Germany (P A) - 24-26 Aug 12

Posted: August 29, 2012 3:05 PM - 5022 Hits

Round 9 - 2012 World Rally Championship
P - Production World Rally Championship
A - WRC Academy

EVANS WINS AGAIN IN PIRELLI-BACKED WRC ACADEMY

Posted: August 29, 2012 3:05 PM

British driver Elfyn Evans has won the latest round of the Pirelli-backed WRC Academy, which took place last weekend on ADAC Rallye Deutschland, based around the German city of Trier.

The win marked Evans’ second consecutive Academy triumph, following his success on Rally Finland earlier this month and consequently he leads the drivers’ standings by 35 points from Australian Brendan Reeves. The Academy series is designed to highlight the rally champions of the future, and Evans has already proved his talent by being selected for the Pirelli UK Star Driver scheme in the past, competing on the British Rally Championship. Evans led from the first day in Germany and eventually won by more than a minute.

On one of the most challenging asphalt events of them all, characterised by slippery surfaces and frequently-changing weather conditions, the young drivers used Pirelli’s RX5 and RE7 asphalt tyres for the first time this year.

The RX family of tyres is among the most versatile in Pirelli’s competition range thanks to a lightly grooved tread pattern, a square profile and a particularly rigid structure. These characteristics help steering precision and provide a rapid response in dry conditions, while maintaining the strength and durability to cope with prolonged high speeds and longer stages.

The RE tyre is used for damp conditions: similar to the RX but with a less rigid construction and different tread pattern, as well as a more rounded profile to ensure a perfectly controllable response in all conditions.

Evans, the son of former world championship driver Gwyndaf Evans, said: “We had a difficult start to find a rhythm and the set-up of the car after shakedown was cancelled. It took a while and it was a lot more slippery than we expected. We had a couple of moments but we were able to build our advantage from then on. We’ve just concentrated on having a clean rally without taking too many risks and I was glad to be at the finish. It’s another big boost for the championship.”

At the end of the fourth round of the series, Pirelli’s senior tyre engineer Matteo Braga commented:
“All the drivers who managed to get to the end of the rally did a brilliant job. It was a very tough rally where the conditions were never completely dry or completely wet, so the drivers really had to rely on their talent. Elfyn Evans had a perfect weekend, while Brendan Reeves and Timo van der Marel also did very well – having clearly benefitted from the WRC Academy training session in Lommel, Belgium, before the start of the event, where they were able to get used to asphalt. This was the first asphalt round of the year so it was a big challenge for all the drivers with plenty of hazards, as many of them found out.”

The next event of the six-round Academy takes place at the Rallye de France-Alsace from 4-7 October, again on asphalt.

ATKINSON SHOWS PACE OF NEW MINI WRC

Posted: August 29, 2012 9:37 AM

On his debut in the latest specification MINI John Cooper Works WRC at Rally Germany, Chris Atkinson was able to comfortably finish in fifth position in a world class field. What made this more impressive was his lack of recent tarmac experience and the tricky changeable conditions on the Trier-based event.

It was the first tarmac outing for the latest spec MINI WRC with all the engine and chassis enhancements which were first introduced on the car for Rally Portugal in March. The balance and predictability of the MINI chassis was key to giving Chris the confidence to push through the often wet and muddy stages.

Meanwhile, after having just set a fastest stage time on stage 8, moving up to third postion, Dani Sordo would likely have moved into second spot on stage 9, but for the most unlucky of punctures, which split the inner tyre rim rather than the tyre itself.

Both the Motorsport Italia and Prodrive WRC Team cars will return on tarmac in six weeks at Rally France, while Chris goes to rally GB in September for his first outing on gravel in the MINI WRC.

NASSER AL-ATTIYAH BACK IN THE POINTS

Posted: August 29, 2012 9:27 AM

Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giovanni Bernacchini (Qatar World Rally Team) celebrated their return to the WRC at Rallye Deutschland by picking up points with an eighth-place finish, thanks to a disciplined and consistent performance. After going off while battling for third place, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul (Citroën Junior World Rally Team) ended up finishing in 13th position overall.

Taking part in his first event since the Acropolis Rally at the end of June, Nasser Al-Attiyah made a tentative start to the ninth round of the World Championship. From stages held on roads through the Mosel vineyards to the treacherous test on the winding roads of the Baumholder military base, the Qatari constantly had to keep out of trouble in order not to blow his chances of accumulating experience on tarmac.

“It’s almost like the start of a new season for me. Driving a WRC on tarmac is totally different to driving one on gravel. You brake later, the downforce is much greater… For someone like me, who has only raced once here in Germany, it’s a real challenge,” explained Nasser. “I know my times aren’t very good, but I’m not bothered about that. If I had made a mistake, I would have learned nothing from this weekend and I’d have to start all over again next time…”

Twelfth at the end of day one, the Qatar World Rally Team driver moved up to eighth overall on Saturday: “Many drivers went off on the military base stage. There were certainly lots of tricky sections, but I concentrated even harder to try and stay out of trouble.”

Nasser held on to his position right to the finish, picking up points towards the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships: “There is no such thing as an easy rally, but this one was particularly difficult because of the constantly changing weather conditions. It has been an excellent weekend for the team, as Seb picked up yet another win. As far as we’re concerned, I think we did a good job. I am certain that it will be even better in Great Britain.”

Although he didn’t finish the rally in a points-scoring position, Thierry Neuville could take some satisfaction from having been in contention for a place on the podium. Fourth at the end of day one, the Citroën Junior Team was battling with Dani Sordo and Jari-Matti Latvala when he went off on the infamous Arena Panzerplatte stage:
“The car was lifted off the ground by a jump on a corner that I had marked as ‘flat out’ in the notes. I couldn’t carry straight on into the field opposite because there were spectators. The radiator was damaged and we had to retire from the stage.”

As his No.8 DS3 WRC hadn’t suffered any major damage, Thierry was able to rejoin the rally on Sunday but also had to take a 20-minute time penalty. Day three provided him with the opportunity to add to his experience in damp conditions:
“This could be useful for the Rallye de France. I am pleased to have been able to match the pace of the top drivers, but I’m also disappointed not to have seen the job through. I would really like to thank the entire team, including my gravel crews and my supporters. It was almost the perfect weekend and I’ll come back stronger nexttime.”

LOEB AND ELENA ON CLOUD NINE

Posted: August 29, 2012 9:26 AM

Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena bettered their own impressive record for the most wins at a single event by securing a ninth victory in Germany. Ten years after winning their first WRC rally, the eight-time World Champions can now be known as nine-time winners of Rallye Deutschland. Combined with the five consecutive wins for the Loeb/Elena driver pairing, the fifth podium running claimed by Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen enables the Citroën Total World Rally Team to move one step closer to an eighth manufacturers’ title.

With two runs on the Dhrontal test and then the Power Stage, the programme for the final day of Rallye Deutschland looked like a sprint down the final straight. But with significant gaps between the leading drivers, most crews expected to hold their position to the finish. As the cars left the service park, once again all eyes were on the sky. All the competitors wasted no time in opting to fit ‘soft’ Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, which are more effective on the wet tarmac roads in the former French department of Sarre.

First on the road, Sébastien Loeb made the most of the clean racing line to notch up an eighth stage win on SS13. Third fastest on the stage, Mikko Hirvonen had also adopted a fairly cautious pace. Running in reverse order for the final stage, the crews set off for a second run on the 30km-long Dhrontal test. In muddy conditions, the Citroën Total World Rally Team drivers drove a controlled stage to finish sixth and seventh fastest.

Run in the streets of Trier around the ‘Circus Maximus’, the Power Stage completed the German round of the World Rally Championship. Sébastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen recorded the two fastest times, earning them two and three bonus points respectively.

“I took some holidays between the Finland and Germany rallies; it seems to have done me the world of good,” joked the winner after having been warmly congratulated by his team and the crowd. “These three days have gone very well, but the conditions were really not very easy. We were the quickest, but we were also the most consistent. Some competitors were capable of rivaling us in terms of out-and-out performance, but they were caught out by the many pitfalls of the route. Once I had built up a good lead, I just had to avoid making any mistakes. As each rally goes by, we are getting closer to our goal of a ninth title. With a fifty-four point lead and four races left, things are looking good...”

“Before the start, I said that I would be happy to finish on the podium. I have to be pleased therefore to finish third, although the weekend was complicated for me,” commented Mikko Hirvonen. “This rally was really difficult from start to finish, with very dirty roads. This is not the kind of conditions that I particularly like, but that’s rallying!”

“We can be proud that our two cars finished on the podium for the fifth time running,” assessed Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “We have further extended our lead in the World Championship standings. We might even be able to wrap up the Manufacturers’ title at the Wales Rally GB.”

The entire team was moved in remembering Philippe Bugalski, who died in an accident a few days ago. In 2001, ‘Bug’ had won the Germany Rally – just before it became part of the WRC calendar – in a Xsara T4. Jean-Paul Chiaroni, his then co-driver and now weather and reconnaissance coordinator for Citroën Racing, stepped onto the podium to receive the cup awarded to the winning manufacturer of the rally.

Atkinson posts best result in German round of the World Rally Championship

Posted: August 28, 2012 11:51 AM

Gold Coaster Chris ‘Atko’ Atkinson has secured his best result at Rally Germany with a fifth place finish at the latest round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Newly recruited to the factory-supported MINI team, run by Motorsport Italia, the 32-year-old also secured the team its best result of the year despite no previous experience behind the wheel of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

“I’m stoked with a top-5 result especially considering the last asphalt-based rally I competed on was back in 2008,” commented Atkinson.

“We definitely took a conservative approach given I have the remaining four rounds of the World Championship to contest but it’s a great start and a real confidence booster heading to Rally GB in a few weeks time.”

The result is Atkinson’s best at the German-based rally and projects the Australian to 14th overall in the WRC standings despite this being his first point-scoring event for the 2012 season.

Atkinson’s mindset now turns to the loose surface as the team heads to Great Britain for one of the most iconic events on the calendar, Wales Rally GB - September 13-16.

“The MINI is a great car and I’m really looking forward to seeing what its made of on the gravel surface.

“It will still be a big learning curve driving a new car on gravel for the first time but I’ve been contesting a lot of gravel events in the Asia Pacific Championship this year so it’s definitely a surface I have more recent experience of.”

The ADAC Rally Deutschland was based in Trier in south-west Germany and marked the first complete tarmac rally of the season.

Stages consisted of narrow vineyard terrain coupled with bolderstone-lined roads in the Baumholder military area, which are more accustomed to hosting tank training exercises.

Drivers contested 15 special stages covering 1113.59km during the three-day event with a mixture of wet and dry weather conditions testing the abilities of the world’s best.

DRAMATIC END IN GERMANY AS EVANS TAMES THE TARMAC TO TAKE THREE IN A ROW

Posted: August 28, 2012 11:32 AM

As the FIA WRC Academy crews embarked on the notoriously challenging roads of the 2012 ADAC Rallye Deutschland, Elfyn Evans claimed his third successive victory to extend his lead at the head of the Championship. But with old rivals and new talent coming to the fore, the Welshman far from dominated the event with a number of drivers proving their speed and potential in the feeder series which is supported by Ford Racing in Europe and runs control tyres from Pirelli. Impressively Evans’ win also saw him placed 20th in the overall standings at the end of Day 2.

Running through the twisting corkscrew roads of the Mosel Valley vineyards, the first day of competition was characterised by endless junctions and hairpins – demanding total concentration and commitment from the youngsters. Over the morning loop, and the crews’ first taste of asphalt, a new star emerged in the form of Rally Team Scotland’s John MacCrone.

Taking two stage wins over the morning’s running – the third stage being cancelled – the Scot held a 15 second lead over Northern Ireland’s Alastair Fisher going into the afternoon service with Tarmac specialist José Suárez going strongly in third. A spin on SS2 rendered championship leader Evans an uncharacteristic fourth with Brendan Reeves getting into the groove of asphalt rallying in fifth.

A mature and composed drive through the challenging stages saw Dutchman Timo Van der Marel sixth. But, blighted by more misfortune, Fredrik Åhlin lucked out when an error at the stage start saw the bonnet of his Ford Fiesta R2 came loose twice through SS2 – restricting the Swede’s vision and, on the second occasion, damaging the windscreen. With his hand still causing him some pain following his spectacular accident in Finland, the 21-year-old was also finding it difficult to use the handbrake through the hairpins, unaccustomedly finding himself towards the end of the field in seventh.

Elsewhere, there was further misfortune for fellow Swede Pontus Tidemand, suffering a broken driveshaft on SS1. The same stage saw WRC Academy new-comer, Martin Ko?i, bend the rear beam of his Fiesta. Both crews were forced to retire for the day, restarting under Rally 2 regulations on Day 2.

Embarking on the second loop of stages, there was heartache for the leading pair. Running wide on a patch of oil through SS4, MacCrone damaged the rear beam of his Fiesta R2 and had to complete the remaining stages with an ailing rally car. Yet, despite the damage, the Scot did well to keep a good pace and found himself sixth – less than a minute adrift of the podium with a tough day’s rallying to come. Assuming the lead, Fisher claimed stage victory on SS4 and SS6. But SS5 was to be the 23-year-old’s downfall – incurring a puncture, forfeiting his lead and dropping to fifth.

With his fellow Brits left to reflect on what might have been, Evans claimed a stage win through SS5 and assumed what has become his customary place at the head of the standings. Rarely out of the top-three on overall stage times, Suárez maintained second with Reeves getting to grips with the art of Tarmac driving in third and Van der Marel’s composure paying dividends with fourth place.

As the crews embarked on a fresh challenge over the final day of competition – with two loops of three stages, each varying in character and closing with the perilous dash between the ‘Hinkelstein’ concrete blocks that litter the Arena Panzerplatte – Evans was back in control.

Clinching a stage victory through the opening test (SS7) and a third and second fastest time respectively on the following two, the Welshman held a minute’s lead over Spaniard Suárez with Reeves a further 20 seconds adrift in third.

Despite setting the fastest time through SS8 – the first stage win for Holland in the new national classification – Van der Marel suffered a puncture through the Arena Panzerplatte. Fourth place was thus gifted to a resurgent Fisher who claimed the stage victory through the Baumholder military ground – a stage which exemplified the close-fought competition in the WRC Academy with the top-five crews separated by seconds through the 46.54 km test.

Elsewhere, with the pain in his hand too severe and a developing sickness, Åhlin made the decision to reluctantly withdraw from the event.

Returning for the final stint, the crews held station over the first two stages with Fisher and Reeves each claiming a stage victory. But drama was to unfold on the final stage of the event as both stage victors hit trouble.

Stuck in first gear, Fisher was forced to retire from the rally painstakingly close to the finish. Running wide and going off the road to avoid one of the treacherous ‘Hinkelsteins’ that line the stage, Reeves’ podium place was up for grabs. The Australian did well to get his Fiesta back on the stage, only to a puncture a mere four kilometres from the stage end. Changing the tyre on stage, Reeves brought his Fiesta home for a dramatic fifth place and vital championship points.

Securing the final stage victory on the Arena Panzerplatte, Evans brought his Fiesta home for his third successive win of the season ahead of Suárez; the Spaniard claiming his best finish in the WRC Academy to date. Setting the second fastest time through the Baumholder military ground, MacCrone pipped Van der Marel to the final podium position by just 7.1 seconds – some consolation after losing his early lead.

Recovering from his misfortunes on the first day of competition, Tidemand brought home some strong points in sixth, with Ko?i bringing his Fiesta home in seventh on his debut in the WRC Academy.

Elfyn Evans (1st) said:
“I am very happy with how today has gone. We had a difficult start yesterday – hard to find the right rhythm and set-up with the car. Shakedown was cancelled for us so it took a while to get that [the rhythm] going. It was a lot more slippery than we had expected and we were pretty lucky with a couple of moments!

“We had some bad weather on slicks this morning, but we got our heads together and did a solid job there and were able to build on our advantage from there on. We just concentrated on having a clean rally since then and we are happy to be here with the win now.

“We tried to maintain a reasonable pace without taking any risks and silly cuts – it has just been a case of management and doing enough to keep the concentration It is definitely a big boost for the championship.”

José Suárez (2nd) said:
“I am very happy with the result after a lot of problems this weekend. We had some small issues with the brakes yesterday and then the tyres this morning [on full slicks when the optimum choice was a mix of slicks and intermediates]. OK, I would prefer the victory, but second place is better than third!

“I am already looking ahead to France where I want the victory. The Tarmac there is much more tight and compact so maybe it will be even better for me. But all in all, we have secured a good result here towards the championship.”

John MacCrone (3rd) said:
“We had a bad start this morning with the punctures, but I am very happy with the podium finish. I feel bad for Brendan [Reeves] and Alastair [Fisher], but we pushed hard on the last stage [SS12], caught Timo [Van der Marel] and got the podium.

“Hopefully we’ll get the budget together for France in the next few days. I’m not sure what to expect [in France] because we’ve never been there before. We will just have to get there and see how we get on but hopefully we can set some good times there to.

“We’ve not sprayed the champagne for a while now, so I’m looking forward to the podium now!”

Timo Van der Marel (4th) said:
“I didn’t expect to finish fourth before the last stage – what a drama! We saw Brendan [Reeves] off on the stage and it was actually quite scary because it was next to one of the famous ‘Hinkelsteins’. I thought he had hit it so he must have been very lucky there. You lose your concentration a little after seeing something like that, but we were OK.

“We gave it a go, but John [MacCrone] was just too good this weekend. He was leading the event before he made a few mistakes so that tells the full story! Full respect and credit to him.

“For sure it is a shame to miss out on the podium by only seven seconds. But OK we were fifth, and maybe looking at sixth, before the last stage so I am very pleased. This is our best performance of the year so I am happy and hope to get a better result and maybe a podium in France.”

Brendan Reeves (5th) said:
“The last stage [SS12] was good until about 24 kilometres in! It was a six-right and a five-left wide, but it wasn’t as wide as I thought! We slid towards the ‘Hinkelsteins’ and I turned out because there was a gap and I didn’t want to hit one of them! We went off into the trees and became stuck there for a good fifteen minutes or so.

“We managed to get the car going again, but then we got a puncture. There was only about four and a half kilometres to go so I thought I would take it slow but I just destroyed the guard so we had to change the wheel in the end.

“But we got it back. In the end we have only lost five championship points compared to where we were, but it is still disappointing to end like that!”

Pontus Tidemand (6th) said:
“Not so happy at the end of this rally. It started pretty badly with a broken driveshaft on the first stage [SS1] which meant we had to retire on the first day. We restarted today and it’s all been about getting through to gain the experience without pushing. The other guys had built up so much more pace and confidence with the extra day’s driving, so it was not so easy to challenge them.

“For sure it is all good training. We didn’t push so much today so I don’t know where our pace will be when we get to France, but we will see how we do when we get there.”

Martin Ko?i (7th) said:
“The rally was quite good but we didn’t have much luck yesterday or even today. We had troubles all the time, but I have seen the stages on my first time here so hopefully we can do better next year.”

Alastair Fisher (DNF)
Becoming stuck in first gear on the final stage [SS12], Fisher was forced to retire from the event.

Fredrik Åhlin (DNF) said:

“I am now at the hospital in Trier and we have unfortunately retired from Rallye Deutschland. I was not feeling well this morning and after the first stage [SS7] I started to feel really sick and dizzy and then I threw up.

“We got to service ahead of Panzerplatte [SS9] but my condition just got worse and worse and after 10 km into the stage we decided to go slowly. After speaking to everyone in service, we decided I should retire because of my physical condition and I am now at the emergency room to try and find out why I am feeling like this.”

João Silva (DNF) said:
“I am very disappointed not to have been able to compete here this weekend. We had a really good recce and I feel really confident on Tarmac. You can already see in the [WRC] Academy that there are those drivers who are good on gravel, those who are good on Tarmac, and those who are good on both. I have a lot more experience on Tarmac and was really looking forward to showing some pace, but unfortunately we did not find the budget in time.

“Hopefully we will be back in France and I’ll be working hard looking for sponsors and trying to find the budget to complete the rest of the season.”

Ashley Haigh-Smith (DNF) said:
“I’ve been out watching the stages and the more you see the more you just want to be out there competing! It was good to see some of the [WRC] Academy guys on the stage though – it really showed just how competitive the field is because the top guys were all so neat and quick, better even than some of the guys in more powerful cars!

“I’d really like to be back competing in France and we are working hard to make it happen. We’re running an auction on our Facebook page to try and raise the budget. The top prize is an all expenses paid trip to the rally in either France or Spain – flights (from anywhere in the world), accommodation, food, access to the stages, everything paid for!

“We only need to sell 300 tickets to be in France and they are £85 each. Also everyone who buys a ticket will get a gift pack from the team with caps and t-shirts and a spot on my car at the event!

“I really hope the fans get behind us and that we can be back on the stages in France.”

SORDO SHOWS MINI'S STRONG PACE IN GERMANY

Posted: August 28, 2012 11:30 AM

Despite Dani Sordo showing some strong pace in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC, a puncture then an accident on the two runs through the notorious Panzerplatte stage on Saturday meant a top ten finish was the best the Prodrive WRC Team could achieve at Rally Germany.

Sordo ran as high as third on Saturday, before the puncture struck, and without the misfortune on Panzerplatte, the team believe he could have finished as high as second, behind an almost untouchable Loeb.

Having not competed since Rally New Zealand, it took the first day's morning loop of stages for Sordo to find his form, but from there he steadily increased his pace. When rain fell on Saturday morning, and with the field on hard compound Michelin tyres, Dani showed his skills and the balance of the MINI WRC chassis by claiming the fastest time on stage eight. An unusual tyre deflation on the first run through the 46km Panzerplatte, where an impact split the centre of the rim without damaging the tyre, cost Dani more than two minutes, dropping him to sixth and effectively out of contention for a podium.

While pushing on the second run through the same long stage, Sordo lost control of the car, hitting a hinkelstein* and forcing him to stop. After the team repaired the car overnight, he returned this morning under Rally 2 in 12th position. Keen to learn the new Dhrontal stage he drove steadily on both passes setting a sixth and third fastest time, before tackling the short 4.6km powerstage around the centre of Trier, moving up to tenth place in the process.

Dave Wilcock, MINI WRC Team principal, said:
"We came here believing we had the pace to get a podium and by Friday evening and Saturday morning we were demonstrating that. However, everything changed on Panzerplatte with the unlucky tyre deflation then Dani's off, and after that it was damage limitation. While I am clearly very disappointed with the result, I am pleased with the pace we have shown. We can now focus on preparing for Rally France in six weeks comfortable in the knowledge that we continue to have the pace to compete at the front."

Dani Sordo said:
"I am very disappointed, because we were going so well before the puncture and after that we were in sixth and didn't really have anything to fight for. The car was good, but certainly not having a safety note crew affected us as I did not have so much confidence. Still I think we can improve the car further and with more luck get a much better result in France."

*Hinkelstein is a large concrete block used on this military range to keep tanks on the road.

DMACK Progresses With Deutschland Development

Posted: August 28, 2012 11:29 AM

World rally tyre manufacturer DMACK is encouraged after the performance of its asphalt tyres on ADAC Rallye Deutschland confirmed the success of its on-going technical development in the FIA World Rally Championship. The firm was running its hard H compound asphalt tyre for the first time this season and a raft of Production WRC and privateer runners were satisfied with its performance.

Rallye Deutschland is renowned for its unique challenge. Not only does it pose some of the toughest sealed surface stages in the championship, but the changing surfaces and road characteristics make it even harder for competitors.

Based in Trier, close to the German border with Luxembourg, much of the action was played out on twisty roads running through the vineyards which line the Mosel river. However, Saturday’s longest stage of the rally, the 46km Panzerplatte, took crews to the rough Baumholder military ranges.

DMACK’s DMT-RC tyre, however, stood up well to the conditions with its robust construction adding to the puncture resistance. Competitors used a mix of the two available compounds during the event with both performing as expected.

It provided crews with sufficient grip and confidence to tackle the slippery vineyard stages and push on the more open traditional countryside tests even when rain on today’s final stages created some slippery sections.

The E-marked tyre was introduced successfully at Rallye Monte Carlo in January and since then competitors on DMACK tyres have taken a string of victories on rallies across the UK, France, Belgium and Ireland.

DMACK equipped Mexican Ricardo Trivino on his victory in the Rally Class category for production-based Subaru Imprezas. It also had a strong Middle East presence with Emirati Rashid Al Ketbi and Qatar driver Khalid Al Suwaidi both performing well on DMACK.

Dick Cormack, DMACK motorsport director, said:
“This event has some of the toughest asphalt stages in the championship and we’re pleased to see just how well the tyres have performed. We’re particularly encouraged with our H compound which was used for this first time this year and was a match for the rough military stages.

“Germany is an important market for DMACK and we’ve demonstrated this weekend just how strong our E-marked tyre is on a variety of surfaces and weather conditions.”

PACE AND POTENTIAL GO UNREWARDED FOR TÄNAK IN GERMANY

Posted: August 28, 2012 11:28 AM

Following what has been an impressive event for M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak at this weekend’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland – claiming his first two stage victories on asphalt and continuously challenging the manufacturer drivers – the Estonian withdrew from the event after the final service to give him the best possible chance going into the FIA World Rally Championship’s forthcoming rounds.

Despite being forced to Rally 2 after an incident on SS12, the Estonian was in ninth place overall before withdrawing. Elsewhere however, there was further misfortune for team-mate Evgeny Novikov who retired from the event on SS13.

Embarking on the final day of competition, M-Sport’s duo were set to tackle two passes of Dhrontal – putting all that they have learnt into practice on a stage that incorporated many of the event’s characteristics with a mix of tight and twisting vineyards and open country roads – before the Circus Maximus Power Stage through the cobbled streets of Trier.

Having set the stages alight with two stage wins on the previous day, Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk were back to business with more impressive times on Day 3. Despite yesterday’s encounter with a ‘Hinkelstein’, the Estonian set the fourth fastest time through SS13 and piloted his Ford Fiesta RS WRC to a further fourth fastest time through the second pass (SS14).

With an impressive showing on asphalt this weekend, the team made the tactical decision to withdraw Tänak from the event after the final service to give the youngster the best possible opportunity going into the forthcoming events.

Elsewhere, using the rally to learn the stages and perfect the set-up of their Ford Fiesta RS WRC following an unlucky early retirement on the first day of competition, Novikov and co-driver Nicolas Klinger encountered further misfortune on the final day. Despite making it to the end of SS13 with the 11th fastest time, the Russian was forced to retire after developing a problem with the rear differential through the stage.

Ott Tänak (DNF) said:
“I am satisfied with the speed we had this weekend. We got our first stage wins on Tarmac but I am really disappointed with what happened on the Baumholder stage yesterday evening [SS12]. OK, I was trying quite hard and wanted to do well, but that is how it ended.

“The times have been good so I have to be happy with that for now. I have a good feeling with the car on Tarmac at the moment. The next Tarmac event will be in France and I also won there with the [Fiesta] S2000 [as part of the S-WRC] last year so hopefully we can do well there too.”

Evgeny Novikov (DNF) said:
“We had a problem with the rear differential on the first stage this morning [S13] – nothing we could do.

“Of course this has not been the best rally for us, but we have to keep going and keep fighting. We got some good experience of the stages and how to set up the car – not 100 per cent unfortunately, but something at least.

“Now we just have to look ahead to the next event [Wales Rally GB] where we can hopefully be back fighting where we need to be.”

Latvala seals asphalt best to claim second for Ford in Germany

Posted: August 28, 2012 11:26 AM

Ford World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila claimed a career-best result on asphalt when they finished second in Rallye Deutschland today. Driving a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car, the Finns overcame demanding conditions in the Mosel wine region to secure their best finish in the FIA World Rally Championship since victory in Sweden in February.

Team-mates Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson finished 11th in a similar Fiesta RS WRC. They held second until retiring yesterday morning after hitting a rock and damaging the car’s suspension. They restarted today with time penalties and earned a points-paying finish in the manufacturers’ series.

This ninth round, based in Trier in south-west Germany, marked the first pure asphalt fixture of the season and the characteristics of the speed tests changed constantly. Bumpy narrow vineyard tracks, which zig-zagged across the hillsides, contrasted with concrete kerbstone-lined roads in the Baumholder military area, which are more accustomed to hosting tank training exercises.

Drivers tackled 15 special stages covering 1113.59km during the three-day event and the notoriously inclement weather also played its part. After high temperatures during the opening leg, colder weather and rain brought an extra challenge as drivers grappled not only with slippery roads, but also the dilemma of whether to opt for Michelin’s hard or soft compound tyres in the changing conditions.

Latvala was frustrated after choosing soft settings on his Fiesta RS WRC during Friday’s opening morning but after switching to a harder set-up, the 27-year-old Finn won two stages and ended the leg in third. Unexpected rain surprised all the front-runners early in the second leg and Latvala dropped 30sec after locking his brakes in the wet, overshooting a bend and becoming stuck in a field.

He dropped to fifth, but immediately recovered to second after a blistering performance over the marathon Panzerplatte stage in Baumholder. With a large time gap to the leader and a comfortable advantage over his pursuers, Latvala took no risks yesterday afternoon and eased through today’s final leg, comprising three stages and 65.89km, to secure second.

“It feels great to finish on the podium on asphalt and I’ll take great confidence from my best result on this surface,” he said. “This rally hasn’t been kind to Ford over the years so it’s a boost for everyone in the team. It was a hard event but we showed that the pace of myself and the car on asphalt continues to improve.

“The distance between ourselves and the winner was two minutes so we need to remain realistic and understand that there is still work to do. But I feel sure that we will be able to challenge for victory again on the remaining two asphalt rounds,” added Latvala.

On his first traditional asphalt event in a Fiesta RS WRC, 37-year-old Solberg was immediately on the pace. He ended the opening leg in second, but the Norwegian’s hopes of a strong result ended yesterday morning when he slid wide on a tightening left bend and hit a rock. Although he tried to continue, the damage was too great to complete the stage.

He restarted today under Rally 2 regulations and won the second stage, but his disappointment could not be disguised.
“It would have been fantastic for the team to have finished second and third, but the car snapped away and once I hit the rock, it was all over. Until then my rally went extremely well. The testing and hard work that we put in improved the car on this surface and I was delighted with the pace,” he said.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson said the result was a ‘big confidence boost’.
“We were disappointed with our performance on the last round in Finland, so to come to an asphalt rally, where we’ve traditionally struggled, and be so competitive is pleasing. I was disappointed Petter went off but encouraged by the pace of both drivers, and I’m confident for the future on asphalt,” he said.

Ford Racing senior manager Gerard Quinn said:
“Our drivers acknowledge that asphalt is their least favourite surface, so this weekend was always going to be tough. From the outset a podium was our objective and we achieved that. I’m happy with the performance of both drivers, although obviously disappointed for Petter. Considering we haven’t competed on asphalt since the opening round, I’m satisfied with a podium.”

News from other Ford teams

Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson brought Adapta World Rally Team’s Fiesta RS WRC into fourth. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk completed the final stage in ninth but were withdrawn at the final service. The car was damaged after crashing out yesterday and his retirement will allow the team to fit replacement parts for the next asphalt rally in France in October. Team-mates Evgeny Novikov / Nicolas Klinger retired after today’s opening stage with a broken rear differential. Daniel Oliveira / Carlos Magalhaes finished 24th in the Brazil World Rally Team car after losing time earlier in the event when they went off the road and broke a driveshaft. Elfyn Evans / Phil Pugh claimed their third consecutive victory in the Ford Racing-supported FIA WRC Academy to open a 35-point lead in the series with two rounds remaining.

Next round

The championship returns to gravel next month when Wales Rally GB moves forward from its traditional date as the final round. The event is based in Cardiff from 13 - 16 September.

Results

Posted: August 28, 2012 11:24 AM

1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 WRC 3hr 41min 52.4sec
2. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3hr 43min 52.5sec
3. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 WRC 3hr 44min 23.8sec
4. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3hr 45min 16.8sec
5. C Atkinson/S Prévot AUS Mini John Cooper WRC 3hr 51min 02.8sec
6. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 3hr 51min 43.2sec
7. A Mikkelsen/O Floene NOR Skoda Fabia S2000 3hr 54min 15.1sec
8. N Al Attiyah/G Bernacchini QAT Citroen DS3 WRC 3hr 54min 42.8sec
9. D Sordo/C Del Barrio ESP Mini John Cooper WRC 3hr 56min 09.7sec
10 M Arzeno/R Jamoul FRA Peugeot 207 S2000 3hr 57min 12.1sec

TOUGH TARMAC TEST FOR FIA WRC ACADEMY CREWS IN TRIER

Posted: August 20, 2012 12:00 PM

A new challenge awaits the FIA WRC Academy crews next week as they embark on the first all-asphalt event of the season at the 2012 ADAC Rallye Deutschland. With Tarmac specialists coming to the fore and the regular front-runners well prepared for the challenges ahead, the WRC Academy – supported by Ford Racing in Europe and with control tyres from Pirelli – is poised to host some of the most competitive rallying in the field once again.

As asphalt challenges go, Rallye Deutschland is arguably the most daunting. Contesting 12 special stages over two days, the competitors will have to contend with the twisting roads through the Mosel vineyards and the perilous dash between the ‘Hinkelstein’ concrete blocks that litter the Arena Panzerplatte. A firm favourite on the calendar, Rallye Deutschland attracts fans from throughout Europe and the WRC Academy crews will be out to impress as they look to prove their speed and potential in front of an army of spectators.

After learning the art of asphalt driving during a pre-rally Tarmac training session with some of the most experienced tutors in the industry at Ford’s state-of-the-art testing facility in Lommel, Belgium, competitors will then watch the experts in action – spectating at the DTM race at the legendary Nürburgring – before putting all that they have learnt into practice on Rallye Deutschland’s notoriously challenging roads.

Having secured back-to-back victories in Greece and Finland, Elfyn Evans will be looking to extend his lead in the overall standings next week. Those who have the Welshman down as a gravel-expert should beware as Evans also holds the record for the Ford Fiesta R2 in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) when he secured a sensational 16th place overall on the asphalt roads of the 2011 Rallye de France. What is more, with a Tarmac test rally this weekend in the British Rally Championship – which Evans is also leading – the 23-year-old will be full of confidence and a firm favourite for victory in Germany.

With three consecutive podium finishes this year, consistency has been the name of the game for Australia’s Brendan Reeves. As the only driver to have stood on the podium at each of the WRC Academy’s 2012 events to-date, Reeves is currently holding second place in the overall standings. After raising funds by selling places on the bonnet of his Ford Fiesta R2 – including one to Ken Block’s co-driver, Alex Gelsomino – the Australian will be well prepared following a pre-event test on-location in Germany. Reeves has also been putting his driving into practice at the Nürburgring and setting up an auction – which includes a signed race suit from Sébastien Ogier’s co-driver Julien Ingrassia – on his all-new Brendan Reeves Motorsport Facebook page.

Following a disappointing Rally Finland when a puncture put an end to any hopes of a podium finish, Alastair Fisher will be out to impress on Rallye Deutschland. Having secured a Tarmac victory in the Academy last year – at Rallye de France Alsace – Fisher is another driver in contention for the win next weekend. With a test rally at the Toddsleap International Rally of Ulster in his native Northern Ireland this weekend, the 23-year-old will be up to speed as the WRC Academy embarks on its closed-surface campaign next week.

After sealing his second podium of the year in Finland, Pontus Tidemand will be looking for another strong result as the championship turns to what will be an unfamiliar surface for the Swede. But the 21-year-old will be ready for the challenge having tested both a Ford Fiesta RS WRC and a Škoda S2000 after Rally Finland. Tidemand will also contest Västrallyt as part of the Swedish Rally Championship this weekend and with 2006 J-WRC champion co-driver Emil Axelsson in the navigator’s seat, the youngster will be in good hands.

Embarking on what is his preferred surface, José Suárez is set to shine at next week’s Rallye Deutschland. The Spaniard will be preparing for the event by contesting Rallye de la Famenne with Belgian company, Team Floral, in a Ford Fiesta R2 this weekend. The event in the Wallonie region of Belgium consists of 168km of Tarmac stages similar to those that lie in wait in Germany. Currently holding fifth position in the overall standings, the youngster will be looking to climb the leaderboard with the switch to asphalt next week.

Sporting a brand-new livery for Rallye Deutschland, John MacCrone will also be looking for a strong result on the first closed-surface test of the season. The Scot has been preparing for the event with tuition from British Touring Car Championship driver, Gordon Shedden, who advised the 23-year-old on all aspects of asphalt driving. This weekend will also see MacCrone attend Rallyday at Castle Combe – one of the biggest rally events in the UK – and he will be hoping the added seat time leaves him in good stead for a strong result.

Heading into what is effectively his ‘home’ event, Dutchman Timo Van der Marel will be out to impress in Germany. With a new Ford Fiesta R2 for this round, the 22-year-old’s sponsor, Trimline, will work tirelessly to sticker Van der Marel’s signature black-and-orange livery – this time with an exciting matt-black finish. Rallye Deutschland will also see the KNAF-supported driver auction a passenger ride for his supporters to experience life as a WRC co-driver, more details of which can be found on his Facebook page. Having been chasing a podium finish at Rally Finland, the Dutchman will be hoping the momentum continues into the second half of the season.

Looking to get his WRC Academy campaign back on track following a string of misfortunes this year, speedy Swede Fredrik Åhlin will be full of confidence going into the fourth round of the season having secured a class victory at Rally Killingen in his native Sweden last week. The event also saw the 21-year-old pilot his Ford Fiesta R2 to fourth place overall ahead of several more powerful 4WD cars. Having held his own against the Tarmac specialists on last year’s venture to the German stages, Åhlin is another driver looking for a strong result next week.

Improving with each new round of the WRC Academy, João Silva will be looking to continue his development in Germany. The Portuguese driver’s progress has been amongst the best in the field this season and Silva will be looking for another encouraging showing as the championship turns to asphalt. Fresh from a vacation in Porto Santo with his family and co-driver, Hugo Magalhães, Silva will be fully rested and up for the challenge of Tarmac driving.

Blighted by misfortune on the previous two events, South Africa’s Ashley Haigh-Smith will be looking to rejuvenate his assault on the WRC Academy in Germany. Contesting the Rally of South Africa in his homeland this weekend, the extra competitive seat time will see the 19-year-old well-placed for a strong comeback. Since Rally Finland, Haigh-Smith has also launched an exciting raffle on his Facebook page for fans to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Rallye de France in support of his WRC campaign.

Joining the WRC Academy ranks for a one-off event in Germany, Martin Ko?i will be looking to make a lasting impression on the series as he makes the most of all that benefits a WRC Academy competitor. As one of Eastern Europe’s most talented up-and-coming young drivers, the Slovakian claimed third place in the Czech edition of the Citroën Racing Trophy last year and will be keen to replicate those successes in Germany.

This year’s event marks Rallye Deutschland’s 10th anniversary in the WRC, and each of the WRC Academy crews will be looking to celebrate the landmark with a strong result.

Currently leading the WRC Academy, Elfyn Evans said:
“I’m feeling pretty comfortable on Tarmac. Hopefully our preparation this weekend [at the Toddsleap International Rally] will go well and we can get a good finish in Germany. The championship will be our main priority – it’s all about keeping it on the road and getting the points on the board – but we’ll certainly be looking for another strong result.

“We have had a short Tarmac test and have been working on our pacenotes too. I am feeling really comfortable with Phil [Pugh] now – we’re both at ease with each other in the car and we just need to keep that momentum pushing forward.”

Currently holding the runner-up spot in the WRC Academy, Brendan Reeves said:
“With the change from gravel to Tarmac, I think we will see a real mix-up in the championship. I haven’t done a Tarmac rally since April so we will have to learn to be very straight and smooth with the car again.

“We have raised more money through our supporters by running 20 names on the bonnet [of our Ford Fiesta R2] in Germany to pay for a much-needed test to help us to be in the groove when the first stage goes ‘green’. We are also participating in the driver training that M-Sport has arranged for us at Lommel, so I think our preparation for this event will be excellent!

“Since Finland, we have been to the Nürburgring and done some laps in a front wheel-drive car and also focussed on our fitness. The longest stage in Germany is 46.5km so it is vital to be ready physically as well as mentally. We have also improved our pacenotes this year so I am really looking forward to trying them in Germany and trying to improve on our second place in the Championship.”

M-SPORT DUO UP FOR THE CHALLENGE IN DEUTSCHLAND

Posted: August 20, 2012 11:59 AM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak face a new challenge next week as the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) embarks on the first all-asphalt event of the year at the 2012 ADAC Rallye Deutschland.

Arguably the most daunting Tarmac test of the season, the onus will be on car and tyre preservation and the M-Sport duo will need to be at the top of their game with word-perfect pacenotes and total concentration as they strive for another strong result on Germany’s treacherous sealed-surface stages.

With 15 special stages close to the border with Luxembourg, Rallye Deutschland will see the crews tackle three days of rallying and face the challenge of adapting to differing stage characteristics on each day of competition.

The tight and twisty tracks through the picturesque Mosel vineyards require a perfect set-up for precision cornering, yet the fast and flowing roads through Germany’s Saarland region will allow the youngsters the freedom to really showcase their speed. The most demanding test will be found on the perilous dash between the ‘Hinkelstein’ concrete blocks that litter the Baumholder military ground, and M-Sport’s young guns will need to have their wits about them as they navigate the notorious Arena Panzerplatte.

Nevertheless, thanks to the demanding nature of the stages, Rallye Deutschland is one of the most popular on the WRC calendar. Attracting a host of rally fanatics from throughout Europe, the M-Sport pairing will be out to impress in front of the hundreds of thousands of adoring fans.

Rallye Deutschland will be particularly challenging for Novikov. Not only will this be the Russian’s first venture to the event, but the 21-year-old will also welcome a new co-driver to the navigator’s seat of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC – a member of his gravel crew and 2008 Intercontinental Rally Championship winning co-driver, Nicolas Klinger. Having injured his back at Rally Finland earlier this month, regular co-driver Denis Giraudet will forfeit the event to ensure that he is fully fit for the remainder of the season, and he was instrumental in the decision to appoint 36-year-old Klinger to the pacenotes.

Ever undaunted by the challenges ahead, Novikov will remain one to watch on the asphalt stages. Securing back-to-back fifth-place finishes in Monte-Carlo and Sweden – events which he was also contesting for the first time this year – one can never discount the ALM Russia driver’s ability to impress, giving the stages his customary dose of ‘maximum attack’.

Participating in Rallye Deutschland for the third time, Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk are well-versed in what it takes to tame the event’s Tarmac tests. Tackling the event for the first time as part of the Pirelli Star Driver scheme in 2010, Tänak returned to take the S-WRC victory by over five-and-a-half minutes last year as he dominated behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta S2000. The Estonian will be looking for strong form again this year as he graduates to the Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

This weekend will see the 24-year-old join his Ford World Rally Team comrade, Petter Solberg, at the Castle Combe Rallyday in the UK. Acting as a judge for Castrol Edge’s ‘Search for a Rally Star’, Tänak will impart his knowledge of both Tarmac and gravel rallying to the hopefuls before making the journey to the ninth round of the WRC season for the real deal.

Following his sixth-place finish at Rally Finland earlier this month, the Estonian will be looking to maintain the momentum and replicate his previous successes on the German event.

Evgeny Novikov said:
“I’m feeling good ahead of the event and looking forward to getting back in the car. I’m ready to fight and in a really good mood for the rally.

“It will be very strange not having Denis [Giraudet] next to me, but Nicolas [Klinger] is a very nice guy and also a very good co-driver. We will work hard during the recce to make sure that our pacenotes are as good as they can be and I am sure that everything will be fine.

“This will be my first time at this event so it will be all about doing our best for a good result.”

Ott Tänak said:
“This will be the first proper Tarmac event of the year so for sure it will be a challenge. In the beginning it will not be so easy to get back into the rhythm of driving on asphalt, but we should be able to find our pace throughout the weekend.

“This will be my third time in Germany. On the recce the roads can look quite easy, but they are really deceptive! During the event there are lots of cuts and – especially on the military ground – a lot of mud and gravel can get pulled onto the road which makes it quite slippery and a big challenge.

“I’ve got no target in mind for this event – just keep going, find our pace and hopefully secure another good result for the team.”

Citroen Racing - BACK ON TARMAC FOR THE WRC

Posted: August 20, 2012 11:55 AM

After a long series of six gravel rallies, the World Rally Championship returns to tarmac in Germany. Having won nine times here since 2002, the Citroën Total World Rally Team has really savoured this event in recent years, and it is also a rally that is very popular with French fans. Winners on their last four outings in the WRC, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena will be looking for a 74th world championship victory. Although contested on a less familiar surface than in their native Finland, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen will also be keen to match their performances in recent events.

Based in Trier, not far from Luxembourg, Belgium and the Lorraine region of France, the Rallye Deutschland attracts hundreds of thousands of rally to the heart of Europe. With stages through the Mosel vineyards and the Baumholder military camp, this is very much a multi-faceted rally.
“People often say that this is my home event, because it was the closest rally to my native Alsace when the Tour of Corsica was still on the WRC calendar. I really like this rally, because there are always a lot of friends there to support me… and also because I have won there eight times”, smiled Sébastien Loeb. “I still don’t find it easy, especially if it rains. Mud gets dragged onto the racing line and that leads to radical changes in grip that can be difficult to manage on such narrow and fast roads.”

As ever, day one will feature stages through the vineyards that slope down towards the Mosel. The second leg looks set to be a long and exhausting day for crews and mechanics alike, with two runs on the 46km-long Arena Panzerplatte stage and two remote service periods in Birkenfeld, with a return to the main service park in between. Sunday will see the final sprint for home, with two stages in the former French department of Sarre preceding the Power Stage held in the streets of Trier.

After he was beaten by his then team-mate in 2011, Sébastien Loeb is determined to add a ninth win to his impressive record here:
“At least everyone has stopped asking me how many times I could win here in a row! Last year, I was on course to win, but I was a bit unlucky to pick up a puncture on a long straight section. Michelin has responded since then, introducing new, tougher tyre carcasses. Since July, we have devoted a good amount of time in testing to adapting the ground link technology to the tyre upgrade. I am pleased with the progress we’ve made. We might be a little bit slower on the uneven sections, but that will be true for everyone.”

After finishing runner-up five times in the first eight rallies this season, Mikko Hirvonen also lies second the World Championship standings, 43 points behind his team-mate. As third place is his best result in Germany (2007), the Citroën driver hopes to do better this year:
“I've always liked racing on tarmac. I was fairly competitive in Corsica and Germany a few years ago. I feel very confident in the Citroën, more than I have ever done on this surface. I had that feeling on the dry stages in Monte-Carlo. When I got back in the DS3 during testing, I could see the vast experience of the team on this type of surface. Of course, I tried to describe what I thought about the handling to the engineers, but I didn’t feel the need to make any changes to Seb’s set-up at all! We’ll have to wait and see during the first few stages to find out what level of performance I can achieve. If the conditions remain dry and consistent, I think I can be in contention to at least finish second!”

THREE QUESTIONS FOR… XAVIER MESTELAN-PINON
Citroën Racing Technical Director and Deputy Team Principal

The Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3 WRCs were fitted with new shock absorbers for Finland. Would you describe them as an upgrade or a radical change?
“At our level, it was quite a radical change! Actually, we introduced several improvements to the car in Finland: rear suspension wishbones, shock absorbers, onboard software to improve engine operating strategies… As regards the shock absorbers, it was a significant change. After over a year of studies and tests, we used a model where the obvious specific feature is the oil cylinder placed close to the inner mounting. The entire team was very proud of this new part, because our suspension systems are designed and manufactured at our Versailles-Satory plant.”

How was this new part vital in determining the outcome at the last event?
“When we work on the suspension, the aim is to keep the tyre in contact with the ground as much as possible. Obviously, it's impossible to achieve this all the time, but you must always try and strive for perfection. Since we started competing in the WRC with the Xsara, we have developed improved versions of the same shock absorber design. However, during development, we felt restricted in some areas. The design of this new part allowed us to break free of those restrictions. And yet it was only the weekend before the start that we confirmed this upgrade. The drivers, always asking for new parts and upgrades, confirmed that the change was a definite improvement. Then it really was a race against the clock to make sure that everything was ready in time for the rally, so much so that we had no spare parts. The one-two finish was the greatest reward for our hard work, but I'll also remember the compliment paid by Jarmo Lehtinen. He said that he didn’t feel his usual apprehension on this surface, at a rally that he knows very well. For the first time in his career, he enjoyed the Ouninpohja stage! Given the speed at which they drove, I think we can say that we did a great job!”

What does Mikko Hirvonen contribute, alongside Sébastien Loeb, to the development of the DS3 WRC?
“Our two drivers are very complementary and they often provide very similar technical feedback. If Seb leaves an element to one side that he thinks we can’t really improve, Mikko might be able to work on it, using his experience and feel. Sometimes, this works so well that Seb ends up adopting and enjoying the upgrade, and vice-versa. When we ran tests in Finland, Mikko knew exactly which points we needed to work on, such as how the car handled on a given jump… Conversely, during tests for Germany, he didn’t need to make the slightest change to the set-up, since all the work had already been done by Seb. Being able to count on two such drivers is a real joy for our team.”

Arduous Asphalt Test For DMACK In Deutschland

Posted: August 17, 2012 1:40 PM

DMACK will face a unique challenge next weekend when Rallye Deutschland throws three days of arduous asphalt action at cars, tyres and drivers in the FIA World Rally Championship.

However, the British-based manufacturer believes its tyres are up to the test after proving its asphalt compounds over the last few months on events across Europe. Competitors on the German-based round nine of the world series will use DMACK’s DMT-RC asphalt tyre which will be available in both S and H compounds. The E-marked tyre was introduced successfully at Rallye Monte Carlo in January but since then DMACK has been evaluating its sealed-surface compounds on national events.

Competitors on DMACK tyres have taken a string of important overall and class victories on rallies across the UK, France, Belgium and Ireland’s notoriously difficult Tarmac Rally Championship.

These developments have added confidence to the DMT-RC, which also benefits from superior puncture resistance due to its stronger sidewall construction. And DMACK believes this quality could be a real benefit on the treacherous stages on Baumholder’s military ranges next week.

The unique nature of Rallye Deutschland means it’s like tackling three different rallies – each with a unique challenge for DMACK’s tyres. Crews will race on narrow, bumpy lanes which thread their way through the vineyards of the Mosel valley but then face the open countryside with smooth, flowing country roads. However, the biggest test is on the second day when action moves to the rough, dusty and demanding military ranges.

Normally reserved for army tank training, the 46km of military roads which make up the Panzerplatte stage raise the possibility of punctures and the slippery surface has seen many drivers clout the large, unforgiving hinkelstein stones which line the road.

The unpredictable German weather is also likely to add to the challenge with many top crews having succumbed to the slippery conditions once rain hits the stages. DMACK-shod crews include a host of competitors in the Production World Rally Championship and the Rally Class contenders who all run on control DMACK rubber. The manufacturer will also have a range of more conventional moulded slick and intermediate tyres available for non-priority competitors.

Event Details
One again the German round of the WRC is based in the historic city of Trier with the podium formalities hosted by the Porta Nigra – a UNESCO world heritage site. Friday’s opening day is entirely based in the vineyard hills which line the Mosel valley but Saturday is probably the toughest test of all. Stages take place across all three areas so competitors will be faced with changing surfaces, countryside and speeds. Throw in two passes over the longest stage of the rally and two remote services at Birkenfield and it’s clear that a mistake-free run is a must.

Sunday finishes with two quick blasts through a vineyard stage before the streets of Trier host the Circus Maximus superspecial stage. In all, crews face 15 competitive stages covering 368.63km of competitive action. Dick Cormack, DMACK motorsport director, said:
“We’ve been delighted with the performance of our asphalt tyres on various national events over the last few months and that’s provided us with some valuable compound information. We know that the WRC is a much bigger challenge but the development has certainly been positive. There were quite a few punctures in Germany last year so we’ve concentrated on strengthening our tyre to hopefully limit any problems.”

FRESH CHALLENGES FOR THIERRY NEUVILLE AND NASSER AL-ATTIYAH

Posted: August 17, 2012 1:09 PM

Making his WRC comeback after an enforced three-month absence related to his involvement in the London Olympic Games, Nasser Al-Attiyah will be back alongside his co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini in his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen DS3 WRC at Rallye Deutschland. Constantly improving and confident as they head into a rally with which they are already familiar, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul (Citroen Junior World Rally Team) will be aiming to record their best result so far in the World Championship.

Three weeks after Finland, the setting will be radically different in Germany for the ninth round of the World Rally Championship. Held on roads around Trier, this will be as close as it gets to a home rally for Thierry Neuville. Originally from Saint-Vith, located in the heart of the small German-speaking part of Belgium, the Citroe?n Junior World Rally Team driver will need to travel less than a hundred kilometres to reach Trier!

Currently lying eighth in the World Championship standings, with two fifth places in Argentina and New Zealand as his best results, Thierry has surprised many WRC observers by the ease with which he has adapted to the championship. After being in contention for a top 5 place in Finland for long periods – despite it being his first experience at the rally – he is determined to take advantage of his knowledge of the German roads to reach new heights.

“I don't have a huge amount of experience at this event, as I have only competed here once before, in 2010 in a C2 Super 1600. And even then, I retired”, played down Thierry. “But that is already much more than the last few rallies where everything was totally new for me. What’s important is that the road surfaces in Germany are much more familiar to me. I don’t think I can be categorised as a ‘gravel’ or ‘tarmac’ driver, but I think I won't have any difficulty getting my bearings.” “My aim will be complete the rally without making any fatal errors, like I did in New Zealand for example. If I can manage that, I think I can challenge for a place in the top 5 and maybe even a spot on the podium,” warned Thierry.

The goals will be somewhat different for Nasser Al-Attiyah, who will be returning to the WRC after being away from the action since 27 May, after the end of the Acropolis Rally.
“The last few months have been incredible. I prepared very seriously for the Olympic Games and I achieved my dream in winning a bronze medal,” summarised the Qatari, who finished third in the Skeet competition (clay pigeon shooting). “I then stayed in London to enjoy the Games and soak up the fantastic atmosphere. I am very determined to try and win the gold medal in Rio in four years time! But before that, I’m very pleased to return to rallying. I couldn’t choose between my two passions. I realise just how lucky I am to be able to compete in both sports.”

For the time being, Nasser’s best result is the fourth place he recorded in Portugal. He knows that, realistically, he’s unlikely to pick up a ‘medal’ in Germany:
“Gravel is the surface on which I am most at ease. This will be my first ever tarmac rally in a WRC and I still need to do a lot more work to make progress. I have only raced here once before, last year. I'll be mainly looking to get back into the swing of things and listen to the advice from the team, who have a huge amount of experience at this rally.”

Ford duo eager to prove ‘practice makes perfect’ in Germany

Posted: August 17, 2012 11:47 AM

Ford World Rally Team’s drivers have prepared for next week’s opening pure asphalt round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Germany by fine-tuning their sealed surface technique at a race circuit in France. Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg covered almost 1000km of driving, during which they received expert tuition ahead of Rallye Deutschland (23 - 26 August).

The four-day session at the Circuit des Ecuyeres in Fary allowed both drivers to sample their Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car in wet and dry conditions around the 3km track. With wet weather a constant threat on the speed tests near Trier, close to the Luxembourg border in south-west Germany, the conditions provided perfect preparation for what the team might encounter on the rally.

“Using a circuit gave us a consistent location in which we could learn more about the Fiesta RS WRC in asphalt set-up,” explained team director Malcolm Wilson.
“Driving on the same stretch of track enabled us to understand accurately how small modifications to the set-up of the car affected its handling and performance.”

Although the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo was based on the asphalt roads of the French Alps, snow and ice and the use of studded tyres made it a specialised rally. Rallye Deutschland, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary in the WRC, is the first fixture since then to use asphalt and is regarded as the first traditional sealed surface round.

It is the first of three predominantly asphalt encounters in the final five rounds, and perhaps the most difficult. The threat of inclement weather combined with the ever-changing characteristics and surface of the special stages makes this one of the most unpredictable rallies of the year.

The stages cover three vastly different types of road. Bumpy, narrow tracks among the vineyards on the banks of the Mosel river comprise the first and third legs. Fast sections linked by sharp hairpin bends trace an undulating route as the roads zig-zag across the hillsides among the grapes. Overhanging vines frequently hide corners and it is hard to find a rhythm over the artificial tracks.

The public roads that wind through the Saarland countryside in the second leg are faster and more flowing, but the wooded tests can be treacherously slippery in the wet.

However, the Baumholder military land, used by US soldiers for tank training, provides the sternest challenge. Wide asphalt contrasts with bumpy and abrasive concrete, which demands high durability from Michelin’s tyres. The slightest mistake can be punished by high kerbstones, known as hinkelsteins, which line the roads to keep the tanks in position. The tracks are always dirty, a mix of sand and gravel making them slippery in both the dry and wet.

Latvala, partnered by Miikka Anttila, has good experience of the rally after eight previous starts, and says his much-improved asphalt form and recent tests have left him well-prepared for its demands.

“I’ve never been as competitive on asphalt as I was at the end of last year, and that gives me a lot of confidence. Both myself and the Fiesta RS WRC have really taken a step forward in that respect, and we know the car is well-balanced and competitive on every surface. We left the test in France with some good ideas and having done a lot of tyre testing in mixed weather conditions,” said the Finn.

“For me, Germany is the most difficult asphalt rally of the year. The stages are very enjoyable, but tyre choice is always extremely tricky and the hinkelsteins are very unforgiving; if you go wide in the Baumholder section, you pay a heavy price. However, whilst before we went there thinking a podium would be great, now we know we’ve genuinely got a chance of fighting for victory.”

Solberg, co-driven by Chris Patterson, has even more knowledge of the event with nine starts to his name. The Norwegian was denied a potential podium in Germany in 2011 by a series of punctures.

“I like Rallye Deutschland a lot; it’s always a fantastic event, with a really good atmosphere and lots of fans, and it will be good to get back onto asphalt for the first time since Monte-Carlo. Obviously I still don’t have masses of experience with the Fiesta RS WRC on asphalt, but the general feeling is good so it will be interesting to see how we compare to our opposition in Germany,” said Solberg.

“With the vineyards and military area, Rallye Deutschland is not like other asphalt rallies. The biggest challenge is the changeable surface and grip levels, and the Baumholder with its hinkelsteins is particularly tricky – especially if it rains! The key will be to stay out of trouble and see what happens.”

Team News

* Michelin’s Pilot Sport asphalt tyres will be used by the Ford drivers and will be available in hard compound for dry conditions and soft compound for wet or cold weather. Each driver has an allocation of 32 hard and 22 soft tyres, and can use a maximum of 40 during the rally. Teams are not allowed to hand-carve additional cuts into the tyres and each car can carry two spare wheels.

* Five crews will compete in privately-run Fiesta RS WRCs. Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk and Evgeny Novikov / Nicolas Klinger (standing in for Denis Giraudet) are nominated by M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, while Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson represent Adapta World Rally Team. Martin Prokop / Zden?k Hr?za crew the Czech Ford National Team car, with Brazil World Rally Team entering Daniel Oliveira / Carlos Magalhäes.

* The rally marks the fourth round of the Ford Racing-supported FIA WRC Academy. Eleven young drivers will campaign identical Fiesta R2 cars over the opening two days of the main event. The series is led by Elfyn Evans.

* Petter Solberg will drive a Fiesta RS WRC at tomorrow’s (Saturday) Rallyday show at Castle Combe race circuit in Britain. It will be Solberg’s first appearance at the non-competitive event.

Rally Route

The format is similar to previous years with Trier hosting the service park and the city’s historic Porta Nigra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the location for Thursday evening’s start ceremony and Sunday’s finish. While the stage locations are also familiar, all but one of the 15 tests are used in a new configuration to keep competitors on their toes. Friday’s action is based in the Mosel vineyards before Saturday’s leg, the longest of the rally, takes in a mix of Mosel, Saarland and Baumholder tests. There are two visits to a short remote service zone at Birkenfeld. The final day comprises just two passes over another Mosel test before a spectacular Power Stage in the streets around Porta Nigra, the only unchanged route from 2011, with bonus points on offer to the fastest three drivers. Competitors face 15 stages covering 368.63km in a route of 1113.59km.

KOCI ENROLS IN FIA WRC ACADEMY

Posted: August 17, 2012 10:38 AM

The fourth round of the FIA WRC Academy at the 2012 ADAC Rallye Deutschland will be one of new experiences for the WRC Academy crews. Not only will the event see the competitors tackle asphalt rallying for the first time this season, but it will also see them welcome a new crew to the ranks – Slovakia’s Martin Ko?i and his Czech co-driver Lukáš Záme?ník.

Contesting Rallye Deutschland as part of the WRC Academy for a one-off taster event ahead of the 2013 season, Ko?i will experience all that benefits a WRC Academy competitor on-event. Rallye de France and Rally de España remain open for similar initiatives, and any up-and-coming young driver eager to get a taste of the WRC Academy – supported by Ford Racing in Europe and with control tyres from Pirelli – should contact WRC Academy Manager, Kate Rhodes (krhodes@m-sport.co.uk).

At the tender age of 19, Ko?i is one of the most promising young talents in Eastern Europe. Born into the world of motorsport, the youngster started his career at the wheel of Havel Buggies, competing in his first race at the age of nine in non-motor karts.

Embarking on a career in rallying, the then 16-year-old was swiftly ranked amongst the top N1 category drivers. Last year saw Ko?i finish third in the Czech Republic’s Citroën Racing Trophy, but the youngster marks the 2007 Nyirad Autocross as his most memorable event – finishing first in the JB 600 MSR category for the very first time.

Ko?i will contest the fourth round of the WRC Academy with the backing of his Styllex Motosport Team – the most successful team in Slovakia.

Although Ko?i and Záme?ník will be unable to score points when they join the WRC Academy crews at Rallye Deutschland, the duo will profit from a wealth of training and experience as they prepare for a full assault on the series next year should their Styllex Motorsport team succeed in raising the necessary funds.

Specifically, Ko?i and Záme?ník will have the opportunity to attend a training session from renowned shock absorber manufacturers, Reiger, on location in Trier. Sharing their knowledge of damper set-up and mechanics, representatives from Reiger will strip a Ford Fiesta R2 damper to give a fuller understanding of the car’s suspension and how adjusting the damper ‘clicks’ can improve the performance of the car.

Martin Ko?i said:
“Our team has been considering my participation in the WRC Academy for a couple of months now. After Finland our [regular] car cannot be prepared in time for Germany, so this is a great opportunity for us to experience all that the WRC Academy has to offer.

“I am looking forward to comparing my skills with the fast drivers in the [WRC] Academy. This will be my third WRC event and my goal for the season is to gain many valuable experiences and get acquainted with various characters in the WRC. I hope to get used to the Ford Fiesta [R2] quickly and achieve some good times.”

The closing dates for entry to the 2012 Rallye de France-Alsace and the 2012 RACC Rally de España are the 4th September and 8th October respectively. Those wishing to join the WRC Academy ranks for either of the final two events should contact the WRC Academy Manager prior to the closing date.

Seeded Entry List

Posted: August 14, 2012 2:55 PM

(Eamonn Boland entered in a Subaru Impreza R4)

Sordo's confidence grows for Germany

Posted: August 2, 2012 2:41 PM

Dani Sordo and the Prodrive WRC team have completed a successful two day test in the Mosel Valley this week ahead of Rally Germany and are increasingly confident that they can challenge at the head of the field for the Trier-based event in three weeks.

The Prodrive WRC Team will now compete on the final three tarmac rounds of the WRC in Germany, France and Spain. The decision means the MINI team will not travel to Wales for Rally GB, but instead will concentrate on the rallies it believes Sordo has the best chance of success.

The Prodrive team took the initial findings of its UK tarmac test in July and confirmed these in the vineyards of the Mosel on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Dani Sordo having great confidence in the handling and balance of the car.

Sordo said:
"The test has gone really, really well. We have made lots of improvements to the chassis and set-up and I have a really good feeling for the car and am able to push really hard. It has certainly given me a lot of confidence going into the rally in three weeks. For sure all the other teams will also have improved and we won't really know where we stand until the first few stages, but I will certainly be looking to go even faster than last year."

Team principal, Dave Wilcock, led the test this week and is confident about the MINI WRC's tarmac pace. He said:
"Last year we had a great test here and Dani went on to third in Germany and then nearly won in France. This test has gone just as well and you can tell that Dani is very happy with the car. When he is like that, he is a match for anyone on tarmac. With the enhancements on the car we made in March, we should be faster here than last year. If all goes well let's see if we can take one or two more steps up the podium."

Prodrive eyes success in Germany

Posted: July 23, 2012 11:17 AM

The Prodrive WRC Team has started its preparations for Rally Germany with a two day test at its private proving ground in Warwickshire.

Dani Sordo and Carlos Del Barrio completed more than 100 km in the MINI John Cooper Works WRC and were able to trial the Michelin tarmac tyre for the first time this year with various combinations of suspension set-up and weight distribution.

The team created a tarmac stage to simulate the roads it will find in the Mosel Valley at the end of August. The 4km loop used parts of Prodrive's main circuit, adverse handling circuit as well as perimeter roads.

"It the first time we have used our own track in this way," said team principal, Dave Wilcock. "Fortunately the tarmac surface on our track is quite similar to that we will find in Germany and we have a number of tight and twisty sections and were able to create some longer drags and hairpins on the wider section by simply using tyres and cones. Very different weather over the two days also meant we could try various tyre combinations and gain invaluable data ahead of our pre-event test in the Mosel Valley at the end of the month."

At Rally Deutschland in 2011, Sordo gave MINI its first podium, finishing third. He then went on to narrowly miss out on a maiden win at the following event in France.

Wilcock added:
"Without doubt we are going to Germany in the knowledge that it is our best chance to date of a debut WRC win for the MINI. The car works well in tarmac set up and Dani showed last year how much he loved the roads. If we get some good fortune and things go our way, who knows where we will be come the powerstage."

Event Website / Rally Guide / Details

Posted: July 12, 2012 1:46 PM

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