a remarkable opening leg which ended with the top four drivers blanketed by just 2.6sec.

Home hero Latvala won six of the day's 10 speed tests in forests around Jyväskylä, but such was the speed of Finland’s fast and furious Friday that the Toyota Yaris driver never broke free of the chasing pack.

Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Kris Meeke ended 1.2sec behind the Finn. Esapekka Lappi, driving a Citroën C3, showed a welcome return to form to hold third, a similar margin behind and two-tenths ahead of FIA World Rally Championship leader Ott Tänak.

Despite starting first on the slippery gravel tracks, Tänak overcame a lack of grip to lead throughout the morning, although the Estonian's advantage never rose above 5.4sec. His cause was aided by left-sided punctures for both Latvala and Meeke.

As the tracks became rutted and even more challenging this afternoon, Tänak yielded his advantage to Latvala, who had the best start position of the quartet. The battle was so close that at one point Latvala led by just six-tenths, with the three chasers tied in second!

The omens are good for Latvala. In 15 out of the last 16 years, Friday night's leader has gone on to win.

"There were couple of stages where I was a little bit down but generally I was able to keep the performance. When you are fighting all the time you have big pressure, and being able to keep fighting is the main thing. Tomorrow will be a big battle," he said.

Best of the rest was Craig Breen, the Irishman hugely impressive on his first appearance in a Hyundai i20 in the WRC. He delivered a string of second fastest times, but lost valuable seconds this afternoon when his car's bonnet came loose and obscured his visibility.

He ended 14.2sec from the lead and 0.4sec ahead of team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, who also won a stage. Championship leader Sébastien Ogier was seventh in a C3, the Frenchman only 0.7sec adrift but admitting he could not match the pace of title rival Tänak.

Thierry Neuville, the third of the title tussling trio, was eighth. The Belgian's pre-event test was held in the rain and his original rally set-up proved too soft. He made changes at mid-leg service but ended more than half a minute off the lead.

Saturday comprises almost 133km of relentless action, spanning more than 14 hours on roads around Jämsa. A loop of four tests is driven morning and afternoon, featuring some of the fastest and most spectacular action of the rally.

Rally Finland standings after Friday:
1. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila FIN Toyota 1:04:01.1
2. Kris Meeke/Sebastian Marshall GBR Toyota +1.2
3. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm FIN Citroen +2.4
4. Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja EST Toyota +2.6
5. Craig Breen/Paul Nagle IRL Hyundai +14.2
6. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger NOR Hyundai +14.6
7. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia FRA Citroen +15.1
8. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul BEL Hyundai +30.9
19-08-02 The C3 WRC fights for the lead with Lappi-Ferm!
Totally at ease in the C3 WRC at their home round, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm ended today’s opening leg third overall and are well placed to potentially challenge for overall victory. With very little between the times of the leading crews, the top four separated by just 2.6s, Ogier and Ingrassia ended day one seventh overall – despite the disadvantage of their road position – just 12.9s off the podium.

After a super-special stage kicked off the rally in the streets of Jyväskylä yesterday evening, the competitors got down to the serious business today, with an opening leg over a competitive distance of 126.55km, held on the slipperiest and most technical stages of the weekend.

Local heroes Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm performed brilliantly all day in their C3 WRC, proving to be the only crew able to thwart the local manufacturer’s plans to dominate. After setting a second fastest time on the day’s opening test, just a tenth of a second off the pace, the Finns made it to the mid-leg service in fourth position, 6.9s behind the leader. They went even better in the afternoon as they upped their game. Three consecutive second fastest times, each time less than six tenths off the stage-winning time, saw them briefly move into second place before ending the day in third overall, just 2.4s off the lead. An impressive performance that augurs very well for the winners of the 2017 Rally Finland, with tomorrow featuring certain stages that the pair particularly like.

Forced to run second on the road, and therefore to contend with sweeping loose gravel off the road, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia nonetheless reiterated their determination to score heavily this weekend, immediately grabbing fifth place. Although they had dropped down to seventh position by the end of the second loop, which was even more of a serious disadvantage for the early runners, they are still just 1.1s adrift of fifth position and 12.9 off the podium. Their position in tomorrow's running order (4th) should enable them to express themselves better in the C3 WRC, which is undeniably competitive on the local roller-coaster roads!

With the gaps recorded between the leading crews at the end of this opening leg, day two promises to be explosive! Tomorrow’s leg is also the longest of the rally, over a competitive distance of 132.98 kilometres. Contested on wider, harder roads than today, day two will see the crews tackle two runs on Kakaristo (18.70km), the modern, shorter version of the iconic Ouninpohja stage.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Immediately on the pace, Esapekka and Janne managed the impressive feat of upping their game again in the afternoon. They are now ideally placed to fight their corner in what looks like being an almighty scrap for the win. At their home round, they clearly enjoyed themselves in the C3 WRC, whilst also keeping a cool head, and they undoubtedly have the talent to keep it up. It also confirms the very good preparation work done before the event by the entire team. Meanwhile, Sébastien and Julien had a bit more trouble with being among the first few crews on the road, but the gaps are so small that anything is still possible for them too, especially as they have already proven many times before that they are real fighters – they won’t give an inch right to the finish line.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I think we had a very good day. I was comfortable in the C3 WRC, but our position in the running order certainly didn't make our lives any easier. I would’ve loved to end this first day in a better position so we could start further down the running order tomorrow, but I will at least have more cars ahead of me than today. It’s still very tight, so we have to keep pushing as hard as we can. We're still in the fight to score some big points.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It’s good to be back among the frontrunners and on the pace, especially at this rally, which means so much to us as Finns! My C3 WRC was perfect today and I really enjoyed driving on these stages. It’s crazy that the gaps are so small after such a long day. It looks like it will be a huge battle at the front tomorrow, but you can count on us to keep fighting!”

Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:04:01.1
Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.2
Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +2.4
Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.6
Breen / Nagle (Hyundai i20 WRC) +14.2
Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +14.6
Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +15.3
Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +30.9
Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +52.6
Greensmith / Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:38.3
19-08-01 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson laddade inför Rally Finland
Ikväll startar den finska deltävlingen i Rally-VM, tävlingen är den fjärde och näst sista i årets Junior-VM där Torsbys Dennis Rådström ligger på en tredjeplats tillsammans med sin kartläsare Johan Johansson från Valdemarsvik. Det är tredje gången som Dennis och Johan ställer upp i tävlingen.

– Vi är riktigt laddade inför tävlingen, och det ska bli skönt att komma igång igen efter ett litet uppehåll sedan Italien i våras, säger Dennis.
– Det finska rallyt är en tävling alla drömmer om att få göra någon gång i sitt liv, och att vara här för tredje gången känns jättekul, säger Johan.

När mästerskapet nu går in i sluttampen ligger Dennis och Johan trea i tabellen, 15 poäng efter ledande Jan Solans.
– Vi är i det läget av säsongen där alla behöver ett bra resultat, det är viktigare än någonsin att ta sig i mål och få med poängen. Det märks av. Men vi har bra erfarenhet sedan tidigare och vet vad som väntar, fortsätter Dennis.

Finska VM-rally brukar kallas Formel 1 på grus, på grund av sina breda, snabba vägar med spektakulära hopp. Där rutin kan spela en avgörande roll.
– Vi har vart här innan och gjort misstagen, men vi lärt oss av dom och ser fram mot fräna, snabba vägar där man måste hålla tungan rätt i mun.
– Det är klart att man alltid vill vinna, men vi ska köra vårt race och göra allt vi kan. Gör vi det så vet vi att det kommer bli ett bra resultat, avslutar Johan.

Rally Finland startar på torsdag kväll men en sträcka inne i Jyväskylä, tävlingen går i mål på söndag efter totalt 23 sträckor. Dennis och Johan tävlar i Junior WRC, där alla ekipage tävlar i identiska Ford Fiesta R2T MK8 från M-Sport Polen.
19-07-31 WRC’s big three resume thrilling title fight in Finland after break
Just seven points separate Ott Tänak, Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville. The closest FIA World Rally Championship title fight for years resumes on Finland’s iconic roller-coaster roads this weekend with little more than a handful of points blanketing the leading trio of drivers.

Ott Tänak, six-time champion Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville, whose electrifying battle for last year’s crown went down to the final morning of the concluding round, are staging a reprise that could yet exceed 2018 for excitement.

The series restarts after a mid-season break at Neste Rally Finland (1 - 4 August) with just seven points covering them. Tänak, with three 2019 wins to his credit, heads Ogier, twice a victor, by four points. Double winner Neuville lies three points further back.

Finland is the fastest event on the calendar and a jewel in the WRC’s crown. Smooth gravel roads that wind around forests and lakes near Jyväskylä, huge jumps and blind corners over crests demand bravery and pin-point accuracy in the delivery of pace notes.

Tänak is eager to put the crushing disappointment of last month’s Rally Italia Sardegna behind him, when broken steering on his Toyota Yaris deprived him of a third straight win in the closing kilometres.

He warmed up with victory on the non-championship Rally Estonia and is hot favourite to defend his 2018 win on roads in his Toyota Gazoo Racing team’s back yard.

“We will try to achieve the same result this year, but it looks as though it will be more difficult as we will be running first on the road on Friday,” said the 31-year-old Estonian.

“Three weeks ago we took part in Rally Estonia and it was great to win the rally again in front of so many fans, but it was also a really good test for Finland. I believe we learned a lot, so I’m feeling well prepared.”

Ogier’s Citroën C3 boasts a front-axle upgrade, which increases set-up options while Neuville took on a new role in the break after becoming a father for the first time to daughter Camille.

The Belgian has been supported by a rotating cast of drivers this season and Irishman Craig Breen is the latest to join the list in a Hyundai i20. At M-Sport Ford, Gus Greensmith makes his second top-flight appearance in a Fiesta in place of Elfyn Evans, who is sidelined with a back injury.

Hayden Paddon, overlooked by Hyundai despite finishing fourth last year, landed a one-off Fiesta drive, only for his plans to go awry when he crashed heavily in testing on Monday and he will not start.

The rally opens with a spectacular street stage in Jyväskylä on Thursday night and drivers face 23 tests covering 307.58km before Sunday afternoon’s finish.
19-07-30 Tom och Henrik redo för fjärde deltävlingen i JWRC, Neste Rally Finland
Efter ett sommaruppehåll är nu Tom Kristensson, SMK Hörby, och Henrik Appelskog, Östergyllens RC, på plats i Jyväskylä inför legendariska VM-tävlingen Neste Rally Finland, den fjärde deltävlingen i årets JWRC, Junior VM, och den nionde i WRC.

Den finska deltävlingen är känd för snabba vägar med många krön och hopp, och kallas inte för inte för Formula 1 på grus. Förra året förnyades sträckorna med 65 % för att få ner medelhastigheten, men det går ändå fortfarande fort och med spektakulära krön och hopp. Årets sträckor är med vissa mindre förändringar samma som 2018.

Man skall avverka 23 specialsträckor på sammanlagt knappt 31 mil, med start på torsdag kväll med en kort sträcka i de centrala delarna av Jyväskylä. Målgång är på söndag eftermiddag.

Tom och Henrik har en andra plats i JWRC, 9 poäng efter ledande spanjoren Jan Solans och 6 poäng före sin svenske kollega Dennis Rådström. För Jan och Tom är det första starten i Rally Finland, medan Dennis har 2 starter sedan tidigare.
- Jag har tävlat en gång tidigare i Finland, det var i en deltävling Volvo Original Sverigeserien 2014 med en Volvo 940, det är den erfarenhet jag har av finska vägar, säger Tom
- Men jag trivs på de snabba vägarna och karaktären här. Lite av samma karaktär som i Lettland, där vi kört två gånger med bra resultat. Av det vi hittills sett under rekognoseringen, så är det fina sträckor, precis som vi förväntat oss. Dessutom är hela atmosfären fantastisk här, kanske inte konstigt med tanke på hur stor rallysporten är i Finland, och alla de stjärnor de har och har haft, fortsätter Tom.
- Det gäller även att lita på noterna när det går fort över blinda krön, och att placera bilen rätt på vägen före krönen för att landa rätt efter. Då känns det tryggt att ha Henrik vid sin sida, det är ju tredje säsongen vi åker ihop, så vi vet hur vi vill ha det.
- Det här skall bli häftigt och, så får vi, som vanligt, till en bra känsla kan det här bli riktigt bra och framför allt skoj!

Förutom de tre i toppen finns det flera kandidater till topplaceringar bland de 14 ekipagen i startfältet., som alla tävlar i identiska bilar, Ford Fiesta R2 T från M-Sport. Estländaren Roland Poom, som ligger på fjärde plats, förra årets segrare i JERC, letten Martins Seks, som dock inte fått till det riktigt i år, är båda vana vid snabba vägar från tävlingarna i sina hemländer. Även segraren på Korsika, tysken Julius Tannert, och rumänen Raul Badiu, som förbättrat sina placeringar efterhand är inte ofarliga.

Spännande starter gör två nytillkomna finländare, Sami Pajari, som vunnit Flying Finn Future Star Award, och Aluksi Röyhkio. Som hemmaförare kan de mycket väl överraska.
19-07-30 Johan tar sig an finsk fartfest
Rallyvärldens största fartfest är nästa tuffa utmaning för Johan Kristoffersson. Dubble rallycrossvärldsmästaren gör kommande helg debut i Rally Finland. Johan kommer att flyga fram på klassiska rallysträckor med sin Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 i WRC 2-klassen.
- De som har kört här tidigare säger att det är roligaste rallyt i världen, om man känner sig trygg i bilen. Gör man inte det är det värsta rallyt, säger en förväntansfull Kristoffersson.

Johan gör sin andra VM-start för året; den första innebar en tredjeplats i Rally Sweden i februari. Stallchefen i Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS, Tommy Kristoffersson, förklarar:
- Vi hade tre alternativ för nästa VM-start, Finland, Tyskland eller Wales och Johan ville helst köra Finland, som träning inför avslutningen av rally-SM.
En inställning som teamchefen har full förståelse för:
- Alla som åker biltävlingar vill förstås köra i Jyväskylä.

Johan besökte ”tusen sjöars rally” som åskådare 2017 och vet vad som väntar.
- Helt klart annorlunda mot rallyn i Sverige. Det går mycket snabbare med många krön. Raka hopp är inget större problem, men här är det många svängar över krön. Det svåra är att förstå hur mycket det kommer att lyfta när man kommer i full fart, jämfört med vad man kan uppfatta under recce, förklarar 30-åringen från Arvika.

Det höga tempot kommer också att kräva en annan set-up på bilen jämfört med SM-tävlingarna i Sverige.
- Det blir intressant. Vi får börja om från noll och försöka hitta karakteristiken för de finländska vägarna. Men jag har min ingenjör från Volkswagen på plats. Han har bra erfarenhet för det här.
Richard Browne blir en viktig kugge i teamet, liksom förstås co-drivern Stig Rune Skjaermoen, som ska hjälpa Johan att hitta ett lagom tempo för en nybörjare på de finländska vägarna.
- Det gäller att inte överladda, utan lära sig steg för steg, säger Johan, som sög åt sig information under det officiella testet för WRC 2 på måndagen.
- Vi hade en mycket produktiv och bra dag.

Kristoffersson får också extra hjälp under rekognoseringen i form av stallkamraten Ole Christian Veiby och hans rutinerade co-driver Jonas Andersson. Veiby ligger trea i WRC 2-klassen totalt, men står över tävlingen i Finland.
Efter sin enda VM-start ligger Kristoffersson längre ner i sammandraget, men poäng och placering är inte intressant för honom eller teamet.
- Vi har inga förväntningar på resultat och jag litar på att Johan är vuxen nog att inte försöka slå världsrekord direkt, säger Tommy Kristoffersson, men stallchefen vet förstås också vad det innebär att ha en vinnarskalle sittande bakom ratten.
- I motorsport finns inga garantier och självklart tänder han till när det blir grönt ljus och vill göra ett bra resultat.

Neste Rally Finland inleds med en sträcka på torsdag kväll och avslutas med power stage Ruuhimäki på söndag eftermiddag.
19-07-29 Rally Finland notebook & Citroën secrets
46th Rally Finland (1 – 4 August) – Story
Esapekka Lappi’s co-driver talked to us about his special relationship with Rally Finland.
How old were you when you went to your first Rally Finland?
“I'm told that I was three years old, in 1983, when I first came to Rally Finland. But the first memories that I have go back to 1985 or 86, during the golden era of the Group B cars. We used to camp in the forest and I can still hear the sweet noise of the exhausts back firing at daybreak! My dad was a co-driver on little local rallies back then, so I went along with him on the majority of the racing weekends. That was my hobby for many years.”

Did you become a co-driver to follow in the footsteps of your father?
“Maybe or perhaps it was because I didn't know how to drive! To be honest, I never dreamed of becoming a racing driver. Perhaps I have the right brain for it, but I obviously don't have the talent in my hands. Like all Finns, I’ve obviously had a go at driving on frozen lakes, but if you lose control of the car on the gravel roads here, then you’re better off keeping out of the forests!”

You’ve just reached the 100 rally mark with Esapekka in Estonia. Had you thought about turning professional one day?
“It probably seems a bit odd, but I never saw things like that. I got into rallying because I thought it was fun and being paid to do something you enjoy is even better. With Esapekka, we said we would try and go as far as possible and be as professional as we could. We’ve already come a long way together, although we have to keep working hard and fine-tuning the slightest details, so we can continue to improve.”

What did it feel like when you won the 2017 Rally Finland?
“Oh my God! It all went by so quickly, in my mind. When we lined up the start in 2017, we knew we had the speed. What we didn't know was whether we could be consistent throughout the weekend. In the end, we did have the consistency needed to win this rally. We had dreamed so much about winning it. It’s difficult to put what went through my mind into words… it’s OUR rally, where we were born. It’s also special because this event is like no other, where you just get this magical feeling from driving flat out and flying from one jump to the next.”

What is your favourite stage?
“I’ve always loved the long version of Ouninpohja. It’s the ultimate challenge.”

Which spectator spot would you recommend?
“The crossing on Kakaristo, which is the shortened version of the Ouninpohja stage. There are always a lot of fans and a great atmosphere. One day, after I retire, I would love to go there as a fan!”

Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made their world championship debut in a Citroën C2 R2 Max at the 2011 Rally Finland. Esapekka recalls...
“Obviously, I still have some very good memories from that year, especially as we finished first in our category after winning eleven out of the twenty-two stages. And yet we drove 70% of Saturday’s leg with a clutch issue. I lost time at the start as I was fearful of going flat out. Afterwards, I managed to go for it in the big ruts that had appeared by the time we were on stage, given our position way down the running order. It was our own car. I went to pick it up at Satory in 2010 and that was the first time I had visited the plant! I remember how impressed I was by the enthusiasm of the fans and the number of spectators, even on the road sections. For us, coming from the Finnish championship, it really was a whole new level.”
19-07-26 The C3 WRC all set to show off its acrobatic talents
As is traditional, the WRC returns to action after the summer break at Rally Finland, one of the highlights of the season, for round nine of the championship. Ultra-fast stages on roller-coaster roads provide a unique challenge, and Citroën Total World Rally Team crews Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm, both former winners of the prestigious event, will be determined to keep their run of podium finishes going here.

Runners-up last year, with a total of five stage wins, the C3 WRC was the only car able to disrupt the domination of the local team. Having already secured seven podiums this season, including two wins (Monte-Carlo and Mexico), the Citroën-developed machine will be taking on this iconic championship event hoping, at the very least, to match last year’s performance. This is especially the case as the Ogier – Ingrassia and Lappi – Ferm crews have both already won here, in 2013 and 2017 respectively. They are clearly comfortable with the subtle demands of this tricky, high-speed balancing act, where speed, precision and confidence are the vital ingredients!

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are one of the few non-Scandinavian crews to win this event, which has long been dominated by Nordic drivers. Currently second in the championship (just four points behind the leader) and looking for a seventh consecutive world title, they will start the event in the C3 WRC with very high hopes.

Like Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in 2008, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made their debut at this event in a C2 R2 Max three years later. However, the similarities end there between the Citroën Total World Rally Team crews: Lappi and Ferm won this rally on just their fourth outing in a WRC, thus confirming their rapid rise through the ranks at the time and their undeniable talent. There is no doubt that they will be determined to do well again this year at their home WRC event, driven on by the Finnish spirit, Sisu, this special form of grit and bravery that enables Finns to up their game when competing at home. The fact that the pair will be running eighth on the road may also prove to be a significant advantage if the weather stays dry.

With Lappi – Ferm competing at Rally Estonia, on similar types of roads, followed by three days of testing in Finland, the French team has given them every chance of performing well here. The C3 WRC will feature a wider set of set-up options on its front axle in Finland, having used an upgrade token to make changes and after these options were successfully reviewed in pre-event testing.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“With its high speeds and the invariably very small gaps between crews, this round is like no other. You really need to come to the start line full of confidence and ready to go for it straight away. There’s no time to get your eye in... We have prepared as best we could by competing at Rally Estonia, and we were able to fine-tune the set-up of C3 WRC during the three-day pre-event test in Finland on roads similar to those we’ll face during the race. We’ll be introducing an upgrade to our front axle at this event, to enable our drivers to have a wider range of set-up options. In any case, with two former winners in our ranks, we are well equipped to challenge and our target will be to keep up our run of podiums.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“This rally, contested pretty much in the back yard of one of our main competitors, is set to be a serious challenge. But I was able to recharge my batteries during the summer break and I feel fresh. As usual, I’m ready to put up a fight. With the high speeds on the stages, this is definitely a rally where you need to be completely at one with your car in order to really go for it and I have to say that I finished my two days of testing with a good feeling in the C3 WRC. The upgrade introduced at this round means we’ll have better options in terms of set-up for the rest of the season.”
Number of appearances at the event: 11
Number of wins: 1 (2013)

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“After getting our bearings at high speed in Estonia, we were able to fine-tune the basic set-up during the test day held afterwards in Finland. We had increased grip and the handling of the C3 WRC was further improved. This event is obviously something special for all of us. The main thing is to enjoy it, and if I can do that, then the result will come naturally. In any case, I feel confident and I’m determined to do my best.”
Number of appearances at the event: 7
Number of wins: 1 (2017)

23 timed stages covering a total of 307.58 km
4 overall wins secured by Citroën at Rally Finland: 1 with C4 WRC (2008) et 3 with DS3 WRC (2011, 2012 and 2016)
122.6kph – the average speed of the winner of the 2018 rally
2nd – the C3 WRC‘s result at last year’s event

After more than twenty percent of the route was altered last year, with narrower roads used in certain places than previously, this year the changes are limited. The itinerary is almost identical to the 2018 event.

After a fairly long opening leg (126.55 kilometres) that includes the Äänekoski stage, where the highest average speeds were seen last year (132.7kph on the second pass), crews will tackle the rally’s longest day on Saturday. They will complete 132.98 kilometres of timed stages, including two runs on Kakaristo (18.70km), the modern version of the iconic Ouninpohja stage, where many of this rally’s historic performances have been recorded. The drivers must tackle a seemingly endless series of jumps, often taken sideways, and an unerringly precise racing line is absolutely essential...

9.00am: Shakedown Vesala (4,26 km)
6.37pm: Start (Jyväskylä Paviljonki)
7.00pm: SS 1 – Harju 1 (2,31 km)
7.20pm: Parc ferme

6.40am: Start & service A (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 15 mins)
8.18am: SS 2 – Oittila (19,34 km)
9.21am: SS 3 – Moksi 1 (20,04 km)
10.24am: SS 4 – Urria 1 (12,28 km)
11.16am: SS 5 – Ässämäki 1 (12,33 km)
12.39pm: SS 6 – Äänekoski 1 (7,80 km)
1.56pm: Service B (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 40 mins)
3.24pm: SS 7 – Moksi 2 (20,04 km)
4.27pm: SS 8 – Urria 2 (12,28 km)
5.19pm: SS 9 – Ässämäki 2 (12,33 km)
6.42pm: SS 10 – Äänekoski 2 (7,80 km)
8.00pm: SS 11 – Harju 2 (2,31 km)
8.30pm: Flexi service C (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 45 mins)

6.25am: Start & service D (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 15 mins)
8.08am: SS 12 – Pihlajakoski 1 (14,42 km)
9.10am: SS 13 – Päijälä 1 (22,87 km)
10.08am: SS 14 – Kakaristo 1 (18,70 km)
11.34am: SS 15 – Leustu 1 (10,50 km)
1.00pm: Service E (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 40 mins)
3.08pm: SS 16 – Pihlajakoski 2 (14,42 km)
4.10pm: SS 17 – Päijälä 2 (22,87 km)
5.08pm: SS 18 – Kakaristo 2 (18,70 km)
6.34pm: SS 19 – Leustu 2 (10,50 km)
7.47pm: Flexi service F (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 45 mins)

7.30am: Start & service G (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 15 mins)
8.38am: SS 20 – Laukaa 1 (11,75 km)
9.38am: SS 21 – Ruuhimäki 1 (11,12 km)
11.01am: SS 22 – Laukaa 2 (11,75 km)
1.18pm: SS 23 – Ruuhimäki 2 Power Stage (11,12 km)
2.21pm: Service H (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 10 mins)
4.00pm: Podium
19-07-24 Far og sønn Solberg kjører Wales Rally GB
Den ene gjør VM-entré, den andre takker av etter 21 år. Far Petter (44) og sønn Oliver Solberg (17) kjører et siste og første VM-løp samtidig i Wales Rally GB 3.- 6. oktober.

Solberg junior skal kjøre sin Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, som han allerede har rattet til gull i det latviske rallymesterskapet før siste runde gjenstår. Han får med sin irske kartleser Aaron Johnston i sidestolen.

Solberg senior blir utstyrt med Volkswagen Motorsports Polo GTI R5, og det blir et hjertelig gjensyn med kartleser Phil Mills. Duoen vant den britiske VM-runden fire år på rad i rally-VM mellom 2002 og 2005.
- Det kommer til å bli emosjonelt å konkurrere mot min sønn for første gang i en VM-runde. Uken i Wales blir spesiell for Solberg-familien der et kapittel lukkes samtidig som et annet påbegynnes, sier Petter Solberg.

17. november 2002 vant han sin første VM-runde i rally nettopp i Wales. Nøyaktig 51 uker senere (9. november 2003) sikret Petter Solberg seg samme sted legendestatus med å bli tidenes første (og hittil eneste) norske rallyverdensmester.
- Pappa er mitt store forbilde, og jeg har så mange minner fra seirene hans i Wales. Tidligere i år testet jeg veiene (Sweet Lamb-prøven) i Wales, og jeg fikk gåsehud på armen første gang, sier Oliver Solberg.
- Mitt mål er å gjennomføre rallyet, skaffe erfaring og ha det gøy i bilen. Det er en av rally-VMs mest tekniske runder, og man må ha respekt for terrenget og konkurransen.
- Kan du slå pappa?
- Jeg vet ærlig talt ikke. Men det som er helt sikkert er at tidene hans blir de første jeg kommer til å se etter på slutten av hver fartsprøve, sier Oliver Solberg.

Forutsetningen for at Oliver kan starte løpet, er at han består førerprøven i Sverige uken før løpet og får gyldig førerkort. Hittil har 17-åringen kjørt på dispensasjon og midlertidig førerkort i Latvia.

19-07-11 Full-scale test session in Estonia for Esapekka Lappi and the C3 WRC
Already hard at work preparing for the second part of the season, Citroën Total World Rally Team has decided to take advantage of the WRC’s summer break to enter Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm in Rally Estonia, a non-world-championship event. The aim is clear: to use this particularly rapid rally to prepare for Finland (1-4 August).

Between the last WRC round in Sardinia and the next one in Finland in early August, the average speed will rise by nearly 30 kph, while the number of jumps will literally increase tenfold. Hence the appeal of Citroën Total World Rally Team entering Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm and their C3 WRC in a non-world-championship rally known to pose the same kinds of difficulties as the forests of Jyväskylä. In what will be their one hundredth rally together, this is an opportunity for the Finns to reacquaint themselves with driving at very high speed in order to be perfectly prepared for their home rally, where, having already emerged victorious in 2017, they can harbour genuine hopes of a win.

Having already used the 2012 and 2018 editions of Rally Estonia as full-scale test sessions, the Reds will approach this year’s event with the same goal, seeking to hone the setup of the C3 WRC prior to the conventional tests scheduled after the race. The exercise bore fruit last year, with the crew subsequently securing a hard-fought second-place finish in Finland.

As this is a WRC partner event, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm will come up against at least one representative of the other three manufacturers that compete regularly in the World Rally Championship. Based in Otepää, in south-eastern Estonia, the action will be concentrated on the Saturday and Sunday, spanning 151.98 kilometres and 15 stages. The rally will culminate in a final special stage in Tartu, the country’s second-largest city.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal:
“The goal of this exercise is twofold. First, we want to get Esapekka in the best possible shape for his WRC round, by allowing him to clock up some kilometres in the C3 WRC in conditions similar to those he can expect in early August. The other goal is, like last year, to take advantage of the wider variety of roads offered by a rally in comparison to a conventional test session to choose the best technical options. Situations like that where you discover the roads as you drive, with only your notes to help you, always teach you a lot.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT Driver
“At Rally Finland, we won’t have the luxury of an observation round. The gaps are so tiny that we will have to be up with the pace from the off. Finland is also a rally that is close to my heart, and this one-off appearance should enable me to show up ready to go, especially as I’ll have another day of testing afterwards. I have fond memories of the reception I got from the fans the only other time I raced in Estonia, back in 2014.”
19-06-17 Tom och Henrik tog tredje pallplatsen i JWRC i Rally Italia Sardegna
I tredje deltävlingen i årets Junior-VM, JWRC, tog Tom Kristensson, SMK Hörby, och codriver Henrik Appelskog, Östergyllens RC, sin tredje pallplats genom att sluta på tredje plats i den tuffa tävlingen på Sardinien.
- Det blev om möjligt tuffare än vad vi förväntat oss, berättar Tom efter målgången på söndagseftermiddagen, efter 3 dagars tävlande.
- På många sträckor var det sten i spåret, sten sidan om, lös grus eller sand och smalt, några av dem, bl. a. den sista sträckan, SS 19, var de råaste vi någonsin kört. Vissa sträckor och partier var dock bredare, hårdare och snabbare, så lite omväxling blev det.
- Värmen gjorde det även krävande, både, för oss som besättning, och bil. Jag vet inte hur många liter vatten och vätskeersättning vi druckit.
- Vår taktik vara att hitta vårt tempo, undvika misstag och punkteringar, och det lyckades vi med till 100%. Det enda missödet var en lös bärarm på lördagens sista sträcka, som gjorde att vi förlorade lite tid. Bilen uppförde sig konstigt, vi trodde först att det var en punktering eller en trasig stöddämpare.

Problemet fixade teamet på servicen efter dagens etapp.
- På söndagens avslutande sträckor bevakade vi endast vår tredje plats, då marginalen både uppåt och nedåt var så pass stor att det inte gick att göra något, såvida inte något missöde inträffade.

JWRC-klassen vanns av spanjoren Jan Solans, efter en hård fight med det andra svenskparet, Dennis Rådström och codriver Jan Johansson. Dennis ledde inför söndagens avslutande sträckor, men här satsade spanjoren allt och gick om. Men dubbelt svenskt på pallen för andra tävlingen i rad.
- Som helhet är vi mycket nöjda med tävlingen och hur vi genomförde den, det var något av en nyckeltävling i serien. Vi hade ju inte någon erfarenhet av den här typen av vägar och vilka inställningar på bilen som fungerade bäst, samt de hårda däck som vi använde. Vi är imponerade av hur stark och hållbar bilen, Ford Fiesta R2 T, är. Drygt 31 mil SS på dessa vägar och inga större tekniska problem.
- Tre pallplatser på tre starter är ett bra facit så här långt, som vi är jättenöjda med, avslutar Tom och Henrik före hemresan.

I JWRC leder nu Jan Solans på 71 poäng före Tom på 62 poäng och Dennis på 56 poäng.

Nästa deltävling i JWRC går i samband med Neste Rally Finland den 1-4 augusti.

19-06-17 Snabb Veiby fick slita för poängen
Det blev en problematisk helg för Ole Christian Veiby i VM-rallyt på Sardinien, men trots det så plockade han viktiga VM-poäng och är fortsatt med i kampen om titeln i WRC 2.
- Det gick inte helt som planlagt, men vi fick i alla fall visa att vi kan köra både smart och fort när allt fungerar, säger Veiby.

Efter branden i Portugal senast stod revansch på programmet, men tyvärr började motgångarna redan efter första specialsträckan. Stötdämparproblem gjorde att man inte tog sig vidare.
- En stor besvikelse, berättar Ole Christian.

Redan där och då, på torsdag kväll, tvingades norrmannen och co-drivern Jonas Andersson ge upp sin kamp om segern, men man kunde ändå starta om på fredagen enligt rally 2-reglementet, med tio minuters strafftid.

Förutom problemen med stötdämparna drabbades det norsk-svenska ekipaget av ett par punkteringar, men när allt fungerade gick det fort - riktigt fort - på de italienska vägarna. Veiby noterade sju sträcksegrar i WRC 2 av totalt nitton möjliga med sin Polo GTI R5.
- Vi höll samma tempo som Rovanperä och Östberg och det är något vi tar med oss framöver.
Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS-föraren matchade alltså toppnamnen i WRC 2 Pro-klassen under långa stunder av tävlingen på medelhavsön.

Vid slutmålet på söndagen hade Veiby jobbat sig upp till en femteplats i WRC 2-klassen, vilket innebar tio viktiga poäng i sammandraget. Ole Christian knappade in på täten och ligger fortsatt på topp tre.
19-06-17 Veiby skuffet etter Rally Sardinia
Etter brannen i Portugal var det en revansjesugen Veiby som stilte til start på Sardinia. Bilproblemer satte en stopper for seier, men fort gikk det allikevel. – Det gikk ikke helt som planlagt, men vi fikk i alle fall vist at vi kan kjøre både smart og fort når alt virker, forteller Veiby som var raskeste WRC2 bil på 7 av de 19 fartsetappene.

Målet for løpet var seier, men dessverre ble det 10 minutter tidsstraff allerede etter første fartsprøve. Med ødelagt støtdemper måtte Ole Christian og kartleser Jonas Andersson kaste inn håndkleet allerede etter åpningsprøven på torsdag kveld, og bilen ble fraktet tilbake til service på henger. – Det var ordentlig kjipt, og veldig skuffende. Vi har egentlig slitt med demper-problemer hele løpet, og da ble det utfordrende både med grip og å pushe. Vi fikk også ett par punkteringer. Men når alt har fungert, så har vi fått vist at vi kan kjøre både fort og smart, og det er viktig på ett så teknisk krevende løp som Sardinia er. Vi var raskest på 7 av prøvene, og holdt samme tempo som både Rovanpera og Østberg, og det er noe vi tar med oss videre.

Det ble tilslutt en femte plass i WRC2 klassen i Sardinia, og med det viktige poeng og Veiby ligger nå på andre plass sammenlagt i klassen
19-06-17 Sordo snatches Rally Italia Sardegna win after late drama
Tänak's steering problem lets Spaniard in for second-ever win. Dani Sordo claimed his second career victory at Rally Italia Sardegna on Sunday afternoon after late agony for long-time leader Ott Tänak.

The Spaniard celebrated his second success in 164 world rally starts when a steering problem in the final rough road speed test denied Tänak a third consecutive FIA World Rally Championship victory.

Tänak led the hot and dusty rally since Saturday morning in his Toyota Yaris. He began the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage with a half-minute advantage over Sordo’s Hyundai i20, only for disaster to strike shortly after the start.

Damaged steering caused him to spin and he crawled to the finish, losing two minutes and plunging to fifth in the standings. The only consolation was that he regained the series lead ahead of a mid-season break with a four-point advantage over Sébastien Ogier.

Sordo, who scored his previous victory in Germany in 2013, was stunned by the late drama.

“It's unbelievable. I don’t have words to describe this, I’m really shocked. It’s amazing to win but I’m sorry for Ott, he was faster than me in some places over the weekend,” he said.

Tänak’s despair in his 100th world rally start brought delight for Teemu Suninen. The Finn claimed a career-best second place in his first rally alongside new co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen. Driving a Ford Fiesta, he finished 13.7sec behind Sordo.

Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen won all four Sunday tests to secure the final podium place in another i20, a further 18.9sec behind.

He demoted Elfyn Evans by 0.9sec in the final special stage, a task made harder as the Welshman was this morning credited with 7.0sec after being delayed in the dust of Kris Meeke last night. Meeke restarted in front of Evans after stopping to change a wheel.

Evans was almost a minute clear of Tänak, with Thierry Neuville completing the top six. It was a disappointing weekend for the Belgian, who celebrated his 31st birthday today, but Tänak’s problems kept him firmly in the title fight, seven points adrift of the lead.

Ogier had a trouble-filled rally. Twice he swiped roadside rocks and broke his C3’s suspension, but he returned to take four bonus points from the Wolf Power Stage.

The championship resumes at the gravel road Neste Rally Finland which is based in Jyväskylä on 1 - 4 August.

Final positions after leg 1:
1. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 3hr 32min 27.2sec
2. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +13.7sec
3. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +32.6sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +33.5sec
5. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +1min 30.1sec
6. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +2min 16.7sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 8 of 14)
1. O Tänak 150pts
2. S Ogier 146pts
3. T Neuville 143pts
19-06-17 Super-søndag og pallplass for Andreas Mikkelsen på Sardinia
Andreas Mikkelsen og Anders Jaeger-Amland klinte til på siste dag av Rally Italia Sardinia, og kjørte inn til en tredjeplass sammenlagt etter å ha vunnet samtlige av søndagens etapper. – Utrolig deilig, forteller Andreas etter målgang.

Gutta startet siste dag av Rally Italia Sardinia på femteplass sammenlagt, og hadde 7 sekunder opp til Elfyn Evans som lå på fjerdeplass. Med bare 4 fartsetapper å gjøre det på, var det bare å klemme til fra start skulle det være en sjanse til å ta igjen. I løpet av dagen fikk imidlertid Evans tilbake tid som han tapte på lørdag, etter å ha blitt liggende i støvet etter bilen foran, og dermed var det totalt 14 sekunder som skulle taes igjen. Andreas og Anders satte standard fra første meter, og vant samtlige fartsetapper i dag. Selv med etterhvert så slitte dekk, så ble det også seier på Power Stage og ekstra VM-poeng.
- Det kuleste i dag var at vi ikke ga oss da vi fikk 7 sekunder til å ta igjen. Vi fortsatte å pushe og så gikk det akkurat. Det er det jeg er mest fornøyd med, vi ga oss ikke men fortsatt å pushe på. Det viser i hvert fall at man aldri skal gi opp!

Rally Italia Sardinia er ett av de mest teknisk krevende løpende som kjøres i rally-vm, og dekkvalg er helt avgjørende. Løpet er røft og varmt og krever virkelig sitt både av bil og dekk. Ett feil dekkvalg fredag morgen, gjorde at det ble krevende å kjøre seg opp til en god start posisjon for lørdag, allikevel avsluttet de dagen på fjerdeplass. Lørdag var det en god fight med både Elfyn Evans og Kris Meeke om fjerdeplassen.
- Vi visste at vi i dag måtte virkelig gi gass skulle vi klare å ta igjen noe tid. Alle kjenner prøvene like godt, og det gjør det vanskelig å skulle ta igjen noe tid. Kjente litt på det på første prøven, og det stemte bra, så da var det bare å gi gass.

Rally Italia Sardinia ble vunnet av Andreas’ team-kamerat Dani Sordo i en høydramatisk finale, hvor Ott Tanak måtte gi tapt etter å ha ledet nesten hele helgen. Andreas og Anders tok igjen hele 7 sekunder på Evans på den siste prøven, og avanserte dermed på resultatliste.

Resultat totalt Rally Italia Sardinia 2019
1 Sordo
2 Suninen + 13,7
3 Mikkelsen +32,6
4 Evans +33,5
5 Tanak +1.30,1
6 Neuville +2.16,7
7 Lappi +2.59,6
8 Meeke +4.40,1

Nå er det sommerferie, før VM-sirkuset tar turen til Finland og noen av årets raskeste fartsprøver på grus. Rally Finland kjøres 1 – 4 august.
19-06-17 Citroën fights to secure precious points with the C3 WRC in Sardninia
Although Citroën Total World Rally Team’s chances of a good overall result were compromised on day one, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia confirmed once again that they remain fierce competitors on the Power Stage, grabbing the second fastest time and four bonus points. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made it to the finish in seventh overall, having managed the last two legs admirably.

After making a mistake on day one (SS5) as they attempted to minimise the major disadvantage of running first on Sardinia’s technical and very loose gravel roads, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia – having rejoined under Rally 2 rules on Saturday’s leg – were solely focused on attempting to grab a few bonus points on the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage during today’s short final leg (41.90km). Once again showing their incredible fighting spirit, the French six-time world champions claimed four points, which means they now lie second in the world championship standings, four points behind the new leader.

Whilst it falls short of Citroën Total World Rally Team’s hopes for this round, the result means that when the championship resumes after the summer break, they will tackle roads in Finland (1-4 August) that have already been cleaned by a competitor. The forthcoming break will undoubtedly be used by the Red Army to redouble its efforts in preparation for the second half of the season.

On gravel, the first leg tends to be decisive because it determines the running order for the rest of the rally, and Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm unfortunately experienced this first hand. They were running in sixth overall and were gradually getting their bearings when they dropped almost 40s when one of their tyres came loose (SS4). They put in a lot of hard work in the C3 WRC to move back up the leaderboard (stage win on SS5, second on SS9, just 0.1s off the pace), but were unable to finish the opening leg any higher than eighth, after also suffering a sensor issue (SS6). In spite of a less than ideal position in the running order on Saturday, they managed to produce a consistent, error-free performance on day two, as they continued to get to grips with the C3 WRC on gravel and regained seventh position when one of the other crews suffered a puncture. They ended the final leg in the same place. This race, which they managed intelligently once they were no longer able to fully express themselves, will undoubtedly help them to begin the next event, their home round in Finland, in the best possible shape.

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Sometimes in motorsport, you have a weekend where things just don't go your way and this weekend was clearly one of those. We’ll put it behind us and focus on the future. In running first on the road, the best we could have realistically hoped for would have been to finish around fifth, so my mistakes cost us a few points. But it is still incredibly close in the championship, even though I'm not the kind of person to take any pleasure from the misfortune of others, especially when it’s Ott.I'm now going to have a holiday and recharge my batteries. We’ll be back in Finland and try to do a lot better.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
"Obviously, it wasn't quite the result that we were hoping for. The problems we had on the first leg went a long way to determining the rest of our weekend. We weren't able to perform at our true level given our position in the running order. It was pretty much impossible to make up ground on these roads, where the grip increases so much with each passing car. We also weren't helped by making the wrong call on tyres on Saturday morning. But at least we made it to the finish. We’ll now get back to work so that we’re in better form for our home round in Finland.”

What is your analysis of this weekend's race in Sardinia?

Obviously, this isn't the result we were hoping for, although we knew that running first on the road here, where the roads clean so much, Sébastien and Julien were bound to have their work cut out. We certainly can't blame them for their mistakes, because such errors are so highly uncharacteristic. And they did a great job on the Power Stage, showing their incredible fighting spirit once again. Esapekka and Janne had a slightly disappointing first half of day one and unfortunately, this had a knock-on effect on the rest of their weekend, forcing them to carve out the racing line for the rest of the field. In Sardinia, it’s a disadvantage that is almost impossible to overcome. However, they managed to cope intelligently with the frustration involved, getting more miles under their belt in the C3 WRC and making it to the finish. They will now look get their season back on track in Finland, where we know they definitely have the potential to do very well.

With the championship so tight, it looks like the summer break may be more work than play…

Yes, Sébastien and Julien’s never say die attitude, combined with the dramatic end to the rally, means that the championship remains wide open. It doesn't change the way in which we approach our WRC campaign at all, however. We are going to continue to deploy all our forces in the battle! We’re testing next week and one thing’s for sure, we will be redoubling our efforts to try and provide our drivers with the best weapons possible for the second half of the season.

Described by many observers as being more suited to a cross-country rally given the roughness of the road, the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage (6.89km) once again saw Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produce another majestic performance, despite being the first WRC crew to contest the stage.

Sébastien Ogier had predicted that the Power Stage would be very tough, given the extent to which the rough, gravel roads clean and provide more grip to those further down the running order. On these sorts of sandy roads, where ruts can form quickly, the ability to take risks could make all the difference. Sébastien and Julien produced an extremely committed performance, clearly shown in the utter concentration displayed on their faces in the on-board camera footage. Their driving, usually so clean and tidy, was extraordinarily aggressive, but their approach paid dividends at the finish! Only Andreas Mikkelsen, who started five places further down the running order, managed to go faster by just over two seconds. These hard-fought four points may yet prove decisive at the end of the season...

1.Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:32:27.2
2.Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +13.7
3.Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +32.6
4.Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +33.5
5.Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:30.1
6.Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:06.7
7.Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) + 2:59.6
8.Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4:40.1
42. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:22:58.5

1. Ott Tänak – 150 points
2.Sébastien Ogier – 146 points
3.Thierry Neuville – 143 points
4.Elfyn Evans – 78 points
5.Teemu Suninen – 62 points
6.Kris Meeke – 60 points
7.Andreas Mikkelsen – 56 points
8.Dani Sordo – 52 points
9.Esapekka Lappi – 40 points
10.Jari-Matti Latvala – 40 points
* Subject to publication of the standings by the FIA

1. Hyundai WRT – 242 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 198 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 170 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 152 points
19-06-17 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson tvåa i Italiens VM-rally
Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson slutar Italiens VM-rally på medelhavsön Sardinien på en andraplats i Junior-VM efter en stenhård fight med spanjoren Jan Solans, som vann tävlingen.

– Det är skönt att vara i mål, säger en lättad Dennis efter målgång.
– Det har vart en tuff tävling där vad som helst kunde hända. Vi pushade hårt på slutet, men Solans var riktigt snabb. Det var kul med en hård fight, och vi är riktigt nöjda.

Dennis och Johan inledde tävlingen starkt och tog ledningen på fredagen, en ledning de höll till söndag morgon. Jan Solans ökade tempot under lördagen och knapade in på Svenskarnas ledning successivt. Under söndagen slogs man om sekunder fram och tillbaka, innan Solans på sista sträckan kunde fastställa segermarginalen till 14,9 sekunder.

Teamet tar med sig mycket positivt från Sardinien. Bland annat ett högt tempo, mogen körning och ett starkt samarbete i bilen.
– Vi har haft riktigt bra tempo hela tävlingen och har inte gjort några misstag. Vi hade som mål att hitta en nivå där kunde åkte fort men ändå se efter bilen på de tuffa och steniga vägarna, och det lyckades vi med, fortsätter Dennis.
– Denna tävlingen är den tuffaste jag åkt som kartläsare. Det är inte bara att det vart extrem värme, utan det är mycket att hålla reda på här på Sardinien. Samtidigt som vägarna är dåliga och steniga och bilen hoppar och skakar hela tiden, säger Johan.

Med två deltävlingar kvar av årets mästerskap finns det mycket kvar att köra om, då finaltävlingen i Wales ger dubbla poäng. Nästa tävling avgörs i Finland i början av augusti, en tävling där Dennis och Johan tidigare stått på pallen.
– Nu är det fullt fokus på Finland, en tävling som vi åkt tidigare. Vi vet vad som väntar och ska förbereda oss väl för att komma högt upp, avslutar Johan.
19-06-17 Clean sweep for Tänak as he takes Rally Italia Sardegna lead
Estonian puts in a flawless day's driving to lead the way into Sunday. Ott Tänak produced perfection to win all six speed tests and take a commanding lead at Rally Italia Sardegna on Saturday night.

He finished the longest and toughest leg of the four-day Mediterranean island rally with a 25.9sec advantage in his Toyota Yaris over previous leader Dani Sordo. Teemu Suninen was a further 17.0sec behind in third in a Ford Fiesta.

Having overnighted in third, the Estonian took the lead in the last of this morning’s three tests, before extending his 6.4sec advantage to almost half a minute when the stages were repeated this afternoon.

Neither Sordo nor Suninen had any answer to his pace. Spaniard Sordo finished second in all three morning tests, while Suninen did likewise twice this afternoon.

Abrasive rocky tracks and high temperatures posed a fierce test for cars, drivers and tyres. Tänak’s morning mix of Michelin’s medium and hard compound rubber, followed by the durable hards this afternoon, paid dividends.

“To win all the stages is great, but my main priority is the rally win, stage wins make no difference,” he said. “It was a good fight today, Dani was pushing hard and did a really good job. I tried to be careful this afternoon because it was really rough in places.”

Sordo lost vital seconds this morning as his Hyundai i20, shod with hard tyres, suffered wheelspin. Suninen was delighted with his performance, blending pace with caution as he benefited from highly experienced co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen’s knowledge for the first time.

Elfyn Evans and Andreas Mikkelsen fought furiously for fourth. They swapped places in every morning test and the gap never exceeded 2.6sec until the final stage, when Mikkelsen lost time with badly worn tyres in his i20. Evans ended on top by 7.9sec in his Fiesta.

Both kept Kris Meeke at arm’s length until the Northern Irishman stopped to change a puncture on his Yaris in the final test. He dropped to eighth.

His time loss promoted Thierry Neuville into sixth, almost a minute adrift of team-mate Mikkelsen. The Belgian made a poor tyre choice this morning and struggled to find a rhythm in his i20, despite changing the set-up at the midpoint service.

Sunday’s final leg is the shortest of the weekend at 41.90km. Two identical loops of two stages culminate in the picture-postcard Wolf Power Stage along the west coast, which offers bonus points to the fastest five drivers.

Leading positions after leg 2:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 3h 04min 10.3sec
2. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +25.9sec
3. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +42.9sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +1min 25.4sec
5. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +1min 33.3sec
6. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +2min 32.4sec
19-06-17 C3 WRCs test set-up options in competitive conditions
With their position in the running order preventing them from expressing their full potential, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm focused mainly on working for future events, and their application was rewarded as they climbed to seventh overall. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia made another uncharacteristic error this morning, but still managed to gather information that will undoubtedly be useful for the forthcoming rounds.

The weekend’s longest leg, with a competitive distance of 142.42km and including two runs on the long Monti di Ala’ (28.21km) and Monte Lerno (28.03km) stages, day two seemed to possess all the ingredients to provide yet more drama.

Unfortunately, Citroën Total World Rally Team ended up centre stage for all the wrong reasons. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who had rejoined under Rally 2 rules following their retirement yesterday, made a mistake on the second stage of the day. As they exited a corner, the Frenchmen hit a rock that wasn't in their notes, damaging the rear left-hand suspension of their C3 WRC. They nonetheless managed to perform some makeshift repairs to get the car back to the mid-leg service, and once it had been fully repaired by the Reds’ technical team, they then effectively ran some in-competition testing for future outings. A test session that nonetheless saw them grab the second fastest time on SS13.

Fourth in the running order, which became third on the second stage of the day, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were not expecting to have the kind of conditions that would let them express their full potential, given the extent to which the Sardinian roads clean. The fact they went with a less than ideal set-up in terms of tyre choice for the opening loop certainly didn't help matters. However, the Finns – in addition to picking up more experience for future events – more or less managed to keep pace with the driver currently lying third in the championship, even though he was behind them in the running order. They even concluded the day on a positive note, claiming a fourth fastest time (7.4s off the pace over the 28.03km-long SS15) and moving up to seventh overall after one of their rivals suffered a puncture.

Tomorrow’s very short (41.90km, with four stages) final leg concludes with the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage (6.89km), set against the magnificent backdrop of the Mediterranean. Citroën Total WRT’s crews will have their work cut out to pick up any bonus points on this stage, as they will be among the early runners on these sandy gravel roads.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Esapekka and Janne didn't have sufficiently favourable racing conditions today to allow them to express themselves fully and yet, at times, they showed really good pace in the C3 WRC, whilst also adopting a smart approach. Obviously it’s a shame that Sébastien and Julien made a mistake but it didn't prevent us from running some tests on set-up options that we had planned after they dropped out of contention to score heavily at this round.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Our mistake this morning was disappointing, because it then prevented us from really testing ourselves against our rivals on the second loop. We tried to do what we could, but without having driven the stages at full speed on the first run, it was clearly almost impossible to set fast times in the afternoon. SS13 is the only stage where I tried, because we had completed it in normal conditions on the first loop, and the time was okay. Obviously, you can count on me to try and grab some points in the Power Stage, even though it looks like it will be mission impossible. As the stage is rough, perhaps some crews won't be flat out, but we’ll be pushing as hard as we can.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Apart from one stage where we lost a bit of ground, we more or less managed to keep pace with Neuville today, who was behind us in the running order, so that’s pretty pleasing. I was comfortable in the C3 WRC but we couldn't hope to do much more with our road position.”

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:04:10.3
2. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +25.9
3. Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +42.9
4. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:25.4
5. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:33.3
6. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:32.4
7. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +2:58.3
8. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:53.3
9. Hänninen / Tuominen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +7:23.2
44. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:19:20.6
19-06-17 Sordo leads Rally Italia Sardegna as WRC leader Ogier crashes
Spaniard wins in Italy with championship leader hitting a rock in drama-filled day. Dani Sordo led Rally Italia Sardegna on Friday night as the captivating three-way battle in the FIA World Rally Championship took many twists and turns on hot and dusty Mediterranean island roads.

The Spaniard, driving a Hyundai i20, finished a drama-filled leg with a 10.8sec advantage over Teemu Suninen. Ott Tänak, the only driver of the title-tussling trio to steer clear of trouble, was a further 0.4sec back.

On a day in which five drivers led, Sordo moved to the front this afternoon. Although he won just one of the eight rocky and abrasive dirt road speed tests, he pulled clear in the final three after he and Tänak were tied at the top.

Sandy tracks covering a rocky base meant early starters struggled for grip. As one of the last frontrunners to start, Sordo benefited from a cleaner and faster line as those ahead swept the sand away.

“It was a hard day with high temperatures inside the cars and for the tyres, but I was on the right pace all the time. We had a little bit of an advantage because we started further back. I really want to fight for the victory, but it will be tough to hold off Ott,” he said.

Championship leader Sébastien Ogier had a disastrous day. He was almost 30sec off the lead in ninth when he hit a rock which shattered his Citroën C3’s suspension. Retirement was instant.

Thierry Neuville, third in the title fight, salvaged a ragged day to finish seventh. The Belgian twice made a wrong tyre choice, while a series of off-road errors, one of which followed a pace note mix-up and damaged his i20’s radiator, cost more time.

Suninen was the early leader in a Ford Fiesta after winning two stages, but a spin set him back. A third stage victory this afternoon helped to regain lost ground and he edged back ahead of Tänak in the final test.

Despite opening the roads following Ogier’s retirement, Tänak excelled in his Toyota Yaris to head Andreas Mikkelsen’s i20 by 9.0sec. Elfyn Evans was only a tenth behind in fifth, despite overshooting a hairpin in his Fiesta.

Jari-Matti Latvala led after the morning loop but it went badly wrong this afternoon when he rolled his Toyota Yaris. He battled on without a windscreen and remarkably won the next stage, but retired after going off the road in the final test.

Saturday is the longest leg. Three tightly-clustered stages east of Alghero are driven morning and afternoon, adding up to 142.42km. The highlight is the famous Micky’s Jump in the Monte Lerno test, where cars fly high as the road literally drops away beneath them.

Leading positions after leg 1:
1. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 1hr 36min 01.5sec
2. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +10.8sec
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +11.2sec
4. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +20.2sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +20.3sec
6. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +29.5sec

19-06-14 Rally Sweden säkrar nytt långsiktigt VM-avtal
Efter en längre tids förhandling har WRC Promoter och Rally Sweden enats om ett nytt långsiktigt VM-avtal som än en gång säkrar Sveriges plats i den prestigetunga VM-cirkusen. Avtalet som tecknats omfattar åren 2020, 2021 och 2022.

”Vår ambition har hela tiden varit att teckna ett nytt treårsavtal och nu är vi äntligen där. Alla som brinner och kämpar tillsammans med oss bär en viktig del i detta och jag vill rikta ett stort tack till hela vår organisation och våra funktionärer, våra offentliga och privata samarbetspartners och framförallt våra besökare och fans” säger Rally Swedens vd Glenn Olsson.

”Jag är väldigt nöjd över att vi har nått en överenskommelse där rally-VM fortsätter att återkomma till Sverige och Norge. Kombinationen av dynamiska WRC-bilar och moln av uppriven snö och is ger spektakulära actionbilder och unika sportsliga utmaningar till WRC. Värmland har visat sig vara en utmärkt värdregion och vi uppskattar verkligen den support som finns för rally-VM både från fans och media i Sverige” säger WRC Promoters vd Oliver Ciesla.

VM-avtalet säkrar Sveriges plats i kalendern fram till 2022 där konkurrensen hårdnar i takt med det ökande intresset globalt för rally-VM. Den uttalade långsiktiga visionen för WRC-kalendern är att utöka från dagens 14 tävlingar till 16, med fördelningen åtta i Europa och åtta utanför Europa. Nya länder de senaste åren är Turkiet och Chile och länder på väg in i kalendern, förmodligen redan nästa år, är Japan och Kenya. Det finns även en rad ytterligare länder som förhandlar om inträde i kalendern, exempelvis Kanada som vill arrangera en vintertävling.

”Att världens bästa sportkanal SVT redan köpt de nationella rättigheterna för rally-VM fram till 2021 placerar oss i finrummet exponeringsmässigt och var en viktig faktor för att våga ta steget och göra klart affären. Den ökande konkurrensen om platser i VM-kalendern återspeglar sig i avgifterna och våra kostnader kommer fortsätta öka stadigt de kommande åren. Vi har en stor utmaning framför oss att finansiera arrangemangen” säger Rally Swedens vd Glenn Olsson.

Rally Sweden är Sveriges största årligen återkommande sportevenemang och attraherar 100 miljoner tv-tittare och 200 000 besökare.
19-06-12 Dennis Rådström jagar segern på Sardinien
Till helgen avgörs den tredje deltävlingen i årets Junior-VM i rally på den Italienska ön Sardinien. Dennis Rådström, från Torsby, och kartläsaren Johan Johansson från Valdemarsvik ligger efter de två första deltävlingarna på en tredjeplats i mästerskapet, och siktar högt när årets första grustävling ska avgöras.
– Känslan inför tävlingen är bra. Vi var här och körde 2017, och känner till utmaningen. Vi ser fram mot tävlingen och hoppas på en bra helg, säger Dennis.

Tävlingen på Sardinien är en av de tuffaste på hela VM-kalendern med sina höga temperaturer, och sitt mycket grova grus med stora stenar. Något som sätter stor press på både bil och team.
– Största utmaningen med Sardinien är att hålla fokuset uppe. Det är långa dagar, höga temperaturer och utmanande sträckor. Så det är oerhört viktigt att hålla koncentrationen, säger Johan.

Dennis och Johan, som hittills har en tredjeplats i Frankrike som bästa placering, siktar på att vara med och kriga högst upp i resultatlistan i Sardinien.
– Vi har högt uppsatta mål och vill givetvis vinna, men även ha en rolig helg i bilen, avslutar Dennis.

Junior-VM i rally, Junior WRC, avgörs över fem deltävlingar där alla deltagare tävlar i identiska Ford Fiesta R2T från det Polska Fordstallet M-Sport.

Rally Italia Sardegna 2019 startar på torsdag den 13 juni och avgörs över 19 sträckor med målgång på söndag.
19-06-12 WRC title leader Sébastien Ogier discounts his chances to win in Italy
Frenchman rules out win after opening gravel roads at Rally Italia Sardegna. FIA World Rally Championship leader Sébastien Ogier has ruled out prospects of a third victory of the season in Italy this weekend.

Ogier must open the gravel roads in Friday’s first leg at Rally Italia Sardegna and believes the handicap will be too great to overcome during the final two days.

Starting first in the running order on the Mediterranean island’s sandy tracks will cost the Frenchman vital time as he fights for grip. His rivals behind will enjoy a cleaner and faster line, gaining seconds that Ogier will find hard to recover.

“Running first on the road means we can more or less write off our chances of winning from the word go, given how much the stages clean here,” said the six-time world champion, who holds a slender two-point lead over Ott Tänak.

“It looks like we won't be getting any help to upset the odds from the weather, with no forecast for a repeat of the rain that fell last year. So I’m expecting a tough weekend. Our performance on day one will once again largely determine our overall result.”

Tänak manoeuvred Ogier into the position by sacrificing bonus points in the final speed test at the previous round in Portugal. He slowed metres from the finish to ensure Ogier retained the championship lead and would start first.

Ogier, a three-time Sardinia winner, is no stranger to road sweeping. He performed similar duties in Portugal, minimising the first leg time loss to secure a sixth podium in seven rounds in a Citroën C3, whose performance in low-grip conditions has improved.

Tänak, making his 100th WRC start, is chasing a hat-trick of wins in his Toyota Yaris to take into the mid-season break after victories in Chile and Portugal reignited the Estonian’s flagging title bid.

The third driver in this year’s captivating title fight is Thierry Neuville. The Belgian, who recovered from a massive crash in Chile to finish second in Portugal and trail Ogier by only 10 points, won in Sardinia in 2016 and 2018.

“It’s one of my favourite events,” he said. “It suits perfectly to my driving style and to our pace note system. The championship is heating up nicely, so it will be another close.”

Temperatures exceeding 30°C and roads which become rough and rutted for the second pass make this fixture one of the toughest of the 14-round series. The tracks are fast but narrow, with trees and rocks lining the roadsides to leave little margin for error.

The rally starts in Alghero on Thursday evening and drivers face 19 tests covering 310.52km before the traditional harbour plunge finish celebrations in the town on Sunday afternoon.
19-06-11 Favoritrally väntar Andersson och Veiby
Ole Christian Veiby tar nya tag efter branden som stoppade norrmannens framfart i Rally Portugal. På medelhavsön Sardinien ska Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS-föraren på nytt ta upp jakten på VM-ledningen i WRC 2.
- Sardinien är en tävling jag verkligen gillar! Jag har kört rallyt två gånger och slutat tvåa båda gångerna.
Segerchanser har funnits tidigare och finns förstås även nu.
- Förra året ledde jag med över en halvminut, men fick tekniska problem på lördag kväll och tvingades slutföra dagen med bara bakhjulsdrift. Ändå körde jag in som tvåa totalt. Alla specialsträckor i år är ungefär som tidigare, så jag känner att vi kan de här vägarna. Det är en fördel.

Att farten finns i teamets Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 råder ingen tvekan om. I Portugal dominerade Veiby och co-drivern Jonas Andersson i WRC 2-klassen.
- Jag ser fram emot att ta upp tråden från Portugal och fortsätta det jobbet vi påbörjade där. Vi hade ju en ganska komfortabel ledning när vi tyvärr tvingades bryta och jag hoppas att vi klarar att finna den härliga känslan när vi sätter oss i Polon igen.

Efter branden har det varit bråda dagar för teamet att dels renovera bilen dels hitta orsaken till felet som har satt flera bilar av samma typ i brand. Teamchefen Tommy Kristoffersson förklarar:
- Det är kort tid mellan de här tävlingarna, men vi har haft en bra dialog med Volkswagen Motorsport, Volkswagen Sverige och Even Management och med hjälp av ett åtgärdsprogram känner vi nu att bilen är säker att köra. Dessutom kommer vi att få fysisk hjälp av en ingenjör från Tyskland på plats i Italien.

Kristoffersson anser att Veiby förtjänar en framgång efter sina senaste prestationer.
- Vi tycker att vi skulle ha vunnit senast, men det är sånt som händer i den här branschen. Ole Christians insatser har varit värda mer. Han har kört moget och tagit kliv framåt i år. I Portugal hanterade han situationen mycket väl så länge han var med.

På smala grusvägar ska Veiby nu visa att han vill vara med i kampen om WRC 2-titeln.
- Vi hade som plan att vinna så många tävlingar som möjligt i år och har ju visat att vi kan, så det är bara att fortsätta på den vägen. Vi satsar allt och kör för seger, avslutar Ole Christian Veiby.

Rally Italia inleds med en superspecialsträcka i närheten av staden Alghero på torsdag kväll.

19-06-11 Veiby går for seier på Sardinia – Rally Italia Sardinia 14 – 16 juni
Det er gått knapt en uke siden brann-dramaet i Portugal, men Ole Christian Veiby og kartleser Jonas Andersson er allerede klare for ett nytt VM-løp, det samme er Polo’en. – Bilen er fikset, så jeg er absolutt klar for Rally Italia Sardinia, som faktisk er ett av mine favoritt-løp, vi skal gå for seier, forteller Ole.

Dette er tredje gangen Ole Christian kjører VM-runden på Sardinia, og med to andreplasser i bagasjen gleder han seg til å ta fatt på det som kanskje er VM-kalenderens mest teknisk krevende grus-løp. - Sardinia er ett løp jeg absolutt liker! Kjørt det to ganger og ble nummer to begge gangene. I fjor ledet jeg også med over halv-minuttet, men fikk tekniske problemer lørdag kveld og måtte fullføre dagen med bakhjulstrekk. Kjørte allikevel inn til andreplass totalt, og vant over halvparten av prøvene. Alle fartsetappene er omtrent som før, så jeg føler jo at vi kan løpet litt. Er jo egentlig ett favoritt-løp, og det er jo en fordel.

Serviceparken har fått tilholdssted på kaia i kystbyen Alghero, og det kan ventes temperaturer opp mot 30 grader, noe som fort kan bli til 60 grader inne i bilen. Fartsetappene på den idylliske middelhavsøya er smale og dekket av ett lag med sandete grus, så her blir det både tørt, støvete og varmt. Første loopen er gjerne preget av mye road-cleaning og lite «grip», mens det for ettermiddagsloopen forventes mer «grip», så her er det viktig med en god dekk-strategi. I tillegg ligger det gjerne en god del store steiner gjemt under sanden, og trær langs veikanten kan fort ødelegge om man kommer litt bredt i en sving. Lange dager ventes også, lørdag kommer crewet til å være i bilen i nesten 17 timer.

Under den forrige VM-runden i Portugal lå Ole Christian i ledelse da han måtte bryte lørdag etter at bilen plutselig tok fyr inne på en fartsetappe. Fram til da hadde han vunnet 5 av 9 fartsprøver, og fredag kveld var han også raskest R5 bil totalt. - Gleder meg til å ta opp tråden fra Portugal og fortsette den gode jobben vi startet der. Hadde jo en ganske komfortabel ledelse når vi dessverre måtte bryte, og håper virkelig at vi klarer å finne igjen den go’følelsen når vi setter oss bak rattet på Polo’n igjen. Bilen har vært igjennom en ganske stor rebuild og er nå heldigvis klar igjen.

I VM-sammendraget ligger Ole Christian på en tredjeplass, etter seier i Sverige og tredjeplass i Monte-Carlo. Seieren glapp i Portugal etter en plutselig brann i bilen, men Ole Christian er fortsatt optimistisk. - Hadde som plan å vinne mest mulig løp i år, og vi har jo vist at vi kan, så vi fortsetter med samme målsetting. Vi satser alt, og går for gull igjen!

WRC2 vs WRC2PRO info
Klassen WRC2PRO er for fabrikksteam, og det kåres en egen vinner i klassen. WRC2 er for de som ikke kjører for ett team, og det kåres også her en egen vinner. I begge klassene kjøres det med R5 biler. Det konkurreres under samme regler, bortsett fra på asfalt løpene – hvor WRC2PRO har lov til å ha routenote-crew (safety-crew). Dette er ikke tillatt for de som kjører i WRC2. Team påmeldt i WRC2pro må ha med minst én bil (max to) i minimum 7 løp, og ett av de må være utenfor Europa. Fører/kartleser i WRC2pro får poeng i 8 av løpene de deltar i. I WRC2 kjører man 7 løp, også telles de 6 beste når poengene skal telles opp.

Torsdag 13 juni
09:00 Shakedown Olmedo (3,92km)
17:00 SS1 Ittiri Arena Show (2,00km)

Fredag 14 juni
06:00 Service Alghero
08:03 SS2 Tula 1 (22,25km)
09:20 SS3 Castelsardo 1 (14,72km)
10:09 SS4 Tergu – Osilo 1 (14,14km)
11:18 SS5 Monte Baranta 1 (10,99km)
12:14 Service Alghero
14:42 SS6 Tula 2 (22,25km)
15:59 SS7 Castelsardo 2 (14,72km)
16:48 SS8 Tergu – Osilo 2 (14,14km)
18:04 SS9 Monte Baranta 2 (10,99km)
18:40 Service Alghero

Lørdag 15 juni
05:20 Alghero Service
08:08 SS10 Coiluna – Loelle 1 (14,97km)
09:11 SS11 Monti Di Ala’ 1 (28,21km)
10:03 SS12 Monte Lerno 1 (28,03km)
12:35 Service
16:08 SS13 Coiluna – Loelle 2 (14,97km)
17:11 SS14 Monti Di Ala’ 2 (28,21km)
18:03 SS15 Monte Lerno 2 (28,03km)
20:35 Alghero Service

Søndag 16 juni
07:15 Alghero Service
08:15 SS16 Cala Flumini 1 (14,06km)
09:08 SS17 Sassari – Argentiera 1 (6,89km)
11:15 SS18 Cala Flumini 2 (14,06km)
12:18 SS19 Sassari – Argentiera 2 Power Stage (6,89km)
13:15 Alghero Service
15:00 Podium
19-06-04 Tom och Henrik bröt SOuth Swedish Rally men laddar nu för nästa VM-tävling på Sardinien
Helgens South Swedish Rally tog slut för Tom Kristensson och Henrik Appelskog på den 7:e av 11 specialsträckor efter en avåkning.
- De syd småländska vägarna är inte förlåtande, glider man lite för långt ut ligger det oftast en sten i kanten ,och sedan bär det till skogs, detta var det som hände oss, förklarar Tom.
- Vi hann dock skaffa bra erfarenhet av bilen på grus inför nästa VM-tävling, genom att testa lite olika inställningar och däck, vilket vi tar med oss till Sardinien.
- Det var även kul att kunna visa upp VM-bilen, Ford Fiesta R2T, på hemmaplan för supportrar och publik, som fick möjlighet att studera den på närmre håll på serviceplatsen i Älmhult.
- Jag vill även tacka alla som på olika sätt gjorde det möjligt för oss att starta i South Swedish Rally, och teamet IK Sport från Slovenien för sin proffsighet.
- Resten av veckan skall vi rehabilitera lite ömmande muskler och planera inför avresan i helgen till den 3:e deltävlingen i Junior-VM på Sardinien, säger Tom.

Tävlingen på Sardinien, Rally Italia Sardegna, är den 8:e deltävlingen i VM och den 3:e i Junior-VM, JWRC.

Underlaget är grus, och vägarna är överlag ganska smala men snabba, och blir oftast lösa, detta i kombination med värmen gör att däcksstrategin är viktig.
Starten sker nästa torsdag kväll, den 13 juni med en superspecial och målgång är på söndag eftermiddag. Då skall man ha avverkat 19 specialsträckor på 31,3 mil. Sträckorna är på den norra delen av ön och körs två gånger vardera, förutom superspecialen.
- Det är, precis som övriga VM-tävlingar, en helt ny tävling för oss, säger Tom. De förberedelser vi gör är att studera filmer och annan information om sträckorna. På rekognoseringen i början av veckan får vi se hur de är i verkligheten.
- Vi kommer att använda samma taktik som i de två första tävlingarna, hitta känslan och vårt tempo, det har fungerat jättebra både i Värmland och på Korsika, så det ändrar vi inte på.
- Dessutom skall det bli en fantastisk upplevelse, som vi skall njuta av, avslutar Tom

19-06-02 Tänak captures back-to-back wins in Portugal to boost title bid
Ott Tänak withstood intense pressure to claim his second consecutive 2019 FIA World Rally Championship victory in an action-packed finale in Portugal on Sunday afternoon.

He claimed a third triumph of the season at Vodafone Rally de Portugal, his second in a row following last month’s success in Chile, to move within two points of championship leader Sébastien Ogier.

Driving a Toyota Yaris, Tänak finished the hot and dusty dirt road encounter 15.9sec clear of Thierry Neuville, in a Hyundai i20. Ogier clinched his sixth podium in seven rounds in a Citroen C3, a further 41.2sec behind.

After taking the lead on Friday morning, Tänak repelled challenges from Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke and also overcame brake and suspension problems in his Yaris to score a ninth career victory.

“This is one of my hardest victories ever. We had a big fight and some small issues but managed to win it. Before the rally it was looking tough. It wasn’t looking too bad on Friday but yesterday lunchtime it was looking quite bad,” said the Estonian.

In a bizarre twist, Tänak sacrificed extra points in the final Wolf Power Stage to ensure he does not have the disadvantage of starting first at the next round in Italy. He slowed in the closing metres to ensure Ogier took maximum bonus points and will open the road.

Meeke closed to within 2.4sec of Tänak this morning before spinning out of second place. He then crashed into a tree stump and wrecked his car’s suspension in the final stage.

His retirement promoted Neuville into second. The Belgian trails Ogier by only 10 points at the season midpoint in another enthralling three-way title fight.

M-Sport Ford team-mates Teemu Suninen and Elfyn Evans finished fourth and fifth in Fiestas after a crushing final day retirement for Esapekka Lappi. The Finn firstly rolled his C3 and then exited with broken rear suspension after swiping a bank.

WRC 2 Pro winner Kalle Rovanperä scored a career-best result in sixth ahead of Latvala, who regained ground after stopping with similar suspension problems to Tänak on Saturday.

Vodafone Rally de Portugal final positions:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 3hr 20min 22.8sec
2. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +15.9sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +57.1sec
4. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +2min 41.5sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +7min 08.3sec
6. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Skoda Fabia +10min 34.2sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 7 of 14)
1. S Ogier 142pts
2. O Tänak 140pts
3. T Neuville 132pts
19-06-02 Citroën pocket yet another podium
With their chances of pushing for the win compromised by their successive road positions, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia nonetheless refused to give up. Their never-say-die attitude was justly rewarded with their sixth podium of the season, the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s seventh top-three finish in as many rounds. Equally deserving of a good result, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were unfortunately caught out in the closing stages with the finish in sight.

With today’s final leg covering just fifty-two kilometres and held on stages well known to all the crews, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s chances of making up the 11.8s gap to the podium were slim. Citroën Total WRT’s standard bearer focused on the Power Stage, and the bonus points available, whilst remaining ready to pounce if a rival crew should make a mistake under pressure. And that is exactly what happened on the final stage, enabling the French crew to move up to third position. They therefore secured their sixth podium of the season – and Citroën Total WRT’s seventh – after yet another very intelligently crafted performance. With the five extra points earned for winning the Power Stage, Sébastien and Julien continue to lead the world championship.

Leaders coming into the Portugal round, and therefore forced to run first on the road, the six-time world champions feared they would suffer here, given the very loose, dry conditions seen in recce. They managed nonetheless to produce a heroic performance on day one, reaching the end of day service in fifth place, just 3s off the podium, having in particular successfully gambled on tyre choice. However, the difference in road position compared to the other podium contenders was so significant on Saturday that it prevented Sébastien and Julien from fighting in even conditions. They therefore began today’s final leg 11.8s behind the third-placed crew.

Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm, who were just 2.3s off fourth place after SS2, had also made a good start to the rally. Unfortunately, one of their tyres came loose on landing a jump (SS3) and the pair found themselves down in eighth overall by the end of day one. They then produced an impressive performance on Saturday’s leg to climb to fifth overall, including three fourth fastest times, despite having spent two thirds of the day running in a very tough second position on the road. Unfortunately, a minor error at the start of Sunday’s leg (SS16) proved to be extremely costly. The pair turned slightly too sharply into a right-hand hairpin and ended up spinning and then rolling their C3 WRC. As they attempted to defend their fifth place on the next stage, they clipped a bank, damaged the rear left-hand suspension and had to retire within sight of the finish.

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I didn't think we could score twenty points this weekend. Although we never had a chance of winning the rally with our position in the running order, we gave it absolutely everything, regardless of the situation. So, to that extent, this result is just rewards. In truth, I was hoping not to be first on the road in Sardinia, but every point counts at the end of the season. I'm pleased to see that we were competitive on the Power Stage, which was more or less the only stage of the weekend where we had the same grip conditions as our rivals. That means we have also progressed in terms of performance although it was difficult to show it, given the circumstances.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“After our roll, the car wasn't too badly damaged, it was just missing the rear spoiler. I thought I had a good rhythm on the following stage but I was slightly too optimistic on a right hander over a crest and I hit a bank, which caused a puncture and then damaged the suspension. There were too many kilometres left to cover with our makeshift repairs. I'm really very sorry for the whole team, who deserved better.”

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again showed superb race management this weekend…
Yes, absolutely! Given, their road position on day one, but also throughout the weekend, they clearly did a great job on these roads, where cleaning is such a major factor. Despite not being able to fight on even terms, they managed to maintain the pressure and remain ready to seize any opportunities that came their way. Their determination and resilience were rewarded with another podium finish and a handsome tally of points for the championship. They had a good feeling in the C3 WRC, which also confirms that we have made significant progress with the car and are moving in the right direction. We’re going to keep working even harder because we’ll have to deal with the disadvantage of cleaning the road again in Sardinia.

Despite their retirement today, there some promising signs in the performance of Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm…
We’re obviously disappointed they didn't make it to the end of the rally after two mistakes, especially after such a fine day yesterday. After very good pre-event testing, during which we identified the differential set-up that suits them the best, they were really on their way towards putting together a decent performance, so I hope they can build on this in Sardinia. We are now going to work together and support them so that they can manage this kind of situation better in the future.

Thomas Breton, race engineer to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, looks back on the crew’s incredible performance during the first leg, which they ended in a somewhat unexpected fifth place…

“Given the extent to which we expected the road to clean this weekend, we had focused on maximising the balance of the car in low-grip conditions during pre-event testing. Apart from on Friday’s opening stage, where they were probably getting a feel for the loose conditions, Seb and Julien were genuinely incredible. It is also worth mentioning that on the first stage, Seb had accidentally switched to road mode and by the time he realised this, he had probably lost a couple of seconds. The afternoon loop went particularly well, since they were only two tenths per kilometre off the stage-winning times. Tyre choice undoubtedly also played a role in their performance. Due to running first on the road, and also the fact that Seb is a driver who really looks after his tyres, we opted for a different strategy to the other drivers in the afternoon. We kept two Michelin mediums, despite the high temperatures, where all the other crews went with five hard tyres. Having the right strategy is one thing, of course, but you still have to deliver! And that’s precisely what he did. The data shows that Seb just doesn't overdo it when there’s no need and his approach paid dividends in the times.”

Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3h20’22’’8
Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +15’’9
Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +57’’1
Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2’41’’5
Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 7’08’’3
Rovanperä / Haltunen (Skoda Fabia R5) + 10’34’’2
Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 11’28’’2
Kopecky / Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) + 11’41’’9

Sébastien Ogier – 142 points
Ott Tänak – 140 points
Thierry Neuville – 132 points
Elfyn Evans – 65 points
Kris Meeke – 56 points
Teemu Suninen – 44 points
Sébastien Loeb – 39 points
Jari-Matti Latvala – 38 points
Andreas Mikkelsen – 36 points
Esapekka Lappi – 34 points
* Subject to publication of the final standings by the FIA

Hyundai WRT – 202 points
Toyota Gazoo Racing – 182 points
Citroën Total WRT – 158 points
M-Sport Ford WRT – 122 points
* Subject to publication of the final standings by the FIA
19-06-02 Emil Bergkvist tvåa i Portugals VM-rally
I helgen körde Emil Bergkvist från Torsåker tillsammans med kartläsaren Patrik Barth sin andra deltävling i årets Rally-VM i Portugal i klassen WRC2. Tävlingen slutade med en andraplats för Emil och Patrik, som även blev 10:a totalt i WRC tillsammans med sitt team J Motorsport.
– Det känns som en seger faktiskt, säger Emil.
– Det är oerhört skönt att äntligen få till det, vi har lyckas köra utan problem hela tävlingen. Jag har längtat efter att få stå på pallen i WRC2, och nu vi en konkurrenskraftig bil som funkar kanon. Jag är lättad nu.

Emil, som förra året blev Juniorvärldsmästare, vann den Ford Fiesta R5 som han nu kör tillsammans med däck och bränsle. I Rally Sweden i februari blev han fyra, men har sedan dess inte suttit i bilen. Därför trodde Emil själv att en pallplats inte skulle vara möjlig.
– Det har gått för bra egentligen, med tanke på inte kört nått sen i februari så trodde vi inte detta. En pallplats var vårt absolut högsta mål, men vi siktade på topp fem, fortsätter Emil.

– Bilen vart kanon hela tävlingen, teamet har var bra, och framförallt har Patrik var oerhört koncentrerad och levererat noter i den extrema värmen som vart här. Vi har hållt oss kalla och inte gjort några misstag.

Emil har jobbat hårt de senaste månaderna för att få ihop allt till tävlingen i Portugal, och nästa inplanerade tävling skulle vart på Sardinien om två veckor. Men eftersom att det blir för tight för att få ihop allt tills dess väljer Emil och Patrik att stå över tävlingen, för att istället fokusera på Finlands VM-deltävling senare i sommar - dit de ska den nyutvecklade Ford Fiesta R5 som M-Sport nu håller på att färdigställa.

Men eftersom att Emil och Patrik efter den starka inledningen på säsongen nu ligger bra till i VM-tabellen, är planen att lägga till en tävling om man har bra medaljchanser mot slutet av säsongen.
– Vi kommer nu jobba hårt mot finska rallyt i den nya bilen, och försöka att få ihop resten av säsongen. Vi hoppas att denna starka start på säsongen ska ge medvind, och vi planerar för att kunna lägga till en tävling i slutet av året, avslutar Emil.

Regerande Juniorvärldsmästaren Emil Bergkvist tävlar med kartläsaren Patrik Barth för teamet J Motorsport i en Ford Fiesta R5 från M-Sport i klassen WRC2. I WRC2 räknas poäng från de sex deltävlingar som respektive ekipage ställer upp i.
19-06-01 Tänak clings on to Portugal lead after late Saturday drama
Estonian holds slender advantage in Toyota over Meeke and Neuville. Ott Tänak's Vodafone Rally de Portugal lead was hanging by a thread on Saturday night after a dramatic finale to the penultimate leg.

He clung onto a 4.3sec lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing colleague Kris Meeke after damage to his Yaris' front right suspension left him limping through the final speed test – the longest of the rally at almost 40km.

An identical problem for team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, on the other side of the car, sidelined the Finn from second place before the same test after he was on course to deny Tänak a second consecutive WRC victory.

Brake problems in the opening test slowed Tänak and two stage wins for Latvala slashed the Estonian’s overnight lead from 17.3sec to 5.1sec.

Latvala damaged his suspension after a heavy landing in the afternoon’s opener. He struggled through the next test before stopping, leaving Tänak 15.2sec clear of Meeke before the leader struck trouble of his own.

“Twenty-five kilometres before the finish we broke the front right damper. Five kilometres after I went wide in a corner and had to reverse. It was a challenging stage. Tomorrow, if there are no issues, it should be a good day,” said Tänak.

The top three places were blanketed by 9.2sec as Thierry Neuville won the final two stages in a Hyundai i20 to close to within 4.9sec of Meeke.

A hydraulic problem meant Meeke could not use his handbrake in the last stage, which was littered with hairpin bends. The Briton limited the time loss to stay ahead of Neuville and set up a pulsating battle for the podium on Sunday.

High temperatures, hanging dust and rough roads ensured the leg, which comprised more than half the rally’s competitive distance, was a gruelling challenge.

Championship leader Sébastien Ogier was fourth in a Citroen C3, 21.0sec off the lead and an unwitting player in a double dose of tactics by Neuville's Hyundai team.

With Dani Sordo and Sébastien Loeb out of the running for a top place after fuel pressure problems on Friday, the Korean squad ordered them to deliberately incur time penalties by dropping down the start order to slot in after Ogier and ahead of Neuville.

It meant Ogier had two cars fewer starting before him to sweep loose gravel from the road and provide a cleaner and faster line.

Team-mate Esapekka Lappi climbed from eighth to fifth, leap-frogging Teemu Suninen, who was almost half a minute behind in a Ford Fiesta.

Sunday's finale is the shortest of the weekend. Five sandy stages include a double run over the famous Fafe test, the second of which forms the Wolf Power Stage with bonus points for the fastest five crews. They add up to 51.77km.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 2hr 47min 23.1sec
2. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +4.3sec
3. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +9.2sec
4. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +21.0sec
5. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Citroën C3 +1min 37.5sec
6. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +2min 02.7sec
19-06-01 C3 WRC just shy of the podium
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, despite having to contend with poorer grip conditions than the other podium contenders, more than held their own to end day two fourth overall, within a few seconds of the podium places. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm confirmed their good feeling in the C3 WRC by moving up to fifth overall, after a really successful day on the Portuguese gravel.

Accounting for more than 52% of the total route, today’s second leg was contested over a competitive distance of160.70 kilometres and was widely expected to be a huge battle between the main challengers for the podium. And that is precisely what it turned out to be.

Running fifth on the road, whilst the other podium contenders enjoyed considerably better conditions (between 8thand 11thin the starting order) on the Portuguese gravel – where the grip level improves as more cars complete the stages – Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia faced a serious challenge today. However, once again, they showed their undeniable resilience and fighting spirit. They confirmed their desire and determination to finish third on the opening test (SS8) and although they subsequently occupied the minor places, they ended the leg with another third fastest time on the second pass on Amarante (37.60km), just 3.5s off the pace. Their pugnacious performance put them fourth overall this evening, within striking distance of the podium places (+11.8s) ahead of tomorrow’s final leg, which promises to be very closely contested…

Third in the initial running order, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm found themselves second on the road from the third stage of the day onwards. A handicap on these gravel roads – which clean significantly – that they nonetheless managed to overcome in impressive manner, confirming their return among the frontrunners thanks to the work done with the team in pre-event testing. They moved up to seventh place on the opening stage before grabbing sixth overall with fourth place on the first run on Amarante (37.60km), just 6s off the lead pace. Two more fourth fastest times in the afternoon (SS12 & SS13) saw their combative approach rewarded with fifth place.

With 51.77 kilometres and five stages left to go, the longest of which is barely twelve kilometres long, Sunday’s leg will be something of a sprint finish. A short final dash that includes two runs on the Fafe stage, which is expected to be mobbed once again with local fans.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Our crews have both had a good day today. I would like to pay tribute in particular to the performance of Esapekka and Janne, who set some first rate times, despite having a really tough road position. They were very comfortable in the C3 WRC and I think that shows we’re moving in the right direction together. Sébastien and Julien had a slightly tougher day, where they were unable to fight with their direct rivals in even conditions. But they nonetheless had a solid day and a lot can still happen tomorrow.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I’m pleased with my fourth place this evening. The morning went better than the afternoon. We made a call on the tyres and changed the set-up, and perhaps that wasn't the best decision for the second loop. I am still learning the C3 WRC. It is still a positive result so far, because I feared the worst given the very loose conditions we saw in recce.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a very good day for us. I really enjoyed driving the C3 WRC! We have done some good work with the team and the car suits my driving style much better now. In fact, you can see this in the times we set, despite our position in the running order. The aim is now to keep up the momentum tomorrow.”

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:47:23.1
2. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4.3
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +9.2
4. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +21.0
5. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:37.5
6. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:02.7
7. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 6:10.4
8. Rovanperä / Haltunen (Skoda Fabia R5) + 8:33.8
19-06-01 Brann-drama for Veiby i Rally Portugal
Ole Christian Veiby hadde en solid ledelse i WRC2-klassen da bilen hans plutselig tok fyr under lørdagens tredje fartsetappe i Rally Portugal. – Vi merket plutselig at det luktet brann i bilen, og når vi så flammer i bakspeilet var det bare å stoppe, forteller Ole Christian.
Det som lå an til et vinnerløp for Ole Christian Veiby og kartleser Jonas Andersson, fikk altså en dramatisk slutt når duoen måtte bryte inne på SS10 lørdag formiddag. – Vi hadde kjørt ett lite stykke inn på prøva da jeg lurte på om jeg kjente at det luktet røyk inne i bilen. Jeg spurte Jonas om han kjente røyklukt, og han bekreftet det. Plutselig ser jeg i speilet at flammene står ut bak bilen, og da er det bare å stoppe. Heldigvis var det brannbiler og brannmannskap stasjonert akkurat der vi stoppet, og de fikk raskt kontroll over brannen.

Ole Christian hadde en soleklar ledelse i Rally Portugal når brannen skjedde, en ledelse han tok allerede etter SS2 og beholdt helt til han måtte bryte. Han var raskeste bil gjennom 5 av de 9 kjørte prøvene og avsluttet også fredag med å være raskeste R5 bil totalt, det vil si også raskere enn de som kjører WRC2pro. – Dette var kjedelig, forteller Ole Christian. – Alt fungerte perfekt, vi kjørte smart og kontrollert og allikevel gikk det fort. Det var fortsatt mye igjen av løpet, men det kjentes litt som om vi hadde denne seieren inne. Vi var «on fire», bokstavelig talt, så dette var kjipt! Nå får vi analysere og gå igjennom med fabrikken hva som har skjedd, før vi bestemmer veien videre.

Ole Christian og Jonas kommer ikke til å restarte igjen søndag morgen. Neste planlagte løp er Rally Sardinia 13 - 16 juni 2019.
19-06-01 Tänak tops Toyota trio in punishing Portugal opener on dusty Friday
Estonian creates impressive gap up front to title rivals Neuville and Ogier. Ott Tänak led a clean sweep of the podium positions for Toyota Gazoo Racing after Friday’s tough opening leg of Vodafone Rally de Portugal. He was one of the few drivers to avoid trouble in hot and dusty conditions to build a 17.3sec advantage in a Yaris World Rally Car over Jari-Matti Latvala. Kris Meeke completed Toyota’s treble a further 5.5sec back.

This seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship returned to famous roads near Coimbra for the first time since 2001. Hanging dust prompted organisers to extend start intervals to four minutes to avoid visibility problems.

Second in the start order threatened to hamper Tänak on narrow, twisty roads as he swept away loose gravel to leave cleaner roads for those behind, but he made light of the issue.

He was second initially before gaining a lead he did not relinquish. Two fastest times placed him 6.9sec clear at the midpoint, and he doubled that this afternoon.

“We said before the rally this was a critical day to survive in this event and ensure a better start position for tomorrow. We managed it and now we need to do the rest of the job,” said the Estonian.

Latvala remained hot on his heels until he stalled at a penultimate stage hairpin. The Finn stayed ahead of Meeke, who survived a broken intercom this morning, which required co-driver Seb Marshall to use hand signals to explain their pace notes.

Meeke briefly lost his grip on third to Teemu Suninen, but the Finn fell to sixth when brake failure forced him to zig-zag his Ford Fiesta through the penultimate stage to slow down.

Title rivals Thierry Neuville, driving a Hyundai i20, and Sébastien Ogier, in a Citroën C3, filled the next two places, blanketed by 1.6sec. Both lost time through cleaning, but profited from others’ troubles to climb the order. Neuville dropped 10sec with a stall.

Elfyn Evans dropped four minutes when his Fiesta stopped with an electrical problem in the throttle while, Neuville apart, the day was a disaster for Hyundai.

Dani Sordo led for the first two stages but both he and team-mate Sébastien Loeb spluttered through the third with fuel pressure problems in their i20s. Sordo dropped nearly 19min and Loeb yielded almost 16min.

Saturday’s toughest leg contains more than half the rally’s competitive distance. Crews face a double run over three tests, the opening two through the demanding Cabreira Mountains. They add up to 160.70km.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 1hr 03min 26.7sec
2. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +17.3sec
3. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +22.8sec
4. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +24.2sec
5. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +25.8sec
6. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +1min 15.7se
19-06-01 Citroën well placed to keep fighting
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia enjoyed yet another brilliant opening leg, making up for the handicap of running first on the road by pushing hard at every opportunity and ending the day fifth overall, just 3s off the podium. Equally comfortable in their C3 WRC, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were on course to record a similarly impressive performance but were stopped in their tracks when one of their tyres came loose. They nonetheless end the day within striking distance of sixth place.

Despite being contested on stages in the Arganil region that were new to the entire current generation of crews, this very short opening leg (94.50km) turned into something of a sprint. It must be said that the stakes were high, with today’s opening leg deciding the running order for tomorrow, the rally’s longest day. The challenge looked set to be tough for the crews, with the stages contested in stifling heat and on roads where grip levels improve dramatically with each passing car.

Obliged to open the road as championship leaders, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia came through the testing circumstances remarkably well. Sixth overall at the mid-leg point, having limited the damage incredibly well, the six-time world champions did even better in the afternoon loop. The only crew to take two medium compound Michelin tyres along with three hards, whilst their rivals opted for five hards, their gamble paid off. They were second fastest on SS5 and then third on SS6, ending the leg fifth overall, only 3s adrift of the podium places. They will therefore start in seventh position tomorrow and should be able to continue to challenge at the front.

Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm also made a promising start to their weekend, where they contested their maiden rally in a WRC in 2017. They were sixth overall after SS2, just 2.3s off fourth place. However, unfortunately, one of their tyres came loose on landing after a crest and resulted in them losing more than a minute (SS3). There were also unlucky in the afternoon, held up on SS5 in particular and unable to push as they would have liked due to dust kicked up ahead by a delayed competitor, but the crew were subsequently credited with part of the time lost. They nonetheless showed good form, with a third fastest time on SS6, just 3.2s off the lead pace. This evening, the two Finns lie 8s off sixth place and are determined to make the most of their fourth place in the running order tomorrow to keep making progress.

With a competitive distance of 160.70 kilometres (in six stages), day two includes two runs on Amarante (37.60km), the longest stage of the weekend. The crews also return to more familiar stages, regularly contested in recent years. Roads where the sandy ground tends to break up significantly on the second pass…

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Given how much the roads clean here, Sébastien and Julien produced another impressive performance today. They probably could not have hoped to do much better, really. It certainly augurs well for the rest of the rally, where they should enjoy conditions that will make it easier for them to fight for the leading places. Esapekka and Janne were also showing promising pace and were clearly unlucky with the tyre coming loose. Their feeling and their confidence in the C3 WRC still improved constantly and I have high hopes they can continue to show that tomorrow.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I’m pleased with what we managed to do in the really tough conditions we had today in opening the road, especially on the first stage of the loop. If you’d offered me fifth position at the end of day one before the start, I’d have bitten your hand off! The gap to Ott is already pretty big, but the second-placed crew is not that far ahead. We’re now going to try our very best to catch them. Day two will be very long and probably very rough but we’ll give it everything.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“We were unlucky with the puncture but I’m pleased to see that we are a lot more competitive here than at the previous rounds. We’re moving in the right direction, especially as I’m now starting to feel that we can do even better. That’s our aim for the rest of the rally: focus on our race, undoubtedly fight with Teemu, whilst trying to keep out of trouble.”

Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:03:26.7
Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +17.3
Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +22.8
Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +24.2
Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +25.8
Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:15.7
Greensmith / Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:22.1
Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:23.7
Veiby / Andersson (VW Polo R5) +3:45.2
Kopecky / Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +3:49.3
19-05-30 Emil Bergkvist ödmjuk inför Rally Portugal
I helgen avgörs Portugals deltävling i Rally-VM, och på plats finns den regerande Juniorvärldsmästaren Emil Bergkvist från Torsåker tillsammans med kartläsaren Patrik Barth i klassen WRC2, där de tävlar i en Ford Flesta R5 med teamet J Motorsport.

Emil och Patrik, som inte har tävlat sedan deras fjärdeplats i Rally Sweden i mitten av februari, har jobbat hårt för att få ihop ekonomin för fortsatt tävlande i Rally-VM.
– Jag vill rikta ett stort tack till alla runt mig som ställt upp och hjälpt till nu när det vart tuffa tider, även alla andra som bidragit med ekonomiskt stöd för att få oss till start, säger Emil.

Som förberedelse inför tävlingen har Emil och Patrik kört ett test i början av veckan för att slipa av rattrosten och komma tillbaka in i körningen.
– Vi har inte tävlat sedan Rally Sweden, men har kört 5 mil test här i Portugal som var väldigt givande. Så både vi och teamet är redo för tävlingen.

WRC2-klassen mönstrar som vanligt hårt motstånd, med inte mindre än 23 bilar till start i klassen. Där även topptrion i årets mästerskap finns med.
– Det är oerhört tufft motstånd som vanligt, men vi ska försöka göra ett felfritt rally så får vi se vart det ta oss i slutändan. Framförallt ska vi ha roligt i bilen, avslutar Emil.

Tävlingen startar på fredag morgon och avgörs över totalt 18 sträckor med målgång på söndag.
19-05-29 WRC heavyweights primed for Portugal rally duel
Loeb’s late call-up brings the prospect of another mouth-watering duel with Ogier. The two most successful drivers in WRC history locked horns again in Chile three weeks ago. Ogier fended off his fellow Frenchman in a final-leg fight to finish second and regain the championship lead in his quest for a seventh straight world title.

It was expected to be their last head-to-head for a while as Loeb’s part-time programme with Hyundai Motorsport was not due to continue until the second half of the season.

But Loeb’s stunning performance in Chile, when he finished third on his first gravel appearance in a Hyundai i20, prompted the Korean squad to draft him into their Portugal line-up in place of the out-of-form Andreas Mikkelsen.

Despite not having driven northern Portugal’s gravel speed tests before, Loeb has a favourable start position for Friday’s opening leg, and some believe the 45-year-old can topple Ogier and challenge for what would be a remarkable 80th WRC victory.

"Participating in this rally is an unexpected bonus,” he said. “It’s not easy to discover a new rally, especially one my opponents have already taken part in, but I’ve seen there are some beautiful stages on the first day in the Arganil area.

“It is always difficult to set goals, given that my opponents already know the rally but my goal is to be at the front in the fight for first place.”

Ogier is a Portugal master. He has five wins to his name and a sixth would break the record of Finland’s Markku Alén. It was also the scene of his first WRC victory in 2010.

His fifth podium in six rounds in Chile left him 10 points clear of Ott Tänak and 12 ahead of Thierry Neuville in the title race.

Despite a significant improvement in his Citroën C3’s performance, he has demanded further development to improve grip in slippery conditions – exactly the circumstances he will encounter on Friday from first in the start order.

“If we’re to have a chance of scoring heavily here, we’ll need to manage running first on the road as best we can on Friday’s fairly short opening leg to end the day as high up the standings as possible. On gravel, it’s crucial in order for the rest of the weekend to go well,” he said.

Tänak’s Chile win rejuvenated his bid for a maiden title while Neuville has fully recovered from a massive crash there which left the Belgian with bruising and an injured leg.

The rally, round seven of 14, begins on Friday morning. Drivers face 18 speed tests covering 306.97km before the finish in Matosinhos, near Porto, on Sunday afternoon.
19-05-29 Veiby jagar VM-ledning
Det har varit ett långt uppehåll från rally-VM för Ole Christian Veiby, men kommande helg är norrmannen och Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS på plats i Portugal för att försöka återta VM-ledningen i WRC2.
- Jag har fått köra lite på grus, både en del test och Rally Sörland, säger Veiby, som vann NM-tävlingen hemma i Norge.
- Vi visade bra speed och en seger är bra för självförtroendet.

Teamet har använt veckorna sedan tävlingen på Korsika i slutet av mars till att optimera den Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 som Veiby rattar med co-drivern Jonas Andersson bredvid.
- Vi har gjort en total genomgång av bilen. Det mesta är utbytt, säger stallchefen Tommy Kristoffersson, som skickar ett starkt manskap till norra Portugal, med tekniske koordinatorn Kai Roger Waaler i spetsen. Samtidigt ska teamet täcka upp South Swedish Rally i SM-serien.
- Det blir en större utmaning för oss att vara på två tävlingar samtidigt, men det är inspirerande och vi har kompetent personal på båda ställena, menar Kristoffersson.

Efter att deltävlingarna i Argentina och nu senast Chile har avgjorts utan Veibys deltagande så har VM-ledningen tagits över av mexikanen Benito Guerra, 61 poäng, med japanen Takamoto Katsuta, 47 poäng, på andra plats. Ole Christian ligger för närvarande trea med sina 40 poäng efter en tredjeplats i Monte Carlo och seger i Rally Sweden hittills.
- Vi har valt de rallyn som passar oss och Ole Christian bäst, med mer fokus på Europa, så det är helt enligt beräkningen. I Portugal har han kört två gånger tidigare och jag tror han har goda chanser att ta en pallplats, kommenterar Tommy Kristoffersson.

Veibys tidigare erfarenhet av Portugal är med tvåhjulsdrift i juniorklassen, men optimismen frodas.
- Jag känner till en del av sträckorna och på fredagen är det bara nya vägar, så det är ju bra för oss att det är lika för alla. Det är ganska tuffa sträckor så det blir en balans mellan att köra fort och att ta vara på bil och däck.

Kampen i toppen kommer att bli hård. Startlistan innehåller hela 23 bilar i WRC 2 och ytterligare fyra i WRC 2 Pro.
- Vi kör alltid för en plats på pallen, men det är ett stort startfält och många bra chaufförer, konstaterar Veiby.

Rally Portugal inleds på fredag morgon och avslutas med power stage på söndag eftermiddag.
19-05-28 Veiby er klar VM-rally på grus, Rally Portugal 30 mai – 2 juni
Med seier fra Rally Sørland i bagasjen er det en optimistisk Ole Christian Veiby og kart-leser Jonas Andersson som reiser til Portugal for årets 7 VM-runde, og deres første VM-løp på grus med Polo’n. - Jeg gleder meg skikkelig, Rally Portugal blir nok ett bra rally!

Rally Portugal blir det første VM-løpet som kjøres på grus med Polo’n for Ole Christian. Men med ett par test-dager før løpet og seier på Rally Sørland, er Kongsvinger-gutten klar; - Har fått kjørt litt på grus, både litt test ogRally Sørland. NM-runden på Sørlandet var bra, der viste vi bra speed. Selv om underlaget der er ganske hardpakket, nesten som asfalt enkelte steder, så har vi fått testa ut grusoppsett. Seier er dessuten alltid godt for selvtilliten, vi er klare for å kjøre på grus!

Kun to ganger før har Ole Christian kjørt Rally Portugal, begge gangene som junior og i en tohjulstrekker. Både i 2015 og 2016 kjørte Ole Christian inn til femte-plass med en DS3 i JWRC klassen. - Selv om jeg ikke har fått kjørt løpet mer enn to ganger før, så har jeg vært der på gjennomkjøring, så føler at jeg kjenner prøvene ganske bra. Også er det bare nye prøver på fredag, og det er jo bra for oss at det er nytt for alle. Prøvene er ganske røffe, og de er nok ganske oppkjørte når vi kommer på andre gjennomkjøring, så det blir en balanse mellom å kjøre fort og ta vare på bil og dekk.

Etter tre kjørte VM-løp ligger Ole Christian på en tredjeplass sammenlagt i WRC2-klassen. Han ledet klassen totalt etter Rally Sverige, og med ett godt resultat i Portugal er ledelsen innen rekkevidde; - Vi går alltid for en plass på pallen, men det er ett stort start-felt i Portugal og mange gode sjåfører. Målet er allikevel topp 3, og gjerne seier, sånn at vi kan ta tilbake ledelsen sammenlagt i WRC2. Hele 23 biler står på start-lista i WRC2-klassen, hvor vi denne gang også finner nordmannen Henning Solberg.

Løpet starter med 3 helt nye fartsprøver som kjøres to ganger fredag. Dagen avsluttes imidlertid med en kort prøve på rallycross-banen Lousada, som er kjent fra før. Både lørdag og søndag kjøres på kjente veier, og løpet avsluttes med den berømte Fafe Power Stage, kjent for utallige tilskuere og ett heftig hopp.

WRC2 vs WRC2PRO info
Klassen WRC2PRO er for fabrikksteam, og det kåres en egen vinner i klassen. WRC2 er for de som ikke kjører for ett team, og det kåres også her en egen vinner. I begge klassene kjøres det med R5 biler. Det konkurreres under samme regler, bortsett fra på asfalt løpene – hvor WRC2PRO har lov til å ha routenote-crew (safety-crew). Dette er ikke tillatt for de som kjører i WRC2. Team påmeldt i WRC2pro må ha med minst én bil (max to) i minimum 7 løp, og ett av de må være utenfor Europa. Fører/kartleser i WRC2pro får poeng i 8 av løpene de deltar i. I WRC2 kjører man 7 løp, også telles de 6 beste når poengene skal telles opp.

For Rally Portugal er det påmeldt 4 biler/ sjåfører i klassen WRC2pro, her kjører blant annet Mads Østberg. I WRC2-klassen er det påmeldt hele 23 biler/ sjåfører, her kjører Ole Christian Veiby og blant andre Henning Solberg.

Tidsplan Rally Portugal 2019 (lokale tider, Portugal ligger en time etter Norge)
Torsdag 30 mai
09:30 Shakedown Paredes (4,60km)

Fredag 31 mai
08:30 Tyre Fitting Zone Coimbra
09:48 SS1 Lousa 1 (12,35km)
10:32 SS2 Gois 1 (18,78km)
11:20 SS3 Arganil 1 (14,44km)
12:33 Tyre Fitting Zone Arganil
13:51 SS4 Lousa 2 (12,35km)
14:35 SS5 Gois 2 (18,78km)
15:23 SS6 Arganil 2 (14,44km)
19:03 SS7 Lousada (3,36km)
20:10 Service Exponor

Lørdag 1 juni
06:45 Service Exponor
08:38 SS8 Vieira do Minho 1 (20,53km)
09:31 SS9 Cabeceiras de Basto 1 (22,22km)
10:47 SS10 Amarante 1 (37,60km)
12:50 Service Exponor
15:08 SS11 Vieira do Minho 2 (20,53km)
16:01 SS12 Cabaveiras de Basto 2 (22,22km)
17:17 SS13 Amarante 2 (37,60km)
19:15 Service Exponor

Søndag 2 juni
06:50 Service Exponor
08:25 SS14 Montim 1 (8,76km)
09:08 SS15 Fafe 1 (11,18km)
09:49 SS16 Luilhas (11,89km)
10:35 SS17 Montim 2 (8,76km)
12:18 SS18 Fafe 2 Power Stage (11,18km)
13:50 Service Exponor
15:45 Podium Matosinhos
19-05-27 Röjsel mot Junior-VM
23-årige smålandsbosatta dalmasen, Daniel Röjsel, tar nästa steg i karriären efter 7 SM-medaljer inom svensk rallysport.
Även om ekipaget, Daniel Röjsel med co-drivern Mikael Johansson, leder SM i trimmat 2WD inför stundande South Swedish Rally är planerna för 2020 redan satta då start i Junior-VM i rally är målet.
- Egentligen tycker jag, och de personer jag har runt mig, att vi skulle ha tagit klivet ut internationellt tidigare. Rally är lite som att bygga företag. Det händer sällan över en natt, och genom dom 6 år jag har tävlat i sporten har jag hunnit knyta mycket kontakter och fått personer att tro på mig genom både bra resultat och seriöst agerande kring tävlandet. Förhoppningsvis är det tillräckligt många nu för att vi ska få igenom detta, säger Daniel.

I Junior-VM hyr deltagarna en plats i anrika Fordteamet M-Sport, där alla kör identiska tvåhjulsdrivna Ford Fiesta R2t. Elektronikboxarna och även mekanikerna lottas ut inför varje tävling för att göra det så rättvist som möjligt. Fem deltävlingar körs, från Rally Sweden i februari till Wales Rally GB i oktober. Kalendern för 2020 är däremot inte helt fastställt ännu. Daniel räknar med en budget på strax över 2 miljoner kronor för att kunna köra mästerskapet fullt ut med ekonomiska marginaler.
- Sverige har hög klass inom rally där vi ofta hävdar oss bra internationellt. Förra årets junior-världsmästare är svensk och i år har vi två ekipage från landet som är med och slåss om mästerskapet. Serien ser just nu ut att vara den bästa språngbrädan ut till större team i högre klasser, kommenterar Daniel.

Efter Junior-VM, eller J-WRC som det heter, kommer WRC2 följt av WRC, som är själva VM på absolut högsta nivå. I WRC2 finns stora team med fabriksuppbackning och än fler i WRC. Där har eventuella investerare möjlighet till avkastning genom andel av förarnas lön och sponsorkontrakt, något som varit populärt i den starka rallynationen Finland som skördat stora framgångar genom åren.

Vidare information och upplägg för personer och företag som är intresserade av att vara delaktiga kommer framöver.

Mer information om Daniel går att läsa på hemsidan:
19-05-27 Rallye de portugal notebook & Citroën secrets
53rd Rally de Portugal (30 May – 2 June) – Story
Fast-tracked into the world rally championship by Citroën, the now six-time world champion claimed his maiden WRC win in a C4 WRC at the 2010 Rally de Portugal. Having won the rally four times since then, this is also one of the events where he has enjoyed the most success.

On your first appearance at the event in 2009 in a C4 WRC, you showed genuine promise when running sixth overall on the opening leg, before making a mistake the next day…

“Yes, coming over a huge crest, I misunderstood a pace note and unfortunately turned the wrong way! But it’s true that I have always thought the roads on this rally were magnificent. At the time, the rally was held in the Algarve further to the south and I have to say I preferred the road surface there, which was more consistent. In 2015, the event became based in Porto, where the conditions are unfortunately very rough on the second runs. Having said that, the level of enthusiasm among the fans on the stages is unlike anywhere else and that’s good for the sport, so I guess I understand why the event was moved back to the north. With the change this year to the opening leg, which was previously the hardest of the three days on the cars, I hope that the roads will be smoother and faster.”

For a long time, this rally was famous for how the fans moved out of the way of the cars at the very last moment as they flew through the stages. Did you grow up watching footage and dreaming about racing here?

“When I was younger, the only rally that I really followed was Monte-Carlo. When I look at pictures from the past, it was undoubtedly impressive but in the end, I’m very glad I didn’t experience that. I'm pleased that we, both the fans and the crews, now enjoy improved safety thanks to all the efforts made since then.”

In 2010, following your performance in New Zealand, were you expecting to record your maiden win at the next round, in Portugal?

“We had certainly got to the point where we were close to winning, so of course I hoped that we would manage to do it as quickly as possible. However, it’s never all that easy to take the final step. Clearly, securing the win at this rally was a fairly important stage in my career. Afterwards, we kept on improving and making progress. Winning your first rally certainly takes some of the pressure off. You feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. So I have very fond memories of the way in which we managed to secure our maiden win.”

Was it your greatest win?
“I’m lucky in that I have quite a few great wins. It will always be a bit special as it was our first win and undoubtedly one of the most important too, because it enabled us to more relaxed about aiming higher.”

What is your favourite stage on the current itinerary?

“Fafe, in addition to its iconic status and the huge crowds that gather around the jump, is a magnificent stage in terms of driving too. It’s just that nowadays, we all know it by heart, so it tends to feel more and more like track racing than rallying.”

In finishing just 2.4s behind Jari-Matti Latvala at the fifth round of the 2010 season in New Zealand, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia came very close their first WRC win. At the following round in Portugal, they seized the opportunity and confirmed their undeniable potential, as they secured a stylish win.

Whilst Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, also competing in a C4 WRC, swept loose gravel off the road surface on day one, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia took advantage to move clear at the front and build up a healthy 44.8s lead over their experienced team-mates. Back then, however, the regulations stated that on the next two legs, the rally leader was first in the running order and therefore swept the loose gravel off the roads for the rest of the field. At a significant disadvantage for two days, the then talented youngsters nonetheless produced a heroic performance to hold off their team-mates and win the rally by 7.9s, having held the overall lead from SS4 to SS18 and finishing as second best performers with six stage wins!
19-05-13 Nytt bra rally av Mads Østberg og Torstein Eriksen i Citroen C3 R5 i WRC2 Pro i Rally Chile
En teknisk feil gjorde at det allikevel «bare» ble 2. plass. På den 7. fartsetappen lakk all bremsevæske ut, og de siste 2/3 av etappen ble gjort uten bremser. Det ble mange sekunder tapt, og Mads endte helt nede på 11. plass på den etappen. Da var det 2 etapper igjen før de kunne kjøre inn på service, og få fikset bremsene der. En god mekanikerjobb fra Mads og Torstein på transporten mellom prøvene, gjorde at de fikk ordnet bremser foran, blokkerte tilførselen bak, og vant de 2 neste prøvene kun med forbremser.

Alt i alt dette løpet vant Mads og Torstein 12 av 16 etapper.
«Jeg er fornøyd med kjøringen,» forteller Mads. «Skoda har dominert WRC2 og R5 (bilklassen) i all tid, og de hadde sin beste sjåfør her. Vi overtok en bil som har hatt store utfordringer og som ikke har levert noe som helst på low-grip tidligere. Sammen med fabrikken har vi testet oss fram til noe som går fort, uten at vi har nye deler på bilen, bare brukt det vi har. Nye deler kommer senere, og da blir bilen enda bedre. Vi har absolutt tempo til å vinne, og kjører raskest på de fleste fartsetappene, så jeg er ikke fornøyd med at vi blir nummer 2. På siste dag, mens det er full fight mellom Seb Ogier og Seb Loeb om viktige plasseringer, (2. eller 3. plass), er vi mindre enn 1,5 sekunder langsommere pr. km enn beste WRC bil på vårt beste. Det er jeg veldig fornøyd med - bilene tatt i betraktning.» avslutter Mads.

Neste løp for Mads og Torstein er rally Portugal fra 30. mai til 2. juni.

19-05-13 The C3 WRC secures its sixth consecutive podium as Ogier-Ingrassia finish as runner-up!
Once again among the leaders on their debut outing in Chile, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia continued their impressive series of podiums to finish as runners-up after an incredibly intense battle in their C3 WRC, following the improvements made to the car by Citroën Total World Rally Team since Argentina. This result sees them reclaim the championship lead. Increasingly comfortable as the rally progressed, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm ended sixth overall, completing a fine all-round performance by the team.

With more narrow and fast stages to experience for the first time at full pace, today’s final leg was not short on difficulties, but it was made even more taxing by the fine drizzle that had fallen overnight, leaving roads significantly damp. In these testing conditions, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia saw the third-placed crew trim their advantage to just 1.1s on the opening stage. The six-time world champions then produced the kind of performance of which they alone are capable. They pushed throughout the full 18.06 kilometres of Lircay, the rally’s narrowest stage, to claim their second stage win of the weekend, 4.2s ahead of their rival for second place.The French crew then managed the gap to the end, finishing second overall and thus securing their fifth podium in six rounds, following wins at Monte-Carlo and in Mexico, second place in Corsica and third in Argentina.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia also collected four bonus points in the Power Stage, meaning they head back to Europe from Chile with a ten-point lead in the championship standings. This sixth podium finish in as many rounds this season, combined with the sixth position of Lappi-Ferm, also means the Citroën Total World Rally Team stays within touch of second place in the manufacturers’ standings.

On stages in the wooded sections, left damp by rain before the start, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia immediately settled into second position on day one. And although the morning of day two proved more difficult, they were able – in conjunction with the team – to respond perfectly in the afternoon loop, grabbing a stage win and a third fastest time on their way to doubling their advantage over the third-placed crew. Unfortunately, they were hampered by the late arrival of fog and rain on the final stage of the day, allowing their rivals back into the mix ahead of the short final leg.

After a cautious, focused start to the race, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm had closed to within 10.3s of fifth place with the third fastest time on yesterday’s final stage. They confirmed their growing confidence and improved form today, grabbing a fifth and a fourth fastest time. Their splits on the Power Stage were also very promising until a minor error dashed their hopes of any bonus points. They nonetheless finished sixth overall. They can take heart from an encouraging result, one which they will hope to build on, so they can start the next round in Portugal in the better shape.

Engaged in a close fight for the WRC2 Pro class win until a minor brake issue cost them time on Saturday morning’s loop, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen had to settle for second place in the end. The Norwegians nonetheless claimed twelve stage wins out a total of sixteen, demonstrating the competitiveness of the C3 R5 once again.

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“This podium further confirms our very good start to the season. We have been very consistent and the points are good for the championship. It wasn't an easy weekend, however, even though things moved in the right direction after Saturday’s mid-leg service. We got the best out of the C3 WRC once again. We now need to develop the car even more so that we can be more competitive in low-grip situations.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“We had a difficult start, but we managed to make progress bit by bit. We also managed to improve the set-up of the C3 WRC with the team and our pace started to be pretty decent today. I really hope that we can keep going forward like this in our forthcoming tests. In any case, it ended up being a positive weekend in terms of my confidence.”

What is your assessment of this sixth round?
Clearly, it was a positive weekend, with the fine second place secured by Sébastien and Julien. They produced another attacking performance, on these totally new stages, which needed quite a bit of getting used to. Their perseverance was rewarded with a good result that sees them back at the top of the standings. The other cause for satisfaction is the feeling that Esapekka and Janne have found again. They put together a smart, mature performance to finish the race, after gradually building their pace. It certainly augurs well for the rest of the year, especially as we now start a run of events that they know better. I think we also showed that we were able to react and introduce a few minor upgrades, which worked, in the fairly narrow window available between Argentina and Chile. Having said that, we are fully aware that these changes are not enough as yet to fight with the fastest crews in all conditions, and we are going to step up our efforts in order to keep improving.

What did you think of this first edition of Rally Chile in the WRC?
I think the event has been a successful addition to the championship! Having driven on the stages in recce, I have to say they really are very attractive. The roads are fast, undulating but also highly varied. We have also been very warmly welcomed by the local fans. They were especially noisy and enthusiastic at the ceremonial start and at the finish, but were also out in big numbers on the stages and in the service park.

In finishing 4.2s ahead and all but securing second place on Sunday morning on Lircay (SS14), the narrowest stage of the rally, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again showed their ability to take incredibly precise pace notes, as well as their talent for striking at just the right moment. The number 1 C3 WRC driver explained…

“Obviously, with Julien, we give our all on every stage, that goes without saying. Although we’re not always able to compete with the fastest crews on technical stages and in low-grip conditions, I knew that SS14 and SS15 were the kind of stages that suited us best. They were fast – in fact, the average speeds were above 100kph for the first time this weekend – and we know that the C3 WRC performs well in conditions like this so we couldn't afford to miss this opportunity! Especially as we had just dropped four seconds on the opening stage of the day. We had to hit back and that’s exactly what we did.”
19-05-13 Dominant Rally Chile victory boosts Ott Tänak’s WRC title challenge
Ott Tänak reignited his FIA World Rally Championship title bid with victory at the inaugural Copec Rally Chile on Sunday afternoon. The Estonian led from the second of the 16 speed tests on Friday morning in a Toyota Yaris. He measured his pace on wet, slippery and foggy forest tracks to claim his second win of the season by 23.1sec from Sébastien Ogier.

Victory promoted him to second in the drivers’ standings after disappointing results at the previous two rounds. He lies 10 points behind new leader Ogier, who replaced Thierry Neuville at the top as the championship approaches its midpoint.

Neuville lies two points further adrift after his huge rally-ending crash yesterday. All three have now scored two wins each this season.

Aside from an overshoot in the first speed test, Tänak was firmly in control, quickly getting to grips with the tricky conditions and new pace notes required for Chile’s WRC debut. A final charge ensured maximum bonus points from the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage.

“It was a very difficult and demanding weekend and I needed a lot of focus and energy to be perfect,” he said. “We weren’t on the limit all the time. We’ve had two setbacks in a row before this where we lost the rally lead, but we proved we’re back in the fight.”

Ogier locked horns with fellow multi-world champion Sébastien Loeb in a furious fight for second. Driving a Hyundai i20 for the first time on gravel, Loeb closed to within 1.1sec of Ogier this morning before the Citroen C3 driver battled back to finish 7.1sec clear.

Ogier’s Power Stage drive was handicapped when a fire extinguisher went off, leaving the Frenchman light-headed by the end of the 12.52km test.

Elfyn Evans eased through the short final leg to claim fourth in a Ford Fiesta, more than a minute adrift of Loeb. Team-mate Teemu Suninen held off Esapekka Lappi to secure fifth, his cause aided when Lappi spun his C3 in the final stage.

The championship returns to Europe later this month for the first of two hot weather gravel road fixtures there. Vodafone Rally de Portugal is based in Matosinhos, Porto, on 30 May - 2 June.

Final positions
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 3hr 15min 53.8sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +23.1sec
3. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +30.2sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +1min 36.7sec
5. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +3min 15.6sec
6. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Citroën C3 +3min 45.4sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 6 of 14)
1. S Ogier 122pts
2. O Tänak 112pts
3. T Neuville 110pts

19-05-12 Tänak controls Rally Chile as WRC leader Neuville escapes huge crash
The Estonian driver extends his lead after a dramatic Saturday in Chile. Ott Tänak stayed on course for his second FIA World Rally Championship victory of the season after extending his lead at Copec Rally Chile on Saturday.

With one leg remaining, he led Sébastien Ogier by 30.3sec. A charging Sébastien Loeb rolled back the years to close to within 5.1sec of fellow Frenchman Ogier after a stirring drive on the fast gravel tracks.

Series leader Thierry Neuville suffered a huge blow after a violent crash in his Hyundai i20. His car was destroyed when it rolled seven times after drifting wide in a fast corner, but the Belgian and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul escaped with bruising. Neuville had been third.

Tänak won two of the six speed tests, covering 121.16km, in his Toyota Yaris, keeping Ogier at arm’s length all day.

“It was a tough day and in these kind of conditions it’s difficult to control anything. I tried to find a good rhythm but in the last stage, with fog, rain and the wrong tyres, everything was wrong. We made it through and the gap is good, but we need to focus tomorrow,” he said.

Ogier wanted more pace from his Citroën C3 during the morning. He gambled with tyre choice in the afternoon and was happier with his speed, although the bad weather in the final stage allowed nine-time world champion Loeb to close in.

Loeb, driving an i20 on gravel for the first time, was the quickest driver today. He won two stages and only finished outside the top-three times once as he gained in confidence to charge from an overnight sixth.

He was locked in battle with Jari-Matti Latvala, but the Finn’s impressive drive came to a sad end when he hit a rock in the final test and broke his Yaris’s driveshaft. He is expected to restart tomorrow.

Elfyn Evans ended half a minute behind Loeb in fourth in his Ford Fiesta. He lacked stability in the high-speed sections but had almost two minutes in hand over young team-mate Teemu Suninen, who moved up from ninth to fifth. Esapekka Lappi had an improved day in his C3 to claim sixth.

Sunday’s final leg is the shortest, with four stages covering 58.38km near host city Concepción. Two runs through the Bio Bió test, the second of which forms the Wolf Power Stage and offers bonus points to the fastest five drivers, sandwich two longer tests.

Leading positions after leg 2
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 2hr 41min 05.5sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +30.3sec
3. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +35.4sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +1min 06.3sec
5. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +3min 03.0sec
6. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Citroën C3 +3min 13.3sec
19-05-12 The C3 WRC remains second ahead of final sprint
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia had increased their advantage over the third-placed crew, winning one stage during the afternoon loop, when fog and rain led to them losing time on the final test, but they nonetheless held onto their second place. Despite a less than ideal position in the running order, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made steady progress as they moved up into sixth overall.

Contested on wider, faster roads than on the opening leg, day two of Rally Chile revealed a new side to the local difficulties. With the roads offering increasing grip as more cars completed the stages, the running order proved to be a decisive factor.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again made the most of the conditions. After a solid, consistent opening loop, the six-time world champions then upped their game in the afternoon, with a smart call on tyre choice (three hard Michelin tyres and two mediums compared with five hards for their rivals) and improved set-up with the team on the C3 WRC. A stage win and a third fastest time followed, enabling them to consolidate their second position, whilst relegating their closest rival from being 6.4s behind this morning to trailing by more than twelve seconds. Unfortunately, on the final stage of the day, fog and rain moved over the area just as they were about to set off. Their lead was therefore cut to 5.1s going into tomorrow’s final leg.

Running second and therefore forced to act as road sweepers for those further down the order, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm nonetheless saw their feeling in the C3 WRC improve as they racked up more miles in the car. Keeping out of trouble, they moved up into sixth position, having started the day tenth overall, with a controlled, intelligent performance on today’s leg. After closing to within just 10.3s of the crew ahead of them with a third fastest time on the day’s final test, they now have fifth place in their sights. The places gained today mean they will be fourth on the road tomorrow, a starting position that should provide them with better conditions to express themselves on roads that they describe as being the ones they are most looking forward to this weekend.

Tomorrow’s 58.38km-long (four stages) final leg will see the crews fight it out once again on fast, narrow roads, with plenty of blind crests.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“We’re pleased to see Sébastien and Julien remain in second position this evening after another tough day, which they managed very well. The C3 WRC was better suited to them in the afternoon loop of stages, which suggests that our efforts continue to move things in the right direction, although we clearly still have some work to do. I'm also pleased to see Esapekka and Janne gradually get the feeling in the car again and set times that reflect more accurately their undeniable potential. As usual, we’ll keep fighting hard right to the end.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I hoped for more this morning, but the second loop went better. This was mainly due to the substantial changes made during the mid-leg service, although the grip was also naturally better too. We were a bit unlucky on the final stage with the fog and rain, which cost us about ten seconds. Tomorrow’s stages look like being difficult as well, with the narrowest test of the weekend and lots of loose gravel on the Power Stage.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I'm pleased that my confidence behind the wheel improved as we completed more kilometres, and with the adjustments made to the set-up of my C3 WRC. The afternoon loop went better than the morning, and I’m beginning to enjoy it a bit more. I hope we can keep it up tomorrow, without taking any unnecessary risks. Keep it clean and tidy, and remain consistent.”

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:41:05.5
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +30.3
3. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +35.4
4. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:06.3
5. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:03.0
6. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +3:13.3
7. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:43.4
8. Rovanperä / Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) +6:33.2
9. Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +7:09.3
10. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 7:21.9
19-05-11 The Estonian builds a big lead after a strong perfomance on Friday afternoon
Ott Tänak shrugged aside an early error to hold a comfortable lead at the end of Friday’s fascinating opening leg of Copec Rally Chile. The Toyota Yaris driver won three of the six speed tests on slippery forest roads south of Concepción to head Sébastien Ogier by 22.4sec. Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was a further 6.4sec back in third.

Inconsistent grip and poor visibility caused by bright sunshine piercing the dense tree canopy ensured a demanding welcome for drivers at the FIA World Rally Championship’s first visit to Chile.

They also struggled for confidence with brand-new pace notes, which proved far from accurate in many cases after being made in thick fog.

Tänak overshot a corner and stalled his engine at a muddy bridge in the opening speed test but won the next test to grab the lead.

He dominated the afternoon to win both dirt road tests in a car that handled better after mid-leg changes, stretching his lead from a handful of seconds to almost half a minute.

“At lunchtime the engineers did a good job with the car. The feeling improved and the confidence is there. It won’t be easy tomorrow, but we’ll try to keep focused and hopefully we can keep our rhythm,” he said.

Ogier made an identical error in the opening special stage, but the Frenchman quickly grabbed second. He edged further clear this afternoon on drier roads, enjoying better performance from his Citroën C3 than in Argentina a fortnight ago.

Latvala had a rollercoaster day. The Finn shared the fastest time in the opening test with Kris Meeke but several mistakes, culminating in a final stage engine stall when on course for fastest time, kept him down in third.

Championship leader Thierry Neuville held fourth in a Hyundai i20, only 0.7sec behind. His morning push was interrupted when a red flag, issued for safety reasons, halted his attack on the second stage but a notional time kept him in the hunt.

Meeke’s day worsened after a strong opening test. He lacked confidence and slid to fifth in his Yaris, 2.2sec clear of nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb. Loeb got to grips with his i20 on his gravel debut in the car and climbed to sixth after a powerful afternoon.

Saturday’s action is based in similar territory south of Concepción, sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Biobió river. Two identical loops of three speed tests, covering a mix of forest tracks and more open roads are drive morning and afternoon, covering 121.16km.

Leading positions after leg 1:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 1hr 24min 12.8sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +22.4sec
3. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +28.8sec
4. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +29.5sec
5. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +46.5sec
6. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +48.7sec
19-05-11 Ogier-Ingrassia grab second in the C3 WRC
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced a fine display on day one of Rally Chile, ending Friday’s stages in second place. They are therefore ideally placed going into tomorrow’s second leg, where road order is expected to play a decisive role. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made it back to service this evening in tenth position, having spent the day building confidence and upping their pace bit by bit.

Described by the drivers as a subtle mix of Finland, Wales GB and Australia, this first ever Rally Chile served up a very tricky opening leg. The stages in the wooded sections, left damp by rain before the start, were especially slippery in the sections deprived of any sunshine.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia made a solid start with the fourth fastest time on SS1, just 2.6s off the pace despite a minor overshoot, immediately putting themselves among the frontrunners. Their early pace reflected the quality of the work done in recce by the six-time world champions on these roads, which are new to everyone. The second stage tackled straight afterwards on El Puma (30.72km), the longest test of the weekend, saw them move up into second position. They went on to strengthen their hold on second throughout the day, despite the poor visibility in the dense forests, with dazzling sunshine one minute and gloomy, dark shadows the next. This solid opening leg means the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s French crew will have one of the most favourable starting positions (10th) tomorrow, on stages that are expected to be slightly quicker than today.

Keen to get their bearings back after their misfortune in Argentina, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm did not get off to the kind of start they were hoping for, with a spin on SS1 forcing them to use reverse gear. They then tried to gradually find their marks in the C3 WRC, whilst progressively increasing their pace with each stage, ending day one in tenth place.

Their classification means, however, that the Finnish pair will start tomorrow’s 121.16km-long leg (six stages) in second position, where roads are widely expected to clean more significantly than on the other legs.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Sébastien and Julien have had a pretty good first day, despite the tricky, low-grip conditions, thus confirming their ability to take effective pace notes in just two runs and adapt to unfamiliar road profiles. It also shows that the team has worked well to provide them with a better-prepared C3 WRC than in Argentina. We are now going to try and keep up this momentum, so they can continue to fight at the front. As regards Esapekka and Janne, they need more miles under their belt to be able to express their full potential. We’re doing everything we can to support them as effectively as possible as they rebuild their confidence. Their position in the standings is nonetheless consistent with that of the crews that have the same level of experience.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a tricky first leg, so I'm pleased to have completed it without making any significant mistakes and having given it everything I have. It was difficult to match Ott’s pace this afternoon, but we'll be back fighting tomorrow. The stages will be quicker, so I hope that will suit us a bit more. In any case, I’m pleased with the improvements made to my C3 WRC in the short timeframe available after Argentina.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Obviously, I was hoping for more from today’s opening leg, but it was a really complicated day for many of us. My pace and my confidence in the car were better in the afternoon, though.”

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:24:12.8
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +22.4
3. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +28.8
4. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +29.5
5. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 46.5
6. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +48.7
7. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:01.4
8. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:08.1
3. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:09.1
10. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +2:18.3
19-05-09 Excitement builds as Chile becomes 32nd country to host a WRC round
Neuville chases a hat-trick of wins to extend lead at top of overall standings. Chile’s graduation this week as the 32nd country to host an FIA World Rally Championship round adds an intriguing new aspect to an already captivating title battle.

Thierry Neuville chases a hat-trick of wins to extend his 10-point series lead after success in Corsica and Argentina. But Copec Rally Chile’s debut throws up a raft of questions and challenges that will only start to be answered when the action begins on Friday (10 May).

One thing is certain. This sixth round will be fought on a level playing field as none of the front-running drivers have previous experience of the dirt road speed tests. Tuesday’s initial recce day marked the first opportunity to view them other than in briefing videos.

It placed a huge emphasis on accuracy and spotting potential hazards, as crews had just two passes of each stage in which to compile new pace notes.

The 16 fast and smooth speed tests are based south of the port city of Concepción, mostly on forest tracks sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the imposing Rio Biobió, Chile’s second biggest river. Despite heavy rain last week, they are in good condition.

Neuville’s winning run has left the Belgian full of confidence but he admits Chile is a step into the unknown.
“It’s hard to set too many expectations when it promises to be a rally of surprise. We only discovered the stages for the first time during the recce but it will be a nice challenge. A lot of work awaits us, but I’m looking forward to it,” said the Hyundai i20 pilot.

Reigning world champion Sébastien Ogier has demanded more speed from his Citroën C3 than on the rocky and rugged roads in Argentina two weeks ago, when the Frenchman acknowledged he was lucky to snatch third place.

“I hope we’ll have slightly better performance here. From what I can tell by watching the videos available, the roads do seem really quite different to those we had in Argentina. The stages seem to be fairly flowing and fast,” he said.

Disappointing results on the last two rounds have relegated Ott Tänak from the lead to third, 28 points adrift of Neuville. However, the Toyota Yaris driver starts as many people’s favourite for a second win of the year.

The action starts on Friday morning and competitors face 304.81km of competition before the finish in Concepción on Sunday afternoon.
19-05-03 The C3 WRC tastes Chile for first time
Round six of the season, the third on gravel after Mexico and Argentina, introduces the C3 WRC to Chile, which hosts a world rally championship event for the very first time. With Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm, Citroën Total World Rally Team is well equipped to tackle this brand new challenge successfully.

Always very comfortable when tackling stages for the first time, after just two runs in recce, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will be aiming to rack up their fifth podium of the season at this new round, adding to the overall wins at Monte-Carlo and in Mexico and top-three finishes in Corsica (2nd) and Argentina (3rd). Although they are still fine-tuning certain points with the team as they adapt to the C3 WRC, the win in Mexico and the podium in Argentina, along with ten stage wins set at these two events, confirm that they are already comfortable in the car on gravel. Currently occupying the runners-up spot in the championship standings, they will be starting second on the road on day one. This position should provide them with the beginnings of a line to follow if conditions are dry, and may offer a significant advantage if it rains.

Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm still need to rack up more miles in the C3 WRC on this surface, which is why their approach will be about building their pace during the event, whilst also gradually showing the full extent of their undeniable potential. For once, the Finnish pair, who are one of the least experienced crews in the championship, will not be at a disadvantage compared with their rivals as regards knowledge of the roads. Starting eighth on Friday’s leg – provided the weather stays dry – also means that the roads will be swept clear of loose gravel and dust by those higher up the running order, thus enabling them to get their bearings more quickly.

As testing is forbidden outside of Europe, the quick transition from Argentina to Chile ruled out the option of holding any more tests. However, Citroën Total World Rally Team also prepared for Chile during the four-day test session it held in Portugal ahead of both South American rounds. The road surfaces are nonetheless somewhat different between Argentina and Chile, so Citroën’s engineers used all of the information available to them to adapt the basic set-up of the C3 WRC. They will also be looking to use the shakedown, due to be held on representative roads, to confirm the direction taken.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“There’s always something exciting about competing at a rally for the first time. This one looks like it is going to be held on some great roads, which should make for a highly unpredictable race, with the crews all on an equal footing as regards experience. Recce will be critical, as will our ability to adjust our basic set-up. And then there’s the weather, which could well play a key role. But we are determined to provide the crews with the best C3 WRC possible so that we can grab our sixth consecutive podium of the year in Chile.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“From what I can tell by watching the videos available, the roads do seem really quite different to those we had in Argentina. The stages seem to be fairly flowing and fast, somewhat reminiscent of the ones you get at Wales Rally GB with all these sections through the undergrowth. I hope we’ll have slightly better performance here. There is still a significant layer of fine gravel on the road surface, which may make life complicated for the early runners. We’ll have to see whether the rain that has fallen recently limits the extent to which the roads clean or not.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“After a tough start to the season, I'm determined to get back on track in Chile and come away with a decent result, and regain confidence behind the wheel step by step. I hope that the weather will be kind to us on Friday. If it stays dry, the roads are likely to clean. That would enable us to make the most of being down the running order and get off to the ideal start. The stages look really nice and interesting. The road surfaces look good, or at least they did when they were filmed for the videos provided by the rally organisers.”

16 timed stages covering a total of 304.81 km
30.72 km on El Puma, the longest stage of the rally, held twice on Friday’s leg
32nd Chile is the thirty-second host country in the history of the world rally championship
63 the high number of entries, compared with 23 and 25 respectively in Mexico and Argentina this year

Although the rally will be based in the coastal city of Concepción (over 220,000 inhabitants), the stages will be mainly held in the forests located to the south between the Pacific coast and the Rio Biobio, the country’s second longest river.

The roads are likely to clean if the weather stays dry, in which case the timed stages are expected to be fairly flowing and fast. However, the weather may – as happened in Argentina – disrupt matters, the month of May being typically one of the wettest in this part of Chile.

The action starts on Friday with the longest leg of the weekend, over a competitive distance of 125.27 kilometres and featuring two runs on El Puma, the rally’s longest stage.

Even more so than usual, recce and the work done afterwards using the on-board footage, may well prove crucial. Needing to take paces notes for each of the three hundred and five kilometres covered during the weekend, the crews must maintain maximum concentration in order to describe the roads precisely and consistently, in just two runs at limited speed. The crews that manage do this and who are then able to really go for it on the first competitive runs, showing complete faith in their notes, may create even bigger gaps than usual.

10.00am: Shakedown (6,45 km)

6.30am: Start day 1
8.00am: SS 1 – El Pinar 1 (17,11 km)
9.33am: SS 2 – El Puma 1 (30,72 km)
10/36am: SS 3 – Espigado 1 (22,26 km)
12.51pm: Service A (Talcahuano – 40 mins)
3.24pm: SS 4 – El Puma 2 (30,72 km)
4.27pm: SS 5 – Espigado 2 (22,26 km)
6.40pm: SS 6 – Concepcion – Bicentenario (2,20 km)
7.15pm: Flexi service B (Talcahuano – 45 mins)

6.30am: Start & service C (Talcahuano – 15 mins)
8.08am: SS 7 – Rio Lia 1 (20,90 km)
9.08am: SS 8 – Maria Las Cruces 1 (23,09 km)
10.20am: SS 9 – Pelun 1 (16,59 km)
12.05pm: Service D (Talcahuano – 40 mins)
2.08pm: SS 10 – Rio Lia 2 (20,90 km)
3.08pm: SS 11 – Maria Las Cruces 2 (23,09 km)
4.20pm: SS 12 – Pelun 2 (16,59 km)
5.45pm: Flexi service E (Talcahuano – 45 mins)

7.00am: Start & service F (Talcahuano – 15 mins)
8.08am: SS 13 – Bio Bio 1 (12,52 km)
9.30am: SS 14 – Lircay (18,06 km)
10.20am: SS 15 – San Nicolàs (15,28 km)
12.18pm: SS 16 – Bio Bio 2 Power Stage (12,52 km)
1.15pm: Finish (Talcahuano)
19-04-28 Neuville increases WRC lead to 10 points with Rally Argentina win
Belgian cruises to victory with Mikkelsen second and title rival Ogier third. Thierry Neuville extended his FIA World Rally Championship lead to 10 points by completing back-to-back wins at Xion Rally Argentina on Sunday afternoon. Neuville, who moved into the series lead with victory in France last month, finished 48.4sec clear of Hyundai i20 team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen.

He seized the lead late in Friday’s rain-soaked opening leg when a broken driveshaft sent Ott Tänak into a time-consuming spin. He fended off the hard-charging Estonian on Saturday before an alternator problem ended Tänak’s hopes for good and left Neuville clear.

The Belgian eased through Sunday’s final three speed tests in the rough and rugged Traslasierra Mountains, near host town Villa Carlos Paz, to secure his second Argentine win in three seasons.

“I’m feeling great and we can be proud of what we’ve done. We had a fantastic car all weekend and I felt very comfortable. The entire team is working hard and we can see the progress. The result is good for the championship but upcoming events could be tougher,” he said.

Second for Mikkelsen at this fifth round of 14 represented a welcome change of form for the Norwegian. It was his first podium since Sweden in February 2018, coming on his return to the team after being axed for the previous round.

Sébastien Ogier snatched third in a Citroën C3, a further 16.4sec behind, in a dramatic finale in the iconic El Condór speed test. He overhauled Kris Meeke who struggled with a puncture in his Toyota Yaris for the final 5km. The gap between them was 1.4sec.

Ogier’s charge through El Condór also earned maximum bonus points in the Wolf Power Stage.

Meeke had earlier fought back after a 10sec time penalty late on Saturday for taking the wrong route demoted him to fifth from a podium place. The fired-up Briton quickly saw off Dani Sordo and Ogier this morning to reclaim third, only to fall back again.

It was a disappointing day for Spaniard Sordo. The i20 driver struggled for pace and slipped from fourth to sixth. He was also demoted by Jari-Matti Latvala, the Finn taking fifth in a Yaris on his 200th WRC start.

The championship remains in South America for round six. Copec Rally Chile makes its first appearance in the WRC on May 8-12. The gravel road encounter is based in Concepción.

Final positions:
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 3hr 20min 54.6sec
2. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +48.4sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +1min 04.8sec
4. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +1min 06.2sec
5. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +1min 21.1sec
6. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +1min 26.7sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 5 of 14)
1. T Neuville 110pts
2. S Ogier 100pts
3. O Tänak 82pts

19-04-28 A fifth consecutive podium for the C3 WRC as Ogier-Ingrassia finish third in Argentina
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced another heroic performance to claim their fourth podium of the season and Citroën Total World Rally Team’s fifth in 2019, after a nail-biting finish on the final stage!

After a ten-second penalty was handed to their direct rivals for the final podium place by the rally organisers late last night for failing to follow the racing route on one of Saturday’s stages, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia went into today’s final leg in third position. They held a slim 6.0s lead as they prepared to tackle the very rough stages of El Condor and Giulio Cesare. Displaying their famous never-say-die attitude, the six-time world champions put up a determined fight in the C3 WRC, whilst not forgetting the importance of ensuring they secured big points for the championship. Their efforts were rewarded in the end: victory on the Power Stage, their third stage win of the weekend, saw them hang onto the final podium spot by just 1.4s!

Sébastien and Julien’s third position, combined with the five bonus points earned on the Power Stage, means they consolidated their hold on second place in the world championship, ten points behind the leaders. This is their fourth podium this year, after winning in Monte-Carlo and Mexico, and finishing as runners-up in Corsica. It is also the fifth time in as many events this season that Citroën Total World Rally Team has finished in the top three.

Despite the difficult, changeable grip conditions, particularly on the opening day after the heavy rain that fell prior to the event, the French crew made an excellent start, consistently among the frontrunners to end the leg second overall, just 11.9s behind the leaders. Day two proved to be trickier. Confused about which route to take on the morning loop (SS11) by a gate left open – whereas the roadbook indicated it was meant to be closed – Sébastien and Julien hesitated and ended up damaging the power steering of their C3 WRC when they hit the gate. They therefore dropped back to sixth position, 21.8s adrift of the podium. They then fought back like the champions they are on the second loop, claiming two stage wins on their way to fourth overall, keeping them in with a good chance of finishing on the podium going into the final day.

After making a decent start with a fifth fastest time on the rally’s first proper stage (SS2), Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were unfortunately then held up by a puncture immediately afterwards (SS4) when they hit a bank following a crest. The Finnish pair were gradually upping their pace on what was only their second appearance in Argentina – as could be seen in their promising split times – when a tyre came loose following a puncture, rolling the car (SS8) and forcing them to retire from the rally on the opening leg.

Competing in the WRC2 Pro class in a C3 R5, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen claimed their second consecutive category win after Rally Sweden, whilst also amassing a handsome tally of ten stage wins from the overall total of seventeen contested. Yet further evidence of the competitiveness of Citroën Racing’s flagship customer racing product on the very demanding Argentinian roads, where the C3 R5 was competing for the first time.

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It’s a pretty good result in terms of points, but we can't be pleased with our out-and-out performance level. There are some conditions, like those we saw in Mexico or here on the second runs, where we are fairly competitive. But we have to improve when there is less grip or when the road is more technical. I’m pleased to see our persistence rewarded, because once again this weekend we pushed as hard as possible right to the end.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Despite not knowing the roads here particularly well, I was obviously hoping for a better outcome from this round. But after we had picked up a puncture, I was caught out when the tyre suddenly came loose. This caused the car to understeer, we hit a bank at the side of the road and rolled the car. Obviously, I'm sorry for the team, but after a few days’ rest with my family, Janne and I will back raring to go and have the best Rally Chile possible, where we’ll all be on an equal footing in terms of experience.”

How do you assess your performance in Argentina?
It was clearly a tough weekend, one that we can't be satisfied with. The points for third place and from the Power Stage are fairly positive as regards the championship, but we lacked pace on these roads. The result is down in large part to Sébastien and Julien’s relentless commitment and persistence. Meanwhile, Esapekka and Janne deserved at least to make it to the end of the rally, in order to keep adding to their experience. Perhaps in future they will need to manage a puncture differently, but we are still 200% behind them so that they can finally get back on the right track in Chile.

How are you intending to tackle the transition to Rally Chile?

First of all, we’ll be shipping the backup C3 WRC out to Chile for Esapekka and Janne, so that they will have a completely new car for the event. Although we have relatively little time, we are also going to get to work on improving the C3 WRC as much as possible in clearly identified conditions, and define the best set-up for the rally. It’s a new event for everyone, and will also be fairly different to what we experienced this weekend. In any case, we are all fired up to keep fighting as hard as possible for the championship.

Jean-Luc Gaucher, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s Chief mechanic, was the man in charge of coordinating Saturday’s mid-leg service, during which the Citroën mechanics repaired the stricken number 1 C3 WRC. He told us about how they took just forty minutes to repair the car’s power steering, broken by the French crew in a minor impact.

“Actually, we had a whole load of parts to replace. The entire power steering, of course, but also the gearbox, the hydraulic unit and the clutch. Generally speaking, these sorts of repairs need careful planning beforehand, so that everyone knows precisely what order to do things in and so that everything goes smoothly once you get started. Given that we only had one car left in the race at that point, we could have all eight of our mechanics involved, but on the other hand, we were limited by the physical space to four people working on the front on the car, in the critical area. Although we train for this kind of situation, it’s always satisfying to see things work out when it’s for real. It was important to get the car working again as quickly as possible, because when you work on the hydraulics, the start-up procedure takes quite a bit of time, but that’s precisely what we managed to do. After a long, difficult service like this, there’s always a niggling fear that you might have missed something, so it was nice – and reassuring – for all of us to see Sébastien and Julien grab two consecutive stage wins straight afterwards!”

1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:20:54.6
2. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +48.4
3. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:04.8
4. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:06.2
5. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:21.1
6. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:26.7
7. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:57.3
8. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +14:24.8
9. Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +14:28.5

1. Thierry Neuville – 110 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 100 points
3. Ott Tänak – 82 points
4. Kris Meeke – 54 points
5. Elfyn Evans – 43 points
6. Andreas Mikkelsen – 30 points
7. Jari-Matti Latvala – 28 points
8. Esapekka Lappi – 26 points
9. Dani Sordo – 26 points
10. Sébastien Loeb – 22 points

1. Hyundai WRT – 157 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 120 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 117 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 78 points
19-04-28 Sterk 2 plass til Andreas Mikkelsen i Rally Argentina
Endelig klaffet alt for Andreas Mikkelsen og kartleser Anders Jaeger-Amland, som i dag kjørte inn til en sterk og etterlengtet andre plass i Rally Argentina. «Veldig deilig med denne andreplassen nå, det føles vel egentlig som en seier. Tusen takk til hele teamet for at de leverer en så fantastisk bil og stort takk til Anders for perfekt jobbing, som alltid!»

Sammen med team-kollega og venn Thierry Neuville, sørget Andreas for at det ble dobbelt podium i Argentina for Hyundai Motorsport. Thierry vant, mens Andreas fulgte opp med en strålende andre plass, etter 3 dager med kjøring ved foten av Andes-fjellene i Argentina. Andreas og Anders klatret til andre plass lørdag ettermiddag, og beholdt den plasseringen helt til mål.

«Utrolig godt at dette resultatet kom nå, det føles som om jeg har fjernet 200kg fra skuldrene. Vi har jobbet hardt og målbevisst den siste tiden, men med mye uflaks, så føles veldig deilig at ett bra resultat endelig kom nå. Dette resultatet betyr mye for selvtilliten og jeg håper virkelig at vi er i flytsonen nå for å levere toppresultater over tid. Følelsen med bilen har vært fantastisk god hele helgen, jeg føler at vi er i ett nå og da er det egentlig ganske enkelt å kjøre rally.»

Med en start-posisjon langt bak i feltet, lå alt til rette for en god start i Argentina for Andreas. Men 48 timer med non-stop regn gjorde at forholdene på prøvene forandret seg ganske betraktelig etter gjennomkjøringen tirsdag og onsdag. Fredagens prøver var så gjørmete og glatte de fleste førerne sa de følte seg som passasjerer i egen bil, og at de holdt på å kjøre av til og med på rett strekkene. Med en noe ugunstig startposisjon for fredag, så det ikke lyst ut for Andreas og Anders, men på tross av å starte sist, så kjørte de inn til flere gode tider og satte til og med raskeste tid på SS5.

«Fredag var en bra dag, sett bort i fra en punktering, så føler jeg vi kunne ikke gjort så mye mer. På ettermiddagen var det vanskelig med vår startposisjon, jeg pushet alt det jeg kunne men fortsatt var vi langt bak. Men jeg var rask i forhold til de som var rundt meg, og det tyder jo på at vi har gjort en bra jobb tross alt.»

Lørdag kom solskinnet, med veldig raske prøver over den argentinske pampasen og flat-out på lange rettstrekker over flere hundre meter. Andreas og Anders sikret seg 2 etappeseire, og avsluttet dagen på andre plass totalt.

«En utrolig bra dag! Tapte litt tid på morgen-loopen, men studerte veldig nøye tilbake på service hvor vi hadde tapt og hva vi skulle endre på for å få bedre tempo. Og det klarte vi jo absolutt! Nå føles alt veldig bra, bilen fungerer akkurat sånn som jeg vil, og jeg sitter og kjører med ett stor smil.»

3 legendariske fartsprøver avsluttet Rally Argentina søndag, El Condor og Mina Clavero. Mer en 75.000 tilskuere har campet ute i flere dager for å få med seg dette, og de er alle med på å skape en fantastisk ramme rundt Rally Argentina.

«Jeg håper jeg får beholde den godfølelsen nå inn mot Chile og at vi kan leverer ett nytt toppresultat der!»

VM-sirkuset holder seg i sør-amerika, og neste løp er Rally Chile 9 – 12 mai.

Resultat Rally Argentina 2019
1 Neuville
2 Mikkelsen +48,4
3 Ogier +1.04,8
4 Meeke +1.06,2
5 Latvala +1.21,1
6 Sordo +1.26,7
19-04-28 Belgian Neuville clear after Tänak exits on Saturday at Rally Argentina
Championship leader extends lead over rivals heading into Sunday finale. Thierry Neuville held a comfortable lead at the end of Saturday’s second leg of Xion Rally Argentina after a troubled day for closest rivals Ott Tänak and Sébastien Ogier.

He ended the longest leg of this fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship with a 45.7sec advantage over Hyundai i20 team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen on a stellar day for the Korean manufacturer.

Neuville fended off a charging Tänak this morning after the Estonian made light work of demoting Ogier and climbing to second. His lead was slashed to less than seven seconds, but Tänak's attack ended when his Toyota Yaris stopped with alternator problems.

Earlier Ogier broke his Citroën C3's power steering after hitting a stone gate pillar when he became confused over which route to follow at a cattle grid. He dropped almost a minute and their demise left Neuville on course for a second straight WRC win.

"We can start using the word comfortable for the gap we have, but tomorrow's stages are far from comfortable. They are rough, tricky and narrow so we need to keep our concentration and rhythm. We just need to keep it calm and in the middle of the road," said Neuville.

The water and mud of yesterday was gone, replaced by blue skies and bright sunshine. The fast pampas roads in the Punilla Valley dried quickly, but grip was still inconsistent through the early morning speed tests until temperatures reached 23°C.

Mikkelsen enjoyed his best day for some time. He won two speed tests and capitalised on the problems of others, despite swiping a bank and having to stem a gearbox oil leak.

Kris Meeke headed a closely-packed trio in third, a further 17.5sec behind. He lost 20sec this morning after brake problems in his Yaris. He struggled to slow the car entering a watersplash and hit the same bank as Mikkelsen, limping through the next test with a broken rear wheel.

After plunging to sixth, a fired-up Ogier won two of the afternoon's three stages to move up to fourth, 6.0sec clear of Dani Sordo in a third i20. Jari-Matti Latvala completed the top six in another Yaris, despite a slow puncture.

Elfyn Evans retired from sixth after rolling his Ford Fiesta heavily. He and co-driver Scott Martin were unhurt, but their car came to rest below the road with the sump guard ripped from the chassis.

Sunday's finale heads into the rugged Traslasierra mountains for one of the WRC's classic days. Two passes through the El Cóndor test, the second of which forms the Wolf Power Stage, sandwich the lunar-like landscapes of Mina Clavero. The three tests cover 53.16km.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +2hr 37min 23.6sec
2. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +45.7sec
3. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +1min 03.2sec
4. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +1min 06.0sec
5. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +1min 12.0sec
6. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +1min 28.3sec
19-04-28 The C3 WRC pusches for podium spot with Ogier-Ingrassia
Confused when the rally route seemed to differ from the instructions of the roadbook, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia mainly lost a lot of time when they broke the power steering on their C3 WRC. However, they then showed great persistence and skill to fight their way back to within striking distance of the podium places, just 2.8s adrift in fourth place.

Day two, the longest leg of the weekend (146.52km), was contested on faster roads than on day one, which also dried out as the day unfolded. But the stages nonetheless provided plenty of incidents.

Fifth fastest on the day’s opening stage (SS9) between Tanti and Mataderos (13.92km), Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia fell back to third place, but still had high hopes of securing a podium finish. The Citroën Total World Rally Team crew unfortunately then suffered a fairly unusual incident: surprised by a gate left open on SS11, whereas the roadbook indicated that it was to be passed on the left, the French pair hesitated to take the shorter route through the open gate, before ultimately taking the route stipulated in the roadbook. The pair lost time with this brief hesitation, however to add insult to injury, they ended up clipping the gate, which immediately broke the C3 WRC’s power steering. With another stage to complete before service, Sébastien and Julien dropped down to sixth position, 21.8s adrift of the podium.

Citroën Racing’s mechanics then pulled off a minor feat in managing to repair the car in just forty minutes. The six-time world champions repaid the hard work of the team after service: with two stage wins and a third fastest time in the afternoon loop, they showed incredible spirit and determination to fight back up to fourth overall, just 2.8s off the podium. Proof, if any were needed, that they will keep pushing right until the end of the rally!

Tomorrow’s 53.16 km-long final leg will see the crews climb to just over 2,000 metres above sea level, for the slow and technically difficult stages of El Condor and Giulio Cesare, and the huge crowds that always gather there.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"It wasn't an easy day for Sébastien and Julien. They lost a lot of time this morning when the power steering broke, after they were confused by the gate left open, which should have been closed. We are therefore expecting the rally organisers to take the appropriate decisions for those crews that didn't follow the route indicated in the roadbook. With the car fully repaired for the afternoon, they certainly adopted an exemplary attitude and showed real pace, clearly managing to get themselves back into the fight for the podium places. The final leg therefore looks set to be action-packed again, and I think it’s safe to say they'll fight right to the end.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“We had an up and down day. After dropping a lot of time this morning, I had very little to lose this afternoon, so I pushed hard with the C3 WRC. There was also a bit more grip and that appeared to help us. I'm expecting to move up a position or two this evening, after the rally organisers look at what happened at the gate this morning. Tomorrow, the goal will be to keep out of trouble on these rough roads and score as many points as possible.”

1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:37.23.6
2. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 45.7
3. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 1:03.2
4. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:06.0
5. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:12.0
6. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:28.3
7. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:48.4
8. Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +12:04.5
19-04-27 Neuville grabs late Friday lead in dramatic Rally Argentina finale
Championship leader forges gap ahead of title rivals Ogier and Tänak. Thierry Neuville seized a last-gasp lead in Friday’s captivating opening leg of Xion Rally Argentina.
The FIA World Rally Championship leader snatched the initiative from Ott Tänak when a broken driveshaft on the Estonian's Toyota Yaris sent him into a time-consuming spin near the finish of the final speed test.

Tanak's lead was wiped out and fastest time for Neuville promoted the Hyundai i20 driver into a 11.9sec advantage over Sébastien Ogier's Citroën C3. Tänak was a further 1.5sec behind in third.

Persistent rain over the previous 48 hours meant the Calamuchita Valley tests were treacherous. Standing water and huge mud patches provided inconsistent grip and Neuville was shocked to top the leaderboard after languishing in ninth this morning.

"Consistency paid off. I felt I had a good drive in the opening stage and was really surprised when I saw others were faster. Things improved and I drove a good last stage when the road was very rough. We only have a small advantage so nothing is done yet," he said.

Tänak started the last stage aware of the mechanical problem but limited his time loss until spinning 2km from the finish. Having lost his overnight lead, he had regained top spot in the afternoon, despite regularly losing his brakes in the many water splashes.

Ogier felt his C3 lacked performance and the Frenchman was fortunate to survive a one-wheel landing after clipping a bank on the inside of a tight bend.

Kris Meeke was fourth, 28.1sec off the front, and the third leader of the day. The Yaris driver led for three of the six tests (one was cancelled for safety reasons due to the weather) but could not maintain his pace on rougher afternoon roads. Losing third gear further hampered his efforts.

Andreas Mikkelsen was 1.3sec behind in fifth, despite a morning puncture in his Hyundai i20, with Elfyn Evans rounding off the top six in spite of balance issues in his Ford Fiesta.

Saturday's leg is the longest of the rally. Competitors head into the vast pampas plains and hills of the Punilla Valley for two identical blocks of three stages. The loops are split by a repeat of Friday's theme park test in host town Carlos Paz. It adds up to 146.62km of action.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +1hr 11min 13.9sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +11.9sec
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +13.4sec
4. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +28.1sec
5. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +29.4sec
6. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +38.2sec
19-04-27 Ogier-Ingrassia hold second in the C3 WRC
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced a consistent performance on the opening leg’s wet, muddy stages, using all their race craft to end day one in second position in their C3 WRC, just 11.9s off the lead. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm escaped unhurt from a minor off, which nonetheless prevented them from showing all of their potential.

With the heavy rain that had fallen around Villa Carlos Paz in the last few days, the145.92 kilometres of today’s first full leg promised to provide constantly changing grip levels on roads featuring plenty of standing water and puddles at best and turned into genuine mud baths at worst. The state of the roads made it all the more important for the drivers to read the conditions as best they could in order to constantly adapt their pace. And although the first run on Amboy – Yacanto (29.85km) was cancelled for safety reasons, this opening leg more than lived up to expectations.

Right in the mix (2nd) on yesterday evening’s super special stage held in Villa Carlos Paz, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were hampered by running second on the road on the opening test as the grip improved as more cars came through the stage. However, the six-time world champions then upped their game, setting the third fastest time and then finishing tied for second on the next stage, concluding the morning loop third overall. On these fast roads, littered with embedded rocks, they confirmed their good form in the C3 WRC in the afternoon to move up into second position, just 11.9s behind the leaders. They are therefore very well placed once again to challenge for the overall win.

Having set a promising fifth fastest time on today’s first stage (SS2), unfortunately Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were then caught out straight afterwards (SS3) in a very low-grip section hidden behind a crest. The crew ran wide into a bank, picking up a puncture. After their misfortune saw them drop down to ninth overall, they were continuing to learn about the event on what is only their second appearance here when sadly, they rolled on the final stage of the day. Fortunately, they were unharmed in the incident. However, they will not be able to rejoin the rally tomorrow as their car is too damaged.
Next up, the crews tackle the longest leg of the weekend tomorrow (146.52km), with roads that are expected to be easier to negotiate than today.

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“In the incredibly changeable grip conditions seen today, we’re obviously pleased that Sébastien and Julien have ended the day in second position. We’re now going to get on with preparing as effectively as possible for tomorrow’s leg, in order to give them the tools to keep fighting for the win. We are however disappointed for Esapekka and Janne, who deserved better than this off, which appears to have come after they picked up a puncture. The most important thing is that they are both okay. I’m sure they’ll bounce back from this very quickly.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“The opening leg at Rally Argentina is always very complicated and rough. I’m pleased to finish the day in this position. It was all the more difficult because we did recce on these stages before the rain fell. We fought as hard as possible, and although the car isn't running perfectly as yet, we’re still in contention for victory and it’s still open at the front. The second leg looks like it will be very difficult again, probably with fog early on, as is often the case on these stages.”

1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 1:11:13.9
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +11.9
3. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +13.4
4. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 28.1
5. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 29.4
6. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 38.2
7. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +41.1
8. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:13.6
9. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:59.2
10. Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +6:11.1
19-04-24 Tense title fight enters vital period at the atmospheric Rally Argentina
Almost a million fans expected to witness the tough battle on the gravel roads. Just five points blanket the leading three drivers as the FIA World Rally Championship embarks on a crucial phase of five fixtures on gravel, the series’ dominant surface, in Argentina.

Thierry Neuville edged into a two-point lead over Sébastien Ogier after snatching a dramatic late victory in Corsica last month. Former leader Ott Tänak slipped to third, a further three points adrift, after four of the 14 rounds.

The middle third of the campaign starts on Xion Rally Argentina’s (25 - 29 April) dirt roads. It is the first of a south American double-header which continues when Copec Rally Chile (9 - 12 May) makes its WRC bow on the other side of the Andes Mountains two weeks later.

Almost a million fans are expected to line the demanding speed tests in Cordoba province, 700km north-west of Buenos Aires, for one of the season’s most atmospheric rounds.

Neuville’s first 2019 win means the Hyundai i20 driver will be first to start Friday’s special stages. The Belgian is all too aware that Argentina’s roads demand clever thinking as well as outright pace.

“As one of the roughest rallies of the season, it requires a careful approach. On the one hand, we need to look after the car but on the other there are some sections where you can really attack. It’s a balancing act,” he explained.

Remarkably, six-time champion Ogier has never won in Argentina and the Frenchman admitted it is a statistic he wants to erase from the record books.

“I would even go as far as to say I feel slightly more motivated by the prospect of winning this rally for the first time. The type of roads used varies a lot, but what really stands out is how rough the gravel can be in places,” said the Citroën C3 pilot.

Tänak dominated 12 months ago, recovering from an early spin to claim his first victory for Toyota Gazoo Racing. The Yaris World Rally Car driver is clear about his expectations.

“We’re expecting nothing less this year. I believe we should be able to perform well again here. The fast roads and the kind of surface we have in Argentina should really suit our car quite well,” said the Estonian.

Heavy rain has soaked the region in recent days and with more scheduled ahead of the start, the roads are likely to be soft with plenty of water filling the famous river crossings.

The rally starts in Villa Carlos Paz on Thursday night. Competitors face 18 gravel road stages covering 347.50km before Sunday afternoon’s finish.
19-03-31 Neuville snatches victory from Evans at Tour de Corse
Late puncture causes heartbreak for British driver as Belgian retains overall championship lead. Thierry Neuville grabbed a dramatic victory at Corsica linea - Tour de Corse on Sunday afternoon after final stage heartbreak for Elfyn Evans.

Neuville was en route to the podium ceremony in Calvi believing he had finished second when he discovered leader Evans had punctured a tyre in the final speed test.

Evans dropped 90sec limping to the finish, handing Neuville a victory in his Hyundai i20 that moved the Belgian into a two-point lead in the FIA World Rally Championship.

Neuville carried a 4.5sec lead into today’s final leg on Corsica’s east coast. His hopes were dented when Evans destroyed him in the opening test, regaining 16.0sec to move into a seemingly comfortable 11.5sec advantage ahead of the final Wolf Power Stage.

“I tried to contact the team to get information, but we were unsure if we had won or not,” said Neuville. “Arriving at the podium I saw my mechanics and only then I understood we had.

“I’m really disappointed for Elfyn, who did a really good job, but we deserved it as well. It was a great battle.”

Evans put on a brave face after finishing third in his Ford Fiesta. Three times he fought back to regain the lead during a topsy-turvy weekend on the asphalt, but there was no opportunity to do so for a fourth time.

“It’s difficult to accept but it’s the nature of the sport,” said Evans. “I think it happened on a straight piece of road, a hole or piece of stone that had lifted. I felt it straightaway but tried to drive on it to see if we could minimise the time loss.”

Sébastien Ogier was relieved to claim second, 40.3sec behind Neuville, after a torrid rally in his Citroen C3. Handling problems slowed the Frenchman and despite many set-up changes, he never found the pace he expected. He was 26.3sec ahead of Evans.

Dani Sordo took fourth in another i20, despite final day brake problems. The Spaniard fended off Teemu Suninen’s Fiesta by 6.2sec.

Ott Tänak completed the top six in a Toyota Yaris, the Estonian unable to recover from yesterday afternoon’s puncture which cost the lead and a potential second victory of the season.

Round five takes competitors to south America for the first of two fixtures there in three weeks. The gravel-road Xion Rally Argentina is based in Villa Carlos Paz on 25 - 28 April.

Final positions
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 3hr 22min 59.0sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +40.3sec
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +1min 06.6sec
4. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +1min 18.4sec
5. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +1min 24.6sec
6. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +1min 40.0sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 4 of 14)
1. T Neuville 82pts
2. S Ogier 80pts
3. O Tänak 77pts
19-03-31 A fourth consecutive podium for the C3 WRC as Ogier-Ingrassia finish a runner-up in Corsica!
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s stubborn, never-say-die attitude helped them secure their third podium of season in Corsica and the fourth top-three finish in as many races this year for Citroën Total World Rally Team. Their hard-earned second place took them to within two points of the top of the drivers’ world championship.Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm finished seventh overall, both helping to consolidate Citroën’s second place in the manufacturers’ standings and racking up important miles in the C3 WRC at an all-asphalt event.

Beginning the day with just a 5.1s lead over their closest challengers, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia immediately secured third place by extending their advantage to almost thirty seconds by the end of SS13, the first and longest stage (31.85km) of the day. On the Power Stage, contested in the idyllic setting of Fango valley, with the crystal blue water of the Mediterranean forming a magnificent backdrop, the French crew once again showcased their fighting spirit to grab the fifth fastest time and collect a bonus point, whilst an unexpected final-stage incident resulted in them being promoted to second position. They therefore closed to within just two points of the world championship leader, meaning they won't be opening the road at the next round of the WRC, in Argentina (25-28 April).

Having struggled with some set-up issues on the opening leg, and unable to make proper corrections due to there being no mid-leg service, the six-time world champions made the best of the situation by ending the day sixth overall, just 10.2s adrift of fourth place. They then produced a heroic effort the next day on both runs on the brand new Castagniccia stage. They used all of their attacking instincts on the dirty, worn roads and their ability to have good pace notes for the first pass at full speed, managing to grab the third fastest time on the first run and then the second fastest time on the repeat. These two performances in particular enabled them to move onto the podium with just the short final stage to go.

In finishing as runners-up in the C3 WRC, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claimed their third podium this year from four races. Citroën Total World Rally Team has now finished on one of the top two steps of the podium in all four events this season, with wins at Monte-Carlo and Mexico (Ogier-Ingrassia), and second places in Sweden (Lappi-Ferm) and Corsica. The Satory team has thus consolidated its second place in the manufacturers’ world championship standings.

Also struggling with the set-up of their C3 WRC, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm quickly found themselves in a situation where their hopes of making up ground were remote. They therefore decided to use the remaining kilometres to run through a range of set-up options on the C3 WRC and add to their experience in the car on tarmac. Their persistence was nonetheless rewarded with a seventh place finish, which also provided a worthwhile contribution to the overall team result.

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“In terms of points, it’s a good result, scoring nineteen points at a difficult round. On the other hand, we really suffered in terms of pure performance. We need to understand why, so that we don't have the same problem again on this surface, on which the C3 WRC had performed well previously. In any case, I’m pleased to have managed to get the most out of the car I had and also that I don't have to open the road on gravel in Argentina.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“We all had high hopes coming into this round, so obviously we can't be satisfied with this result. We were short on performance and suffered quite a lot of understeer throughout the weekend. We’re going to work hard to put things right for the next rounds on tarmac, in Germany and then in Spain. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to getting back on gravel in Argentina.”

How would you assess this Tour de Corse?
In terms of points, it was a good result, as we have consolidated second position in the standings for both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships. However, obviously, we can't be satisfied with our performance level this weekend. We were missing something, somewhere, throughout the weekend. We’ll now analyse everything in detail so that we get to the bottom of this drop in form and ensure we return to the level of competitiveness we had previously on tarmac at the rounds in Germany and Spain. I would nonetheless like to pay tribute to the reaction of my team in this difficult situation. They never let up, working hard to try and find every possible solution for our crews. We improved during the weekend and it’s by maintaining this attitude that we’ll keep making progress and coming back even stronger.

How would you describe the performance of your crews?
The sign of a true champion is managing to produce performances even when some of the ingredients you need to be competitive are missing. Securing a result like this at a difficult weekend is how you win championships and Sébastien and Julien know this all too well. Once again, they showed their remarkable ability and never-say-die attitude. This podium is above all down to them. They really nailed it with their performances on Castagniccia, whilst remaining incredibly consistent on the other stages. Esapekka and Janne have nothing to be ashamed of either, but for the time being they just lack experience in this kind of situation. I'm convinced, however, that as soon as we give them a good car, they will start producing the kind of speed that we know that they are capable of.

Former WRC driver and safety crew driver for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, Simon Jean-Joseph looked back at the French crew’s performances on the two runs on the Castagniccia stage during Saturday’s leg.

“For us, as safety crew, the two runs on Castagniccia were really the only two tests this weekend where we had quite a lot of corrections to make. Apart from their obvious talent, combined with the fighting spirit and determination of Seb and Julien, I think one of their real strengths comes from their incredibly precise system of pace notes. In dirty and tricky conditions like these, they have very subtle variations in describing the road, which gives them a sense of security and enables them to show off their full potential. For the safety crews, it’s then a question of having a good feeling for things, adding corrections in the right place without overloading the notes. But it’s then a real feat for Julien to manage to convey all the subtle differences, given the speed at which they run through the stages, and for Seb to manage to take it all in.”

1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:22:59.0
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +40.3
3. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:06.6
4. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:18.4
5. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:24.6
6. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:40.0
7. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +2:09.1
8. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:39.2
9. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:06.3
10. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6:44.6

1. Thierry Neuville – 82 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 80 points
3. Ott Tänak – 77 points
4. Elfyn Evans – 43 points
5. Kris Meeke – 42 points
6. Esapekka Lappi – 26 points
7. Sébastien Loeb – 22 points
8. Dani Sordo – 16 points
9. Jari-Matti Latvala – 15 points
10. Teemu Suninen – 14 points

1. Hyundai WRT – 114 points
2. Citroën Total WRT – 102 points
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 98 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 70 points
19-03-31 Tom och Henrik tvåa på Korsika och leder JWRC efter två tävlingar
Den andra deltävlingen i JWRC, Tour de Corse på Korsika, utvecklade sig till en högdramatisk kamp mellan svenskarna Tom Kristensson/Henrik Appelskog, Dennis Rådström/Jan Johansson och det tyska ekipaget Julius Tannert/Jürgen Heigl. Inför söndagens två avslutande sträckor på 51 km sammanlagt, ledde Tom med 0,4 sekunder före Dennis och 6,2 sekunder till Tannert. Tannert, som har asfalt som sitt favorit underlag, hade redan på fredagen förlorat en minut på en snurrning. Han jagade sakta men säker ikapp och passerade Dennis på näst sista och efter en rejäl satsning på sista Powerstage lyckades han även passera Tom, så marginalen blev 1,9 sekunder efter 35 mil specialsträckor på tuffa asfaltvägar. Det är inte för inte som tävlingen kallas de 10 000 kurvornas rally. Tom och Henrik slutade över förväntningarna på en andra plats och den tredje pallplatsen tog det andra svenskekipaget Dennis Rådström och Jan Johansson.
- Vi är supernöjda, säger en glad Tom vid målgången i Calvi. Vi gratulerar Julius och Jürgen, verkligen starkt att köra in den minut man tappade. Det är nog en av de tuffaste tävlingar jag kört hittills, och Henrik har gjort ett strålande jobb med notläsningen, han lär nog vara rätt så tystlåten det närmsta dagarna efter all information han rabblat.
- Vi har hållit oss till vår plan, köra snabbt, men undvika misstag, och ha en hel bil i mål, och det har lönat sig i två tävlingar nu. I så långa tävlingar är det jämnheten som ger resultat, och det blev även tre sträcksegrar som ger extra poäng.
- Bilen har även fungerat perfekt, även om bromsarna, helt naturligt, blev lite varma på den 47 km långa sträckan vi körde i lördags.
Det gäller att ha känsla för de påfrestningar som bil och däck utsätts för, avslutar Tom innan det är dags att rulla upp på podiet för prisceremoni.

Tävlingen blev redan från början då två av förhandfavoriterna mer eller mindre försvann. Den störste favoriten, spanjoren Jan Solans, fick en punktering redan på sträcka 2, och på sträcka 9 krökte han till en hjulupphängning och tappade ytterligare tid. Däremellan gick det fort och med 6 sträcksegrar ordnade han till slut en 4:e plats, dock nästan 5 minuter efter. Sämre gick det för förra årets segrare i Junior-EM, letten Mãrtins Sesks, som åkte av vägen på sträcka 3 och tvingades bryta.

Efter 2 deltävlingar i JWRC leder Tom på 47 poäng före Jan Solans på 34 poäng och Dennis Rådström på 32 poäng. Henrik leder följaktigen JWRC för co-drivers på 47 poäng.

Nästa deltävling går den 13-16 juni på Korsikas grannö Sardinien, och då är det grusunderlag som gäller.

19-03-31 Brutt løp, men bra kjøring for Veiby på Korsika
Alt lå til rette for en plass på pallen på Korsika, dessverre ble det brutt løp for Ole Christian Veiby. – Vi prøvde, vi kom ikke hit for å bli nummer tre!

Etter seier i Sverige og tredjeplass i Monte-Carlo var målet helt klart topp 2 for VM-runden på Korsika. Før de to avsluttende prøvene søndag morgen, lå Ole Christian og Jonas på en tredjeplass sammenlagt, kun 12,5 sekunder etter Gryazin som var på andre. Dessverre ble det stopp ett par kilometer etter start på SS13. – I en høyre sving kutta vi nok litt for lite, havna i løsgrusen og slo i en stein på siden av veien. Og det var det! Med ødelagt hjuloppheng var det lite vi kunne gjøre etterpå.

Ole uttalte tidligere at han ønsket å vinne løp, og at det ikke var noe alternativ å safe inn til en sikker plassering. – Vi ga alt her på Korsika, vi kom ikke hit for å bli nummer tre. Skulle vi ha den andre plassen var vi nødt til å pushe, og det gjorde vi. Andreplassen var absolutt innen rekkevidde. Det er kjedelig når det ikke går, men vi prøvde!

En punktering tidlig på fredag gjorde at Ole Christian og Jonas tapte tid og ramlet ned på sammenlagtlisten. Målbevisst jobbing gjorde imidlertid at pallen var innen rekkevidde før siste dag av løpet. – Etter punkteringen på fredag, så jobbet vi med å komme oss tilbake i posisjon for pallen. Etter første gang gjennom den lange prøva på lørdag (SS9) så skulle vi jobbe spesielt med to sektorer før neste gjennomkjøring. Da handler det om å se mye video og finpusse på notene. Vi kjørte veldig mye fortere på den ene sektoren, og ville nok gjort det på den andre sektoren også – men dessverre ble prøva stoppet da bilen til Camilli tok fyr. Allikevel, vi har kjørt bra og fort i helgen, og det er det vi tar med oss videre!

Italieneren Andolfi vant til slutt WRC2 klassen på Korsika, mens russeren Gryazin kom på andre plass. Tredjeplassen gikk til Kajetanowicz, som også kjørte en Volkswagen Polo. Etter Rally Korsika beholder Ole Christian sammenlagt-ledelsen i WRC2. Neste VM-løp blir Rally Portugal i slutten av mai, også dette skal kjøres i en Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, driftet av Kristoffersson Motorsport/ Volkswagen Dealerteam Bauhaus.
19-03-31 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson på pallen i Frankrikes VM-rally
I helgen har Dennis Rådström från Torsby, och hans kartläsare Johan Johansson från Valdemarsvik, kört årets andra deltävling i Junior-VM i rally på den Franska ön Korsika. Trots sin knappa erfarenhet av körning på asfalt var duon konstant med och slogs i toppen av den tuffa klassen, och slutade på en stark tredjeplats.
– Det har varit riktigt bra rally. Under den andra dagen fick vi upp riktigt bra fart, men idag hittade vi inte riktigt tillbaka till det tempot.Men vi är otroligt nöjda med så mycket poäng till mästerskapet som tredjeplatsen innebär. Det är otroligt hårt motstånd i klassen, och vi hade inte räknat att vara så här högt upp i listan, säger en nöjd Dennis efter målgång.

Dennis och Johan tog under lördagen sin första sträckseger på asfalt, och tredjeplatsen är deras bästa resultat någonsin i den franska tävlingen som de nu körde för tredje gången.
– Det mest est positiva med denna helgen är att vi visar att vi hänger med Tom Kristensson och Julius Tanners som är erkänt snabba på asfalt. Det plus att vi tar vår första sträckseger, gör att vi ser väldigt positivt på framtiden, säger Johan.

Tredjeplatsen på Korsika, i kombination med ett starkt resultat i säsongsöppningen i Sverige gör att Dennis och Johan ligger trea i mästerskapet med 15 poäng upp till ledande Tom Kristensson.

Tre tävlingar återstår av mästerskapet där nästa deltävling avgörs på grus på den Italienska ön Sardinien i mitten av Juni. En tävling Dennis och Johan har erfarenhet från sedan 2017 när de tävlade där senast.

19-03-31 Plötsligt slut för palljagande Veiby
Ole Christian Veiby hade en pallplats på gång i Rally Korsika när en sten satte stopp för framfarten. Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS-föraren tvingades bryta tidigt på den näst sista sträckan.
- Vi försökte. Vi kom inte hit för att bli nummer tre och ville pusha för att ta andraplatsen. Den var inom räckhåll. Tråkigt när det inte fungerar, men vi gav allt, summerar Ole Christian.

Det svårbemästrade rallyt på medelhavsön skördade sina offer under helgen. Ole Christian Veiby råkade ut för en tidig punktering på fredagen och tappade en halv minut, men höll sig sedan borta från problem resten av dagen och under hela andra etappen. Det innebar stadigt avancemang uppåt i resultatlistan för WRC 2.

Under lördagen noterade Veiby och co-drivern Jonas Andersson stabila topp tre-tider i sin klass med teamets Polo GTI R5.
- Efter punkteringen på fredag, så jobbade vi med att komma tillbaka för att kunna jaga en plats på pallen. Det betalade sig. Vi hade ett bra utgångsläge inför sista dagen.

Inför avslutningsetappen låg Volkswagen-ekipaget på tredje plats, med häng på ytterligare avancemang. Men redan någon kilometer in på SS 13, dagens första och totalt den näst sista sträckan, tog det stopp.
- Ett par kilometer efter start, i en högersväng, hamnade jag lite för långt ut i lösgruset och slog i en sten. Det var det. Hjulupphängningen vänster bak blev förstörd, konstaterar Veiby.

Teamchefen för Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS, Tommy Kristoffersson, summerade en helg med blandade känslor:
- Surt när vi låg bra till för en tredjeplats, vilket är väldigt starkt i ett asfaltrally, men nu blev det stolpe ut på slutet.

Veiby ligger fortfarande kvar i toppen på WRC 2 med sina 40 poäng. Tävlingen vanns av Fabio Andolfi från Italien. Tvåan på Korsika, Nikolay Gryazin, Ryssland, är också ny tvåa i WRC 2-klassen på 28 poäng.

Nästa VM-rally för paret Veiby/Andersson blir Rally Portugal i månadsskiftet maj-juni.
19-03-30 The C3 WRC edgges onto podium with Ogier-Ingrassia
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced impressive performances on both runs on Castagniccia (47.18km), the longest stage of the weekend, to move their C3 WRC into third overall this evening, whilst Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm ended the day in seventh place as their understanding of the French car improved as they completed more stages.

Contested in Cap Corse, the Désert des Agriates and Castagniccia, three of the most emblematic regions of the centre and north of Corsica, day two featured a wide variety of road profiles and therefore of difficulties. The highlight nonetheless being Castagniccia, its new route, length (47.18km) and narrower, twistier roads than those tackled thus far making it the day’s most daunting stage.

Determined to fight all the way despite their set-up still not being totally right, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again showed their mettle on the first pass and their first ever run on what had been expected to be the rally's decisive stage. The French six-time world champions used all of their talent to grab the third fastest time, just 1.4s off the pace, to take them into fifth overall. They then gained another place in the afternoon when one of their rivals picked up a puncture (SS11), before producing another blistering performance on the repeat of Castagniccia. Their second fastest time swept them into third place by 5.1s, despite an engine issue towards the end of the stage.

After a difficult start to the rally yesterday, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm also tried to optimise the handling of the C3 WRC throughout the day, looking ahead to the rest of the season. A fourth fastest time in the afternoon, just 2.9s off the stage-winning time (SS11), confirmed their approach proved effective and they made it to service this evening in seventh position.

Tomorrow’s short final leg will see the competitors head for Calvi, for two new stages over a competitive distance of fifty-two kilometres. A thrilling battle in prospect…

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“We knew that today was going to be the biggest challenge this weekend, and Sébastien and Julien once again showed all their experience and strength of character, managing to make it count on the toughest stage of the day and end the leg on the podium. It was a superb performance from them, because although we have made some progress on the set-up, obviously it still isn't enough. Esapekka and Janne don't have their experience in managing this kind of situation but they stuck at it and did some in-competition testing and work on the set-up of their C3 WRC and that will certainly be useful for future events.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It’s a shame that we lost a lot of engine power about ten kilometres from the end of the last test, because otherwise I think we would have claimed our first stage win this weekend. Fortunately, it only lasted for two or three kilometres and then normal power came back. I'm pleased to be back in the top three. I hope that the slightly better feeling we had this afternoon will be confirmed tomorrow and we can keep improving. Because it looks like we’re going to have to fight right to the end if we want to hold onto third place. We have been losing most time on the wider, circuit-like roads but tomorrow’s stages are less like that, so I hope that they are more suited to us.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Although we’re still not where we had hoped to be, the main thing is that we improved today. Our rhythm was better. Seb also set some good times, so that would suggest that we are moving in the right direction. We’re going to give it our all to finish the rally on a high tomorrow.”

1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:56:50.0
2. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 4.5
3. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +44.8
4. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +49.9
5. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:32.1
6. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:54.5
7. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:59.3
8. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:21.4
9. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:55.9
10. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6:35.4
19-03-30 Thierry Neuville springs to surprise lead at Tour de Corse
The Belgian snatched lead after dramatic finale to the longest day of the season.
Neuville heads into Sunday’s closing leg with a 4.5sec advantage after charging ahead of leader Elfyn Evans in the marathon 47km Castagniccia speed test which ended the day.

Evans started the test with an 11.5sec advantage in his Ford Fiesta after his frantic tussle for the lead with Ott Tänak ended in the previous special stage. The Toyota Yaris driver conceded two minutes after stopping to change a punctured tyre.

Evans’ advantage appeared healthy, but an increasingly confident Neuville outgunned him by 16.0sec in his Hyundai i20 to set up a thrilling final day shootout.

“This morning we couldn’t find a good feeling to push as hard as we wanted. This afternoon we raised the height of the car and I was able to attack in every stage,” explained Neuville.

“I knew I had to keep the car on the road, but when the feeling is good you drive as fast as you can without taking big risks.”

Evans was shell-shocked. “The afternoon started well but went downhill. It was a surprise to lose so much in the last stage. Three or four seconds maybe, but 16sec is a mountain. It was a shock but the best thing to do is forget about it and concentrate on tomorrow,” he said.

The Welshman, who led after yesterday’s opening leg, was demoted by Tänak in this morning’s final test but the margin between them was only 1.6sec when disaster struck the Estonian.

Sébastien Ogier was 40.8sec adrift of Evans in third after a persistent drive. A raft of overnight changes improved his Citroën C3’s handling. He still lacked pace but climbed from sixth this morning to overhaul Dani Sordo in Castagniccia for a podium place.

Sordo ended 5.1sec adrift but with a comfortable 42.2sec lead over Teemu Suninen in fifth. The Finn was plagued by several small issues in his Fiesta this morning but closed the day with a 22.4sec margin over a disappointed Tänak.

Drivers face just two stages covering 51.19km, culminating with the Wolf Power Stage in which bonus points will be awarded to the fastest five drivers.

Leading positions after leg 2
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 2hr 56min 50.0sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +4.5sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +44.8sec
4. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +49.9sec
5. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +1min 32.1sec
6. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +1min 54.5sec
19-03-30 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson i segerfight på Korsika
Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson inledde den andra dagens tävlande i det Franska VM-rallyt på Korsika på en tredjeplats i Junior-VM, 22 sekunder bakom ledande Tom Kristensson.

Lördagen bjöd på sex sträckor på totalt 17 mil, där den längsta sträckan mätte nästan 5 mil på de tuffa asfaltsvägarna. Dennis och Johan gjorde en fantastisk insats, trots sin knappa erfarenhet på asfalt och tog sin första sträckseger någonsin på underlaget. De lyckades även minska gapen till toppen och är nu 0,4 sekunder bakom ledningen med två sträckor kvar att köra imorgon.
– Dagen har var riktigt bra, vi är nära att hitta hemligheten till att va snabb på asfalt. Vi visade riktigt bra fart andra loppen denna tuffa dag, och det är fränt att kunna vara med och slåss i toppen på detta underlaget också. Imorgon ska vi fortsätta å göra vårt jobb, så får vi se hur långt det räcker, säger Dennis.

Dagens sista sträcka fick avbrytas då ett framförvarande ekipage fattat eld, därför är inte tiderna för den avslutande sträckan fastställda i skrivande stund.
19-03-29 Evans leads Tour de Corse despite late fright
The Brit's Corsica linea lead marred by controversial end to opening leg.

He started the final speed test leading Ott Tänak by 4.5sec in his Ford Fiesta, but was inadvertently delayed for nearly a minute after catching a limping Kris Meeke near the end.

Elfyn Evans finished nearly 11sec slower than Tänak, provisionally plunging to third and promoting the Toyota Yaris driver to first. However, officials credited Evans with the same time as the Estonian, restoring him to first with an unchanged advantage.

The pair fought tooth and nail all day on twisty asphalt in the island’s southern mountains. Evans led initially before Tänak edged ahead after the morning loop, only for the Welshman to regain his advantage this afternoon as Tänak suffered a damper problem.

“The issue in the final stage was a difficult one to call but I think the outcome was fair. It’s been a really positive day, but we have another big one tomorrow. We have to take the fight to Ott and we know that when everything is working, we can be better and faster,” said Evans.

Thierry Neuville was third, 5.3sec adrift of Tänak. He struggled with his Hyundai i20’s handling but became increasingly comfortable as the day progressed and ended with fastest time in the final stage.

He headed team-mate Dani Sordo by 16.3sec. The Spaniard was third for most of the morning but could not reproduce the pace when the stages were repeated and fell away.

Teemu Suninen was fifth, careful to avoid mistakes in his Fiesta after his early exit at the previous round in Mexico. He had 5.4sec in hand over a frustrated Sébastien Ogier, who failed to find the expected speed which led many to make him favourite.

An opening stage spin cost 10sec and left him eighth, but the Citroën C3 driver struggled with understeer all day and climbed to sixth only as a result of others’ problems.

The rally moves to the north of the island on Saturday for the longest leg of the weekend, featuring more than half the total competitive distance. Two identical anti-clockwise loops of three tests near Bastia provide 174.50km of action.

Leading positions after leg 1
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta 1hr 09min 39.6sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +4.5sec
3. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +9.8sec
4. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +26.1sec
5. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +30.9sec
6. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +36.3sec
19-03-29 A tough start in Corsica for the C3 WRCs
Citroën Total World Rally Team’s crews Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm were unable to express their full potential today as they struggled with a less than ideal set-up on predominantly unfamiliar roads. However, with almost two thirds of this year’s Tour de Corse still to go, both crews are within striking distance of the top five.

Held between Porto-Vecchio and Propriano, today’s opening leg was unusual in that there was no mid-leg service. Only a tyre-fitting zone was scheduled at the break between the morning and afternoon loops. This made it crucial to get the set-up right from the word go, or else end up struggling the whole day.

Unfortunately, Citroën Total World Rally Team suffered throughout day one. Slowed at the start by a spin on SS1 and a less than ideal set-up, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia ended the first loop in eighth position. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made a better start, lying fifth overall before also suffering a spin (SS3), which resulted in them dropping two places.

Although they were unable to make all the set-up changes they would have liked to make in the tyre-fitting zone, the crews – the only team members allowed to work on the car – improved a number of settings on the C3 WRC with guidance from the technical team. The target was clearly to make more of their potential in the second loop. Showing considerable fighting spirit, Sébastien and Julien managed to move up into sixth overall, just 10.2s adrift of fourth place, whilst Esapekka and Janne ended today’s opening leg just behind their team-mates.

Covering just 35% of the total distance, day one of this year’s Tour de Corse was little more than an appetiser compared to tomorrow’s main course, when the rally heads towards the north of the Mediterranean island. Almost a hundred and seventy-five kilometres of timed stages await the crews, including two runs on the all-new 47.18km-long test in the central region of Castigniccia. With its narrow, winding roads, where it is very easy to get your pace wrong, there could be plenty of twists and turns to come as yet…

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Obviously, we were hoping for better things from this opening leg but we suffered from our set-up not being completely right. With no mid-leg service, our crews were only able to make minor changes themselves and had to make the best of it until the end of the day. They nonetheless drove well considering this is their very first all-asphalt event with the C3 WRC. We are now going to try to make the most of this evening’s service to put things right and enable them to compete at their normal level tomorrow.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a difficult day, where we struggled with understeer. We made a few minor adjustments mid-leg and that helped us to limit the time lost in the afternoon, but it wasn’t enough. We have a few ideas about how to change the set-up in order to resolve the issues, so I have high hopes that we can move in the right direction tomorrow. We’ll certainly be doing everything we can to move back up the standings.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I pushed hard on the wide, fast sections of today’s stages but I had the same issues on the corners as Seb. And we also had a spin, which didn't help matters. I have faith in the team to put things right and obviously on my side, I’m going to give it everything.”

1. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1:09:39.6
2. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4.5
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +9.8
4. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +26.1
5. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +30.9
6. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +36.3
7. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +46.3
8 . Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:27.9
9. Camilli / Buresi (VW Polo R5) +2:46.4
10. Bonato / Boulloud (Citroën C3 R5) +3:06.4
19-03-29 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson trea i Franska VM-rallyt
Efter den första dagen på Korsikas VM-rally ligger Torsbyföraren Dennis Rådström och hans kartläsaren Johan Johansson på en tredjeplats i Junior-VM, 18 sekunder bakom ledande Tom Kristensson.
– Vi är nöjda med dagen, Det är alltid lika pulshöjande och roligt med asfaltkörning, säger Dennis.
– Det känns att vi fortfarande har en del att lära, men det går bitvis flatout. Vi har ett bra samspel i bilen och ett grymt teamwork mellan sträckorna, då vi har haft problem med en länkarm och behövt skruva. Imorgon väntas den absolut tuffaste dagen. Det finns inte så mycket mer att säga om idag, det är imorgon de avgörs.
19-03-27 Veiby siktar mot toppen även på Korsika
"De 10 000 kurvornas rally” väntar för Ole Christian Veiby kommande helg. Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS-föraren befinner sig på Korsika för att försvara sin ledning i WRC 2.
- Jag siktar inte lägre än tidigare. Om jag hittar flytet är ambitionen att slåss om segern, säger den 22-årige norrmannen som i överlägsen stil vann Rally Sweden på välbekant snö och is.

Årets fjärde VM-deltävling innehåller kurviga asfaltvägar i kuperad medelhavsmiljö och stallchefen i det Arvika-baserade Volkswagen-teamet tycker å sin sida att det viktigaste inte är att vinna utan att plocka poäng.
- Ole Christian kommer att ställas mot några riktiga asfaltspecialister och kanske måste han acceptera att han inte kan vara snabbast. Det är lika svårt för honom att vinna där som det är för fransmän och italienare att vara snabbast i Rally Sweden, säger Tommy Kristoffersson.
- Självklart måste man se hur det utvecklar sig och utifrån det välja vilka fighter vi ska ta, instämmer Kongsvinger-föraren.

Men en vinnarskalle med ambitioner siktar förstås högt och faktum är att Veiby, trots sin unga ålder, gör sin femte start i Tour de Corse.
- Vi gjorde det bra förra året tills växellådan låste sig, påminner Ole Christian.

I år kommer han att ratta den Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 som Kristoffersson Motorsport äger och som Johan Kristoffersson använde i det svenska VM-rallyt. Teamet har kört en testdag i trakterna av italienska San Remo.
- Det blev inte mycket testande före Monte Carlo så det var bra att få en hel dag på torr asfalt.

Tommy Kristoffersson var mycket nöjd med det nya rallyteamets första test på utländska vägar.
- Jättebra! Jag är stolt över den kompetens vi har när hela teamet är samlat, med influenser från många olika håll inom motorsport. Vi kommer väl förberedda inför Korsika.

Veiby och co-drivern Jonas Andersson har dessutom kört den officiella testdagen på medelhavsön.
- Och ovanpå det tre dagar recce, påpekar Ole Christian. Det är stor yta vi rör oss över så det blir mycket bilkörning.

Karaktären på vägarna gör att noterna blir extra viktiga för att undvika ödesdigra misstag.
- Det är ett stort jobb för kartläsaren och gäller att träffa rätt på noterna, men jag tvivlar inte på att Jonas får till det.

Rutinerade Andersson har också gjort några vändor runt Korsika, men årets tävling består till största delen av nya sträckor. Ole Christian Veiby tycker inte att det spelar så stor roll att närmare 80 procent av vägarna är obekanta sedan tidigare.
- Det är en miljon svängar så det är ändå svårt att lära sig vägarna utantill, inte riktigt som i Rally Sweden. Men karaktären är den samma så visst har man ändå nytta av sin erfarenhet.

VM-rallyt på Korsika körs med sex specialsträckor fredag respektive lördag och två stycken under avslutningen på söndag. Sexton bilar är anmälda i WRC 2.
19-03-27 Ogier confident and ready for his happy hunting ground in Corsica
Frenchman aims to maintain the Citroën transformation at the Tour de Corse.

Sébastien Ogier carries an air of confidence into this week’s Corsica linea - Tour de Corse (28 - 31 March) as he aims to maintain Citroën’s remarkable WRC transformation at one of his happy hunting grounds.

The Frenchman was peerless on the tricky and technical asphalt 12 months ago. He led throughout to score his second win in three seasons in Corsica’s mountains en route to a sixth world title.

Having returned to Citroën Racing for 2019, the 35-year-old has breathed new life into the squad which finished bottom of the FIA World Rally Championship last year.

He has wins in Monte-Carlo and Mexico from the opening three rounds to sit four points behind leader Ott Tänak, and holds no fears about a new-look Corsican encounter in which almost 80 per cent of the roads have been altered from 2018.

“The route has been changed quite a lot again this year, but that has already happened before here, which has meant that I have often had to get to grips with new stages and that tends to suit me.

“It adds a bit of stress and adrenaline to the rally, and it can lead to there being bigger gaps than usual,” said Ogier.

New roads demand pin-point accuracy in making pace notes during reconnaissance. This is even more crucial in Corsica where a never-ending stream of twists and turns earned the event the nickname Rally of 10,000 Corners.

“When the stages are new for everyone, obviously the difference comes from who does a very good job during recce and then has sufficient confidence in their pace notes to push right from the word go,” Ogier added.

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Tänak, the winner in Sweden, and nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb, back in the WRC with Hyundai Motorsport, will be snapping at Ogier’s heels.

“In the past Corsica was probably the rally on which I struggled the most, but we had good pace last year on our first time there in the Yaris World Rally Car,” said Tänak.

Unpredictable mountain weather is a hallmark of the rally, but drivers had a nasty surprise when they encountered snow during recce on Tuesday.

The rally starts in Porto-Vecchio on Thursday evening ahead of a day’s action across the south of the island on Friday. Attention switches to the north for the final two legs, and the event finishes in Calvi on Sunday afternoon after 14 speed tests covering almost 350km.

19-03-27 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson redo att fightas i JWRC-toppen
Till helgen är det dags för den andra deltävlingen i årets Junior-VM i Rally, JWRC, på den Franska ön Korsika. Där Dennis Rådström från Torsby tävlar tillsammans med kartläsaren Johan Johansson från Valdemarsvik. Paret kommer till Korsika som fyra i tabellen efter den inledande tävlingen i Sverige, och i år är det fjärde gången man ställer upp i den Franska VM-deltävlingen.
– Vi kommer till tävlingen med en bra känsla, det är som sagt tredje gången vi kör här - vilket känns tryggt. Vi är taggade och redo för tävligen, säger Dennis.

Tävlingen på Korsika avgörs helt på asfalt, till skillnad från premiären i Sverige som kördes på snö och is, ett underlag som efter tre år i VM-serien börjar bli mer bekant för Dennis och Johan.
– Asfalt har vart en stor utmaning för oss tidigare, och är fortfarande. Men vi vet vad som komma skall och är beredda på det, både körmässigt och mentalt, säger Johan.

Korsika är känt som ”de tiotusen kurvornas rally”, och är en av de mest utmanande tävlingarna på året med extremt långa sträckor som svänger konstant, och aldrig ger besättningen någon chans att slappna av.
– Den stora utmaningen på Korsika är att hitta ett tempo där däck och bil överlever hela sträckorna, det gäller att inte vara för het i början och överköra. Då har man inga däck till slutet av sträckorna och tappar mycket tid på det. Så det gäller att hitta en rytm som är lagom snabb över hela tävligen, fortsätter Dennis.
– För oss kartläsare är Korsika kanske den största utmaningen på hela året i och med att det svänger extremt mycket och är så länga sträckor. Förra året hade jag en sträcka med 76 sidor noter, så det är ganska många svängar, säger Johan.

Som uppladdning för tävlingen har teamet vart på plats i Slovakien och testat en likadan Ford Fiesta MK8 R2T som de kör i mästerskapet. Där man körde 10 mil och fick en bra känsla inför tävlingen.
– Testet gick bra, vi fick många mil och kom in i körningen på ett bra sätt. Nu känns det som vi är på tå från start, och inte som det är annars där man får jobba sig in i känslan under inledningen av tävlingen. Nu är vi på tå direkt.

Även om Dennis och Johan är relativt oerfarna av asfalt gentemot många andra i mästerskapet, så har du höga ambitioner på Korsika.
– Vi siktar som alltid på att göra vårt bästa, vi får se hur långt det räcker. Men vi vill vara med och fightas om segern, säger Dennis.

19-03-25 Tom och Henrik på Korsika för andra deltävlingen i Junior-VM
Med en ceremoniell start på torsdags i staden Port Vecchio på södra Korsika inleda Tour de Corse, den andra deltävlingen i Junior VM i rally, JWRC. Efter första tävlingen, Rally Sweden i februari är Tom och Henrik i ledningen på 26 poäng, före estländaren Roland Poom 18 poäng och Dennis Rådström och spanjoren Jan Solans Baldo, båda på 16 poäng.

Servicepark och huvudort är Bastia på den nordöstra delen av ön, men fredagens sträckor utgår från Port Vecchio och körs på den södra delen av ön. Man kör då sex sträckor utan service, drygt 12 mil SS! På lördag återvänder man till den norra delen av ön, och då är det även 6 sträckor på ca 17,5 mil SS, varav en SS mäter hela 47 km och körs 2 gånger. Tävlingen avslutas på söndag med två sträckor på drygt 5 mil med mål i Calvi på den nordvästra sidan av ön.

Tour de Corse kallas även för de 10 000 kurvornas rally, eftersom vägarna slingrar sig fram på den bergiga ön. Underlaget är helt och hållet asfalt, men denna är oftast både ojämn och skrovlig, så det blir en utmaning framför allt för däcken.
- Med så många kurvor är det även en utmaning för Codrivern, rapporterar Henrik från Korsika.
- Det gäller att vi är noggranna när vi gör noterna, som vi för övrigt börjar med att göra på 2 sträckor i eftermiddag.

Tävlingen är, liksom övriga deltävlingar i JWRC, en helt ny erfarenhet för Tom och Henrik, och det är även första gången med bilen, Ford Fiesta R2, på asfalt.
- Första testen på asfalt blir på Shake down, på torsdag, säger Tom.
- Det har inte funnit utrymme för någon test innan. Förberedelserna har bestått av studier av incar-filmer från förra årets tävling och träning hemma i vardagsrummet med min rallysimulator.
- Drygt 75 % av årets sträckor skall vara nytt, så någon direkt nytta av att se incarfilmerna har man kanske inte, men man får i alla fall en uppfattning om karaktären på vägarna, fortsätter Tom.
- Vi kommer att ha vår plan och strategi som vi kommer att följa, och det känns mycket bra att ha en seger med oss från första deltävlingen.
- Och så kommer vi att njuta av upplevelsen så mycket vi kan, avslutar Tom.

I den preliminära startlistan finns alla 13 som körde JWRC i Rally Sweden med, så det kommer att bli en hård kamp om poängen i seriens kanske tuffaste tävling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can you say about Citroën Racing’s eighth win in Mexico, and the second this season?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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