Upcoming Events

 Past Events

 Future Events


Spain - 23-26 Oct 14

Posted: October 24, 2014 11:06 PM - 3490 Hits

Round 12 - 2014 World Rally Championship

Live Results (Spain 2014) | Also available at: rally-base results
Radio: WRC All Live Audio Stream
News: irallylive.com | www.wrc.com
Event Website: Rally Spain (Catalunya)

First stage each day - Irish/UK Times
SS1 Thu - 17:08 (Superspecial)
SS2 Fri - 07:33
SS8 Sat - 08:08
SS14 Sun 06:30

DOUBLE RATIONS FOR THE DS3 WRCS

Posted: October 23, 2014 12:21 PM

Since it first appeared on the World Rally Championship calendar in 1991, Rally de España has been won by all of Citroën Racing’s models. In 1999, the Brand claimed its first ever win in the WRC thanks to the Xsara Kit-Car driven by Philippe Bugalski and Jean-Paul Chiaroni. From 2005 onwards, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena began record-breaking series of eight consecutive wins in the Xsara WRC (2005-2006), C4 WRC (2007-2010) and DS3 WRC (2011-2012).

ONE CAR, TWO CONFIGURATIONS

Since 2010, Rally de España has become a unique event in the WRC. The season’s only mixed-surface event, it involves driving on gravel and tarmac in the same car. “It’s a rather specific challenge,” insisted Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “The main difficulty lies in converting our DS3 WRCs at the end of day one. This rally requires specific preparations and the demands in terms logistics are more significant here. Each of the drivers must also be capable of adapting to this change in road surface. We work on the parts that need to be changed and the set-up, but a large part of the adaptation comes down to the crews.”

“During the service period on Friday evening, eight mechanics will be hard at work for seventy-five minutes. Put simply, we only keep the body shell and the engine,” summarises Didier Clément, the DS3 WRC’s Chief Operations Engineer. “We have to prepare the assignment of the various tasks very meticulously. Everybody must know what they have to do. A few days before the rally, our teams practice switching from one configuration to the other.”

The other specific feature of the Catalan event is that a fairly significant portion of the first ‘gravel’ day is actually contested on tarmac. This is particularly true on the middle section of the long Terra Alta stage: “Traditionally, big gaps can open up on these sections. The cars don’t react the same way on tarmac roads, they tend to be less responsive. So it’s up to the driver to find the right pace so as to not overuse the tyres and keep as much grip as possible.”

KRIS MEEKE IMPROVING ALL THE TIME

“I feel I’m getting stronger and stronger,” commented Kris Meeke when he reflected about how he felt in the second half of the 2014 season. After finishing on the podium at Monte-Carlo in January, the Briton then took advantage of each of the following events to develop his knowledge of the WRC. And since the end of July, he has demonstrated his speed on all surfaces with third places in Finland, Australia and France.

“Every World Championship driver needs time to feel comfortable and to be able to show their potential,” he stressed. “The experience I have acquired is beginning to show. I’m managing to anticipate much more. My speed is more natural, and I’m able to go faster without taking as many risks as I did in the past.”

In Spain, Kris will have to learn about the stages again. Although he has previously contested the rally six times, he is less familiar with the current mixed-surface itinerary, having only experienced it once before in 2011: “The stages on tarmac are pretty similar to those that I already know. It’s true that I still need to get to grips with the gravel roads, but I’ll be doing my very best. We know it’ll be very close at the front. We just have to keep edging closer to first place.”

A NEW CHALLENGE FOR MADS ØSTBERG

Quick on gravel, Mads Østberg has shown improvement each time he has competed on tarmac. In Spain, with day one predominantly on his preferred surface and the rest of the rally on tarmac, he has the chance to record a good result. “We learned a lot during the earlier rounds in Germany and in France,” confirmed the Norwegian. “It’s up to us to make the most of the experience we have acquired recently and the progress made with the team to keep moving in the right direction.”

Mads is eager to line up at start of this unusual rally: “I like the type of gravel stages here. I have some fond memories of competing here, both in dry conditions and in the wet. I hope that I can at least be in the top three after the first leg. After that, I’ll need to adjust as quickly as possible to rediscover my reflexes on tarmac. We’ll have to do a full reset overnight and then wake up the next morning in ‘tarmac mode’. The key will be to use the new Michelin tyres really well and not overheat them. If everything goes well, then we should be capable of getting a good result.”

KHALID AL QASSIMI RETURNS TO THE WRC

Currently battling to win a second Middle East Rally Championship title, Khalid Al Qassimi returns to the WRC at Rally de España. Having competed with the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team in Sweden, Portugal and Italy, he is set to take on his first rally (partially) on tarmac for a year.

“I love the type of tarmac stages you get at Rally de España,” emphasized Khalid. “But if the roads are wet, it can become an entirely different challenge. On the other hand, Friday’s leg isn‘t one of my favourites on gravel. I might need a bit of time to get my bearings.”

Highly involved in the life of the team, the Abu Dhabi driver is also keen to offer his support to his team-mates: “I would like to wish the very best to Kris and Mads. I hope they can fight for the leading positions and score as many points as possible.”

Abu Dhabi Racing will also be represented by Mohamed Al Mutawaa and Stephen McAuley, registered in the WRC3 category in a DS3 R3. This penultimate event of the season will equally provide Sébastien Chardonnet/Thibault De la Haye and Stéphane Lefebvre/Thomas Dubois with an opportunity to compete in the WRC2 category in their DS3 R5s.

FROM GRAVEL TO TARMAC

Unlike last year, the crews will contest the gravel stages before tackling two days on tarmac. In gravel configuration, the WRCs will complete at least two shakedown runs on Thursday between 8am and 9.30am, around three kilometres from the service park.

At 1pm, the WRCs will leave Salou and head for the start of the opening stage, held on tarmac in the streets of Barcelona (3.2km/6.08pm). After covering a total distance of 222 kilometres, the cars will come back to parc ferme from 8.08pm.

Friday morning will see the serious action get underway with a first loop of three gravel stages: Gandesa (7km/8.33am), Pesells (26.59km/2.19pm) and Terra Alta (35.68km/10.01am), with its mix of both surfaces. After a thirty-minute service in Port Aventura starting at 12.06pm, the same loop will be repeated in the afternoon. From 5.22pm, all the cars must be converted to their tarmac configuration during a seventy-five minute flexi-service.

On Saturday, the second leg will start with Tivissa (3.96km/9.08am) before the long Escaladei (50km/9.51am) and then Colldejou (26.48km/11.14am). Following the midday break, the latter two stages will be contested a second time (2.16pm/3.39pm) before the day ends in Salou (2.24km/5.07pm) with a city centre test.

Two loops of two stages will make up the final sprint on Sunday. The crews will tackle La Mussara (20.48km – 7.30am/10.45am), at sunrise on the first pass, then Riudecanyes (15.55km – 8.20am/12.08pm), the second running of which will serve as the Power Stage and conclude the rally. The rally is scheduled to finish in Salou from 1.16pm.

Volkswagen trio hungry for victory: World Rally Championship reaches fever pitch in Spain

Posted: October 23, 2014 12:19 PM

Will it all be done and dusted? Or are we set for a super finale? The title race in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship enters the finishing straight at the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC): the Rally Spain (23.10.–26.10.). The spotlight at the 12th of this season’s 13 rallies will be on the Volkswagen pairings of World Championship leaders Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and second-placed Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN). The formula for success is simple for the remaining two contenders for the WRC crown: whoever finishes ahead of their closest rivals will have achieved their major goal for the rally. If defending champions Ogier and Ingrassia score one point more than their only challengers Latvala and Anttila, the Driver and Co-Driver titles will be theirs. However, should Latvala/Anttila finish ahead of their team-mates, the stage will be set for the ultimate in grand finales three weeks later at the Rally Great Britain. And then another aspect comes into play, which would only ever be possible in the battle for the World Championship title: Latvala/Anttila have surreptitiously become huge fans of Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N). Were the pair currently third in the World Championship to finish ahead of Ogier/Ingrassia but behind the Finnish duo – as they did in Sweden and most recently in France – that would increase Latvala’s chances of ending the season as World Champion. However, Mikkelsen/Fløene are not there to do their Nordic colleagues any favours: after five podiums in a row, the Norwegian pair are hungry for their maiden victory.

“I have never felt such a huge desire to win among our drivers and co-drivers since we first entered the World Rally Championship with the Polo R WRC,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “Any one of them can make history if they are successful. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia could wrap up their second World Championship title in a row – preferably with a win. In contrast, Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila are looking to keep the title race alive – again, preferably with a win. With five top-three finishes to their name, Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene have already far exceeded their goal of bringing three podiums to Wolfsburg this season. However, they too have their sights set on bringing their fabulous season to a perfect end – preferably with a win. As a team, you cannot wish for greater motivation ahead of the Rally Spain. We are looking forward to a real showdown.” ?

Just one more point: defending champion Sébastien Ogier within touching distance of the WRC title

Postponed, not abandoned – that is the motto, under which Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia travel to the Rally Spain. Having missed out on the Moët (champagne) and instead had to settle for Murphy’s (as in ‘law’) at their home rally in France, they now have their sights set firmly on achieving their goal of successfully defending the title in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship in Spain. And one single point could just prove to be enough. Ogier/Ingrassia need to score just one point more than their team-mates and fellow title contenders Latvala/Anttila to ensure the title remains in French hands.

It will be no easy task, however. Both Ogier/Ingrassia and Latvala/Anttila have shown their class on gravel and asphalt recently. The Rally Spain is the only event on the WRC calendar to feature roughly the same number of kilometres of special stage on both surfaces. The two leading duos in the overall standings will be faced with virtually identical conditions. Ogier/Ingrassia will open the route on the gravel of day one, with Latvala/Anttila directly behind them as the second World Rally Car onto the roads. The very same duel thrilled Spanish fans 12 months ago, when Latvala led after the opening two days, only to see his lead melt away on the final day, as his role as first man on road left him with no option but to sweep the gravel roads for his rivals behind him. The spectacular final-day showdown in 2013 did yield the first of nine Volkswagen one-twos in the history of the Polo R WRC.

Just one more win: “JML” out to keep title race alive

Win or bust, part two. After Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila made history at the Rally France in becoming the first Finnish duo to win an all-asphalt event for almost 15 years, closing the gap on title rivals Ogier/Ingrassia in the process, the Finns now face an equally challenging task in Spain. Latvala must finish ahead of Ogier – the further in front he finishes, the better for his World Championship chances. Only a win will really help the challenger significantly. He currently trails the defending champion by 27 points, with a maximum 28 up for grabs for a driver/co-driver duo at any individual rally. If things run in Latvala’s favour and against Ogier, the Rally Great Britain will provide the backdrop for a dream finale.

Just one more win: Volkswagen sets sights on another WRC record

The longest winning run in the history of the World Rally Championship (2013 and 2014). The most wins in a row in one season (2014). The largest margin of victory by any brand in the Manufacturers’ Championship (2013). Volkswagen been breaking and equalling records ever since the Polo R WRC made its first appearance at the 2013 Rally Monte Carlo and throughout its dominant seasons in 2013 and 2014. The team from Wolfsburg now has a great opportunity to add another footnote to its success story. Should Volkswagen win one of the season’s remaining two rallies in Spain or Great Britain, it would equal WRC rival Citroën’s record for the most victories in one season. Citroën set this benchmark of eleven victories in one World Championship year in 2005, when the WRC was held in 16 countries, and 2008, when the calendar consisted of 15 rounds.

Flat out for the big goal: Andreas Mikkelsen in ‘all or nothing’ mode

He has already exceeded his goal for the 2014 season. Now comes the fun part, at full throttle. With five podiums, including two runner-up finishes on ice and snow (Sweden) and asphalt (France), Andreas Mikkelsen has far surpassed the hopes many had of him this season. The final two rallies in Spain and Great Britain now present him with an excellent opportunity to set his sights on a maiden victory in the World Rally Championship. The Norwegian duo has already secured an outstanding third place overall, behind their team-mates in the Polo R WRC.

Finely-tuned buttocks and an eye for the best line – the key to success at the Rally Spain

The best the sport of rallying has to offer over three days: the Rally Spain presents drivers and co-drivers with a vast range of challenges. The rally opens with the short 3.2-kilometre “Barcelona” special stage on the slopes of the Montjuïc hill above the Catalonian metropolis, with the site of the 1992 Olympics forming a spectacular backdrop. The twelfth round of the World Championship then shows its true character on the Friday. This is the day for the gravel experts, with every stage covered in a fine layer of gravel, which is gradually swept clear with every World Rally Car that passes over it. A typical example of the challenges facing the drivers is the “Terra Alta” stage, which features five changes in surface and an asphalt section in the middle.

Having completely modified the World Rally Cars to their asphalt specifications for Saturday, the 50-kilometre “Escaladei” stage forms the rally’s longest special stage. Every kilometre here has played a role in the history of the Spanish round of the World Rally Championship. On Sunday the focus of the many fans will be on the “Riudecanyes” stage, which forms the Power Stage when the drivers return to tackle it at the end of the second loop. The rally has made the two roundabouts on this section of the route famous in Spain. It goes without saying that one of them must be taken with a complete “donut”. Narrow, winding uphill sections are also a dominant feature of this iconic special stage. The Rally Spain demands finely-tuned buttocks and an excellent sense for the perfect line on the narrow, winding asphalt roads.

Anniversary time: rally number 25 for the Polo R WRC

The Rally Spain marks the first big anniversary for the Polo R WRC: this is the 25th appearance in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) for the 315-hp World Rally Car from Wolfsburg. It’s record is something of a fairy tale: the four-wheel drive powerhouse currently has 20 wins and 38 podiums to its name. The Polo R WRC has won exactly 70 per cent of the special stages it has raced on – that is 313 of a possible 446. It has also made a staggering 717 appearances in the top three at the end of a special stage. And the Polo R WRC has also dominated the Power Stage, on which bonus points in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship are up for grabs for the top three crews. Of the 23 Power Stages contested so far, 17 have been won by a Volkswagen Polo R WRC. In total, the works duos have finished in the top three and picked up extra points on 41 occasions.

* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA.

Quotes ahead of the Rally Spain

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“We had a hapless time at our home rally in France. We have a lot to atone for, so I am even more motivated to do well at the Rally Spain. Julien and I had the opportunity to defend our title in France, but unfortunately it did not work out that way. However, I am absolutely convinced that we will defend our title in Spain. We won in Spain last year, and I feel fantastic. I have been doing a lot of exercise and am top fit. We are also testing our new tyres in France. We drove on them in France, and they did make us faster on some of the special stages. However, the conditions are completely different in Spain. The test in Spain will give us extra confidence.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I am looking forward to the Rally Spain, as I really like it. We are still in with a chance of winning the World Championship. I have never been in this situation with two rallies to go. The first day is on gravel, the other two on asphalt. I think it could be an exciting duel between Sébastien Ogier and me. As long as I still have a chance I will keep on fighting. The surface is relatively hard on the gravel stages, but is covered by a fine layer of loose gravel. The road sweeper effect is particularly potent here. That could give me a slight advantage. On the other hand, the dust in the air could impair my vision. Whatever happens, the characteristics of the route suit me. I like the rally and we have a good set-up for gravel and asphalt, with which I am very comfortable.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I head to Spain relatively relaxed, as my second place in France was enough to secure third place in the overall standings. The result in France was important for me, as it relieved a little pressure. That will certainly help me in my quest to finally claim my first win in the World Rally Championship. I will probably take a few more risks to achieve my next goal. I have finished second on two occasions this season, and am closing in on win number one. If it does not come off in Spain, then hopefully in Wales at the latest.”

News from the Volkswagen team

+++ Plunging from a height of 220 metres: Julien Ingrassia overcame a real challenge ahead of the Rally Spain. The colleagues at the rallytheworld.com website organised extreme tests for all three Volkswagen co-drivers. Miikka Anttila had to read his pace notes on a rollercoaster, while Ola Fløene was given the same challenge whilst on a stunt flight with Red Bull Air Race pilot Matthias Dolderer. Julien Ingrassia had a particularly tough nut to crack: he read from Sébastien Ogier’s pace notes whilst bungee jumping from a height of 220 metres. In racing overall and with his helmet on, of course. +++

+++ Grand entrance for the Polo R WRC and Jari-Matti Latvala: the World Rally Car, with which Volkswagen won the Manufacturers’ title in the World Rally Championship in 2013 and 2014*, was the opening car at the Rallylegend. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila – the latest driver/co-driver pairing to join the exclusive club of rally drivers who have won on all surfaces, thanks to their first win on asphalt at the recent Rally France – were at the wheel of the four-wheel drive car from Wolfsburg at the historic rally in San Marino. The starting field at the Rallylegend also included Luis Moya, who lined up as the co-driver for chief editor of auto, motor und sport, Bernd Ostmann, in a Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk. II. +++

Barrable aims to end rally season in style in Spain

Posted: October 23, 2014 12:18 PM

Robert Barrable will aim to end his 2014 rally season in style when he contests the RallyRACC-Rally de España (23-26 October) in what could be his final event in his Tunnock’s World Rally Team Fiesta R5.

After two seasons in the FIA World Rally Championship, the 27-year old Dublin driver has put his CA1 Sport-run Ford up for sale – as he continues to work on new rally plans for 2015. Robert is determined to celebrate the occasion with a strong performance, as he and co-driver Stuart Loudon target another WRC-2 podium finish on the challenging mixed-surface Spanish event.

The penultimate round of the WRC has attracted a very strong 74-car entry, with drivers and co-drivers from 31 countries. There are 16 World Rally Cars and 18 WRC-2 cars, making Robert’s target of matching last year’s excellent 3rd in WRC-2 and 15th overall finish extremely difficult to hit.

Robert: “This year’s Rally Spain is going to be a real challenge, not least because the first leg will be mostly gravel and the rest of the event on Tarmac, so I’m going to have to completely change my driving style overnight. Also, the fifty-kilometre Escaladei stage will be the longest stage I’ve ever done in my life. I reckon that’s going to take anything up to thirty minutes to complete, so it’s going to be a really good work out.

“I’ve put my Tunnock’s Fiesta R5 up for sale, so Rally Spain is likely to be my last event in the car. It would be great to end two amazing years in the Ford with a cracking result, so we won’t be holding back when the event gets underway.”

To celebrate the 50th running of the RallyRACC-Rally de España, this year’s opening stage on Thursday 23 October will be a spectacular two-mile (3.2km) test in the centre of Barcelona. Three days of intense competition follows, starting with two runs over two gravel stages and a long mixed-surface stage on Friday (24 October). From then on all the stages are asphalt, with day three on Saturday (25 October) being the longest of the event, with a competitive distance of almost 100 miles (160kms). The day contains six stages, including the mighty Escaladei run which, at 31 miles (50kms), is the longest in the history of Rally Spain. The fourth and final day on Sunday (26 October) contains a further four stages, concluding with the Power Stage at midday. The rally contains a total of 17 special stages in a 231.74 mile (372.96km) stage route, while the service is once again based at the PortAventura amusement park in Salou.

Win or bust for Tom Cave in Spain

Posted: October 23, 2014 12:17 PM

Young Welsh rally driver Tom Cave, from Aberdovey, knows that it is win or bust as he approaches the fifth and final round of the 2014 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, RACC Rallye de España. Currently lying second in the standings, only Tom and leader Sander Parn can win the series and with it, the prize of a seven-round campaign in the 2015 WRC2 championship, courtesy of DMACK Tyres.

After four rounds, three on gravel and one on asphalt, which Tom won, Parn in the lead and Tom are separated by 29 points. However, there are a total of 42 points available on Rally de España, with 25 points for the event win and an additional point for every stage win over the 17 stages that make up the event. Therefore, while Tom has it all to do, it is still certainly achievable.

As it was on Rally Germany nine weeks ago, a good recce for Tom and co-driver Craig Parry will be essential. On that occasion, they were able to win the class and take a good haul of stage wins on their first attempt at the event. Tom has been to Spain before but only as a spectator so while he has an idea of the conditions from outside the car, the first day of the recce will be his first taste of the Spanish stages.

This year's event features one day, and six stages, of primarily gravel followed by two days and ten stages on the event's famous fast, flowing and smooth asphalt roads. The first day features sections of asphalt within the gravel stages but the second and third days are pure tarmac, so the M-Sport technicians, which run the cars, will convert Tom's Morris Lubricants supported and equipped Ford Fiesta R2 from gravel to asphalt specification on Friday evening.

Saturday of the event also features the longest stage of the rally, the 50Km Escaladei classic to mark the 50th anniversary of the event, as well as a short superspecial along the seafront in event base Salou that evening.

Speaking ahead of the event, Tom said; "It's really win or bust for us this weekend. We have to win the rally and as many stages as possible to stand a chance of taking the title.

"A gap of 29 points is a lot to close up but all it takes is a problem for Sander [Parn] and he's on the back foot for the rest of the rally.

"We need to be on full attack from the word go to get as many stage wins as we can. We know it's not easy in this series - there are so many quick drivers - but we proved our pace on asphalt in Germany so there's no reason to think we can't be on the pace in Spain.

"Having the first day on gravel and the remaining two on tarmac is a new challenge for me but it shouldn't cause us any problems. Like we did in Germany, having a really good recce is absolutely crucial and if we get the right detail, we should be OK.

"Driving on asphalt on gravel suspension and tyres will probably be a bit strange though!"

The event begins with a run through the streets of Barcelona over what used to be the city's F1 track on the evening of Thursday 23 October. Friday 24 October sees six stages over gravel while Saturday 25 sees six stages of entirely tarmac, culminating in the seafront superspecial. Sunday sees four final stages, run as two loops of two before crews arrive at Salou for the finish ceremony in the early afternoon.

Final Round DMACK Duel For Top Rally Prize

Posted: October 23, 2014 12:16 PM

The race to win the biggest prize in rallying reaches an exciting climax next week when the winner of the inaugural Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy will be crowned at Rally de España. The fifth and final round of the series will see a head-to-head clash between Estonian Sander Pärn and the UK’s Tom Cave on what’s set to be a thrilling battle for the top spot.

Runaway series leader Pärn and co-driver James Morgan are in the driving seat after winning the first three rounds to lead Cave by 29 points. However, there are 42 points on offer next week, 25 for the overall winner plus an additional 17 for each competitive stage victory. The extra stage points create a number of permutations in the race for the title and could turn out to be a crucial factor next week. Nevertheless, if Pärn finishes third or higher he wins the championship.

The pressure is on Cave and his co-driver Craig Parry. The pair must push to top the time-sheets if they are to stand any chance of turning the tables and lifting the coveted prize of a full seven-round WRC 2 campaign in the DMACK Ford Fiesta R5. It’s Cave’s first attempt at the Spanish stages while Pärn finished on the JWRC podium there last year. The Estonian has won all the gravel rounds this season and Cave has taken victory on the only asphalt event so Spain’s mixed-surface rally really is anyone’s for the taking.

While the top-two battle for the title, a number of drivers are waiting in the wings to steal the limelight and end their season on a high. Frenchman Quentin Gilbert will be out to prove a point. He led in Portugal, was seriously fast in Germany and comes to this event on a high after winning the WRC 2 category at Rallye de France earlier this month.

Belgium’s Ghislain de Mévius, another asphalt ace, showed his turn of speed in Germany and is sure to be another driver looking to up his pace on the final event of the season. He’s locked in a battle with Finn Max Vatanen for the Rookie Award but all six rookie drivers are still mathematically in with a chance of the award.

Spain’s Nil Solans will be looking for a home advantage on his local event while Nicolas Amiouni from Lebanon and Poland’s Szymon Kornicki will be aiming to finish off their debut WRC seasons on a high. Leo Urlichich is also hoping to build on his pace after settling down with the same co-driver for the first time this season.

As the only mixed surface rally on the calendar, the 50th running of Rally de España is set to be a thriller. Competitors need to master the event’s legendary circuit-style asphalt roads alongside the rough gravel stages high in the hills of Tarragona. This format means M-Sport’s expert mechanics have the challenge of transforming the GEM Fuel-powered Ford Fiesta R2 cars from gravel to asphalt specification during a specially extended service on Friday evening.

It also means an expanded range of tyres supplied by DMACK. Crews will use the medium compound DMG2 gravel tyre for Friday’s six gravel tests and then have the choice of both dry and wet compounds of it’s DMT-RC asphalt tyre for Saturday and Sunday.

The event is once again based in the holiday town of Salou and bursts into life with a Thursday evening super-special stage around the streets of Barcelona. Friday’s gravel action takes place to the west of Salou with a repeat loop of three stages, including the 35.68km Terra Alta test. Saturday’s stages are based around Falset and feature two runs over the 50km Escaladel stage celebrating the event’s 50th anniversary. Four stages on Sunday complete the rally with the first-ever Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy winner crowned at the finish podium celebrations on the seafront at Salou.

Three private competitors will run alongside the main Trophy runners in a bid to seal a place in the final end of year Shoot-Out to win a one-off WRC drive in a Fiesta R5.

M-SPORT MOUNT MIXED SURFACE CHALLENGE

Posted: October 23, 2014 12:11 PM

M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mikko Hirvonen and Elfyn Evans are ready to mount a challenge on the mixed surface stages of next week’s RallyRACC - Rally de España.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Spanish fixture is the FIA World Rally Championship’s (WRC) only true dual surface event and the M-Sport pairing are well prepared for the challenges ahead.

Following an opening super special stage in the company of Barcelona’s famous Montjuïc fountains, the crews embark on a day of predominantly gravel speed tests before making the move to asphalt for the remainder of the event.

For those looking to challenge for the top positions, a swift transition from one surface to the next is paramount. Get lost in discovering the optimum set-up or driving style for the smooth, circuit-like roads and the potential time loss could prove pivotal.

Thankfully, the M-Sport team conducted a thorough pre-event test on the Spanish Tarmac to ensure that both crews are fully prepared to attack the black-top stages of the event’s decisive final stages.

But it’s not just the drivers who have a chance to shine next week as M-Sport’s dedicated team of expert technicians are assigned with the task of converting each Ford Fiesta RS WRC from gravel to Tarmac specification in just 75 minutes. On Friday evening the team will transform M-Sport’s fleet – lowering the ride height and changing a number of components such as the suspension, brakes, gearbox, rear differential, steering rack and cross members. Click here for a full account of what is involved in converting each Fiesta RS WRC.

The intricate process provides each crew with a car that can perform at the highest level on each variation of the event’s diverse nature – equipping the M-Sport drivers with the means to chase a strong haul of points on the Costa Daurada.

Hirvonen currently holds fourth position in the drivers’ standings and will be aiming to strengthen his 10 point lead next week. The Spanish fixture holds fond memories for the Finn and his co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen who secured their first WRC podium at the event in 2005.

This will be the Fiesta RS WRC driver’s 12th appearance at Rally de España. Few crews can boast as much experience and the pairing will be looking to use that to their advantage as they challenge for a top result.

Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt also have past experience of the Spanish fixture having contested the event as part of the FIA WRC Academy and WRC 2 category in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

The Welshman has shown some impressive pace behind the wheel of his Fiesta RS WRC on asphalt and will be equally as keen to showcase his full potential on the loose surface terrain of the WRC’s penultimate round.

Mikko Hirvonen said:
“This is an event that I enjoy. We have competed here every year since 2003 and it holds some good memories for me – it was where Jarmo [Lehtinen, co-driver] and I secured our first WRC podium in 2005.

“As the only mixed surface event of the year, the biggest challenge is making a clean shift from one surface to the next. Going from gravel to Tarmac we’ll need to get into gear fairly quickly. The car feels different, the grip levels are different, the braking points are different, and you need to have the confidence to make it count on the very first stage. If you’re not 100 per cent happy with the handling of the car then you could easily lose a lot of time on Saturday morning.

“I’m looking forward to the gravel stages on Friday, but we also had a really good Tarmac test with the new tyres so I’m feeling positive about that too. These roads are very different to the ones we drove in France. They’re a lot wider and the Tarmac is a lot smoother so we needed to find a set-up that would work best in these conditions. I think we did that, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“My goal is to strengthen our place in the championship. There will be a lot of drivers with a point to prove and a lot to gain, but if we can be in the fight for the top positions then I think it could be a good event for us.”

Elfyn Evans said:
“We’ve not had a massive amount of luck at this rally, but it’s one that I enjoy and I hope that we can turn that around next week. I’m up for the challenge and will hopefully be able to take another step forward.

“It can be a bit strange going from one surface to the next as the car goes from being quite loose [on gravel] to feeling as though it’s on rails [on asphalt]. That feeling generally only lasts for one stage; you soon get into the groove and if you’ve had a good test and deciphered the best set-up for the Tarmac stages, it’s not too much of a drama.

“The Spanish Tarmac is very different from what we have previously experienced in Germany and France. It’s a lot wider and smoother. It poses its own challenges, but we had a positive test so let’s see what we can do. It’s hard to tell how everyone will fair until we get to the event and see who has determined the best set-up for the new tyres on these different roads, but we learnt a lot and the feeling is positive.

“We’ve shown some promising pace on asphalt this year and to be fair our speed on gravel hasn’t been bad either. We’ve shown some good pace on individual splits, but it would be good to see that translated over a full stage distance. I don’t have any specific goals in mind, but if I can do that and challenge some of the more experienced guys on both surfaces, then I think it could be another good event for us.”

ADDITIONAL M-SPORT DRIVERS

M-Sport’s range of Ford Fiesta rally cars account for an impressive 55 per cent of the RallyRACC - Rally de España entry list. Six Ford Fiesta RS WRCs have been entered alongside three Ford Fiesta RRCs, eight Ford Fiesta R5s, one Ford Fiesta S2000 and 22 Ford Fiesta R2s.

Alongside Hirvonen and Evans, M-Sport will also run the Fiesta RS WRCs of Robert Kubica, Yuriy Protasov and Ken Block as well as the Fiesta R5 of Nicolás Fuchs.

KUBICA READY FOR DUAL SURFACE DUEL

Posted: October 23, 2014 12:06 PM

RK M-Sport World Rally Team’s Robert Kubica will tackle the mixed surface stages of RallyRACC Rally de España next week as he takes to the Ford Fiesta RS WRC for the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

The Spanish fixture hosts the only dual surface event of the year and challenges crews to convert their driving style from gravel to asphalt with ease and precision. Robert’s technicians are also tasked with converting his Fiesta from gravel to Tarmac specification in just 75 minutes – providing the Pole with a car that performs to the highest level on both surfaces.

The event starts with an opening super special stage alongside Barcelona’s famous Montjuïc fountains on Thursday evening. A full day of six predominantly gravel speed tests follow before the crews head into the hills north of Tarragona for two days of asphalt rallying on the smooth, circuit-like roads of the Costa Daurada – the highlight of which being a 50 kilometre stage run twice on Saturday to celebrate the event’s 50th anniversary. Robert has only contested the event once before, but his performance was an impressive one. Winning last year’s WRC2 category with more than a five minute advantage over his nearest rival, the Pole set the fastest time through 10 of the 15 special stages and won all but one of the asphalt tests.

The Spanish Tarmac can become treacherously slippery if wet and the unpredictable autumnal weather of the Mediterranean can often play havoc with tyre strategies. Fortunately, there are few drivers with a better understanding of the changeable characteristics of an asphalt stage and Robert will be keen for further progression at the WRC’s highest league next week.

Robert Kubica said:
“Spain is a very untypical rally as we have to contend with two different surfaces. This year we are starting on gravel and it will be quite a long day. Then, we need to change our driving style very quickly and adapt to the Tarmac for the following two days. The same goes for the car specification.

“The Tarmac roads here in Spain are very nice and I am looking forward to competing on them. From what I remember, the gravel roads are very challenging. In some places they are very fast but narrow with a lot of stones next to the road.

“Most of the stages will be the same as last year. Some are mixed – partly new, partly used last year – but I think that the general characteristics of the roads will be the same as in 2013.

“This year's rally will be a bit more difficult however as we start on gravel and the previous rally [in France] as well as our pre-event test were on Tarmac. Also the Shakedown stage isn't representative of the whole event. Much of it is on Tarmac so the first gravel kilometres will definitely not be easy and we must adapt quickly to driving on the loose surface.”

Vatanen aims for top rookie prize at final showdown in Spain

Posted: October 23, 2014 12:04 PM

Up and coming Finnish star Max Vatanen is aiming to come away from the Rally of Spain this weekend with the coveted accolade of top rookie in his inaugural season of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy.

Heading into the last round, Max is currently fifth in the overall standings and fighting with Belgium’s Ghislain de Mevius for the title of top rookie – although all six rookie drivers this year are theoretically in with a chance of the award.

The one-make Fiesta series, which uses identical R2 class cars and tyres, so that only driving talent makes the difference, is run over five European rounds of the World Rally Championship. However, the final event in Spain this weekend is one of the most challenging of all as it contains both gravel and asphalt stages, run on roads around the coastal resort of Salou.

“I’d say that this season has been one of ups and downs, and in my view probably too many downs compared to the ups,” said Max. “But I know that I have high expectations of myself, and this is how it has to be if you want to improve. Now my goal is to be the top rookie this year but I know that it won't be easy. I need to avoid making any mistakes and show the speed we are capable of, in a consistent way.”

The 23-year-old will be well-prepared for the Spanish finale, as he has completed one day of testing and one day of pace note practice with his co-driver Mikko Lukka before the event. It's all part of the learning curve, to which Max will add his knowledge of the rally picked up as a spectator.

Max's famous father, Ari, lives in the south of France, so the Rally of Spain has been something of a Vatanen family outing in recent years.

“I know a fair amount about the rally and with the preparation we are doing before I feel confident that we're in good shape,” added Max. "Really, this is the closest that world rallying gets to circuit racing: the roads are wide and fast, so you need a clean line and plenty of commitment.”

Running towards the back of the field, the R2 Fiestas are affected by dirt pulled up from the faster four-wheel drive cars when cutting corners, and this is a particular hazard that Max and his fellow competitors will have to look out for. At the end of Friday, all the competitors will have to perform a mental reset, as the action switches from gravel to asphalt for the remaining two days.

A lot can happen very quickly on the unpredictable roads of Catalunya, but Max will also be keen to put on a good show for the representatives of his sponsor PAF, who have come to Spain to see him in action.

“The whole year has been an incredibly good learning experience," Max concluded. "Now we just want to finish it in the most positive way possible, so that we are in a strong position to challenge for the championship next year.”

The event gets underway with a ceremonial start and superspecial in Barcelona on Thursday night, before finishing on Sunday after 17 stages in total.

GLOBAL SUPERSTAR TO CONTEST RALLY OF SPAIN WITH PIRELLI

Posted: October 23, 2014 12:02 PM

One of the biggest stars in world motorsport will tackle the 50th Rally of Spain this weekend with Pirelli: a personality whose fame is such that his YouTube videos attract in excess of 50 million views.

American extreme sports ace Ken Block is competing on the World Rally Championship for the first and only time this year in Spain, driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC equipped with the latest tyres from Pirelli. Pirelli's products have also appeared on Block's renowned ‘Gymkhana’ videos recently, which attract huge publicity thanks to the Californian's unique showmanship that highlights extreme driving in unusual locations.

Block has competed on the World Rally Championship with Pirelli before, but this will be his first outing on the Italian rubber since the 2010 Rally Great Britain.

In another first, Czech driver Martin Prokop will also be having his debut taste of competition using Pirelli tyres, again in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The former Junior World Rally Champion, who won his title with Pirelli in 2009, will now use Pirelli tyres for the rest of the season.

The Rally of Spain is unique on the WRC calendar in having both gravel and asphalt stages on the itinerary. After a first full day on gravel, following a ceremonial start and superspecial on Thursday night in Barcelona, the event moves to asphalt for Saturday and Sunday’s stages. This means that both Pirelli's Scorpion gravel tyres and P Zero asphalt tyres will be used on the same event for the first time this year.

Initial weather forecasts suggest a largely dry three days in the area around Rally HQ in Salou, Catalunya.

Leading Pirelli drivers in Spain
Ken Block is the leading Pirelli entry, while Pirelli’s WRC2 championship leader, Lorenzo Bertelli, will also be competing in Spain. The full list of Pirelli crews contesting the Rally of Spain is:

    15 Ken Block/Alex Gelsomino (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
    21 Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
    36 Bernardo Sousa/Hugo Magalhaes (Ford Fiesta RRC)
    37 Lorenzo Bertelli/Mitia Dotta (Ford Fiesta R5)
    38 Valeriy Gorban/Korsia Volodymyr (Mini John Cooper S2000)
    43 Julien Maurin/Nicolas Klinger (Ford Fiesta R5)
    50 Johan Heloise/Roberto Mometti (Subaru Impreza WRX)
    75 Josep Membrado/Jordi Vilamala (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X)
The tyres available
Just as was the case for France, Pirelli will supply its latest generation P Zero RK tyres for the two days of asphalt in the Rally of Spain, which makes up the bulk of the action. The hard compound RK5A will be used in warm and dry conditions with the soft compound RKW7 available if it’s cold and damp. In case of extreme wet weather, the WRC1 cars only are allowed to use the Sottozero full wet.

For gravel stages, Pirelli will bring the reinforced Scorpion K4 hard compound, as well as the reinforced K8 soft compound.

Thursday night’s asphalt superspecial in Barcelona will use gravel tyres. At the final service halt on Friday night, the cars will all be switched from gravel to asphalt specification.

The rules
A maximum of 30 tyres, including four for shakedown, can be used by Priority 1 and 2 drivers for the duration of the rally, which totals 17 stages. This allocation is made up of 12 gravel tyres (for Thursday and Friday) plus 18 asphalt tyres (for Saturday and Sunday). At their disposal for the gravel stages, each driver has eight K4 hard tyres (plus four for the shakedown) and eight K8 soft tyres. For the asphalt stages, each driver has at their disposal 18 RK5A, 14 RKW7 and eight Sottozero full wet (for WRC1 drivers only).

Quotes
Matteo Braga, Pirelli senior tyre engineer:
“We're absolutely delighted to have Ken with us in Spain, who is not only a fantastic driver but a brilliant ambassador for the sport and for Pirelli. Despite the fact that his many other commitments do not leave him with much time for the World Rally Championship, he has shown himself to be capable of points-scoring finishes in the past and we are delighted that he has chosen our tyres to help him try and achieve this once more. Spain is one of the most complicated events of the year from our perspective as not only does it contain both asphalt and gravel stages, but also a very long 50-kilometre test on asphalt to celebrate the 50th running of the event. This means that every aspect of tyre performance is thoroughly tested.”

Ken Block:
“This is the only race on the World Rally Championship calendar with both tarmac and gravel stages, so I’ve put down some testing miles in both of these cars to be ready for WRC Spain. Both set-ups are very fun, in very different ways. I’m stoked that I get to race on both of those surfaces this week!”

Kruuda aiming to stay in the WRC2 title mix

Posted: October 23, 2014 11:23 AM

Karl Kruuda will make his return to Rally de España from October 23-26 still firmly in contention for winning the prestigious WRC2 title.

Kruuda, who secured the Finnish Rally Championship last month, is 19 points behind WRC2 title leader Lorenzo Bertelli in his pursuit of more silverware. While the Italian has one scoring opportunity remaining this season, Estonian Kruuda has two more scoring events scheduled in the PrintSport Ford Fiesta S2000 he shares with long-term co-driver Martin Järveoja.

“The title is still possible and I’m obviously not thinking it’s just another event but, at the same time, I’m not feeling too much pressure,” said Kruuda, 21. “Of course it would be nice to win another crown but I’m younger than everybody else and if I don’t achieve the title this year I won’t be too disappointed. If that were the case, I would definitely come back next year when the goal would be to take it. At the start of this year the only thing on my mind was to try to finish on the podium but the plan has changed throughout the course of the year.”

Kruuda has won two WRC2 events in 2014 in Sweden and Finland, and only fellow title rival Nasser Al-Attiyah – who drives a turbocharged Fiesta Regional Rally Car compared to Kruuda’s normally-aspirated machine – has more wins to his name with three victories.

“I know the best-case scenario for the championship would be to gain another win and another 25 points, but the other drivers are very good too and I cannot underestimate them,” acknowledged Kruuda.

With the opening leg of Rally de España on gravel before the action switches to asphalt for the final two days, Kruuda has tested on both surfaces in the build-up to the event, which covers a competitive distance of 372.96 kilometres over 17 stages from its base on the Costa Daurada south of Barcelona.

“The last time I did this rally was in 2012, which was my last rally on Tarmac apart from Germany in 2013,” said Kruuda. “We had a good test that showed I have a good feeling for Tarmac and I proved I can be comfortable on this surface.”

Kruuda continued: “Actually Tarmac suits me very well because I like to drive in a straight line and I like the Tarmac stages in Spain. They’re very fast and smooth, and when you have a good feeling it’s just like driving a video game. I also like the fact we’re going from gravel to Tarmac rather than the other way around because you have to push yourself a bit more with the lines and the braking, although it’s often hard to gain maximum efficiency when there are big changes.

“We have a good car and the relationship with my team, PrintSport, is very good. There is a good atmosphere in the team and I know they will be making the maximum effort to help me win another title.”

Did you know? Four more points will make Karl Kruuda the most successful Estonian driver in WRC2 this season. With his 2014 WRC2 programme now at an end, Ott Tänak is just four points ahead of his compatriot in the World Rally Championship support category.

Entry List

Posted: October 7, 2014 3:06 PM

Website / Rally Guide / Details

Posted: August 13, 2014 10:58 AM

Classified Ads

 Add a Classified

 All Classifieds






Twitter Feed