WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2021

2021

VM kalendern 2021 VM kalendern 2022
21-24 jan Monte Carlo    
11-14 febr Rally Sweden    
26-28 febr Finland    
22-25 april Kroatien    
20-23 maj Portugal    
3-6 juni Italien    
24-27 juni Kenya    
15-18 juli Estland    
29-1 aug Finland    
13-15 aug Belgien    
9-12 sept Grekland    
14-17 okt Spanien    
11-14 nov Japan    
 
20-13 jan Monte Carlo    
24-27 febr Rally Sweden    
21-27 april Kroatien *    
19-22 maj Portugal    
2-5 juni Italien    
23-26 juni Kenya    
14-17 juli Estland    
4-7 aug Finland    
18-21 aug TBS    
8-11 sept Grekland    
29-2 okt Nya Zeeland *    
20-23 ijt Spanien    
10-13 nov Japan    
* Subject to contract

21-10-15 Neuville edges title-chasing Evans in Spanish thriller on Friday
Belgian holds 0.7s lead over Welshman with Ogier 19.4s back in third place. Thierry Neuville bounced back from a frustrating opening to demote early pacesetter Elfyn Evans and grab a slender lead in the RallyRACC - Rally de España on Friday.

Neuville wrestled handling problems with his Hyundai i20 throughout the morning's three smooth asphalt speed tests in the Costa Daurada hills. Set-up changes at the mid-leg service transformed his confidence and he ended with a 0.7sec advantage over Evans.

Evans is the only driver who can deny Sébastien Ogier an eighth world crown in nine seasons and he ended 18.7sec clear of the Frenchman after six flowing tests near Salou.

Evans, driving a Toyota Yaris, dominated the morning. He won all three special stages, one shared with Neuville, to build a 7.9sec lead over the Belgian. A rejuvenated Neuville responded with a treble of his own when the stages were repeated this afternoon.

"We struggled with understeer this morning and were trying to solve it for this afternoon," explained Neuville. "We made a good step and that was why we were able to go faster, but we want to make another step tomorrow because I feel there's more to take out of the car and ourselves."

Evans was disappointed to concede the lead, but relieved to survive a hefty slide into a kerbstone this afternoon. "It was a bit lucky. I hit the rear fairly hard on what was a sloped kerb, thankfully, and we got away with it," he said.

Ogier, who will lift the title if he outscores Evans by seven points, could do nothing about the battling duo ahead. He lacked confidence in his Yaris and had his hands full in fending off home hero Dani Sordo, who ended 5.4sec behind in an i20.

Kalle Rovanperä initially struggled to understand the characteristics of Pirelli's new P Zero hard compound tyres, which were being used for the first time. Driving a Yaris, his pace improved significantly in the afternoon and he was fifth, 13.2sec adrift of Sordo. M-Sport Ford Fiesta duo Adrien Fourmaux was a distant sixth.

It was a disastrous morning for Takamoto Katsuta who slammed his Yaris into a roadside barrier in the opening stage after misunderstanding a pace note. He limped to the finish with heavy damage to the front left suspension and retired.

Also on the sidelines was Ott Tänak, who retired after damaging his i20’s rear suspension when he went off the road in the afternoon's opening test when lying sixth.

Saturday's leg is the longest of the event, containing 117.54km of competition across seven stages. Three tests are driven twice either side of service before the day closes with a spectacular seafront stage in Salou.

Leading positions after Friday
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 1hr 01min 26.6sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +0.7sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +19.4sec
4. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 +24.8sec
5. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +38.0sec
6. A Fourmaux / A Coria FRA Ford Fiesta +1min 10.2sec
21-10-15 FIA WRC World Rally Championship round Rally Estonia will be traditionally held in July 2022
• FIA ??WRC World Rally Championship round Rally Estonia will be held on the roads of Tartu, Otepää, Elva, Kanepi, Kambja,
Peipsiääre and Mustvee rural municipalities on 14-17 July
• The team of Rally Estonia has the privilege to organize the World Rally Championship for the third year in a row
• The organizers hope that coronavirus will be under control by the middle of summer and the rally audience will be able to enjoy the race again without restrictions.

Today, on 15 October 2021, the FIA World Motor Sport Council gathered for the third time this season, where the calendar of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship was approved. For the second year in a row Rally Estonia is honoured to be a part of the pre-season WRC calendar and for the third year in a row to organize the WRC round in Estonia. Rally Estonia will be held on the roads of Tartu, Otepää, Elva, Kanepi, Kambja, Peipsiääre and Mustvee rural municipalities from 14 to 17 July.

Similarly to this year, Estonia is the seventh round of the World Rally Championship season. Prior to Rally Estonia, the WRC carousel will have a stop in Kenya and after Rally Estonia, Rally Finland will be waiting for the World Championship competitors. One of the traditions of Rally Estonia has been that, if possible, the event has always taken place in July and this year as well. This means that rally fans from Estonia and elsewhere can once again enjoy great summer and nature of Estonia and, of course, Rally Estonia. If in case of the previous two World Rally Championships the organizers of the rally had to take strict corona restrictions into account, Rally Estonia team today works in faith and hope that the 2022 event can take place again under normal conditions and offer a great rally experience.

For the third year in a row Rally Estonia will be hosted by the Estonian National Museum in Tartu. The museum will also accommodate the service area and a podium in addition to rally centre.

Urmo Aava, Director of Rally Estonia: “There are not many countries where the World Rally Championship has taken place three times and it is a great privilege for us. All this is a huge team work. It is not possible with an individual effort, but with everyone's contribution. Rally Estonia is supported by the Estonian state, local governments, all sponsors and a large organizing team of almost 3500 members. We really hope that we can organize Rally Estonia in 2022 as close to normal conditions as possible. We are already working on how to make the most of the experience of the previous 11 years and organize even more memorable and fierce Estonian round of World Rally Championship next year.”

Tarmo Hõbe, Commercial Director of Rally Estonia: “The official dates of the WRC round of Rally Estonia 2022 have now been announced and we are pleased to state that the rally will be held traditionally in the middle of July. Today we are planning the third Estonian World Rally Championship in the belief that the conditions caused by corona are significantly milder or completely gone. We really hope to offer a rally weekend full of passion and great experiences, where fans can choose a suitable place to watch. Even today, whereby the dates are officially in place, it is a good opportunity to start planning a mid-summer weekend with family and friends and book a suitable accommodation early. Rally passes will be on sale as soon as all necessary preparations have been made. "

Rally Estonia is the round of the 2022 FIA WRC World Rally Championship, which will be held in the City of Tartu, Tartu, Otepää, Elva, Kanepi, Kambja, Peipsiääre and Mustvee rural municipalities on 14-17 July 2022.

FIA WRC World Rally Championship calendar 2022
1.Monte-Carlo 20 - 23 January
2.Sweden 24 - 27 February
3.Croatia* 21 - 24 April
4.Portugal 19 - 22 May
5.Italy 2 - 5 June
6.Kenya 23 - 26 June
7.Rally Estonia 14 - 17 July
8.Finland 4 - 7 August
9.TBC 18 - 21 August
10.Greece 8 - 11 September
11.New Zealand* 29 September - 2 October
12.Spain 20 - 23 October
13.Japan 10 - 13 November
21-10-15 WRC roars into hybrid era with expanded 2022 calendar
New Zealand will make an exciting return to an enlarged FIA World Rally Championship in 2022 after the sport’s first hybrid-era calendar was unveiled on Friday (15 October).

The country’s flowing North Island gravel roads near Auckland will feature for the first time since 2009 as the WRC celebrates its 50th season. The Land of the Long White Cloud’s 32nd WRC appearance, round 11 of the year, will take place on 29 September - 2 October.

Croatia’s asphalt is retained in an expanded 13-round schedule after the central European country hosted a widely-praised debut in April.

With Kenya’s iconic Safari Rally and Japan also listed, the season covers four continents – Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia – as the pandemic eases and commercial rights owner WRC Promoter rebuilds towards its target of a 50-50 split between European and long-haul rounds.

Next year brings some of the biggest and most far-reaching changes in the sport’s history as the WRC enters a more sustainable age.

Exciting top-tier hybrid Rally1 cars will blend 100kW electric motors and the existing combustion engine, while a hydrocarbon-based fossil-free fuel will be 100 percent sustainable.

The calendar was approved at the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council in Paris and WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel said the mix of classic fixtures and newer events would provide a mouth-watering schedule in a landmark season.

“Next year will be a momentous and thrilling one for the FIA World Rally Championship as we welcome the new hybrid era Rally1 cars, part of a portfolio of regulations to drive the series towards a greener and more sustainable future,” he added.

“Next year also marks the WRC’s 50th season and we have a calendar to match. We’re delighted to welcome back New Zealand, a rally which first appeared in 1977. Its gravel roads are a drivers’ delight and although our plans to return in 2020 were unfortunately derailed by Covid-19, it’s fantastic we can now push through with those.

“The pandemic sadly brought the globe to its knees but as the world recovers so, too, does the WRC. We previously outlined our strategy for an equal spread of rallies between Europe and long-haul destinations and the 2022 calendar is a significant step towards that goal.”

The 2022 championship in detail
The season kicks-off with January’s fiendishly difficult Rallye Monte-Carlo in the French Alps, which is based solely in Monaco for the first time since 2006.

It is followed by the spectacular snow and ice of Rally Sweden, the series’ only pure winter fixture, which also has a new home as it relocates north to the east coast city of Umeå. Croatia is the opening pure asphalt encounter and will again be based in Zagreb in late April.

The gravel fixtures begin in Portugal in late-May, the first of a string of gruelling hot weather dirt road rounds. It is followed in June by Italy and Kenya, one of global motorsport’s legendary contests which made a stunning return to the WRC this year.

Blisteringly fast roads in Estonia, which marks the midpoint of the championship, and Finland precede round nine in mid-August at a venue to be confirmed.

Greece, another championship stalwart, returns in September after its successful WRC comeback last month, before the final gravel encounter in New Zealand.

The closing two rounds take place on asphalt. Spain’s late October fixture leads into the finale in Japan, mainstream Asia’s first appearance in the WRC since it last visited the country in 2010.

The 2022 calendar is:
Round Rally Date
1 Monte-Carlo 20 - 23 January
2 Sweden 24 - 27 February
3 Croatia* 21 - 24 April
4 Portugal 19 - 22 May
5 Italy 2 - 5 June
6 Kenya 23 - 26 June
7 Estonia 14 - 17 July
8 Finland 4 - 7 August
9 TBC 18 - 21 August
10 Greece 8 - 11 September
11 New Zealand* 29 September - 2 October
12 Spain 20 - 23 October
13 Japan 10 - 13 November
* Subject to contract
21-10-13 Toyota twins tussle for title at WRC Rally de España
Spain may be the proving grounds for the crown in Ogier and Evans title fight.

Two rounds to go – and just two drivers remain in the FIA World Rally Championship title fight as the destiny of the 2022 crown reaches a potentially decisive point in Spain this weekend.

Sébastien Ogier can seal his eighth drivers’ title in nine seasons at RallyRACC - Rally de España (14 - 17 October). The only man who can deny him and take the battle into a final round decider in Italy next month is Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate, Elfyn Evans.

The contrast could not be greater. Ogier has dominated the WRC over the last decade, delivering 53 rally wins in his career and is now in his final season before stepping back from full-time competition.

Evans secured his fifth WRC event win in Finland a fortnight ago and is desperate for a maiden crown after losing out to Ogier last season. He started the final round at Italy’s legendary Monza race circuit with a points lead but ended in despair after crashing out.

This time around Ogier carries a 24-point advantage in his Yaris World Rally Car onto the smooth asphalt in the hills behind the Costa Daurada, south of Barcelona. The crown will return to France if he outscores Evans by seven points.

It’s the third straight season that Toyota will win the drivers’ crown and Ogier, a Spain winner on three occasions, will come out fighting.
“Spain will be the first realistic chance to claim the title and I know what I need to do to make it happen. When I have the chance to win, I try to fight for it, and this will be the most simple way to achieve our goal,” he said.

Evans is fired up by his Finland success. “The win on Rally Finland was a great result for us. The drivers’ title is still a long shot, but once more we’ll be giving our best in Spain and trying to get the best possible result there,” he enthused.

Ogier, Evans and Kalle Rovanperä can also regain the manufacturers’ title for Toyota. It holds a 61-point lead over Hyundai Motorsport and if that advantage remains above 52 at Sunday’s finish, the Japanese manufacturer can launch its celebrations.

Thierry Neuville, the winner in Spain when the rally was last held in 2019, Ott Tänak and home hero Dani Sordo are the men charged by Hyundai with the task of derailing Toyota. All drive i20 World Rally Cars.

Adrien Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith carry M-Sport Ford’s hopes in Fiesta World Rally Cars, while Oliver Solberg makes his top-flight asphalt debut in an i20 for Hyundai 2C Compétition.

The French squad has also called up Spain’s Nil Solans to replace Pierre-Louis Loubet, whose season is over after breaking his hip in a collision with a car. Toyota also fields a fourth Yaris for Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta.

For the first time since 2009, the rally is pure asphalt. The roads are fast and flowing, but high-grip abrasive surfaces and plenty of hard braking will make it tough for Pirelli’s tyres.

After Thursday evening’s start ceremony in Salou, the action begins on Friday morning. Competitors face 17 stages covering 280.46km before Sunday afternoon’s finish in the holiday resort.
21-10-08 WRC-redo Solberg på spansk asfalt
Bara dagar efter att avancemanget till värstingklassen i världsmästerskapet i rally offentliggjordes får Oliver Solberg chansen att visa sig värdig jobbet i legendariska Rally Spanien nästa vecka.

Tävlingen blir 20-åringens debut på asfalt i VM-sammanhang i värstingklassen. Han har tidigare startat i två WRC-tävlingar; Rally Finland på snö i februari och Rally Kenya på grus i juni. I Finland imponerade debutanten stort genom att köra in till ett antal topplaceringar på specialsträckorna och en sjundeplats totalt.
- Jag är mitt i mitt livs mest spännande period hittills. Det har fortfarande inte helt gått upp för mig att jag ska dela Hyundai Motorsports tredje bil i VM nästa säsong med Dani Sordo. Det är en enorm möjlighet, och jag är oerhört tacksam för det förtroende teamet ger mig, säger Oliver Solberg, som kommer att köra en Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC från 2C Competition -teamet.

Oliver vann sin asfaltdebut i en WRC -bil i det nationella italienska tävlingen rally di Alba i juni, men i den spanska VM-rundan blir tävlingen och nivån helt annorlunda. Nytt för året i Rally Spanien är att hela tävlingen äger rum på asfalterade vägar för första gången sedan 2009. Tarragona-området erbjuder några av de snabbaste och mest spännande vägarna i VM -cirkusen.
- Jag ser verkligen fram emot det. Målet är att samla så många kilometer som möjligt och slutföra tävlingen för att få maximal erfarenhet med tanke på nästa år. WRC-bilen är fortfarande helt ny för mig, och jag behöver tid för att vänja mig vid aerodynamiken på bilen och greppet på Pirelli-däcken. Bonusen blir att uppleva den fantastiska publikfest som den spanska VM-tävlingen är, säger Oliver Solberg.

Britten Craig Drew fortsätter som kartläsare i den spanska VM-tävlingen. Rallyt, baserat i Salou söder om Barcelona, ??startar fredagen den 15 oktober och avslutas på söndagen. Tävlingen är 280,5 kilometer långt fördelat på 17 specialsträckor, varav det längsta är 24,4 kilometer.

Rally Spanien-tidsplan:
Fredag ??15 oktober:
SS1 Vilaplana 1 20,00 km kl. 08:43
SS2 La Granadella 1 21,80 km kl. 10:21
SS3 Riba-roja 1 14,21 km kl. 11:42
Service Port Aventura kl 13:17
SS4 Vilaplana 2 20,00 km kl. 15.00
SS5 La Granadella 2 21,80 km kl. 16:38
SS6 Riba-roja 2 14,21 km kl. 17:59
Service Port Aventura kl 19:49

Lördag 16 oktober:
SS7 Savallà 1 14,08 km kl. 08:44
SS8 Querol-Les Pobles 1 19,17 km kl. 09:37
SS9 El Montmell 1 24,40 km kl. 10:38
Service Port Aventura kl 12:00
SS10 Savallà 2 14,08 km kl. 14:14
SS11 Querol-Les Pobles 2 19,17 km kl. 15:07
SS12 El Montmell 2 24,40 km kl. 16:08
SS13 Salou 2,24 km kl. 18.00
Service Port Aventura kl 18:20

Söndag 17 oktober:
SS14 Santa Marina 1 9,10 km kl. 07.00
SS15 Riudecanyes 1 16,35 km kl. 08:08
Service Port Aventura kl 08:54
SS16 Santa Marina 2 9,10 km kl. 10:29
SS17 Riudecanyes 2 16,35 km kl. 12:18
21-10-06 Oliver Solberg blir WRC-förare 2022
Hyundais 20-årige fabriksförare Oliver Solberg flyttas upp till värstingklassen i rally-VM nästa säsong.

Oliver Solberg, son till Petter Solberg kommer att dela en hybridbil med spanske Daniel Sordo i mästerskapet 2022. Tidigare världsmästaren Ott Tänak och Thierry Neuville kommer att vara teamets ordinarie förare under hela mästerskapet.
- En fantastisk möjlighet, men samtidigt ett stort steg för en 20-åring. Jag har drömt om att köra i rally-VM så länge jag kan minnas. Absolut allt jag har gjort hittills, från crosskart via rallycross och underklasserna i rally, har varit med ett mål i sikte: Att få plats i en fabriksbil i World Rally Championship.
- Jag ser mycket fram emot att få jobba med Dani. Vi har känt varandra i många år, och han är en av de bästa rallysporten kan erbjuda - en som jag verkligen kan lära mig mycket av. Samarbetet med Tänak och Neuville kommer också att bli tätare. För mig blir det viktigt att vara ödmjuk och tålmodig. Jag har fortfarande tusentals kilometer framför mig där fokus ligger på lärandet, säger Oliver Solberg.

Nya hybridbilar kommer att introduceras i Rally -VM 2022.
- De flesta bilarna kommer att vara helt nya, och samma sak med strategier för varje enskild specialsträcka, men det är lika för alla. Vi måste lägga tid på att anpassa oss till de nya bilarna, men jag är mycket nöjd med den riktning som sporten har valt för framtiden. Det kommer att bli fantastiskt att få vara med i det första FIA-mästerskapet någonsin där alla deltagare använder hållbara energilösningar i bilarna, säger 20-åringen.

I VM-tävlingarna som Oliver Solberg ska köra kommer rallyveteranen Sordo att ingå i Hyundai-teamet för att hjälpa till med sin kunskap och erfarenhet.
- Vi fokuserar på en kombination av erfarenhet och ungdom när vi går in i den nya WRC-eran. Det säkerställer också kontinuitet när vi ger oss in på ett nytt kapitel i Hyundai Motorsport, säger teamchef Andrea Adamo.

Redan om en och en halv vecka ska Oliver Solberg köra VM-tävlingen i Spanien, sin tredje VM-tävling i värstingklassen någonsin och den första med asfalt som underlag.

21-10-04 Tuff säsongsavslutning för Tom Kristensson och David Arhusiander i Finland
Trots en bra känsla och goda förhoppningar så hade Tom Kristensson och co-driver David Arhusiander inte den rätta turen på sin sida i Rally Finland. Redan på den andra sträckan på fredagseftermiddagen tvingades man bryta, då kylaren gick sönder vid en hård landning efter ett av de otaliga hoppen som kännetecknar de finska snabba grusvägarna.
- Efter en bra test på måndagen och rekognoseringen av sträckorna såg vi verkligen fram emot tävlingen, säger Tom, nyss hemkommen från Finland.
- Det började även bra på den korta inledande sträckan inne i Jyväskylä, och även på den första skogssträckan fick vi bra känsla ända till den hårda landningen. Efter sträckan kunde vi bara konstatera att kylaren gått sönder, och det var bara att bryta för dagen.

Mekanikerna kunde fixa bilen så att Tom och David kunde starta om på lördagsmorgonen, enligt Rally 2-reglerna. Men på den tionde sträckan fick man problem med kylaren igen och tvingades då bryta tävlingen för gott.
- Det var naturligtvis en stor besvikelse, eftersom jag gillar de utmanade sträckorna, och vi ville ha en positiv avslutning på säsongen, säger Tom, vi hade redan före Finland beslutat att inte köra de två avslutande tävlingarna i Spanien och Italien.
- Nu får vi smälta detta några dagar och sen ta nya tag. Det har på många sätt varit en fantastisk säsong även om det sportsligt varit lite uppförsbacke.
- Att få möjligheten att tävla i den näst högsta nivån i världen är ju en dröm som gått i uppfyllelse, jag är oerhört tacksam för mina partners som gjort det möjligt, och även ett stort tack till all support som jag fått från så många, det gör att det är värt allt slit för att få ihop tävlandet på den här nivån, avslutar Tom

Även för Oliver Solberg, den andre svensken i tävlingen, och i samma klass som Tom, slutade det olyckligt. Efter en avåkning på lördagens första sträcka, tvingades även han bryta tävlingen.


21-10-04 Title-chasing Evans powers to momentous Rally Finland win
Welsh driver expertly holds off the charge of Breen and Tänak to claim victory. Elfyn Evans stormed to victory at Secto Automotive Rally Finland on Sunday afternoon to keep alive his hopes of a maiden FIA World Rally Championship title.

A stunning series of five back-to-back speed test wins on Friday night and Saturday morning propelled the Welshman from fifth to first. He survived intense pressure from Ott Tänak and Craig Breen across the rest of the rally to win by 14.1sec in a Toyota Yaris.

Nothing less than victory would suffice in his title quest and with maximum points for winning the closing Wolf Power Stage, the Welshman slashed championship leader Sébastien Ogier’s advantage from 44 points to 24 with two rounds remaining.

“This one feels good in the way we managed to do it,” smiled Evans, for whom this was a fifth career win. “We struggled a lot [on the fast roads] in Estonia and we made some changes to the car in the test and found some confidence early on.

“I always said from the outset the aim was to do the best on each rally we have left. We have to just focus on doing our best in [the next round] in Spain and worry about the rest later.”

His Toyota Gazoo Racing team is based near the host city of Jyväskylä and victory preserved its unbeaten Rally Finland record since returning to the WRC in 2017. Toyota also increased its manufacturers’ championship lead over Hyundai Motorsport to 61 points.

Against a backdrop of stunning autumnal colours in the forests, the championship’s fastest roads provided tremendous action and Tänak and Breen both led on the opening day in a furious battle in their Hyundai i20s.

Ultimately, they had no answer to Evans’ pace, but set-up improvements midway through Saturday gave Tänak more confidence and he eased clear of Breen to finish 28.1sec ahead.

Despite an overshoot at a junction on Sunday morning, the Irishman bagged his third podium from his last three outings and matched his 2016 result.

Esapekka Lappi, winner in 2017, made a remarkable return to top-level competition in a privately-entered Yaris after 10 months away. The Finn was in the thick of the podium battle in the opening leg and eventually finished fourth, 16.6sec behind Breen.

Ogier ended fifth after a lacklustre drive in his Yaris. He never had the pace to match the leading quartet and a disappointing weekend was made worse when he was hit with a 60sec penalty on Saturday night for not fastening his crash helmet strap correctly earlier in the day.

Gus Greensmith completed the top six in a Ford Fiesta.

The WRC returns to asphalt for the penultimate round at RallyRACC Rally de España on 14 - 17 October. The fixture is based in Salou.

Final positions:
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris 2hr 19min 13.7sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +14.1sec
3. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +42.2sec
4. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Toyota Yaris +58.8sec
5. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +2min 54.4sec
6. G Greensmith / C Patterson GBR Ford Fiesta +5min 02.3sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 10 of 12)
1. S Ogier 190pts
2. E Evans 166pts
3. T Neuville 130pts
21-10-02 Evans powers past rivals to earn Saturday lead in Finland
Welsh driver completes a clean sweep to move clear of Breen and Tänak.
Elfyn Evans swept aside his rivals with a masterful morning attack on Saturday to take control of Secto Automotive Rally Finland. He was fastest on all four speed tests in the autumnal Finnish forests to soar from third to first in his Toyota Yaris, leaving Hyundai i20 duo Craig Breen and Ott Tänak trailing in his wake.

Tänak retaliated this afternoon to claim three stage successes of his own before Evans added another fastest time. They shared the spoils in the final test and Evans drove into the overnight halt with a 9.1sec lead in this 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Victory here is essential for Evans to preserve his hopes of a maiden world title. Although he confessed to a few small errors, he was delighted with his performance on a demanding day that contained more than half the rally’s competitive distance.

“It’s been a good day, I really enjoyed it out there,” Evans said. “It’s been a great fight and obviously there is a long way to go tomorrow but we’ll take it stage by stage.”

Tänak had no answer to the Welshman this morning but set-up changes to his i20 at the mid-leg service transformed his feeling in the car and sparked his afternoon recovery.

Breen started the day in the lead but the Irishman was unable to match the pace of his rivals. After yielding top spot to Evans in this morning’s second stage, he dropped behind Tänak in the afternoon’s opener and ended the day 19.5sec off the lead.

Esapekka Lappi retained fourth in his private Yaris. The Finn was 6.7sec off the lead after yesterday’s opening skirmishes but ended the penultimate leg 25.3sec adrift of Breen.

Kalle Rovanperä was also in the victory battle on Friday night. He relegated Lappi from fourth in Saturday’s opening test, but that mattered little three stages later when the Finn drifted wide before smashing into an earth pile and retiring with frontal damage to his Yaris.

Championship leader Sébastien Ogier was fifth, a further 38.9sec back. The Frenchman remained at odds with his Yaris all morning before set-up changes raised his confidence levels and sparked improved times this afternoon.

His hopes were helped by Thierry Neuville’s demise. The Belgian extended his advantage over Ogier before retiring in the final forest stage when the light pod on his i20 broke free from its mountings in a compression, sending his engine’s water temperature soaring.

Ford Fiesta duo Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux were sixth and seventh.

Takamoto Katsuta retired from eighth in this morning’s Päijälä when he landed awkwardly after a jump and an impact launched his Toyota Yaris into the undergrowth. With the right rear suspension broken, the Japanese driver went no further.

Just four tests covering 45.74km comprise Sunday’s finale. Drivers journey east of Jyväskylä for two runs each on the classic roads of Laukaa and the big jumps of Ruuhimäki. The second pass of Ruuhimäki forms the bonus points paying Wolf Power Stage.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris 1hr 57min 46.7sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +9.1sec
3. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +19.5sec
4. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Toyota Yaris +44.8sec
5. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +1min 23.7sec
6. G Greensmith / C Patterson GBR Ford Fiesta +4min 16.9sec
21-10-02 Oliver Solberg rullade ut från Rally Finland
Hyundai-föraren Oliver Solberg bröt Rally Finland efter att ha rullat bilen på lördagens första specialsträcka.

20-åringen låg på fjärde plats i WRC2-klassen när olyckan inträffade i hans första försök att bemästra det berömda höghastighetsrallyt. Ungefär 3 kilometer in på tävlingens sjunde specialsträcka inträffade olyckan.
- Jag är väldigt ledsen och besviken över det som hände. Vi höll bra fart över ett litet hopp på vägen in i en sväng, men i landningen bottnade stötdämpningen, och vi körde av vägen. Bilen rullade, men lyckligtvis klarade både jag och min kartläsare oss utan några skador, sa Oliver Solberg.
- En sådan olycka var det sista vi behövde nu. Alla i Hyundai Motorsport och RedGrey-teamet har arbetat hårt inför tävlingen, och jag är också mycket besviken på deras vägnar. Jag kom hit för att genomföra rallyt och samla viktig erfarenhet för framtiden, men tyvärr blev det inte så.

Solberg junior kommer inte att starta om i tävlingen, som avslutas på söndagseftermiddagen.
21-10-01 Breen snatches the lead in dramatic start to Rally Finland
Irish driver edges out Ott Tänak after a fascinating day of racing near Jyväskylä. Craig Breen grabbed the lead of Secto Automotive Rally Finland from team-mate Ott Tänak in a gripping night-time forest finale to Friday’s opening leg.

Breen unseated the Estonian, who had led for all but one of the opening five speed tests, with a charging flat-out drive through the closing Oittila special stage – the rally’s first test in darkness since 1994.

With his Hyundai i20’s auxiliary lights blazing on the tree-lined roads, the Irishman overturned a 1.5sec deficit to lead Tänak by 2.8sec. Just 7.9sec blanketed the top five after a frantic Friday with Elfyn Evans, Esapekka Lappi and Kalle Rovanperä hot on their heels.

Breen and Tänak shared two stage wins each and the pair were never separated by more than four seconds as the FIA World Rally Championship’s fastest round lit up the gravel tracks near Jyväskylä.

“It's been an amazing day and I really enjoyed every second,” said Breen. “I always wondered how it would feel in the dark and it definitely lived up to expectations. I think everyone is going to try and find a little extra something tomorrow. We’ll try – we’ll not let it slip by that easily.”

Tänak, who is bidding for his third straight Rally Finland victory, was surprised to be in the fight for victory against a Toyota Gazoo Racing squad, which is based near Jyväskylä and is unbeaten on the rally since 2017.

“We never expected to be in a battle with Toyota,” he admitted. “I had quite a bad pre-event test so we made quite a lot of changes and it seems to be working in parts. But today was just an introduction because tomorrow is a big day.”

Evans even outpaced the duelling Hyundai pair through Oittila to claim the fastest time and leap from fifth to third in a Toyota Yaris. The Welshman kept clear of trouble to end 3.3sec behind Tänak and six-tenths ahead of Lappi.

Lappi, the winner in 2017, was returning to the top tier for the first time since December last year but quickly shook off the rust in a privately-entered Yaris. He ended 1.2sec clear of fellow Finn Rovanperä, whose pace significantly improved on the second pass of the stages.

Thierry Neuville was more than half a minute off the lead in sixth in another i20. The Belgian was cautious throughout but ended with a 2.3sec advantage over championship leader Sébastien Ogier, who was frustrated by his pace.

Takamoto Katsuta led after the opening Harju stage through Jyväskylä’s streets, but the Japanese driver was fortunate to survive a huge high-speed spin after hitting a bump in the next stage. He was eighth, ahead of Ford Fiesta pair Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux.

With 151.95km of relentless action around Jämsä, Saturday’s action comprises more than half the rally’s competitive distance. Four morning stages, including roads from the iconic Ouninpohja test, are repeated in the afternoon after service. A re-run of today’s Harju stage, in darkness, completes a gruelling leg.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 43min 51.3sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +2.8sec
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +6.1sec
4. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Toyota Yaris +6.7sec
5. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +7.9sec
6. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +31.3sec
21-09-30 Kalle Rovanperä targets double celebration at WRC Rally Finland
Finnish driver heads to home event looking for third straight win. Celebrating your 21st birthday by threading a state-of-the art World Rally Car along the world’s fastest rally roads in pursuit of victory in front of passionate home-town fans sounds like a comic-book story.

That’s the reality for Kalle Rovanperä, the hottest property in the FIA World Rally Championship right now, at Secto Automotive Rally Finland (October 1-3).

Rovanperä will put the presents to one side on Friday to chase a third straight gravel road victory, after becoming the WRC’s youngest-ever event winner in Estonia in July and following up with success in Greece earlier this month.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing pilot is the latest motorsport hero from Jyväskylä, the traditional home of the fastest round in the WRC calendar.

Drivers born there have celebrated a remarkable 45 rally wins in the series’ 49-year history, including four-time world champion Tommi Mäkinen, Mikko Hirvonen, Henri Toivonen and Rovanperä’s father, Harri.

The young Rovanperä would like nothing better than to spark another victory party on Sunday.

“Driving Rally Finland in a World Rally Car is going to be one of the coolest things for me in my career so far,” he admitted. “A home rally is always different and Rally Finland is something special. You can really feel the atmosphere there.”

Cars frequently top 200kph on rollercoaster roads amid the forests and lakes of central Finland. The speed, big jumps and blind crests masking corners mean pace notes must be perfect and delivered with pinpoint accuracy by hard-working co-drivers.

The rally runs two months later than normal with autumn well and truly set. Cooler temperatures, wetter roads and less grip on slippery gravel are hazards that drivers must counter this time.

“Now that it’s later in the year, the conditions could be really difficult if it’s wet and muddy,” Rovanperä explained. “That could change things a bit, but I’m really looking forward to it, and it’s going to be really nice to see the fans cheering for us on the stages.”

Toyota Yaris colleague Sébastien Ogier holds a 44-point lead over team-mate Elfyn Evans. If results go his way, the Frenchman could clinch his eighth title here with two rounds remaining.

The Toyota team is based just outside Jyväskylä and the Yaris is undefeated at the rally since the Japanese manufacturer returned to the sport in 2017. But Ogier is taking nothing for granted.

“The Yaris WRC was born on Finnish roads so it should perform well there but I’m expecting tough competition as well, including from my team-mates. Nothing is decided in the championship yet so let’s see what approach we will take on this rally,” he said.

Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta and 2017 winner Esapekka Lappi also drive Yaris cars. Katsuta has stand-in co-driver Aaron Johnston alongside, while Lappi is back at the top level for the first time in 10 months.

Hyundai Motorsport trails Toyota by 57 points in defence of its manufacturers’ title and needs strong performances from i20 World Rally Car trio Thierry Neuville, Ott Tänak and Craig Breen.

Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux complete the top-tier lie-up in M-Sport Ford Fiestas, Frenchman Fourmaux partnered by new co-driver Alexandre Coria for the first time.

The rally starts in Jyväskylä on Friday afternoon and returns for the finish on Sunday afternoon after 19 speed tests covering 287.11km.
21-09-28 Tom Kristensson avslutar årets VM-säsong i helgens Rally Finland
Rally Finland, eller WRC Secto Automotive Rally Finland, som är det officiella namnet är, körs normalt i början av augusti, men på grund av Covid 19 är årets upplaga flyttad till kommande helg.

Huvudort är som vanligt Jyväskylä, knappt 30 mil norr om Helsingfors. Rallyt hade förr namnet "De 1000 sjöars rally" och har även genom åren fått epitetet "Formel 1 på grus", efter de breda och snabba vägarna. På senare år har man dock bytt ut vissa sträckor till lite smalare och mer tekniska, men tävlingen är fortfarande en av de snabbaste i VM-serien, med många spektakulära hopp.
Årets tävling inleds på fredag middag med statsträckan Harju inne i Jyväskylä. Totalt är det 19 specialsträckor på 29 mil som skall avverkas fram till sista sträckan, berömda Ruuhimäki 2 på söndag eftermiddag, som även är så kallad Powerstage. En skillnad, mot när tävlingen går på sommaren blir, att de sista sträckorna både på fredagen och på lördagen, kommer att köras i mörker, något som blir en ny erfarenhet för alla deltagarna.
SMK Hörbys Tom Kristensson och co-driver David Arhusiander, Jämtlands MK, gör i Finland sin sista start i årets VM-serie i WRC 2-klassen, eftersom man valt att avstå tävlingen i Spanien i mitten av oktober och även en eventuell tävling i Monza i Italien senare i höst.

Tom och David generalrepeterade gångna helgen i SM-tävlingen Skilling 500 i Småland i en inhyrd Ford Fiesta från italienska JME Rally Team. Man tvingades dock bryta på den 13 av 15 sträckor.
- Tog höjd i en sväng för passage av en smal bro, men kom ut i lösgrusen och gled i relativt låg fart in i broräcket och förstörde en bärarm, säger Tom
- Vi låg då på en stabil tredjeplats totalt, efter segraren PG Andersson och Pontus Tideman, trots en punktering i slutet på en av sträckorna.
- Jag är ändå väldigt nöjd med tävlingen, eftersom jag fick en känsla i körningen som jag inte haft tidigare i år, det var verkligen kul att köra, fortsätter Tom
- Ärligt sagt trodde jag att det skulle vara lättare att ställa om från den 2-hjulsdrivna, motor svagare bil som jag kört i Junior-VM till en 4-hjulsdriven, starkare, och med betydligt fler inställningsmöjligheter, än vad det visat sig. Helt klart behövs det mil och erfarenhet för att få samma härliga känsla och trygghet som i den 2-hjulsdrivna, men vi har tagit stora steg framåt under året.
- Rally Finland är min favorittävling, speciellt efter min seger i JWRC-klassen 2019, och jag gillar typen och karaktären på vägarna. Vi tar med oss känslan och erfarenheten från Skillingaryd och ser verkligen fram emot tävlingen med tillförsikt, säger Tom.
Favorit i WRC2-klassen är erfarne Mads Östberg i en Citroen C3, men han får se upp för Oliver Solberg i nya Hyundai i20 N Rally2 och på hemmaplan farlige Jari Huttunen i en liknande bil. Intressant skall bli att se vad Teemu Suninen kan prestera efter bytet från Ford Fiesta till en Volkswagen Polo GTI. Tom och David får i Rally Finland sällskap i M-Sport Ford World Rally Team av tjecken Martin Prokop, även han i en Ford Fiesta Rally2.

21-09-24 Finsk fartfest för Oliver Solberg
Full fart på grus blir nästa punkt i VM-programmet för Oliver Solberg. Hyundai-föraren ska köra sin favorittävling för första gången när Rally Finland går av stapeln nästa vecka.

Tävlingen blir den första unge solberg deltar i som "vuxen". Oliver Solberg lämnade nämligen tonåren bakom sig på torsdagen då han fyllde 20 år. Oliver är anmäld i WRC2-klassen och kommer att köra en Hyundai i20 N Rally2-bil.

Solberg får en ny kartläsare i Finland. Britten Craig Drew, tidigare sidekick till den tiofaldiga amerikanska mästaren David Higgins, följer med österut för den finska fartfesten.
- Jag känner Craig väl från tiden som teamkamrater i USA (2019). Jag ser fram emot att få jobba med honom, säger Oliver Solberg.
- Vi måste vara realistiska med resultatet. Det här är första gången jag kör tävlingen, och många av mina konkurrenter känner till vägarna i Rally Finland mycket väl sedan tidigare. Det är inte logiskt att tro att jag kan slå dem så utan vidare. Jag befinner mig fortfarande i en process där erfarenhetsinsamling är den största och viktigaste uppgiften.

I vintras debuterade unge Solberg i största WRC-klassen med ett sensationellt resultat i just Finland, men då gick tävlingen i de norra delarna av landet med snö som underlag. Nästa vecka är Jyväskylä, cirka 250 km norr om Helsingfors, tillbaka som värdort. En förkortad version av det legendariska Ouninpohja-sträckan kommer att vara en av tävlingens höjdpunkter tillsammans med flera specialsträckor som ska köras i kvällsmörker.

Rally Finland startar fredagen den 1 oktober och avslutas efter 19 körda specialsträckor på söndagseftermiddagen.
21-09-14 Monza to form 2021 FIA World Rally Championship finale
ACI Rally Monza joins 2021 FIA WRC calendar in season-closing slot
· Spectacular Italian asphalt fixture to take place on 19 - 21 November
· Mountain roads and iconic circuit will offer demanding challenge

Italy’s ACI Rally Monza will host a spectacular finale to the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship for a second straight season.

The asphalt event will take place on 19 - 21 November and will be based at the famous Autodromo Nazionale de Monza race circuit near Milan, in the north of the country. It will form the 12th and last round of the year.

ACI Rally Monza will replace FORUM8 Rally Japan which was cancelled last week due to the continued effects of the pandemic in the country.

The rally was also drafted into the championship at short notice in 2020 when Sébastien Ogier and Hyundai Motorsport clinched the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles after three days of tense competition on muddy and snowy asphalt.

The rally will include stages at the ‘Temple of Speed’ circuit featuring famous Monza corners such as Michele Alboreto, Lesmo and Curva Grande. There will also be demanding closed public road stages in the mountains to the north of the circuit.

The rally has been held since 1978 and will be the second Italian counter of the season. June’s gravel road Rally Italia Sardegna formed the fifth round of the championship and was won by Ogier.

WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel said the rally would once again provide an exciting challenge for competitors.

“There were plenty of thrills and spills at last year’s rally when wintry conditions played a crucial part,” he said. “This year’s event will be held earlier, but the ‘Temple of Speed’ allied with tough roads in the foothills of the Alps will ensure the action will be equally breathtaking.

“We are obviously tremendously disappointed at the cancellation, for unavoidable reasons, of FORUM8 Rally Japan after so much hard work. Equally we are grateful for ACI’s commitment in stepping in again at short notice to provide a fitting finale to the WRC season.

“Our heartfelt thanks go to JAF, motorsport’s governing body in Japan, rally organisers SAN’S Inc., the government and the local authorities in the rally region which contributed so much preparation. We remain totally committed to returning to Japan in 2022 when we’re sure conditions will allow,” he added.

FIA rally director Yves Matton said: “The cancellation of Rally Japan due to Covid-19 is clearly very disappointing and another tough blow for the organisers who have worked so hard with no reward for a second year.”

“ACI Rally Monza stepped in at a very late stage last season and yet the organisers managed to deliver a strong and innovative event around the iconic circuit.

“President Angelo Sticchi Damiani and his team from ACI demonstrated they have all it takes to put on a top-class WRC event and it is very positive news to count on their commitment and professionalism this year to again host the championship finale,” he added.

Angelo Sticchi Damiani, Automobile Club d’Italia president, said: “The confirmation of the ACI Rally Monza within the World Rally Championship shows on the one side the great relationship among Automobile Club d’Italia, FIA and WRC Promoter that is based on mutual trust and respect, and from the other the value of the format of this rally that has been highly appreciated last year.

“Once again, Automobile Club d’Italia made itself available by providing a unique location that will be the extraordinary setting for the finale of the WRC 2021 campaign in order to complete the calendar of this world series in a moment that is still quite tough.

“The Temple of Speed of Monza will welcome again the WRC cars hoping that fans can be the icing on the cake of this extraordinary event. The organisation work has started and all the staff is working to deliver the best possible event.”
21-09-13 Oliver Solberg får en ny WRC -chans i slutet av säsongen
För tredje gången någonsin kommer Oliver Solberg att få mäta sig mot världens-eliten i rally i en fullspäckad WRC-bil när världsmästerskapet besöker Spanien i nästa månad.

19-åringen, som fyller 20 år om en vecka, vann sin asfaltdebut i italienska Rally di Alba i juni. Om en månad kommer svårighetsgraden att öka avsevärt när asfaltvägarna i området kring Salou, sydväst om Barcelona, ??ska erövras i Rally Spanien.
- Det är det jag jobbar för varje dag, hela tiden. Att få en sådan möjlighet är ett privilegium, och jag kommer att göra allt i min makt för att ta hand om det. Atmosfären, specialsträckorna och fansen i Catalonien är legendariska. Vi närmar oss slutet för den här generationen WRC -bilar och det kommer att bli väldigt speciellt att köra en i ett av de sista tävlingarna någonsin, säger Oliver Solberg.

Den finska vintertävlingen i februari och Safari Rallyt i Kenya i juni är unga Solbergs VM-erfarenhet i värstingklassen hittills. Hyundais plan har alltid varit att matcha tonåringen noggrant under sin första säsong som fabriksförare.
- För fortsättningen blir det viktigt för Oliver att köra mer tävlingar på asfalt. Dessutom anser vi att chansen är stor att Rally Spain är en av tävlingarna som kommer att få stanna i VM-kaländerna även i framtiden.

Målet är att han ska slutföra rallyt, säger teamchef Andrea Adamo i Hyundai Motorsport.
VM-tävlingen i Spanien äger rum 14–17 oktober och är säsongens sista tävling.
21-09-12 Masterful Rovanperä storms to Acropolis Rally triumph
Finnish driver dominates from start to finish to win in Greece. Kalle Rovanperä landed his second FIA World Rally Championship event win on Sunday afternoon after dominating EKO Acropolis Rally Greece.

The 20-year-old Finn led for virtually the entire four-day fixture on rocky mountain roads in central Greece to win by 42.1sec in a Toyota Yaris. The victory came two months after he became the youngest WRC winner in history in Estonia.

Ott Tänak finished second in a Hyundai i20 after a late scare, with championship leader Sébastien Ogier driving a measured rally to finish third in another Yaris, a further 29.2sec back. The Frenchman extended his points lead to 44 with three rounds remaining.

Rain in the run-up made conditions unpredictable on the rally’s WRC return after an eight-year absence. Rugged gravel tracks were interspersed with muddy sections that failed to dry, ensuring unpredictable driving and difficult tyre choices.

Rovanperä took the lead in the third speed test on Friday morning and was never headed. He, Tänak and Ogier were covered by 3.9sec on Friday night but a blistering turn of speed on Saturday delivered four straight stage wins and carried him almost 40sec clear.

He managed his advantage through the remaining stages and sealed a perfect weekend with maximum bonus points for winning the Wolf Power Stage. Rovanperä and Ogier increased Toyota Gazoo Racing’s lead at the top of the manufacturers’ standings to 57 points over Hyundai Motorsport.

“I was not maybe the most comfortable coming here but it just shows that now everything is going well for us and we can push hard,” smiled Rovanperä. “We had a perfect car and also a rough rally and it was running without issues all the time.”

Tänak never felt comfortable but was glad to accept second after final day electrical issues. His car then refused to fire up ahead of the closing stage. It eventually started, with smoke clearly visible, and he completed the test with no further dramas.

With closest title rivals Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans plunging down the order after first day problems, Ogier was content with a risk-free approach that further strengthened his bid to secure an eighth WRC title.

Dani Sordo was almost two minutes further back in fourth in another i20, the Spaniard frustrated at not being on podium pace. He had nearly three minutes in hand over Gus Greensmith, who moved ahead of Ford Fiesta team-mate Adrien Fourmaux.

Fourmaux incurred a three-minute penalty when his car would not start before Sunday’s opening stage. A spark plug change solved the issue and although he moved ahead of Evans in the penultimate stage, a final test spin dropped him behind again to seventh.

Evans salvaged sixth after opening day transmission troubles in his Yaris, with Neuville recovering to eighth after losing time with damaged power steering.

The championship journeys to Finland next month for another classic WRC fixture at the fastest round in the calendar. Secto Automotive Rally Finland is based in Jyväskylä on 1-3 October.

Final positions:
1. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris 3hr 28min 24.6sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +42.1sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +1min 11.3sec
4. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 +3min 01.0sec
5. G Greensmith / C Patterson GBR Ford Fiesta +5min 45.0sec
6. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +6min 42.7sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 9 of 12)
1. S Ogier 180pts
2. E Evans 136pts
3. T Neuville 130pts

21-09-11 Bruten VM-tävling för Oliver Solberg
Hyundai-föraren Oliver Solberg fick bryta VM-tävlingen Rally Acropolis på lördagen.
Vid tävlingens nionde specialsträcka var bilen så skadad att de inte kunde tävla vidare. Innan olyckan inträffade hade 19-åringen imponerat enormt på rallyts knappt 25 kilometer långa åttonde specialsträcka där han krossade klassrivalerna med tio sekunder. Solberg var också sensationellt nog snabbare än en av WRC-fabriksbilarna i värstingklassen.
- Vi hade problem med stötdämpningen första dagen och på grund av det tappade vi ledningen och fick stå över flera specialsträckor. Det som hände på lördagen var helt vårt eget fel. Men vi är ett team, vilket innebär att vi båda förlorar och vinner tillsammans. Det är lite svårt att acceptera just nu, men vi kommer tillbaka starkare, sa Oliver Solberg, som inte kommer att starta om på söndagen.

Från tävlingen kan Solberg ta med sig två sträcksegrar.
- Vi kör en helt nyutvecklad bil, och det positiva vi tar med oss ??härifrån är att den visar stort potential.
Nästa tävling för Solberg och kartläsaren Aaron Johnston blir VM-tävlingen Rally Finland som körs första helgen i oktober.
21-09-11 Ruthless Rovanperä builds strong Saturday advantage in Greece
Finnish driver dominates to move well clear of Tänak and Ogier. Kalle Rovanperä charged into a half-minute lead after a remarkable debut display at EKO Acropolis Rally Greece on Saturday.

The 20-year-old, who scored his maiden FIA World Rally Championship victory in Estonia two months ago, is on course for his second after a blistering turn of speed on rocky mountain roads in central Greece.

Friday’s enthralling opening leg left Rovanperä, Ott Tänak and Sébastien Ogier blanketed by 3.9sec overnight. But the Finn won the first four of today’s six speed tests in the Fthiotida mountains south of Lamia to build a lead of almost 40sec in his Toyota Yaris.

He eased his pace slightly in this afternoon’s two repeat stages, in which the surface was rougher in places and polished in others, to end the longest day of this ninth round with a 30.8sec advantage over a duelling Tänak and Ogier.

Rovanperä, competing in Greece for the first time, was fortunate to escape when the rear of his Yaris slid into a ditch in the morning’s Bauxites stage.

“It was a huge moment, I was pushing a bit too much,” he smiled. “When we made some set-up changes to gain some protection in the afternoon’s rough sections we lost a little bit of traction. But we were wise and not doing anything stupid, it’s still a long way to the end of the rally.”

Tänak distanced Ogier with the second fastest time in each of the first three tests, but slipped back into the Frenchman’s clutches with a lacklustre drive in the next.

The margin plunged to 2.5sec but set-up changes allied with softer compound Pirelli tyres enabled the Estonian to widen the gap to 9.4sec in his Hyundai i20.

Ogier was unconcerned. With nearest title rivals Elfyn Evans and Thierry Neuville still climbing the order after problems yesterday, the reigning champion knows a podium in his Yaris would further enhance his 38-point lead.

Dani Sordo was a lonely fourth in an i20. The Spaniard struggled to find a set-up with which he was comfortable and an error-free day placed him almost 90sec adrift of Ogier and nearly 70sec ahead of Adrien Fourmaux’s Ford Fiesta.

Fourmaux dropped time after nosing into a roadside barrier but the Frenchman stayed ahead of team-mate Gus Greensmith, who conceded a handful of seconds with a spin. The margin between the M-Sport Ford duo was 15.8sec.

Sunday’s finale totals 69.25km west of Lamia. A double run through the legendary Tarzan sandwiches a single pass of Pyrgos, the longest test of the rally. The second run of Tarzan forms the Wolf Power Stage, with bonus points on offer in the drivers’ and manufacturers’ series.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris 2hr 36min 52.8sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +30.8sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +40.2sec
4. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 +2min 09.4sec
5. A Fourmaux / R Jamoul FRA Ford Fiesta +3min 19.2sec
6. G Greensmith / C Patterson GBR Ford Fiesta +3min 35.0sec
21-09-10 Rovanperä leads in Greece as Ogier’s WRC title rivals suffer
A Friday to forget for championship hopefuls Evans and Neuville. Kalle Rovanperä led EKO Acropolis Rally Greece on Friday night after an enthralling day which could prove decisive in the outcome of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.

Three different drivers fought for supremacy during the first full day of competition in the Acropolis’ first WRC appearance since 2013. The trio were blanketed by just 3.9sec after a gruelling day on rocky gravel mountain tracks.

The 20-year-old Finn, driving a Toyota Yaris, ended 3.7sec clear of Ott Tänak’s Hyundai i20, with championship leader Sébastien Ogier two-tenths further back in another Yaris.

It was a miserable day for Ogier’s title rivals. Elfyn Evans, second in the points, drove all but the opening speed test with his Yaris jammed in gear and lost almost five minutes. Thierry Neuville, who is tied with Evans, lost nearly six minutes with broken power steering. Both languished near the bottom of the top 20.

Rovanperä won two of the five rugged special stages as the rally threaded up the country following Thursday’s spectacular start in Athens. After a cautious opening test when the Greek debutant focused on understanding the tyre wear on the rocky roads, he demoted Ogier and was never headed.

“They were really challenging conditions and after Thierry and Elfyn got behind us [in the running order], there was quite a lot of road cleaning also,” said Rovanperä. “When it was dry the conditions were what I was expecting. You need to take care of the car and the tyres, manage the speed and know where to push.”

Tänak was never comfortable. His car’s engine stalled on several occasions in the twisty morning sections and an overheating damper added to his woes. “I had no feeling. I can’t go through the whole rally like this. It’s difficult but I will keep pushing,” said the Estonian.

Ogier briefly slipped into second but was relegated again in the final test. Third was well beyond the Frenchman’s expectations after opening the roads and sweeping dusty gravel from the line to leave more grip for those behind.

Dani Sordo was 20sec further adrift in an i20. The Spaniard incurred a 10sec penalty for a jump start but had half a minute in hand over Adrien Fourmaux’s Ford Fiesta in fifth.

Gus Greensmith completed the top six after a troubled day which included a spin, a puncture and a leaking suspension damper in his Fiesta.

Saturday is the longest and toughest leg, covering six stages and 132.56 competitive kilometres south of Lamia, on roads which were covered in mud during the recce. Double passes through Pavliani and Eleftherohori will be especially hard.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris 1hr 01min 57.1sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +3.7sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +3.9sec
4. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 +23.9sec
5. A Fourmaux / R Jamoul FRA Ford Fiesta +54.2sec
6. G Greensmith / C Patterson GBR Ford Fiesta +1min 23.3sec
21-09-08 Gruelling Greek classic returns to WRC after eight-year absence
EKO Acropolis Rally Greece (9 - 12 September), a fixture with an historic reputation as one of the toughest in the FIA World Rally Championship, returns to the series this week for the first time since 2013.

Punishing rocky tracks in the mountains north of Athens and blistering mid-summer temperatures established the ‘Rally of Gods’ as a WRC classic after it first appeared in the championship’s inaugural season in 1973.

The gravel roads are expected to be smoother and early September means the thermometer will be lower than its traditional June date, but the Acropolis still demands respect as the battle for world titles moves into the final third of the season.

Sébastien Ogier carries a 38-point lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Elfyn Evans, who is tied with Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville, winner last time out on home roads in Belgium.

Ogier has duelled with the Acropolis on four occasions, and came out on top in 2011, but is treating its return like an entirely new rally.

“The Acropolis Rally is one of these events which made the history of the WRC and we’ve missed it now for a few years,” said the Frenchman.

“Of course, we can have some idea of what to expect from the past, but it will be a new event in the sense that I think everybody will have to write new pace notes. It’s always nice when everybody starts from the same level like that.”

Ogier and Evans are joined in Toyota Yaris World Rally Cars by Kalle Rovanperä, the trio with their sights also set on defending the Japanese squad’s 41-point lead in the manufacturers’ series.

Neuville is joined in Hyundai i20 World Rally Cars by Ott Tänak and Dani Sordo. Spaniard Sordo replaces Craig Breen in the Korean team’s line-up and is partnered by his third co-driver of the season as Candido Carrera makes his debut.

Neuville is under no illusions as to what faces him.

“The stages have some very twisty profiles with a lot of loose stones and hot temperatures. It will be very challenging as not only do you need to go flat out, but you also need to manage the car and the tyres. Strategy will be very important, but that’s something we like,” he said.

M-Sport Ford has traditionally revelled on the rough stuff. The British squad won the Acropolis seven times in 10 years between 2000 and 2009. Adrien Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith drive Fiesta World Rally Cars and are joined for this round by Greek Joudan Serderidis.

The top-level entries are completed by Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet in an i20.

Rain left a coating of thick mud on the tracks as recce got under way earlier in the week. With better forecasts for the rally itself and temperatures climbing, it remains to be seen how quickly the roads will dry.

After Thursday afternoon’s start beneath Athens’ Acropolis citadel, a quickfire asphalt blast in front of the capital’s stunning Parliament building opens the action. Three more days of competition around Loutraki and Lamia follow before Sunday afternoon’s finish after 15 stages covering 292.19km.

21-09-03 Dubbel VM-lycka för Oliver Solberg
Under de kommande tre veckorna kör rallyföraren Oliver Solberg (19) de två legendariska VM-tävlingarna Rally Acropolis och Rally Finland. Nästa vecka körs det klassiska Acropolis Rally i Grekland. Rallyt har en historia som går tillbaka ända till 1951 och är i år tillbaka i VM-programmet för första gången sedan 2013. Pappa Petter Solberg vann Acropolis Rallyt i Grekland 2004.

Veckan efter ska 20-årsdagen firas och sedan bär det av direkt till den finska fartfesten, där pappa Petter satte ett hastighetsrekord på det episka specialsträckan Ouninpohja för 17 år sedan.
- Jag har testat mycket på grus med den nya bilen och vet vilken potential den har. Samtidigt måste vi vara medvetna om att bilen är helt nyutvecklad, och med det följer ofta några överraskningar. Det viktigaste för både bilen och mig är att få så mycket fullfartskilometer som möjligt, säger Oliver Solberg.

Den nya Hyundai i20 N Rally2 modellen debuterade med unga Solberg bakom ratten i Belgien förra VM-tävlingen. Där fick ekipaget bryta i klassledning den sista dagen på grund av ett elfel.
- Pappa och jag pratar hela tiden om tävlingarna, specialsträckorna, vilka utmaningar som väntar och val som måste göras, men först och främst måste jag köra själv och skapa mina egna upplevelser. Särskilt i Grekland kommer det vara viktigare att använda huvudet än att trycka hårt med höger foten. Stora stenar och andra faror ligger och väntar, särskilt under andra varvet på specialsträckorna. Dessutom är det ingen service mitt på dagen under fredagens etapp.

Tävlingen i Finland blir nästan motsatsen. Tekniska och gropiga vägar ersätts med blixtsnabba och raka sträckor.
- Medan du i Grekland måste köra långsamt så fort du kan, handlar det bara om fart, fart och fart i Finland. Jag har suttit i timmar under åren och tittat på video av min pappas rekord från 2004, och det kommer väl till pass nu då delar av Oninpohja-sträckan finns på programmet även i år, säger Oliver Solberg.

Rally Finland kör helgen 1 - 3 oktober.
21-08-20 Acropolis Rally return heralds COSMOTE TV deal in Greece
WRC Promoter and COSMOTE TV prolong broadcast agreement
· Greek fans can watch WRC exclusively on COSMOTE TV into 2022
· New deal confirmed ahead of EKO Acropolis Rally Greece comeback

Greek rally fans will enjoy more than 150 hours of action-packed live FIA World Rally Championship coverage next season in an expanded broadcast partnership between WRC and COSMOTE TV.

WRC Promoter, which owns the commercial rights to the championship, has finalised a 12-month extension to its agreement with the Athens-based broadcaster until the end of 2022.

WRC fans are buzzing following confirmation earlier this year that the fabled EKO Acropolis Rally Greece will return to the series on 9 - 12 September following an eight-year absence.

The gruelling gravel road event forged a reputation as one of the WRC’s iconic fixtures after joining the inaugural season in 1973. In March WRC Promoter finalised a multi-year agreement with the Greek government for the legendary Acropolis to return.

COSMOTE SPORT channels will screen exclusively in Greece live coverage of more than 10 adrenaline-filled special stages from each WRC round.

Output will also include daily and post-event highlights shows and the highly successful WRC+ All Live programming, which also features expert analysis, service park interviews and special behind-the-scenes features.

The pay-TV service is planning significant coverage from the opening day of EKO Acropolis Rally Greece, known as ‘Rally of Gods’, which is based in Athens, before continuing over the next three days with WRC TV’s programming as the rally moves north to Lamia.

Philipp Maenner, media rights director at WRC Promoter, said enthusiasm for WRC was surging among Greek fans.

“The dramatic twists and turns in recent rounds have enthralled fans in Greece, as well as everywhere else across the globe, and the return of EKO Acropolis Rally Greece to the 2021 calendar has further enhanced the already deep-seated and passionate following for WRC there.

“COSMOTE TV is the home of motorsport in Greece and both parties’ eagerness to finalise this extension for 2022 so early in the current year highlights the fervour for WRC among fans there.”

As well as holding exclusive rights in Greece, COSMOTE TV is also the exclusive broadcaster of the WRC in the Greek language.
21-08-15 Resurgent Neuville bags emotional Belgium WRC triumph
Thierry Neuville wins first victory of WRC season at Renties Ypres Rally Belgium. Thierry Neuville clinched his first victory of the FIA World Rally Championship season on home roads at Renties Ypres Rally Belgium on Sunday afternoon.

He led for virtually the entire event, fending off a fierce first-day challenge from team-mate Craig Breen. The Hyundai i20 duo then settled for a formation finish after three days and almost 300km of action on narrow Flanders farm lanes and the Spa-Francorchamps race circuit.

Neuville’s winning margin was 30.7sec and marked a first WRC win for co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe. The success revitalised Neuville’s title challenge, promoting him into a tie for second in the championship standings with Elfyn Evans.

After the finish of the final speed test at Spa, Neuville celebrated victory at Belgium’s first WRC round with a series of donuts before saying: “We had a lot of pressure coming here, but I felt quite comfortable all weekend and I could rely on my team and my car.

“It was a pleasure for me to give this first win to Martijn here in Belgium. It should have come earlier, but we were unlucky. It feels good here now.”

Neuville, Breen and Ott Tänak won 15 of the 20 speed tests between them for Hyundai Motorsport and the 1-2 finish enabled the squad to reduce the deficit to manufacturers’ series leaders Toyota Gazoo Racing to 41 points.

Irishman Breen, for whom this was only his second asphalt appearance in an i20 World Rally car, secured back-to-back runner-up finishes after a similar result in Estonia last month.

Kalle Rovanperä finished third in a Toyota Yaris after coming out on top of a frantic intra-team fight with Evans and Sébastien Ogier. The young Finn traded places with Evans all rally and regained third this morning before holding off the frustrated Welshman by 6.5sec.

Ogier’s hopes of a podium place were ended by a Sunday morning puncture. There was consolation for the Frenchman as he extended his lead in the drivers’ championship to 38 points with four rounds remaining. He ended 6.2sec behind Evans.

Tänak was a distant sixth after falling away from the victory fight with a Saturday morning puncture.

Belgium’s demanding roads caused a host of problems. Takamoto Katsuta and Adrien Fourmaux retired after huge crashes while Gus Greensmith and Pierre-Louis Loubet finished well down the order after sliding into ditches on Saturday morning.

Drivers are back on gravel next month as Acropolis Rally Greece returns to the championship for the first time since 2013. The rally will be based in Lamia on September 9-12.

Final positions:
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 2hr 30min 24.2sec
2. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +30.7sec
3. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +43.1sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +49.6sec
5. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +55.8sec
6. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +3min 46.5sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 8 of 12)
1. S Ogier 162pts
2. E Evans 124pts
3. T Neuville 124pts
21-08-15 Marginalerna var inte på Tom Kristenssons sida i Ypres Rally Belgium, tvingades bryta
VM-deltävlingen Ypres Rally blev precis så utslagsgivande som förutspåtts trots att regnet uteblev som troligen hade gjort det ännu svårare för de tävlande.

För Tom Kristensson och co-driver David Arhusiander tog tävlingen slut på fredagens sista sträcka,
då man touchade ett träd med höger framhjul, och det tog så pass illa att man tvingades bryta.
- Vi kom över ett litet krön och det var lite lös grus på asfalten, framvagnen gled ute lite i nästa innersväng, en buske skymde ett träd som vi slog i. Hade vi kommit 5 cm längre ut hade vi klarat trädet. Stöddämparen och hjulupphägningen fick en smäll, men vi trodde att det skulle gå att reparera så att vi kunde starta om på lördagen enligt de så kallade Rally 2-reglerna. Tyvärr visade sig att även chassit hade fått en skada som man inte kan reparera under tävlingen, vilket innebar att vi fick bli åskådare resten av helgen, säger Tom
- Känns naturligtvis oerhört surt och tungt, så små marginaler, men rally är rally och sånt händer!
- Annars hade tävlingen startat mycket bra för oss, med rätt fokus, bra känsla och en fart som gav bra tider, och vi kände att vi skulle kunna förbättra oss ytterligare utan att ta för stora risker, så det var tråkigt för både oss och teamet.
- Jag gillade vägarna, även om underlaget var lurigt, och det var lätt att glida ner i något av de djupa diken som omger dem, vilket ett antal ekipage fick erfara, bl.a. Nikolay Gryazin i vår klass.
- Trots all finns det mycket positivt att med sig från tävlingen, inte minst att känslan med bilen blir bättre och bättre, så det är bara att komma tillbaka och jobba för nästa planerade tävling i Finland i månadskiftet september-oktober, avslutar Tom

I WRC 2-klassen blev det till slut ett stort man fall då fler fick ge upp. Toms teamkamrat i M-Sport, Teemu Suninen fick ge upp på lördagen med överhettad motor, och Oliver Solberg hade oturen att motorn stannade före första sträckan på söndagen, då han hade en klar ledning. Till slut stod finnländaren Jari Huttunen som segrare, men han hade inte heller en problemfri tävling med ett par punkteringar.

Segrare i WRC klassen och totalsegrare blev en mycket glad Thierry Neuville, som tog sin första seger för året och dessutom på hemmaplan.
21-08-15 Elchock för Oliver Solberg
Karriärens första seger som rallyproffs var mer eller mindre klar. Oliver Solberg behövde bara ta bilen till mål under Rally Belgien sista dag, men 19-åringen fick sin dröm om segern krossad. Bilen kom aldrig till startlinjen på söndagsmorgonen på grund av ett elfel.

Oliver ledde WRC2-klassen i rallyt med mer än 3 och en halv minut, vilket är ren utklassning i rally-VM. Och ändå hade han tappat ungefär lika mycket på grund av ett fel med servostyrningen som följde honom hela lördagen.

På väg från serviceparken i Ypres till formel 1-banan Spa-Francorchamps på söndagsmorgonen ”dog” bilen.
- Den bara stannade längs vägen. VI försökte allt vi kunde för att ta reda på vad som var fel och reparera bilen, men utan resultat. Naturligtvis är det en besvikelse att uppleva att en seger bara försvinner från våra händer på det sättet, sa Oliver Solberg.

Det var Hyundai Motorsports premiärtävling med den helt nya R5-modellen i20 N Rally2 nu i Belgien, en bil som Solberg junior har varit med och utvecklat under året.
- Vi upplevde några problem som man kan förvänta med en helt ny bil, men samtidigt visade vi lite vilken potential bilen verkligen har, så framtiden ser definitivt ljus ut. Lyckligtvis för teamet tog min stallkamrat Jari Huttunen över ledningen efter att vi fick bryta, nu korsar vi fingrarna för att han kan säkra segern, sa Solberg

Nästa VM-rally äger rum i Grekland. Classic Rally Acropolis körs helgen den 9 till 12 september.

Solberg, som fyller 20år nästa månad, vann sin karriärs enda klassvinst hittills i VM i Estland för nästan ett år sedan, då som privatförare i WRC3-klassen
21-08-14 Confident Neuville closes on WRC success in Belgium
Thierry Neuville remained on course for a home victory at Renties Ypres Rally Belgium after a fast and furious second leg on Saturday.

Hunting a first win of the FIA World Rally Championship season, Neuville heads Hyundai i20 World Rally Car team-mate Craig Breen by 10.1sec with a day remaining at this eighth round.

After Friday’s frantic fight in Flanders’ asphalt farm lanes, after which they were separated by 7.6sec, the pair were again in a class of their own on narrow fast roads south of Ypres.

Breen threw down the gauntlet to win the opening two speed tests and trim the deficit to 3.5sec. Neuville fought back to beat the Irishman in the next two and reach mid-leg service with his lead up to 6.8sec.

He added two more stage wins this afternoon compared to Breen’s one, extending his advantage as the Hyundai drivers appeared content to hold position while a trio of Toyota Yaris cars fought for the final podium place behind.

“We knew it was a challenging day and there’s one more to come tomorrow in a different area and different kind of stages,” said Neuville. “Nothing is done yet, but a big part of the rally has been managed by us very well so far. Of course, it’s always nice when you go more flat out, but we have to manage and be clever.”

Hyundai restarted with a podium lockout, but Ott Tänak dropped three minutes in the opening test stopping to change a puncture. A faulty jack added to the Estonian’s woes as he plunged to sixth.

Instead Elfyn Evans, Kalle Rovanperä and championship leader Sébastien Ogier battled all day for third and were covered by 4.3sec at the close. Welshman Evans won one morning stage and Ogier scored two fastest times this afternoon.

Evans finished more than half a minute adrift of Breen but with a crucial 3.3sec in hand over Rovanperä. Ogier was unhappy on dirty roads this morning, but felt more comfortable this afternoon and closed to within 1.0sec of the young Finn.

Toyota’s challenge was down to three after Takamoto Katsuta crashed heavily in the morning Dikkebus stage. The Japanese driver hit a bump in a fast corner, which threw his Yaris into a ditch. It pirouetted through the air and hit an electricity pole before a violent landing. He and co-driver Keaton Williams were unhurt, but their rally was over.

Pierre-Louis Loubet also retired when the Frenchman drifted wide into a ditch on the exit of a tight right corner in Hollebeke and his i20 could not be retrieved.

The focus switches 300km east for Sunday’s finale at the Spa-Francorchamps race circuit, near the German border. Two identical stages are driven twice, covering 40.52km, mixing country roads with iconic track sections such as Eau Rouge, Raidillon and Malmedy. The rally ends with bonus points available in the Wolf Power Stage.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 2hr 06min 18.8sec
2. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +10.1sec
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +42.4sec
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +45.7sec
5. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +46.7sec
6. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +3min 55.2sec
21-08-13 Neuville tops team-mate Breen as battle commences at Rally Belgium
Belgian driver excels on Friday to take the lead on home soil. Thierry Neuville outgunned Hyundai Motorsport team-mate Craig Breen on Friday evening to close a captivating opening leg of Renties Ypres Rally Belgium in the lead of his home event.

The pair could barely be separated during this afternoon’s opening loop of four speed tests through narrow asphalt farm lanes, which Neuville ended 0.4sec to the good in his i20 World Rally Car.

Fastest times on all three evening special stages (the final test was cancelled for safety reasons) delivered the Belgian a 7.6sec lead with two days remaining of this eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Ott Tänak completed a Hyundai podium lockout in third.

Neuville’s only problem was a bizarre one. His trademark spectacles slipped down his face in the afternoon’s action, disrupting his concentration but clearly not slowing his pace.

“The target this evening was the same as this morning - just to have a clean run through,” said Neuville. “My gravel crew has done a good job so I felt comfortable to drive a little bit faster and extend the lead. We are in a good rhythm and that’s important.”

Tänak led after the opening test but an overshoot in the next allowed his two colleagues to break clear. Breen led for two stages before Neuville edged clear and the Irishman could not match his team-mate’s pace in the repeat loop.

“The lead has gone out a little bit, but I have to be pleased with how the day has gone,” Breen said. “We knew it would be a challenge to try and match Thierry here, so after 130km of stages to be only seven seconds behind, we have to be quite happy with that.”

Tänak headed a thrilling four-car fight for third with the quartet blanketed by 8.2sec. The Estonian’s car was down on power this evening but he had enough speed to repel Kalle Rovanperä, who headed a four-car Toyota Yaris train in fourth.

Rovanperä was 1.4sec adrift and just eight-tenths clear of Elfyn Evans, who he demoted in the final stage. Evans was frustrated, happy with the feeling he had behind the wheel but dismayed at his times.

Championship leader Sébastien Ogier completed the top six. He lost valuable seconds with a front left puncture this afternoon and was uncomfortable with his car’s set-up. Changes at the mid-leg service left the Frenchman in a happier frame of mind after the evening action.

It was a disastrous opening for M-Sport Ford. Adrien Fourmaux retired in SS3 after clipping a bank and launching his Fiesta into a huge airborne spin, while Gus Greensmith exited just 200 metres after the start of the next stage when he dropped his car into a ditch.

Saturday’s leg features another compact day south of Ypres covering 119.92km of stages. Four morning tests beginning with Hollebeke, at 25.86km the longest of the rally, are repeated in the afternoon.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 1hr 04min 27.0sec
2. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +7.6sec
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +31.2sec
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +32.6sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +33.4sec
6. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +39.4sec
21-08-13 Eager Neuville aims to cash in at Belgium WRC debut
Belgian driver bids to give his FIA World Rally Championship title aspirations a boost on home roads.

Thierry Neuville bids to give his FIA World Rally Championship title aspirations a badly-needed boost on home roads this weekend as Belgium becomes the 35th country to stage a round of the series.

Neuville has bagged five third places in seven rounds but is still searching for his first victory of the year. He trails championship leader Sébastien Ogier by 52 points with five fixtures remaining.

Renties Ypres Rally Belgium (13 - 15 August) provides a perfect opportunity for the Hyundai i20 World Rally Car driver to close on Ogier. Neuville is one of the few top-level drivers with Ypres experience and won the asphalt event in 2018 before it reached WRC status.

He better than anyone understands the characteristics of West Flanders’ narrow farm roads on which the bulk of the event is based, before a final day charge across the country for a finale at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps race circuit.

The lanes are littered with tight junctions and lined by drainage ditches and telegraph poles. Big cuts in corners mean mud and debris will be dragged onto the asphalt, making conditions progressively dirty.

“It’s very challenging as the roads are quite narrow and slippery and the ditches on both sides are always very deep, so you have to make sure to not make any mistakes and keep all four wheels on the road,” explained Neuville.

“I think we are going to see a lot of action. It has different characteristics to any other Tarmac event we’ve seen so far.”

Neuville is joined in Hyundai Motorsport’s line-up by 2019 Ypres winner Craig Breen and Ott Tänak, the trio seeking to eat into Toyota Gazoo Racing’s 59-point manufacturers’ championship lead.

Ogier is supported by Elfyn Evans, second in the drivers’ standings, and Kalle Rovanperä, who scored his debut WRC victory in Estonia last month. They drive Yaris World Rally Cars.

“Generally, the grip is changing a lot there and I think this will be the main difficulty when we are trying to find the limits without any previous experience of this rally,” Ogier explained.

“It’s nice to be in the position we are right now with a bit of a lead in the championship, but we have to stay focused with some difficult rallies – like this one – still to come.”

Adrien Fourmaux replaces Teemu Suninen in M-Sport Ford’s Fiesta World Rally Car line-up alongside Gus Greensmith.

Takamoto Katsuta pilots a fourth Yaris and is co-driven by Keaton Williams for the first time as regular partner Dan Barritt recuperates from back injuries suffered in Estonia. Pierre-Louis Loubet completes the top-tier drivers in a huge entry of more than 100 competitors, driving an i20.

The rally starts in Ypres on Friday afternoon and competitors tackle 20 stages covering 295.78km before Sunday afternoon’s finish at Spa-Francorchamps.
21-08-10 Ny VM-tävling i Belgien för Tom Kristensson och David Arhusiander
Till helgen är det tid för en ny VM-deltävling, i Belgien och WRC Renties Ypres Rally Belgium, för Tom Kristensson och co-driver David Arhusiander. Som i tidigare tävlingar i år kör de för engelska M-Sport i WRC 2-klassen och Ford Fiesta Mk II.
Tävlingen är ny i VM-kalendern, men har anor ända sedan 1965, och har flera gånger ingått i europamästerskapet. Centralort är i den gamla handelsstaden Ypres i området Flandern i nordvästra Belgien, med serviceplatsen centralt placerad i staden.

Upplägget är lite annorlunda, då första etappen på fredag inte startar förrän efter lunch, och första bil inte är i mål förrän strax efter klockan 21 på kvällen. Då har man avverkat 4 specialsträckor två gånger runt Ypres, på en väldigt kompakt runda, där nästan 50 % utgör specialsträckor.
På lördagen väntar ytterligare 4 specialsträckor som körs två gånger, i området runt Ypres, och nästan lika kompakt som på fredagen.

Söndagens 4 avslutande sträckor körs ca 30 mil sydost om Ypres, på och omkring den från Formel 1 välkända racingbanan Spa-Francorchamps, där även slutmålet är. Totalt skall de tävlande avverka 20 specialsträckor på ca 30 mil.
Både fredagens och lördagens sträckor har samma karaktär, relativt smala tekniska vägar på asfaltunderlag i företrädevis lantbruksområde. Det som är speciellt, är att det genas utanför asfaltkanten, vilket de innebär att det kommer upp mycket grus och lera på asfalten. Det gör det svårt att veta hur greppet är, speciellt om det även kommer regn. Väderutsikterna utlovar i nuläget mest uppehållsväder under helgen, men med risk för någon regnskur.
- Vi körde en test här i Belgien i måndags på samma typ av vägar som vi kan förvänta oss, det var både blött, halvtorrt och torrt, så vi kunde prova både olika däck och inställningar på bilen under olika förhållanden, vilket har gett oss mycket bra information och kunskap, berättar Tom
- Jag har kört mycket i Tyskland på vägar och underlag som inte är helt olikt det som är här, men den största skillnaden är att nu sitter vi i en 4-hjulsdriven Rally2 bil. Vi hade några riktigt bra sträckor i Kroatien, både när det gäller rytm och känsla, bättre än vad jag förväntat mej på asfalt, så jag hoppas att vi kan få till samma sak här under hela tävlingen.
- För att vara helt ärlig så tittar jag inte så mycket på motståndet i klassen, utan vi går inför att fokusera på vår egen körning, hur vi kan utveckla den, och göra det bästa vi kan. Hur de andra kör kan vi ändå inte göra något åt, säger Tom.

I Belgien får Tom som teamkamrat i klassen Teemu Suninen, medan Adrien Fourmaux kör M-Sports WRC-bil. En intressant start gör Oliver Solberg som gör premiär med den utvecklade Hyundai i20 N Rally2.

I Belgien är även Toms klubbkamrater i SMK Hörby Lars Servin och Julia Thulin, Lars ingår i mekanikerstaben hos M-Sport och Julia åker "grusnoter" för Tom, tillsammans med Mats Andersson från Eslöv, för att se och lära i sin utveckling som co-driver.
21-08-04 Två VM-tävlingar på raken med ny bil för Solberg
Fabriksföraren Oliver Solberg (19) kommer köra båda de kommande VM-tävlingarna i rally med Hyundais helt nya i20 N Rally2-bil. Med Solberg junior bakom ratten kommer bilen att göra sin tävlingsdebut i Rally Belgien nästa vecka.

Belgien blir det 35:e landet genom tiderna att arrangera rally-VM.
Oliver kommer att pressa den nya bilen på asfalt för förta gången på tävlingens shakedown (testkörning) fredagen den 13:e augusti. Därefter följer 20 specialsträckor på totalt 311km.

Under hela året har 19-åringen varit mycket engagerad i utvecklingen av bilen, men testkörningarna har endast skett på grus och snö för hans del.
- Att vara med från början av ett sådant projekt är otroligt spännande och intressant. Jag har aldrig tävlat i Belgien tidigare, så det finns mycket att se fram emot, säger Oliver Solberg.
- Jag har ingen erfarenhet av bilen på asfalt, men jag har fått mycket information från Hyundai Motorsport och Jari Huttunen, som har testat den nya bilen mestadels på asfalt. Det är en otroligt stark och snabb bil. Att sätta sig i en helt ny bil som denna och tävla på sportens toppnivå är som att kasta sig i den djupa delen i poolen först.

En månad efter debuten bär det av på nya äventyr för Hyundai-föraren. Då är det dags för klassiska Acropolis Rally i Grekland. Drygt en vecka innan sin 20-årsdag kommer Oliver Solberg för första gången att köra VM-tävlingen som hans pappa Petter vann 2004. Rallyt med historia från 1951 är tillbaka på VM-programmet för första gången sedan 2013.
- Bara namnet ”Acropolis” får håret att resa sig på armen. Tävlingen är ett av de dammigaste, tuffaste, stenigaste och snabbaste och går på de legendariska bergsvägarna i Grekland, säger Solberg.

Tävlingarna i Belgien och Grekland är VM-säsongens åttonde och nionde av totalt tolv.

Två VM-tävlingar på raken med ny bil för Solberg.
Fabriksföraren Oliver Solberg (19) kommer köra båda de kommande VM-tävlingarna i rally med Hyundais helt nya i20 N Rally2-bil. Med Solberg junior bakom ratten kommer bilen att göra sin tävlingsdebut i Rally Belgien nästa vecka.

Belgien blir det 35:e landet genom tiderna att arrangera rally-VM.
Oliver kommer att pressa den nya bilen på asfalt för förta gången på tävlingens shakedown (testkörning) fredagen den 13:e augusti. Därefter följer 20 specialsträckor på totalt 311km.

Under hela året har 19-åringen varit mycket engagerad i utvecklingen av bilen, men testkörningarna har endast skett på grus och snö för hans del.
- Att vara med från början av ett sådant projekt är otroligt spännande och intressant. Jag har aldrig tävlat i Belgien tidigare, så det finns mycket att se fram emot, säger Oliver Solberg.
- Jag har ingen erfarenhet av bilen på asfalt, men jag har fått mycket information från Hyundai Motorsport och Jari Huttunen, som har testat den nya bilen mestadels på asfalt. Det är en otroligt stark och snabb bil. Att sätta sig i en helt ny bil som denna och tävla på sportens toppnivå är som att kasta sig i den djupa delen i poolen först.

En månad efter debuten bär det av på nya äventyr för Hyundai-föraren. Då är det dags för klassiska Acropolis Rally i Grekland. Drygt en vecka innan sin 20-årsdag kommer Oliver Solberg för första gången att köra VM-tävlingen som hans pappa Petter vann 2004. Rallyt med historia från 1951 är tillbaka på VM-programmet för första gången sedan 2013.
- Bara namnet ”Acropolis” får håret att resa sig på armen. Tävlingen är ett av de dammigaste, tuffaste, stenigaste och snabbaste och går på de legendariska bergsvägarna i Grekland, säger Solberg.

Tävlingarna i Belgien och Grekland är VM-säsongens åttonde och nionde av totalt tolv.
21-08-02 Citroën C3: the perfect build for Rally2
Leading the WRC3 with Yohan Rossel and the ERC with Alexey Lukyanuk, and currently second in the WRC 2 with Mads Østberg, the Citroën C3 Rally2 has undeniably established itself as the benchmark in its class. The latest addition to the Citroën Racing fold is also among the front-runners in various national championships with the performances of #C3Rally2Family drivers in Europe and Latin America.Leading the WRC3 with Yohan Rossel and the ERC with Alexey Lukyanuk, and currently second in the WRC 2 with Mads Østberg, the Citroën C3 Rally2 has undeniably established itself as the benchmark in its class. The latest addition to the Citroën Racing fold is also among the front-runners in various national championships with the performances of #C3Rally2Family drivers in Europe and Latin America.

Developed with the expert knowledge and engineering of Citroën Racing’s technicians, the C3 Rally2 has quickly stood out from the rest with first-class performances on all surfaces. Competing in the WRC2, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen have made a sound start to the season in the top level of the Rally2 category. Winners in Croatia at their first rally of the season, the C3 Rally2 crew made the perfect start to their title defence. Consistently on the podium, be it on Portugal and Sardinia’s demanding stages or the ultra-fast roads of Estonia, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen hold second place in the WRC2 standings at the midway point of the season, just three points behind the leaders.

In the WRC3, Yohan Rossel and Alexandre Coria wasted no time in establishing themselves as the men to beat after winning the opening round of the season at the Rallye Monte-Carlo. Showing complete confidence in the C3 Rally2, Rossel and Coria successfully negotiated the tricky gravel roads in Croatia and Portugal to claim two consecutive podiums before returning to winning ways in early June in Sardinia. More than 15 points clear of their closest challengers in the WRC3, the C3 Rally2 crew is set to defend their lead at the Ypres Rally Belgium in mid-August.

Reigning European Champion with the C3 Rally2, Alexey Lukyanuk is attempting to defend his title in a very closely contested championship. The Russian driver, alongside co-driver Alexey Arnautov, sent a clear statement to his rivals as he claimed victory at the opening round of the season on Poland’s unusual roads. Consistent and quick in his C3 Rally2, Lukyanuk tops the ERC standings after the first three rallies of the season.

Whilst the C3 Rally2 has assured its status as one of the leading models at international level, the “best seller” of Citroën Racing’s customer racing range has also forged a strong reputation for itself in the national championships. Back in the French Rally Championship for a full programme with the C3 Rally2, Eric Camilli claimed victory at the Rallye du Rouergue to grab the lead in the Championship. Camilli took over at the top from Yoann Bonato, winner of the opening two rounds at Le Touquet and in the Vosges with the C3 Rally2. William Wagner also showed strong pace in the C3 Rally2 as he took the final podium spot at the Rally du Rouergue.
In Spain, Jan Solans is looking like a firm contender for the title in the Spain Superchampionship with the C3 Rally2 after winning the Rallye Tierras Altas de Lorca. On the other side of the Alps, Damiano De Tommaso won the legendary Targa Florio in his C3 Rally2 in the Italian Tarmac Rally Championship. In addition to his WRC2 programme, Mads Østberg made his debut appearance in Hungary up against a host of competitors more familiar with the local roads. Nevertheless, the C3 Rally2 driver was consistently near the top of the timesheets and won the Mecsek Rallye in June.

Formidable in Europe, the C3 Rally2 has also impressed on the other side of the Atlantic with Ricardo Cordero Jr., who leads the Mexican Rally Championship with two wins and a second place in the first three rallies of the season.

Having collected more than twenty rally wins around the globe in the first half of the season, the C3 Rally2 has shown its versatility with a unquestionable level of performance. Recent testing held in Finland by Citroën Racing’s technical team enabled the engineers to introduce some improvements to the set-up to improve even further the efficiency of the C3 Rally2.

WHAT HE SAID…
Didier Clément, Head of Customer Racing, Citroën Racing
“The C3 Rally2 has made a very good start to the season with its various drivers. It has been especially quick in the trickiest conditions and at the highest level. Across the WRC, ERC and the various national championships, the C3 Rally2 has secured a host of podiums and rally wins, which confirm its very high level of reliability and performance. The purpose of the recent tests run by Citroën Racing’s technical teams was to keep fine-tuning the slightest details and put the #C3Rally2Family drivers in the best possible shape to help them win their respective international and national championships at the end of the season.”
21-07-21 British rally fans to enjoy live WRC for three more years on BT Sport
· WRC Promoter and BT Sport extend broadcast agreement until 2024
· Every stage from every round screened live by UK broadcaster
· WRC launches exciting hybrid-powered cars in 2022

British rally fans can continue to follow the fortunes of their heroes in the all-action FIA World Rally Championship on BT Sport until 2024 under a new agreement between the broadcaster and WRC Promoter.

The network has screened the WRC since 2014, tracking the rise of young British drivers like Elfyn Evans and Gus Greensmith to become established stars of the WRC line-up.

Following a series of knife-edge battles for the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in that period, WRC Promoter, which owns the championship’s commercial rights, has extended its exclusive live broadcast partnership with BT Sport for three more years.

BT Sport will screen every round of the championship live. The new deal kicks in next season, when the WRC launches an exciting new era of hybrid-powered cars from Evans’ Toyota Gazoo Racing squad, Greensmith’s M-Sport Ford team and Hyundai Motorsport.

The broadcaster will cover every special stage from every championship round as it happens. In addition, fans will enjoy expert analysis from rallies, key interviews with the top stars and behind-the-scenes features.

A pre-event magazine show, daily highlights capturing all the twists and turns on the leaderboard and a post-rally review programme are also part of the extended agreement.

“British rally fans have celebrated some stellar moments over the years, cheering on as they watched TV coverage of Colin McRae and Richard Burns bringing WRC championship glory to their shores,” said Philipp Maenner, media rights director at WRC Promoter.

“Now a new generation of British drivers is focused on emulating those amazing achievements. I’m delighted that, as the WRC travels the globe to compete in picture-postcard locations and gruelling conditions, BT Sport will continue to screen the thrills and spills from every round.

“The introduction of sustainable hybrid technology next year for the WRC’s headline category marks one of the biggest milestones in the sport’s history and this extension means British fans will be right there from the beginning.”

Rachel Knight, Sports Rights Director, BT Sport said: “Today’s news not only extends our successful long-term relationship with WRC Promoter, it builds on our existing motorsports coverage of Moto GP, Extreme E and Moto E.

“BT Sport is passionate about sustainability and we aim to become one of the greenest broadcasters globally, so we welcome the chance to showcase WRC’s landmark hybrid evolution from 2022.”
21-07-20 Stor Hyundai-lansering med Solberg i förarsätet
Fabriksföraren Oliver Solberg (19) sitter bakom ratten när Hyundai Motorsport lanserar sin nya rallybil i en belgisk tävling nästa månad.

Hyundai i20 N Rally2 körs för första gången i Renties Ypres Rally på belgisk asfalt 13-15 augusti. 19-åringen har deltagit i den koreanska bilfabrikens utvecklingen av bilen sedan han skrev på för Hyundai vid årsskiftet.
- Det är en ära att få bidra i utvecklingen av Hyundai i20 N Rally2 och nu äntligen få köra den i tävling för första gången. Jag är mycket tacksam för denna möjligheten, säger Oliver Solberg.

Rallytalangen har deltagit i ett antal tester i utvecklingen, och han har kört bilen på både snö och grus - men inte asfalt som den belgiska tävling har som underlag. Den aspekten av testning är det teamkamraten Jari Huttunen som har varit mest involverad i.
- Jag har aldrig kört tävlingar i Belgien tidigare och har bara åtta (av 46) tävlingar bakom mig på asfalt. Men jag har testat i området och vet att vägarna som används i tävlingen är svåra. Varierande väderförhållanden kan göra det ännu värre. Jag kommer att göra mitt bästa för att uppnå ett bra resultat, men nyheten i Ypres är dock lanseringen av bilen. Det är en tuff bil och jag tror att den kommer tas emot väl, säger Solberg junior.

19-åringen var tvungen att bryta VM-tävlingen i Estland i helgen på grund av motorproblem som ett resultat av en trasig kylare. Då körde Oliver Solberg föregångaren till den nya Rally2-bilen. Planen är att köra resten av VM-säsongen i WRC2-klassen med den nya bilen.
- När vi debuterar i tävlingssammanhang med Hyundai i20 N Rally2 finns det ingen press eller krav på resultat, men Oliver känner bilen väl efter alla tester och jag är säker på att han kommer visa hur bra den är, säger Hyundai Motorsport-chef Andrea Adamo.
21-07-19 Tom Kristensson och David Arhusiander på femte plats i ett tufft Rally Estonia.
I Rally Estonia, som avslutades på söndagseftermiddagen i Tartu, tog Tom Kristensson med co-driver David Arhusiander en hedrande femte plats i den tuffa WRC2-klassen med sin Ford Fiesta MkII, efter en problemfri tävling, som annars var en krävande tävling för både bil och besättning.
- Det känns riktigt bra att äntligen få ett problemfritt rally, komma i mål och få den bästa placeringen för säsongen, säger en nöjd Tom vid målgången
- Vi har gjort vårt bästa och fått många mil och mer erfarenhet som kommer att vara mycket värdefullt inför resten av säsongen. Visst hade vi velat kapa några sekunder till per sträcka på toppekipagen, men vi har hållit oss till vår plan, att hålla vår egen fart och förbättra oss lite i taget.
- Det har varit ett tufft rally, allt från snabba breda sträckor med häftiga krön, till smala tekniska, men även lösare och mer uppkörda, speciellt då vi körde dem andra gången. Dessutom en pressande värme alla tre dagarna, men det är ett VM-rally, och då skall det vara tufft.
- Jag vill även rikta ett tack till teamet, M-Sport, för en grym bil och support, och alla andra som stöttar, så jag kan få den här fantastiska upplevelsen, avslutar Tom

I WRC2 segrade WRC-erfarne norrmannen Andreas Mikkelsen före landsmannen Mads Östberg, på tredje plats kom europabaserade bolivianen Marco Bulacia, före Toms teamkamrat i M-sport, Adrien Fourmaux från Frankrike.
Flera av klassens favoriter satsade alltför hårt på de kravande vägarna och tvingades bryta. Oliver Solberg landade alltför hårt efter krön, spräckte kylaren och skadade motorn, och både Jari Huttunen och Nikolay Gryazin rullade sig ur tävlingen.

Nästa VM-tävling för Tom och David blir Renties Ypres Rally Belgium den 13-15 augusti. Det är en ny tävling i VM-kalendern och den körs på asfaltunderlag.
21-07-18 Rovanperä rewrites WRC history books on Sunday at Rally Estonia
Twenty-year-old Finn is youngest FIA World Rally Championship event winner. Kalle Rovanperä made history as the youngest winner of an FIA World Rally Championship round on Sunday after a masterful drive at Rally Estonia.

The 20-year-old Finn is more than two years younger than countryman Jari-Matti Latvala, now his team principal at Toyota Gazoo Racing, when he claimed the record in 2008.

After fending off a fierce early challenge from Craig Breen, Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen stormed clear on dusty and high-speed tracks near Tartu to win this seventh round of the season by 59.9sec in a Yaris World Rally Car.

Rovanperä, who now lives in Estonia, celebrated on the podium with father Harri, who scored his sole WRC victory in Sweden in 2001. Today's win was the first for a Finnish driver in the championship since Latvala won Rally Australia in 2018.

Rovanperä has endured a barren run of results of late with just one top six finish in the last four rounds, but his maiden victory promoted him to fourth in the championship standings with five rounds remaining.

"It has been a difficult season and it's really nice to get my first win here in Estonia," said a jubilant Rovanperä. "It's almost a home rally for me now and a lot of Estonian fans were supporting me.

"Our results haven't been so good, but we've proved the pace is there and today we brought it home. To be the youngest winner is amazing. It could have happened earlier, but now it's here."

Estonia is proving a happy hunting ground for Breen – he has now finished second at both the rally's two WRC appearances. His only scare came late on Saturday evening when he clipped a huge roadside rock and damaged his Hyundai i20's front suspension.

The Irishman headed team-mate Thierry Neuville by 12.5sec. The Belgian's hopes of reeling in his colleague were damaged by a 10sec penalty after checking in late at a time control on Sunday morning following technical problems.

Championship leader Sébastien Ogier finished fourth in another Yaris. The Frenchman ended 11.6sec behind Neuville, content to bag solid points in his quest for an eighth drivers' crown after opening the roads where traction was at a premium in Friday's first leg.

Team-mate Elfyn Evans finished 43.1sec behind in fifth after never truly getting to grips with the conditions. Ogier now leads the Welshman by 37 points in the championship, with their Toyota squad maintaining its 59-point lead in the manufacturers' standings.

Teemu Suninen was sixth in a Ford Fiesta, despite a final stage spin.

The championship returns to asphalt next month when Belgium makes its first WRC appearance. Renties Ypres Rally Belgium takes place on August 13-15.

Final positions
1. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris 2hr 51min 29.1sec
2. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +59.9sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +1min 12.4sec
4. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +1min 24.0sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +2min 07.1sec
6. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Ford Fiesta +7min 07.3sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 7 of 12)
1. S Ogier 148pts
2. E Evans 111
3. T Neuville 96
4. K Rovanperä 82
5. O Tänak 74
21-07-18 Rovanperä strides towards record-breaking WRC win at Rally Estonia
Finn on verge of becoming youngest FIA World Rally Championship event winner. Kalle Rovanperä stands on the verge of becoming the youngest event winner in FIA World Rally Championship history after a sublime second-leg drive at Rally Estonia on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Finn, who now calls Estonia home, distanced Craig Breen through nine super-fast gravel tests near Tartu to extend his advantage from 8.5sec to 50.7sec with just one day remaining of this seventh round.

The pair fought tooth and nail in Friday's opening leg, but Rovanperä took control today. He made a sensational start in his Toyota Yaris, winning the opening Peipsiääre speed test and beating third-fastest Breen by 14.3sec.

His advantage climbed to 35.7sec by mid-leg service after four stages and Rovanperä enjoyed the luxury of a measured approach during the afternoon's dusty, rutted repeats.

"Yesterday the time gaps were small, but today we could make them much bigger," said a delighted Rovanperä. "I was preparing a lot for the first stage. I knew it can be a stage where you can make a big difference and we made a good effort there.

"We still had so many kilometres left that you can't really ease off, but after that I could be a bit more sensible."

Breen, for whom second would match his result last year in Estonia, survived a major scare in the short closing stage when he hit a rock on the inside of a right bend. The Irishman was fortunate to limp his Hyundai i20 into service with an oil leak and suspension damage.

He had 30.2sec in hand over team-mate Thierry Neuville, who had the better of championship leader Sébastien Ogier. The pair traded times all morning, but Belgian Neuville pulled clear this afternoon in his i20 to end with a 17.9sec advantage.

With his eye on increasing his lead in the points, caution was Ogier's watchword and the Frenchman finished with a 23.4sec margin over Yaris team-mate Elfyn Evans in fifth. The Welshman had no problems, but lacked the edge to match the pace of those ahead.

Teemu Suninen retained sixth in his Ford Fiesta, despite spinning into the forest in the opening test, with Pierre-Louis Loubet closing out the top-tier runners in seventh in an i20.

Ott Tänak restarted after retiring yesterday and the Estonian was the master of his home roads in his i20. He rattled off six straight stage wins to show what could have been had he not speared off the road and damaged two tyres.

Sunday's finale comprises three stages driven twice, covering 52.10km. The closing Wolf Power Stage at Tartu vald offers bonus points to the fastest drivers and finishes in the service park, ahead of the podium ceremony.

Leading positions after Saturday
1. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris 2hr 17min 46.8sec
2. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +50.7sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +1min 20.9sec
4. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +1min 38.8sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +2min 02.2sec
6. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Ford Fiesta +6min 14.3sec
21-07-18 King Kalle keeps Breen at bay in thrilling Rally Estonia duel
OFinnish driver excels on Friday as Neuville, Ogier and Evans lurk behind. Kalle Rovanperä laid early claim to Estonia's king of speed title on Friday by winning six of the eight special stages to lead the country's FIA World Rally Championship encounter.

The 20-year-old Finn, who now lives in the Baltic country, ended Rally Estonia's first full day with an 8.5sec advantage over Craig Breen after enthralling action over blisteringly fast gravel roads south of second city Tartu.

Both men are hunting their maiden WRC win and such was the ferocity of their duel that the experienced Thierry Neuville and seven-time world champion Sébastien Ogier were trailing almost a minute adrift.

Rovanperä, who led after Thursday night's short curtain-raising test, won three of this morning's stages in his Toyota Yaris. He added three more fastest times this afternoon, but could not break free from Breen's shackles.

"It's tight - the gap is virtually nothing," explained Rovanperä. "Craig has been doing really nice times, so tomorrow will be a big fight. There were many jumps and many of them you can really enjoy. Some you have to go quite big and it's a bit harsh in the car."

Breen led briefly this morning. He won one stage, tied with Rovanperä in another and was second in six tests in his Hyundai i20.

The heat of the battle was matched by air temperatures hovering just below 30°C, but pre-event favourite and Estonian hero Ott Tänak was left feeling cold.

He won the opening Arula test to relegate Rovanperä from top spot but plunged to seventh after a front right puncture in the following Otepää. Worse was to come in the next stage.

"I went wide in a corner and basically I went on the field and during that I knocked off two tyres. I had another two punctures and obviously we had no spares anymore and it was not possible to continue," explained Tänak, who began the loop with just one spare wheel.

Neuville and Ogier were left to scrap over third. Neuville lost time with a rear left puncture while the championship leader drove superbly to minimise the handicap of opening the soft and sandy roads, where grip was reduced compared to those further back.

They traded positions before Neuville moved ahead in the penultimate stage to finish 6.0sec in front and 53.4sec off the lead.

Elfyn Evans twice overshot junctions. He never recovered the time lost to end 15.7sec adrift of team-mate Ogier and nearly two minutes clear of Teemu Suninen's Ford Fiesta. A rear left puncture and a suspected water pump issue delayed the Finn.

Takamoto Katsuta retired his Yaris from third after co-driver Dan Barritt suffered a back injury after a heavy landing over jump. Gus Greensmith exited after stopping several times with a technical issue which affected the power from his Fiesta's engine.

Saturday brings four challenging new stages for the longest leg of the event, containing 132.18km of action. Identical loops north and south of Tartu are driven morning and afternoon before the day wraps up with an evening re-run of Thursday's short city test.

Leading positions after Friday
1. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris 1hr 06min 54.4sec
2. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +8.5sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +53.4sec
4. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +59.4sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +1min 15.1sec
6. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Ford Fiesta +3min 14.9sec
21-07-18 Rally Estland är över för Oliver Solberg
Oliver Solberg var tvungen att bryta Rally Estland på fredagen när det blev klart att en läcka i kylaren också hade skadat motorn i hans Hyundai i20 R5-bil.

När oturen var framme på tävlingens tredje specialsträcka på fredag förmiddagen lyckades 19-åringen köra bilen tillbaka till service med hopp om att starta på nytt på lördag morgon, men det visades sig omöjlig.
-Jag har många bra minnen från Rally Estland, men denna gången var det Inte meningen att vi skulle lyckas, sa Oliver Solberg.
-Vi körde över ett hopp och landade lite hårdare än planerat och kylaren fick ett läckage. Varningslampan för hög vattentemperatur tändes så vi körde till sidan av vägen och slog av motorn så snabbt som möjligt. Tyvärr visade det sig att motorn tagit skada och vi kan inte köra mer denna VM-tävlingen, sa 19-åringen.

Under de senaste två åren har Oliver Solberg vunnit WRC2-klassen i den estländska tävlingen. 2020-triumfen är hans enda VM-seger hittills i den näst högsta klassen. Solberg junior startade på bästa sätt på torsdagen med en snabbaste R5-tiden på shakedown.

Rally Estland fortsätter på lördagen och avslutas efter 24 specialsträckor på söndag eftermiddag.
21-07-14 Estonia’s Tänak looks to home to rekindle WRC title campaign
Championship hopes need a boost on home soil with Ogier 64 points ahead. Home hero Ott Tänak must repeat last year’s Rally Estonia (July 15-18 ) victory this weekend to reignite his fading FIA Word Rally Championship hopes.

Tänak trails leader Sébastien Ogier by 64 points in fourth place as the season enters its second half on Estonia’s blisteringly fast gravel roads around second city Tartu.

Last year, he led his country’s inaugural WRC fixture virtually the whole way to seal a maiden victory in Hyundai Motorsport colours and that’s the form he must recapture after a torrid opening to 2021.

Victory on snow and ice at Arctic Rally Finland has been his only success. He retired with smashed rear suspension while leading in both Portugal and Italy, and a misted windscreen limited him to third in Kenya last month when a threat to the leaders.

The 33-year-old lies eight points adrift of Hyundai i20 team-mate Thierry Neuville, who posted a no-score in Africa after also retiring from the lead with suspension issues. He will carry the support of Estonia’s army of passionate flag-waving fans.

“It is nice to drive at home, and we had a memorable result last year with our first-ever win for Hyundai Motorsport,” he said. “We remain hopeful that we can fight for a similar result this year, as we know the car can be fast in these conditions.”

Estonia’s gravel roads are pacy and smooth and the Baltic fixture will be one of the fastest of the season. An unusually long, hot and dry summer means the surface will be covered by slippery stones which will reduce grip for the early starters.

Craig Breen returns to Hyundai’s line-up after following home Tänak in second place last year, but both must keep a close eye on Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Kalle Rovanperä, who outpaced Tänak initially at the 2020 event.

The 20-year-old Finn lives in Estonia and is hunting his first WRC win. After starting his career here, he is a fan of the fast dirt roads. Like Tänak, he has endured a barren run of late with just one top-six finish in the last four rounds.

“I’m really looking forward to turning things in a better direction for us in the second half of the season, and I think Estonia can be a good event for that,” he said. “I hope we will have a good feeling and a clean rally, and then hopefully we can start to have good results again.”

Ogier and Elfyn Evans join Rovanperä in Toyota Yaris cars. The Frenchman is 34 points clear of Evans in the standings after four wins from six rounds, including back-to-back successes in Italy and Kenya last month.

Teemu Suninen returns to M-Sport Ford’s line-up alongside Gus Greensmith. The Finn is another Estonia resident and replaces Adrien Fourmaux in the British team, which scored its best results of the year in Kenya in fourth and fifth.

Takamoto Katsuta drives a fourth Yaris after a career-best second place in Africa while Pierre-Louis Loubet completes the top-tier starters in another i20.

The rally opens in Tartu on Thursday evening and competitors tackle 24 speed tests covering 314.16km before Sunday afternoon’s finish.
21-07-13 Tom Kristensson gör sin tredje start i WRC2 i Rally Estonia
På torsdag kväll står Tom Kristensson och David Arhusiander på startlinjen för sin tredje start i årets VM i rally i den estländska deltävlingen, WRC Rally Estonia. Man kommer som tidigare att köra sin Ford Fiesta MK II för engelska M-Sport i WRC2-klassen.

Huvudort är Tartu i den sydöstra delen av landet, och efter en ceremoniell start och en kort Superspecial i på torsdag kväll, väntar tre dagars intensivt tävlande, med avslutning med Power Stage på söndag eftermiddag, efter 24 specialsträckor på ca 32 mil totalt.
- Det är en häftig tävling, jag körde här förra året i JWRC, hade oturen att tvingas bryta redan på SS 3 efter ett motorhaveri, men jag fick ändå en bra bild av karaktären på vägarna, säger Tom
- Om Rally Finland brukar kallas för "Formel 1 på grus", så är Rally Estonia på samma nivå, snabba tekniska, men samtidigt följsamma vägar, och med många krön. Skillnaden är att underlaget här är lösare än i Finland, men båda tillhör definitivt mina favorittävlingar.
- Vi har varit här och testat med M-Sport både söndag och måndag och kunnat prova olika inställningar. Vi har fått en bra känsla under testerna, så det skall bli riktig häftigt att köra här med en så potent bil, säger Tom efter de avslutade testerna på måndagen.
- För att kunna fokusera mer på själva tävlandet har jag ändrat till att endast arbeta 3 dagar i veckan och använda resterande dagar i veckan för allt kring rallysatsningen. Jag kände inför både Kroatien och Portugal att jag inte var tillräckligt fokuserad, eftersom det var så mycket runt omkring med budget och att få alla bitar på plats, men inför tävlingen här känns det bara bra, och vi ser verkligen fram emot den.
- Vi skall hitta vår fart och vår rytm, hur långt det räcker i den knivskarpa konkurrensen återstå att se, men vi skall göra vad vi kan, och som sagt, det skall bli häftigt och kul, avslutar Tom

Att de 10 anmälda ekipagen i WRC2-klassen är ett tufft sällskap råder ingen tvekan om. Med namn som klassledaren Andreas Mikkelsen, Skoda, Mads Östberg, Citroen, teamkompisen Adrien Fourmaux, Ford, Jari Huttunen, Hyundai, Nikolay Gryazin, Volkswagen, hemmahoppet Georg Linnamäe, Volkswagen och inte minst Oliver Solberg, Hyundai.
21-07-09 Oliver Solberg fortsätter VM-säsongen i Estland
För andra gången denna säsongen kommer rallyföraren Oliver Solberg (19) att köra för VM-poäng när mästerskapet förflyttar sig till Estland nästa vecka.

Hyundais supertalang gör sig klar för start i WRC2 som är den näst högsta klassen i Rally Estonia. Förhoppningen är att följa upp femteplatsen från Rally Portugal i maj med en ny prestation och därmed hänga med i kampen om VM-titeln. 19-åringen kommer att köra en Hyundai i20 R5.

Både 2019 och 2020 var unge Solberg den snabbaste R5-föraren i Estlands tävling, segern 2020 är hittills hans enda VM-seger i näst högsta klassen.
- Jag har bra resultat och minnen från den här tävlingen de senaste åren, min förhoppning är att kunna upprepa den bedriften. Det är något speciellt men vägarna i Rally Estonia, vissa partier är snabbare än i den finska VM-tävlingen, men utan så många hopp. Sist jag körde tävlingen kördes den på sensommaren med en hel del regn, vilket bidrar till bättre grepp. Nu förväntas torra vägar med löst material på ytan. Det kommer bli en spännande utmaning, säger Oliver Solberg.

Konkurrensen i WRC2-klassen är tuffare än någonsin och alla de bästa förarna är anmälda till start. Tusenvis av rallyfans förväntas ute på specialsträckorna.
- Det är något extra speciellt med fansen och atmosfären de skapar i Estland. Man kan tro att hela landet har rallyfeber men jag antar att det har att göra med att de har fostrat en världsmästare i Ott Tanak.

Redan 2017 - som 15-åring - inledde Oliver Solberg sin rallykarriär på en lettisk licens med ett delat tävlingsprogram mellan den estniska och lettiska juniorserien. Sedan dessa har den nuvarande Hyundai-fabriksföraren haft en förkärlek för de båda baltiska grannländerna.

VM-tävlingen i Estland är den sjunde i ordningen och äger rum runt staden Tartu mellan den 15 - 18 juli.
21-07-08 WRC Promoter granted promotional rights to FIA European Rally Championship
WRC Promoter has today (Thursday) been awarded the commercial rights to promote the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) in a multi-year agreement beginning in 2022.

The Munich-based company has added an unprecedented fourth FIA series to its burgeoning business portfolio, having managed the commercial rights to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) since 2013.

In February, the two parties also agreed to work together to implement the 2021 FIA World and European Rallycross Championships. Since then, Rallycross Promoter GmbH has been established with a view to concluding a multi-year promotional agreement.

The decision was confirmed at today’s FIA World Motor Sport Council in Monaco, and all support series within the ERC framework are included in the new agreement.

In March, the FIA outlined a five-tier sporting pyramid for rallying around the WRC and ERC. The WRC sits at its peak, based around exciting new top-level hybrid Rally1 cars, due to be introduced in 2022.

The next level features the ERC and the WRC’s primary support category, with additional tiers featuring feeder categories in both championships, built on an entry-level fifth rung.

The pyramid positions the ERC title both as a goal in itself and as a ‘talent factory’ feeder series to the WRC, by providing a clear pathway from grass roots competition up to the highest level in WRC.

WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel said both championships would be managed individually, but taking advantage of common synergies wherever possible.

“The FIA has entrusted the group with the commercial rights for another major championship. Having built a strong track record in promoting the WRC during the last nine seasons, we’re in a perfect position to add the ERC to our portfolio,” Siebel added.

“We have a high level of organisational, promotional and broadcast experience in our team and look forward with great confidence to working alongside the FIA to develop the ERC as an integral part of the Rally Pyramid.

“We see strong growth potential in ERC, focused around Europe’s key markets. Our goal is to further cultivate its own identity, whilst at the same time ensuring it fits hand and glove with the WRC’s structure.”

FIA Secretary General for Sport, Peter Bayer, said: “I’m delighted that the FIA and WRC Promoter have agreed on the promotion of the FIA European Rally Championship with a shared vision.

“This new structure with a single promoter for the World and European-level series will genuinely strengthen the FIA Rally Pyramid, creating bridges between the two championships and a clear career path for the drivers. WRC Promoter will bring their strong experience to the European tier and I’m confident the series will thrive.

“I would also like to thank Eurosport Events, Andrew Georgiou and his team for the significant and excellent contribution to the ERC over the years. The relationship will continue with them staying on board within the FIA family as the promoter of several circuit-based competitions.”
21-06-27 Ogier seizes Safari Rally Kenya victory after Neuville heartbreak
Belgian retires to extend Frenchman's title lead to 34 points. Sébastien Ogier snatched an unlikely victory at Safari Rally Kenya on Sunday after leader Thierry Neuville's dreams were shattered alongside his car's suspension.

When Neuville retired his Hyundai i20 in Sunday's opening speed test, after hitting a rock and smashing the right rear damper, the Frenchman was perfectly placed to capitalise.

He demoted Toyota Yaris team-mate Takamoto Katsuta in the penultimate stage to win the punishing four-day African classic by 21.8sec on its return to the FIA World Rally Championship after a 19-year absence.

Ogier clawed his way up the order from seventh after suffering suspension troubles of his own on Friday. His fourth win in six rounds extended the seven-time champion's lead to 34 points at the season midpoint.

"After our troubles on Friday, we had a really good weekend," said Ogier. "It's been an amazing experience to be here. The support we got from the local people was incredible. It might be a bit shorter than the old days, but the challenge is still very tough."

The Safari lived up to its reputation as one of the world's iconic motorsport events. Rocky and sandy gravel tracks around Lakes Naivasha and Elmenteita in the Great Rift Valley provided a brutal test, while stunning scenery, exotic wildlife and enthusiastic locals portrayed Africa at its best.

Neuville had led for all but two stages until his premature demise, the third rally in succession that Hyundai had retired from the lead with suspension troubles.

"Very hard luck for us, but also for all the team," said the Belgian. "Three tough rally weekends in a row, and nobody deserved that. We would have deserved three victories in the last three events, but unfortunately we didn’t."

Japan's Katsuta maintained his constant improvement to claim his first WRC podium in second to seal Toyota Gazoo Racing's fourth 1-2 result of the season, widening its manufacturers' championship lead to 59 points.

Aside from a couple of engine stalls, Katsuta was exemplary. He ended 47.7sec clear of Ott Tänak, who was closing in until a faulty windscreen heater in Saturday's final rain-lashed stage forced him to stop and clean the misted glass with his hand.

M-Sport Ford twins Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux claimed fourth and fifth in their Fiestas. Their risk-free strategy paid dividends and Frenchman Fourmaux celebrated his maiden top-level stage win on Sunday morning. They were split by just a tenth after Fourmaux received a post-rally 10sec penalty.

Kalle Rovanperä was almost nine minutes adrift in sixth in his Yaris, after receiving a hefty time penalty when his car ground to a halt in deep sand on Friday and he retired.

The championship returns to Europe when Rally Estonia (July 15-18) launches the second half of the season.

Final positions
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris 3hr 18min 11.3sec
2. T Katsuta / D Barritt GBR Toyota Yaris +21.8sec
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +1min 09.5sec
4. G Greensmith / C Patterson GBR Ford Fiesta +1min 54.6sec
5. A Fourmaux / R Jamoul FRA Ford Fiesta +1min 54.7sec
6. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +10min 53.4sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 6 of 12)
1. S Ogier 133pts
2. E Evans 99pts
3. T Neuville 77pts
21-06-27 Downpour fails to derail Safari Saturday leader Neuville in Kenya
Katsuta and Ogier on track for Sunday podium with Tänak back in fourth. Thierry Neuville stretched his Safari Rally Kenya lead to almost a minute on Saturday after a tense finale to the penultimate leg.

On a day when the African classic appeared to be showing its more benign side after Friday's brutal opening leg, Neuville increased his advantage over Takamoto Katsuta to 57.4sec.

He has led this sixth round of the season for most of the way in a Hyundai i20. After winning the first of six fast and smooth speed tests around Lake Elmenteita today, he was happy to measure his pace and keep a watchful eye on those behind.

But a sudden downpour in the closing 31.04km Sleeping Warrior caused chaos. The dry and dusty roads quickly turned to mud and the hard compound tyres carried by all offered minimal grip in conditions akin to ice.

Neuville fared well in comparison to Katsuta, who skated off the road and conceded more than 20sec to his rival.

"I'm not very emotional and not very much stressed, but I have to say I was," Neuville admitted. "After all that fighting during the two last days, I refused to lose that position and kept fighting very hard.

"At the end, I was relieved to be in the lead. It doesn't matter how much, being in the lead was the main thing."

Katsuta is fighting for his first WRC podium in a Toyota Yaris and came under increasing pressure from Ott Tänak. The Japanese pilot watched his 37.0sec advantage at the start of the day whittled down by the persistent Estonian.

But it all went wrong for Tänak in Sleeping Warrior. Caught in the storm, his Hyundai i20's windscreen misted up and he stopped to wipe it clear. He dropped more than a minute to Katsuta and instead of challenging for second, Tänak found himself relegated to fourth.

"It started to rain quite soon after the start and unfortunately my side of the screen heater was not working. I had to ask Martijn (co-driver Järveoja) how the road goes, and in some places we had to stop and clean and try to figure it out," he explained.

Championship leader Sébastien Ogier was in recovery mode after Friday's suspension troubles. The Frenchman won three stages but his biggest break came in the final stage. He steered a cautious path in the rain to climb to third, just 18.1sec behind Katsuta.

Ford Fiesta duo Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux consolidated fifth and sixth. Fourmaux survived a spectacular two-wheeled moment in the penultimate test while Greensmith was another to slide off in the rain. They were split by 12.0sec.

Sunday's finale spans the north and south of Lake Naivasha. Two loops of the forested Loldia and Hell's Gate tests sandwich the rocky Malewa. The second pass of Hell's Gate forms the bonus points-paying Wolf Power Stage. The survivors return to Naivasha for the afternoon finish.

Leading positions after Saturday
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 2hr 45min 04.6sec
2. T Katsuta / D Barritt GBR Toyota Yaris +57.4sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +1min 15.5sec
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +2min 21.2sec
5. G Greensmith / C Patterson GBR Ford Fiesta +2min 39.4sec
6. A Fourmaux / R Jamoul FRA Ford Fiesta +2min 51.4sec
21-06-26 Neuville ahead as ferocious Friday Safari decimates WRC's big guns
Belgian leads from Katsuta in Kenya as Evans and Rovanperä suffer in the sand
Thierry Neuville led the survivors of Safari Rally Kenya's vicious opening leg that destroyed the hopes of virtually half the top-flight drivers on Friday.

The Belgian won three of the six punishing and sandy speed tests on the shores of the Great Rift Valley's Lake Naivasha to lead Japan's Takamoto Katsuta by 18.8sec, despite limping through the final test with two punctures and an engine problem.

Kenya's FIA World Rally Championship return after a 19-year absence showed Africa's feared loose surface roads had lost none of their punishing power.

Neuville won two of this morning's three stages in his Hyundai i20 to lead Kalle Rovanperä by 5.1sec. The Finn briefly snatched top spot in the afternoon's opener, but his hopes were wrecked when his Toyota Yaris got trapped in deep dust in the final Oserian stage. The car was towed off the track into retirement, allowing Neuville to open clear air over Katsuta.

"There was a little bit of drama with the punctures but we were able to manage and get back to service. It was a tough day but tomorrow is going to be another tough day. We have learned a lot and we need to introduce that tomorrow to avoid such small problems," he said.

Katsuta lost time when he stalled his engine, but the Japanese driver soared from fourth to second in the closing stage after Rovanperä's demise and a puncture for Ott Tänak, which cost the Estonian almost a minute.

Tanäk, in third and trailing Katsuta by 37.0sec, claimed he had driven at no more than 60 per cent pace in his i20 and 'even that was too much in some places'.

Championship leader Sébastien Ogier was 1min 49.4sec off the lead in fourth after a broken oil canister in his Yaris' rear suspension slowed his morning progress.

Ford Fiesta twins Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux completed the top six. Greensmith broke an anti-roll bar but their cautious approach paid dividends as they avoided the carnage that befell their rivals.

Second in the championship Evans retired 300 metres from the end of the Kedong stage (SS3) when he clipped a rock and broke the front right suspension on his Yaris.

Dani Sordo went out in the same test when a stone smashed a suspension arm on his i20. His car oversteered sideways off the stage and ploughed through the vegetation before coming to rest in a ditch.

Oliver Solberg struggled with damaged rear right suspension from the off and eventually called it a day after Kedong with a damaged roll cage adding to his troubles. Lorenzo Bertelli completed the tale of woe when his Fiesta stopped with a coolant leak.

Roads further north around Lake Elmenteita host Saturday's 132.08km of action, the longest leg of the weekend. Once again a morning loop of three tests in repeated in the afternoon after service.

Leading positions after Friday
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 1hr 23min 19.1sec
2. T Katsuta / D Barritt GBR Toyota Yaris +18.8sec
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +55.8sec
4. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +1min 49.4sec
5. G Greensmith / C Patterson GBR Ford Fiesta +1min 56.1sec
6. A Fourmaux / R Jamoul FRA Ford Fiesta +2min 19.1sec
21-06-26 Oliver Solberg bryter Safari Rallyt
Rallytalangen Oliver Solberg var tvungen att bryta Safari Rallyt i Kenya på fredagen på grund av skador på säkerhetsburen i bilen.

19-åringens Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC-bil träffade en grop i vägen redan på tävlingens andra specialsträcka. Tillsammans med kartläsaren Aaron Johnston försökte han reparera skadorna på bilen på transporten till nästa sträcka, duon slutförde den i låg hastighet men skadan visade sig vara för stor för att kunna fortsätta.
- Först och främst är jag ledsen på teamets vägnar som har jobbat hårt för att vi skulle få köra tävlingen. Vi träffade en grop i vägen som slog hårt i bilen. Skadorna på buren och chassit inträffade där. Reglerna är tydliga, skador på buren innebär automatiskt att du inte får fortsätta tävlingen, säger Oliver Solberg.
- Det som hände är bara mitt eget fel och jag är mycket ledsen för det, sa han.

Efter den första dagen leder Hyundai-föraren Thierry Neuville tävlingen. Safari Rallyt var unge Solbergs debuttävling på grus i värstingklassen, tävlingen avslutas på söndag.
21-06-23 Kenya's punishing Safari returns to WRC after 19-year absence
Title leader Ogier "excited to discover a new challenge in my career." The mythical Safari Rally Kenya (June 24-27), the most famous rally in the world, returns to the FIA World Rally Championship this week for the first time since 2002.

The 6000km open-road blasts of yesteryear around East Africa have evolved to fit the modern WRC, but the Safari's epic character remains with punishing dirt roads, picture-postcard scenery and exotic wildlife to the fore.

None of the WRC's frontline drivers have experienced the Safari, which means adventure in the Swahili language and brings a unique challenge to the 12-round championship.

Long straight dusty roads where speeds could top 200kph contrast with rocky rutted tracks that reduce cars to little more than walking pace. And with Kenya still in its wet season, rain can transform dry trails into glutinous mudbaths in a matter of minutes.

The interested spectators watching the action around Naivasha, 100km north-west of Nairobi, will, of course, be headed by the wildlife. The area is home to lions, leopards, giraffes, zebras and hippos, all keeping a watch on the red-hot action from a distance.

Testing is banned outside Europe so championship leader Sébastien Ogier and Toyota Yaris team-mates Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanperä journeyed to Spain to try to simulate what lies ahead on the Great Rift Valley roads.

"I'm always excited to discover a new challenge in my career, and I believe this rally will be very different from anything I have done before," enthused Ogier, who leads Evans by 11 points in the standings as the series reaches it midpoint.

"We've heard a lot that we are going to have to set our targets a little differently. The way we drive nowadays in the WRC is by really pushing the limits all of the time, but in Kenya it will be much more about trying to survive the rally without trouble.

"I think it can be interesting to have a challenge like this during the year. It has been hard to know what is the right way to prepare, so I think the drivers will probably have to adapt a bit during the rally," added Ogier, who has three wins to his name this year.

Hyundai Motorsport prepared in southern Portugal and on a rally where a high rate of attrition is expected, Thierry Neuville, Ott Tänak and Dani Sordo hope the gremlins that savaged their chances at the most recent rounds in Portugal and Italy have left them.

While Neuville is 29 points adrift of Ogier in third in the championship, Tänak trails by 57 points after suspension damage sidelined his Hyundai i20 from both rounds when leading.

M-Sport Ford won the WRC's last Safari in 2002 with Colin McRae, and the British team returns with Gus Greensmith, Adrien Fourmaux and Lorenzo Bertelli in Fiestas. Greensmith is reunited with co-driver Chris Patterson, who missed Italy for personal reasons.

Takamoto Katsuta drives a fourth Yaris on the back of career-best fourth place finishes at the last two rounds. Teenager Oliver Solberg replaces Pierre-Louis Loubet in the Hyundai 2C Compétition squad for only his second top-level outing.

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta will flag competitors away from the Nairobi start on Thursday lunchtime. Ahead lie 18 special stages covering 320.19km before Sunday afternoon's finish in Naivasha.
21-06-22 Safari med Solberg
Petter Solberg deltog i Safari rallyt fyra gånger (1999 - 2002). Han slutade på en femteplats två gånger och bröt två gånger. Världsmästaren från 2003 i rally delar sina afrikanska äventyr med sin 19-åriga son Oliver.

Oliver Solberg (OS): Om du ska ge mig ett råd inför Safari rallyt , vad blir det då??
Petter Solberg (PS): Det kommer att bli en svår och utmanande tävling.Du måste ha tålamod och köra förnuftigt. Nu är inte specialsträckorna lika långa som tidigare, men standarden på vägarna och omgivningen är ungefär densamma. Det finns fortfarande många nästan oframkomliga platser, några väldigt tekniskt svåra partier och fler extremt snabba sträckor. Jag kommer även ihåg att vissa partier var väldigt besvärliga efter att det hade kommit stora mängder regn och gjort stora hål i vägen, ofta på platser där det var naturligt för oss att hålla höga hastigheter. Man tvingas till att tänka helt annorlunda eftersom förhållandena är så oförutsägbara. På vissa ställen är stenarna väldigt stora som ligger i vägen så du måste köra sakta för att kunna passera säkert - för att i näste sekund ge full gas igen.

Vad ser du mest fram emot, Oliver?
OS: Mest av allt hela upplevelsen. Ibland måste jag stanna och tänka lite: jag är bara 19år och lever redan drömmen. Jag känner mig som den lyckligaste personen i världen. Bara att få resa runt och uppleva sådan natur på nära håll, folket och kulturen. Dessutom får jag köra världens snabbaste rallybil mot världens bästa chaufförer. Bara tanken gör så att håret på armarna reser sig.

PS: För oss är Afrika något helt annat än vad vi är vana vid. När du reser dit och tävlar vet du att det kommer att finnas unika upplevelser och minnen oavsett vad. Människorna där är så trevliga och omtänksamma och stämningen runt rallyt är fantastisk. Du kör genom byar, och alla invånare står längs vägen och jublar och vinkar. Det finns människor som inte upplever det vi är vana vid och som inte har det så lätt. Jag minns väl de gångerna vi stannade längs vägarna och invånarna kom fram till oss och erbjöd både mat och dryck. Det gör att man känner en ödmjukhet.

OS: Hur var det första gången du körde Safari rallyt?
PS: Jag hade precis skrivit på kontraktet med Ford och skulle faktiskt köra Rally Finnskog i Norge. Väskan var packad och jag såg verkligen fram emot tävlingen när jag blev uppringd av Malcolm Wilson (teamchef för M-sport Ford), som berättade att planerna hade ändrats. Jag skulle istället köra Safari Rallyt. Det hände sent på kvällen och teamet bokade mig på första flyget till Kenya nästa morgon.

OS: Hur var det där med Thomas Rådström?
PS: Det är en annan historia. Jag var inte där, men anledningen till att jag var tvungen att hoppa in istället för Rådström var att han - öh - halkade på golvet på hotellrummet och bröt benet. Det var åtminstone historien som kom ut. Vad som egentligen hända var att Colin McRae satte in en rugby tackling på Thomas efter att de hade varit ute på middag….

OS: Men reglerna satte stopp för att köra med din vanliga kartläsare?
PS: Phil Mills fick inte var med så jag var tvungen att ta Rådströms kartläsare Fred Gallagher. Fred var helt fantastisk och hade mycket erfarenhet från tävlingen.
Han guidade mig under tävlingen och hjälpte mig väldigt mycket. Fred och Malcolm Wilson pratade om att jag körde för fort och för aggressivt. Jag hade inte den nödvändiga respekten för vägarna, bilen och situationen. Fred fick mig att sakta ner ganska mycket. Han förklarade allt på ett förnuftigt sätt och var väldigt ödmjuk, det uppskattade jag verkligen. Vi hamnade på en femte plats, ett helt fantastiskt resultat. Teamkamraten Colin McRae vann tävlingen, jag kände mig som en viktig del av teamet. Colin hamnade i trubbel efter att ha fastnat i ett vattenhinder, jag kom efter honom och stannade för att hjälpa. Tillsammans lyckades vi få bilen ur vattnet och vidare i tävlingen. Det var viktigt för mig att veta att jag hade hjälpt Colin och teamet till seger. Jag slutade också på en femte plats året därpå, men med Subaru var det två brutna tävlingar; 2001 tappade vi ett hjul och tävlingen 2002 förstördes av motorproblem.

OS: Är Safari Rallyt det svåraste tävlingen du någonsin kört?
PS: Det var annorlunda. Värmen är utmattande ja, men höga hastigheter hjälper till att få bra luftflöde i bilen. På det viset är det mycket bättre än till exempel på Cypern, där är hastigheterna mycket lägre. Vi hade även en helikopter över oss hela tiden. Phil läste noterna som vanligt, men jag fick dessutom varningar från helikoptern om en hjord elefanter eller giraffer fanns framför oss i terrängen. Helikoptern försökte skrämma bort djuren från vägen och om inte det funkade fick jag information om jag skulle hålla till höger eller vänster för att undvika dem. Vi körde även på vägar som var öppna för annan trafik, och ibland passerade vi bussar och andra transportmedel. Lyckligtvis är inte det inte längre så utan vägarna stängs nu av.

Data:
Arrangemang: Safari Rallyt Kenya
Datum 23 - 27 juni
Underlag: Grus
Specialsträckor: 18
Totalt SS i km: 320,19
Längsta specialsträcka: SS 3/6 Kedong (32,68)
Huvudkontor: Naivasha
Bil: Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Kartläsare: Aaron Johnston (Storbritannien)

Oliver Solberg i siffror:
Rallystarter: 44
Vinster: 9
VM-tävlingar: 10
VM-debut: Wales Rally GB (2019)
Antal vunna titlar: 9

Torsdag 24. juni
SS1 Superspecial Kasarani 4,84 km kl. 1408

Fredag 25. juni
SS2 Chui Lodge 1 13,34 km kl. 0809
SS3 Kedong 1 32,68 km kl. 0905
SS4 Oserian 1 18,87 km kl. 1018
SS5 Chui Lodge 2 13,34 km kl. 1346
SS6 Kedong 2 32,68 km kl. 1442
SS7 Oserian 2 18,87 km kl. 1555

Lördag 26. juni
SS8 Elmenteita 1 14,67 km kl. 0808
SS9 Soysambu 1 20,33 km kl. 0908
SS10 Sleeping Warrior 1 31,04 km kl. 1022
SS11 Elmenteita 2 14,67 km kl. 1405
SS12 Soysambu 2 20,33 km kl. 1508
SS13 Sleeping Warrior 2 31,04 km kl. 1622

Söndag 27. juni
SS14 Loldia 1 11,33 km kl. 0726
SS15 Hells Gate 1 10,56 km kl. 0838
SS16 Malewa 9,71 km kl. 1045
SS17 Loldia 2 11,33 km kl. 1125
SS18 Hells Gate 2 10,56 km kl. 1318
21-06-22 The audience has again access to the service park as well as to the start and finish podium at WRC Rally Estonia
• The total of 24 000 spectators will have access to WRC Rally Estonia
• Audience access to the service park and start and finish podium is a strong message
• The list of WRC Rally Estonia participants allows for fierce competition in each class.

The organizers were able to pass on the good news to rally fans at the press conference of WRC Rally Estonia held on Tuesday, 21 June, where this year’s cooperation agreements with sponsors were also signed. It was confirmed in cooperation with the Health Board and Ministry of Culture that the FIA World Rally Championship round Rally Estonia will take place with the audience and for the first time after a year and a half of waiting, the audience will have access to the rally service park during the World Championship round. In addition, the program of some rally pass packages also includes access to the start and finish podium of WRC Rally Estonia together with a spectacular show on the podium near the Estonian National Museum.

The total of 24 000 spectators will have access to WRC Rally Estonia. Rally passes are on sale in the rally shop of Rally Estonia www.rallyestonia.ee/pood and we definitely ask the ones who have already bought a rally pass to review the program of their package, whether this includes access to WRC Rally Estonia service park or the podium. According to Tarmo Hõbe, Commercial Director of WRC Rally Estonia, public access to the service park is a very strong message.

"Rally Estonia is the first WRC round after last year's Mexican rally, where the audience will have access to the service park and to the opening show and start podium on Thursday evening and to the finish podium on Sunday, which this time will also be a powerstage podium. This is also a big step for the WRC Promoter and FIA, as it is a sign of a return to normalcy. Of course, we do all this by minimizing the risks. Nine groups of spectators will have access to the service park according to the schedule of their program, one to the start podium and one to the finish podium,” Tarmo Hõbe told at the press conference.
"This year Rally Estonia's final stage – powerstage - will end near ERM and we will be able to transmit a live broadcast of the closing ceremony on our big stage to international television. We have connected the powerstage podium and the final podium. Both commercial rally and sports rally are combined around ERM and such compactness is something that the FIA, WRC Promoter, drivers and teams would like to see,” Hõbe added.

The list of WRC Rally Estonia participants was also disclosed on Monday. We are pleased to state that the list of participating teams is very strong. It brings together 10 WRC cars led by reigning world champions and World Championship leaders Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, and last year's Rally Estonia winners and 2019 world champions Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja. There are 24 cars in the Rally 2 class and eight in the Junior WRC class. In addition to the latter there are six more teams with Rally3 and Rally4 cars. It is gratifying to note that in addition to WRC class, Estonian drivers are also represented in each category, led by Georg Linnamäe

Georg Linnamäe, WRC 2: “The start of the season in the WRC series has been difficult, but we are satisfied with the speed we have shown. Now we need to add consistency and be more competitive in the second half of the season. We will start next week at the European Championship round in Liepaja and I believe that we can take good feeling along for the start of Rally Estonia.”

Priit Koik, WRC 3: “As part of the preparation we decided to take part in one competition in Finland, which was the right decision. The Finnish roads and driving on them helped us to make adjustments in the pacenotes and polish our cooperation, plus we got good kilometres before Rally Estonia. It is good that we can compare ourselves to the tops of the world at home and want to improve our last year's result. We will definitely have a new challenge at the full World Rally Championship, 320 kilometres. There's plenty to figure out how to do things right.”

Raul Jeets, WRC 3: “Although I have attended World Rally Championships before, we had the last rally of this length in 2017. We are currently working on proper preparations for this rally. The World Championship round is still another topic, WRC cars and the world's top drivers create a special atmosphere. The organizers have added new stages and we are ready for these challenges. "

Robert Virves, Junior WRC: “I believe that everyone in our class is able to win in Estonia. It is safe to say that I, Martins Sesks from Latvia and Lauri Joona and Sami Pajari from Finland have grown up on such roads, but I am sure that other drivers are also in full swing here. This year's Junior WRC has a very strong level and there will be a tough race.”

Kaspar Kasari, Rally 4: “We have made a lot of preparations for the summer season, we just finished the European Championship round in Poland, where we got the fourth place. Like many other Estonians, we are participating in Liepaja round of European Championship. The goal at Rally Estonia is to have a decent result and show a fast ride. The rally is long and we can compare ourselves to the best of the world.”

Joosep Ralf Nõgene, Rally 4: “This is my first experience of participating in the World Rally Championship and I dare say that we are so ready. We have also done a lot of work to be ready for this competition, we are also attending Liepaja round of European Championship. The comparison with Junior WRC drivers is definitely quite interesting, we can see where we are today at our own pace. This is my first full season in a crosskart rally car and there is a lot to learn, Rally Estonia will be very valuable in this respect.”

The list of participants includes drivers from 25 countries and among others you will also find the winner of Rally Estonia 2015 and two-time European champion Alexey Lukjanuk, who together with Jaroslav Fyodorov is in the list with a Škoda Fabia Rally 2 car.

WRC Rally Estonia rally passes are on sale in the e-shop of Rally Estonia www.rallyestonia.ee/pood

Rally Estonia is the round of the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship which will be held in Tartu and Tartu, Otepää, Elva, Kanepi, Kambja, Peipsiääre and Mustvee rural municipalities on 15-18 July 2021.
21-06-21 Rally champion returns to confront punishing Safari – aged 91
· Sobieslaw Zasada competes at tough Safari Rally Kenya aged 91
· Pole becomes the oldest FIA World Rally Championship competitor
· Triple European champion returns to action after 24-year absence
· Zasada drives new Ford Fiesta Rally3 in support class
· Images available at https://bulldrive.redbull.com/fl/1U06VvfvxB

One of rallying’s greats from yesteryear returns to tackle the iconic Safari Rally Kenya (24 - 27 June) – at the age of 91.

Three-time European champion Sobieslaw Zasada will face off against drivers almost 70 years his junior at the gruelling four-day African classic, which returns to the FIA World Rally Championship after 19 years away.

Zasada will become the oldest competitor to start a WRC round. His greatest successes pre-dated the championship’s 1973 launch when the holder of the European title was regarded as de facto world champion.

The Pole is undaunted by one of the world’s toughest rallies. He faces 320km of competition across the vast Great Rift Valley plains near Lake Naivasha – home to zebras, giraffes, antelope and wildebeest.

“Of course, this is a huge challenge and my goal is purely to reach the finish line,” he admitted.

Fast gravel roads will send speeds soaring towards 200kph in places. In others, cars will be reduced to near walking pace as drivers pick a cautious route over rock-strewn tracks.

And with Kenya still in its wet season, torrential downpours can transform dry and dusty special stages into glutinous mudbaths and raging torrents in minutes.

During a distinguished career Zasada won the European title in 1966, 1967 and 1971 and finished runner-up on three more occasions. He was an official driver for Steyr Puch, Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

He has tackled the Safari eight times previously, finishing second in 1972 in a Porsche 911S. His last competitive drive was 24 years ago when he finished 12th in Kenya alongside his wife, Ewa, in a Mitsubishi Lancer.

“I’ve always found the Safari to be a fantastic rally. I’m going back because I’m very curious to see what this rally looks like in its present form. It’s about the challenge,” enthused Zasada, whose grandson, Daniel Chwist, is also on the entry list.

Zasada will steer a Ford Fiesta Rally3 managed by M-Sport Poland. The Safari will be the biggest test yet for a new-category model which made its WRC debut just two months ago in Croatia.

His Safari memories date back to 1969, when the rally was very different to the current format. Competitors drove flat out on roads that remained open to public traffic and negotiated 6000km of competition in five days.

“They were very difficult rallies,” he recalls. “In the longest Safari Rally in 1972, which was 6480km long, I finished second. The winner was over nine hours behind the time schedule. It was driving for three days and three nights without any break. Drinking tea helped me a lot!

“I think those rallies were three or even four times more difficult than the current ones in terms of endurance and condition.”

The previous oldest WRC competitor was Norway’s Leif Vold-Johansen who drove Rallye Monte-Carlo in 1994 aged 82 and returned 12 months later as a co-driver.

The Safari marks the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. It starts in Nairobi on Thursday (24 June) and finishes in Naivasha three days later.
21-06-13 Oliver Solberg kommer köra Safari Rallyt
Rallyföraren Oliver Solberg kommer att köra i WRC-klassen i VM-tävlingen Safari Rallyt som går av stapel i midsommarhelgen. 19-åringen missade förra VM-tävlingen, Rally Italia Sardinia på grund av Coronakarantän.
- Jag vet att jag pratar mycket om drömmar, men det här är verkligen en av de största. 19 år har gått sedan den senaste VM-tävlingen i Kenya kördes. Att få chansen att köra i värstingklassen i Hyundais fabriksbil när WRC återvänder till Afrika, är enormt, säger Oliver Solberg.

Safari Rally startar i Kenyas huvudstad Nairobi den 24 juni. Under tre dagar körs 18 specialsträckor med grus som underlag. Det blir Olivers andra VM-start i värstingklassen som fabriksförare för Hyundai.
- Vi såg när Oliver debuterade i WRC-klassen i Finland att han har tempot i sig. Det viktigaste för oss är att han njuter av Safari Rallyt utan press på sig. Jag är säker på att vi får se mer av Olivers speed. Vi vet att han älskar att köra rally och är mycket dedikerad. Jag gillar hur han löser uppgifterna och jag är säker på att han kommer att imponera på oss, säger teamchefen Andrea Adamo i Hyundai Motorsport.

Det har gått 22 år sedan pappa Petter Solberg debuterade som nominerad fabriksförare för Ford i Safari Rallyt 1999 - och chockade rallyvärden genom att köra in till en femte plats.

Idag (söndag) kör Solberg junior den italienska tävlingen Rally di Alba, hans första någonsin på asfalt i en Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC-bil.
21-06-06 Ostberg/Eriksen crew overcome chaotic Rally Italia Sardegna
A turbulent Rally Italia Sardegna drives Mads Ostberg and Torstein ERIKSEN to give an extraordinary performance and over come every obstacle thrown their way.

A promising start for the Norwegian crew turned sideways when they handed in their helmets for mechanic tools throughout Saturday. Although the technical issues to the rear of the car provoked on stage repairs and lost time, Ostberg and Eriksen were quick to react and use their phenomenal mechanic skills to repair their C3 Rally2. Their perseverance portrayed a new dimension of rally expertise. The TRT team worked incessantly to provide the crew a car that allowed them to come back to win 5 stages and finish 2nd in the WRC2 & RC2 categories and an impressive 6th overall.

In the WRC3 category, it is a second victory and third podium on the world stage for Yohan Rossel and Alexandre Coria of Sainteloc Racing. The French crew, 7th in the general standings, showed a very high level of consistency and performance throughout the entirety of the rally; an indication to the cohesion of this new driver/co-driver collaboration.

Jan Solans & Rodrigues San Juan gave a climactic performance on their second WRC appearance showing great potential at the wheel of C3 Rally2 operated by Sports & You. The Spanish duo counted their first WRC3 stage win and held their momentum finishing 3rd with 4 stage wins in total and 9th overall.

Despite opening the rally with gear box issues, leaving Nicolas Ciamin & Yannick Roche with an early handicap, mended by DG Sport at midday service, the crew was left with little confidence to find their rhythm, finishing 6th of WRC3. A strong rally by Jonathan Rieu & Jules Escarthefigues of PH Sport who suffered several punctures managed to climb eleven spots in the RC2 standings finishing P16.
The defensive Italian roads claimed Sean Johnston & Alex Kihurani and Alberto Heller & Marti Marc victim to Rally Italia Sardegna forcing both crews to retire.

WHAT THEY SAID…
Didier Clément, Head of Customer Racing, Citroën Racing
" We are extremely proud of the #C3Rally2Family after such a demanding rally. The hard work and incredible performance by Mads & Torstein cannot go unnoticed. This is a driver that has immense talent and incomparable tenacity and mechanic skill, all things to make a true champion. The driving from Yohan & Alex was of very high performance and they now hold a strong lead in the WRC3 championship standings following this unflawed victory. It is promising to see Jan Solans & Rodrigues San Juan finish in 3rd place with such little WRC experience, it goes to show that he has a lot of talent and potential still to come.”

Mads Østberg, C3 Rally2 driver in the WRC2
“We have to be happy with coming away with a second place after this weekend. This rally was extremely rough. We fought really hard to even get to the end and luckily we were able to repair the different issues we ran into. We are unlucky not to win the rally but considering the time penalty of one minute, two stages with rear issues and a puncture is not so bad. It has been a hard weekend and I am exhausted. Estonia next is not as rough so I hope we can build on the good pace and speed that we have and have a clean rally.”

Yohan Rossel, C3 Rally2 driver in the WRC3
“This Rally Italia Sardegna was a great weekend for me. We rectified the issues that we may have encountered in Portugal where we were lacking some speed. We did a lot of work with the team and with Alex (co-driver). To get 28pts here is really a great feeling. I want to thank my team, Citroën Racing and everyone who supports me. I am very excited to be able to offer them all this victory because there is a lot of sacrifice that goes into it all and I am happy to be able to repay them this way.”

21-06-06 Reigning champion Ogier seals surprise success at Rally Italia Sardegna
Ogier stretches his FIA World Rally Championship lead with a convincing victory in Italy. Reigning champion Sébastien Ogier headed a Toyota Yaris 1-2 finish on the Mediterranean island’s punishing rock-strewn gravel roads to claim his third win of the season. He finished 46.0sec clear of Elfyn Evans, extending his lead to 11 points after five of the 12 events.

It was reckoned Ogier could not win this fifth round. As championship leader, he started first in the order on Friday’s opening leg, ploughing a line through loose gravel which became progressively cleaner and offered more grip with the passage of each car.

The Frenchman was expected to haemorrhage time but ended the day just over half a minute adrift of a dominant Ott Tänak and Hyundai Motorsport team-mate Dani Sordo.

In improved conditions on Saturday, Ogier punched in a series of fastest times. When Tänak ripped a rear wheel from his i20 World Rally Car after hitting a rock and Sordo rolled, Ogier was clear to ease through Sunday’s finale and claim a 52nd career win.

“Coming here first on the road we were thinking it would have been better to stay at home,” he said. “We did a good job in the test, the car was working much better than the previous round in Portugal.

“We had an amazing day on Friday and then yesterday we managed to come back up to the top. At the last moment in the final power stage I had a misfire for a long time after the watersplash. We survived, but lost a couple of seconds there.”

Evans was initially out of sorts and trailed by more than a minute after the first leg. Set-up changes improved the Welshman’s feeling with his car and a handful of stage wins propelled him up the order to increase Toyota’s manufacturers’ series lead over Hyundai to 49 points.

There was a late scare when his car spluttered to a halt after the same watersplash that troubled Ogier. He remained motionless for almost 20sec before the engine restarted.

Third place for Thierry Neuville, a further 19.2sec behind, was scant consolation for Hyundai. The Belgian spent all weekend fine-tuning his i20’s set-up but none of the changes delivered the pace to match the pair ahead.

Such was the level of attrition that fourth-placed Takamoto Katsuta was the only other top-level driver to avoid retirement. The Japanese pilot matched his career-best finish from the previous round in Portugal, despite a bee buzzing inside his Yaris during one Sunday test.

Fifth went to WRC2 winner Jari Huttunen. The Finn relegated Mads Østberg when the Norwegian punctured on Sunday’s second stage and held off a determined charge through the final two tests to end 7.5sec ahead.

The championship reaches its midpoint with an emotional return to Africa for the first time since 2002. The legendary Safari Rally Kenya is based in Naivasha on 24 - 27 June.

Final positions:
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris 3hr 19min 26.4sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +46.0sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +1min 05.2sec
4. T Katsuta / D Barritt GBR Toyota Yaris +6min 11.2sec
5. J Huttunen / M Lukka FIN Hyundai 20 R5 +9min 31.7sec
6. M Østberg / T Eriksen NOR Citroën C3 R5 +9 min 39.2sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 5 of 12):
1. S Ogier 106pts
2. E Evans 95pts
3. T Neuville 77pts
21-06-06 Nya WRC-chans för Oliver Solberg
Rallyföraren Oliver Solberg får ytterligare en chans att köra Hyundais fabriksbil i största klassen efter att ha lagt två veckor i karantän bakom sig.

Solberg junior har tillbringat de sista 14 dagarna på ett hotellrum i Porto eftersom han var i nära kontakt med covid-smitta under förberedelserna till Rally Italien Sardinia. 19-åringen har testat negativt under hela karantänperioden och är därmed klar att köra tävling igen redan nästa vecka.

Tävlingen är ett nationellt italiensk rally den kommande helgen. I Rally di Alba debuterar han på asfalt med en Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC-bil.
- Jag får en fantastisk möjlighet att samla massa erfarenhet på asfalt och det känns bra att börja med en mindre tävling utan press, säger Oliver Solberg.

Hyundai har vunnit Rally di Alba de två senat åren med Sebastian Loeb (2019) och Craig Breen (2020). 19-åringen får med sig förra världsmästaren Ott Tänak som teamkamraten i Rally di Alba
- Målet är att lära så mycket som möjligt på de olika underlagen. Många bra förare kommer till start, och det kommer att vara mycket användbart att få jämföra data med Tänak och på så sätt få en bra indikation på hur vi ligger till mot världseliten, säger Solberg.
- Det viktigaste momentet jag måste lära mig innan tävlingen är hur man tar svängarna, man måste kunna gena rätt. Jag har sett hur dedikerade toppförarna är i den typen av körning, där de styr bilarna helt på utsidan av asfalten. Det är något jag behöver öva på.

Oliver Solbergs enda tävling i värstingklassen hittills var VM-tävlingen Arctic Rally Finland på snö i Februari där han rattade in WRC-bilen till en sensationell sjundeplats.
21-06-05 Ogier clear at Rally Italia Sardegna after nightmare Saturday for Tänak
French driver secures significant lead over team-mate Evans. Sébastien Ogier is on course for a remarkable victory at Rally Italia Sardegna after Saturday’s gruelling second leg decimated his challengers to leave Toyota Gazoo Racing first and second.

The FIA World Rally Championship leader will start Sunday’s final leg with a 38.9sec advantage over Yaris World Rally Car team-mate Elfyn Evans after a disastrous day for Hyundai Motorsport’s Ott Tänak and Dani Sordo.

Tänak was 40sec clear when he thumped a rock and shattered his i20 World Rally Car’s rear left suspension this morning. It was the second successive rally from which Tänak has retired whilst leading after suffering similar heartbreak in Portugal last month.

His demise left Ogier ahead after he had earlier relegated Sordo from second. Sordo’s day came to a violent end in the penultimate speed test when he ran wide, clipped a culvert and rolled. The impact ripped the right rear wheel off and he, too, was out.

Ogier was never expected to lead here. He was first in the start order in Friday’s opening leg, sweeping dusty gravel from the surface to leave more grip for those behind. He did a superb job to limit the time loss and take advantage of Tänak’s exit.

The Frenchman managed his tyre choice perfectly and won five of the day’s eight gruelling stages. As the sandy surface was wiped away, a hard and abrasive rocky base was exposed beneath which proved tough on cars and tyres.

“I think it’s been a perfect weekend for us so far,” said Ogier. “We did everything we need to do and we need to finish the job tomorrow. The only alarm was two big impacts this morning with big rocks in the middle of the road that I couldn’t avoid, which lifted the front of the car.”

Evans struggled to find consistent pace in the first leg but the Welshman was rejuvenated today. Set-up changes provided an improved feeling with his Yaris and he won two stages, getting the better of his fight with Thierry Neuville to head the Belgian by 22.7sec.

Neuville made constant changes to his i20 but none delivered the pace he wanted. There was no pressure from behind with Takamoto Katsuta three minutes adrift in fourth in another Yaris.

The Japanese driver was lucky to survive after hitting a rock which almost threw his car off the road. He dropped more time in the penultimate stage when he stopped to remove the blanking used to reduce air flow through the radiator which had been left in place.

The rally has been so demanding that the rest of the leaderboard comprised support category cars. WRC2 leader Jari Huttunen was fifth but had just 7.4sec in hand over Mads Østberg.

Sunday’s finale is based north-west of Olbia and is new for this generation of drivers. They tackle two loops of two tests, ending with the bonus points-paying Wolf Power Stage which finishes amid spectacular views of the Sardinian landscape. The four tests cover 46.08km.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris 2hr 50min 33.1sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +38.9sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +1min 01.6sec
4. T Katsuta / D Barritt GBR Toyota Yaris +4min 01.2sec
5. J Huttunen / M Lukka FIN Hyundai 20 R5 +8min 09.6sec
6. M Østberg / T Eriksen NOR Citroën C3 R5 +8 min 12.3sec
21-06-04 Majestic Tänak blitzes main rivals in thrilling Friday Italian opener
Estonian carves out big lead over Sordo with title leader Ogier back in third. Ott Tänak delivered a near-perfect performance to lead Hyundai Motorsport team-mate Dani Sordo after Friday's punishing opening leg at Rally Italia Sardegna.

Tänak won five of the eight sun-kissed and rocky speed tests in his i20 World Rally Car to build a handy 19.0sec advantage over his Spanish colleague in this fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

After dominating the previous round in Portugal only to retire from the lead, the Estonian was fastest out of the blocks on the Mediterranean holiday island. He won all four morning speed tests to lead by 16.9sec.

A fifth straight win was followed by a brace of second fastest times. His only blot on the day was a delaminated front left tyre in the closing test, which cost a handful of seconds.

"The car has been behaving nicely since the beginning so I've been able to give a good rhythm," said Tänak. "I knew the two Toyotas at the front might struggle so it was definitely our chance to build a gap. The more gap we have the better, so I keep pushing tomorrow as well."

Sordo was hampered by minor problems this morning but hit top form later. He traded places with championship leader Sébastien Ogier before reeling off three fastest times to end the day 16.8sec clear of the Frenchman's Toyota Yaris.

Ogier was delighted with his drive. Expecting a day of damage limitation after starting first on sandy roads where grip was at its lowest, he briefly held second but was unable to match the Hyundais and ended 36.2sec off the lead.

Elfyn Evans ended a frustrating day in fourth in his Yaris. The Welshman was out of sorts this morning and languished in sixth, but better pace this afternoon enabled the winner of the previous round in Portugal to recover. He ended more than a minute adrift of Tänak.

Thierry Neuville was another to struggle this morning. Set-up changes had a positive effect and the Belgian ended on a high, sharing fastest time in the final stage with team-mate Sordo. Two punctures didn't help his efforts, but he was only 1.2sec behind Evans.

Sixth went the way of Takamoto Katsuta, despite the Japanese driver stalling his Yaris' engine three times.

Kalle Rovanperä was initially Tänak's closest challenger, but the Finn retired his Yaris with a broken front right suspension in this morning's final stage.

It was a disappointing day for M-Sport Ford. Teemu Suninen retired in the opening stage after tipping his Fiesta onto its side, while Gus Greensmith retired from seventh in the last stage with transmission troubles. Brake problems cost Pierre-Louis Loubet more than three minutes and he was 11th in an i20.

Saturday is the longest leg with 129.62km of competition. The morning features a double pass of two stages in the Monte Lerno area, including the breathtaking Micky's Jump. After service, two afternoon tests, which are also driven twice, include one not used since 2005.

Leading positions after Friday
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 1hr 26min 58.0sec
2. D Sordo / B Rozada ESP Hyundai i20 +19.4sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +36.2sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +1min 02.0sec
5. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +1min 03.2sec
6. T Katsuta / D Barritt GBR Toyota Yaris +1min 26.1sec

21-06-03 Hyundai driver Sordo chases win treble at Rally Italia Sardegna
Spaniard bullish after Portugal second and comfortable on island's gravel roads. Dani Sordo hunts for a hat-trick of wins at this weekend's Rally Italia Sardegna (June 3-6) as his Hyundai Motorsport squad bids to maintain its mastery of the tough Mediterranean event.

Sordo shares the team's third car and this will be only his third FIA World Rally Championship start of the season, but the island's gruelling gravel roads suit the Spaniard who topped the podium in 2019 and 2020.

Victory for team-mate Thierry Neuville in 2016 and 2018 means Hyundai has won four of the last five Sardinia fixtures. Sordo is in good form after finishing second at the previous round in Portugal two weeks ago.

"It is an event that I really like," acknowledged Sordo, whose Sardinia love affair began in 2005 when he scored his maiden Junior WRC win en route to the title. "I feel very comfortable there, plus I will have an advantage with road position on the first day."

He is seventh in the start order for Friday's opening leg. It offers a significant advantage over the early starters, who sweep gravel from the surface to leave a cleaner line and more grip for those coming behind.

That challenge is the biggest facing Toyota Gazoo Racing, for whom world champion Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans lie first and second in the championship standings in their Yaris World Rally Cars. They are separated by two points.

"We have to be realistic going into the event," said team principal Jari-Matti Latvala. "Seb and Elfyn will be the first two drivers on the roads during day one and this is usually one of the most difficult rallies in terms of road cleaning."

Kalle Rovanperä drives Toyota's third car and, like Ott Tänak in Hyundai's other i20 World Rally Car, must bounce back from disappointment in Portugal. Both retired and had to make do with bonus points only from the Wolf Power Stage finale.

M-Sport Ford's Gus Greensmith has his third co-driver alongside him in four rallies. Chris Patterson, who replaced Elliott Edmondson at round three in Croatia, is unavailable for personal reasons so Stuart Loudon steps in.

Teemu Suninen drives the other Fiesta World Rally Car, the Finn replacing Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux, who returns to the WRC2 support category after two rallies at the top level.

The rally base has switched back across the island to the east coast town of Olbia for the first time since 2013, although the fast and narrow roads, many lined with trees and bushes, will be familiar.

So, too, will be the high temperatures which combine with tracks that become increasingly rocky and abrasive in the second pass of special stages to make it a punishing encounter for cars and tyres.

The action begins on Friday following the previous evening's ceremonial start in Alghero. Competitors face 20 stages covering 303.10km before Sunday afternoon's Olbia finish.
21-05-26 Oliver Solberg missar Rally Italien Sardinien
Oliver Solberg får inte köra nästa veckas VM-tävling på Sardinien. Anledningen är att pappa Petter Solberg har testat positivt för corona.

Internationella bilsportförbundet (FIA) och nationella regelverk för corona kräver att alla som har haft närkontakt med en smittad ska i 14 dagars karantän, inkluderat Oliver.

Petter Solberg som avslutade sin karriär efter säsongen 2018 med totalt tre VM-titlar i rally och rallycross, testade positivt på måndagen efter tävlingen i Portugal.

Oliver Solberg kör sitt första år som fabriksförare för Hyundai Motorsport. 19-åringen avslutade VM-tävlingen i Portugal förra helgen och har tagit flera negativa coronatester de senaste dagarna men måste nu stanna i karantän på ett hotell i Porto.
- Du kan bara föreställa dig hur tråkigt det här är, men det viktigaste är pappas hälsa. Vi har verkligen sett exempel på hur farligt detta virus är. Pappa har lite feber men är förövrigt i gott skick, säger Oliver Solberg

Enligt planen skulle Oliver köra sin andra VM-tävling i värstingklassen i en Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC nästa vecka, men det kommer nu inte att hända.
- Det kommer alltid att komma en ny chans att få köra Rally-VM. Jag respekterar till fullo de lagar och regler som har skapats för att få stopp på denna pandemi, säger Oliver Solberg

21-05-23 Ingen perfekt helg men bra till slut för Tom Kristensen i Portugal
Efter en stabil och bra början på första sträckan på fredagsmorgonen i VM-tävlingen Rally Portugal, slog oturen till på den andra sträckan för Tom och co-driver David Arhusiander, då framhjulsdriften försvann på deras 4-hjulsdrivna Ford Fiesta MK II. Man fortsatte dock med endast bakhjulsdrift, men på den fjärde sträckan gled man ned i diket, landade mjukt utan skador på bilen, men kunde inte ta sig upp igen. Då var det bara att ge upp för dagen, men med ett kraftigt tidstillägg för dagens återstående sträckor. Till lördagsmorgonen hade M-Sports mekaniker fixat bilen, och man kunde starta om enligt de regler som gäller i Rally-VM.

Resterande del av tävlingen gick problemfritt, och man var glada att kunna passera målskyltarna på söndagseftermiddagen, och även inkassera sina första poäng i WRC2-klassen.
- Det har varit ett grymt men mycket lärorikt rally, och framför allt var det kul att se publik ute på sträckorna, eftersom man i Portugal kunnat släppa en del på restriktionerna, säger Tom efter målgången.

- Tuffa, men fina och roliga sträckor, och speciellt den 38 km långa klassiska Amarante som vi körde två gånger i går, och så naturligtvis dagens lika klassiska Fafe som avslutade som s.k. Power Stage

- Trots problemen i början har vi tagit oss igenom tävlingen och fått många värdefulla mil för att utveckla känslan både för bilen och för körningen. Vi har lärt oss mycket och succesivt känt oss mer komfortabla

- Samfattningsvis har det varit en fantastisk upplevelse att köra Rally Portugal för första gången, och jag vill rikta ett stort tack till teamet, mina partners och alla som supportat oss på olika sätt. Nu ser vi fram mot vår nästa tävling som blir Rally Estonia i mitten av juli, avslutar Tom.

I WRC2 blev det finsk dubbelseger genom Esapekka Lappi före Toms teamkompis Teemu Suninen och ryssen Nikolay Gryazin.

I WRC vann Elfyn Evans en välförtjänt seger före Dani Sordo och regerande världsmästaren Sebastien Orgier.
21-05-23 Welshman Evans powers to fourth WRC win at Rally de Portugal
Sordo second and Ogier claims third to retain 2021 championship lead. Elfyn Evans won Vodafone Rally de Portugal on Sunday afternoon to claim his fourth career victory in the FIA World Rally Championship.

He put behind him the disappointment of defeat by fractions of a second at the previous round in Croatia to climb to second in the drivers' standings. He sits two points behind Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Sébastien Ogier.

Evans, driving a Yaris World Rally Car, grabbed top spot from Ott Tänak when the Estonian retired his Hyundai i20 on Saturday afternoon with smashed suspension.

He was in no mood to risk another setback to his title bid and charged through Sunday morning's opening speed test to double his overnight 10.7sec advantage over Dani Sordo. He eased through the remaining four stages to win by 28.3sec.

"We weren't maybe the fastest crew this weekend but still we had really good pace, kept out of trouble and did enough to keep Dani behind today," said a jubilant Evans. "This comes at a really good time for our championship challenge as we move into some tough gravel rallies."

Sordo led the three-day gravel fixture for much of Friday's opening leg in his i20 until he stalled his engine and dropped behind Tänak. But on a rally in which managing the use of Pirelli's hard and soft compound tyres was crucial, he was frequently uncomfortable with his choices.

The Spaniard ate into Evans' lead in Saturday evening's closing test, but had no answer to the Welshman's Sunday morning riposte.

Ogier started the Matosinhos-based event, round four of 12, at the top of the championship. First in the running order on sandy roads that favoured cars starting later in cleaner and more grippy conditions was a major hurdle for the Frenchman.

Shrewd tyre selection and problems for those ahead allowed Ogier to steadily climb the order and finish third, almost a minute behind Sordo. Toyota's double podium extended its manufacturers' championship lead to 37 points.

Takamoto Katsuta scored a career-best fourth place in a third Yaris. The Japanese driver traded places with Ogier during Saturday's gruelling leg in the Cabreira Mountains, before measuring his pace through Sunday's five-stage finale.

M-Sport Ford duo Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux were fifth and sixth in Fiestas. Both dropped time with throttle problems and Fourmaux lost more time in a first-day spin, but fifth equalled Greensmith's best WRC performance.

Tänak was joined on the retirement list by Thierry Neuville, who tipped his i20 on its side and broke the rear suspension. Both restarted and gained some consolation by taking first and second-placed bonus points on the iconic Fafe Wolf Power Stage.

Drivers face a quick turnaround before round five on the gravel roads of the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. Rally Italia Sardegna is based in Olbia on June 3-6.

Final positions
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris 3hr 38min 26.2sec
2. D Sordo / B Rozada ESP Hyundai i20 +28.3sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +1min 23.6sec
4. T Katsuta / D Barritt GBR Toyota Yaris +2min 28.4sec
5. G Greensmith / C Patterson GBR Ford Fiesta +4min 52.7sec
6. A Fourmaux / R Jamoul FRA Ford Fiesta +5min 03.4sec

2021 FIA World Rally Championship (after round 4 of 12)
1. S Ogier 79pts
2. E Evans 77
3. T Neuville 57
21-05-23 Pallplatsen gled Oliver Solberg ur händerna
Oliver Solberg körde in till en 5: plats i WRC2-klassen i Rally Portugal på söndagen.
19-åringen fick stopp på bilen dagen innan och förlorade över en minut och där med även greppet om en pallplats.

Oturen skedde i slutet av tävlingens 14:e specialsträcka på lördagen, när Solberg juniors Hyundai i20 R5 stoppade i en snäv sväng. Det tog en minut att få start på bilen och kunna läggs i backen. Tidsförlusten gjorde att både regerande världsmästaren Mads Østberg och ryska Nikolay Gryazin kunde passera honom i resultatlistan.

Oliver slutade rally på en 11:e plats totalt (alla klasser inräknat) WRC-klassen vanns av brittiska Elfyn Evans, medan finnen Esapekka Lappi vann WRC2-klassen.
- Resultatet blev inte riktigt vad jag hade hoppats på men jag är ändå nöjd med helgen. Jag har lärt mig massor och skaffat mig mer rutin som jag kommer ha nytta av i kommande tävlingar, säger Oliver Solberg.

Det var första gången Oliver körde VM-tävlingen i Portugal, tävlingen är känd för att vara tekniskt mycket utmanande. Solberg var snabbast av alla i WRC2-klassen på sträcka 12.
- Redan efter rekognosceringen i början av veckan insåg jag hur svår denna tävlingen skulle bli. Det var svårt att få till noterna då vägarna innehåller så många svängar, krön och andra komplicerade sektioner. Man förstår verkligen inte hur utmanade det är förens man kört sträckorna, säger Oliver Solberg.

Första helgen i juni kommer 19-åringen att köra sin andra VM-tävling i värstingklassen i en Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC när rally-VM fortsätter i Rally Italia på Sardinien.
21-05-22 Evans snatches Rally de Portugal lead after Tänak heartbreak
Sordo just behind Welshman heading into final day as Ogier lurks in third. Elfyn Evans led Vodafone Rally de Portugal on Saturday night after day-long pacesetter Ott Tänak retired in the penultimate speed test.

Just one stage after recording his 250th fastest time in the FIA World Rally Championship, Tänak's delight turned to disappointment as he parked his crippled Hyundai i20 roadside with smashed rear suspension.

Tänak took the lead on Friday evening despite admitting he was 'fighting' his car. He was more at ease on Saturday and dominated the second leg of this fourth round. A clean sweep of wins across this morning's three special stages carried him clear of Evans and team-mate Dani Sordo.

Another quickest time stretched Tänak's lead over Evans to 22.4sec going into the second pass of the rugged Amarante test, the longest of the rally at almost 38km.

He was fastest at the interim split points, but his car's rear right wheel began to buckle. He tried to limp to the finish, but was forced to quit with less than 4km remaining.

Evans had earlier interrupted Tänak's run of stage wins and added a second in that dramatic penultimate test, but Sordo kept the pressure on.

Despite a starter motor problem which left him fearful of stalling his i20, Sordo clawed back almost six seconds in the final Porto street stage to leave the gap at 10.7sec.

"I was shocked that Dani was so strong in that last stage," admitted Evans. "It was disappointing, I tried to save the tyres for tomorrow. Today went pretty well and we should be in a good position tomorrow, but we have to remain fully focused."

Championship leader Sébastien Ogier was third, more than a minute back, after a duel with Yaris team-mate Takamoto Katsuta. Ogier demoted the Japanese driver this morning, but a half spin dropped him behind again.

He regained the initiative but, with an eye on tomorrow's final leg, Ogier's choice of hard compound Pirelli tyres meant he struggled to fend off Katsuta. He eventually ended 1.5sec clear despite a stall in the final stage.

A throttle problem hampered Gus Greensmith for most of the day. The Ford Fiesta driver climbed to fifth after Kalle Rovanperä retired his Yaris before the start of the troublesome Amarante test with a technical issue, but he could not hold off team-mate Adrien Fourmaux.

Fourmaux, who had a similar throttle issue this morning, eased ahead in the closing test to hold fifth by 6.4sec from the Briton.

Sunday's finale is focused around the iconic Fafe stage and its huge jump before the finish. The test is driven twice, the second time as the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage and offering all-important bonus points. There are five stages in all, covering 49.47km before the afternoon finish in Matosinhos.

Leading positions after Saturday
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris 3hr 07min 09.1sec
2. D Sordo / B Rozada ESP Hyundai i20 +10.7sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +1min 04.2sec
4. T Katsuta / D Barritt GBR Toyota Yaris +1min 05.7sec
5. A Fourmaux / R Jamoul FRA Ford Fiesta +4min 21.8sec
6. G Greensmith / C Patterson GBR Ford Fiesta +4min 28.2sec
21-05-21 Tänak swoops to lead Rally de Portugal after late Friday drama
Estonian edges ahead of Evans and Sordo as title leader Ogier stays in touch. Ott Tänak overcame a complicated day to lead Vodafone Rally de Portugal on Friday night as a frenzied finale derailed his Hyundai Motorsport team's hopes of a top three lock-out.

Tänak topped the fourth round of the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship by 6.0sec in his i20 World Rally Car from Elfyn Evans, after longtime leader and team-mate Dani Sordo stalled his car's engine in the penultimate Mortagua speed test.

A worse fate befell Thierry Neuville, lying second in another i20. The Belgian was too hot into a right corner, slid into a bank and the car tipped onto its side. The crew righted it and limped to the finish, but the impact shattered the rear right suspension and they retired.

Tänak won the opening speed test as Sordo stalled for the first time, but the Estonian was battling the car all morning and dropped back. An afternoon puncture relegated him behind Neuville before he profited from his team-mate's late dramas.

"It's been a demanding day, so much has been happening and so many issues," Tänak said. "I'm looking forward to a bit of rest before we start again tomorrow. It wasn't working well this morning, it was a bit like fighting, not natural."

Tyre management was crucial. Pirelli's soft compound rubber was the preferred option for this morning's sandy surfaces before hard tyres came into play this afternoon when the repeated stages were rougher.

Evans lacked confidence as the soft tyres left his Toyota Yaris feeling unstable. He steered clear of trouble and jumped from fourth to second after Sordo and Neuville's problems, ending 3.0sec clear of Sordo.

Takamoto Katsuta enjoyed his best day in the WRC to hold fourth in another Yaris, ahead of Sébastien Ogier.

The championship leader was more than 40sec adrift in seventh after struggling with the least grip on the sandy roads from first in the start order. Fastest time in Mortagua and the problems of those ahead promoted Ogier to fifth and ready to pounce from a better start position tomorrow.


A lacklustre Kalle Rovanperä made it four Yaris cars in the top six. The young Finn was initially troubled by understeer but tweaked the car's set-up and won a stage this afternoon, before tyre troubles meant he had to resort to used soft rubber.

Almost half the rally's competitive distance is packed into Saturday. Two identical loops of three speed tests in the Cabreira Mountains, north-east of Matosinhos, are separated by service and a coastal street stage in Porto closes the leg after more than 165km of action.

Leading positions after Friday
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 1hr 22min 35.0sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +6.0sec
3. D Sordo / B Rozada ESP Hyundai i20 +9.0sec
4. T Katsuta / D Barritt GBR Toyota Yaris +15.4sec
5. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +24.0sec
6. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +28.9sec
21-05-20 Ogier hunts landmark win at Rally de Portugal
Frenchman bidding for record sixth victory in Portugal as he chases title No8. Sébastien Ogier chases a record sixth victory at Vodafone Rally de Portugal this weekend in what could be his final appearance in the country where he scored his maiden world rally win 11 years ago.

Ogier claimed the first of his 51 FIA World Rally Championship event victories on Portugal’s gravel roads in 2010. He has since added four more wins there and another would see him overtake legendary Finn Markku Alén at the top of the all-time list.

The seven-time world champion, who has said this year will be his last full WRC season, regained the championship lead in Croatia last time out. He holds an eight-point advantage over Thierry Neuville going into the fourth of 12 rounds.

Warm weather in the run-up to Friday’s opening leg could dry roads left wet and muddy by rain. It would leave grip at a premium for the early starters on the sandy tracks and, as first in the order, the Frenchman accepts that chasing a sixth win will be far from simple.

“It’s one of the most special rallies for me,” said the Toyota Yaris driver. “This time we know we will probably have to face tough conditions opening the road but Portugal is a place where we can have rain at this time of year, and this is always what you hope for in this situation.”

The Matosinhos-based event is the year’s first gravel fixture and regarded as a form marker for the surface which forms half the championship’s rounds.

The rally’s last two winners line-up against Ogier. Neuville won in 2018 and Hyundai i20 team-mate Ott Tanak was successful the following year. The rally was not held in 2020 due to Covid-19.

The Korean manufacturer’s line-up is completed by Dani Sordo, four times a podium finisher in 12 starts. The Spaniard is partnered by new co-driver Borja Rozada for the first time.

Elfyn Evans, third in the standings after losing out to Ogier in Croatia by 0.6sec in the third closest finish of all-time, will aim to turn the tables on his Toyota team-mate.

Kalle Rovanperä drives the third Yaris after crashing out of the championship lead in the opening kilometres of the asphalt fixture.

Adrian Fourmaux retains his place in M-Sport Ford’s line-up. The Frenchman finished fifth in a stunning top-level debut in a Fiesta World Rally Car in Croatia and he will be partnered by Gus Greensmith in the British squad’s other car.

Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta bids to extend his consistent season start after three sixth-place finishes in his Yaris, while Pierre-Louis Loubet completes the entry alongside new co-driver Florian Haut-Labourdette.

After Thursday evening’s ceremonial start in Coimbra, competitors face 20 stages covering 337.51km across three days in northern and central Portugal. The finish is in the coastal city of Matosinhos on Sunday afternoon.
21-05-19 Gruspremiär i VM för Tom Kristensson i Vodafone Rally De Portugal
Efter en månads uppehåll sen förra tävlingen är det tid för nästa VM-tävling för Tom Kristensson och David Arhusiander i sin Ford Fiesta Fiesta Mk II för M-Sport i WRC2-klassen. Tävlingen är Vodafone Rally de Portugal, som har sin utgångspunkt från Porto i norra Portugal.
Från fredag morgon till söndag eftermiddag skall man avverka 20 specialsträckor på totalt 33,7 mil, varav de flesta körs två gånger. Underlaget är grus och tävlingen är en ny bekantskap för Tom, den ingick inte i JWRC de två åren som Tom körde i det mästerskapet. Sträckorna är både tekniska och tidvis snabba, och populära bland förarna, trots att stora delar är lös sand och kan vara ganska uppkörda vid andra rundan. Den mest berömda sträckan Fafe, som körs som Power Stage sista sträckan på söndag. Den kördes första gången 1973 och har ett spektakulärt hopp strax före mål.

Första tävlingen i Kroatien gick ju inte som Tom och David hoppats på då man fick bryta efter en avåkning, men nu är bilen återställd och de är redo för nya tag, eller som Tom säger:
- Kroatien var ett stort äventyr och mycket nytt för oss att ta in, men jag är mycket nöjd och glad över vad vi presterade på de sträckor vi körde. Det kändes verkligen bra, och det är ren njutning att jobba med ett så professionellt team, allt runt omkring var fantastiskt, och det känns mycket bra att vara tillbaka igen.
- Nu vill jag passera mållinjen på den sista sträckan, det skulle betyda allt för mej. Jag kommer inte att tänka på tiderna, utan fokusera på att hitta ett bra och snabbt tempo, som vi känner oss bekväma med, och att skaffa mer erfarenhet. Jag var i en dröm i Kroatien fram till avåkningen, då blev det en mardröm, och nu vill jag komma in i drömmen igen, säger Tom.

WRC2 har 12 anmälda, nästan dubbelt så många som i Kroatien. Dock kommer inte klassledaren Andreas Mikkelsen till start då han drabbats av Covid 19. Flera starka namn med WRC-erfarenhet har tillkommit, bl.a. Esapekka Lappi, Eric Camilli, Ole Christian Veiby, Martin Prokop och inte minst Toms landsman Oliver Solberg som gör sin första tävling i WRC2 för året. Dessutom finns segraren från Kroatien Mads Östberg och Toms teamkamrat i M-Sport Teemu Suninen med. Man kan lugnt säga att det är ett oerhört tufft motstånd som Tom och David har att tampas med.
21-05-14 Oliver Solberg inför: Vodafone Rally de Portugal
Oliver Solberg kommer att göra sin WRC2-mästerskapsdebut nästa vecka i en Hyundai i20 R5 i en av rally-VMs mest populära tävlingar: Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

Oliver har precis börjat sin andra säsong i Rally-VM och Rally de Portugal kommer att vara 19-åringens tionde tävling på denna mästerskapsnivå. Tävlingen i Portugal har varit en popular del av Rally-VM sedan serien startade år 1973.

I februari chokade unge Solberg rallyvärlden med en sensationell debut i en fullspäckad WRC-bil i värstingklassen i arctic Rally Finland. 19-åringen satte sex topp 5-tider i tävlingen på de 10 specialsträckorna i sin Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. Nästa vecka börjar han jakten på nya troféer när han startar sin VM-säsong i den näst mest prestigefyllda klassen (WRC2) för fabriksbilar.

Vodafone Rally de Portugal är VM-säsongens första grustävling, det blir också Olivers första tävling i en Hyundai i20 R5 på det underlaget.

Oliver berättar:
Portugal är definitivt en tävling jag alltid drömt om att få köra. Därför blir det extra speciellt för både teamet och mig att få starta WRC2 mästerskapet här. Jag har kört en tävling i området tidigare, Rally Fafe Montelongo förra året, men då var underlaget asfalt. Jag har hört mycket om de speciella grusvägarna och atmosfären i denna tävlingen, och jag är väldigt glad att jag får chansen att köra vad som ändå måste kallas en WRC-klassiker. Många av sträckorna är kända i rallyvärlden, och särskilt Fafe-hoppet kommer bli spännande att få prova.

Jag ser fram emot att äntligen få starta i WRC2-klassen. Jag har följt de sena tävlingarna, och det har varit en tät strid i toppen hela vägen ända in i mål. Det är många skickliga förare och det är ingen självklarhet att vara med och kämpa om topplaceringarna. Jag har aldrig tävlat med bilen på grus innan, så det ska bli kul och se vad vi kan få till.
- Tydligen kommer de att tillåta publik i den här tävlingen, vilket jag är otroligt glad över -så länge det sker säkert och under kontrollerade former. Några av mina strakaste minnen från när jag var liten och följde tävlingarna på tvn är alla åskådare längs sträckorna. Fansen är viktiga för sporten så det är mycket glädjande att arrangören öppnar upp för åskådare igen. Vi här helt övertygande om att arrangören och det Internationella bilsportförbundet har en väl utarbetad plan på hur det ska ske på ett tryggt och smittsäkert sätt.

Tävlings information:
Arrangör: Vodafone Rally de Portugal, Portugal
Datum: 20-23 maj 2021
Underlag: Grus
Specialsträckor: 20
Totoalt SS i km: 337,51km
Längsta specialsträckan: SS11/14 Amarante (37.92km)
Bil: Hyundai i20 R5
Kartläsare: Aaron Johnston, GB

Program för Vodafone Rally de Portugal:
Torsdag 20 maj:
Shakedown 4,60 km kl. 10:30
Officiell start i Coimbra kl. 20:30

Fredag 21 maj:
SS1 Lousã 1 12,35 km kl. 08:08
SS2 Góis 1 19,51 km kl. 09:08
SS3 Arganil 1 18,82 km kl. 10:08
Regroup Arganil kl. 10:43

SS4 Lousã 2 12,35 km kl. 12:31
SS5 Góis 2 19,51 km kl. 13:31
SS6 Arganil 2 18,82 km kl. 14:38
SS7 Mortágua 18,16 km kl. 16:05
SS8 Lousada SSS 3,36 km kl. 19:03
Service Exponor kl. 19:50

Lördag 22 maj:
SS9 Vieira do Minho 1 20,64 km kl. 08:08
SS10 Cabeceiras de Basto 1 22,37 km kl. 09:08
SS11 Amarante 1 37,92 km kl. 10:24
Service Exponor kl. 12:05

SS12 Vieira do Minho 2 20,64 km kl. 14:38
SS13 Cabeceiras de Basto 2 22,37 km kl. 15:38
SS14 Amarante 2 37,92 km kl. 16:54
SS15 Porto-Foz SSS 3,30 km kl. 19:03
Service Exponor kl. 19:23

Söndag 23 maj:
SS16 Felgueiras 1 9,18 km kl. 07:08
SS17 Montim 8,75 km kl. 07:53
SS18 Fafe 1 11,18 km kl. 08:38
SS19 Felgueiras 2 9,18 km kl. 10:04

Fafe Regroup kl. 10:33
SS20 Fafe 2 11,18 km kl. 12:18
Målgång Matosinhos kl. 14:20

Oliver Solberg i siffror:
Rallystarter: 42
Rallysegrar: 9
EM-starter: 6
EM-segrar: 2
Topp 3-placeringar i EM: 3
VM-starter: 9
VM-debut: Wales Rally GB (2019)
Antal vunna titlar: 9
21-05-04 Ny WRC-chans för Oliver Solberg i Rally-VM
I Rally Italia Sardegna nästa månad kommer Hyundai-föraren att försöka följa upp sin sensationella debut från februari.

På den finska snön skickade Solberg chockvågor genom rallyvärden i sin WRC-debut när han matchade världseliten i både fart och skicklighet. Han slutade på en sjunde plats totalt i det som var en av de mest sensationella debuterna på toppnivå i Rally-VM.
I Rally Italia Sardegna den 3-6 juni är 19-åringen tillbaka bakom ratten på en Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC från 2C [Compétition], men den här gången är underlaget grus.
- Arctic Rally Finland känns som längesen men ända sedan jag korsade mållinjen i den tävlingen har jag hoppats på att få en ny möjlighet att köra WRC-bilen. Det blir helt annorlunda att köra på grus, men bilens upset kommer att vara ganska lika som sist. Målet är detsamma som i Finland: Att få erfarenhet och att ta bilen i mål. Jag är mycket tacksam för att Hyundai Motorsport ger mig chansen igen, säger Oliver Solberg.

Han körde motsvarande tävling förra hösten i WRC3-klassen och chockade sina konkurrenter genom att vinna den första specialsträckan med en förkrossande marginal på hela 13 sekunder. Problem senare i rallyt ledde till att Solberg tillslut hamnade utanför pallen.
- Jag trivdes bra på Sardinien i höstas, vägarna passade mig bra. Ett lite misstag förstörde för en topplacering då, men jag lärde mig mycket och erfarenheten tar jag med mig när vi åker dit igen, säger 19-åringen.
Tävlingen kommer inte att vara identisk som förra året. För det första har specialsträckorna körts runt staden Olbia på öns östra sida, medan den förra året var baserad i staden Alghero på västkusten. Dessutom flyttas tävlingen från höst till midsommar.

Men innan karriärens andra VM-tävling i den största klassen, kommer Oliver Solberg att köra en VM-tävling i WRC2- klassen. 20-23 maj startar 19-åringen poängsäsongen i WRC2 på grus i Portugal med en Hyundai i20 R5.
- Alla de bästa WRC2-förarna ser ut att komma till start i Portugal, så jag förväntar mig tuff konkurrens. Erfarenheten är fortfarande viktigast för mig, men jag hoppas kunna vara med och slåss om en pallplats, säger Solberg innan karriärens 42:a rallystart inräknat alla klasser och serier.
21-04-26 Mads Østberg og Torstein Eriksen tok hjem seieren i Rally Croatia
Mads Østberg og co-driver Torstein Eriksen i Citroen C3 R5 vant VM rallyet Rally Croatia i WRC2 kategorien denne helgen.
Rally Croatia besto av 18 spesialetapper på til sammen 300 km. Rally Croatia var med i VM for første gang og organisasjonen besto debuten med glans. Veldig varierende og utfordrende asfalt landeveier i flotte omgivelser. Rally Croatia har forhåpentligvis kommet for å bli.

Dette var det første løpet i Mads og Torsteins VM sesong 2021, og det første WRC løpet etter at de vant Rally Monza og VM tittelen for 2020.
«Jeg har gjort noen tester og kjørt to nasjonale mesterskapsløp, ett i Romania og ett i Ungarn, begge med god kvalitet. Men WRC er et nivå opp, og jeg følte meg litt rusten før start,» sier Mads. Konkurransen i WRC2 har aldri vært større. 3 WRC førere med seier og utallige pallplasser i WRC kjørte WRC 2 denne helgen, foruten Mads, Teemu Suninen og Andreas Mikkelsen. I tillegg til dem mange veldig talentfulle førere.
“Vi hadde ikke en optimal start, med noen tekniske problemer på SS1, men klarte å sette nest beste tid. Det samme gjorde vi på SS2 og fikk en bra seier på SS3. Med unntak av etter SS11 ledet vi løpet derfra og inn.

På papiret hadde vi en komfortabel ledelse før siste dag, 4 etapper til sammen 79 km spesial etapper. Men vi hadde noen tekniske problemer allerede fra den første etappen, som vi ikke kunne rette uten å ha service, og det var ikke service lagt inn på søndag. Vi følte presset, og måtte tilpasse oss for å få bilen til mål. Vi kontrollerte ledelsen bra, og klokket inn på siste etappe 23 sekunder før Teemu Suninen, som ble nummer 2. En veldig bra følelse å vinne det første løpet i årets VM sesong for vår del. Jeg må nevne at vi hadde en tett fight med russiske Nikolay Gryazin. Han ledet etter de to første prøvene og fulgte oss som en skygge inntil han fikk et teknisk problem på SS13, og falt ned på 3. plass. Dessverre krasjet han på den nest siste etappen, da han var i en fight med Teemu om 2. plassen.»

Mads avslutter med å påpeke den fantastiske jobben kartleseren gjør, takker Citroen for en fantastisk bil og teamet for den gode jobben som gjøres. Hele pakken er nødvendig for å vinne. Neste løp for Mads og Torstein er Rally Portugal midt i mai.
21-04-26 Lärorik helg för Dennis Rådström & Johan Johansson i Kroatiens VM-rally
I helgen var Dennis Rådström från Torsby tillbaka i Rally-VM tillsammans med kartläsaren Johan Johansson från Valdemarsvik. Detta när Kroatiens VM-rally avgjordes med utgångspunkt i Zagreb. Dennis och Johan tävlade i den tvåhjulsdrivna klassen för teamet IKsport Racing i en Ford Fiesta Rally4, och hade höga förväntningar på tävlingen. Tyvärr hade Dennis och Johan en del problem med punkteringar, snurrningar och andra problem som förstörde möjligheterna för en framskjuten placering. Men dom tar med mycket positivt från VM-helgen, inte minst med 4 sträcksegrar i klassen.
– Det har vart för många misstag den här helgen och lite för dålig förberedelse. Men vi lär oss saker hela tiden, och det var därför vi åkte hit. Vi tar med oss mycket härifrån positivt härifrån och blickar framåt. Stort tack till IK sport för möjligheten och bra jobb hela helgen. Johan har gjort en fantastiskt jobb, och jag är stolt över vårt samarbete i bilden, säger Dennis och fortsätter:
–Det är superkul att vara tillbaka i VM, det är här vi vill vara. Så nu är det bara jobba vidare så vi snart kan komma tillbaka igen.
– Det är så jäkla kul att vara här, och vi gör en stark avslutning. Nu ser vi fram mot fortsättningen, säger Johan.

Dennis och Johans huvudmål för säsongen är att köra SM i den högsta klassen, Trimmat 4WD, i en Volkswagen Polo R5. SM-serien startar senare i höst, och fram tills dess ska Dennis och Johan förbereda sig med tester och förhoppningsvis fler tävlingar för att komma väl förberedda till SM-premiären i Kil i augusti.
21-04-25 Ogier secures stunning Croatia Rally win in nail-biting finish
Frenchman clinches 51st career win to move top of the WRC standings. Sébastien Ogier claimed a breathtaking last-gasp victory at the Croatia Rally on Sunday afternoon in the third closest FIA World Rally Championship finish in history.

After a remarkable final day to Croatia’s maiden WRC appearance, the world champion relegated Toyota Yaris team-mate Elfyn Evans in the final kilometres to win the three-day rally by 0.6sec.

Thierry Neuville finished third in a Hyundai i20, 7.5sec further back, but the facts do scant justice to the drama of a rally that will live long in the memory.

The trio fought tooth and nail from Friday’s start on Croatia’s slippery roads near Zagreb. After trading places on several occasions, the final day opened with Ogier leading Evans by 6.9sec, despite a second leg puncture, and just over 10sec blanketing the three drivers.

The drama unfolded when Ogier was involved in a road traffic collision en route to the opening speed test. Nobody was injured but the impact damaged the Yaris’ bodywork and the crucial aero package.

Evans capitalised on Ogier’s problems to win the first two tests and the Welshman started the final 14km live TV Wolf Power Stage with a 3.9sec advantage, as Belgian Neuville still chased both.

Interim times revealed Ogier closing on the Welshman before Evans slid wide onto a grass verge near the finish. It was the break Ogier needed and he scorched across the finish to record his 51st career victory, seal a Toyota one-two and regain the championship lead.

“The emotion for us now is super strong,” admitted Ogier. “It’s been a crazy rollercoaster for us between the puncture and the issue this morning. I was glad to be still in the rally honestly. I guess that’s why we do this sport, for this emotion.”

Neuville encountered his fair share of troubles during the weekend, including a poor tyre choice, spin and a missed junction in that final stage that meant the Belgian had to settle for third.

Ott Tänak finished fourth after never feeling totally comfortable with his i20 but the Estonian had more than 90sec in hand over Adrian Fourmaux in fifth. It was a hugely impressive top-level debut for Fourmaux, who twice set second fastest times in his Ford Fiesta.

Takamoto Katsuta scored his third consecutive sixth place finish in another Yaris.

The championship heads to the first of a series of four gravel rallies at Vodafone Rally de Portugal next month. Matosinhos hosts the event on 20 – 23 May.

Final positions
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris 2hr 51min 22.9sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +0.6sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +8.1sec
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +1min 25.1sec
5. A Fourmaux / R Jamoul FRA Ford Fiesta +3min 09.7sec
6. T Katsuta / D Barritt GBR Toyota Yaris +3min 31.8sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 3 of 12)
1. S Ogier 61pts
2. T Neuville 53pts
3. E Evans 51pts
Foto: Tom Kristensson Motorsport

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21-04-25 Tom och David tvingades bryta VM-debuten i Kroatien
Att rally är en vansklig sport med små marginaler fick Tom Kristensson och co-driver David Arhusiander erfara i sin debut för M-Sport i en Ford Fiesta Rally2 i WRC Croatia Rally.

Efter en stabil inledning med fullt gångabara tider mot de betydligt mer meriterade medtävlarna låg man efter sex körda sträckor på en femte plats i klassen, men på sträcka sju, den nästa sista på fredagen blev det problem.
- Vi gled ut lite i lösgrusen på asfalten i en kurva, vilket gjorde att vi fick gena lite för mycket utanför asfalten i nästa kurva, slog i en lite sten, bilen vände runt och vi slog i en större sten som tyvärr spräckte kylaren, berättar Tom
På servicen på fredagskvällen kunde teamets tekniker laga bilen och med tidstillägg kunde Tom och David starta om på lördagen.

Cirka fem km inpå dagens första sträcka på ca 20 km hände det som inte fick hända. Man kom för snabbt in i en hårnålskurva, gick av vägen och rasade utför en brant med stenar och träd, ner i en ravin. Bilen blev så illa skadad att tävlingen tyvärr var över.
- Helt mitt eget misstag och jag är otroligt ledsen för det, just då kändes det som om min dröm förvandlats till en mardröm, säger Tom, men både jag och David var helt ok, men naturligtvis väldigt bedrövade.
Teamet backade upp Tom när han kom tillbaka till serviceplatsen i Zagreb, bl.a. sa Teamchefen i M-Sport Richard Millener:
- Det är lätt att göra misstag i en så svårkörd tävling som denna, och Tom skall vara stolt över "the pace" han visade i det tuffa motståndet, det lovar gott för framtiden.

Även teamchefen i M-Sport Polen, som Tom körde för i JWRC, var snabb att peppa Tom när han puffade honom i bröstet och sa:
- Du visade bra tempo, det är en lärande sport och någon gång skall väl även du åka av vägen!
- Det känns bra att få stödet, både från teamet och även alla andra som hört av sig. Nu tar vi med oss det positiva från både testerna och helgen, och vi planerar för att köra nästa deltävling i VM i Portugal om knappt en månad.
- Vi har även kommit bra in i teamet, mycket är ju nytt så här i början, och framför allt har vi fått bra kontakt med alla medlemmarna, avslutar, en trots allt, positiv Tom från Zagreb.

WRC2 vanns av Mads Östberg före Toms teamkollega Teemu Suninen. Totalsegrare, i den som förarana betraktade som en av de svåraste de kört, blev den flerfaldige världsmästaren Sebastien Orgier. Efter en dramatisk avslutning där han gick om tvåan Elfyn Evans på sista sträckan, vann med 0,6 sekunder efter 30 mils körning över 20 sträckor.
21-04-24 Ogier leads titanic three-way battle into Croatia Rally finale
French driver gains a slender lead over team-mate Elfyn Evans after thrilling second leg. Sébastien Ogier led a finely-balanced Croatia Rally after Saturday’s enthralling penultimate leg ended with the leading three drivers blanketed by just over 10sec.

In a day of many twists and turns – literally and metaphorically – the world champion completed the longest day of this third round of the FIA World Rally Championship with a 6.9sec advantage over Toyota Yaris team-mate Elfyn Evans.

Opening day leader Thierry Neuville was relegated to third after a troubled morning, but the determined Belgian closed to within 10.4sec of Ogier in his Hyundai i20 after a better afternoon.

The day’s dramas began early this morning in the Zagreb service park when Ogier and Evans opted for Pirelli’s hard compound P Zero tyres. Neuville chose a mix of hard and soft rubber in the belief they would be better-suited to the cool temperatures.

Dry roads and a climbing thermometer meant the hard tyres provided better grip. Neuville lost the lead in the opening speed test as the rear of his i20 repeatedly slid off the optimum line. He stalled his engine in the following test and brake problems added to his woes.

In contrast, Ogier won two of the four morning stages, Evans won one and Takamoto Katsuta completed a Toyota clean sweep with his second career fastest time.

Neuville was almost 20sec off the lead but was thrown a lifeline when a rear right puncture cost Ogier 10sec in the afternoon’s opener. Both won a stage and shared fastest time in another, while Evans’ consistency kept him in the hunt and set up a compelling final day.

“I think we had a really good result today,” said Ogier. “Without the tyre issues, the gap would be a little bit more comfortable, but it isn’t so I won’t talk about that. We just have to keep driving the same way tomorrow and stay out of trouble. It’s going to be a fascinating day.”

Ott Tänak was fourth, almost 30sec further back in another i20. Having made the same tyre choice as Neuville, the Estonian was unable to match the leading trio but had almost a minute in hand over Adrien Fourmaux’s Ford Fiesta in fifth.

The Frenchman was again impressive on his top-flight debut, twice setting second fastest times to stretch his advantage over team-mate Gus Greensmith in sixth. The Briton was despondent after a difficult morning, but his pace improved this afternoon.

Four more stages lie in wait in Sunday’s finale. Two tests are repeated, the opener driven on Medvednica mountain north of Zagreb and the longest of the rally. They add up to 78.58km with the final Wolf Power Stage offering bonus points for drivers and manufacturers.

Leading positions after day 2
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris 2hr 06min 35.8sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +6.9sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 + 10.4sec
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +37.8sec
5. A Fourmaux / R Jamoul FRA Ford Fiesta +1min 29.5sec
6. G Greensmith / C Patterson GBR Ford Fiesta +2min 23.8sec
21-04-23 SVTs sädningar från Kroatiska VM-rallyt
Efter ett längre uppehåll fortsätter Rally-VM med säsongens tredje deltävling, där Kroatien debuterar som WRC-arrangör.
Två svenska förare i startfältet, regerande juniorvärldsmästaren Tom Kristensson gör debut som fabriksförare för M-Sport i WRC2 och i den tvåhjulsdrivna klassen kör Dennis Rådström.

Följ fyra av specialsträckorna direkt i SVT under helgen och på söndag kväll sänds ett sammandrag från hela rallyt.

Lördag:
10:45 SVT1/SVT Play: Kroatiska VM-rallyt specialsträcka 12, Vinski Vrh – Duga Resa 1,
17:00 SVT2/SVT Play: Kroatiska VM-rallyt specialsträcka 16, Vinski Vrh – Duga Resa 2

Söndag:
08:30 SVT2/SVT Play: Kroatiska VM-rallyt specialsträcka 18, Zagorska Sela – Kumrovec 1
13:00: SVT2/SVT Play: : Kroatiska VM-rallyt specialsträcka 20, Power Stage, Zagorska Sela – Kumrovec 2
23:35 SVT2/SVT Play: Kroatiska VM-rallyt, sammandrag.
21-04-23 Neuville tops Croatia Rally as WRC leader Rovanperä crashes out
Thierry Neuville leads the Croatia Rally after a pulsating opening leg. This morning’s four special stages belonged to the Belgian. He won three to lead this third round of the FIA World Rally Championship by 7.4sec at mid-leg service in his Hyundai i20.

World champion Sébastien Ogier fought back this afternoon when the tests were repeated. He won three in a row, the middle of which marked his 600th WRC stage victory, to overhaul Toyota Yaris team-mate Elfyn Evans for second.

Neuville ended 7.7sec clear of the Frenchman, with Evans three-tenths back in third.

Such was the fast and furious pace at Croatia’s WRC debut that both Neuville and Ogier survived close calls. Neuville’s i20 was pitched onto two wheels after hitting a bank in the final test, while Ogier escaped after clouting the banking in the opener.

Kalle Rovanperä suffered more than both. The youngest driver ever to lead the WRC at 20 drifted wide on a right bend 5.4km into the opening Rude – Plešivica test where Ogier was so fortunate. His Yaris plunged down a bank, coming to rest against a tree and the car was damaged too severely to restart tomorrow.

“It was the last downhill section which was really slippery. I lost the car already in the entry of the corner, I never made the proper racing line and we went straight off. A bit too much speed and understeer and that’s the result, my mistake,” Rovanperä admitted.

Although it was dry and warm, the stages south-west of capital city Zagreb became increasingly slippery as drivers cutting corners dragged gravel onto the asphalt. Rovanperä’s demise left Neuville to open the roads with the best grip.

“It was a tough day for everybody,” said Neuville. “This morning when Kalle went off, our main goal was to try to benefit from a good road position and try to make some gap to the others which we managed to do. This afternoon I tried to extend, but struggled a bit in some places when there was a lot of gravel.”

Evans was sandwiched by Neuville and Ogier before sliding to third in the closing stage, having prevented a Neuville clean sweep this morning by winning SS3.

Ott Tänak was the only driver to choose Pirelli’s hard compound P Zero tyres solely this morning and the Estonian could not get the best out of them in his i20. Set-up changes improved his feeling this afternoon and he won one stage, without ever being comfortable.

He ended fourth, 31.9sec behind Neuville and 22.9sec clear of a deflated Craig Breen, who never found his rhythm on his first all-asphalt WRC rally since 2018.

Adrien Fourmaux was buzzing after an impressive drive to sixth in a Ford Fiesta in his top-flight debut.

Saturday’s second leg is the longest of the weekend at 121.92km. It is based in the same area as today, traversing stunning springtime scenery in the Žumberak nature park. Four morning stages are repeated in the afternoon after service in Zagreb.

Leading positions after day 1
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 55min 36.8sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +7.7sec
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +8.0sec
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +31.9sec
5. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +54.8sec
6. A Fourmaux / R Jamoul FRA Ford Fiesta +1min 14.7sec
21-04-22 Dennis Rådström redo för VM-comeback i Kroatien
Imorgon fredag startar Kroatiens VM-rally. På plats finns Dennis Rådström och kartläsare Johan Johansson i den tvåhjulsdrivna klassen för IKsport Racing i en Ford Fiesta Rally4. Det är Dennis och Johans första tävling tillbaka i VM efter senaste framträdandet i Svenska Rallyt förra året, som de vann i tvåhjulsdrivna klassen. Medan deras huvudmål för säsongen, SM i Sverige i högsta klassen, inte startar förrän senare i år kör de VM-tävlingen för att få viktiga mil bakom ratten, och visa upp sig i VM-sammanhang.

Under torsdagen har sista fullfartstestet, shakedown, inför tävlingen körts. Dennis och Johan var näst snabbast i klassen, och känner sig redo inför rallyt.
– Vi har gjort två vändor på shakedown och bilen känns riktigt bra. Det är verkligen superkul att komma ut på sträckorna igen och få köra VM. Det var även lite publik ute i skogen, vilket gör det extra kul, säger Dennis.

Kroatiens VM-rallyt, som körs på asfalt, är också den första tävlingen i Junior-VM. I JWRC kör de tävlande i likadana Ford Fiesta Rally4 som Dennis och Johan, vilket innebär ett tufft motstånd i kampen om att bli bästa tvåhjulsdrivna bil. Men trots tufft motstånd hoppas Dennis att han och Johans fart ska räcka till för att vara snabbaste tvåhjulsdrivna bil.
– Allt känns superbra och vi är redo för rallyt. Vi får se vad vädret blir till starten imorgon, det är väldigt krävande sträckor här i Kroatien. Men vi ska ge allt vi har så får vi se hur långt det räcker.

Tävlingen avgörs med 20 sträckor, och tävlingen startar imorgon fredag. Tävlingen utgår från Zagreb och rallyt körs enbart på asfalt. Dennis och Johan har tidigare säsonger tävlat i Junior-WRC, men kör denna gång inte om poäng i JWRC. De tävlar dock i samma bilklass som Junior-VM för tvåhjulsdrivna bilar, som kallas RC4.
21-04-22 Croatia debuts as Rovanperä leads WRC back to asphalt
Croatia becomes the 34th country to stage an FIA World Rally Championship fixture when the Balkan state hosts the third round of the 2021 campaign this weekend (22 - 25 April).

The series returns after a two-month break, with capital city Zagreb the base for three days of fast asphalt action. It is the first pure asphalt encounter since August 2019, and a mix of smooth and very bumpy roads – and everything in-between – will offer a stern challenge.

Twenty-year-old Kalle Rovanperä arrives in Croatia as the youngest-ever leader of the WRC and his Toyota Gazoo Racing squad tops the manufacturers’ standings. Its Yaris World Rally Car has won the WRC’s last two sealed-surface encounters, held in snow and ice.

He remains cool, despite a trio of drivers eager to hunt him down who all lie within eight points of the Finn.

“I’m not feeling any pressure even though I’m leading the championship,” he said. “It’s only been two rallies and we have a long season ahead. For sure it’s nice to be in this position but we have to work hard to try to stay in the fight.

“It will be the first time for me on a proper asphalt event with the Yaris, as so far I’ve only had events with winter conditions like Monza and Monte-Carlo. The stages look really nice but, if it’s raining, I think there will be a lot of mud on the road and that will be tricky.”

Two of Rovanpera’s pursuers are Toyota team-mates. Reigning champion Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans are tied in third, four points adrift of Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville.

Neuville is joined by Ott Tänak and Craig Breen in i20 World Rally Cars for what will be Breen’s first asphalt outing since 2018.

At M-Sport Ford, young Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux steps up from the WRC2 support class for his maiden appearance at the top level. He drives a Fiesta World Rally Car alongside Gus Greensmith, who competes with co-driver Chris Patterson for the first time.

Takamoto Katsuta drives a fourth Yaris and Pierre-Louis Loubet lines up in his 2C Competition-entered Hyundai.

As well as trying to master the Croatian mountain roads, the drivers will use Pirelli’s P Zero asphalt tyres for the first time since the Italian company’s return to the WRC’s top flight this year.

All have tested different car set-ups in preparation, but not until Friday’s opening kilometres will they start to gain a full understanding of how the rubber works in the heat of competition.

After Thursday evening’s start ceremony, the action starts on Friday morning. Crews face 20 tests covering 300.32km before Sunday afternoon’s finish
21-04-21 Debut med nya bilen i VM för Tom Kristensson och David Arhusiander
I helgens deltävling i VM i rally, WRC Croatia Rally, gör Tom Kristensson och co-driver David Arhusiander sin första tävling för M-Sport World Rally Team, i den näst högsta VM-klassen, WRC2. De kommer att köra med sin nya Ford Fiesta Mk II.
- Vi har haft mycket bra tester inför tävlingen, säger Tom, även om vi fick flytta den första testen med italienska teamet JME i fredags till lördagen och till Slovenien, på grund av snöfall i norra Italien.
- I måndags testade vi här i Kroatien, det var första gången jag satt i min egen bil, men då var det regn och blött. Båda testerna gav värdefull kunskap om att köra 4-hjulsdrivet och med olika inställningar för både vått och torrt underlag.

Tävlingen har sin utgångspunkt från Kroatiens huvudstad Zagreb och stäcker sig över 20 specialsträckor på sammanlagt ca 30 mil, samtliga på asfaltunderlag. Tävlingen startar på fredag morgon, då Tom och David går ut med nummer 26 på sin bil, och målgång på söndag eftermiddag. Både fredagens och lördagens sträckor är sydväst om Zagreb medan söndagens avslutande sträckor går nordväst om staden.
- Igår och idag, onsdag, rekar vi sträckorna, forsätter Tom. Majoriteten av dem är extremt tekniska och intensiva, och de innehåller många olika typer av asfalt med olika grepp, så det gäller att ha full fokus hela tiden, och samtidigt hitta balansen mellan noter och körning.
- Den största utmaningen är att det kommer upp grus och lera på asfalten, eftersom man genar utanför asfalten i kurvorna, då gäller det att ha känsla för hur fästet är.

I WRC- och WRC2-klassen får varje ekipage ha en s.k. "Gravel crew", en bil som kör sträckorna före de tävlande och kan rapportera hur underlaget och skicket är. För Tom och Davids del är det är det rutinerade Mats Andersson från Eslöv och endast 16-åriga Maja Bengtsson från Älmhult som kör "Gravel crew". Maja har målsättningen och ambitionen att bli co-driver på internationell nivå, och är med teamet, där även pappa Mathias är med och coachar, för att se och lära samt få internationell erfarenhet.

Motståndet i WRC2 är det tuffaste tänkbara, på startlinjen finns bl.a. förra årets WRC2 mästare Mads Östberg från Norge, hans landsman Andreas Mikkelsen samt Toms teamkamrat i M-Sport, Teemu Suninen från Finland, alla tre med flera års erfarenhet från den högsta klassen i VM, WRC.
- Vår strategi i tävlingen är att i första hand skaffa erfarenhet och rutin och lära känna bilen riktig, men visst, det är ju tävling, och då vill vi naturligtvis ta i vad vi kan, säger Tom
- Det känns fantastiskt att vara här nu, och på den här nivån. Jag har nästan svårt för att ta in det, avslutar Tom från Zagreb.

21-04-09 Sébastien Loeb: The WRC driver who rewrote the record books
Nobody noticed the slightly apprehensive-looking Frenchman stepping out of car number 44 on the outskirts of Girona. Why would they? It was Monday 19 April 1999 and this particular driver was wishing he could get on with the stage ahead. He couldn’t. The stage was cancelled. On to the next one. Finally, he could get going. Thirty-ninth fastest overall. Sixth quickest from a class of nine. That would do. For now.

By the next stage of Rally de España, he was second in class. By SS5? Fastest. From then on, Sébastien Loeb didn’t look back.

Loeb made the FIA World Rally Championship his own and, a decade on from that debut he had already rewritten the record books by becoming the first driver ever to win five straight drivers’ titles.

Another 10 years down the road and five had become nine and 79 event wins had also been slotted away. Along with 118 podiums. The 119th podium came on Loeb’s last 2020 outing with third place at last year’s Rally Turkey.

Loeb reshaped people’s thinking on what success in rallying meant. Early in the WRC’s 48-year history, it was Walter Röhrl’s two championships in three years. Then Juha Kankkunen became the first driver to successfully defend a title. The Finn furthered that by writing his own chapter in the history books as the first three-time, then four-time title winner.

Three years on and Kankkunen’s countryman Tommi Mäkinen delivered outstanding late 1990s dominance to win four on the bounce. Now that, we thought, was special. Now that, we thought, is a record which will stand for a very long time. That was 1999.

Mäkinen managed a decade before Finnish history was erased and written in French.
“This guy,” said Mäkinen at the time, “this guy is something special. Very special.” Tommi’s rarely a man of many words but he said it all with that brief description of the Alsace pilot who surpassed his own achievement.

Talk to Loeb about his inspiration and motivation and you get a slightly quizzical look. Like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. Which it is. “I like to drive,” said Loeb. “I always enjoyed to drive.”

And as the years rolled by, that enjoyment of his time behind the wheel would be enough for Loeb to dazzle the world of Formula 1, Le Mans, touring cars, rallycross and, of course, there was that insane, record-shattering run up Pikes Peak in 2012.

But in the early days, Loeb had to find a way out of working as an electrician in Alsace. He did that with the help of friends who believed in him sufficiently to dig deep and fund a shot at the Citroën Saxo Trophy, which he won in 1999.
21-04-08 C3 Rally2 fighting on all fronts
Citroën Racing remains centre stage in the rallying world with the performances of C3 Rally2. WRC2 World Champion and European Champion in 2020, the Red Army’s ultimate customer racing machine has established itself with authority as the leading car of its class. Competing once again this season in the WRC2 and the ERC, C3 Rally2 will also be racing in 17 countries across Europe and the Americas.

C3 Rally2 has proven its competitiveness time and time again, its impressive record standing at more than eighty wins, the last of which was secured by Ricardo Cordero at Rally Colima in Mexico in March. Having claimed wins both on fast and demanding courses, C3 Rally2 has become one of the most versatile and reliable cars in its category.

Competitive on its early outings, winning the Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières in April 2018, C3 Rally2 has recently been fitted with various upgrades thanks to the experience and expertise of Citroën Racing’s technicians. Chassis and suspension, shock absorbers, engine software, brake balance control and aerodynamics have all been studied and revised to squeeze a little bit more performance out of the car, while also ensuring it keeps the same reliability, operating costs and ease of use. Evidently, in order to meet the expectations of the #C3Rally2Family drivers, the upgrades provided in the 2021 Kit may be adapted to all C3 Rally2s. In a sector that is as competitive as the world of racing, the Citroën Racing teams will pursue development work on C3 Rally2 over the next few months.

Competing in the upper echelons of the rally pyramid with Mads Østberg and Sean Johnston in the WRC2, as well as Yohan Rossel, Eric Camilli and Nicolas Ciamin in the WRC3, C3 Rally2 is equally preparing to play a leading role in the European championship with Alexey Lukyanuk, the defending champion, and Yoann Bonato. In addition to its international campaigns, C3 Rally2 will also be competing in fifteen national championships throughout Europe, as well as making its much-anticipated début in the Americas at the FIA NACAM, Mexican and Chilean championships. In the French Rally Championship, stalwarts Yoann Bonato and Jean-Baptiste Franceschi will be joined by the returning Mathieu Arzeno, winner of the 2017 French Rally Cup, as well as by Pierre Roché and William Wagner, who are both determined to make the most the experience acquired last year to aim even higher in this, their second season in the C3 Rally2.

THEY SAID…
Mayeul Tyl, Peugeot Citroën Racing Shop Manager:
“After making a winning start to its competitive career, C3 Rally2 wasted no time in convincing many drivers of its qualities, both in terms of performance and how easy it is to drive. Whether you are a talented youngster, an ambitious racer or a gentleman driver, you now have a car that meets all of your needs. We are all proud to see C3 Rally2 compete again in the WRC2 and the ERC this year, as well as in some of the biggest national championships in Europe or in the Americas. Above all, it confirms the excellent work done by Citroën Racing’s teams. Our technical advisors are still working to constantly offer our drivers a fast and effective car, regardless of the road surface, anywhere in the world.”

Didier Clément, Head of Customer Racing, Citroën Racing:
“Since it made its official debut at the 2018 Tour de Corse, all our teams have worked tirelessly to enable C3 Rally2 to become WRC World Champion with Mads Østberg in 2020. We are particularly proud to be able to provide our customers with a ‘world championship-winning’ car. The drivers will be able to benefit from all of our expertise to enjoy themselves and win races in C3 Rally2. With a far-reaching set of specifications implemented in terms of performance and driving comfort, C3 Rally2 is capable of challenging for the leading positions in the biggest national and international championships.”

#C3Rally2Family 2021 line-up
WRC 2: Sean Johnston and Mads Østberg.
WRC 3: Eric Camilli, Nicolas Ciamin and Yohan Rossel.
ERC: Yoann Bonato and Alexey Lukyanuk.

FIA NACAM: Ricardo Cordero.
Hungarian Rally Championship: Mads Østberg.
French Rally Championship: Yoann Bonato, Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, Mathieu Arzeno, Pierre Rocher and William Wagner.
Belgian Rally Championship: Nicolas Ciamin and Kris Princen.
German Rally Championship: Marijan Griebel and another drive (tbc).
Spanish Rally Championship: Jan Solans.
Portuguese Rally Championship: José Pedro Fontes, Pedro Antunes (winner of the 2020 Iberia Cup with the 208 Rally4).
Polish Rally Championship: Lukasz Kotarba.
Estonian Rally Championship: Roland Poom.
Mexican Rally Championship: Ricardo Cordero.
Chilean Rally Championship: Alberto Heller, Pedro Heller, Benjamin Israel and Vicente Israel.

C3 Rally2 technical information
Chassis: Reinforced body with welded, multi-point roll cage.
Engine: Citroën Racing 1.6-litre direct injection turbo engine - FIA 32mm flange.
Maximum power: 282bhp at 5,000rpm
Maximum torque : 420Nm at 4,000rpm
Gearbox: Sadev manual five-speed sequential gearbox (plus reverse).
Differentials: Mechanical front and rear self-locking differentials.
FR brakes: 355mm (tarmac) and 300mm (gravel) ventilated disks, with Alcon four-piston callipers.
RR brakes: 355mm (tarmac) and 300mm (gravel) ventilated disks, with Alcon four-piston callipers.
Handbrake: Hydraulic control.
Suspension: McPherson type.
Dampers: Reiger three-track adjustable shock absorbers (low- and high-speed compression and rebound).
Length: 3,996mm.
Width: 1,820mm.
Wheel base: 2,567mm.
Tracks: 1,618mm (front and rear).
Fuel tank: 81 litres.
Weight: 1,230kg minimum (regulated) - 1,390kg with crew (regulated).
2021 kit available for all C3 Rally2s.
Tarmac and gravel kits available.
Optional kits may be chosen during ordering process.
21-04-01 Italiensk klassiker nästa utmaning för Oliver Solberg
Klassiska Rally Sanremo står på tur för Oliver Solberg. 19-åringen kommer köra sin första asfalttävling i sin Hyundai i20 nästa vecka.

Vägarna på Italienska rivieran är bland de mest ikoniska i rallyhistorien, men tävlingen har inte haft VM-status sedan 2003.
Rallyt erbjuder goda möjligheter till att bättra på erfarenheten på asfalt. Rally Sanremo blir karriärens sjätte asfalts tävling totalt för Oliver.
19-åringen imponerade stort på hela motorsportsvärlden när han debuterade i WRC-klassen i snötäckta Arctic Rally Finland för en dryg månad sedan och avslutade rallyt på en imponerande 7:e plats.

I Italien är han tillbaka i R5-bilen efter inhoppet i WRC -klassen i Finland. Målet är att få erfarenhet och lära så mycket som möjligt.
-Det här blir första gången för mig i Sanremo, men jag har goda minnen från Italienska asfaltstävlingar. Min första tävlingen någonsin på underlaget var förra året i Rally di Roma Capitale där jag avslutade rallyt på en 3:e plats, säger Oliver Solberg.

Pappa Petter Solberg körde VM-tävlingen i Sanremo fem gånger, hans bästa resultat blev en 3:e plats 2002. Sist en svensk vann var 1982 då Stig Blomqvist drog det längsta strået. Även Björn Waldegård (två gånger), Ove Andersson, Harry Källström och Erik Carlsson har vunnit klassikern.

Oliver Solberg har ett tvåårs kontrakt med den sydkoreanska bilfabriken Hyundai, och planen är att köra fullt program i R5-bilen och utvalda tävlingar i WRC-bilen denna säsongen.
21-03-31 WRC manufacturers confirm three-year hybrid agreement
· Hyundai, M-Sport Ford and Toyota sign up to WRC’s hybrid era
· Manufacturers sign three-year WRC commitment from 2022 to 2024
· WRC Promoter welcomes across the board manufacturer support
· Hybrid to begin in WRC’s 50th anniversary season

All three current WRC manufacturers have embraced the sport’s exciting new hybrid era by committing to register and participate in the FIA World Rally Championship from 2022 to 2024.

Hyundai, M-Sport Ford and Toyota have pledged their futures to the production car-based series, which will undergo a landmark change in 2022 when top tier cars will be powered by a mix of an electric motor and the current combustion engine.

The agreement includes an equal contribution from the FIA and the manufacturers to the development costs of the new technology, which will have a strong focus on sustainability, safety and cost management.

The introduction of hybrid technology was announced in 2019 and close collaboration between the manufacturers, WRC Promoter and FIA led to technical regulations receiving a green light at this month’s World Motor Sport Council.

WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel hailed the trio’s commitment as another positive step for the championship’s future.

“It’s no exaggeration to say the introduction of sustainable hybrid technology for the WRC’s headline category marks one of the biggest milestones in the sport’s history. It’s fitting such a major progression will be welcomed in the championship’s 50th anniversary season,” he said.

“Along with the FIA and the manufacturers, WRC Promoter is fully committed to the introduction of greener cars. The hybrid powertrain forms an integral part of the automotive industry as the world moves towards a more sustainable future, and it’s essential the WRC is aligned with this evolution.

“This is rallying with a purpose – providing a perfect R&D platform for the automotive industry to communicate its new technology.

“WRC remains motorsport’s toughest championship for production-based cars and the leadership from these teams sends a positive message about its future to other manufacturers considering joining the series,” Siebel added.

To ensure increased stability and better long-term planning opportunities, the FIA is introducing a three-year championship commitment for manufacturers in place of single-year agreements.

From 2022, a new system will be introduced to the series, with the three current manufacturers and the FIA each owning one of four licences.

The hybrid announcement follows confirmation of the WRC’s plans for more sustainable fuel for competing cars and greener energy sources in the service park.

Requests for tenders have been invited for:
Sustainable fuel, with the supplier providing a fuel or series of fuels to be used by competitors across the different championship classes.
Branding of the plug-in hybrid charging stations in service parks.
Sustainable energy generation and supply in the service park to cover the needs of the plug-in charging elements of the World Rally Cars and general service park power requirements.
21-03-26 FIA World Rally Championship adds Greece to 2021 calendar
· Iconic Acropolis Rally Greece joins WRC schedule on 9 - 12 September
· Fan-favourite fixture returns to WRC after eight-year absence
· Start ceremony to be staged below Athens’ historic Acropolis temple
· Greece replaces Copec Rally Chile as round 10 of 12
· South American event cancelled due to continuing Covid-19 challenges
· News assets available at https://bulldrive.redbull.com/fl/nVrPVwcwEe

Greece will return to the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time in eight years after the fabled Acropolis Rally Greece was added to the 2021 calendar today.

The gruelling gravel road event forged a reputation as one of the WRC’s iconic fixtures after joining the inaugural season in 1973, and WRC Promoter has finalised a multi-year agreement with the Greek government for the Acropolis to return.

It will form round 10 of the season on 9 - 12 September, replacing Copec Rally Chile which has unfortunately been cancelled due to continued travel and other governmental restrictions amid the pandemic.

The Acropolis was first held in 1951. It became regarded as one of the WRC’s toughest rounds, as twisty and rocky mountain roads combined with intense heat and choking dust to provide a fierce challenge.

The rally has appeared in the WRC on 38 occasions and fostered a cult following among fans before leaving the championship in 2013.

Colin McRae tops the event’s roll of honour with five victories and other winners include fellow world champions Sébastien Loeb, Juha Kankkunen, Walter Röhrl and Carlos Sainz.

Known as the Rally of Gods, Acropolis Rally Greece will start from its traditional location beneath the famous Parthenon temple in Athens, restoring one of the sport’s famous picture postcard images to the WRC.

Details of the host city and itinerary will be issued following the regular route inspections by the FIA and WRC Promoter.

Jona Siebel, managing director of WRC Promoter, said the return of one of the championship’s classic rallies would be applauded across the sport.

“The Acropolis holds an illustrious chapter in WRC history and we appreciate the Greek government’s huge commitment in restoring it to world rallying’s top table. Welcome back!” he said.

“Its heritage will be recalled by all, but at the same time this is a modern-era Acropolis that sits comfortably alongside our other 11 rounds. That doesn’t mean its challenge is diminished and we can be sure the tough mountain roads will bring the sternest of contests.

“Chile proved a popular addition to the WRC in 2019. Unfortunately, the country suffered badly from the pandemic last year and the situation remains difficult. We’re extremely disappointed to lose this year’s event, but Chile very much remains a part of the WRC family.”

FIA President Jean Todt said: “I am convinced the efforts of the Chilean Motor Sport Federation and organising team are not in vain and we will have the chance to see another great edition of Rally Chile in the future.

“Acropolis Rally Greece, which thus gets the opportunity to step into the championship, needs no introduction. It’s a legendary event featuring some of the world’s roughest stages.

“I have such special memories of it, having competed there as a co-driver on five occasions between 1970 and 1981, and winning it as team principal of Peugeot in 1985 and 1986.

“It’s a pleasure to see the Acropolis return at the highest level of the discipline thanks to the support of the Greek authorities, along with the strong commitment of the organisers.”

The rally has fervent Government support and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece was proud to celebrate the WRC’s return.

“Seventy years ago the Acropolis was a backdrop to a very special race which became known as the Rally of Gods, an epic annual contest that tested drivers like no other. After an eight-year absence it is back and, fittingly, at a time of dramatic rejuvenation of my country,” he added.

Deputy Minister of Sports Lefteris Avgenakis added: “We are delighted to be able to fulfil our promise to the Greek people and the hundreds of thousands of motorsport fans worldwide. Greece is ready to welcome fans from all around the world in September and prove that it will be a major player in international events again.”
21-03-23 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson kör Rally-VM i Kroatien
Rallyföraren Dennis Rådström från Torsby har tillsammans med kartläsare Johan Johansson från Valdemarsvik de senaste åren tävlat i Junior-VM och EM i rally, och ska till i år göra en satsning på SM i den högsta klassen. Men på grund av pandemin har säsongspremiären på hemmaplan blivit uppskjuten till sensommaren. Dennis och Johan behöver dock inte vänta så länge på att sitta i en rallybil, utan det står nu klart att de gör comeback i Rally-VM när nästa deltävling körs i Kroatien 22-25 april. De kommer tävla för det Slovenska teamet IKsport Racing i en Ford Fiesta Rally4, samma biltyp som de tidigare kört i Junior-VM och EM.
– Först och främst är vi oerhört glada att ha fått denna chansen och att IKsport Racing hörde av sig med möjligheten att köra deras bil i VM-tävlingen. Vi har både kört tester och tävlat med dom innan och har en god relation. Det är ett professionellt team med mycket passion för rally. Vårt huvudmål för året är forfarande SM, men med kalendern framflyttad gäller det att hålla i gång och köra. Då är detta ett alternativ som ger oss mycket mil bakom ratten. Sen är vårt långsiktiga mål fortfarande att köra i VM, och då gäller det att ta tillvara på sånna här möjligheter, säger Dennis.

Kroatiens VM-rally är nytt in i VM-kalendern för i år och körs helt på asfalt. Dennis och Johan har sedan tidigare vart med och utvecklat Rally4 Fiestan ihop med M-Sport Polen som bygger Fords rallybilar, och känner sig därmed hemma i både bilen och på asfaltsunderlaget.
– Vi måste ha respekt för att vi inte kört tävling på länge. Men vi ska ha en testdag innan tävlingen och borde komma in i det snabbt igen. Vi siktar på att vara snabbaste Rally4-bil i tävlingen, fortsätter Dennis.
– Det känns helt fantastiskt att vara till baka i VM, det är där vi vill vara. Det är en jättemöjlighet vi fått och en utmaning i ett helt nytt land. Men vi är komfortabla i bilen och våra noter funkar bra på asfalt. Så det känns väldigt bra, tillägger Johan.
21-03-22 Co-drivertalangen Maja Bengtsson blir trainee i WRC
Den svenska co-drivertalangen, 16-åriga Maja Bengtsson från småländska Virestad, blir en del av det entourage som kommer att finnas bakom regerande juniorvärldsmästaren Tom Kristensson när han kliver in i årets Rally-VM, WRC, som fabriksförare för M-Sport Ford World Rally Team.

”Rally-Maja” kommer mer exakt att ingå i det ”gravelteam” som sekonderar Tom Kristenssons co-driver, David Arhusiander, med de allra senaste noterna från specialsträckorna från och med WRC Croatia i april.
– Det är inspirerande och känns ärofyllt! Jag kommer att ta vara på denna möjlighet, förklarar Maja Bengtsson som står inför en intensiv tävlingssäsong.

I dagsläget kommer hon att vara co-driver åt TV-profilen och rallymästaren Jonas Kruse vid hans tävlande i Rally-SM för Team Nybe, samt vara trainee i WRC i sin roll bakom Tom Kristensson och David Arhusiander.

Det är också klart att det internationella bilsportförbundet, FIA, har utfärdat en internationell co-driverlicens åt Maja Bengtsson, vilket öppnar för ytterligare engagemang.
– Detta, den internationella erfarenheten, kommer att vara mycket viktigt för min karriär! Jag kommer att utvecklas som co-driver med det stora målet att en dag komma dit, en professionell karriär, säger Maja som har ett starkt påbrå inom den svenska nationalsporten rally – hennes pappa Mathias Bengtsson har två SM-titlar som co-driver och står bakom det framgångsrika rallyteamet Team Nybe.

Fjolårets JWRC-segrare, Tom Kristensson, är mycket glad över att ha Maja Bengtsson som en del av sin uppbackning vid hans tävlande i WRC2-klassen för Ford.
– Jag ser det som en tillgång att ha engagerade människor omkring mig med stor passion för sporten och som är villiga att jobba hårt, säger han och fortsätter:
– Jag har under cirka två år sett Maja utvecklas väldigt mycket på kort tid. Hon visar stort intresse för vad jag gör samtidigt som jag ser en möjlighet i hur vi ska utvecklas tillsammans inom sporten.

Tom säger också att Maja har potential att vara en draghjälp inom marknadsföring, vilket alltid behövs enligt honom. Men det är inom tävlandet som fokus ligger.
– Maja ska i första hand vara med under test och tävlingar för att skapa rutin och erfarenhet som vi tillsammans ska ha nytta av. Hon ska följa oss hur vi planerar och förbereder oss inför tävlingar, samt ser hur vi gör. Detta så att Maja kan snappa upp och dra nytta av vår erfarenhet. Sen är jag övertygad om att Maja kommer tillföra saker till oss. Snabbare än vi tror, avslutar Tom Kristensson.

Hemsidor: https://www.tomk.se respektive https://www.teamnybe.se
21-03-18 Tom Kristensson klar för WRC2 som fabriksförare för M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
Efter månader av hårt arbete har alla bitar nu fallit på plats vilket innebär att Tom Kristensson kommer att köra i VM i klassen WRC2 för engelska M-Sport Ford World Rally Team med en Ford Fiesta Rally2 bil.
Första tävlingen i WRC för Tom och hans nye co-driver David Arhusiander blir Croatia Rally i Kroatien den 22-25 april.
- Jag är väldigt glad och tacksam för att M-Sport ger mig möjligheten att tävla för teamet i WRC2, säger Tom.
- Det är fantastiskt att välkomna Tom till teamet och vi ser fram emot att se hur han utvecklas under året. Vi tittar ständigt på FIA Junior WRC-fältet för att se vem som imponerar, och Tom imponerade från sin allra första säsong, med seger i sitt debutrally!
- Han har visat högt tempo på alla underlag, med vinster på snö, grus och asfalt och vi är angelägna om att se honom utvecklas ytterligare. Detta blir hans första säsong med Ford Fiesta Rally2, och det kommer att bli mycket att lära sig, när han tar de första stegen med fyrhjulsdrift i tävling, säger Richard Millener, teamchef för M-Sport.
- I nästan två decennier har vi ägnat oss åt att skapa en effektiv "Ladder of Opportunity" genom vilken några av världens mest talangfulla ungdomar kan utvecklas till de högsta nivåerna av tävlande. Under de senaste åren har FIA Junior World Rally Championship varit en integrerad del av detta, och jag ser fram emot att se hur Tom utvecklas, som den senaste föraren som har kommit härifrån.
- Under de senaste två åren har han haft en fantastisk utveckling med Maciej Woda och hans team på M-Sport Polen. Nu är det dags för honom att ta nästa steg, tillsammans med Richard Millener och vårt tekniska team, upp till den högsta nivån i rallyvärlden. Som fullvärdig medlem i teamet kommer han att ha tillgång till samma information som våra andra förare, lära sig att använda informationen, och utveckla sina kunskaper tillsammans med vårt erfarna team av ingenjörer, säger Malcolm Wilson, högste chef på M-Sport.

I WRC2 tävlar team uppbackade av fabrikanter eller fristående team som är godkända av Internationella Bilsportförbundet, FIA.

En Rally2 bil är en fyrhjulsdriven bil, som är den näst högsta klassen i FIA-klassningen. Motorstyrka, väghållning och bromsar är i toppklass.
- Det har varit tuffa månader med hårt arbete efter segern i JWRC i början av december, men min plan har hela tiden varit att köra i WRC, därför känns det oerhört skönt att nu kommit så långt, säger en nöjd och mycket glad Tom.
- Framför allt att få ihop en budget för de sju deltävlingar som jag planerar att köra, möten och kontakter med olika företag och personer. Även alla andra praktiska saker runt omkring har gjort att det ibland varit kaos i huvudet, säger Tom med ett stort leende.
- Jag är otroligt tacksam mot mina partners som tror på mig, en förstående arbetsgivare, och personer omkring mig, som gör det möjligt att få leva i min dröm.
- Eftersom jag inte har tävlat i en fyrhjulsdriven bil tidigare, så blir det första att få en känsla för det och även hitta vilka inställningar passar bäst för min körstil, fortsätter Tom, eftersom det går att göra betydligt mer olika inställningar än på den Ford Fiesta Rally4 som jag körde i JWRC.

Motståndarna för Tom i WRC2 håller verkligen högsta klass. Förra årets världsmästare i WRC2, norrmannen Mads Östberg och hans landsman Andreas Mikkelsen, båda med stor erfarenhet även av WRC-bilar finns här liksom teamkamraten i M-Sport, fransmannen Adrien Fourmaux och Toms landsman Oliver Solberg.

Planen för säsongen 2021 är förutom Kroatien deltävlingarna i Portugal, Estland, Finland, Belgien, Spanien och eventuellt Japan.

21-03-12 C3 Rally2 and Mads Østberg looko to secure a second WRC2 World title
Citroën Racing renews its faith in Mads Østberg and his co-driver Torstein Eriksen, longstanding members of the #C3Rally2Family, as C3 Rally2 aims to defend its WRC 2 world title. The Tagai Racing Technology team, on behalf of which the Norwegian crew is already competing in the Hungarian Rally Championship, will be in charge of running this new programme among the elite of Rally2 racing.

With more than 130 World Rally Championship races under his belt – and no fewer than 18 podiums secured in the top-tier category – Mads Østberg is unquestionably one of the leading figures of world rallying. A key member of the Citroën Racing family for a number of years now, the Norwegian has over time established himself as the ideal driver to develop the new spearhead of Citroën Racing’s customer racing range: C3 Rally2. His experience of top-level racing, combined with the expertise of the Citroën Racing engineers, has enabled C3 Rally2 to become one of the most powerful weapons in its class.

Having secured four overall wins in the WRC 2 on a variety of tricky surfaces such as the ice of Monte-Carlo, the Swedish snow, the fast and rough gravel roads of Estonia and the Italian asphalt, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen claimed the WRC 2 world title in 2020 in the C3 Rally2. This title crowns the others won by in Europe by Alexey Lukyanuk, in France by Yoann Bonato and Jean Baptiste Franceschi, in Italy by Andrea Crugnola and in Spain by Pepe Lopez.

Already committed to a new venture in taking on the specific challenge of Hungarian roads in the C3 Rally2, the Mads Østberg-Torstein Eriksen pairing has decided, with the backing of Citroën Racing, to defend their WRC2 world title. The crew will be able to count on the proven competitiveness of C3 Rally2, especially now that it features new upgrades introduced this winter by the French manufacturer.

In addition to the eight rounds contested in Hungary, Mads Østberg and Citroën Racing will therefore be competing at seven events on the WRC calendar in a full WRC 2 programme, the precise details of which are yet to be defined.

WHAT THEY SAID…
Didier Clément, Head of Customer Racing, Citroën Racing
“Mads Østberg is one of a select number of drivers who have claimed an overall win at a round of the World Rally Championship, so he certainly has nothing to prove in terms of his speed. After winning the WRC 2 world title with C3 Rally2 in 2020, we are proud to pursue our working relationship with him, one that goes back many years now. Mads is an esteemed member of the #C3Rally2Family. Our goal is clear for this new season in the WRC 2: win another World Championship title. Mads and C3 Rally2 form the ideal combination to reach our goal.”

Mads Østberg, C3 Rally2 driver in the WRC 2
“Obviously, I'm very happy to be able to continue all the work done with Citroën Racing. We have got to know each other well over the years and the world title won in 2020 clearly illustrates just how effective our working relationship is. I was heavily involved in the development of C3 Rally2 and I’m proud to be able to drive it in the upper reaches of world rallying. Defending the title with a new team is going to be a big challenge. We have worked a lot with Citroën Racing and TRT to put together this programme and it took a while to reach a decision. I'm convinced we have found the right solution to reach our goals.”
21-02-28 Tänak wins easily in the Arctic as Rovanperä grabs early title lead
Finn becomes youngest ever WRC leader with Belgian Neuville back in third. Ott Tänak sealed a dominant start-to-finish victory at Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox on Sunday afternoon.
The Estonian was never seriously challenged during the three-day encounter in Lapland's frozen forests. He built a comfortable lead during the first two legs and eased through the finale to win the FIA World Rally Championship's second round by 17.5sec.

Home hero Kalle Rovanperä fended off a charging Thierry Neuville to claim the best result of his career in second. At just 20 years old, he became the youngest driver to lead the WRC in the championship's 49-year history. Neuville finished 2.3sec adrift in third.

Tänak won five of the 10 snow and ice speed tests in his Hyundai i20. Apart from a brush with a snowbank on Saturday, he avoided trouble on superfast roads near Rovaniemi to kick-start his title bid after retiring from the season-opener in Monte-Carlo.

"The pressure was there and we knew it was going to be very complicated to take the fight," he said. "In the end we did a very good weekend, with only one mistake. It's an amazing place, definitely one of the best places to have a winter rally."

Rovanperä, starting just his ninth top-level rally, began the final day with a 1.8sec buffer to Neuville. He extended it by a tenth in the first of two passes through the 22.47km Aittajärvi test, before winning the final Wolf Power Stage to retain his grip on second.

The Toyota Yaris driver moved four points clear of Neuville at the top of the standings, relegating world champion Sébastien Ogier who had a disappointing weekend. The Frenchman finished 20th after burying his Yaris into a snow drift.

Neuville's third place provided a double podium for Hyundai Motorsport, which reduced Toyota Gazoo Racing's manufacturers' championship lead to 11 points.

Craig Breen finished fourth in another i20 after a four-rally absence. Tyre management was crucial and the Irishman fell back on Saturday as he struggled for grip on deteriorating roads after ending the opening day in second. He was 52.6sec adrift of Tänak.

Breen kept Elfyn Evans at bay in the final test after the Welshman closed to within 3.6sec in the penultimate stage. The final gap between them was 8.9sec. Japan's Takamoto Katsuta rounded off the top six in another Yaris.

Tributes were made on the podium to Finnish rally great Hannu Mikkola. The 1983 world champion and three-time runner-up died on Friday and the Finnish Air Force led the accolades with an F18 Hornet flypast.

The WRC moves to the asphalt Croatia Rally for round three, which is based in Zagreb on April 22-25.

Final positions
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 2hr 03min 49.6sec
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +17.5sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +19.8sec
4. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +52.6sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +1min 01.5sec
6. T Katsuta / D Barritt JAP Toyota Yaris +1min 37.8sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 2 of 12)
1. K Rovanperä 39pts
2. T Neuville 35
3. S Ogier 31
4. E Evans 31
5. O Tänak 27
21-02-28 Kristoffersson hittade farten
Vintriga Arctic Rally Finland blev precis den uppladdning Johan Kristoffersson ville ha inför säsongen. Under sista dagen höjde också Johan tempot och matchade de allra bästa i WRC 3-klassen.
- En bra avslutning. I det stora hela får vi vara nöjda, summerar Johan.
Den trefaldige rallycrossvärldsmästaren inledde rallyt stabilt på fredagskvällen med en tredjeplats på första specialsträckan. Totalt efter första dagen låg han på sjätte plats i WRC 3.
- Lugnt och städat. Svårt i mörkret på sista, men ändå väldigt nöjd med första dagen, summerar Johan.

Lördagsförmiddagen blev däremot mindre bra. Visserligen en femteplats på morgonens första sträcka, men på SS 4 blev Johan stående i en snövall och förlorade nio minuter.
- Då får man börja om på noll för att hitta flytet.

Väl på vägen igen kom Kristoffersson och Barth in i rytmen med en fjärde- och två femteplatser i klassen som resultat.
- Vägen ändrade sig otroligt mycket jämfört med reccen på grund av mycket snö, men vi hittade ett bättre flyt på eftermiddagen och jag blev mer bekväm i körningen.

Inför rallyt sa Johan att han skulle köra kontrollerat till att börja med för att framåt söndagen stå på för fullt. Avslutningsdagens första sträcka visade att strategin följdes. Kristoffersson gjorde sin bästa sträcka på SS 9 och var tvåa i klassen med sin Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, bara tre sekunder efter estländaren Kaur.
- Där försökte vi ligga på ordentligt.

Sista sträckan var en repris av dagens första och Johan fortsatte i samma stil. En ny andraplats och därmed en bekräftelse på att värmlänningen hänger med bra i tempot när han har blivit varm i rallykläderna.
- Första sträckan och de två sista, då är vi där vi ska vara tycker jag, och då är vi även med på tiderna.

Johan och co-drivern Patrik Barth slutade på tionde plats i WRC 3-klassen. Stallchefen i Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS summerade en helg i norra Finland med godkänt utfall.
- Man vill alltid ha mer, men vi var på nya jaktmarker och mötte ett gäng duktiga finländare på deras hemmaplan. För att komma längre än så här behöver vi åka mycket mer. Johan tar bilen i mål och det var det viktigaste den här helgen, säger Tommy Kristoffersson.

För fortsättningen av säsongen var det tre dagars mycket värdefull träning. Johan ska köra Extreme E-serien, men förhoppningsvis också något mer under 2021.
- Hoppas att det här har varit till hjälp inför Extreme E. Jag ser fram emot att komma igång med säsongen. Ska bli kul att få tävla med Molly. Det är svårt att förutse vad som väntar oss, i och med att allt är nytt, men man får förbereda sig på att anpassa sig så fort som möjligt helt enkelt, avslutar Johan.

21-02-28 Ekström och Bergkvist femma i rally-VM i Finland
Mattias Ekström och Emil Bergkvist blev bästa svenskarna i klassen WRC3 under rally-VM i finska Rovaniemi. Duon, som kör för teamet EKS JC, placerade sig på en femteplats i helgens deltävling.

Under söndagen avslutades FIA WRCs Arctic Rally Finland. I klassen WRC3 räckte det till en femteplats för teamet EKS JC. Bakom ratten fanns tidigare rallycrossvärldsmästaren och dubbla DTM-mästaren Mattias Ekström och kartläsare Emil Bergkvist, före detta Juniorvärldsmästare i rally. Ekipaget kom till start i klassen WRC 3 med en Škoda Fabia Evo Rally2, som servas av det nyligen sammanslagna teamet EKS JC.

Den svenska duon hade en lite tuff inledning, med fastkörning under shakedown och en tiondetid på SS1. Under lördagens första sträcka, SS3, hittade de flytet och kunde höja farten. De klättrade i resultatet och var uppe och nosade på en tredjetid på SS6. Tempot räckte tillslut till en hedersvärd femteplats i tävlingen.

För EKS JC kom ännu ett ekipage till start: tyska Albert von Thurn und Taxis och österrikiske kartläsaren Berhnard Ettel. Duon hade en kämpigare tävling än sina teamkompisar efter att kört av vägen och fastnat i en snövall på SS3. De tvingades bryta, men kunde komma tillbaka för söndagens två sträckor efter ett växellådsbyte. De avslutade med två femtondetider i klassen.

Joel Christoffersson, teamchef EKS JC:
”Jag är jättenöjd med helgen. När vi åkte hit visste vi inte riktigt vad vi kunde förvänta oss, men målet var hela tiden en topp fem-placering i WRC 3. Luften gick ur oss lite när Mattias fick en så pass dålig start på fredagen. Men sen visade han bra tempo med snabba sträcktider, och kunde tillslut knipa en femteplats. Sen är det alltid en intern fight mellan rallycrossförarna, så det kändes kul att vi kunde ta Johan [Kristoffersson] och bli bästa svenskarna i klassen.”

Mattias Ekström, förare:
”Det blev ett på många sätt lyckat rally. Vi slutförde alla kilometer och utvecklade tempot genom tävlingen. Vi började för lågt på SS1, men därefter gick det uppåt och mot slutet kände jag mig självsäker och kunde hålla en hyfsat hög fart utan att ta några risker. Emil gjorde också ett bra jobb i bilen, så vi är nöjda. På lördagsmorgonen hittade vi en bra set-up på bilen och vi ändrade inte den under helgen – så jag skulle säga att vi lyckades riktigt bra där.

Generellt sett gav Arctic Rally Finland många lärdomar och erfarenheter. Det är alltid nyttigt att få köra såhär många kilometer i hög fart, och jag ser det som en bra uppvärmning inför Extreme-E. Jag skulle säga att vi uppnådde målet med tävlingen: bilen är hel, vi hade riktigt kul och lärde oss mycket. Jag kan inte heller tacka alla fans nog som har hejat på oss via på sociala medier, alla samarbetspartners som stöttat oss under den här tävlingen och de som jobbade hårt i depån för att leverera en bra bil. ”

Emil Bergkvist, kartläsare:
”Det har varit ett bra rally, tycker jag. Jag är faktiskt riktigt imponerad av Mattias, han har inte kört så mycket rally den senaste tiden och förarna här är riktigt snabba. Jag är också nöjd med mitt jobb. Det har varit väldigt roligt och vi ska vara nöjda med femteplatsen.”

21-02-28 Femte plass og viktige VM-poeng for Veiby etter Rally Finland
For første gang har det vært kjørt VM-rally på vinterføre i Finland, etter at den klassiske runden i Sverige ble avlyst på grunn av pandemien. Totalt 10 etapper i området rundt julenisse-byen Rovaniemi har blitt kjørt, og det med sterk konkurranse i WRC2-klassen, hvor blant annet tidligere WRC-sjåfører Esapekka Lappi og Andreas Mikkelsen stilte til start. Problemer med gasspedalen og noen utfordringer med å finne riktig oppsett for best mulig grip, gjorde at det ble litt tidstap for Ole Christian i starten. Utover i løpet stemte alt bedre, farten økte og det ble både andre og tredje tider på fartsetappene, like bak Lappi og Mikkelsen.
- Det har vært ett fantastisk løp her i Finland. Helt utrolige raske prøver, perfekte vinterforhold, rett og slett ett eventyr å konkurrere her. Vi ender opp med en femte plass, og det var ikke helt etter planen. Visste det ville bli tøft i teten, med to wrc-sjåfører i klassen, men hadde allikevel håpet på å være med i nærheten av dem. Vi fikk problem med at gassen hang seg opp på fredag kveld, og tapte en god del på det. På lørdag brukte vi litt tid på å finne riktig oppsett for optimalt grip, men det kom seg utover dagen. Både lørdag ettermiddag og søndag har vi kjørt fort og satt andre og tredje raskeste tider på prøvene, rett etter Lappi og Mikkelsen. Ble tredje plass på power stage i dag, og vi får med oss 3 poeng som kan bli viktige senere, sier Ole Christian.

Det ble til slutt en femte plass i WRC2-klassen på Ole Christian og kartleser Jonas Andersson. Tredje raskeste bil på løpets Power Stage ga også 3 ekstra VM-poeng som teller i sammendraget.

WRC2 Resultater Arctic Rally
1 Lappi
2 Mikkelsen +47,7
3 Gryazin +1.30,3
4 Brynildsen +2.44,9
5 Veiby +2.54,2
6 Prokop +7.00,1
21-02-28 Oliver Solberg chockerade hela rallyvärlden
Oliver Solbergs första 250km bakom ratten i en fullspäckad WRC-bil skickade chockvågor genom hela rallyvärlden. 19-åringens sjundeplats i Arctic Rally Finland kommer föralltid att bli ihågkommen som en av de mest spektakulära debuterna i motorsports historien på toppnivå i Rally-VM.

En av de yngsta fabriksförarna genom tiderna beordrades av teamchefen för Hyundai Motorsport att köra förnuftigt och att ha kul i sin WRC-debut. Oliver Solberg svarade genom att matcha världseliten i både hastighet och skicklighet, och inte bara på en specifik specialsträcka utan genom hela VM-tävlingen i sin Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC-bil.
- Jag har inga ord för att beskriva min känsla just nu. Det känns helt overkligt och är utan tvekan det största jag har upplevt i min karriär. Vi är i jultomtens hemstad (Rovaniemi), och han gav mig den bästa gåvan som finns, säger Oliver Solberg.
- Jag har känt mycket glädje, spänning, men också osäkerhet sedan jag blev ombedd av Andrea (Adamo, teamchef i Hyundai Motorsport) att göra min WRC-debut här. Jag funderade mycket på hur det skulle gå för mig. Nu har jag svaret, och det kunde knappast ha gått bättre.

13 månader har gått sedan ”tidernas rallytalang” Kalle Rovanperä gjorde sin WRC-debut i rally Monte-Carlo. Finnen, som är 357 dagar äldre än Oliver Solberg, imponerade då med att köra en sekund långsammare per kilometer än vinnaren av rallyt Thierry Neuville. I helgens tävling i norra Finland var Solberg junior bara 0,5 sekunder per kilometer efter vinnaren och teamkamraten Ott Tänak. Två i tävlingen var just Rovanperä (karriärens bästa placering) och trea Neuville.
- Under tävlingen tänkte jag inte på så mycket annat än att köra och göra mitt bästa. Men mellan sträckorna, när vi stannade bakom Sebastien (Ogier, sjufaldig världsmästare), för att fixa med bilen, slog det mig att ”wow, jag lever verkligen min dröm och jag kämpar mot världsmästaren”. En fantastisk upplevelse att slåss mot honom i min första tävling - även om jag vet att hans startposition var till nackdel för honom, sa den 19-åriga talangen.

Mest uppseendeväckande var Solbergs sekundstrid med världseliten redan på tävlingens tredje specialsträcka, vilket även var karriärens tredje specialsträcka på toppnivå för 19-åringen: Tredje bästa tid, bara 4,6 sekunder efter Tänak. Tre gånger fick Solberg så kallade ”stop-and-go” i snövallarna, inklusive strax innan målet på sista specialsträckan. Således tappade han även 6:e platsen totalt.
Så bort emot 40 sekunder ” blev kvar” i de finska snövallarna :)
- Innan tävlingen var jag mest spänd på hur jag skulle bemästra aerodynamik i bilen. Jag var ganska säker på att jag skulle behärska hastigheten. Vad jag inte förväntade mig var att jag kunde leverera så konkurrenskraftiga tider så tidigt i tävlingen. Jag tappade en placering mot slutet, men jag är nöjd med min sjunde plats, säger Oliver Solberg.

På vägen till sjundeplatsen, 1,39 minuter efter vinnaren, satte Oliver sex topp-5 tider på rallyts totalt tio specialsträckor.

Nästa VM-tävling är Rally Kroatien om knappt två månader. Underlaget där kommer att vara asfalt och ska köras i området runt huvudstaden Zagreb. Det är än inte klart vilken klass Oliver Solberg kommer köra där.
21-02-27 Tänak stretches Arctic Rally lead amid Ogier's Saturday despair
Rovanperä and Neuville stay in touch with Estonian ahead of Sunday finale. Ott Tänak mastered Saturday’s second leg of Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox to carry a substantial lead into Sunday’s finale.

The Estonian won three of the six superfast snow and ice speed tests in a Hyundai i20 to add to Friday’s opening leg double. He heads Kalle Rovanperä by 24.1sec with two more remaining at this second round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

His joy was in contrast to the disappointment suffered by world champion Sébastien Ogier. The championship leader buried his Toyota Yaris into a snowbank 200 metres from the end of the closing test and plunged off the leaderboard as he battled for 20min to dig it out.

Tänak stretched his advantage to 23.6sec after winning two of this morning's three stages in perfect winter conditions in Lapland's forests. He held the Finnish youngster and a fast-closing Thierry Neuville at bay this afternoon to put himself in a strong position.

"This afternoon was all about getting through and we didn't make any mistakes," said Tänak. "This morning we were still pushing a bit but this afternoon it was important just to come through. The last stage was quite stressful, but for us there was no need to push."

Despite overnight set-up changes to his Yaris, Rovanperä remained frustrated with his car's balance. He yielded a few seconds after swiping a snowbank and after winning the penultimate stage, he came under fierce pressure from a charging Neuville in the final test.

The Belgian's tyre strategy worked to perfection and he was quickest by more than 12sec to slash Rovanpera's advantage to 1.8sec. It was a better afternoon for Neuville who earlier struggled to hear co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe's pace notes above his i20's engine noise.

Team-mate Craig Breen found tyre management more tricky as conditions worsened this afternoon. With frozen gravel poking through the ice and loose snow on the surface, the Irishman fell back to fourth, almost 30sec adrift of Neuville.

Toyota's Elfyn Evans broke Tänak's run of stage wins this morning but the Welshman also struggled to manage his tyres and admitted he was often too cautious. He was 10.1sec behind Breen.

Oliver Solberg surpassed all expectations on his WRC World Rally Car debut. The 19-year-old was a stunning third in the opening stage and returned to the Rovaniemi base in sixth – despite losing his glasses ahead of the final stage!

Sunday's finale comprises two runs of the 22.47km Aittajärvi test, south of Rovaniemi. The second pass forms the live TV Wolf Power Stage, with bonus points up for grabs for the top five drivers and manufacturers.

Leading positions after Saturday
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 1hr 43min 32.1sec
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +24.1sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +25.9sec
4. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +53.4sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +1min 03.5sec
6. O Solberg / S Marshall SWE Hyundai i20 +1min 26.8sec
20-02-26 Tänak takes charge in Arctic's WRC winter wonderland on Friday
Estonian carves out 16.2sec lead over Breen with Finn Rovanperä third. Ott Tänak threw down the gauntlet in Lapland's frozen forests by winning the opening two speed tests to build a dominant lead at Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox on Friday night.

The Estonian was the class of the field in the first of three days of Arctic action. He was fastest in the first 31.05km Sarriojärvi test by 3.6sec before crushing his rivals by almost 10sec in the repeat run in darkness.

Tänak returned to the overnight halt in Rovaniemi with a 16.2sec advantage over Hyundai i20 team-mate Craig Breen, with home hero Kalle Rovanperä 20.4sec adrift in a Toyota Yaris in third.

Pirelli's tyres provided amazing grip as the tungsten-tipped studded rubber bit into the snow and ice-covered roads. Tänak was one of the few frontrunners to gamble on just one spare tyre for the pair of stages.

"I tried to be as nice as possible to the tyres on the hard surface," he said. "It's still very, very early in the rally so no reason yet to think about anything. It was a challenging and typical rollercoaster Finland stage, very technical."

Breen, returning to the FIA World Rally Championship after a four-rally absence, was quickly back in the groove. Top three times on both stages put the Irishman ahead of the eager 20-year-old Rovanperä.

The Finn's first stage split times were quicker than Tänak, but a mistake after the midpoint slowed his progress. On roads littered with tricky blind crests, he recorded the top speed, clocking a remarkable 204.8kph in the second pass.

"I was stuck in a snowbank for a while. I thought I had more time coming into a junction but went wide and hit the rear. We can't have mistakes like that again," the 20-year-old said.

Thierry Neuville put a third i20 into the top four. The Belgian was 9.4sec behind Rovanperä and complained of understeer in the second run, but he had 2.2sec in hand over Elfyn Evans' Toyota Yaris in fifth. Teemu Suninen was sixth in a Ford Fiesta.

Championship leader Sébastien Ogier was almost 50sec off the lead in ninth in his Yaris. Road conditions improved progressively so first in the order proved a tough task for the Frenchman, especially as snow flurries left loose powder on the surface for the second pass.

The bulk of the rally takes place in Saturday's second leg. A compact clockwise route south-east of Rovaniemi is driven twice, with service in between. The final stage runs in darkness and the six tests add up to 144.04km of action.

Leading positions after Friday
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 31min 50.7sec
2. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +16.2sec
3. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +20.4sec
4. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +29.8sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +32.0sec
6. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Ford Fiesta +34.5sec
21-02-25 Juniorvärldsmästaren Tom Kristensson på väg till WRC
Det råder rallyfeber i Sverige trots att Rally Sweden ersatts med WRC Artic Rally Finland. Oliver Solberg debuterar som fabriksförare i WRC, multiföraren Mattias Ekström gör rallycomeback i WRC3, och i den klassen får han även konkurrens av rallycrossvärldsmästaren Johan Kristoffersson när VM-rallyt inleds på fredagen i Rovaniemi.

I startfältet saknas dock regerande juniorvärldsmästaren Tom Kristensson från Hörby, men faller alla pusselbitar på plats så återfinns skåningen på startlinjen när WRC Croatia inleds 22 april.
– Det är som ett hundrabitarspussel där 95 bitar hittills fallit på plats, förklarar 29-årige Tom Kristensson nöjt.

Det är ingen hemlighet att han har bestämt sig för att ta steget upp till WRC från JWRC som han segrade klart i ifjol och så snöpligt snuvades på segern i 2019.
– Jag jobbar stenhårt på detta, det är nästintill ett heltidsarbete bara att ”rodda” allt, men jag har en förstående arbetsgivare som ger mig möjligheterna, säger han.

Som segrare i JWRC 2020 har han en WRC2-bil till sitt förfogande, fem fria WRC-starter samt 200 däck. En bra grundsplåt entrébiljett, för att kunna ta steget upp till den fyrhjulsdrivna klassen under WRC. I nuläget är förhandlingarna långt framme.

I slutet av januari blev det klart att David Arhusiander från Östersund kommer att vara co-driver till Tom denna säsong. David har läst noter i både svenska och tyska rallymästerskapen. Tom har också byggt upp ett nätverk av kunniga och rutinerade personer för att stötta honom i arbetet med att tävla och för att kunna få rätt förutsättningar för att kunna göra det.

Även om bil, däck och startavgifter är säkerställda, så krävs en driftsbudget för att täcka omkostnader. Omkring fyra miljoner kronor kostar en fullvärdig WRC2-säsong med krav på start i sju tävlingar, varav en start ska ske utanför Europa. Av dem räknas resultaten i sex.
– En styrka i vårt arbete med att finna sponsorer är dels att tävlingarna avgörs i viktiga exportländer för svensk industri, dels den starka TV-bevakningen där SVT:s WRC-sändningar tenderar en räckvidd på över 900 000 tittare per sändning, berättar Tom Kristensson.

Innan mitten av mars kommer ett besked om Tom Kristenssons WRC-start 2021.
21-02-24 WRC breaks new ground in the Arctic’s frozen Finnish forests
The FIA World Rally Championship journeys to the Arctic Circle for the first time this week. The FIA World Rally Championship journeys to the Arctic Circle for the first time this week boosted by one of the strongest frontline entries in recent years.

Never in its 49-year history has the series ventured as far north and Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox (26 - 28 February) has 13 World Rally Cars ready for battle in Lapland’s winter wonderland.

This second round is the year’s only pure winter fixture. Paradoxically, the frozen forests around Rovaniemi will see top speeds exceeding 200kph as Pirelli’s studded tyres dig into thick ice covering gravel roads to provide amazing grip.

Seven-time world champion Sébastien Ogier heads the entry following victory in last month’s opening round at Rallye Monte-Carlo. Like most frontrunners, the Frenchman has no experience of the Arctic roads and has found it difficult to prepare in the usual way.

“Usually when we have onboard videos from rallies we try to look at them,” explained the Toyota Gazoo Racing driver.

“This is probably the event where there is the least advantage to look at previous onboards because very often snowbanks can be in a different place. They give you an idea of what to expect in terms of profile and general speed, but they are not really a big working tool.”

Ogier is joined in Yaris World Rally Cars by Kalle Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta and it’s 20-year-old Rovanperä who has attracted much of the pre-event attention.

The Finn is used to snow and ice and although the Arctic marks only his ninth top-level start, he won a national rally on the same roads in January last year. Many believe he has what it takes to becomes the WRC’s youngest rally winner this weekend.

“It’s the rally where it can really happen,” said Ogier. “Last year already in Sweden’s winter conditions he was really fast, and probably on snow he has driven more kilometres than almost any driver in the championship, even if he is the youngest. He will be very strong.”

Ireland’s Craig Breen comes into Hyundai Motorsport’s squad to join Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak in i20 World Rally Cars.

Teemu Suninen is eyeing a strong performance on home ground after crashing in the season-opener. He is joined by Gus Greensmith and Prada heir Lorenzo Bertelli, competing for the first time since 2019, in Fiesta World Rally Cars for the M-Sport Ford team.

Oliver Solberg, son of 2003 world champion Petter, makes his top-flight debut in an i20 entered by Hyundai 2C Compétition. The teenager’s preparations have been upset by a late co-driver change, with Seb Marshall replacing Aaron Johnston.

Pierre-Louis Loubet drives a second car for the team while the World Rally Car entries are completed by private entrant Janne Tuohino in a Fiesta.

The rally starts on Friday afternoon and drivers face 10 speed tests covering 251.08km before Sunday afternoon’s finish.

21-02-23 Citroën in Hungary launches World Champion Crew in national Rally Chamionship
Citroën Rally Team Hungary has signed for its third season in the Hungarian Rally Championship, a world champion driver and co-driver. Last year’s WRC2 champion Mads Ostberg and co-driver Torstein Eriksen will make their 2021 debut with the latest developments of the Citroën C3 Rally 2 provided by Tagai Racing Technology (TRT) in the Hungarian Open Rally Championship.

The Citroën brand is proud of the success, performance and reliability that Citroën Racing has demonstrated throughout its rally career The Hungarian Citroën headquarters, as well as Tagai Racing Technology and PIRELLI, have worked hard to be able to show the local audience what Citroën is capable of throughout the 2021 season.

Team principal, György Balkányi, proudly stated, “ I am very pleased to be able to establish a collaboration between TRT and Mads Østberg, who will represent the Citroën brand in the Hungarian Rally Championship, as well as the reputation of our country and Hungarian rally in the world.”

The four-time Norwegian champion has been competing with Citroën since 2014 and was at the wheel of the C3 R5 in 2020 when he was titled WRC2 World Championship with his co-driver, also Norwegian Torstein Eriksen.

At a test session organized last year, Mads was able to find his bearings within the team. He said, “I am happy to have been able to come to this agreement with Citroën in Hungary and TRT, I am very confident in their work and am excited to take on the challenge of the Hungarian roads.”
21-02-23 Johan laddad för VM-rally
Eet blir årspremiär för Johan Kristoffersson i Arctic Rally Finland kommande helg. En chans att skaffa värdefull erfarenhet och gå en match mot världseliten.
- Jag har inte kört rally på ett år, så det blir samma taktik som det brukar i rally-VM. Vi börjar lite lugnt. När vi har kommit in i det ska vi höja tempot, säger Kristoffersson.

I februari 2020 körde den numera trefaldige rallycrossvärldsmästaren i mål som trea i WRC 3 i Rally Sweden. Det var tredje pallplatsen på lika många VM-rallyn.
- Rally Sweden 2019 och 2020 och så Rally Finland däremellan.

Arctic Rally Finland tar 2021 över Rally Swedens plats i VM-kalendern. Rovaniemi, 135 mil från Kristofferssons bas i Arvika, är tävlingscentrum för det vintriga rallyt vid polcirkeln. För Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS blir det en härlig kick-off för säsongen. Stallchefen Tommy Kristoffersson har höga förhoppningar:
- Det är många i vårt team som brinner för rally. Nu blev det tyvärr inget Svenska Rallyt, men istället får vi vara med om ett riktigt klassiskt vinterrally, med två meter snö och härliga vintervägar. Det är inspirerande för oss alla!

För Johan blir det mycket tid bakom ratten, värdefull träning, oavsett vad resten av året har att bjuda på. Många detaljer från rallykörning har Johan haft stor nytta av i sin framgångsrika rallycrosskarriär. Arctic Rally Finland blir därför ett exklusivt sätt att förena nytta med nöje.
- Det ska bli så himla roligt! Det är kul med rally, för man kan göra så mycket förberedelser. Det har blivit mycket rally-on-board på sistone. Man kan inte gå förbi datorn utan att det råkar bli ännu en film.

Ett test har han också hunnit köra med Kristoffersson Motorsports Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
- Det funkade bra, även om en enskild testväg inte täcker in karaktären för ett helt rally.

Esapekka Lappi och Andreas Mikkelsen ser Kristoffersson fram emot att få jämföra sig med, även om de kör i WRC 2-klassen.
- Jag räknar helst på alla R5-bilar som en grupp och man kan i alla fall inte be om tuffare motstånd.

Duellen med Mattias Ekström i WRC 3 ser värmlänningen som den mest intressanta.
- Sett till förutsättningarna är det vi två som är jämförbara, två rallycrossförare som får chansen att köra ett VM-rally. Och eftersom både jag och Mattias är extremt noga med att alltid förbereda oss på bästa sätt ska det bli intressant att se vem som lyckats bäst.

Johan har gjort sina förberedelser delvis tillsammans med nygamle co-drivern Patrik Barth, som ersätter Stig Rune Skjaermoen.
- Båda är superduktiga och jag har åkt med Patrik förr så det blir inga problem. Han var dessutom ute och åkte VM förra året, så han har koll på allt runt omkring. Jag bara kör!

Tio specialsträckor ska Kristoffersson och Barth ta sig genom, från fredag eftermiddag till söndag eftermiddag.
- Det är inte så många sträckor, men de är långa. Jag kör inte för någon topplacering totalt, men på vissa ställen ska vi kunna vara med och utmana.
21-02-22 Ingen press på Solberg i sin WRC-debut
Tydliga order till Oliver Solberg (19) från Hyundai-chefen inför sin WRC-debut denna vecka: Kör och ha det kul.

19-åringen kommer för första gången att köra i den största klassen i Rally-VM i den finska vintertävlingen denna veckan.
Tävlingen i det isiga norra Finland blir Oliver Solbergs 40:e rally (inräknat alla klasser) men det är första gången den nyblivna fabriksföraren ska mäta hästkrafterna mot världens bästa chaufförer i värstingklassen.
- Jag har pratat mycket med Andrea (Adamo, teamchef i Hyundai Motorsport) om debuten, och han vill bara att jag ska köra och njuta.
Det enda han förväntar sig av mig är att jag ska lära mig så mycket som möjligt, ha kul och slutföra tävlingen. Att flyttas upp till högsta klassen är ett stort steg, men jag har väntat hela mitt liv på den här chansen så nu vill jag bara komma igång, säger Oliver Solberg, som kommer att vara en av de yngsta rallyförarna genom tiderna i WRC-klassen.

Endast ett par månader har gått sedan 19-åringen tecknade ett tvåårskontrakt med Hyundai Motorsport. På fredagen ersätter Solberg Junior 290 med 360 hästkrafter för första gången när han parkerar sin Hyundai i20 R5 (WRC2) och sätter sig bakom ratten på en fullspäckad Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.

Han har bara haft en testdag med bilen innan Arctic Rally Finland i Rovaniemi.
- Det var en fantastisk upplevelse att få testa bilen, den är otroligt häftig att köra! Men jag har bara börjat vänja mig med bilen, det krävs mycket mer än en testdag för att lära sig allt nytt. Det har rapporterats minusgrader och stabila väderförhållanden, vilket är perfekt när man håller på att lära sig en ny bil, säger Oliver.

Tävlingen i Finland är säsongens andra VM-tävling av tolv. Det börjar på fredag morgon och avslutas söndag eftermiddag då 10 specialsträckor har avverkats.

Ganska exakt 22 år har gått sedan pappa Petter Solberg - då drygt 24år gammal - debuterade som fabriksförare för Ford i rally Sweden 1999 (16:e plats). Han vann sin första VM-tävling dagen innan han fyllde 28 och blev den förste och hittills enda norska rallyvärldsmästaren på toppnivå några dagar innan han fyllde 29.

Petters första pallplats kom i Grekland tre månader innan Oliver föddes på Fredrikstad sjukhus 2001. Då var han 26år och 212 dagar gammal.
20-02-11 Mattias Ekström gör comeback i rally-VM
Mattias Ekström återvänder till rally-VM (FIA WRC) senare i februari under deltävlingen Arctic Rally Finland. I högerstolen finns tidigare Juniorvärldsmästaren Emil Bergkvist.

26-28 februari kommer FIA WRC Arctic Rally Finland köras kring Rovaniemi i norra Finland. I klassen WRC3 kommer tidigare rallycross-världsmästaren och dubbla DTM-mästaren Mattias Ekström till start med en Škoda Fabia Evo Rally2, som servas av EKS och JC Raceteknik. Som kartläsare finns Emil Bergkvist, föredetta Juniorvärldsmästare i rally – en roll duon nyligen testat under Dakarrallyt.

Bortsett från sina stora framgångar inom rallycross och banracing har Mattias Ekström även en lång historia av rally i bagaget. Under Svenska Rallyt 1999 debuterade Ekström i VM med en Grupp N Mitsubishi. 2004 vann han de två deltävlingarna han körde det året: Sverige och Catalunya. 2005 och 2006 anslöt Ekström sig till Škoda och körde en WRC-bil under utvalda deltävlingar – han visade även då tempo bakom ratten.

Mattias Ekström, förare:
”Rally har varit en livslång passion för mig och att köra Arctic Rally Finland är en punkt på min bucket-list som jag nu kan bocka av. 2021 har jag dedikerat till Extreme E-serien, som kräver väldigt varierad kunskap och förmågan att köra på olika underlag. Arctic Rally Finland är ett perfekt event för mig för att hålla mig i form. Att köra hundratals kilometer på is och snö, och även återuppleva min passion för rally.

Att komma från Dakarrallyt i den Saudi Arabiska öknen till vinterklimat i norra Finland är den största kontrasten någon kan föreställa sig. VM-rallyt blir det första stoppet på min Arctic Adventure road-trip. Det kommer helt klart att bli väldigt kul. De som känner mig vet att jag gillar att vinna och planen är att bjuda de ordinarie förarna i klassen på en fight, även om jag vet att de har mycket mer erfarenheter av just rally. Vi kommer inleda med ett par dagars test innan tävlingen och lovar att förse alla fans med bakom kulisserna-material via sociala medier.”

Emil Bergkvist, kartläsare:
”Att återvända till WRC är en härlig känsla, men jämfört med tidigare kommer jag ha en helt annan roll. Jag känner mig exalterad och vet att det kommer bli en stor utmaning. Jag har jobbat med Mattias ett tag nu, förhoppningsvis kan jag leverera som kartläsare och kanske även komma med några bra tips.”

Joel Christoffersson, teamchef JC Raceteknik:
”Vi hade en väldigt lyckad säsong i fjol tillsammans med Mattias, som gav både team-guld och VM-silver. Så det känns jättekul att även kunna göra det här och vi är glada över att kunna starta igång säsongen redan nu. Senast vi gjorde ett rally var tillsammans med Mattias under Rally Legends 2019. Då var det mer en rolig grej för oss alla, men nu är vi tillbaka för att tävla på riktigt. Mattias är en rutinerad förare och vi kommer göra allt för att kämpa om en pallplats. Jag vet att vårt team har erfarenheten och kunskapen att göra det, så jag ser verkligen fram emot tävlingen. Tyvärr körs inte rallyt i Värmlandsskogarna i år, men vi hoppas såklart att det kommer tillbaka hit 2022.”
21-02-05 Sensationell WRC-debut för Oliver Solberg
Oliver Solberg kommer att vara en av de yngsta förarna genom tiderna på toppnivå i rally-VM när han gör sin WRC-debut i finska vintertävlingen i Rovaniemi om tre veckor.

Drygt en månad efter att 19-åringen skrev på ett tvåårigt kontrakt med Hyundai Motorsport flyttas han upp till värstingklassen. Den 26 februari byter Solberg junior 290hk med 380hk när hans Hyundai i20 R5 (WRC2) får vila och istället sätter han sig bakom ratten i en fullspäckad Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.

För första gången kommer stjärnskottet att få mäta sig med giganterna i WRC-klassen, där väntar bl.a sjufaldige (och regerande) världsmästaren Sebastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans, Kaller Rovanperä samt teamkamraterna Thierry Neuville och Ott Tänak.
- Jag är otroligt tacksam över att ha fått den här möjligheten. En ny dröm som går i uppfyllelse, och jag är väldigt laddad inför uppgiften, men samtidigt väldigt ödmjuk. Jag har absolut ingen erfarenhet av den här bilen eller någon annan WRC-bil för den delen. Målet är glasklart, här ska det köras, läras och njutas, säger Oliver Solberg.

Ganska exakt 22 år har gått sedan pappa Petter Solberg - då drygt 24år gammal - debuterade som fabriksförere för Ford i Rally Sweden 1999 (16:e plats). Han vann sin första VM-tävling dagen innan han fyllde 28år och blev den första och hittills enda norska världsmästaren i rally på toppnivå några dagar innan han fyllde 29år.

Solberg seniors första pallplats kom i Grekland tre månader innan Oliver föddes på Fredrikstad Hospital 2001.

Sonens rekordtidiga WRC-debut kommer knappast som en blixt från klar himmel. I januari körde 19-åringen två tävlingar i Hyundais färger där han och kartläsaren Aaron Johnston imponerade mycket med bland annat en pallplats i just finska Rovaniemi.

- Naturligtvis är vi angelägna om att se vilken nivå Oliver ligger på men vi ställer inga krav på hans debut annat än att han ska njuta och skaffa sig så mycket erfarenhet det bara går. Vi ser detta mer som en test än en tävling för Oliver. Han måste anpassa sig till bilen och bilens prestanda under krävande vinterförhållanden. Målet är att vi ska se en glad och nöjd Oliver korsa mållinjen efter sista specialsträckan, säger teamchef Andrea Adamo i Hyundai Motorsport.

WRC-bilen som Oliver Solberg kommer att köra i Finland skiljer sig ganska mycket mot R5-bilen han är van vid och har tävlat med de två sista åren. Först och främst har den en betydligt högre (25 procent) motorprestanda, den är lättare, den har en sexväxlad låda (R5-bilen har fem) samt betydande utveckling av tekniska, mekaniska och aerodynamiska komponenter.

Bilen accelererar från 0 till 100km/h på mindre än 4 sekunder - oavsett underlag.
- Förmodligen blir en av de största utmaningarna att bemästra de krafter som följer med aerodynamiken i bilen.
Jag har väldigt liten erfarenhet inom området, men de snabba vägarna runt Rovaniemi är perfekta för att lära känna ”downforce” i en WRC-bil, säger Oliver Solberg.

Vintertävlingen i Finland ersätter traditionella Rally Sweden, som blev inställt pga den rådande pandemin.
Rallyt i Finland om tre veckor blir säsongens andra VM-tävling.

21-01-27 David Arhusiander blir ny co-driver till Tom Kristensson
Efter det att Joakim Sjöberg, på grund av tidsbrist, lämnade högerstolen hos Tom efter JWRC-segern i Italien i början av december, har sökandet efter en ny co-driver pågått. Nu är det klart att 30-årige David Arhusiander från Östersund blir Toms nye bisittare.
David tävlar för Jämtlands MK och började åka med lokala förare 2009. Efter det blev det tävlingar på SM-nivå med ett antal olika förare innan han 2018 tog plats bredvid Elias Lundberg och tävlade i SM och i Opel Adam Cup i Tyskland. Man vann cupen, vilken Tom gjorde året före, och det blev en plats Opel Junior Rally Team och tävlande i JERC, Junior-EM, 2019. Under förra årets stympade säsong blev det några tävlingar med Adam Westlund.
- Det skall bli väldigt spännande och inspirerande att åka med Tom på VM-nivå och i en R5-bil, säger David.
- Vi har träffats några gånger och det har klickat bra. Toms driv och positivitet känns mycket inspirerande, så jag ser verkligen fram emot att vi skall komma igång och tävla och få uppleva hur VM-tävlingar på den här nivån fungerar.
- Jag är mycket glad över att ha fått en pusselbit på plats och lyckats knyta David till teamet, säger Tom. - Som David säger har det klickat och känts bra de gånger vi träffats, och han har ju en hel del erfarenhet av större utlandstävlingar från EM. Det kommer att bli både bra och kul, det är jag övertygad om.
- Just ni arbetar jag hårt för att få ihop säsongen för en VM-satsning. Det är många pusselbitar som skall på plats, och inte minst en budget som håller, fortsätter Tom.
- Eftersom förra årets säsong påverkades av Corona och inte slutade förrän i början av december, har tiden för att få ihop årets säsong blivit kortare än tänkt. Men som sagt, vi jobbar hårt och tar steg för steg framåt, samtidigt som pandemin är en viss osäkerhetfaktor.
- Jag vill ju absolut kunna använda vinarrbilen från VM-segern, avslutar Tom

För någon dag sedan fick Tom uppmärksamhet för segern i Junior-VM genom att ta emot pris på Nordöstra Skånes Idrottsgala.
I kategorin "Årets Genombrott" utsåg juryn Tom till vinnare med motiveringen: "En passionerad idrottsman som gått sin egen väg för att erövra världen. Landslagsmannen från Hässleholms kommun fixade ett fartfyllt genombrott som gav stora rubriker så väl nationellt som internationellt". Det var första gången sedan starten av galan 2003 som en rallyförare fick ta emot priset.
- Det är en stor ära att bli uppmärksammad och hedrad med detta i stark konkurrens med många andra duktiga idrottare från områden, säger Tom
21-01-24 #C3Rally2family dominate WRC3 category at WRC season opener Rally Monte-Carlo
The C3Rally2 drivers asserted themselves within the tough RC2 competition and highlighted the expertise and experience of Citroën Racing through their strong and unwavering performances. The ongoing development by the brand and the WRC2 and WRC3 teams has made this kick off to the 2021 season to conclude a success.

The C3Rally2 displayed outstanding reliability throughout the changing Rally Monte-Carlo climate by reserving five spots in the RC2 top 10. Put to the test in a mix of weather, visibility and road conditions; the snow, ice and rain were no match up against its consistency and versatility.

Despite jumping into the deep end for some following a complicated 2020-year, the RC2 competitors took advantage of the technical support and expert weather analysts made available to them by Citroën Racing and were able to conquer the conditions presented to them. Eric Camilli struggled finding his rhythm coming into the early stages, however the momentum developed stage by stage as he kept a steady pace allowing him to finish 3rd of WRC2 and in the top 10 of RC2. A first Rally Monte-Carlo at the wheel of a Rally2 car, Sean Johnston and Alex Kuhrani played it safe though their experience allowed them to build confidence and pace in the varied conditions finishing in 5th position.

It was a fair-play battle for the top three between Yohan Rossel, Yoann Bonato and Nicolas Ciamin on all stages as the drivers pushed the C3Rally2 for the WRC3 stage wins. CHL Sport Auto driver Yoann Bonato and his co-drive Benjamin Boulloud clocked in four scratch times and Santéloc Racing Team’s Yohan Rossel & Benoit Fulcrand with four. Rossel managed to grow the gap after his stage win on ES 10, while Bonato and Ciamin suffered a puncture. Nicolas Ciamin of Belgian team DG Sport, put the pressure on the two leaders with his five scratch times and showed outstanding performance with a best results of P7 in the overall standings on ES12. The reactivity of C3Rally2 to the different driving styles of the three Frenchmen saw them round off the WRC3 podium.

A first time in competition off the Belgian rally roads, the duo Davy Vanneste and co-driver Kris D’alleine got some quality experience on the World Rally Championship and Rally Monte-Carlo stage, who held onto their 6th WRC3 position throughout the entire rally. G.Car Sport’s Italian crew, Giacomo Ogliaro and Lorenzo Grnai brought their WRC experience to the stage and fought to keep a strong and steady pace throughout the entire rally.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE…
Didier Clément – Director of the Citroën Racing client competition:
“This Rally Monte-Carlo 2021 was an extremely difficult challenge, with some exceptional conditions. The collective result is an impressive one that shows the coherence between the C3Rally2Family and their ability to work together. To have all of the cars and crews finish the race is an accomplishment in itself, but with zero reliability or technical issues is even better. The tyre choice, which was never obvious, was always on point. We have concrete results with the impressive third place of Eric Camilli who has had very little driving time and the outstanding triple WRC3 podium with Yohan Rossel, Yoann Bonato and Nicolas Ciamin, which put forward the different drivers, tools and the C3Rally2.”

Eric Camilli – Sports & You – WRC2:
“We had a lot of fun on this first rally of the season. The result is ok, we obviously wanted more, but after a year without much driving time, we could not have done better. The time it took us to find our rhythm, it was already too late. The very muddy conditions were where we lost our time. It will not be easy to find time to get any more tests in, so our next stop will surely be Croatia or Portugal.”

Yohan Rossel – Saintéloc Racing Team – WRC3:
“I attained my objectives coming into Rally Monte-Carlo, which was to be first. I am happy of our performance and what we were able to prove during the rally. There are things to work on that I have already brought to the attention of with my engineer and the team and we are ready to start. We are happy that Citroën Racing is there to help us in finding the right set up and solutions for what we hope to achieve. Being ahead after the first race is always a good thing, and I am excited to see what we will be able to do next.”
21-01-24 Ogier claims record eighth Monte-Carlo victory at 2021 season-opener
Frenchman banks 50th WRC win as Evans finishes second with Neuville third.

Sébastien Ogier celebrated his 50th world rally win and a record eighth victory at Rallye Monte-Carlo on Sunday afternoon.

He opened the defence of his 2020 FIA World Rally Championship title with a sublime performance in the French Alps, mastering snow and ice to head Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Elfyn Evans by 32.6sec in a dominant 1-2 for the Japanese squad.

Ogier's eight victories span three decades and have been achieved with five different manufacturers. He ended a perfect weekend by winning the final Wolf Power Stage to add five bonus points and seal a maximum 30-point haul from the rally.

The Frenchman shrugged aside early brake problems in his Toyota Yaris. He launched a charging recovery after losing the lead on Saturday following a spin and a puncture to regain top spot ahead of Sunday's finale in the mountains above Monaco.

Ogier, who delayed retirement for one final WRC season, more than doubled his lead in the final leg for an emotional win on a rally based in his birthplace of Gap. A 1-2 marked a dream start to Jari-Matti Latvala's management career as team principal.

"That's not a bad end to the weekend," Ogier said. "The car has been amazing. I really enjoyed the weekend, it has been such a pleasure. I almost have tears in my eyes now and it was a good decision to do one more year. Jari-Matti – welcome boss, with a win!"

Evans led on Saturday night after Ogier's time loss, but the Welshman could not repel his colleague and felt he had been over-cautious in the difficult conditions.

"It's been good, but I never felt it was never 100 per cent as it should have been. There were some good stages, but never consistently where I'd really like to be. Perhaps we were just a little below the point you could call the level of risk," he explained.

Last year's victor, Thierry Neuville, finished a further 40.9sec behind in a Hyundai i20. It marked an impressive result for the Belgian, who split with long-term co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul less than a week before the start, and did not partner replacement Martijn Wydaeghe until Thursday's opening speed test.

Neuville climbed to third when Kalle Rovanperä's hopes of achieving a Toyota clean sweep of the podium ended with a Sunday morning puncture. The Finn finished 1min 20.1sec adrift.

Dani Sordo was fifth in another i20 after a frustrating weekend for the Spaniard on his last rally with co-driver Carlos del Barrio. Japan's Takamoto Katsuta rounded off the top six in another Yaris.

Round two of the championship features northern Finland's all-new Arctic Rally Lapland. The series' only pure winter rally is based in Rovaniemi on February 26-28.

Final positions
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris 2hr 56min 33.7sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +32.6sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +1min 13.5sec
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +2min 33.6sec
5. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +3min 14.2sec
6. T Katsuta / D Barritt GBR Toyota Yaris +7min 01.3sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 1 of 12)
1. S Ogier 30pts
2. E Evans 21pts
3. T Neuville 17pts




21-01-24 Lärorik Hyundai-debut i VM för Oliver Solberg
Oliver Solberg var med och kämpade om en topplacering i sin klass i Rally Monte-Carlo när debuten slutade med ett stopp i en snödriva på sista specialsträckan på söndagen.

19-åringen fastande med sin Hyundai i diket och utan någon publik på plats fanns det ingen hjälp att få för att komma tillbaka upp på vägen och kunna avsluta rallyt. Därmed bröts rallyt med endast ett fåtal kilometer kvar av tävlingen.
- Det var ett litet misstag som ledde till avkörningen, det är frustrerande att vi inte kunde slutföra tävlingen. Bilen fick inga skador så med lite hjälp skulle vi kunnat komma tillbaka upp på vägen och fortsatt till målet i Monaco. Men i den speciella situation vi befinner oss i utan publik längs sträckorna fanns det inget vi kunde göra. Jag väljer att fokusera på vad som gick bra i tävlingen, sa Oliver Solberg.

Söndagen började fantastiskt för Petter Solbergs son. På dagens första specialsträcka lyckades endast tre WRC-förare i huvudklassen matcha hastigheten hos den svenska-norska supertalangen. Fjärde tid totalt på sträckan med en R5-bil som är långt från VM-bilarnas kapacitet är häpnadsväckande.
- En fjärdeplats totalt på den sträckan är jag otroligt nöjd med, den upplevelsen är helt klart min bästa i en VM-tävling någonsin. Förhållandena var extremt svåra med svart is på vägen. Före varje sväng var det omöjligt att veta om däcken skulle få fäste eller inte.

Solberg tog två sträcksegrar (av 15 möjliga) i tävlingen där Andreas Mikkelsen och kartläsaren Ola Fløene vann Rally2-klassen överlägset. Efter ev besvärlig start på rallyt med tekniska problem var Oliver Solberg och kartläsaren Aaron Johnston med i sekundstriden om tredje platsen inför sista sträckan i R5-klassen.

Förra månaden tecknade Oliver Solberg ett tvåårigt kontrakt med regerande Team världsmästarna Hyundai Motorsport. Rally Monte-Carlo var hans VM-debut med den nya bilen och Solberg valde själv att starta tävlingen utan att nomineras till VM-poäng. Således räkas inte tävlingen in i 19-åringens VM-säsong.
- Jag börjar känna bilen bättre nu. Att börja med Monte-Carlo är en utmaning men också mycket lärorikt med tanke på svårighetsgraden av de olika förhållandena på vägarna, säger Oliver Solberg.

Nästa VM-tävling äger rum i Finland om en månad.
21-01-23 Ogier set for Rallye Monte-Carlo record win after Saturday surge
Frenchman holds 13-second lead over Evans with one day of action left. Sébastien Ogier took a huge step towards securing a historic eighth Rallye Monte-Carlo win on Saturday after recapturing the lead to head a clean sweep of the podium places for Toyota Gazoo Racing.

After losing top spot due to a flat tyre on Friday afternoon, Ogier regained the initiative from Elfyn Evans with a stunning drive in darkness on snow and ice-covered roads in this morning’s opening speed test. He distanced Evans by almost 18sec in the 18.31km stage.

The Frenchman retained his cool on polished snow in the next test. Although Evans claimed back time by winning the final stage, Ogier made the journey south to Monaco with a 13.0sec advantage in his Yaris with one day remaining.

"Conditions in this morning's opening stage were very difficult," said Ogier. "In some corners it didn't feel like we had any studs in our tyres. The conditions in the second run changed a lot since our safety crew passed so I had to trust what I saw."

Evans was relieved to stop time ebbing away with victory in the last test. "I needed that really. It's been a bit of a frustrating day. I haven't been on the money, but we'll try to keep the pressure on tomorrow," he said.

Kalle Rovanperä completed Toyota's treble in third. Victory on the middle of today's three stages enabled Thierry Neuville to close within a whisker in his Hyundai i20, but the young Finn repelled the pressure to end the day 7.0sec ahead. He was 43.8sec behind Evans.

Ott Tänak's hold on third ended when he punctured twice in successive stages. With just one spare onboard his i20 the Estonian limped to service, but organisers decided there was insufficient rubber on the rim to drive on the public road and he was forced out.

Dani Sordo was fifth, more than a minute adrift of team-mate Neuville. With Tänak sidelined in the other car and unable to restart tomorrow, the Spaniard must finish to deliver vital manufacturer points for the Korean squad so he eased his pace to avoid risks.

Japan's Takamoto Katsuta moved up to sixth in another Yaris, more than 2min 30sec back.

Sunday's new-look final leg features a double pass through Puget-Théniers – La Penne and Briançonnet – Entrevaux, totalling 54.48km. There will be no service and the second run through the latter forms the bonus points-paying Wolf Power Stage.

Leading positions after Saturday
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris 2hr 16min 31.9sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +13.0sec
3. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +56.8sec
4. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +1min 03.8sec
5. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +2min 11.3sec
6. T Katsuta / D Barritt GBR Toyota Yaris +4min 43.1sec
21-01-22 Leader Evans under attack from Rallye Monte-Carlo master Ogier
Welshman holds slender Friday lead over Frenchman with Tänak still in contention. Elfyn Evans led Rallye Monte-Carlo after Friday's second leg, but the Welshman was under severe pressure from angry world champion Sébastien Ogier.

Evans held a 7.4sec advantage over his Toyota Yaris team-mate, but Ogier is looming large in Evans' rear mirror after a stunning recovery from a puncture which cost him the lead.

With the brake problem that hindered him on Thursday resolved, Ogier was imperious on the French Alps roads near Gap to win all three morning speed tests and climb from fifth to first.

His 11.3sec advantage over Evans was wiped out after he spun and ended this afternoon's opening test with his front left wheel on the rim. He plunged to third, 23.4sec adrift, but the frustrated Frenchman bounced back to regain 16.0sec by winning the final test.

Ogier's recovery was remarkable as he drove that last stage with an unbalanced mix of three Pirelli winter tyres and one studded tyre on his Yaris.

"I'm here to win this rally – so I'm going to win it," said Ogier. "I was pushing in the final stage because I was angry. Conditions were very difficult with a lot of rain and we had to carry a studded tyre on the car. After a couple of kilometres it was starting to move at the rear."

Conditions changed all day, making tyre choice complicated. A morning mix of damp roads and ice gave way to persistent rain and mud this afternoon.

Evans was never outside the top three times, and won the penultimate test, but a damaged wheel meant he drove the final stage with the same unbalanced tyre mix as Ogier. He was sixth fastest.

"When conditions get more extreme, more slippery, I'm struggling for that last bit of feeling and I don't get the confidence I need to push," he admitted. "Seb had a fantastic day. He took a lot of risks and maybe I didn't take quite enough. We know there's a small advantage to running first on the road, but to be fair to him that wasn't 16sec.”

Leg 1 leader Ott Tänak was 17.5sec further back in third. The Estonian's Hyundai i20 lost power in this morning's tight hairpins and he was powerless to repel Ogier's charge into second in the final stage when his windows misted up.

Fourth-placed Kalle Rovanperä made it three Yaris cars in the top four, the Finn 53.1sec behind Evans. He took the lead in the morning's opening test but a mix of worsening road conditions and a 10sec penalty for arriving late at SS4 dropped him down the order.

He slid into a field early in the penultimate test but recovered to demote Thierry Neuville to fifth in the closing stage. Just 6.0sec split the duo, Neuville enjoying a better afternoon after toiling this morning with a poor tyre choice.

Team-mate Dani Sordo competed the top six another 50.5sec back. He had little confidence in his car's handling after making the same tyre selection error, but a more balanced choice this afternoon rejuvenated the Spaniard.

Saturday brings another early start with La Bréole - Selonnet launching the day in darkness at 06.30. Saint Clément – Freissinières precedes the final service in Gap, before a repeat of the opening test starts the long journey south to Monaco after 57.10km of competition.

Leading positions after Friday
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris 1hr 33min 57.5sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +7.4sec
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +25.3sec
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +53.1sec
5. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +59.1sec
6. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +1min 49.6sec
21-01-21 Tänak double earns Rallye Monte-Carlo lead in WRC season opener
Suninen unhurt after crash as patchy ice tests drivers to the limit on Thursday. Ott Tänak won Thursday afternoon's opening two speed tests to claim the early lead at Rallye Monte-Carlo.

The Estonian crashed heavily in the FIA World Rally Championship's season-opener 12 months ago, but there were no mistakes today as he ended the short opening leg with a 3.3sec advantage over Kalle Rovanperä.

Tänak, driving a Hyundai i20, won the 20.58km special stage from Saint-Disdier to Corps by 3.0sec from the Finnish youngster. He added a further three tenths to his lead by taking the following 20.78km test from Saint-Maurice to Saint-Bonnet, despite stalling at the start.

Conditions in the opening test were wet but patchy ice early in the next stage made grip unpredictable. Nevertheless, Tänak, like virtually all the leading crews, opted for Pirelli's supersoft compound asphalt tyres.

"It was looking like quite a simple start to the Monte, normally we've never started in daylight and in these consistent conditions. In the end the first one wasn't so bad but the second one, with a lot of cuts and muddy places, was demanding with a lot of surprises," he explained.

Rovanperä enjoyed a trouble-free run in his Toyota Yaris to end the day 5.2sec clear of team-mate Elfyn Evans. The Welshman was almost caught out on a slippery right corner in SS1 and struggled to generate heat in his tyres in the early part of SS2.

Thierry Neuville was fourth in another i20, 16.0sec off his team-mate's pace. The Belgian was co-driven by Martijn Wydaeghe for the first time after splitting with long-term partner Nicolas Gilsoul last week. The pair settled in well, despite sound problems in the intercom.

Sébastien Ogier started his title defence in fifth, less than a second adrift of Neuville. The Frenchman had intermittent brake problems in his Yaris but had almost half a minute in hand over Dani Sordo, who was unnerved by a strange noise in his i20.

Pierre-Louis Loubet was seventh in a similar car, 25.1sec adrift of the Spaniard, with WRC2 leader Andreas Mikkelsen next up in a Skoda Fabia. Fellow support class contender Adrien Fourmaux was ninth with a frustrated Gus Greensmith tenth in his Ford Fiesta.

Takamoto Katsuta was just off the leaderboard after spinning his Yaris in both stages.

Teemu Suninen was the first retirement. The Finn set a storming pace through the opening test and was on course for fastest time before running wide into a bank, rolling back across the road and plunging down an embankment.

Friday hosts the 'meat' of the rally with almost 105km of competition across five stages west of Gap. Two loops of two tests sandwich a single pass through the longest stage of the weekend. The action kicks off before dawn at 06.10, with service after the first three tests.

Leading positions after Thursday
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 24m17.5s
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +3.3s
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +8.5s
4. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +16.0s
5. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +16.9s
21-01-20 Ogier chases eighth title as WRC season launches in Monte Carlo
Twelve rounds ahead for season that brings curtain down on World Rally Car era. Just 46 days after Sébastien Ogier sealed his seventh world title, the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship roars into life on Thursday (21 January) at the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Twelve rounds lie in wait on four continents in a season that brings down the curtain on the World Rally Car era. Twenty-five years after being introduced, World Rally Cars will make way for an exciting new hybrid generation in 2022.

Ogier returns for his final WRC season, heading a Toyota Gazoo Racing line-up which is identical to last year. He is joined in Yaris cars by 2020 championship runner-up Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanperä.

Ogier bids for a record eighth Monte-Carlo victory on roads close to his birthplace near the host town of Gap, in the French Alps. But the 37-year-old is taking nothing for granted, especially after a test crash last week.

“Everybody knows that Rallye Monte-Carlo is the rally that I want to win the most. But it’s a rally that you have to face with a lot of humility because it’s always challenging with the conditions and you have to be really clever to win it,” he said.

The rally, which celebrates its 110th anniversary, is the most unpredictable on the calendar. Conditions can vary from snow and ice to wet and dry asphalt on the same stage, making tyre selection fiendishly hard but crucially important as teams hunt for the best compromise.

Italian manufacturer Pirelli returns as the championship’s tyre supplier after a 10-year absence to add a further element of uncertainty, but it’s a challenge Ogier relishes.

“We will need to adapt to the new tyres, especially on Monte-Carlo when we have a bigger package available than any other event. But I’m looking forward to it because for me it’s an interesting aspect of rallying: To try and make the best tyre strategy and use them as best as you can,” he said.

Hyundai Motorsport defends the manufacturers’ title, with Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak leading the attack. Neuville starts on the back foot after splitting with co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul last week. Martijn Wydaeghe replaces him but the pair have not tested together.

Dani Sordo pilots the third i20, a car he will share during the season with Ireland’s Craig Breen.

Teemu Suninen and Britain’s Gus Greensmith return in M-Sport Ford’s Fiesta, the Finn with former co-driver Mikko Markkula returning to his side.

Toyota development driver Takamoto Katsuta and Pierre-Louis Loubet complete the frontrunners in the 84-car entry.

The rally starts in Gap on Thursday lunchtime and competitors face 14 speed tests covering 257.64km before Sunday afternoon’s finish in Monaco.
21-01-14 Two-year WRC contract for Rally Estonia
WRC Promoter and Rally Estonia signed a two-year contract
Passion, commitment and team spirit ensured a spot in WRC calendar
Rally Estonia aims a longer success in WRC

WRC Rally Estonia 2020, the first ever Estonian WRC round was a success. On Wednesday, January 13, 2021 an agreement between WRC Promoter and Rally Estonia was signed by Managing Director Jona Siebel and Rally Estonia Commercial Director Tarmo Hõbe. Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas announced at the press conference that Rally Estonia has joined the WRC calendar for 2021 and 2022.

The two-year contract is a sign of trust from the FIA and WRC Promoter to the Estonian government and Rally Estonia organising team. As a sign of recognition, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas presented Estonian e-residency to FIA Rally Director Yves Matton, Managing Director of WRC Promoter Jona Siebel and President of the Estonian Autosport Union Ari Vatanen. All three were participating at the press conference online and e-residency enabled them to sign the contracts digitally during the press conference.

Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonian Republic: “It was an honour to announce that Rally Estonia is a part of the WRC calendar in 2021 as well as 2022. It shows that we have earned a trust of the stakeholders. The fact that we managed to organise a safe Rally Estonia with no infections was highly rated both internationally and here in Estonia. My congratulations to the organisers, partners and all the rally fans in the world. I’m sure that Estonia’s position in rally world will strengthen.“

Yves Matton, FIA Rally Director: „It is a part of the process and long commitment from Estonian Autosport Union and Rally Estonia organisers. They are involved organising rally since 2010 trying to achieve high level events. They were part of European championship. After that they deserved a right to organise WRC Promotional Event. It was success where all the manufacturers were involved. In 2020 under special circumstances, they were able to organise WRC event. They showcased that they really have the high level of competence and bringing new ideas and fresh approach to the series. They convinced FIA, WRC Promoter and all the stakeholders that this event has the level to join the calendar for 2021 and 2022.”

Jona Siebel, WRC Promoter Managing Director: „There were many factors which led to this agreement. First of all, the performance of last year’s event was one of the key aspects here. The second factor is the passion, especially the passion of the Estonian rally fans which is really great. Of course, that played a big part in Ott Tänak’s and Martin Järveoja’s World Championship titles for sure. And the third factor is commitment. It’s all about the commitment. Our understanding is that all Estonia is committed. The government, the whole organising team, the fans. Everybody is committed. Two years is a clear signal from FIA and WRC Promoter, it fits.”

Ari Vatanen, President of Estonian Autosport Union: „The organising team of Rally Estonia has done superb work. And we know they were capable of organising top-class events. The situation in the world last year pushed some processes to move faster and the dream became a reality. The Estonian Government, especially Prime Minister Jüri Ratas play a big part in the success of last year’s Rally Estonia and in this agreement. The support from the government is very important. What I have seen here is a great team spirit in everything. This team spirit brought WRC to Estonia and I believe it can keep WRC in Estonia.”

Urmo Aava, Rally Estonia Director: „Ten years ago it seemed impossible to organise a WRC event in Estonia. But we wanted to be better every year and it keeps our focus sharp. I believe that we have still room for improvement almost everywhere. We understand what and where we must do, and we are already working to deliver another great event. We have a unique opportunity to start a tradition here. Our goal is not just two years in the calendar, our goal is a longer success in WRC.”

The second edition of WRC Rally Estonia will run on 15-18 July.
21-01-14 Arctic Rally Finland joins 2021 FIA World Rally Championship
· Snow and ice fixture added to WRC schedule on 26 - 28 February
· Rovaniemi hosts all-new second round of 2021 season in Lapland
· Rally Finland gravel round retains existing date on 29 July - 1 August

The FIA World Rally Championship will venture into the Arctic Circle for the first time next month after WRC Promoter today added Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox to the 2021 calendar.

The all-new snow and ice event will be based in Rovaniemi on 26 - 28 February and replaces the cancelled Rally Sweden as the WRC’s only pure winter encounter. It forms round two of the 12-event fixture list.

The announcement means the Nordic country will host two WRC rounds this year. Rally Finland, held on iconic rollercoaster gravel roads around Jyväskylä, will take place on 29 July - 1 August.

Rovaniemi, the capital of Finland’s northernmost Lapland province, lies just outside the Arctic Circle. The competition will take place inside the region, where temperatures can plunge below -30°C in February.

The city is famously known as the home of Santa Claus (or Joulupukki as he is called in Finland) and also attracts high tourist numbers to view the stunning Aurora Borealis displays – better known as the Northern Lights.

The rally starts on Friday 26 February with a morning shakedown, ahead of the opening special stages that evening. Saturday features three tests driven twice ahead of Sunday’s final leg, which closes with the Wolf Power Stage. The 10 stages cover 260km.

The rally will run under strict national, local and FIA Covid-19 procedures and organisers will follow all protocols on whether fans will be allowed.

WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel was impressed by promoter AKK Sports’ determination to organise the rally at short notice.

“Since it was confirmed in December that Rally Sweden would not take place, we’ve been working hard with AKK Sports, the city of Rovaniemi and the enthusiasts there to try to make this event happen. It’s been a tough race against time and my thanks go to all involved,” he said.

“Although the rally starts in just 44 days, we know AKK will leave no stone unturned to ensure it reaches the same high standards as the traditional summertime Rally Finland.

“Winter rallies provide some of the sport’s most spectacular action. A winter wonderland of full snow and big snow banks lining the roads are a driver’s dream, so I think the WRC is in for a great time!”

AKK Sports CEO Riku Bitter is delighted at how quickly Rovaniemi embraced the idea of a WRC round at such short notice.

“We set out to look into the matter and explore our possibilities. Of the various different options, Rovaniemi, with its solid culture in organising winter rallies, good reputation as an international event city and large number of enthusiastic and experienced rally-makers stood out,” he said.

FIA rally director Yves Matton said: “With Arctic Rally Finland joining the WRC calendar, we will experience a rally in a region that has always made us dream and where conditions promise to be optimal for a snow event.

“Following the unfortunate cancellation of Rally Sweden in December, this is proof that with challenges can come opportunities.

“I would like to thank AKK and the organising team for their commitment, professionalism and determination, which enables them to make a second round in Finland a reality within a short time window. We will give all our help and support to ensure a great success for this new round.”

The revised calendar is subject to FIA approval.
21-01-13 Rally Estonia is Asahi Kasei Team Spirit Award winner
After pulling together their maiden WRC event in just 63 days, the Rally Estonia organising team has been voted as the 2020 recipient of the Asahi Kasei Team Spirit Award.

Drawing in thousands of votes on wrc.com, the Estonian organising team won out over Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT, Toksport and M-Sport Ford. In a season that was heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Estonia was brought onto the calendar as a replacement event, and was the first run under strict new Covid-19 regulations.

Urmo Aava, Rally Estonia Director: “This award is a great recognition to our team and Estonia. We are pleased that FIA and WRC Promoter believed and trusted us, it really means a lot. It was big effort to have spectators in Rally Estonia. It wasn’t easy for them, but they showed their best sides and we really appreciate it. Our team, all the people who have put their effort for ten years, thank you! All this couldn’t have happened without the support and cooperation from Estonian government and our partners. Last but not least, I would like to thank everyone who voted for Rally Estonia!”

With the eyes of the rallying world focused on the Baltic nation, Rally Estonia organisers successfully executed a Covid-safe event and did enough to earn themselves a spot back on the calendar for 2021.

The icing on the cake for the organisers, was seeing local hopeful Ott Ta¨nak standing atop the podium on Sunday afternoon.

Staying true to their team spirit, the organisers produced a thank you message featuring gratitude from a number of members of their team, who thanked the FIA, WRC Promoter, Estonian government and the fans for their support.

The second edition of Rally Estonia will run from 15-18 July.

21-01-08 Belgium added to 2021 FIA World Rally Championship
· Renties Ypres Rally Belgium joins 2021 WRC calendar
· Belgium hosts World Rally Championship for the first time
· Asphalt fixture replaces UK’s Rally Northern Ireland in August
· British event shelved due to continuing Covid challenges
· Focus turns towards securing 2022 WRC round in Northern Ireland

Belgium will stage a round of the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time after Renties Ypres Rally Belgium was today (Friday) added to the 2021 calendar.

The asphalt event will take place in August on a date to be confirmed. It will replace the UK’s proposed fixture in Northern Ireland, which has unfortunately been deferred for this year due to uncertainty over public funding relative to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Belgium will become the 35th nation to stage a WRC round – at the second time of asking ­– since the series started in 1973. Last November’s round in Ypres was called off due to Covid-19.

Ypres was first held in 1965 and has become established as one of Europe’s most demanding rallies. Previous winners include current Hyundai Motorsport driver and home hero Thierry Neuville in 2018 and team-mate Craig Breen the following year.

The rally will feature three days of competition with an atmospheric service park in Ypres’ historic Grote Markt.

Jona Siebel, managing director of WRC Promoter, the commercial rights holder for the championship, said Ypres would be an appetising encounter for teams, drivers and co-drivers.

“Ypres has been a hugely popular cornerstone of European rallying for more than half a century. Its elevation to the WRC will provide one of the season’s sternest challenges and I’m delighted the championship will finally visit Belgium after last year’s unfortunate delay,” he added.

“Its tricky mix of narrow asphalt lanes with big ditches lining the roads, allied with some stages in the dark and the potential for mixed weather, will provide plenty of thrills and spills for fans.”

Siebel acknowledged the difficulties of Rally Northern Ireland obtaining the required government support in such challenging times.

“It’s sad the WRC will not enjoy the beauty of Northern Ireland this year, but the pandemic continues to impact the global economy. Our enthusiasm for a WRC round there remains strong and we look forward to continuing our discussions for 2022,” he said.

FIA Rally Director Yves Matton said: “The 2021 calendar has been developed against the backdrop of the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and we knew we would possibly face ongoing issues in this new year.”

“Bobby Willis and his team have put in a lot of work and efforts to bring the WRC to Northern Ireland and we’re very disappointed there will be no rally in the UK this year,” he added.

“It is a chance for Ypres Rally Belgium to step in after last year’s attempt. It will showcase the DNA of rally with a route that links Ypres to Spa-Francorchamps, two iconic venues of Belgian motorsport. I very much look forward to it.”

In October, Renties Ypres Rally Belgium was named on the WRC’s 2021 reserve list and Alain Penasse, president of event organiser Club Superstage, said the rally was ready to take its place on the calendar.

“Last year our volunteers proved they could switch quickly and organise a WRC event at short notice. Sadly it didn’t happen, but we will be delighted to welcome the WRC for the first time in mid-August,” he said.

“Broadly speaking, we will use last year’s proposed format again. This was clearly appreciated by the participants as the entry list for the 2020 edition looked impressive with 140 teams registered.”

Rally Northern Ireland promoter Bobby Willis explained that requisite public funding was unavailable to support a successful WRC event this year due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

“Tourism Northern Ireland recognises that hosting Rally Northern Ireland in 2021 represented a positive opportunity to profile the region globally, and would serve to celebrate Northern Ireland’s motorsport heritage.

“However, it feels Covid-19 could diminish the substantial economic benefits WRC historically bestows upon its host regions, and therefore investment would not represent best value for public money at this time.

“We must accept the situation for 2021 and focus on our discussions to explore the avenues for 2022,” he said.

The agreement in principle between WRC Promoter and Renties Ypres Rally Belgium is subject to FIA and ASN (national sporting authority) agreement.

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