VM kalendern 2023
Monte-Carlo: 19 – 22 January
Sweden: 9 – 12 February
Mexico: 16 – 19 March
Croatia: 20 – 23 April
Portugal: 11 – 14 May
Italy: 1 – 4 June
Kenya: 22 – 25 June
Estonia: 20 – 23 July
Finland: 3 – 6 August
Greece: 7 – 10 September
Chile: 28 September – 1 October
Central Europe (AUT, CZE, GER): 26 – 29 October
Japan: 16 – 19 November
VM kalendern 2024

FIA World Rally Championship calendar 2024:
25 – 28 January Rallye Monte-Carlo (Asphalt/Ice)
15 – 18 February Rally Sweden (Snow)
28 – 31 March Safari Rally Kenya (Gravel)
18 – 21 April Croatia Rally (Asphalt)
9 – 12 May Vodafone Rally de Portugal (Gravel)
30 May – 2 June Rally Italia Sardegna (Gravel)
27 – 30 June ORLEN 80th Rally Poland (Gravel)
18 – 21 July Tet Rally Latvia (Gravel)
1 – 4 August Secto Rally Finland (Gravel)
5 – 8 September EKO Acropolis Rally Greece (Gravel)
26 – 29 September Rally Chile Bio Bío (Gravel)
31 October – 3 November Central European Rally (Asphalt)
21 – 24 November FORUM8 Rally Japan (Asphalt)

23-11-19 Triumphant Evans leads home Toyota 1-2-3 in Japan
Japanese manufacturer team dominates home rally to end 2023 WRC season with another victory.

Elfyn Evans secured a lights-to-flag victory on Sunday at FORUM8 Rally Japan as his Toyota Gazoo Racing team locked out the top three positions on home soil.

Welsh driver Evans clinched his eighth career win by finishing a dominant 1min 17.7sec ahead of team-mate Sébastien Ogier at this final round of the season, confirming his place as the runner-up driver in the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship for the third time.

Evans laid the foundations for glory early in the asphalt fixture when he charged to a near-two-minute advantage in Friday’s rain-soaked opening leg. From then on, he was able to control the rally by adapting his risk level to suit the ever-changing conditions.

Kalle Rovanperä’s capture of the final podium spot capped off a perfect season for Toyota, which has heralded titles for Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen, as well as a third successive manufacturers’ championship victory.

“It was not easy with the conditions we had this week, even though we had a massive gap already after Friday night,” Evans said. “A massive thanks to the team, the car's been great and a 1-2-3 for Toyota is a fantastic result.”

Ogier, who has undertaken a part-time programme in 2023, damaged his GR Yaris car’s chassis when he slid into a barrier on Saturday. The required repairs meant he exceeded his allocated service time, collecting a one-minute time penalty which ultimately prevented him from threatening Evans’ advantage.

He finished 28.8sec ahead of Rovanperä while Esapekka Lappi, driving a Hyundai i20 Rally1, held off Toyota hotshot Takamoto Katsuta to claim fourth by 20.0sec.

Home hero Katsuta won nine of the rally’s 21 stages but ended just over three minutes adrift of victor Evans due to an incident on Friday morning. Without that misdemeanour, the 30-year-old could well have celebrated his maiden victory.

Ott Tänak was unable to strike a good balance with his M-Sport Ford Puma, and sixth place was all the Estonian could manage on his final outing for the British team. He returns to Hyundai Motorsport’s line-up next season.

WRC2 champion Andreas Mikkelsen added another class victory to his tally as well as finishing seventh overall in a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. Behind him were fellow Rally2 battlers Nikolay Gryazin and Kajetan Kajetanowicz.

Kajetanowicz’s result of second in WRC2 Challenger was enough for him to beat Gryazin to that title, and he becomes the first driver to win the series since it was introduced at the beginning of the year.*

The WRC returns in 2024 when Rallye Monte-Carlo opens the new season from 25 – 28 January.
*Subject to confirmation of results by the FIA

Overall classification:
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris 3h 32m 8.8s
2. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris +1m 17.7s
3. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +1m 46.5s
4. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +2m 50.3s
5. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +3m 10.3s

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-11-17 Evans clear in Japan as Toyota dominates turbulent Friday
Welshman builds commanding lead as treacherous conditions cut a swathe through the WRC field.

Elfyn Evans led FORUM8 Rally Japan by 1min 49.9sec overnight after extreme conditions in Friday’s opening leg caught out several of his FIA World Rally Championship peers.

Torrential rainfall, thick fog and roads covered with damp leaves were just some of the challenges faced by crews on the first full day of action at the 2023 season finale. Survival was the aim of the game and, while several of his rivals faltered, Evans barely put a wheel wrong.

A minor overshoot in the second stage of the day did not prevent the Welshman from reaching the lunchtime service halt with 26 seconds in hand over Thierry Neuville, his main competition for the runner-up spot in this year’s drivers’ championship.

Neuville, winner of the 2022 event, responded in the afternoon by slicing Evans’ advantage by more than half with a blistering run through Isegami’s Tunnel 2. But his comeback was cut short when he crashed his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 into a tree on the first corner of the following test.

The Belgian wasn’t the only driver to be caught out by the conditions and joined team-mate Dani Sordo as well as M-Sport Ford Puma hotshot Adrien Fourmaux on the retirements list after both drivers left the road at the same location in SS2.

Evans was left clear at the top of the standings and, with two of his Hyundai rivals sidelined, headed a GR Yaris podium lockout for Toyota Gazoo Racing.

“It's been tough, obviously,” confirmed the leader. “This morning, especially, was quite bad - but the afternoon was also not easy to adapt to after going from the zero-grip situation of the morning to having something you can actually drive a bit with.”

After Neuville’s demise, Sébastien Ogier became Evans’ nearest challenger – although the eight-time world champion conceded that catching up with his colleague would be a tall order.

Ogier slid sideways into a barrier on SS5 but was able to continue with minimal time loss. The impact did, however, cause damage to the chassis of his Toyota. He collected a one-minute time penalty as the required repairs caused him to check out late from the final service of the day.

“You are always happy when you survive this kind of day because so many things can happen, and so many things did happen," Ogier said. "The moment this afternoon cost us a bit of time, but we are happy to still be here because it could have cost us a lot more.”

Running first on the road, newly crowned WRC champion Kalle Rovanperä was hindered by lingering leaves, and so he took a cautious approach as he carved a cleaner line for those behind. The 23-year-old’s consistency paid off as he finished the day error-free in third overall, just 16.7sec back from Ogier.

Toyota could have enjoyed a clean sweep of the top four positions were it not for an error by Takamoto Katsuta on the same corner which caught out Sordo and Fourmaux. His car brushed a tree and sustained radiator damage, but the local star was able to make it back to service after completing the stage in EV mode and carrying out repairs on the road section.

That incident, combined with the time penalties for lateness after his roadside fix, cost Katsuta over four minutes. He languished in ninth as a result, although the three benchmark times he posted throughout the day were clear signs of what could have been.

Such was the rate of attrition that WRC2 champion Andreas Mikkelsen, driving a Rally2-specification Škoda Fabia RS, placed fourth overall. Behind him was Grégoire Munster, also competing in Rally2 machinery.

WRC2 Challenger series hopeful Nikolay Gryazin brought his Fabia home an impressive sixth overall ahead of Esapekka Lappi, who struggled for confidence in his Hyundai i20 N.

Ott Tänak was eighth on a day which saw his Puma plagued by gremlins. The Estonian dropped almost three minutes when his car’s windows misted up on SS3 and he leaked more time in the afternoon with a performance-sapping electrical issue. Heikki Kovalainen, the ex-F1 driver, completed the top 10 whilst also holding third in WRC2.

Saturday is shorter but certainly no less challenging. Eight stages lay in store with a combined total of 84.68km.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris 1h 25m 22.7s
2. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris +1m 49.9s
3. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +2m 6.6s
4. A Mikkelsen / T Eriksen NOR Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 +3m 0.2s
5. G Munster / L Louka LUX Ford Fiesta Rally2 +3m 5.0s
6. N Gryazin / K Aleksandrov Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 +3m 29.6s

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-11-15 Hyundai challenges Toyota to Japanese duel
Neuville hunts for back-to-back victories at final round of the 2023 WRC season.
While the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship titles have already been decided, there’s no shortage of anticipation leading into this week’s season finale at FORUM8 Rally Japan.

Thierry Neuville, whose Hyundai Motorsport squad has missed out on both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championship titles this year, would love nothing more than to rain on Toyota Gazoo Racing’s parade in the Japanese marque’s own backyard.

The Belgian driver was successful in doing so 12 months ago when the all-asphalt fixture made its welcome return to the WRC calendar. This time around he’s going head-to-head with GR Yaris Rally1 challenger Elfyn Evans for the runner-up spot in the drivers’ championship.

“We are going to Japan with the Tarmac mileage from Central European Rally and a win from last year,” said the i20 N Rally1 star, who trails Evans by seven points. “Hopefully we can continue our success and have another great experience out there."

Evans, whose crash at the previous round paved the way for team-mate Kalle Rovanperä to clinch his second world title, aims to secure the result he painfully missed out on last year. In 2022, a damaged wheel prevented the Welshman from delivering a home win for the GR Yaris Rally1.

“Rally Japan is going to be an important rally for myself and the team, and we obviously want to finish the season on a high,” he admitted. “We were in contention for the win until quite late on last year and we would really like to put that right.”

Fellow Toyota man Takamoto Katsuta would send the huge home support into overdrive should he manage to improve on last year’s third-place finish. The 30-year-old and eight-time champion Sébastien Ogier complete a four-strong GR Yaris line-up.

Neuville is joined by Esapekka Lappi and Dani Sordo in a three-pronged i20 N Rally1 attack. He knows only too well that departing the season with another win would lay solid foundations for the new year – particularly as he lines up against soon-to-be team-mate Ott Tänak.

Tänak starts his final rally for M-Sport Ford before he heads for Hyundai in 2024. The British-based team has also entered a Puma Rally1 for Adrien Fourmaux to use on his top-level return, replacing fellow Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet.

Up to 40,000 fans will be in attendance to witness the all-new rally-opening super special stage inside Toyota Stadium on Thursday evening. Crews face 22 demanding speed tests totalling 304.66km in the mountain regions of Aichi and Gifu before Sunday afternoon’s finish.

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-10-29 Sensational Rovanperä clinches 2023 WRC title on Sunday
Finn secures back-to-back championship victories at Central European Rally on Sunday.

Kalle Rovanperä has become a two-time WRC champion, clinching the title on Sunday after finishing second overall at Central European Rally*.

By finishing runner-up to Thierry Neuville at this penultimate round, the 23-year-old ensured he can no longer be caught in the 2023 season.

Just one year ago, Rovanperä made history when he became the youngest WRC champion ever. Today he stands alongside legendary names like Carlos Sainz, Walter Röhrl and Miki Biasion as a double winner.

Entering Central European Rally with a 31-point lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Elfyn Evans, Rovanperä simply needed to maintain his advantage to claim the crown. When Evans suffered a dramatic crash on Saturday morning, the path to victory was all but assured.

Following a steady start to the season, Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen hit their straps in May by winning Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Since that moment, the pair have only been off the podium twice.

“I am feeling really good,” Rovanperä beamed. “I think this year was, for me personally, more important than last year. The competition was tighter, and we did a really good job. The biggest thank you of course goes to Jonne - he is also the world's best co-driver. I am going to enjoy this one more than the first one.”

Neuville’s capture of the outright rally victory may have been overshadowed by the champions’ celebrations, but the Belgian’s drive was worthy of high praise.

Driving a Hyundai i20 N, Neuville took control on Saturday morning and headed Rovanperä by 57.6sec to claim his 19th career victory on the slippery asphalt roads across Germany, Austria and Czech Republic.

“Overall, we did a good job,” Neuville said. “We had good consistency which ultimately paid off. It was a team effort this weekend and we did it, so we can be proud of that.”

Ott Tänak overcame a hydraulic failure on the penultimate day to finish third, almost two minutes back from the frontrunning pace in an M-Sport Ford Puma.

Sébastien Ogier fought back from wheel damage on Friday to claim fourth ahead of his Toyota-driving colleague Takamoto Katsuta. Teemu Suninen, Grégoire Munster and Adrien Fourmaux completed the top 8 ahead of Nicolas Ciamin and Pierre-Louis Loubet,

There were also celebrations for Andreas Mikkelsen, who did just enough to secure the WRC2 title* despite going off the road on Friday.

The championship comes to a close in Asia next month at FORUM8 Rally Japan. The asphalt event is based in Aichi and takes place from 16 - 19 November.

*Subject to confirmation of results by the FIA

Overall classification:
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N 2h 52m 39.9s
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +57.5s
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +1m 52.8s
4. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris +2m 8.6s
5. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +2m 48.3s
6. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Hyundai i20 N +3m 6.3s

Drivers' championship standings (after round 12 of 13)
1. K Rovanperä 235pts
2. E Evans 191pts
3. T Neuville 184pts

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-10-28 Rovanperä puts one hand on WRC crown as Evans crashes on Saturday
Finnish driver edges closer to second WRC title, Thierry Neuville leads Central European Rally.

Just four stages stand between Kalle Rovanperä and back-to-back FIA World Rally Championship crowns after his only remaining title rival Elfyn Evans crashed out of Central European Rally on Saturday.

Having dominated Thursday’s treacherous tests in the Czech Republic to build a commanding rally lead, 23-year-old Rovanperä was already doing more than enough to successfully defend his 2022 WRC drivers’ crown.

A spin on Saturday’s second stage allowed Thierry Neuville to slash the Finn’s advantage by more than half, but the dynamic completely changed later in the morning when Rovanperä’s Toyota GR Yaris team-mate Evans, who had been sitting third overall, crashed out of contention.

Evans needed to outscore his colleague by at least one point at this penultimate round to keep the fight going, but he came unstuck on a slippery right-hand bend and slid into a barn. The Welshman will restart on Sunday in a desperate bid to salvage bonus points from the Wolf Power Stage.

Sacrificing his chances of the outright rally win to focus on his championship prospects, Rovanperä dialled back his speed. Neuville, as a result, was left to build a 26.2-second overnight lead in his Hyundai i20 N.

“It's good to be at the finish of the day,” said Rovanperä, who simply needs a drama-free run through the closing stages to clinch the title. “It's tough out there. I think these are the most tough Tarmac rally conditions I have ever seen."

Neuville, who is in line to become the first-ever Central European Rally winner, added: “All afternoon we tried to manage the gap and I am happy to finish the day in the lead of the rally. We are following our target.”

Ott Tänak ensured that all three top-line manufacturers ended the day on the podium, bringing his Ford Puma to the end in a lonely third overall. A non-functioning handbrake caused the M-Sport man some frustrations in SS14, and he trailed Rovanperä by over one minute with Sébastien Ogier 31.1sec behind.

The battle for fifth place was raging between Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta and Hyundai’s Teemu Suninen. Katsuta struggled to find confidence on the greasy asphalt roads in the morning but upped his pace in the afternoon to claim the position by 10.9sec.

Puma hotshot Grégoire Munster was seventh overall ahead of Pierre-Louis Loubet. Adrien Fourmaux and Emil Lindholm, leader of the WRC2 category in a Hyundai i20 N Rally2, completed the leaderboard.

Sunday’s finale boasts two stages, each traversed twice, across two countries. Böhmerwald in Austria is first up before Passauer Land in Germany, the second pass of which forms the bonus points-paying Wolf Power Stage.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N 2h 18m 34.5s
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +26.2s
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +1m 49.1s
4. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris +2m 20.2s
5. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +2m 47.9s
6. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Hyundai i20 N +2m 58.8s

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-10-28 Masterful Rovanperä unfazed by treacherous Czech conditions on Friday
Masterful Finn builds commanding lead on Central European Rally's first full day.

Kalle Rovanperä appeared to be oblivious to Friday’s punishing conditions at Central European Rally as he stormed to a commanding 36.4-second lead over Thierry Neuville.

Heavy rain and perilous mud greeted the FIA World Rally Championship crews as they tackled the rally’s first full day, which featured six asphalt stages in the Czech Republic.

Opening the road, points leader Rovanperä took full advantage of the less polluted surface offered by his starting position. He reached the mid-leg tyre fitting zone 29.2sec clear of the field after winning all three of the morning’s super-slippery speed tests.

And the Toyota GR Yaris prodigy’s morning performance was no fluke, either. His domination continued into the repeated afternoon loop when, in conditions more consistent for drivers throughout the field, he widened the gap further.

As it stands, Rovanperä is poised to claim his second-consecutive WRC title at this penultimate round of the season unless team-mate Elfyn Evans – who languishes 47.2sec behind him in third overall - can stage a remarkable comeback.

"It has been super tricky today,” Rovanperä said. “Luckily, the weather was on our side for once with the starting position - it was good to be the first car on the road. We can be happy with our day."

Neuville initially led after Thursday’s pair of super special stages but fell to third on Friday morning after struggling with his car’s set-up. The Belgian felt his i20 N Rally1 would have benefitted from softer suspension springs but, with no service halt between loops, changes were not possible.

Nevertheless, he maintained the pressure on Evans and, after overtaking the Welshman to claim the runner-up spot in the final stage, ended 10.8sec in front.

Also feeling at odds with his car’s handling was M-Sport Ford Puma man Ott Tänak who ended a lonely fourth overall – 43.2sec adrift of Evans but with 56.4sec in hand over fifth-placed Toyota driver Takamoto Katsuta.

Sébastien Ogier’s hopes of winning his ‘home’ rally disintegrated early in the day when the Munich-based Frenchman limped through the opening stage with tyre damage caused by a broken wheel. He fought back to claim sixth, just 3.2sec ahead of Teemu Suninen.

Aside from Neuville, Suninen was the only other Hyundai driver remaining after his compatriot Esapekka Lappi crashed heavily from third overall on SS5. The Finn, starting his first asphalt rally in the car, placed seventh overall ahead of Puma youngster Grégoire Munster.

Also having his patience tested was Pierre-Louis Loubet, who dropped more than five minutes on SS8 when he went off the road and picked up wheel damage.

Saturday begins with two stages in Austria before a quick hop across the border to the Knaus Tabbert Bayerischer Wald blast in Germany. After service in Passau, the loop is repeated once more.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris 1h 13m 5.1s
2. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +36.4s
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +47.2s
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +1m 30.4s
5. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +2m 26.8s
6. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris +2m 35.9s

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-10-26 Rovanperä aims to clinch WRC title at Central European Rally
Finnish driver lines up against team-mate Elfyn Evans at all-new three-country fixture.
Friendships will be tested this week when Kalle Rovanperä vies to outdo his Toyota Gazoo Racing colleague Elfyn Evans in the fight for the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship crown.

The 23-year-old Finn sits on the verge claiming his second consecutive WRC title with Evans, more than 10 years his senior, the only driver who stands in his way. If Rovanperä can match or better the Welshman’s score at this 12th and penultimate round of the season, title number two is guaranteed.

Brand-new for 2023, Central European Rally includes stages spread across three countries - Germany, Austria and Czech Republic. The latter, well-known for its passionate rally fans, makes its debut appearance at world-level.

The asphalt route is practically all new for the WRC stars running at the head of the field. Pace notes, which the crews have made this week during recce, must be ultra-precise.

“When the fight is between team-mates it’s always quite friendly and fair with the same cars, so it should be a good one,” Rovanperä said. “I’m quite confident that it can be a good event for us. This type of asphalt rally normally suits me best and I have had some good results on these kinds of roads.”

Evans, for whom a victory would ensure the battle goes down to the wire at FORUM8 Rally Japan next month, added: “We’ll be trying everything we can to have two strong rallies to end the season and we’ll try to put the pressure on [Kalle].”

Strengthening Toyota’s charge is eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier as well as Takamoto Katsuta, who completes a four-strong GR Yaris Rally1 line-up.

Although out of contention for title glory, Thierry Neuville has exceptional credentials when it comes to competing in mixed asphalt conditions. The Belgian, a past winner of Rallye Monte-Carlo and FORUM8 Rally Japan, fields a Hyundai i20 N Rally1 alongside Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen.

Having confirmed his return to Hyundai for 2024, Rally Chile Bio Bío victor Ott Tänak will aim to end his final fixtures with M-Sport Ford on a high. The British squad also runs Puma Rally1 cars for youngsters Pierre-Louis Loubet and Grégoire Munster.

The rally starts from Czech capital Prague on Thursday afternoon. Eighteen stages totalling 310km against the clock follow before Sunday’s finish in Passau, Germany.

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-10-21 Excitement guaranteed as WRC classics combine with new and returning additions for 2024
The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is poised for another exhilarating season in 2024 after today’s (19 October) calendar reveal.

In its 52nd season, the WRC will venture to 13 captivating destinations across four continents, delivering a perfect blend of tradition and innovation that aligns with rallying’s enduring legacy.

The iconic Rallye Monte-Carlo (25 - 28 January) once again lifts the lid on the 2024 campaign, taking in the famous Col de Turini passes high in the French Alps which test drivers like no other. Following closely are the frozen forests of Rally Sweden (15 - 18 February), the only pure snow and ice fixture on the calendar.

A significant shift takes place at Safari Rally Kenya, which returns to a more traditional 28 - 31 March date, having run during June in recent years. This shift to Easter weekend will provide an even sterner test as it coincides with the beginning of Naivasha’s rainy season.

Croatia Rally (18 - 21 April) has drawn in hundreds of thousands of spectators since its WRC debut in 2021. Its unique asphalt tracks based the around the capital of Zagreb vary from smooth to badly broken and are set to return in all their glory, as will the legendary gravel tests of Vodafone Rally de Portugal (9 - 12 May) – also a huge hit with the crowds.

Mediterranean charm awaits at Rally Italia Sardegna (30 May - 2 June) before the eagerly anticipated return of ORLEN 80th Rally Poland (27 - 30 June), back after a hiatus at the sport’s top level since 2017. Poland's lightning-fast gravel roads promise a thrilling spectacle which will only be amplified further by the country’s enthusiastic fanbase.

WRC is thrilled to welcome a newcomer in Tet Rally Latvia (18 - 21 July), located in the vibrant southern coastal city of Liepaja. Building on years of success at FIA European Rally Championship level, the loose-surface fixture underscores the clear pathway for events to ascend to the global stage of WRC.

Speed enthusiasts can look forward to the high-octane Secto Rally Finland (1 - 4 August), renowned for its jaw-dropping speeds and gravity-defying jumps. The excitement then takes a different form at EKO Acropolis Rally Greece (5 - 8 September), offering a very different flavour with its winding, rocky mountain stages.

Once again, South America asserts its presence with Rally Chile Bio Bío (26 - 29 September), reaffirming the championship's global reach.

Central European Rally (31 October – 3 November) will sweep across Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany as the penultimate round before the grand finale unfolds in Asia at FORUM8 Rally Japan (21 - 24 November).

Commenting on the calendar, WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel said: “We're eagerly anticipating another action-packed season in 2024 with a calendar that not only celebrates our esteemed traditions, but also propels us into an exciting future.

“Our return to Poland and our debut in Latvia underscore our commitment to delivering a fresh and exciting WRC experience for fans and competitors alike.”

Every round of the WRC season will be broadcast live on WRC’s groundbreaking new platform Rally.TV, as well as via traditional broadcast partners around the globe.

FIA World Rally Championship calendar 2024:
25 – 28 January Rallye Monte-Carlo (Asphalt/Ice)
15 – 18 February Rally Sweden (Snow)
28 – 31 March Safari Rally Kenya (Gravel)
18 – 21 April Croatia Rally (Asphalt)
9 – 12 May Vodafone Rally de Portugal (Gravel)
30 May – 2 June Rally Italia Sardegna (Gravel)
27 – 30 June ORLEN 80th Rally Poland (Gravel)
18 – 21 July Tet Rally Latvia (Gravel)
1 – 4 August Secto Rally Finland (Gravel)
5 – 8 September EKO Acropolis Rally Greece (Gravel)
26 – 29 September Rally Chile Bio Bío (Gravel)
31 October – 3 November Central European Rally (Asphalt)
21 – 24 November FORUM8 Rally Japan (Asphalt)

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-10-03 Oliver Solberg avslutade säsongen med sin fjärde seger
VM-säsongen avslutades på bästa sätt för Oliver Solberg med seger i Rally Chile i helgen.

En perfekt genomfört tävling slutade med seger för Oliver och hans kartläsare, britten Elliott Edmondson. 25,8 sekunder skilde till tvåan Gus Greensmith, som kör för samma Toksport-team och har en likadan bil.

Genialisk och genomtänkt insats för att ta bästa möjliga hand om däcken var avgörande för triumfen.
– Däckstrategin gav verkligen resultat. Hela tävlingen har varit en brant inlärningskurva – inte minst när det gäller att ta hand om däcken, sa Oliver Solberg.

Det har blivit fyra segrar den här säsongen, varav tre i VM: Sverige, Finland och Chile. Oliver vann även EM-tävlingen Rally of Scandinavia i somras. Helgens triumf var av den mer minnesvärda sorten:
– En fantastiskt tävling. Från det att vi kom till Chile och mötte tusentals fans i starten av tävlingen tills vi körde de sista metrarna in i målet har det varit en enorm upplevelse, sa Oliver Solberg.

Oliver Solberg avslutade VM-säsongen med 91 poäng efter sju tävlingar i WRC2-klassen. Förarna väljer i förväg vilka sju individuella tävlingar de vill räkna med i sitt mästerskap.

Han fick inga VM-poäng för segern i Finland, då den inte var nominerad i Olivers mästerskap. Norrmannen Andreas Mikkelsen leder VM i WRC2 med två tävlingar kvar för hans del.
23-10-01 Tänak celebrates Chile win as Toyota wins WRC manufacturers’ title
Estonian star victorious as WRC manufacturers' title is decided in South America*.
M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja became Rally Chile Bio Bío winners for the second time on Sunday whilst rival team Toyota Gazoo Racing secured the manufacturers’ championship crown*.

Tänak, driving a Ford Puma Rally1 for M-Sport Ford, seized the lead of the South American fixture on Friday and, thanks to clever tyre tactics, built a commanding buffer which he carried through to win by 42.1sec on Sunday.

Teemu Suninen went off the road in the rally's penultimate stage and, while the Hyundai i20 N driver's demise elevated team-mate Thierry Neuville to second overall, it also opened the door for Toyota Gazoo Racing to clinch the manufacturers' title with two rallies to spare.

Suninen’s demise meant the Japanese marque needed to score four bonus points more than Hyundai, for whom Neuville was the only remaining driver, in the Wolf Power Stage. It did exactly that, with GR Yaris stars Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans setting the first and second-fastest times respectively.

“I am really proud of the team and the drivers and all the work we have done during the season,” expressed Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Jari-Matti Latvala.

“It is the earliest we have ever as Toyota Gazoo Racing got the title, so it shows we have done things right.”

Evans’ result of third overall was enough to keep the drivers’ championship battle alive as he headed points-leading GR Yaris team-mate Rovanperä, celebrating his 23rd birthday today, by 1min 4.1sec.

Rovanperä now leads the series by 31 points and could clinch the title at round 12 of 13 by scoring higher than Evans.

Almost five minutes back from the lead in a lonely fifth overall was Takamoto Katsuta, driving a similar Toyota. The remainder of the leaderboard comprised of WRC2 runners with Oliver Solberg winning the category ahead of Gus Greensmith, Sami Pajari, Yohan Rossel and Nikolay Gryazin.

Roope Korhonen, although not competing in Chile, was crowned WRC3 champion by default* after Diego Dominguez's retirement means he can no longer be caught.

The WRC returns to Europe soon for Central European Rally, a brand-new tri-country fixture. The asphalt event takes places from 26 - 29 October across Germany, Austria and Czech Republic.

*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA

Overall classification:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma 3h 6m 38.1s
2. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +42.1s
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +1m 6.9s
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +2m 11.0s
5. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +4m 41.5s
6. O Solberg / E Edmondson SWE Škoda Fabia RS +8m 18.5s

Drivers' championship standings (after round 11 of 13)
1. K Rovanperä 217pts
2. E Evans 186pts
3. T Neuville 155pts

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-10-01 Tactical Tänak strengthens Chile lead on Saturday
Estonian builds commanding 58.3s advantage on gruelling penultimate day.

Ott Tänak closed in on back-to-back Rally Chile Bio Bío triumphs by dominating Saturday to build a commanding lead.

Tänak, who drives a Ford Puma Rally1 for British team M-Sport Ford, began this penultimate leg with a small 4.2-second advantage over Hyundai Motorsport’s Teemu Suninen but ended a whopping 58.3sec clear on a day which troubled title contenders Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans.

Saturday’s speed tests were contrastingly longer, twistier and much more abrasive than Friday’s. And while Tänak’s rivals leaned towards Pirelli’s soft compound rubber for the morning loop, the Estonian’s decision to take four hard tyres with him made a world of difference.

With their tyres worn down by the time they had reached the final stage before lunchtime, Suninen, Evans and Rovanperä all leaked chunks of time. Tänak, whose hard choice boasted a longer lifespan, took full advantage and extended his lead to 47.8sec before service.

Tyre preservation remained a key factor on the repeated afternoon loop but, with the hard work done, Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja were able to manage their lead over Suninen. Victory on Sunday would ensure the pair retain a 100 per cent victory record in Chile, a rally which has featured on the WRC calendar just once previously in 2019.

“It's been an extremely good day,” Tänak admitted. “It's been working in our favour and, on the stages which were bad, we had the advantage to slow down but, when it was needed, we were able to speed up. It's not finished yet, so we need to keep it going tomorrow.”

Neuville was hindered by a slow puncture in the day’s opening stage but passed Toyota man Evans late in the morning to make it two Hyundai i20 N cars inside the top three. He and Suninen were split by 13.9sec at close of play and their standings mean that, barring any changes, Toyota Gazoo Racing will be unable to win the manufacturers’ crown on Sunday.

For Rovanperä, who ended the day 39.3sec behind Evans in fifth overall, the wait for a second drivers’ title is also likely to go on.

The Finn turns 23 on Sunday and carried a commanding 33-point lead into this 11th round of the season, but requires a score 28 points higher than team-mate Evans’ if he is to celebrate the title with two rallies remaining.

Takamoto Katsuta experienced tyre troubles of his own in SS9 but remained a lonely sixth overall in another Toyota. Behind him was WRC2 leader Oliver Solberg who, along with Gus Greensmith, passed Sami Pajari in the final stage as the Škoda Fabia driver struggled with tyre wear.

Grégoire Munster lost seven minutes when he stopped to change two wheels late in the day. His time loss allowed Yohan Rossel to complete the top 10.

Sunday’s finale boasts speed tests in Las Pataguas and El Poñen, each driven twice and punctuated by a brief 15-minute service halt. The second pass of the latter forms the Wolf Power Stage where vital bonus points are up for grabs.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma 2h 36m 16.2s
2. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Hyundai i20 N +58.3s
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +1m 12.2s
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +1m 22.9s
5. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +2m 24.0s
6. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +4m 7.2s

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-09-30 Tänak stars on pulsating Friday in Chile
Estonian driver leads as title contenders struggle on day one.
Ott Tänak led Rally Chile BioBío on Friday evening after his clever tyre strategy proved to be decisive on the opening day of the event.

M-Sport Ford Puma driver Tänak set the pace in the day’s first gravel road test at Pulperia but his fortunes soon took a dip when issues caused by a heavy landing dropped him to third. As well as winding co-driver Martin Järveoja, the impact also caused minor suspension damage and the loss of hybrid boost.

Nevertheless, it was Tänak's strategic approach to the repeated afternoon loop which helped him to reclaim the top spot. In mild spring conditions, he was the only frontrunning driver to select a tyre package consisting exclusively of soft compound Pirelli rubber, known for its superior performance but shorter lifespan.

The 2019 event winner snatched the lead from Teemu Suninen in the penultimate test and, crucially, went fastest again in the 23.32km Rio Claro finale to extend his buffer to 4.2sec overnight.

“The first one and the last one [this afternoon] were extremely tough,” said Tänak, who has been without a WRC victory since Rally Sweden in February. "When it's this hard base, it's moving so bad that you don't find any stability. But we had a good clean run, so no trouble."

Visited for the first time in four years, Chile’s flowing roads showed little mercy to title-hunting trio Kalle Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans and Thierry Neuville. All three reported exceptionally low levels of grip in the loose conditions but it was Evans who fared the best, completing the day 8.5sec back from Suninen in third.

The Welshman trails Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Rovanperä by 33 points in the drivers’ championship and a result of eighth or higher in Chile would ensure the battle continues beyond Sunday. Road opener Rovanperä suffered a half spin in the final stage and slipped to fifth overall, ending the day 11.0sec behind Hyundai’s Neuville, who trailed Evans by 15.0sec.

Traction frustrations were the least of Esapekka Lappi and Pierre-Louis Loubet’s worries. Both drivers rolled heavily early in the day and are unlikely to restart on Saturday.

Takamoto Katsuta brought his GR Yaris home in sixth place and was comfortably clear of Puma debutant Grégoire Munster, whose co-driver Louis Louka spent the morning reading pace notes from a mobile phone after accidentally leaving the paper copies in his hotel room.

Sami Pajari was eighth overall and led the WRC2 category by 13.3sec from Oliver Solberg while home hero Alberto Heller completed the top 10 in a rented Puma.

Crews journey south on Saturday to tackle the rally's longest leg. Chivilingo is up first, followed by Rio Lia - the only stage which remains unchanged from the rally's 2019 edition. Maria de las Cruces finishes within sight of the Pacific Ocean and completes the loop, which is repeated once more following service.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma 58m 43.7s
2. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Hyundai i20 N +4.2s
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +12.7s
4. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +27.7s
5. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +38.7s
6. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +45.6s

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-09-28 Rovanperä headlines Toyota’s title push at returning Rally Chile Bio Bío
South American fixture returns to the WRC calendar.

The last time Chile hosted a round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Kalle Rovanperä was just 18 years old and had yet to break into the sport’s leading category. As the championship returns to Chile this week for the first time since 2019, that landscape has changed dramatically.

Rovanperä, now 22, already holds one world title and is well on track to make it two. The Toyota Gazoo Racing team which he drives for, meanwhile, arrives in South America on the brink of clinching its third-consecutive manufacturers’ crown.

The Japanese marque could celebrate the coveted title with two rallies to spare should it manage to outscore rival squad Hyundai Motorsport by at least 13 points at this 11th round of the season. That task falls in the hands of Rovanperä and his GR Yaris-driving team-mates Elfyn Evans - second in the points - and Takamoto Katsuta.

“The last time we were here, I was driving a Rally2 car and we had a good weekend,” said Rovanperä, for whom Chile represents the first mathematical opportunity to be crowned champion for a second time.

“I think that after four years and with a lot of new stages, it is going to feel more like a new rally anyway and it’s going to be a challenging event for everyone,” he added.

Evans trails his colleague by 33 points in the drivers’ championship battle and a top-eight finish for the Welshman would ensure the fight continues.

Thierry Neuville is the only other driver still in contention, although the Hyundai star, who crashed heavily last time here, languishes a hefty 66 points back from the lead. Joining the Belgian in a three-strong i20 N line-up are Finns Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen.

Ott Tänak is the only driver to have won an FIA World Rally Championship round in Chile and did so behind the wheel of a Yaris World Rally Car. The Estonian now drives for M-Sport Ford, which fields Pumas for him, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Rally1 debutant Grégoire Munster. Local hero Albert Heller, a class winner at WRC2 level, has rented a fourth car for his home round.

Almost all 16 of the fast and smooth gravel road tests are new for this year. They take place mostly on forest tracks inland from the Pacific Ocean and near to the imposing Rio Biobió, Chile’s second biggest river.

After Thursday evening’s start ceremony in Los Ángeles, competitors face 320.98km of competition before the finish in Concepción, located 500km south of Chilean capital Santiago, on Sunday afternoon

The official Home of World Rallying:

23-09-10 Victory in Greece cements Rovanperä’s title ambitions on Sunday
Finnish prodigy edges closer to his second WRC title by winning the legendary Acropolis Rally.

Kalle Rovanperä scored his third victory of the season in Greece on Sunday afternoon to tighten his grip on this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.

The 22-year-old had looked set to bring up the rear of the podium at this 10th round but found himself topping the standings by more than two minutes after Saturday’s penultimate leg when former leaders Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier retired.

Both were sidelined by central Greece’s unforgiving rocky mountain roads, with Neuville’s Hyundai i20 N sustaining front suspension damage before Ogier, driving a Toyota GR Yaris similar to that of Rovanperä’s, stopped after SS12 with rear suspension failure after hitting a rock.

Rovanperä could afford to relax through Sunday’s three-stage finale and sealed a near-perfect weekend with the maximum five bonus points for winning the Wolf Power Stage. He headed team-mate Elfyn Evans, his closest championship challenger, by 1min 31.7sec at the finish and extended his points over the Welshman to 33 with three rounds remaining.

"Of course, it's a big relief,” said Rovanperä, who also helped grow Toyota’s manufacturers’ championship lead to 91 points over Hyundai. “After a difficult rally in Finland, we needed to come back now, even though we never left. A strong performance, starting first and finishing first is quite nice. We had a clever drive and still a good push here [in the Wolf Power Stage]."

Evans lost more than one minute on Saturday as a result of his Toyota overheating but fought back to finish runner-up after battling with Hyundai’s Dani Sordo until the very last stage.

Sordo had held the upper hand overnight but a sluggish run through Tarzan cost him the position. The Spaniard, contesting his first rally since Kenya in June, lost out by just 4.2sec after four days of competition.

Ott Tänak incurred 3min 40sec in time penalties when a water pump failure meant he was late to leave Friday’s tyre fitting zone. But the M-Sport Ford Puma driver enjoyed a relatively clean run from then onwards and climbed to an impressive fourth, albeit more than four minutes back from the lead.

Esapekka Lappi was fifth in a Hyundai ahead of sixth-placed Takamoto Katsuta while Andreas Mikkelsen passed Gus Greensmith in the penultimate stage to win the WRC2 category.

In doing so, the Norwegian moved 16 points clear of championship rival Yohan Rossel, who finished ninth overall, while Ogier completed the leaderboard.

Further down the field, William Creighton was crowned as the 2023 FIA Junior WRC champion* alongside co-driver Liam Regan. Creighton, 25, becomes the first Irish driver to win the series since the late Craig Breen achieved the feat in 2011.

The championship heads to South America later this month for round 11. Rally Chile Bio Bío returns to the WRC calendar from September 28 - October 1. The gravel road encounter is based in Concepción.

*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA

Overall classification:
1. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris 3h 0m 16.7s
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +1m 31.7s
3. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +1m 35.9s
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +4m 28.4s
5. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +6m 22.3s
6. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +7m 20.9s

Drivers' championship standings (after round 10 of 13):
1. K Rovanperä 200pts
2. E Evans 167pts
3. T Neuville 134pts

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-09-09 Rovanperä ahead after vicious Saturday in Greece
Finnish driver claims surprise lead as Ogier and Neuville sidelined by gruelling conditions.

Kalle Rovanperä is on course for a remarkable victory at EKO Acropolis Rally Greece after Saturday’s brutal penultimate leg forced fellow challengers Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier into retirement.

A furious fight in the morning became a matter of survival this afternoon as heat and punishing rock-strewn roads took a heavy toll in this 10th fixture of the FIA World Rally Championship season.

Neuville was 10.9sec clear when he thumped a hole and shattered his Hyundai i20 N’s front-right suspension on the first stage of the afternoon loop. He had trailed championship leader Rovanperä by 36 points coming into this fixture, round 10 of 13.

His demise left Ogier in control but the Frenchman, who entered the final Eleftherohori stage 12.4sec ahead of team-mate Rovanperä, swiped a rock which destroyed the rear-left suspension on his Toyota GR Yaris. He retired on the final road section while Rovanperä romped to the top.

The 22-year-old will start the final leg with a lead of more than two minutes over Hyundai Motorsport Dani’s Sordo. Victory on Sunday would move him another step closer to clinching back-to-back world titles.

“There was a lot happening at the front today,” said a slightly shocked Rovanperä. “It was a nice battle of course, but not the easiest to push with Seb because we had the championship to think about. I think we had a good day, we were fast but we also kept the car in one piece,” he added.

There was drama throughout the field as Rovanperä’s closest championship challenger Elfyn Evans limped to the finish of SS9 in EV mode when his Toyota began overheating. Having plummeted to fifth, the Welshman hauled himself back up the order only to be demoted to third by Sordo in the final test.

Sordo had ended Friday’s opening leg down in seventh but crept up the order as those around him struck trouble, and 4.1sec split the podium-sitting pair at close of play.

Despite having 3min 40sec in time penalties for being late out of Friday’s tyre fitting zone, M-Sport Ford Puma driver Tänak enjoyed a clean run in comparison to his rivals and climbed from ninth to fourth, passing fifth and sixth-placed Esapekka Lappi and Takamoto Katsuta in the process.

A transmission failure left Lappi’s Hyundai with only rear-wheel drive while a fraught run through Karoutes 2 saw Katsuta stop twice to perform wheel changes on his GR Yaris.

WRC2 runners comprised the remainder of the leaderboard, and it was Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen who led the support category after a stunning comeback drive in a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. Gus Greensmith was eighth overall while Yohan Rossel and Grégoire Munster completed the top 10.

Sunday’s finale totals 42.37km north-west of Lamia and begins with the classic Tarzan test. Double runs of Grammeni round out the event, the latter of which forms the Wolf Power Stage where bonus points are available.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris 2h 29m 40.5s
2. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +2m 4.4s
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +2m 9.4s
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +4m 49.7s
5. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +6m 16.6s
6. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +7m 2.2s

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-09-08 Fighting Neuville shades Ogier on Friday in Greece
Belgian driver overcomes late scare to lead the legendary Acropolis Rally overnight.

Thierry Neuville kept a charging Sébastien Ogier at bay to lead EKO Acropolis Rally Greece on Friday night - overcoming a late technical drama in the process.

Just 2.8sec blanketed the duelling duo after the first full day of competition at the legendary Acropolis’ 70th edition. Despite winning just one of the five gruelling gravel road tests, Neuville led from start to finish.

The Hyundai i20 N driver passed overnight pacesetter Kalle Rovanperä by going fastest through the Loutraki opener and had pulled out a 7.4sec buffer over Toyota rival Ogier going into the final stage in Elatia. But his hard work was very nearly in vain as a mechanical problem, suspected to be transmission related, hampered him throughout the 28.32km blast.

"The rear diff was slipping all the time and I couldn't go on full-throttle for first, second and third gear," Neuville explained. "I was constantly losing time and I couldn't rotate the car on the throttle, so I was struggling a lot.

"It was stressful, also because it was a challenging stage. From the first kilometre I could hear the noise from the rear diff and I was worried that I couldn't go to the end, but we managed."

Ogier, back in action for the first time since June, was poised to steal the late lead but could only claw back 5.0sec after low-hanging tree branches severed his GR Yaris’ rear wing. He believes tyre strategy will be key in Saturday’s punishing leg, which boasts over 140km of competition.

“I felt that my rear wing was missing but I had no idea why,” he said. “It's going to be a bit like this all weekend, what the tyre differences are between us, but it's a big day tomorrow."

Rovanperä scored one stage win as the rally threaded up the country following Thursday’s spectacular start in Athens. Opening the road, he was hindered by loose stones on the drying surface and trailed colleague Ogier by 25.5sec at close of play.

Just 5.5sec behind was Elfyn Evans, who struggled to make an impact despite this fixture being crucial in his bid to hunt down championship leader Rovanperä. A slow puncture in SS2 caused the Welshman minor time loss and his car, like team-mate Ogier's, also lost its rear wing in the finale.

Evans leapfrogged Esapekka Lappi in Elatia to claim fourth overall by 1.1sec, the latter forced to err on the side of caution after nursing a water leak on his Hyundai for much of the afternoon.

A stall in the final stage saw i20 N man Dani Sordo slip from fifth to seventh but the Spaniard’s frustrations were nothing compared with those of Ott Tänak, who sat ninth behind Nikolay Gryazin in an M-Sport Ford Puma.

Tänak checked out of the mid-leg tyre fitting zone 22 minutes late after repairing a technical fault, incurring a 3min 40sec time penalty. He reported the issue to be similar to that which ruled out his colleague Pierre-Louis Loubet, who retired before the day’s first stage citing “temperature issues”. There were at least some positives the Estonian could take from the day, though, as he won two special stages.

Yohan Rossel topped the WRC2 leaderboard and completed the top 10 in a Citroën C3 Rally2. The Frenchman inherited the position late in the day after Adrien Fourmaux, previous leader of the category, stopped to change a wheel.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N 55m 10.4s
2. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris +2.8s
3. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +25.5s
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +31.0s
5. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +32.1s
6. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +41.7s

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-06-06 WRC leader Rovanperä faces high stakes battle in Greece
Title fight intensifies as WRC returns from summer break.
The pressure is steadily mounting on FIA World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanperä as the Toyota Gazoo Racing star aims to keep his team-mate Elfyn Evans at bay during this week’s EKO Acropolis Rally Greece (7 - 10 September).

Rovanperä, who made history in 2022 as the youngest-ever WRC champion, had his points advantage significantly reduced after a dramatic exit from his home event, Secto Rally Finland, last month. His Welsh colleague Evans, meanwhile, won the rally and slashed his lead by more than half.

With only 25 points splitting the pair going into this tenth event of the 13-round season, any further mishaps could spell trouble for Rovanperä and potentially cost him the championship lead. Completing a four-strong GR Yaris entry are Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta and eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier, who makes his first start since winning Safari Rally Kenya in June.

“The Acropolis is a classic event and we have had some real highs and lows there in the past two years,” Rovanperä said. “It won’t be easy this time either as we will be opening the road again on Friday. But together with the team we have been working to improve for these conditions and we will definitely try our best to score some good points.”

Renowned for its punishing rocky tracks nestled in the mountains north of Athens and its traditionally scorching mid-summer conditions, the 'Rally of Gods' has held its esteemed status as a WRC classic since its inception in 1973.

However, unprecedented rainfall throughout this week has coated the stages with a thick layer of mud, presenting an extraordinary challenge for all involved. Nevertheless, every conceivable effort is being made to ensure the event proceeds as planned and in full.

Thierry Neuville headed a 1-2-3 finish for Hyundai Motorsport here 12 months ago. The Belgian, third in the standings, trails Evans by 11 points and will be hoping that history repeats itself on Greek soil. Supporting his charge are fellow i20 N drivers Esapekka Lappi and Dani Sordo.

M-Sport Ford fields a trio of Puma cars for Ott Tänak, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Greek privateer Jourdan Serderidis. Loubet, in particular, has fond memories of Greece, having clinched his maiden WRC stage win here in 2022.

After Thursday afternoon’s start in Athens, a crowd-pleasing super special stage on the capital’s stunning seafront opens the action. Three more days of competition around Loutraki and Lamia

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-08-06 Oliver Solberg körde in till seger i Finland
Klassvinsten i Rally Finland smakade guld för Oliver Solberg. Nackdelen är att den 21-åriga rallystjärnan inte tjänar något på triumfen i kampen om VM-titeln.

Framgången var den första för en Solberg i den legendariska finska VM-tävlingen. Pappa Petter Solberg lyckades aldrig vinna tävlingen. På söndagen säkrade sonen Oliver karriärens och säsongens andra seger för säsongen i WRC2-klassen
– Vi kom hit för att skaffa oss erfarenhet och slutföra tävlingen. Att vi slutade som den snabbaste bilen i klassen och 6:e plats totalt i tävlingen, är bara helt fantastiskt, sa Oliver Solberg.

Oliver vann sju av de totalt 22 specialsträckorna i VM-tävlingen. Han slog tvåan, finska Sami Pajari, med 30 sekunder till slut.

En liten besvikelse i segerglädjen är att Solberg inte tidigare listat Rally Finland som en av de sju tävlingarna under säsongen där han kör för VM-poäng.
– Så här i efterhand borde vi givetvis valt att ta VM-poäng i den här tävlingen, men så är det bara ibland. Nu är jag bara nöjd med speeden och vår prestation, sa Solberg.

Norrmannen Andreas Mikkelsen leder nu VM i WRC2-klassen totalt.

Nästa VM-tävling äger rum i Grekland om en månad.

23-08-06 Title-chasing Evans storms to Secto Rally Finland glory
Welshman closes in on WRC leader Kalle Rovanperä with second Finnish triumph.

Elfyn Evans stormed to victory at Secto Rally Finland on Sunday afternoon to keep his chances of fighting for this year’s FIA World Rally Championship title alive.

A dramatic crash for WRC-leading team-mate Kalle Rovanperä propelled Evans into the lead on Friday afternoon and the Welshman reeled off a stunning seven back-to-back stage wins on Saturday to leave closest challenger Thierry Neuville trailing in his wake.

He extended the buffer further on Sunday to triumph by 39.1sec in a Toyota GR Yaris and, with maximum points for winning the closing Wolf Power Stage, Evans slashed Rovanperä’s points advantage from 55 to 25 with four rounds remaining.

"It's been a pretty good weekend," said Evans, for whom this was a seventh career win. "Of course we're sorry for the loss of Kalle at the start of the rally but after that it's been really fantastic to drive this car - it's such a joy to be behind the wheel of on these roads and we're really happy with this one.

"It's been a fantastic atmosphere and great to have the support behind us. Of course, in terms of the championship it's also not bad and we close the gap."

Evans’ Toyota Gazoo Racing team is based near the host city of Jyväskylä and victory extended its manufacturers’ championship lead over Hyundai Motorsport to 67 points.

Changeable conditions provided furious action on the season’s fastest roads with early challengers Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi both joining Rovanperä on Friday’s list of retirements. Engine failure sidelined Tänak’s M-Sport Ford Puma while Lappi crashed his Hyundai into a tree.

Neuville enjoyed one of his strongest performances on Finland’s flat-out terrain but ultimately had no answer to Evans’ rapid pace. Remaining third in the championship after round nine, the Belgian finished with a hefty 57.6sec gap to the Toyota of Takamoto Katsuta behind.

Katsuta duelled relentlessly with Hyundai rival Teemu Suninen. The latter went all in, bravely opting to save weight by not carrying a spare wheel through the four-stage finale. But that still wasn’t enough to relegate Katsuta, who celebrated his fourth career podium and ended 4.3sec clear.

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala made a popular return to top-level competition after more than three years away. The Finn was never really in the thick of the podium battle but consistency rewarded him with fifth overall.

High attrition at the sharp end enabled Oliver Solberg, driving a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, to claim sixth overall ahead of WRC2 victor Sami Pajari. Eighth place went to WRC2 runner-up Adrien Fourmaux while Nikolay Gryazin and Andreas Mikkelsen completed the top 10.

The action continues on gravel next month with the legendary EKO Acropolis Rally Greece, based in Lamia from 7 - 10 September.

Overall classification:
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris 2h 33m 11.3s
2. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +39.1s
3. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +1m 36.7s
4. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Hyundai i20 N +1m 41.0s
5. J-M Latvala / J Hänninen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +4m 9.4s
6. O Solberg / E Edmondson SWE Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 +9m 33.6

Drivers' championship standings (after round 9 of 13):
1. K Rovanperä 170pts
2. E Evans 145pts
3. T Neuville 134pts

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-08-05 Evans powers clear on Saturday to build commanding Finland lead
Welsh driver wins seven out of eight stages to move clear of Thierry Neuville.

Elfyn Evans made major strides towards his second Secto Rally Finland triumph with a masterful attack through Saturday’s penultimate leg.

He was fastest on seven out of eight gravel road stages in the lightning-fast Finnish forests to transform what started as a 6.9sec buffer into a commanding 32.1sec stronghold in a Toyota GR Yaris, leaving Hyundai i20 N rival Thierry Neuville trailing in his wake.

Rain showers early in the day played to the Welshman’s favour and, while Neuville grappled with wheel spin in the wet conditions, Evans excelled. He was equally at home in the repeated afternoon loop where the drying gravel roads became increasingly rutted.

With championship leader Kalle Rovanperä already sidelined by a crash on Friday, victory at this ninth WRC round is essential for Evans - currently second in the points - to keep his fading title hopes alive. He was delighted with his performance on a demanding day that contained more than half the rally’s competitive distance.

"Obviously it's a nice position to be in but of course there are still more stages to come tomorrow," Evans said. "The focus will be on that now and we'll try to keep doing the same."

Although Neuville struggled to get his i20’s set-up completely dialled in with the changeable conditions, the Belgian was consistently quicker than the remainder of the field. Toyota man Takamoto Katsuta, his closest challenger, lagged almost one minute behind.

Katsuta dropped behind Hyundai's Teemu Suninen after spinning in Päijälä but reclaimed the final podium spot in SS15. He yielded the position again in the following test but surged back in front by posting a benchmark time through the Vekkula finale. The pair were split by 6.4sec at close of play.

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala was fifth, two minutes further back. The 38-year-old, who is making his first WRC start since February 2020, overshot a junction in SS17 but relished the chance to drive on his home roads.

Oliver Solberg is not registered to score WRC2 points this week but climbed to sixth overall in a Fabia RS Rally2. He headed Sami Pajari, the category leader, by 12.5sec after Jari Huttunen retired his similar Škoda with a technical issue in the afternoon.

Just four tests covering 51.64km comprise Sunday’s finale. Drivers face two runs each on the classic roads of Moksi-Sahloinen and Himos-Jämsä. The second pass of the latter forms the bonus points-paying Wolf Power Stage.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris 2h 8m 7.0s
2. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +32.1s
3. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +1m 27.8s
4. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Hyundai i20 N +1m 34.2s
5. J-M Latvala / J Hänninen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +3m 39.5s
6. O Solberg / E Edmondson SWE Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 +8m 5.0s

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-08-04 Evans leads in Finland after Rovanperä crashes on Friday
Defending champion rolls out of contention whilst leading his home rally.

Elfyn Evans was catapulted into the lead of Secto Rally Finland when team-mate Kalle Rovanperä’s golden streak came to an abrupt halt during Friday’s opening leg.

Home hero Rovanperä, who carried a commanding 55-point lead into this ninth FIA World Rally Championship round, reeled off five consecutive benchmark times in a Toyota GR Yaris and headed chasing colleague Evans by 5.7sec approaching the day’s seventh stage in Myhinpää.

But a rare mistake 11.1km after the start brought a disastrous end to the defending world champion’s day when he lost control of his GR Yaris and rolled end-over-end. Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen emerged from the wreckage unscathed despite the force of the impact being strong enough to tear a rear wheel from the car.

Evans, currently second in the points, inherited the top spot from his stranded team-mate and negotiated the remaining two stages error-free to head Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville by a mere 6.9sec overnight.

"Overall it's been an okay day," said Evans, who was frustrated to give away 2.8sec to Neuville in the Harju finale. "We're pretty happy overall and obviously we've still got a lot of driving to do tomorrow."

Mistakes were punished brutally on central Finland’s superfast gravel roads and Rovanperä wasn’t the only victory contender to come unstuck. His Hyundai-driving compatriot Esapekka Lappi crashed into a tree in SS4 whilst running fourth overall.

Ott Tänak, leader after Thursday’s evening’s super special stage in Jyväskylä city centre, retired his Puma in SS3 with terminal engine failure and his M-Sport Ford partner Pierre-Louis Loubet crashed in the same test.

Neuville’s day wasn’t without drama, either. The Belgian reported a lack of rear traction early in the day and struggled for visibility under scattered rain showers on multiple occasions. He headed Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta, who won the opening stage, by 9.5sec at close of play.

In fourth overall and within reaching distance of the podium was Teemu Suninen. The Finn is contesting his second rally aboard an i20 N Rally1 and trailed Katsuta by 12.4sec after building his speed throughout the day.

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala rounded out the top five on his first WRC start since 2020. Behind him was Jari Huttunen, who led WRC2 in a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 after leapfrogging Sami Pajari when the youngster suffered tyre damage in the penultimate stage.

Nikolay Gryazin, Oliver Solberg and Adrien Fourmaux complete the top 10 going into Saturday, host to the rally’s longest leg with eight special stages totalling 160.68km.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris 51m 34.4s
2. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +6.9s
3. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +16.4s
4. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Hyundai i20 N +28.8s
5. J-M Latvala / J Hänninen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +1m 23.7s
6. J Huttunen / A Haapala FIN Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 +3m 14.1s
23-08-02 Home ambitions await WRC leader Kalle Rovanperä
Local hero bids for maiden Secto Rally Finland triumph.

With one world title already under his belt and a second FIA World Rally Championship crown edging ever closer, life is good for Kalle Rovanperä. But despite rewriting rallying’s history books on several occasions, the 22-year-old has never managed to win on home soil.

That’s exactly what Rovanperä is setting out to do this week when Secto Rally Finland’s (3 - 6 August) rollercoaster roads play host to round nine of the 13-stop global series.

The Toyota star arrives in his hometown Jyväskylä 55 points clear at the top of the standings and eager to continue his winning streak after dominating last month’s Rally Estonia on similarly high-speed terrain.

“There’s always more excitement and huge support from all the fans and I want to try my best to win it if we can,” he said. “At the same time, we have to be clever with the championship in mind, not to waste the lead that we’ve built.”

Cars frequently top 200kph on undulating gravel 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 event marks a homecoming not just for Rovanperä, but for his entire Toyota Gazoo Racing squad. Based just outside the host city, the Japanese marque fields an additional GR Yaris car for team principal Jari-Matti Latvala.

Latvala, the most experienced driver in WRC, comes out of retirement to start his 210th WRC rally. Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda will oversee the team’s four-car entry, which also includes Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta.

“Rally Finland is always a special occasion for our team," Latvala said. “For me it’s going to be an extra-special feeling this year to get back behind the wheel on a WRC event, and my aim as a driver will be first and foremost to enjoy that experience.”

Esapekka Lappi, the last Finn to triumph on home soil in 2017, pilots an i20 N for Hyundai Motorsport. Joining him in the team is compatriot Teemu Suninen as well as Belgium’s Thierry Neuville, runner-up at the previous round.

Ott Tänak stood atop the Finland podium in 2022 and will be doing all he can to replicate that result after a time penalty dashed his chances of glory last time out. The Estonian drives a Puma for M-Sport Ford along with team-mate Pierre-Louis Loubet.

The rally gets under way in Jyväskylä on Thursday evening and finishes on Sunday afternoon after 22 speed tests covering 320.56km.

The official Home of World Rallying:

23-07-21 Rovanperä edges Neuville in raging Rally Estonia duel
Leading pair split by just 3.0s after 133.38km of lightning-fast Friday action.
Kalle Rovanperä came out on top of a thrilling battle with Thierry Neuville to lead Rally Estonia after Friday’s pulsating opening leg.

Just 3.0sec separated the duelling duo after 133.38km of thrilling competition on lightning-fast gravel roads around Estonia’s second city Tartu, host to round eight of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.

Hyundai i20 N star Neuville was quickest out of the blocks and outpaced his Finnish rival on all three of the morning’s stages to build a 6.8sec advantage at the midpoint. But the tables were turned in Rovanperä’s favour on the repeated loop later in the day.

The Toyota GR Yaris sensation posted a brace of benchmark times to reel Neuville in, snatching the top spot in Mustvee 2. The Belgian pulled back a single tenth in the following test but was ultimately no match for Rovanperä in the Neeruti finale, traversed only once.

"It seems that we did quite a clean day, said Rovanperä, winner of the past two Rally Estonia editions. We tried to push all the time without any mistakes and at the end it's not so bad. Thierry has been driving really well today so let's see tomorrow. We will both have better starting positions so I hope our pace can at least come a bit easier than today."

Esapekka Lappi’s Hyundai was put at a power disadvantage when he “jumped too far” in SS2, causing the car’s hybrid unit to cease working. Repairs were made in service and the resurgent Finn fought back to claim third overall, leapfrogging Elfyn Evans in the penultimate stage. He headed the GR Yaris-driving Welshman by 2.7sec at close of play.

Teemu Suninen was all smiles after successfully completing his first day behind the wheel of a Rally1-specification Hyundai. Although he was, at times, left speechless by the raw speed of the car, the 29-year-old set a respectable pace and trailed Evans by 16.9sec in fifth.

Pierre-Louis Loubet was sixth in a Ford Puma, a top-three time in Raanitsa 2 being the highlight of his day.

His team-mate and home favourite Ott Tänak would have been leading the rally on outright pace. However, the Estonian was dealt a five-minute time penalty prior to the start because his M-Sport Ford team carried out an engine replacement after the car developed an issue during Thursday’s shakedown.

Takamoto Katsuta lacked confidence in his Toyota and languished 16.7sec back from Loubet in seventh overall as a consequence. Behind him was WRC2 leader Andreas Mikkelsen, who led fellow Rally2 drivers Gus Greensmith and Sami Pajari overnight.

Saturday is centred around the ski resort of Otepää. Double runs of Mäeküla (10.27km) and Otepää (11.15km) are followed by a service halt before the action resumes with Elva (11.73km) and Kanepi (16.48km), both of which are driven twice. An encore of the Tartu vald stage rounds out the day.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris 1h 12m 22.2s
2. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +3.0s
3. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +12.2s
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +14.1s
5. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Hyundai i20 N +33.8s
6. P Loubet / N Gilsoul FRA Ford Puma +48.8s

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-07-19 Tänak hunts down crucial home victory at Rally Estonia
National hero aims to rescue WRC title bid with Rovanperä 42 points ahead.

Home hero Ott Tänak must get back to winning ways at Rally Estonia (20 - 23 July) if he is to reignite his fading FIA World Rally Championship hopes.

Tänak trails leader Kalle Rovanperä by 42 points in fourth place approaching round eight of 13 on Estonia’s lightning-fast gravel roads around second city Tartu. It’s a rally Tänak has won four times, but only once since it became a WRC-counting fixture in 2020.

Victory on snow and ice at Rally Sweden has been Tänak’s only success since he re-joined M-Sport Ford at the beginning of this season. He was hindered by technical failures in Mexico and Italy, while tyre troubles limited him to sixth overall in Kenya last month.

He will, however, carry the support of Estonia’s army of passionate flag-waving fans - lining the stages in their thousands.

“We've had some quite intense preparations,” revealed the Puma Rally1 Hybrid driver, who is joined in the team by Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet. “We did a pre-event test and then a small event, so it's been a big effort to make it as good as possible for Estonia. Now we are going into the second half of the season we're definitely not letting the championship go, so we feel like we need to increase our game and put everything in.”

Estonia’s gravel roads are pacy and smooth and the Baltic fixture will be one of the fastest of the season. Reigning champion Rovanperä, who drives for Toyota Gazoo Racing, has proved himself to be the master on such terrain.

Rovanperä teams up with GR Yaris colleagues Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta in search of his third consecutive Rally Estonia triumph. The Finn signed off his 2022 victory in dominant fashion, outpacing the entire field by over 20 seconds in the Wolf Power Stage.

“Last year the weather was making a difference and I hope we can have some rain this year too, because we will be opening the road again on Friday,” he said. “Like on any rally, the plan will be to aim for the win, and especially as this is one we have been so strong on before.”

Teemu Suninen returns to the WRC’s top level for the first time since 2020 at the wheel of a Hyundai i20 N. Fellow Finn Esapekka Lappi will be another sure-fire contender while Thierry Neuville, who was disqualified for carrying out unauthorised recce activities in Kenya, completes the Korean manufacturer's line-up.

The rally opens in Tartu on Thursday evening and competitors tackle 21 speed tests covering 300.42km before Sunday afternoon’s finish.

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-06-25 Oliver Solberg näst snabbast i Safari Rally Kenya
På 17 av 19 specialsträckor körde Oliver Solberg den snabbaste Rally2-bilen i Safarirallyt. Men två punkteringar kostade så mycket tid att 21-åringen slutade näst snabbast i klassen totalt i Kenya.

Till slut skilde endast 30,6 sekunder till Polacken Kajetan Kajetanowicz, som vann WRC2-klassen.

Solberg och kartläsaren Elliott Edmondson tappade mer än tolv minuter under två problematiska specialsträckor. Först försvann tio minuter på grund av en punktering, som orsakade så omfattande skador på bilen att han fick bryta tävlingens sjunde sträcka.

Följande dag drabbades duon av ytterligare en punktering, där blev tidsförlusten över två minuter.

21-åringen tog igen nästan hela den förlorade tiden.
– Varje sträcka bjöd på olika utmaningar. Vi startade tävlingen utan pressen på att samla VM-poäng och siktade på att köra snabbt och skaffa erfarenhet i världens svåraste VM-rally. De målen nådde vi, sa Oliver Solberg.

Oliver Solberg vann VM-tävlingen i Sverige i februari. Sedan dess har det blivit ytterligare tre pallplaceringar i WRC2-klassen efter fem körda VM-tävlingar hittills den här säsongen.

Oliver har startat 128 hspecialsträckor hittills i år och vunnit 59 av dem.

Nästa VM-tävling går i Estland om en månad.
23-06-25 Sensational Ogier captures Safari Rally Kenya triumph
Frenchman repels Kalle Rovanperä’s charge on nervy final day as Toyota occupies the leading quartet two years in a row.

Sébastien Ogier defied team-mate Kalle Rovanperä’s charge to head home a dream 1-2-3-4 finish for Toyota Gazoo Racing on a spectacular final day at Safari Rally Kenya.

Ogier recorded his third victory from just five starts so far this season but his rally very nearly unravelled in Sunday’s second special stage when a patch of Kenya’s infamous fesh-fesh sand sent his GR Yaris car wide on a right-hand bend.

The Frenchman, fighting hard to recover time lost to Rovanperä in the rocky opener, clipped a tree and ripped off his car’s entire rear tailgate. Amazingly winning the stage and making all the time back, he then patched the gap using a bin liner to keep dust at bay in Hell’s Gate 1.

More permanent repairs in service did not extinguish the drama, however, as all four Yaris crews completed the penultimate blast with dust-induced overheating engines. Ogier, one of the hardest hit, saw his lead whittled down to just 9.2sec before the Wolf Power Stage finale, where the eight-time world champion's run was again far from clean, arriving at the flying finish with a cracked windscreen.

He held position, triumphing by 6.7sec after four brutal days to spearhead Toyota’s second clean sweep in as many Safari Rally editions.

President William Ruto presented Ogier and co-driver Vincent Landais with their trophies, commemorating Ogier's second win at the event, amid stunning scenery at Hell's Gate.

"Unbelievable! Look at that, even on the Power Stage I got a stone on the windscreen. We had a lot of issues to face - it could have been a more comfortable rally for us in terms of pace. A lot of misfortune but we brought it home," quipped Ogier.

Finishing as runner-up had a silver lining for the title-defending Rovanperä, who extended his championship lead to 37 points after round seven of 13.

He said: “You always want to fight for the win but we did our best starting first car on the road, so regarding that I think it's not fully bad. Good points for the season anyway,” offered Rovanperä at the completion of the Wolf Power Stage.

Takamoto Katsuta’s hopes of surpassing team-mate Elfyn Evans and achieving a third Safari Rally podium vanished when his car’s hybrid unit stopped working, sapping vital performance. He settled for fourth overall, 25.3sec back from the Toyota-driving Welshman with Ogier and Rovanperä more than two minutes up the road.

Dani Sordo overcame power steering failure in SS16 to finish an isolated fifth at the end of a testing weekend for Hyundai Motorsport, which now trails Toyota by 42 points in the manufacturers’ title race.

Early podium challenger Esapekka Lappi was way down the order after being plagued by transmission issues in his i20 N while Thierry Neuville, recovering from suspension failure on Friday, could only muster eighth.

Tyre troubles earlier in the rally prevented M-Sport Ford Puma drivers Ott Tänak and Pierre-Louis Loubet from mounting any form of attack. They finished sixth and seventh respectively.

Eighth-placed Kajetan Kajetanowicz secured his second Kenyan WRC2 victory in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo. Oliver Solberg was not nominated to score points in the support category but finished ninth overall while Martin Prokop completed the top 10.

The FIA World Rally Championship returns to Europe next month when the super-fast gravel roads of Rally Estonia host round eight from 20 - 23 July.

Safari Rally Kenya Final Standings:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 3h 30m 42.5s
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +6.7s
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +2m 58.5s
4. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +3m 23.8s
5. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +5m 05.4s
6. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +9m 14.4s
23-06-24 Safari leader Ogier under pressure from Toyota team-mate Rovanperä
Chaos late on Saturday blows the battle wide open in Kenya.
Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä will go head-to-head for Safari Rally Kenya supremacy after Saturday’s final stage blew the victory fight wide open.

On a day when Toyota GR Yaris cars topped the timesheets in every single stage, Ogier looked set to end this penultimate leg comfortably in front of his championship-leading colleague, the Frenchman happy to measure his pace and keep a watchful eye on those behind after overcoming tyre damage in SS8.

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

Ogier, the last of the of the Rally1 cars into the stage, was perhaps hit harder by the conditions than any of his rivals, limping to the finish line with two slow punctures. It meant the Frenchman's advantage was sliced in half after conceding more than 15sec and he will start Sunday’s six-stage finale just 16.7sec clear at the top.

A repeat 1-2-3-4 Safari finish looks all but guaranteed for Toyota, but which driver will be heading it come tomorrow afternoon is anybody’s guess.

"It's okay," Ogier insisted. "I mean, we are still in the lead so that's the most important. It's just a case of bad luck. I think none of the drivers were really waiting for [the rain] because it's not fun, it's just about surviving."

There was more drama in the battle for the final podium spot after Esapekka Lappi, who held the place until SS12, retired his Hyundai i20 N with suspected propshaft failure.

Elfyn Evans inherited the position before being passed by Takamoto Katsuta, although the Welshman fared better in the wet weather conditions and moved back in front. 16.7sec split the Toyota-driving duo at close of play, with Rovanperä more than two minutes further up the road.

Lappi’s demise, coupled with Thierry Neuville’s Friday retirement, means that Hyundai’s hopes now rest on Dani Sordo’s shoulders. The Spaniard trailed Evans by 1min 12.3sec to hold fifth overnight with Ott Tänak almost five minutes behind.

Tänak’s Safari frustrations continued when he and co-driver Martin Järveoja stopped in Soysambu 2 to carry out their second wheel change of the week. Pierre-Louis Loubet, driving a similar M-Sport Ford Puma, held seventh despite a run-in with a bush in SS10.

Grégoire Munster’s retirement handed the WRC2 lead to Kajetan Kajetanowicz, now eighth overall. Neuville climbed to ninth by the day’s end while Oliver Solberg, who is not registered to score WRC2 points this week, completed the leaderboard.

Sunday’s finale features three stages - each run twice - located on the southern side of Lake Naivasha.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 2h 43m 49.2s
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +16.7s
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +2m 23.3s
4. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +2m 40.0s
5. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +3m 52.3s
6. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +8m 38.9s
23-06-22 Ny pulversandstrategi för Oliver Solberg
Kenyansk pulversand - så kallad "fesh fesh" - kan bli Oliver Solbergs svåraste motståndare i Safarirallyt i Kenya på midsommarhelgen.

Visserligen bjuder årets upplaga på färre sanddyner än förra året, men sanden väntas ändå bli Olivers största utmaning i hans tredje försök att bemästra världens svåraste rally.

21-åringen kör VM-tävlingen i en privat rallybil utlånad av polske Daniel Chwist. Solberg är inte nominerad för att ta VM-poäng i WRC2-klassen, där han ligger på andra plats totalt i mästerskapet efter halva säsongen.
– Erfarenheten från mina två tidigare starter i Safarirallyt är att jag måste tänka ännu mer strategiskt. I de tuffa delarna av banan måste vi köra väldigt lugnt och ta ordentligt hand om bilen och gasa på i de mer passande delarna, säger Oliver Solberg.

Kenya är olik alla andra tävlingar. 2021 fick hans bil skador i säkerhetsburen, vilket ledde till att Solberg fick bryta rallyt tidigt. Året efter genomförde Oliver tävlingen i WRC-klassen, men tappade mycket tid på grund av att sand orsakade mekaniska problem.

Tävlingen tjuvstartar med en superspecial på torsdagen. Ytterligare 18 specialsträckor kommer sedan att genomföras innan de når mållinjen i Naivasha tidigt på söndagseftermiddagen.

Oliver Solberg vann VM-tävlingen i Sverige i februari. Sedan dess har det blivit ytterligare tre pallplaceringar i WRC2-klassen efter fem körda VM-tävlingar hittills den här säsongen.
23-06-21 President Ruto flags off Safari Rally Kenya’s 70th edition
Kenyan President William Ruto was on hand in Naivasha, Kenya on Wednesday to wave off the 70th edition of Safari Rally Kenya (22 - 25 June), before being given a front-row experience to the FIA World Rally Championship.

Accompanied by Sport Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba, Ruto first visited the rally’s service park near Lake Naivasha and mingled with crews before strapping himself into the co-driver’s seat of Pierre-Louis Loubet’s M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid for a high-speed run through shakedown.

Ruto, who will return to the event on Sunday to celebrate with the winners at Hell's Gate, was taken aback by the experience.

“I don’t know what to say, that thing is crazy!” he beamed, gesturing towards Loubet’s Puma. “Absolute madness - but it is an experience you cannot forget. The sheer speed, you can hardly see the road, you can hardly see the bend. These guys are really professional, it’s a life-changing adventure.”

Ruto went on to emphasise the countrywide impact WRC is having on Kenya, adding: “It is not just about the rally car, it is not just about the drivers, it is not just about the support teams – it is a whole of Kenya event. The carnival, the excitement, the celebration - it is just that captivating.

“Millions of Kenyans are engrossed in this. We will have great difficulty tomorrow and Friday to keep everybody at work! Those who have reasons will look for those reasons, those who don’t have reasons will look for excuses. I will be working tomorrow, unfortunately for me,” he joked.

When the action gets underway in Nairobi on Thursday afternoon, championship leader Kalle Rovanperä will be the driver to beat as he hunts down back-to-back Safari wins in a Toyota GR Yaris. Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta all helped to complete a 1-2-3-4 finish for the Japanese marque here 12 months ago and all are back again this rime round.

Hyundai hopefuls Thierry Neuville, Esapekka Lappi and Dani Sordo start the rally buoyed by a double podium last time out in Italy, although Lappi admits he is entering the unknown on his maiden Safari outing.

Ott Tänak, third in the points, spearheads M-Sport Ford’s charge. The Estonian teams up with young Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet as well as Greek privateer Jourdan Serderidis in identical Puma cars.

Long straight roads where speeds could top 200kph contrast with rocky rutted tracks and deep fesh-fesh sand that can reduce cars to little more than walking pace. And, to add to the excitement, thunderstorms are predicted during the four-day encounter. If the forecasters are correct, rain could transform the dry sections into treacherous mud baths in minutes.
23-06-19 A meeting of legends: WRC stars and Eliud Kipchoge unite in Kenya
The worlds of WRC and long-distance running collide as Ott Tänak and Pierre-Louis Loubet meet marathon icon Eliud Kipchoge.

M-Sport Ford drivers Ott Tänak and Pierre-Louis Loubet showcased the spirit of unity and camaraderie in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) as they joined forces with renowned marathon world-record holder Eliud Kipchoge for a remarkable training run ahead of Safari Rally Kenya, which takes place this week (22 - 25 June).

Kipchoge, 38, is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time as the only human to ever run a marathon in under two hours. He holds the official world record of 2hrs 1min 09sec in marathon as well as boasting four of the fastest six times in history. Additionally, he has achieved two Olympic gold medals in marathon plus a silver and bronze earned in the 5,000m distance.

At an altitude of 2,400m in the scenic Kenyan highlands, Tänak, Loubet and co-driver Martin Järveoja joined Kipchoge at his training camp on the outskirts of Kaptagat. The camp united exceptional talents including women’s world-record holder Faith Kipyegon, two-time New York City Marathon winner Geoffrey Kamworor and 2009 10,000m world champion Linet Masai.

Embracing Kipchoge’s commitment to the environment, the WRC stars each planted a tree to commemorate their visit before embarking on a light jog alongside Kipchoge and his esteemed Kenyan counterparts, culminating in a visit to a local school supported by Kipchoge's charitable foundation.

Kipchoge expressed his delight at the meeting, stating: “It is good to meet other sportsmen from the other sectors. I am happy to host them and exchange knowledge. The training is different but we share the values of trust and working hard. What I have learned is they are working as a team, as we are on our side.”

“It's been a mega experience, and Eliud is quite a quick guy to have a jog with!” smiled an enthusiastic Tänak. “To see here how professional people like this are working together, it's actually not too far off from rallying. We are all people and we are all doing professional sports. Whether it’s motorsport or a marathon, both of us are pushing to the limits and trying to get the maximum out.”

Loubet echoed his team-mate’s sentiments, adding: “It was fantastic, before today I was a big fan of [Kipchoge]. My cousin is a runner so we are all fans of him in my family. To see him in reality is a great honour. He is so humble. A lot of people have to spend a day with him to understand he is such a humble guy.”

Tänak was gifted a signed pair of Kipchoge’s marathon shoes, which the Estonian graciously accepted before presenting him with one of his official racing helmets, joking with his host that he now hoped to run a marathon in under two hours whilst wearing the shoes.
23-06-14 Mexico's WRC fixture generates major economic boost
The FIA World Rally Championship's presence delivered remarkable financial growth for host state Guanajuato.
Guanajuato Secretaria de Turismo (Guanajuato Secretary of Tourism) has revealed that the 16 - 19 March event directly and indirectly contributed 695 million Pesos (35.6 million Euros) to the region, specifically to the three cities of León, Guanajuato and Silao, around which Guanajuato Rally México was based.

Close to 600,000 fans enjoyed the WRC’s first return to North America since the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to a 61 per cent hotel occupancy in the state.

Guanajuato Rally México offered six major spectator venues, starting with the spectacular rally-opening Guanajuato Street Stage on Thursday evening, where fans packed into every viewing vantage point possible inside the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The service park in León received heavy foot traffic throughout the weekend, playing host to super special stages on Friday and Saturday and the ceremonial finish on Sunday. Additional fan offerings included fan activations, an extensive street food market and a sold-out concert on Saturday evening.

Iconic stages such es El Brinco and El Chocolate once again proved incredibly popular – particularly the world famous El Brinco jump located at the end of Sunday’s rally-concluding Wolf Power Stage.

Guanajuato Secretary of Tourism Juan José Álvarez Brunel highlighted the role the WRC plays in showcasing his state to the world: “The exposure that the State has through the multiple transmissions shows our organisational capacity, the beauty of our secondary roads, the environment and the great stories that are lived in Guanajuato.”

“This edition was full of surprises with the incorporation of new municipalities and new venues that allow us to demonstrate that Guanajuato is the ideal destination for large-scale events.”

WRC Promoter’s Managing Director Jona Siebel expressed his delight at the WRC being able to return to North America after two years. “Having nearly 600,000 fans at Guanajuato Rally México reaffirms the passion that exists for rallying in North America.

“The Guanajuato street stage and El Brinco’s stages provide the WRC with their own distinct identities and it was pleasing to be once more transmitting images from these stages to our global audience.”
23-06-04 Otursförföljd helg för Oliver Solberg
Oliver Solberg hade speeden i VM-tävlingen Rally Italia Sardinien. Flera mekaniska problem och en punktering förstörde möjligheten till ett toppresultat.

21-åringen vann de två första specialsträckorna. Därefter radade motgångarna upp sig.
– Allt gick så smidigt och framförallt snabbt fram till en inbromsning efter en lång raksträcka. Fjädringen på den främre vänstra sidan kollapsade plötsligt. Vi slog inte i någonting, och jag vet inte vad som hände, sa Oliver Solberg.

Otroligt nog lyckades Solberg och kartläsaren Elliott Edmondson få tillbaka bilen i körbart skick, rullade igenom tävlingens längsta sträcka och in till service inom tidsgränsen.

Men tidsförlusten blev mer än en halvtimme, och kampen om topplaceringen var över.

Två sträckor ställdes in på fredagen, men duon avslutade dagen med snabbaste tid i WRC2-klassen då 50-kilometern Monte Lerno kördes för andra gången.

Följande dag fortsatte problemen efter att ha öppnat med ytterligare en sträckseger. En punktering och ytterligare en smäll mot bakhjulsupphängningen på grund av en sten, var bland utmaningarna som ledde till ytterligare tidsförlust.

Efter det sista sträckan under söndagen hade Solberg och Edmondson tillsammans förlorat över en timme mot klassvinnaren Andreas Mikkelsen och kartläsaren Torstein Eriksen.

Förhållandena var mycket svåra. Men vi tar med oss ??det positiva att farten var på topp så länge allt fungerade. Dessutom kämpade vi oss till mål och fick värdefull erfarenhet av tävlingen för framtiden, sa Solberg.

Nästa VM-tävling går av stapeln i Kenya den 22-25 juni.
23-06-04 Victorious Neuville reignites WRC title quest in Italy
Belgian climbs the standings as team-mate Lappi secures dream double podium for Hyundai.

Thierry Neuville vaulted from fifth to second in the FIA World Rally Championship standings on Sunday afternoon after clinching a long-awaited victory at Rally Italia Sardegna.

Belgian star Neuville headed i20 N partner Esapekka Lappi by 33.0sec in a dream 1-2 finish for Hyundai at round six of 13, scoring his 18th career success alongside co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe.

The result served as a maiden 2023 triumph for both Neuville and his team, helping the Korean marque to move within 23 points of championship-leading manufacturer Toyota Gazoo Racing.

The lead changed hands a whopping nine times during the fast and furious Mediterranean island fixture until Neuville seized the initiative when GR Yaris rival Sébastien Ogier went off the road in Saturday’s rain-hit penultimate test.

He surpassed Lappi, who celebrated his third-consecutive top-three finish, in the same stage and managed a comfortable advantage through Sunday’s four-stage finale.
“Obviously it was a challenging weekend,” said Neuville, who now trails series leader Kalle Rovanperä by 25 points. “We came here with the belief that we could fight for victory but the first day was challenging and we lost a bit of time. Yesterday we found ourselves in the lead and we had to manage it until the end.

“It's the first victory for the team this year, it's a 1-2, and the first win for our team principal [Cyril Abiteboul] as well. Craig Breen is in our memories also - we wanted the win in Croatia for him, but we got it now."

Rovanperä completed the podium in third overall, his best result out of five Rally Italia Sardegna attempts.

Although he trailed fellow Finn Lappi by 1min 22.3sec at the finish, the high rate of attrition saw him end a sizeable 3min 25.2sec clear of fourth-placed Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans. Evans struggled to get into a rhythm in his GR Yaris and dropped around three minutes on Saturday when the car’s radiator sustained damage in a water crossing.

Dani Sordo almost made it three Hyundais in the top five but retired after the day’s second stage due to exhaust failure. It brought an early end to what been a turbulent weekend for the Spaniard, having previously rolled his i20 N on Friday morning.

His demise paved the way for Andreas Mikkelsen to claim fifth overall as well as taking a surprise victory in WRC2. The Škoda

Fabia driver had trailed Adrien Fourmaux by more than half a minute before the Wolf Power Stage but the Frenchman slid off the road 1.4km into the finale.

The WRC season enters its second half with a hotly anticipated visit to Africa later this month. The legendary Safari Rally Kenya is based in Naivasha and takes place from 22 - 25 June.

Overall classification:
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N 3h 40m 1.4s
2. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +33.0s
3. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +1m 55.3s
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +5m 20.5s
5. A Mikkelsen / T Eriksen NOR Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 +9m 33.3s
6. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Hyundai i20 N Rally2 +11m 48.9s

Drivers' championship (after round 6 of 13):
1. K Rovanperä 118pts
2. T Neuville 93pts
3. S Ogier 85pts
23-06-03 Tenacious Neuville seizes Italy lead on chaotic penultimate day
Belgian driver heads Hyundai 1-2 as Sébastien Ogier goes off the road on breathless Saturday.
Thierry Neuville sits on the brink of his first triumph in 2023 having taken control of Rally Italia Sardegna on a thrilling Saturday which saw the downfall of eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier.

Neuville had trailed Ogier and Esapekka Lappi in third place since the start of this sixth round of the season - but a heavy downpour in the penultimate Erula - Tula test caused utter chaos and turned the rally on its head.

Ogier, hunting down a record fifth Italian win in a Toyota GR Yaris, entered the stage clinging onto a slender overall lead. However, in a stunning twist of fate, the Frenchman's fortunes took a dramatic downturn when he understeered off the road, veering down an embankment just 1.4km after the start.

Lappi reduced his attack upon seeing Ogier’s stricken car, inadvertently dropping over half a minute to i20 N team-mate Neuville, who was unaware of the drama unfolding behind him on the road. The Belgian climbed from third to first overall as a result of his charge and heads the Hyundai 1-2 by 36.4sec approaching Sunday’s four-stage finale.

“I am relieved to be at the finish,” admitted Neuville, who has not won a rally since Japan last year. “It was a tough day out there but the feeling was getting better and better with the car. We learned a lot, that's important, but it's still not always perfect yet and we can still improve.

“Tomorrow is a short but tricky day,” he added. “We need to have a clever drive through and try to bring home the 1-2 for the team.”

Championship leader Kalle Rovanperä was elevated to third after his team-mate’s retirement, although the Finn is unlikely to be able to trouble the frontrunning pair on outright pace alone. He trailed Lappi by 1min 14.3sec at close of play after being hampered by excessive tyre wear in the afternoon.

Perseverance paid off for Elfyn Evans, whose day was filled with setbacks. The Welshman’s Toyota sustained radiator damage in a water crossing on SS10 and he leaked almost three minutes limping back to service.

History threatened to repeat itself later in the day when Evans’ car momentarily lost power while negotiating another water splash. The misfire cleared itself shortly afterwards and he reached the finish almost four minutes behind Rovanperä in fourth overall.

Ott Tänak and Takamoto Katsuta were not as lucky and both suffered water-induced retirements. A faulty electrical sensor was to blame for M-Sport Ford man Tänak’s demise while Katsuta bowed out with radiator damage.

Their respective disappointments enabled Dani Sordo, recovering from a Friday morning roll, to climb to fifth overall. He headed WRC2 leader Adrien Fourmaux while Andreas Mikkelsen, Teemu Suninen, Emil Lindholm and Kajetan Kajetanowicz - all contesting WRC2 - completed the leaderboard.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N 3h 10m 36.9s
2. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +36.4s
3. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +1m 50.7s
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +5m 36.5s
5. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +6m 27.9s
6. A Fourmaux / A Coria FRA Ford Fiesta Rally2 +8m 11.7s
23-06-02 Lappi pips Ogier in thrilling Italy opener
Sparks fly on Friday at Rally Italia Sardegna as leading duo split by just 0.1s.
Sparks flew on Friday at Rally Italia Sardegna as Esapekka Lappi demoted Sébastien Ogier in a gripping conclusion to Friday's opening leg, claiming the tiniest of overnight leads.

After one of the most daunting days thus far in this year's FIA World Rally Championship, where crews braved over 140km of rough gravel stages in changeable weather conditions, the duelling duo found themselves separated by a mere one-tenth of a second.

Ogier, contesting his fourth rally this year aboard a Toyota GR Yaris, started on the front foot and led by a seemingly comfortable 16.3sec at the day’s halfway point having blitzed his Finnish rival through the first pass of Monte Lerno, a whopping 49.90km in length.

But the Frenchman's advantage began to erode as the same three speed tests were repeated after lunch and Lappi, charging hard in his Hyundai i20 N, delivered the perfect response in Monte Lerno 2 - ultimately claiming the lead in the day’s finale.

“There was no need to push harder, one tenth is enough!” Lappi giggled at the stop line. “I’m glad to be at the finish, that was quite a tricky stage and we got a slow left rear puncture as well, so that started to disturb a bit. But we are here, everything is okay and we are looking forward to tomorrow."

Despite grappling with an intermittently functioning handbrake, Thierry Neuville fought his way up the leaderboard to make it two Hyundais in the top three. The Belgian trailed Ogier by 18.5sec at close of play with championship leader Kalle Rovanperä another 27.5sec behind.

Rovanperä had entered the final stage down in seventh overall but the wet conditions played to the Toyota Gazoo Racing driver’s favour - and to his early starting position. He posted the benchmark time, climbing three positions in the process.

Just 1.3sec behind was Takamoto Katsuta, who suffered a fright in the morning loop when he hit a rock after running wide in a left-hand bend. The mishap cost around 20sec and kept his Toyota mechanics busy in service.

A front right puncture towards the end of Monte Lerno left Elfyn Evans 18.2sec adrift of his team-mate in sixth overall. He headed M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tänak, who overcame a failing water pump, by 4.2sec.

WRC2 runners Sami Pajari, Adrien Fourmaux and Emil Lindholm completed the top 10 while Dani Sordo languished in 12th overall. The Spaniard rolled his Hyundai in SS4, losing more than three minutes in the process.

Pierre-Louis Loubet was Friday’s only casualty. Initially running third overall, the Frenchman incurred a three-minute time penalty when he couldn’t engage any gears prior to the start of SS5. Although the issue was swiftly resolved, Loubet faced further frustrations later in the day when he beached his Puma in a Monte Lerno ditch.

Saturday’s leg boasts double runs of Coiluna - Loelle (16.28km), Su Filigosu (19.57 km), Erula - Tula (21.92km) and Tempio Pausania (9.04 km). The eight tests add up to 133.62km.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +1h 31m 48.8s
2. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris +0.1s
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +18.6s
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +46.1s
5. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +47.4s
6. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +1m 5.6s
23-06-01 Oliver Solberg kör för VM-ledning på Sardinien
En poäng skiljer Oliver Solberg (21) från ledningen i rally-VM. Målet är att visa sig värdig VM-titeln i WRC2-klassen i Rally Italia Sardinien i helgen.

Tävlingen på Sardinien har nominerats av 21-åringen till en av sju tävlingarna där han kör för poäng i kampen om VM-titeln.
– Alla de bästa förarna är anmälda till tävlingen. Därför valde vi att köra för poäng denna helgen. Samtidigt som målet är att bli världsmästare den här säsongen är det viktigt för oss att samla poäng i tävlingarna med tuffast konkurrens, säger Oliver Solberg.

Rally Italia är en av tävlingarna som varit med sedan mästerskapets start 1973, men då kördes det på blandade underlag runt Sanremo. 2004 flyttades rallyfesten till Medelhavsön Sardinien.

Vägarna är i princip täckta av sand och fint grus, men stenar, spår och andra faror lurar under ytan.
– Ändrade väderförhållanden har rapporterats under hela tävlingshelgen, men det kommer att vara lika för alla. Vi är förberedda på den utmaningen.

Tävlingens längsta specialsträcka är den ikoniska Monte Lerno, inklusive det berömda Micky-hoppet, på hela 49,92 kilometer.

Rally Italia Sardinia körs över 320,88 kilometer fördelat på 19 specialsträckor. Tävlingen avslutas tidigt på söndag eftermiddag.
23-05-31 Eager Neuville eyes redemption at Rally Italia Sardegna
Belgian driver bids to revive his FIA World Rally Championship title aspirations on Mediterranean island's gravel roads.
Thierry Neuville is determined to revive his FIA World Rally Championship title ambitions at Rally Italia Sardegna (1 - 4 June) as his Hyundai Motorsport team sets its sights on securing its first victory of the season.

Neuville began his campaign with an impressive string of podium finishes but currently finds himself fifth in the championship after disappointing results in the past two rallies. Rally Italia Sardegna - an event he has won on two occasions - presents an opportunity for him to turn his fortunes around.

Victory for team-mate Dani Sordo in 2019 and 2020, as well as former Hyundai man Ott Tänak in 2022, means the Korean manufacturer has won four of the last five Sardinia fixtures. Neuville is in high spirits, buoyed by a new approach to the set-up of his i20 N car since the previous round.

“Portugal was a tough event for us,” acknowledged Neuville, who is joined in the three-car team by Sordo and Esapekka Lappi. “I had a different set-up from Dani and Esapekka, which we think is one of the reasons why I was struggling with traction and car balance.

“Switching my car to similar settings to those of my team-mates should be beneficial in the quest for improved performance and I’m looking forward to putting this to the test.”

He is fifth in the start order for Friday's opening leg. In dry conditions, that offers a significant advantage over the early runners, 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 Kalle Rovanperä and team part-timer Sébastien Ogier lie first and third in the championship in their GR Yaris cars. Victory would see Frenchman Ogier top the event’s roll of honour, taking his total to five.

“We are excited to see how we perform,” said team principal Jari-Matti Latvala. “Kalle could pay a big penalty for needing to open the road on this event, but we will have Sébastien and Elfyn [Evans] in better positions and hopefully they have the opportunity to challenge for victory.”

Elfyn Evans drives Toyota’s third car. He and team-mate Takamoto Katsuta, who will not score manufacturers’ championship points this week, must both bounce back from retirements in Portugal.

Ott Tänak’s confidence has been growing with every kilometre aboard his M-Sport Ford Puma and the Estonian will be eager to give the car its first gravel rally triumph. Winner here last year and currently second in the points, Tänak is joined in the team by young Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet.

Known for its demanding nature, Rally Italia Sardegna is based in the island's east coast town of Olbia and is regarded as one of the toughest events on the WRC calendar.

Tracks that become increasingly rocky and abrasive in the second pass of special stages make it a punishing encounter for cars and tyres while double runs of the famous Monte Lerno test, which measures a whopping 49.90km in length, add to the challenge on Friday.

After Thursday evening’s start, competitors face 19 stages totalling 320.88km before the finish on Sunday afternoon.
23-05-23 Battle of the Champions: Ott Tänak vs. Kalle Rovanperä brings an exciting showdown between two world champions and two neighboring countries to all fans
For the first time in history, it is possible to visit two WRC events with one RALLY PASS - WRC Rally Estonia July 20-23 and Secto Rally Finland August 3-6.
EST-FIN RALLY PASS will be available from May 26 at 10:00 a.m. on the Rally Estonia and Secto Rally Finland website
"Battle of the Champions: Ott Tänak vs Kalle Rovanperä" - which of the world champions will win in the legendary rally battle of this generation?

Today, May 23, a press conference was held in the T1 center Vision Venue studio, where Rally Estonia representative Tarmo Hõbe, WRC promoter representative Philipp Maenner and Secto Rally Finland representatives Tiina Lehmonen and Markus Häkkinen presented the unique cooperation between the two World Rally Championship events, which involves both countries top drivers currently leading the whole series, Ott Tänaku and Kalle Rovanperä.

20 years ago, history was made in the Estonian autosport: in the legendary battle between the two great rally drivers of that time, Markko Märtin and Marcus Grönholm, Estonia was able to defeat Finland. To the delight of all Estonian rally fans, Markko Märtin and Michael Park became the winners of the Jyväskylä World Rally Championship. In the meantime, 20 years have passed, but the friendly competition between the top drivers of the World Rally Championship is still very intense. And now, when Ott Tänak and Kalle Rovanperä keep the tension and adrenaline in the competition between Estonia and Finland, it's time to bring "Battle of the Champions: Ott Tänak vs. Kalle Rovanperä" to all rally fans - which of the world champions will win in the legendary battle of this generation?

As a result of cooperation between the two WRC event organizers in Estonia and Finland, a rally pass has been created for the first time in history, which allows access to two WRC events – WRC Rally Estonia in July and Secto Rally Finland in August. The EST-FIN RALLY PASS will be available from May 26 at 10:00 a.m. in the Rally Estonia website, Secto Rally Finland website and on Tallink channels.

Commercial Director of WRC Rally Estonia, Tarmo Hõbe: ’’At this exact moment in the whole WRC series is a very unique situatuon, where the two neighbouring countries have both a WRC round taking place and the Estonian and Finnish top drivers, Ott and Kalle compete relentlessly in order to win this year’s Championship title. Rallying is very popular in both countries, one can even say that the estonians and finns are a true rally nation. Extra excitement is added by the fact, that Ott has one win in Estonia whereas Kalle has two, but in the finnish event Ott has won three times, whilst Kalle is hoping to open his winning score in his home country soon. Midsummer nature is stunningly beautiful in both Tartu and Jyväskylä and it is a great opportunity to discover what the countries have to offer and enjoy the adrenaliine-filled competition. We would like to invite all Estonian and Finnish fans to come to the stages and bring your flags, let’s make it an unforgettable Battle of the Champions!’’

Chief Operating Officer of AKK Sports Ltd, Promoter of Secto Rally Finland, Markus Häkkinen:
The idea for this unique opportunity for the EST-FIN co-operation was born already during last year’s Secto Rally Finland, but really after Kalle’s World Championship win it became clear, that if this kind of joint rally pass will be introduced to spectators, then the right time for it was now. We are very pleased that our Estonian colleagues were super excited about the idea of this completely new kind of co-operation in the whole WRC series. Now, what we have in hand is a product that offers the loyal fans of both rallies – like we say in Secto Rally Finland “More Than a Rally”, but in this case more than doubled.

All rally fans have a very important role to help the hero of their country to a certain victory, that's why we are welcoming all fans to join us on the stages with their nation flags, to determine which flag colors dominate the battle between the fans.

WRC Rally Estonia will be held on July 20 to 23 in Tartu and on the roads of Tartu, Otepää, Elva, Kanepi, Kambja, Peipsiääre, Mustvee and Kastre parishes. Just two weeks later, the WRC carousel will head to Finland, where the Secto Rally Finland will be held on the August 3-6.
23-05-14 Bara nästan för Oliver Solberg i sekundstriden om segern
Endast 1,2 sekunder skiljde Oliver Solberg från säsongens andra VM-seger i Rally Portugal under söndagen.

Oliver vann sju av 19 specialsträckor i tävlingen. Andraplatsen totalt i WRC2-klassen förde Solberg betydligt närmare toppen i kampen om titeln – bara en poäng bakom VM-ledaren Yohan Rossel.

Britten Gus Greensmith och hans svenska kartläsare Jonas Andersson vann. Trea blev de norska ekipaget Andreas Mikkelsen och Torstein Eriksen.

Tillsammans med kartläsaren Elliott Edmondson ledde 21-åringen WRC2-klassen med över en halv minut på lördagen. Men under natten till söndag fick Solberg ett tidsstraff på en minut. Rallystjärnan ville visa upp sig för publiken med två donuts efter att ha avslutat dagens sista specialsträcka inne på rallycrossbanan i Lousada. Han bröt därmed mot tävlingens regler.
– Tyvärr glömde jag helt bort den regeln. Det enda jag tänkte på var att ge åskådarna lite extra show, sa Oliver Solberg.

Tidsstraffet skickade ner honom till en andra plats, 24,6 sekunder bakom Greensmith.

Solberg vann alla fyra specialsträckorna den avslutande dagen och slutade endast 1,2 sekunder bakom vinnaren till slut.
– Vi försökte allt vi kunde, men det gick inte. Det är bara att gratulera Greensmith och Andersson.

Oliver Solberg vann VM-tävlingen i Sverige och hade två raka tredjeplatser från Mexiko och Kroatien inför tävlingen i Portugal.

Nästa VM-tävling kommer att äga rum på Medelhavsön Sardinien första helgen i juni.
23-05-14 Rovanperä returns to the top with Rally de Portugal triumph
Finnish star seizes FIA World Rally Championship lead with dominant victory at round five.

Kalle Rovanperä vaulted to the top of the FIA World Rally Championship standings with a dominant Vodafone Rally de Portugal victory on Sunday afternoon, confirming his second consecutive triumph at the Matosinhos-based event.

The Finn, who had not stood atop the podium since his title-winning run in New Zealand last season, now boasts a 17-point advantage over Ott Tänak five events into this 13-round season.

Rovanperä seized control of the rally when Tänak suffered wheel damage on Friday afternoon, establishing a slender 10.7-second lead by the end of the opening leg.

Unstoppable on Saturday, the Toyota GR Yaris man unleashed a masterful display of five stage wins and widened the gap to a commanding 57.5sec before effortlessly negotiating Sunday’s four-stage finale 54.7sec clear of second-placed Dani Sordo.

"It has been too long coming, but finally we are back," Rovanperä said. "I have to say a big thank you to Jonne (Halttunen, co-driver) and the team. They have been pushing all the time and going forward."

Esapekka Lappi made it two i20 N cars inside the top three, scoring his second podium finish in as many rallies. His result helped Hyundai to stay within 32 points of championship-leading manufacturer Toyota Gazoo Racing.

Thierry Neuville began the day in third but a broken turbocharger left his Hyundai severely down on power. Time poured away as he limped through the closing stages, allowing M-Sport Ford Puma man Ott Tänak to claim fourth overall while he frustratingly settled for fifth.

There was an exhilarating conclusion to the WRC2 battle as Gus Greensmith claimed the spoils by just 1.2sec from Škoda Fabia rival Oliver Solberg. The latter had led by 35.4sec overnight before being lumbered with a one-minute time penalty.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Yohan Rossel and Teemu Suninen - also contesting WRC2 - completed the leaderboard.

The 56th edition of Portugal’s biggest sporting event attracted 400,000 spectators, helping to secure its place on the WRC calendar in 2024. WRC Promoter Managing Director Jona Siebel and Automóvel Club de Portugal (ACP) President Carlos Barbosa agreed a return in 2024 with an option for 2025.

Competitors face more hot weather and rough roads as the WRC moves to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia next month. Rally Italia Sardegna is based in Olbia on 1 - 4 June.

Overall classification
1. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris 3h 35m 11.7s
2. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +54.7s
3. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +1min 20.3s
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +2m 4.1s
5. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +8m 22.5s
6. G Greensmith / J Andersson GBR Škoda Fabia +9m 43.4s

Drivers' championship (after round 5 of 13):
1. K Rovanperä 98pts
2. O Tänak 81pts
3. S Ogier 69pts
23-05-13 Dialled-in Rovanperä powers towards Rally de Portugal crown
Finn places iron grip on rally lead with dominant drive on Saturday.
Just four stages stand between Kalle Rovanperä and his first triumph of 2023 after the Finn obliterated his rivals on Saturday at Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

Unyielding and unstoppable, the Toyota GR Yaris star unleashed an onslaught of raw speed as he romped to fastest times on five of the seven gruelling gravel speed tests. What started as a modest lead of 10.7sec overnight was transformed into a mighty advantage of almost one minute by close of play on the penultimate day.

Rovanperä launched his attack from the outset, more than quadrupling his lead before the mid-leg halt. He delivered further blows when the classic roads of Vieira do Minho and Amarante were repeated after service, widening the gap further in rough and dusty conditions reminiscent of Safari Rally Kenya.

The 22-year-old, who is yet to win a rally so far this season, enters Sunday’s finale 57.5sec ahead of Hyundai Motorsport’s Dani Sordo.

Sordo, starting his third round of the season, quickly diverted his attention to the chasing i20 N cars of team-mates Esapekka Lappi and Thierry Neuville.

Lappi closed in on the Spaniard early in the day, climbing from fifth to third overall on the first pass of Vieira do Minho. But the Finn’s pace faded in the afternoon and he was passed by Neuville, who finished a mere 2.3sec ahead of him and 11.1sec adrift of Sordo.

Pierre-Louis Loubet retired close to the finish of Amarante 1 when a heavy impact damaged his Ford Puma’s steering, allowing M-Sport Ford team-mate Ott Tänak to profit by seizing fifth overall. The Estonian dropped time with wheel damage on Friday and languishes 2min 21.8sec back from the lead after an off-pace day.

WRC2 cars filled the remainder of the leaderboard, headed by leader Oliver Solberg in a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. Gus Greensmith, Yohan Rossel, Andreas Mikkelsen and Teemu Suninen completed the top 10.

Sunday’s finale is all about the extraordinary Fafe, its big jump before the finish and its crowds. Four tests clustered around the town total 55.42km, with the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage in Fafe offering vital bonus points.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris 2h 59m 48.6s
2. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +57.5s
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +1m 8.6s
4. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +1m 10.9s
5. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +2m 21.8s
6. O Solberg / E Edmondson SWE Škoda Fabia +8m 8.3s

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-05-12 Kalle Rovanperä ahead after brutal Friday at Rally de Portugal
Finnish driver heads Dani Sordo by 10.7s after vicious opening day.
Kalle Rovanperä mastered a brutal opening leg at Vodafone Rally de Portugal to head Hyundai Motorsport rival Dani Sordo overnight.

A thrilling fight in the morning became a matter of survival in the afternoon as heat, dust and punishing rock-strewn roads took a heavy toll in this fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship season.

While several of his rivals faltered, Rovanperä won three of the eight special stages in a Toyota GR Yaris to head Sordo by 10.7sec after more than 120km of action during which three different drivers led.

Rovanperä was plagued by excessive understeer in the opening two stages but set-up adjustments later in the morning transformed his car.

The Finn surpassed Sordo, who inherited the top spot when Ott Tänak’s Ford Puma sustained wheel damage in Lousã 2, and extended his advantage further when the Spaniard overshot a junction in the penultimate stage.

"It has been a really good day," said Rovanperä. "Lots of cleaning, but still we did a steady day. We were fast but we also took care of the car and the tyres."

Sordo’s i20 N team-mate Thierry Neuville was third, 15.2sec behind. The Belgian reclaimed the final podium spot in the Figueira da Foz super special, leapfrogging colleague Esapekka Lappi and M-Sport Ford youngster Pierre-Louis Loubet in the process. Just 1.3sec blanketed the three drivers at close of play, with Loubet edging Lappi in the finale to take fourth overall by 0.3sec.

Fourth was well-deserved for Loubet. After winning the opener, the Frenchman then verged on retirement when his car caught fire on the stop line of Arganil 1. He and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul were able to continue after extinguishing the flames, later tracing the cause to their Puma’s exhaust.

“The car started to have fire, one kilometre before the end of the stage,” Loubet said. “We don’t have luck this year, it’s crazy.”

Tänak recovered to end the day sixth overall, while the remaining positions on the leaderboard were dominated by WRC2 cars. Oliver Solberg led Gus Greensmith, with Yohan Rossel and Andreas Mikkelsen rounding out the top 10.

Championship leader Elfyn Evans retired after crashing his Toyota in Mortágua. His team-mate Takamoto Katsuta bowed out earlier in the day with alternator failure.

If Friday was tough, Saturday is just as daunting. Almost 150km is packed into two loops of three speed tests. Crews have the respite of mid-leg service and a super special stage at Lousada rounds out the day’s action.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris 1h 22m 27.7s
2. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +10.7s
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +26.0s
4. P Loubet / N Gilsoul FRA Ford Puma +26.9s
5. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +27.3s
6. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +1m 4.7s

23-05-11 Tuff kamp om VM-poäng för Oliver Solberg
Oliver Solberg (21) kommer att ha ett väldigt starkt startfält att fightas emot i VM-tävlingen Rally Portugal i helgen.

De flesta av de bästa rallyförarna i världen är där. Kampen om VM-poängen i Rally2-klassen kommer att bli mycket tuff. Solberg ligger trea totalt i kampen om VM-titeln när den femte av totalt 13 VM-tävlingar drar igång på fredagsmorgonen.
– Specialsträckorna, fansen och stämningen i Rally Portugal är väldigt speciell. Vägarna är krävande; mycket fina i början av rallyt, men de kommer att bli tuffare och mer utmanande ju mer de körs. Jag ser i alla fall verkligen fram emot att få starta tävlingen, säger Oliver Solberg.

21-åringen och kartläsaren Elliott Edmondson var snabbast i Rally2-klassen vid shakedown på torsdagsmorgonen.

Oliver har kört Rally Portugal två gånger tidigare. Bästa placering är en femteplats 2021.

Tävlingen är hans 80:e i karriären – varav 20 har slutat med seger. Den förra triumfen kom i Rally Sweden för exakt tre månader sedan.

VM-tävlingen i Portugal är en av de äldsta (1967) och populäraste inom rallycirkusen. Vägarna i områdena runt nordöstra och söder om Porto är snabba och tekniska.

Loppet startar på fredag ??morgon och avslutas efter 19 körda specialsträckor tidigt på söndagseftermiddagen.
23-05-10 Red-hot battle for WRC supremacy rages on in Portugal
Thrilling WRC season continues at legendary gravel fixture.
The FIA World Rally Championship is in the thick of one of its most intense seasons in recent memory as Vodafone Rally de Portugal (11 - 14 May) looms ahead.

With a mere 11 points separating the leading five drivers, this fifth round could set the tone for the remainder of the season. Portugal, a legendary founding event of the WRC, kickstarts a series of gruelling gravel challenges, seven in a row.

Toyota Gazoo Racing star Elfyn Evans seized the joint championship lead with a classy victory in Croatia last month. Pressure on the Welshman has been well and truly cranked up this time out, especially with his table-topping team-mate Sébastien Ogier absent from competition.

Opening the road in Friday’s first leg, Evans will face the challenge of low grip on slippery sand-coated roads as he sweeps away loose dirt to leave a cleaner line for those behind.

“We’re into a busy period now with rallies coming thick and fast, and Portugal is the start of a string of gravel events,” he said. “We will just have to try and maximise our performance in the loose conditions we will face on Friday and see what’s possible.”

Defending champion Kalle Rovanperä knows exactly what it takes to win from the front and did exactly that 12 months ago. The Finn, who joins Evans and Takamoto Katsuta in a three-strong Toyota entry, is still searching for his first triumph of 2023 and sits second in the points.

Esapekka Lappi will be eager to build on the podium result he achieved last time out, his first in Hyundai colours. Thierry Neuville drives a similar i20 N car along with Dani Sordo, a six-time podium finisher in Portugal.

Ott Tänak, fourth in the points, headlines M-Sport Ford’s Puma attack. The Estonian, victorious in Portugal back in 2019, partners with French driver Pierre-Louis Loubet to challenge for top honours.

The rally is based in the coastal city of Matosinhos. After Thursday night’s start in Coimbra, competitors face 19 speed tests covering 329.06km in north and central Portugal. It finishes on Sunday afternoon after a finale over the iconic roads of Fafe.

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-04-23 Tredje plats för Oliver Solberg i Rally Kroatien
I kampen om tiondelarna lyckades Oliver Solberg avancera till en tredje plats totalt i WRC2-klassen på den allra sista specialsträckan i Rally Kroatien under söndagen.

Inför det sista sträckan låg 21-åringen 7/10 sekund bakom finnen Emil Lindholm. Den regerande WRC2-världsmästaren lyckades inte hålla Solberg bakom sig. 2,1 sekunder skilde slutligen duon åt i kampen om tredjeplatsen.

Fransmannen Yohan Rossel vann 16,1 sekunder före ryssen Nikolay Gryazin. 1.25,4 minut skiljde vinnaren och Oliver Solberg åt efter målgång.

Oliver tog totalt tre sträcksegrar i tävlingen.
– Det var fantastiskt att kunna knipa de nödvändiga sekunderna och ta sig upp på pallen på den sista sträckan. Vi missade lite på bilens set-up i början av tävlingen så vi hängde inte riktigt med under fredagseftermiddagen. Det tog oss några sträckor innan vi hittade en passade set-up, sa Oliver Solberg.

Han var inte nominerad för att ta VM-poäng i tävlingen. Detta gjorde att 21-åringen fick friare tyglar för att få mer erfarenhet av bilen och de kroatiska asfaltvägarna för framtida tävlingar. Rossel leder VM totalt med tio poäng efter att han även vunnit Rally Monte-Carlo i början av säsongen. Lindholm ligger tvåa, en poäng före Solberg, men med en mer tävling körd.

Solberg vann VM-tävlingen i WRC2-klassen på hemmaplan i Sverige för drygt två månader sedan.

Nästa tävling, den femte för säsongen, går av stapeln i Portugal den 11-14 maj.
23-04-23 Evans powers to dominant Croatia Rally win
Welsh driver soars to the top of the championship standings with long-awaited triumph.

Elfyn Evans stormed to victory at Croatia Rally on Sunday afternoon, soaring to the top of the FIA World Rally Championship standings in the process.

An error from Thierry Neuville on Saturday morning propelled the Welshman to first overall, and he distanced himself from M-Sport Ford Puma driver Ott Tänak across the rest of the rally to win by 27.0sec in a Toyota GR Yaris.

The triumph, his first since Secto Rally Finland in 2021 and the first of his career on asphalt, elevated Evans from fifth to equal-first in the drivers’ championship standings. He is tied on points with Sébastien Ogier after round four of 13, with Kalle Rovanperä just a single point behind and Tänak three more in arrears.

“Obviously we’ve been working towards this for a long time, but it all feels so insignificant at the moment – that’s the bottom line,” said Evans, referencing the passing of friend and driver Craig Breen.

“After the focus of the weekend, we’re all back to missing our friend now. Straightaway after coming across the finish line, that’s all we can think about. We promised Craig’s family we would enjoy the weekend, and we’ve done that. We’re all thinking of them right now.”

His Toyota Gazoo Racing team preserved its unbeaten Croatia Rally record whilst also increasing its manufacturers’ championship lead over Hyundai Motorsport to 29 points.

The season’s first pure asphalt fixture delivered tremendous action, and Tänak looked set to become a real threat to Evans as he set a furious pace early on Saturday afternoon. However, a transmission issue later on the penultimate day obstructed the Estonian’s charge and he cruised to the finish 31.6sec clear of Esapekka Lappi.

Lappi lacked confidence on some of the dirtier sections of road, but consistency rewarded him with his first Hyundai i20 N podium – a welcome boost after crashing out from the lead in the previous round.

Behind him were a trio of Toyotas headed by defending champion Rovanperä, 19.7sec in arrears. The Finn had languished outside of the top ten after changing a wheel in SS2 on Friday, but hauled himself back up the leaderboard with an impressive recovery drive. He surpassed Sébastien Ogier on the final morning to claim fourth overall, edging his team-mate by just 9.7sec.

Ogier, who solely led the championship before this rally, was left to rue what could have been. Although he trailed victor Evans by 1min28.0sec at the finish, he also stopped to change a wheel whilst leading on Friday and received further blows in the form of time penalties. In total, the time loss amounted to roughly two-and-a-half minutes.

Takamoto Katsuta made it four Toyotas in the top six ahead of Pierre-Louis Loubet, who nursed his Puma to the finish with bent steering. WRC2 winner Yohan Rossel, Nikolay Gryazin and Oliver Solberg completed the leaderboard.

The series returns to gravel next month for Vodafone Rally de Portugal. The fifth round is based at Matosinhos on 11 - 14 May.

Final positions:
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris 2hr 50min 54.3sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +27.0sec
3. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +58.6sec
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +1min 18.3sec
5. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris +1min 28.0sec
6. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +2min 22.5sec

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-04-22 Resurgent Evans takes command on Saturday in Croatia
Welshman leaves struggling Ott Tänak trailing while Thierry Neuville retires on penultimate day.

Elfyn Evans is verging on a long-elusive FIA World Rally Championship victory after seizing the Croatia Rally lead in Saturday’s penultimate leg.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver assumed control of the gruelling asphalt event early in the day when Thierry Neuville, who had led by 5.7sec on Friday evening, crashed into retirement on the second stage.

Neuville’s Hyundai i20 N stepped out of line and collided with a concrete block which caused severe damage to the wheel and suspension components. His exit handed Evans a healthy lead of 22.6sec at the day’s halfway point.

The dynamic changed when Ott Tänak cranked up the heat after service in Croatian capital Zagreb, slashing Evans’ buffer by almost half with two stages remaining. However, the Estonian was impeded by a technical fault which cost valuable time late in the day and ended 25.4sec back from the lead.

A victory for Evans, should he succeed in keeping Tänak at bay, would be his first since the 2021 Secto Rally Finland over 18 months ago.

“If Ott had problems, I wouldn’t wish that on him,” the Welshman said. “It’s not nice to exploit a gap like that, but okay, there’s still a long way to go.”

Esapekka Lappi brought his Hyundai home a distant third overall despite lacking confidence in some of the gravel-polluted sections. A half spin in SS13 did not help matters although the Finn pressed harder in the afternoon and trailed Tänak by half a minute at close of play.

Sébastien Ogier started on the back foot having been handed a one-minute time penalty for a safety breach on Friday evening. He was then lumbered with a further 10-second sanction after a technical issue on the road section caused him to check in late to the first stage.

But the Yaris man, winner here in 2021, climbed from seventh to fourth overall after romping to three fastest stage times. Behind him were team-mates Kalle Rovanperä and Takamoto Katsuta, both of whom leapfrogged Pierre-Louis Loubet as he struggled to find traction on hard compound tyres.

Yohan Rossel remained in the lead of the WRC2 category and held eighth overall ahead of Nikolay Gryazin and Emil Lindholm, who completed the leaderboard.

Sunday’s finale north of Zagreb features the widest roads of the weekend. The opening Trakošcan - Vrbno (13.15km) starts close to a 13th century lakeside castle amid stunning scenery and is followed by Zagorska Sela - Kumrovec (14.09km). Both are driven twice, taking the day’s total to 54.48km.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris 2hr 20min 5.7sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +25.4sec
3. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +55.4sec
4. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris +1min 49.4sec
5. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +1min 51.4sec
6. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +2min 25.9sec
23-04-21 Neuville heads Evans on action-packed Friday in Croatia
Frontrunning pair split by just 5.7s as championship leader Ogier hits trouble on day one.
Thierry Neuville led throughout Friday’s treacherous opening leg despite only winning one stage of Croatia Rally.

It was the Hyundai i20 N driver’s consistency which ultimately came to the fore as asphalt roads in the hills west of capital city Zagreb tested the mettle of the FIA World Rally Championship’s leading crews. He ended the gruelling day just 5.7sec clear of second-placed challenger Elfyn Evans.

Neuville was unhappy with his car’s morning set-up but swooped into the lead after SS2 when championship leader Sébastien Ogier, winner of the day’s opener, dropped over one and a half minutes carrying out a mid-stage wheel change on his Toyota GR Yaris.

The Belgian remained at the helm throughout the afternoon although Evans, driving another Toyota, sliced his advantage by more than half as scattered rain clouds loomed over the stages. Both drivers stuck with a mixed combination of hard and soft compound Pirelli tyres, which proved to be the best choice.

"We have done a decent job, but it hasn't been easy at all," Neuville admitted. "It was a bit better at the end of the day and I am really happy that we had a bit more fun in the car this afternoon. Hopefully we can finish in first place at the end - that would be a great achievement for the team and for us."

One driver for whom tyre gambles did not pay off was Ott Tänak. The Estonian bolted wet weather rubber onto his M-Sport Ford Puma for Stojdraga - Hartje 2, however, conditions remained mostly dry and he fell behind Esapekka Lappi after dropping 17.0sec.

Tänak responded in the penultimate stage by ousting the Hyundai man to reclaim third overall, reaching the overnight halt 3.4sec clear of his rival and 24.3sec adrift of Evans. Ogier, meanwhile, valiantly fought his way back up to fifth, another 50.3sec in arrears.

Takamoto Katsuta overtook Pierre-Louis Loubet in the final stage to grab sixth, while Kalle Rovanperä languished in eighth overall. The Yaris youngster won last year’s fixture but currently trails the frontrunners by over two minutes after he too stopped to change a wheel at the same location as team-mate Ogier.

WRC2 leader Yohan Rossel was ninth and held a sizeable 29.9sec advantage over Nikolay Gryazin, second in the category.

Saturday’s second leg follows a similar format with four stages, driven morning and afternoon, totalling 116.60km.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N 1hr 16min 2.4sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +5.7sec
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +30.0sec
4. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +33.4sec
5. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris +1min 23.7sec
6. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +1min 52.1sec

23-04-20 VM-tävling utan poängpress för Oliver Solberg
Oliver Solberg kör VM-tävlingen Rally Kroatien i helgen utan press att samla VM-poäng.

Oliver är inte nominerad att ta VM-poäng i tävlingen. Därmed kan 21-åringen få friare tyglar för att få mer erfarenhet av bilen och de kroatiska asfaltvägarna inför framtida tävlingar.

Solberg vann VM-tävlingen i WRC2-klassen på hemmaplan i Sverige för drygt två månader sedan. Han leder mästerskapet totalt efter en vinst och en tredjeplats (Mexiko) i de två senaste tävlingarna.
– En månad utan tävling känns som en lång tid, men vi har utnyttjat tiden väl. Inledningen av säsongen har varit mycket lovande med bra prestationer och många sträcksegrar på tävlingarna, säger Oliver Solberg.

Det har blivit 28 sträcksegrar på 55 försök hittills under säsongen – inklusive Rally Monte-Carlo, där han inte heller var nominerad för att ta VM-poäng.

I Rally Kroatien förväntas stora förändringar i väderförhållandena och därmed även i underlaget. Asfalttävlingen är tekniskt utmanande och däckstrategin förväntas spela en avgörande roll.

Rally Kroatien startar på fredag morgon och avslutas efter 20 specialsträckor tidigt på söndag eftermiddag.
23-04-19 Sébastien Ogier aims for Toyota hat-trick at Croatia Rally
Frenchman bids to maintain Toyota's stronghold at first pure asphalt fixture of the 2023 season.

As an eight-time FIA World Rally Champion, Sébastien Ogier is no stranger to starting on the front foot. And that’s exactly where he finds himself ahead of this week’s Croatia Rally (20 - 23 April), the first pure asphalt fixture of the year.

Frenchman Ogier arrives in Croatia with a three-point lead over Thierry Neuville. Neuville and Hyundai Motorsport team-mate Esapekka Lappi’s i20 N cars will carry a special livery in memory of beloved colleague and WRC family member Craig Breen, who tragically lost his life last week.

But defending his early-season advantage is not the primary objective for Ogier, who only competes on a part-time basis. Instead, the ultimate prize would be to complete a Croatian treble for his Toyota Gazoo Racing squad.

Ogier clinched victory at the inaugural Croatia Rally in 2021 but sat out last year's event, which was won by his GR Yaris team-mate Kalle Rovanperä.

“Even if the mindset is different without the [full] championship, I still have the same aim to perform at my best and score some wins and good points for the team,” Ogier said.

“Croatia is a difficult one, but recently I have been pretty strong on Tarmac. It was kind of natural for the team and me to decide to go back to Croatia.”

Only Ogier and Rovanperä are nominated to score points for Toyota Gazoo Racing this week. Out of respect for Hyundai, which now fields only two cars, the Japanese marque has withdrawn Elfyn Evans from the manufacturers’ championship battle at this rally. The Welshman, however, remains eligible to score drivers’ championship points alongside Takamoto Katsuta, who drives a fourth Yaris.

Ott Tänak is M-Sport Ford’s frontrunner. The Estonian, who lies fourth in the standings, is joined by Pierre-Louis Loubet, and will be eager to make amends after being hampered by mechanical woes last time out.

The rally starts in capital city Zagreb on Thursday evening ahead of three days of competition on asphalt which varies from smooth to broken and features many tricky crests and jumps. The 20 stages cover 301.26km.

23-03-20 Oliver Solberg försvarade VM-ledningen i Mexiko
Endast en punktering under fredagen hindrade Oliver Solberg (21) från ytterligare en seger WRC2-klassen i rally-VM i helgen.

Trots det lyckades Solberg köra upp sig till tredje plats i Rally Mexico efter att ha vunnit tio av de 19 avklarade specialsträckorna. Oliver kom i mål 1.06,2 minuter efter teamkamraten Gus Greensmith från Storbritannien. Finnen Emil Lindholm – även han teamkamrat i Toksport WRT – kom tvåa, 33,3 sekunder före Solberg.

Han vann sin första poänggivande VM-tävling för säsongen på hemmaplan i Sverige förra månaden och leder nu WRC2-mästerskapet totalt.

Om inte Oliver hade tappat 1,40 minuter på den åttonde sträckan på grund av en punktering, skulle 21-åringen kunnat slåss om segern i WRC 2-klassen.
– En väldigt rolig tävlingshelg med bra bil och bra fart. Utan punkteringen i fredags vet vi att det kunde ha blivit ett ännu bättre resultat. Jag är otroligt nöjd med att vi lyckades slå tillbaka och komma på pallen, sa Oliver Solberg.

Fyra av tävlingens specialsträckor ställdes in på grund av olyckor som lyckligtvis slutade utan några personskador.

På det näst sista sträckan uppstod ett motorproblem för Solberg och kartläsaren Elliott Edmondson. Som ett resultat av det fick duon fullfölja tävlingen på tre cylindrar, men lyckades behålla sin pallplats.

Nästa VM-tävling äger rum i Kroatien helgen 20-23 april.
23-03-20 Seventh heaven for triumphant Ogier in Mexico
Frenchman tops Rally México roll of honour after claiming record seventh victory at gruelling gravel fixture.
Sébastien Ogier added another record to his already impressive tally with victory at Guanajuato Rally México on Sunday afternoon.

The Frenchman, starting the second rally of his part-time 2023 campaign, moved to top of the Mexico roll of honour with a record seventh victory at the North American event, an accolade he had previously shared with old foe Sébastien Loeb.

With a sizeable 35.8sec advantage going into the final leg, it was a relatively straightforward Sunday for the Toyota Gazoo Racing man.

He negotiated the remaining four speed tests with ultimate prowess and collected maximum bonus points from the Wolf Power Stage, finishing 27.5sec clear of Thierry Neuville at the event where he made his FIA World Rally Championship debut in 2008.

“The car was great this weekend and it was a faultless rally for us and the team,” said Ogier, who now leads the drivers’ championship by three points from Neuville.

“As I am doing the next rally, it's important to start first on the road there and it was important to get the points for the team as well,” he added, referencing the Croatia Rally.

Neuville's stubborn spirit behind the wheel of his Hyundai i20 N left fans on the edge of their seats as he battled relentlessly with Ogier's team-mate Elfyn Evans. Having started the day 5.3sec in arrears, Neuville closed in on the Welshman, who was impeded by a bent suspension arm.

The Belgian’s perseverance paid off as he overtook his rival in the finale, claiming second overall by just four-tenths of a second and providing an exhilarating end to the four-day fixture.

Kalle Rovanperä struggled to match the pace of the frontrunning trio and settled for a lonely fourth overall in his Toyota. The defending champion continued to pull further away from Hyundai’s Dani Sordo, who finished over one minute further back in fifth.

The rough gravel terrain took its toll on several of the leading Rally1 crews, enabling Gus Greensmith to finish a mighty sixth overall in his WRC2-specification Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. Behind him were fellow support category challengers Emil Lindholm and Oliver Solberg.

Ninth overall was the best Ott Tänak could manage after turbocharger failure cost the M-Sport Ford Puma driver more than 14 minutes on Friday morning, while WRC2 star Kajetan Kajetanowicz completed the top 10.

The WRC is back on asphalt for next month's Croatia Rally, which takes place from 20 - 23 April. The event is based in capital city Zagreb.

Overall classification:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 3hr 16min 9.4sec
2. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +27.5sec
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +27.9sec
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +1min 55.3sec
5. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +2min 58.8sec
6: G Greensmith / J Andersson GBR Škoda Fabia +12min 31.5sec

Drivers' Championship points (after round 3 of 13):
1. S Ogier 56pts
2. T Neuville 53pts
3. K Rovanperä 52pts

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-03-19 Saturday shake-up puts Ogier on track for Mexico triumph
Frenchman builds commanding lead as rival Esapekka Lappi crashes on penultimate day.
Sébastien Ogier is on the verge of a record-breaking seventh Guanajuato Rally México victory after establishing a commanding lead on Saturday.

The eight-time world champion, who drives part-time for Toyota Gazoo Racing, moved into the lead of the gruelling gravel event when Esapekka Lappi - whom he trailed by 5.3sec after Friday - crashed into an electricity pole in the opening stage. From that moment on, Ogier never looked back.

Armed with an advantage of almost half a minute over GR Yaris team-mate Elfyn Evans at the day’s midpoint, the 39-year-old was in no mood to compromise.

He managed his speed - and his hard compound Pirelli tyres - flawlessly over the afternoon’s scorching speed tests, taking a dominant stage win at El Mosquito 2 to end the day 35.8sec clear of the field.

Victory at this third round would be particularly special for the Frenchman, as it was here in Mexico where he made his FIA World Rally Championship debut back in 2008.

"I think this lead is good,” Ogier said. “It’s been another strong day for me. We had a little bit of a different approach after Esapekka went off in the first stage this morning.

“We didn't need to go for too much risk, but still we managed to set some good times and increase our lead. Tomorrow is still long which means we cannot afford to relax."

Evans’ position in second overall was much less secure, as he had a charging Thierry Neuville breathing down his neck. The Hyundai driver reeled in his rival, grabbing four fastest times to trail the Welshman by just 4.3sec heading into Sunday’s four-stage finale.

Kalle Rovanperä found himself sitting almost one-minute adrift of Neuville in fourth overall. A stall in Derramadero 2 cost the Toyota youngster a handful of seconds but, with a hefty 47.2sec gap to Dani Sordo behind, he had no reason to be alarmed.

Sordo, a lonely fifth, was unwilling to take any unnecessary risks. The Spaniard focused instead on trialling new set-ups throughout the day, although he found it difficult to keep the rear end of his Hyundai under control in the loose conditions.

Such was the high rate of the attrition that WRC2 cars comprised the remainder of the top 10. Gus Greensmith continued to lead the category ahead of his former M-Sport Ford team-mate Adrien Fourmaux, while Emil Lindholm, Oliver Solberg and Kajetan Kajetanowicz completed the leaderboard.

Championship leader Ott Tänak recovered from Friday morning’s turbo failure to haul his Ford Puma back up to 11th overall. Pierre-Louis Loubet, driving a similar car, retired for the second time in as many days with damaged rear suspension in SS17.

Sunday may be shorter, but it’s no less challenging. It opens with another blast through Las Dunas, which is followed by Otates - the longest stage of the rally at a daunting 35.63km. San Diego is up next before the event ends with the Wolf Power Stage in El Brinco.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 2hr 35min 37.6sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +35.8sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +40.1sec
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +1min 34.0sec
5. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +2min 21.2sec
6: G Greensmith / J Andersson GBR Škoda Fabia +10min 33.4sec

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-03-18 Lappi heads Ogier in Mexico thriller
Former team-mates trade blows in gripping opening leg, ending Friday just 5.3 seconds apart.
Esapekka Lappi kept a cool head in the scorching heat of Guanajuato Rally México to fend off six-time winner Sébastien Ogier during Friday’s dramatic opening leg.

Despite several of the FIA World Rally Championship's leading crews running into trouble on the gruelling gravel stages in the mountains around León, Lappi steered clear of drama to head Ogier at the first gravel round of the season.

The Hyundai i20 N star led from the outset after grabbing the top spot in the morning’s opener. But Ogier, who ironically alternated drives with Lappi at Toyota Gazoo Racing last season, stayed right on his heels, with the duo exchanging times for much of the day.

It was, however, Lappi's impressive performance in the latter half of the afternoon which made all the difference. Back-to-back stage wins in Las Minas and Las Dunas gave the Finn some much-needed breathing space and, while Ogier clawed back some time in the Distrito Leon super special, 5.3sec split the pair at close of play.

"I am a bit surprised, but I take it as it is,” Lappi beamed. “This was probably one of the best days of my career.

“I always hoped that I could fight at the top, but to be leading and fighting against Séb was never in my mind. I didn't really think about how this day would go, but I was just confident that our pace would be good."

Elfyn Evans filled the final podium spot, finishing 24.8sec behind his Toyota GR Yaris team-mate Ogier. With temperatures nearing 30°C and altitudes of over 2750 metres, it was a trying day for crews and cars alike, but the Welshman’s struggles were limited to a lack of traction on some of the stages.

Thierry Neuville was hampered by hybrid unit failure in the morning, followed by a seized rear-right damper and damaged driveshaft boot in the afternoon. He pressed on regardless, reaching the overnight halt 9.7sec adrift of the podium in his Hyundai.

Starting second on the road, defending champion Kalle Rovanperä was severely affected by the loose conditions. As a result, the Yaris driver lost time in almost every test, ending the day a 19.9sec down on Neuville.

Meanwhile, Dani Sordo leaked around a minute when he limped through SS7 with rear-left tyre damage on his Hyundai, dropping from fourth to sixth overall.

Championship leader Ott Tänak languishes more than 14 minutes back from the lead after crawling through the morning loop with turbocharger failure. It was a disastrous day for the Estonian’s M-Sport Ford team as both Pierre-Louis Loubet and Jourdan Serderidis retired their Pumas in the opening stage.

Also in trouble was birthday boy Takamoto Katsuta, who lost control of his Yaris in a high-speed section on SS5 and rolled down a steep embankment.

Saturday’s leg is the longest of the event and features nine more challenging stages totalling 126.52km.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N 1hr 25min 12.0sec
2. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris +5.3sec
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +30.1sec
4. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +39.8sec
5. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +59.7sec
6. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +1min 27.2sec

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-03-15 Tänak faces tough gravel challenge at Guanajuato Rally México
Championship leader opens the road on the WRC's return to North America.
It’s hot, it’s dusty, it’s the highest round of the season and it’s the first time we get to view the WRC’s class of 2023 in action on pure gravel roads.

We’re leaving behind the European winter for the sizzling heat of Guanajuato Rally México (16 - 19 March), back on the calendar for the first time since 2020 and home to the FIA World Rally Championship’s third round.

M-Sport Ford’s table-topping star Ott Tänak, who grabbed the championship lead with victory in Sweden last time out, knows his standing will come at a cost at this week’s fixture, the season’s first outside of Europe.

The Puma driver must pay his dues in the mountains around León when he opens the road for Friday’s opening leg on stages coated in dry and slippery gravel. Those tracks become cleaner and faster with each car that passes as the loose dirt is swept aside.

While the two-time Mexico runner-up is praying for rain to bind the loose gravel together, his wish may be in vain as the event is forecasted to have sunny skies with temperatures nudging 30°C.

“I'm not sure I’m that good a [rain] dancer to get the rain in a place where it almost never rains!” joked Tänak, who is joined in the team by Pierre-Louis Loubet and privateer Jourdan Serderidis.

“During testing it was my very first time on gravel in the Puma Rally1 and it was very important to discover as much as possible. The team is working hard to keep improving, but to really understand where we are now, we need to do a gravel rally first,” he added.

Neither Kalle Rovanperä nor Thierry Neuville will benefit that much from second and third in the order. But one man who does is Rovanperä’s Toyota GR Yaris team-mate Sébastien Ogier, a six-time Mexico winner, who starts fifth.

The eight-time champion drives part-time for the Japanese marque and returns to action for the first time since his Monte-Carlo win in January.

“When I knew that Mexico was coming back, I had to mark it in my calendar as an event that would be nice to do again. It’s where everything started for me in the WRC, as it’s actually where I made my debut in 2008," said the Frenchman.

Dani Sordo joins Neuville and Esapekka Lappi in a three-strong Hyundai i20 N line-up and will be the last of the frontrunners onto the road. He will be keen to make the most of the extra grip to put himself in a strong position for the last two legs, when competitors start in reverse order of classification.

"If we get it right, we believe we can be in the battle for victory, but we want to be on the podium as a minimum," said Sordo, who alternates drives with Craig Breen.

Elfyn Evans, fourth in the standings, also drives a GR Yaris, as does Takamoto Katsuta - although the Japanese driver will not score manufacturers’ championship points with Ogier in attendance this week.

The route climbs to more than 2,700 metres above sea level, where engines traditionally struggle to 'breathe' in the thinner air and lose 20 per cent of their power. However, the Rally1 cars’ hybrid specification brings a battery-powered boost less impacted by the thinner air, which could make this one of the fastest editions Guanajuato Rally México has ever seen.

The rally starts on Thursday night with two iconic street tests through Guanajuato's former mining tunnels. Three more days of action follow in the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains before Sunday afternoon's finish in León after 23 stages covering 320.23km.

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23-02-18 FIA European Rally Championship 2022 Stop 5 - Liepaja, Latvia
Epic adventure in store as WRC gears up to take on uncharted terrain in 2024.
• Tet Rally Latvia set to join the WRC in 2024
• Long-time ERC success leads to WRC promotion
• Strategic move highlights the importance of Baltic regions for WRC

The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is set to visit a new country in 2024 when Tet Rally Latvia, formerly known as Tet Rally Liepaja, joins the calendar.

The decision comes after Latvia’s long-time success within the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) and reflects WRC Promoter’s commitment to keep at least one slot in the WRC calendar available for such events. As the commercial rights holder for both WRC and ERC, WRC Promoter is uniquely positioned to identify and support events which have the potential to grow and become part of the WRC family.

Tet Rally Latvia takes place on gravel roads and has a reputation for being one of the most challenging rallies in Europe, utilising blisteringly fast roads which require inch-perfect skill and precision from drivers and co-drivers.

“It has always been our goal to keep at least one slot in the WRC calendar available to enable an event to rotate from the ERC to the WRC,” explained Peter Thul, Senior Director of Sport for WRC Promoter.

“Tet Rally Latvia becoming the first to be granted this slot is a clear recognition of its sporting and promotional excellence, and the commitment of the Latvian Government to rallying.

“This decision highlights the strategic importance of the Baltic regions for WRC. We have a longstanding relationship with broadcast partner TV3 and look forward to expanded collaboration with them for the 2024 event. This, as well as our ever-increasing network of over 50 broadcasters in more than 150 countries, makes WRC one of the most widely viewed motorsport championships on the planet,” Thul added.

Event organisers have been working closely with the FIA and WRC Promoter to ensure the event meets the high standards required for a WRC round. The rally will reach a widespread area of Latvia, stretching from the cities of Riga and Liepaja to the regions of Talsi, Tukums, Kuldiga, Dienvidkurzeme.

“This is a dream come true moment. Our work that started many years ago, has finally concluded with a clear pathway for Latvia to host a WRC event in 2024," said Tet Rally Latvia director Raimonds Strokšs.

"For RA Events as an event organiser, this is a tremendous milestone that carries huge responsibility with it. But we have such reliable partners in the Latvian Government, our rally city Liepaja, our capital city Riga, and our general sponsor Tet - plus many more. Behind them there is an even broader team of enthusiastic people, with whom we can pull this off and are ready to tackle all the challenges that lay ahead of us."

The exact dates for Tet Rally Latvia 2024 will be confirmed in due course.

Subject to approval by the World Motor Sport Council
23-01-23 Record-breaking Ogier claims ninth Monte-Carlo victory
Frenchman triumphs at 2023 season opener, heading home Kalle Rovanperä in 1-2 finish for Toyota.
Sébastien Ogier celebrated a record ninth triumph at Rallye Monte-Carlo, confirming a lights-to-flag victory at the opening round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship on Sunday afternoon.

Ogier is undertaking selected drives for Toyota Gazoo Racing this year and kicked off his part-time campaign with a stellar performance in the French Alps, mastering twisty asphalt roads to head GR Yaris team-mate Kalle Rovanperä by 18.8sec in a dominant 1-2 for the Japanese squad.

His nine victories span three decades and have been achieved with five different manufacturers. Topping off Ogier’s perfect weekend was the fact that co-driver Vincent Landais celebrated his maiden win at world level.

The Frenchman led the season opener from start to finish after charging to a lead of over 30 seconds during Friday’s first full day of action in the mountains above Monaco.

Rovanperä reduced that deficit to just 16.0sec heading into Sunday’s finale, but Ogier, who was denied glory by a late puncture 12 months ago, kept his cool to maintain the buffer throughout the final four speed tests.

"It's huge," Ogier beamed. "I love this rally. It's the one which gave me the dream right at the beginning and I am so happy for Vincent. For me it's nice, but for him it's a dream to take his first win.

"We still need to enjoy these moments and that's why we are still here [in the WRC], to catch some victories like this. To win a famous one like Monte has no price."

Rovanperä finished on a high by winning the Wolf Power Stage to add five bonus points to his tally. As the highest-placed full-time driver, the young Finn’s title defence is off to a solid start.

"It was a good one," he agreed. "I think we can be quite happy with second place."

Heavy tyre wear prevented Hyundai i20 N driver Thierry Neuville from making any gains on Rovanperä. After 18 stages, the Belgian was forced to settle for third overall, 27.8sec ahead of Elfyn Evans.

For Evans, there were thoughts of what could have been. Were it not for a rear puncture which cost the Welshman over 40 seconds on Friday, a 1-2-3 finish for Toyota could well have been on the cards.

Ott Tänak went easy on his soft compound tyres in preparation for an all-out attack on the bonus points-paying Wolf Power Stage, but he missed out on the benchmark time by just half a second. Ending his M-Sport Ford Puma debut with a top-five result, Tänak felt like he’d made positive steps.

“It's a long season ahead but this is a positive start,” the Estonian remarked. “At least we have scored some points already - unlike the previous three years!"

Takamoto Katsuta was lucky to finish the event after limping through the finale with damaged rear suspension. The Yaris youngster held onto sixth overall by 14.9sec from Dani Sordo, whose Hyundai was plagued by a hybrid unit fault all day.

The championship switches to Scandinavia next month for the only pure winter round of the season. Rally Sweden takes place in Umeå on 9 - 12 February.

Overall classification:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 3hr 12min 2.0sec
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +18.8sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +44.6sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +1min 12.4sec
5. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +2min 34.9sec
6. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +3min 32.6sec

Drivers' championship points (after round 1 of 13):
1. S Ogier 26pts
2. K Rovanperä 23pts
3. T Neuville 17 pts

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-01-22 Oliver Solberg visade topp-speed i Rally Monte-Carlo
Tio av 18 sträcksegrar gav ett övertygande generaltest i Rally Monte-Carlo för Oliver Solberg (21) i jakten på karriärens första VM-titel.

Oliver avslutade tävlingen med att sätta den snabbaste tiden av alla WRC2-bilar på Col de Turini Powerstage.

Vinnare av tävlingens näst största klass blev teamkamraten Nikolay Gryazin i Toksport-teamet. Solberg slutade så småningom på en sjätte plats, 2.15,2 minuter efter ryssen.

En punktering i torsdagskvällen kostade totalt runt två minuter. På lördagen försvann ytterligare några sekunder på grund av en skadad hjulupphängning.
– Men vi hade inga VM-poäng att tävla om, så totalresultatet var inte så viktigt i den här tävlingen. Tio sträcksegrar av 18 möjliga är ganska tillfredsställande för mig. Syftet var att lära känna den nya bilen och ta reda på vilken speed vi kunde hålla. Vi lyckades bra på båda punkterna, sa Oliver Solberg.

Nästa race för Oliver Solberg blir VM-tävlingen på hemmaplan i Sverige den 9-12 februari. Där börjar också den officiella VM-säsongen i WRC2-klassen.
23-01-21 Vigilant Ogier puts one hand on Monte-Carlo crown
Sébastien Ogier sits on the brink of a record-breaking ninth Rallye Monte-Carlo victory after producing another faultless drive in the French Alps on Saturday.

Having built up a sizeable advantage of over half a minute on Friday, Ogier’s attentions switched to lead preservation as the Monaco-based fixture headed into the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence for six asphalt speed tests totalling 111.78km.

With today’s running order based on reverse rally classification, Ogier had to contend with the most polluted road conditions as gravel, rocks and mud were swept onto the stages by those running higher up the field.

Ogier, who drives part-time for Toyota Gazoo Racing, took a vigilant approach. He was in no mood for risk-taking and desperate not to repeat last year’s disappointment, where a sharp rock caused a late puncture which put the brakes on his victory bid.

But, as a result of his caution, the 39-year-old saw his buffer more than halved by charging GR Yaris colleague Kalle Rovanperä. He heads into Sunday’s finale 16.0sec clear at the top.

Ogier is confident he has enough time in hand but, with four treacherous stages still remaining, anything could happen. Victory here would put him top of the Rallye Monte-Carlo roll of honour, beating the record he currently shares with old foe Sébastien Loeb.

"I think it should be enough,” he said. “The last one was the most dangerous one for punctures so I took it easy and I am happy that stage is over now."

Reigning champion Rovanperä started strongly and won two of the morning’s three stages to put some distance between himself and Hyundai i20 N star Thierry Neuville.

Neuville responded by claiming two benchmark times himself, but a big push from the former under the darkness of Ubraye – Entrevaux left Neuville 16.0sec adrift of his rival in third.

Elfyn Evans made it three Toyotas in the top four with a solid comeback drive following his Friday puncture. The Welshman leapfrogged Ott Tänak in the day’s second stage and never strayed outside the top-three times for each test, ending 24.5sec off the heels of Neuville.

For M-Sport Ford returnee Tänak there were feelings of both relief and disappointment after a technical fault left his Puma with heavier steering than normal.

Although it left him unable to put up a fight against Evans, the flipside of Tänak’s issue was that the power steering did not fail completely – something he would have been dreading as there was no mid-leg service in the schedule.

Yaris youngster Takamoto Katsuta climbed to sixth overall after leapfrogging Dani Sordo on the first run from Le Fugeret to Thorame-Haute. Sordo, who now holds seventh, continued to feel puzzled by the lack of competitiveness in his stage times.

Sunday’s finale returns to the Alpes-Maritimes. The familiar Luceram / Lantosque opens proceedings and is followed by a re-run of La Bollène-Vésubie / Col de Turini, which crews have already driven in anger on Thursday evening. Both stages are repeated once again with the latter forming the Wolf Power Stage where bonus points are available.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 2hr 27min 11.5sec
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +16.0sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +32.0sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +56.5sec
5. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +1min 37.3sec
6. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +2min 15.7sec

The official Home of World Rallying:

23-01-20 Ogier sweeps up with Monte-Carlo masterclass
Frenchman holds commanding lead over team-mate Kalle Rovanperä after dominating Friday's stages.
Sébastien Ogier outclassed his FIA World Rally Championship peers to end Friday at Rallye Monte-Carlo with a commanding lead.

Driving a GR Yaris for Toyota Gazoo Racing, the eight-time world champion won four of the six French Alps speed tests to lead the opening round by 36.0sec from colleague Kalle Rovanperä after 145km of competition.

The Monaco-based fixture holds fond memories for Ogier, who was born and raised in the Hautes-Alpes. He is chasing down a record-breaking ninth victory this week.

Ogier set the tempo on Thursday night’s short opening leg and continued to assert the same dominance in the morning, stretching his advantage into double figures over team-mate Elfyn Evans despite nursing a hybrid unit fault.

When Evans dropped back after leaking 40sec with a rear-right puncture on SS5, Ogier was afforded room to breathe. He took less risks in the afternoon, even carrying an additional spare tyre, but still extended his buffer regardless.

"I am very satisfied,” Ogier reflected. “Obviously, the risk of punctures [in the last stage] was higher so I took things a bit more easy. I'm just happy to bring the car home tonight."

Rovanperä topped an intense battle with Hyundai i20 N driver Thierry Neuville. The pair were rarely split by more than a few tenths of a second, but Rovanperä found a slight edge in the afternoon to end 1.9sec clear.

Fourth overall went to Ott Tänak after challenging day spent learning the intricacies of driving M-Sport’s Ford Puma in competition for the first time. In the Estonian’s own words, his new steed did not feel “racey” enough, although he did admit to being comfortable in the car.

Tänak sits 16.3sec adrift of the podium heading into Saturday’s penultimate leg and faces increasing pressure from Evans, who put in an impressive recovery drive after his puncture to end 8.1sec behind.

Another 27.9sec in arrears and rounding out the top six is Dani Sordo, driving another Hyundai. The Spaniard appeared frustrated and felt that his times did not match up with the risks he was taking out on the stages.

Takamoto Katsuta was hampered by a handbrake issue on Thursday evening but enjoyed a trouble-free run aboard his GR Yaris. A series of top-four stage times promoted the 29-year-old to seventh overall ahead of Esapekka Lappi, who shared similar frustrations to Sordo in his i20 N.

The action switches west to the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence on Saturday for another 111.78km of competition. Le Fugeret / Thorame-Haute, Malijai / Puimichel and Ubraye / Entrevaux each run twice either side of another tyre fitting zone in Puget-Théniers. Again, there is no mid-leg service.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 1hr 26min 39.4sec
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +36.0sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +37.9sec
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +54.2sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +1min 2.3sec
6. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +1min 30.2sec

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-01-19 Masterful Ogier builds early Monte-Carlo lead
Frenchman makes his intentions clear as 2023 season gets underway on Thursday evening.
Sébastien Ogier threw caution to the wind on Thursday evening’s opening leg at Rallye Monte-Carlo to end a spectacular opening night of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season with a useful advantage.

Ogier, an eight-time winner in the French Alps, was in a league of his own as he blasted his Toyota GR Yaris to a brace of fastest times, heading team-mate Elfyn Evans by 6.0sec after 40.02km of competition.

An uncharacteristically dry start to this iconic event heightened the importance of tyre management, with several drivers overheating their rubber on the winding mountain passes around the Col de Turini.

Ogier, however, remained unphased and – for once – was delighted not to be opening the road. His late starting position played to his favour as he could pick out any tricky sections by spotting the tracks of his peers.
"It's never easy to start this rally at night, but at least the conditions were not so inconsistent," Ogier reflected. "There was only one really tricky corner and for once I was not starting first on the road, so I could benefit from seeing the lines from the others. That helped.
"I think it's been a good start for us and we are happy with that, but obviously there is a very long way to go.

Ott Tänak rounds out the leading trio 9.4sec adrift of second-placed Evans. It was a troublesome night for the Estonian as he kicked off his debut aboard one of M-Sport’s Ford Pumas.

An electrical issue on the liaison section prior to SS1 did nothing to calm Tänak’s nerves, and those tensions were raised further as he completed both stages without fifth gear.

Just one-tenth of a second behind is Hyundai star Thierry Neuville, who dropped around eight seconds by stalling his i20 N after sliding wide on a patch of black ice. Puma privateer Jourdan Serderidis fell foul to the very same corner but fared much worse, losing over a minute as spectators extracted his car from a ditch.

Reigning champion Kalle Rovanperä had to tweak his driving style to keep the soft compound tyres on the front of his Toyota from overheating. The Finn is currently sandwiched by Hyundai cars in sixth overall, 1.6sec adrift Neuville with Dani Sordo 15.0sec behind him.

Seventh-placed Pierre-Louis Loubet adopted a cautious approach to his first day as a full-time M-Sport Ford driver. The same could be said for Hyundai debutant Esapekka Lappi, a mere 1.1sec in arrears.

Fourth-fastest through La Bollène-Vésubie – Col de Turini was a promising start for Takamoto Katsuta, but things quickly turned sour when his Yaris developed a handbrake issue on the next test. The Japanese driver haemorrhaged time through the series of tight hairpin bends and languishes 57.0sec back from the lead in ninth overall.

Friday heads further north for two loops of three stages covering 105.34km. Morning and afternoon runs through Roure / Roubion / Beuil (18.33km), Puget-Théniers / Saint-Antonin (19.79km) and Briançonnet / Entrevaux (14.55km) are on the schedule.

Leading positions after Thursday:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 26min 33.7sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +6.0sec
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +15.4sec
4. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +15.5sec
5. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +17.1sec
6. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +32.1sec

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-01-17 Rallye Monte-Carlo takes centre stage as 2023 WRC roars into action
All you need to know as the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship gets underway
 · 2023 WRC season begins this weekend in Monte-Carlo (19 - 22 January)
· World champion Kalle Rovanperä heads field
· Multiple off-season driver changes add intrigue to season-opener

The wait will soon be over. On Thursday evening, the opening stage of Rallye Monte-Carlo (19 – 22 January) gets underway – signalling the start of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season.

Based out of the Principality of Monaco, Rallye Monte-Carlo is the jewel in the WRC's crown and the oldest event on the calendar. Treacherous and icy mountain passes in the French Alps provide a fitting backdrop for the opening round.

And what a season it’s going to be. With 13 gruelling rallies spanning five continents, global manufacturers battling for glory plus a host of exciting changes to the driver market, 2023 has all the ingredients for another thrilling campaign.

Setting out to defend its manufacturers’ crown, Toyota Gazoo Racing has retained the services of Kalle Rovanperä, who, at the age of 22, broke records last year by becoming the youngest WRC champion in history. As world champion, Rovanperä had the option to carry the number 1 on his car this year, but will stick with 69.

Joining the young Finn in the GR Yaris Rally1 line-up are Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta, with eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier also set to contest selected rounds. Although Katsuta starts every rally, he will only score manufacturers’ championship points on events where Ogier is not present.

Hyundai Motorsport has put its trust in a combination of new and familiar faces to field its flurry of i20 N Rally1 cars.

Team long-termer Thierry Neuville will be desperate to secure his maiden world title, while newcomer Esapekka Lappi is delighted to be in a full-time seat after car-sharing with Ogier at Toyota Gazoo Racing last season. Craig Breen returns to the team having spent the past year with rivals M-Sport Ford. He will alternate drives with seasoned Spaniard Dani Sordo in the third car.

Another driver returning to their former home is 2019 world champion Ott Tänak, who joins British-based M-Sport Ford from Hyundai. M-Sport shaped Tänak’s early career and it was team owner Malcolm Wilson who gave him his first factory drive back in 2012.

M-Sport’s second Ford Puma will be campaigned by young Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet, whose impressive performances during a seven-round campaign last year have resulted in a full-time contract.

"This is a time of the year that always comes with great anticipation,” enthused WRC Promoter Managing Director Jona Siebel. “There have been a number of changes to driver line-ups since FORUM8 Rally Japan which only adds to the intrigue of what is about to unfold.

“The changes also extend to WRC2 which has arguably its strongest-ever entry list with no clear favourite and we will be endeavouring to give this category more coverage than ever before.

“I want to avoid using the word ‘off-season’ as we know the 2023 campaigns already started with testing some weeks ago and all teams, drivers, organisers, the FIA and the Promoter have been working around the clock to be ready for Col de Turini on Thursday night.”

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