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Spain - 22-25 Oct 15

Posted: October 23, 2015 10:16 AM - 3730 Hits

Round 12 - 2015 World Rally Championship

Live Results (Spain 2015) Also available at: rally-base results
Radio: WRC All Live Audio Stream
News: www.wrc.com
Event Website: Rally Spain (Catalunya)
Updates from Trevor Payne: Soundcloud and Twitter

First stage each day - Irish/UK Times
SS1 Thu - 15:08 (Super Special)
SS2 Fri - 09:08
SS10 Sat - 08:15
SS18 Sun - 06:17

Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - A SECOND POSITION TO DEFEND

Posted: October 22, 2015 6:45 AM

Since 2010, Rally de Espana has become something of a special round on the World Championship calendar. Based in Catalonia, this mixed-surface event serves up a unique course for the crews, with the opening leg held on gravel before switching to tarmac for Saturday and Sunday.

The first leg often proves to be the most important. In a region familiar to all the teams, the running order has a major influence on how the start of the race pans out. For Mads Ostberg, currently fourth in the Drivers' standings, and sixth-placed Kris Meeke, it will be a question of finding the right pace quickly.

On Friday evening, the change in road surface will call for a substantial amount of work to be carried out within each service area to adapt the cars. In 1 hour 15 mins, the DS 3 WRC will lose the protective mouldings needed for gravel roads and be fitted with the ?tarmac' parts that are essential to compete in the rest of the rally.

Specific preparations, managed effectively now due to experience acquired in previous years, and considerably more logistics work enable the DS 3 WRC to be radically changed. Many parts are replaced on the body, in the engine and in the cockpit and the entire set-up is reviewed.

However, it will be mainly up to the crews to find the right feeling in the car when they hit the tarmac on Saturday morning. Mads Ostberg, who finished fourth overall here last season in the DS 3 WRC, will have another opportunity to consolidate his fourth position in the championship standings.

Kris Meeke was running in second place at this round last year in the DS 3 WRC before a puncture dashed his hopes of good result. Currently lying sixth in the Drivers' standings, having scored 27 points at the last two events, he will also be pushing for a podium finish.

The Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has entered a third car for Khalid Al Qassimi, who will be making his fifth WRC start of the season after competing in Argentina, Portugal, Italy and Finland.

Last year's FIA Junior WRC champion, Stephane Lefebvre continues to learn about rallying at this level. Following appearances in Germany, Australia and Corsica, the talented young Frenchman will continue to drive a DS 3 WRC at Rally Catalunya, before finishing the year by competing in the top-spec car again at Wales Rally GB.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE

Yves Matton (Citroen Racing Team Principal):
"This is a very interesting round thanks to the mix of surfaces. Although the crews spend more time on tarmac, the gravel stages are particularly demanding and technical. In the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, Mads Ostberg and Kris Meeke have shown themselves to be capable of producing some remarkable performances on both surfaces. The DS 3 WRC is equally competitive on all surfaces. The aim is to remain highly consistent throughout the rally to hold onto our second position in the manufacturers' standings."

Mads Ostberg:
"The course for this rally provides a unique challenge. After the Tour de Corse on tarmac, we took part in some testing on gravel so we should be well prepared to drive on both surfaces. The stages on day one are pretty similar to what we have seen here before. There are some great gravel roads. This leg will obviously be vital in making a good start to the race, but all three days will be just as important as each other. On gravel, I always look to finish on the podium. We'll need to get among the leaders at the start, whilst remaining sufficiently competitive on tarmac to stay among the frontrunners. Obviously, a podium finish would be an excellent result!"

Kris Meeke:
"I really like the idea of a rally made up of one day on gravel and two days on tarmac. Although I don't know the gravel stages very well, the roads are very beautiful. Since we start later on Friday morning, we should avoid any problems due to the dust. On asphalt, the route is fantastic. Last year, we were very competitive and the DS 3 WRC was perfect. We only lost out on a big result after picking up two punctures. The new stages mean we'll have to work on our pace notes. If we have a trouble-free week-end, then a podium should be a realistic target, but the real goal is to consolidate our second place in the manufacturers' standings."

Khalid Al Qassimi:
"Rally de Espana is one of my favourite events. There is always a great atmosphere here and a lot of supporters follow our team. The gravel roads are different to those I am used to tackling in the Middle East Rally Championship. For example, tyre management will be important here. The majority of the stages are nonetheless contested on tarmac, with very high levels of grip. Generally, I feel very confident in the car on these roads. I think that about 40% of the stages are new this year, so we're going to have to work a lot on the pace notes to try and secure a positive result. This round is also vital for the team, which must try to collect as many points as possible to consolidate second place in the championship. I would like to wish Kris and Mads the very best in Catalonia!"

Stephane Lefebvre:
"We are continuing to learn about rallying at this level with a very specific event. On gravel, we'll have a good starting position. I'd like to drive like we did in Australia. The aim is to have a good race and keep out of trouble. We'll then have to adjust to the tarmac very quickly. The roads suit me a bit more than those on the Tour de Corse, with more natural bends and technical sections offering more track-style driving. Given the substantial experience of the other drivers, we'll have to try to set a good pace and take full advantage of the new stages."

TWO RALLIES IN ONE

The WRCs will tackle the shakedown on Thursday, 22 October in gravel configuration. Starting at 8am, the crews will complete runs on a 2.97 kilometre-long mixed-surface stage in Salou, near to the PortAventura service park.

Later on the same day, the opening stage will get underway at 6.08pm near the base of the Montju?c hill in Barcelona. A road section of around a hundred kilometres will then take the crews back to parc ferme in PortAventura.

On Friday morning, the first car will enter the service park at 8.45am. In the order of the World Championship standings, the drivers will tackle a loop of gravel stages twice: Mora d'Ebre-Asco (9.62km), Caseres (12.50km), Bot (6.50km) and Terra Alta (35.68km), part of which is on tarmac. No service breaks will be permitted between stages, with only a tyre change period scheduled in the middle of the day. Once back in PortAventura, the crews will hand over their cars to their teams for 1 hour 15 mins in order to prepare them for the rest of the rally.

The race resumes on Saturday morning at 8.15am with a series of four tarmac stages: first up is Porrera (7.43km), one of the new tests, followed by La Figuera (26.26km), Poboleda (10.63km) and Capafonts (19.80km). After a thirty-minute midday service, La Figuera, Poboleda and Capafonts will be contested for a second time before the leg concludes with a 2.24km stage held in the streets of Salou.

On Sunday, after the clocks go back, the priority drivers will leave PortAventura before daylight at 6am in the reverse order of the standings. The leg features two identical loops of three stages, without any service break and without any tyre change period, starting with the brand-new test Els Guiamets (6.80km), followed by Pratdip (19.30km) and Duesaigues (12.10km), a version of Riudecanyes run in the opposite direction. The second run on Duesaigues will serve as the televised Power Stage, at 12.08pm.

Fiesta Final Four Battle For Top DMACK Rally Prize

Posted: October 22, 2015 6:30 AM

The race to win the biggest prize in rallying reaches an exciting climax next weekend when the 2015 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy will be decided at a fabulous finale at Rally de Espa?a. After four fascinating rounds of competition across Europe in recent months, the race for the title looks sure to go right down to the wire as double points are up for grabs over the weekend.

Mathematically, seven drivers have a chance of being crowned Trophy champion and securing the ultimate top prize ? a lucrative full seven-round series of 2016 WRC 2 competition in the Drive DMACK team. But it is likely to be a blistering battle between the four drivers who have each tasted success at the four previous rounds.

Marius Aasen, victorious at Rally Poland in July, leads the way in the overall Trophy classification with 87 points. Five points behind the Norwegian, in second spot, is flying Finn Max Vatanen, who won the opening round of the series in Portugal. Last year's Trophy runner-up Brit Tom Cave is lying third on 70 points and was triumphant in Finland. He is nine points clear of Ghislain de Mevius, who catapulted himself into contention with a win on his favoured asphalt surface at Rallye Deutschland in August.

Spain stages the final showdown from its base in the Costa Daurada holiday resort of Salou from 22-25 October and is the only mixed surface rally of the year. Competitors will race on gravel during Friday then switch to asphalt for Saturday and Sunday.

There are a tantalising total of 73 points up for grabs. Twenty-five will be awarded to the driver who leads the rally at the end of racing on Friday and there are 25 more on offer for the person in pole position at the close of play on Sunday. And in addition, there is a point on offer for each of the 23 separate stage wins.

The rally opens on Thursday night with a street stage in the Montju?c area of Barcelona where crews will get the first taste of action in their identical GEM fuel-powered Ford Fiesta R2 cars, equipped with Ford's 1.0 litre turbocharged EcoBoost engine.

On Friday evening, the dedicated team of M-Sport mechanics will have an extended service to switch the cars' specifications from gravel to asphalt ? changing suspension components and adding bigger brakes. On Saturday, drivers must quickly adapt their driving style to an overnight change in road surface. Fast, smooth sweeping asphalt is comparable to a race circuit in its characteristics.

DMACK will also supply three different tyres. During Friday, drivers will use the DMG2 tyre in G42 compound while the switch to asphalt will see the DMT-RC, in both T51 dry and W3 wet compounds, being bolted to the cars. However, crews will still need to employ a smart strategy with only 22 tyres allowed across all three days.

The race for the Rookie title is also hotting up with Dutch driver Mats van den Brand battling with Brit Gus Greensmith to collect the honour.

Edoardo Bresolin, who did not compete last time out in Germany, is back for the final event of the season while Will Hudson is replaced by former WRC Academy front-runner Brendan Reeves and co-driving sister Rhianon Gelsomino.

Reeves, from Australia, is one of three drivers who will make one-off appearances in the final rally. The two others are de Mevius's brother Guillaume and 20-year-old Jon Armstrong from Northern Ireland, both making their WRC debuts.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: "Last year?s championship was decided on the very last loop of stages and this season is looking even more exciting with four drivers all battling for the prize. With double points and two surfaces, I?m sure we will witness a fierce fight over the weekend."

Driver Quotes

Marius Aasen from Norway said:
"To win the championship would be a dream come true and the prize drive would be a fantastic opportunity. With that in mind I?ll be thinking about my own driving and keeping away from problems in Spain. We?ve been working hard since Germany, testing and participating in some rallies in my own Fiesta R2. Driving a consistent rally and remembering there are double points on offer will be challenging."

Mats van den Brand from Netherlands said:
"I?m looking forward to this event, having dual surfaces will be a challenge for all drivers but fun also. My main aim is to finish the rally and after that I?d like to be in the top three and even win the rookie championship. There have been lots of ups and downs and we haven?t really had the season we hoped for. I plan to be steady on gravel so I?m not behind when it comes to my favored surface, Tarmac. Tyre management will be crucial also."

Edoardo Bresolin from Italy said:
"Our main target for Rally Spain is to finish without any mistakes, especially the Tarmac legs where we have no experience on that surface. The Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy has been more difficult than expected and it demonstrates an exceptional class of driving and organisation. The hardest part of Rally Spain for us will be the Tarmac stages, but hopefully we will get a good feeling and confidence early, and limit the gap from the lead."

Tom Cave from UK said:
"Winning the Trophy would be a great reward for all the hard work and effort Craig and I have put in over the last few years. We will be well prepared for the final event after taking part in a national rally in Wales the day before flying to Spain. The alternating surfaces will be a unique challenge as you need to change your rhythm and strategy overnight, it?s a challenge I enjoy. We finished well here last year with fast times, so that gives me added confidence."

Kevin van Deijne from Netherlands said:
"I think the biggest challenge for me, will be to make the right pacenotes for both surfaces, knowing how the car will react and planning for that. I?ve been watching the official onboard video as well as taking part in another Tarmac rally to get ready for Spain. For me, it was and still is a great experience in which I learned a lot. It?s nice to have a glimpse of a view how everything works in a professional team like M-Sport and what they expect of you as a driver."

Gus Greensmith from UK said:
"The transfer from gravel to asphalt will make this rally harder, driving styles will have to change immediately as well as aspects of the pacenote system. Having not finished on two of the rallies this year, it?s become apparent how important gaining experience is at my age and if you don?t finish, you don?t get that experience. The season started really positively, but we had two terrible rounds and my confidence took a knock. But I?m now feeling positive and fit, ready for the finale."

Ghislain de Mevius from Belgium said:
"I?ve been kart driving and studying official onboard footage to get ready for the rally. I hope to make good progress on the gravel and then go to the max on asphalt. The prize means a lot to me, it would be a huge step on the road to my dream of driving professionally for a great team. To get there I need to avoid punctures on Friday and find a good line on the asphalt."

Guillaume de Mevius from Belgium said:
"My objective for the rally is to get as much experience as possible. It is my first world rally event so I?m really excited and I want to take time to see all the facets. I?ve been preparing for Spain like any other rally and it?s been very useful having Ghislain who knows the competition well. I think the hardest part will be the length of the event, the mixture of surfaces and getting the pacenotes right."

Brendan Reeves from Australia said:
"I can?t wait to get started and experience the WRC again. It?s been three years since my last event in Europe so I?m really buzzing to be part of the Fiesta Trophy. Although the mixed surfaces will make it difficult, it will also level the field as most drivers prefer one surface over the other. I?ve never raced against these drivers before, but I know there is strong talent in there so hopefully I will be contesting for some stage wins."

Max Vatanen from Finland said:
"To win the Trophy would be the reward for the joint efforts of myself, my co-pilot, family, sponsors and everyone who has put faith in me. It would also be a huge step in the right direction for my career and becoming a professional driver. It will be important to focus on the race and not the reward. With that in mind, I?ve been testing on both surfaces and will focus, with my co-driver, on doing the best we can and approach this event in the same way as any other."

Jon Armstrong from Northern Ireland said:
"I?m really excited for the event, it will be a great experience to compete on the same stages as the top drivers. The mixed surface will make things difficult and it?s hard to fully prepare for that aspect of the race, so we will just have to take it as it comes. To get to the finish is the main goal and then after that it?s to set some good times and display good pace. I just want to learn as much as I can really."

A LAP OF HONOUR FOR QUENTIN GILBERT

Posted: October 22, 2015 6:27 AM

Certain to finish first in this season's FIA Junior WRC, Quentin Gilbert will be competing against six rivals at RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada.

Designed to enable talented young drivers to progress and acquire experience in the World Rally Championship, the FIA Junior WRC heads to Spain for something of a special event. After tackling Monte-Carlo partly on snow, rallies in Portugal, Poland and Finland on gravel and the Tour de Corse on tarmac, the DS 3 R3-MAXs arrive in Catalonia for the only mixed-surface round of the season.

Following a super special stage held on tarmac in the streets of Barcelona on Thursday evening, the crews will complete 128 kilometres of timed stages on gravel during Friday's opening leg. Each team will then have a 1 hr 15 min service break to adapt the set-up of the DS 3 R3-MAXs for the rest of the rally, which will be held exclusively on tarmac. The seven crews will cover a further 200 kilometres before the final outcome is decided.

Winner on four occasions already this season, Quentin Gilbert holds a 54-point lead over his nearest challenger. The Frenchman can no longer be caught at the top of the FIA Junior WRC standings. He is therefore certain to succeed Stephane Lefebvre as JWRC champion, joining former winners Sebastien Loeb, Dani Sordo, Sebastien Ogier, Martin Prokop and Elfyn Evans, who have all reached the sport's elite.

Although the pressure is off Quentin Gilbert, the same cannot be said of his rivals because the six other competitors all still have a chance of securing the final runner-spot.

With two podium-finishes in Monte-Carlo and Finland, the Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby is currently the best-placed driver. He will be up against the Italian Simone Tempestini - winner in Poland - who is only five points behind him with two rallies left to go.

And whereas he struggled to turn his performances into results at the start of the year, Terry Folb scored thirty points in Finland and Corsica. This large haul (only Quentin Gilbert scored more points) has put him right back in contention for a final podium spot.

The Swiss Federico Della Casa, the Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet - the youngest competitor at just 18 years old - and the Emirati Mohammed Al Mutawaa will also have a fine opportunity to show what they can do on an unusual course.

In the Nations Trophy, if Quentin Gilbert, Terry Folb or Pierre-Louis Loubet finish in the points, the title will be secured by France. Only Norway, represented by Ole Christian Veiby, can prevent France from successfully defending its crown.

Following the Spanish round, the season is due to conclude in Wales. Citroen Racing will remain the FIA Junior WRC operator and official supplier of the DS 3 R3-MAXs in 2016. The agreement between FIA and Citroen Racing for the organisation and promotion of the championship dedicated to the rising stars of world rallying is set to continue for a third season running.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE

Marek Nawarecki (Customer Racing Manager at Citroen Racing):
"Citroen Racing has been the operator and official supplier to the FIA Junior WRC for the last two seasons. The purpose of this formula is to support and encourage the emergence of new talents. We take great care to ensure that there are variety of surfaces when drawing up the calendar. These demanding rallies give the most talented drivers the chance to show what they can do and give all the competitors the opportunity to acquire experience. We also endeavour to provide a reliable and fast car, which is one of the leading products in the WRC3 and two-wheel drive categories. Our DS 3 R3-MAX also lets the drivers learn about feeling in the car and work on a wide range of set-up options, which can prove very useful at the highest levels. The international dimension taken by the FIA Junior WRC is important in our opinion. In the space of two years, we have had drivers from sixteen different countries, spread across three continents. Next season, the format will remain identical to the one used in 2014 and 2015 to keep costs under control and the winner will once again earn a six-rally WRC2 programme in 2017."

Quentin Gilbert:
"We started off our season by adopting a really disciplined approach. The whole team deserves this title. The mechanics, the engineers and all the people involved in the programme have done a fantastic job. Our discipline and attention to detail have enabled us to record some very good results. I have matured this year and have learned how to manage my races. I am therefore really proud of our success, with four wins in five starts and securing the title before the final round. We're not going to let up in Spain. The aim is still to win overall but without necessarily trying to win all the stages."

THE SEVEN CREWS ENTERED

    52 - Simone Tempestini (ITA) / Matteo Chiarcossi (ROU)
    Date of birth: 12 August 1994
    Team: Napoca Rally Team / Keane Motorsport
    2015 results: Monte-Carlo, 4th - Portugal, 6th - Poland, 1st - Finland, 9th.

    53 - Ole Christian Veiby (NOR) / Anders Jaeger (NOR)
    Date of birth: 17 June 1996
    Team: Printsport
    2015 results: Monte-Carlo, 3rd - Portugal, 5th - Finland, 3rd - France, 4th.

    55 - Mohammed Al Mutawaa (ARE) / Stephen McAuley (GBR)
    Date of birth: 2 December 1992
    Team: Abu Dhabi Racing
    2015 results: Portugal, retired - Portugal, 6th - Finland, 6th - France, retired.

    58 - Terry Folb (FRA) / Franck Le Floch (FRA)
    Date of birth: 26 May 1990
    Team: Daumas Racing / Allsports Management
    2015 results: Monte-Carlo, retired - Portugal, retired - Finland, 4th - France, retired.

    60 - Quentin Gilbert (FRA) / Renaud Jamoul (BEL)
    Date of birth: 29 May 1989
    Team: DG Sport
    2015 results: Monte-Carlo, 1st - Portugal, 1st - Poland, 7th - Finland - 1st. France, 1st.

    63 - Federico Della Casa (CHE) / Domenico Pozzi (ITA)
    Date of birth: 11 July 1991
    Team: Delta Rally
    2015 results: Portugal, 7th - Poland, 5th - Finland, 8th - France, retired.

    65 - Pierre-Louis Loubet (FRA) / Vincent Landais (FRA)
    Date of birth: 18 February 1997
    Team: PH Sport
    2015 results: Portugal, 2nd - Poland, missed - Finland, retired - France, retired.

One of a kind: Volkswagen takes on a mixture of asphalt and gravel at the Rally Spain

Posted: October 22, 2015 6:21 AM

All eyes on the surface - Volkswagen faces a unique challenge when it lines up with the Polo R WRC at the Rally Spain (22-25 October). The twelfth and penultimate round of this season's FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is the only one on the WRC calendar, at which the drivers go up against the clock on both asphalt and gravel. Two men, in particular, have proven to be experts in this field: reigning champions and champions elect* Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (F/F). Last year, the two Frenchmen wrapped up their second World Championship title on the Iberian Peninsula, with one round still to come. In 2013, when Volkswagen won the Manufacturers' Championship, the winners in Spain were once again Ogier/Ingrassia. Second place in a Volkswagen one-two in both years went to Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), who are currently second in the World Championship and arrive in Spain on the back of their recent victory on Corsica. Success at the Rally France on Corsica saw Latvala/Anttila extend their advantage in the overall standings over the third Volkswagen duo of Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fl?ene (N/N) to 34 points. Should Latvala/Anttila retain at least 28 points of their lead on Mikkelsen/Fl?ene, who are third in the World Championship, they would be guaranteed to end the season as runners-up in the overall standings.

"The Rally Spain is unique. We must ensure the Polo is ideally set up for both gravel and asphalt," said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. "This not only means that the driver and co-driver must be wide awake and able to adapt well to the changing conditions, but also puts the entire team to the test ? particularly the mechanics. We have done a good job of switching from gravel to asphalt for the past two years, and have been successful in Spain. This year, we are obviously hoping to make it a hat-trick of wins. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila dominated on Corsica and travel to Spain brimming with confidence. Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were unfortunate at their home rally ? it goes without saying that they are now hungry to bounce back with what would be their eighth win of the season. Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fl?ene have not yet given up on second place in the overall standings. It will certainly be exciting."

New this year ? 23 special stages, 51 per cent unfamiliar terrain

Asphalt, gravel, asphalt, asphalt - this sequence of road surfaces is what awaits the elite of the WRC on Thursday and the three subsequent days of rallying. And that is not the only challenge: the 51st staging of the Rally Spain features a total of 23 special stages ? seven more than in 2014 ? with 331.25 kilometres against the clock. The driver/co-driver crews must write new pace notes for 51 per cent of the route.

A wide range of challenges ? the 2015 Rally Spain

The Rally Spain poses a wide range of challenges to the drivers and co-drivers. Like last year, the 3.2-kilometre "Barcelona" special stage will be held on Montjuic on Thursday evening. The site of the International Exposition in 1929 and the 1992 Summer Olympics will attract spectators aplenty when the WRC elite open the Rally Spain on the narrow route in the Catalonian metropolis. In contrast, Friday is set to be a dusty affair, as the itinerary features the first of the gravel stages - all of which are covered with a fine layer of gravel, more of which will be swept off the road with every World Rally Car that passes. Typical: the "Terra Alta" special stage, with its five changes of surface and central asphalt section. At 35.68 kilometres, it is also the longest stage at the Rally Spain.

A lot of feeling and good line selection - the key to success at the Rally Spain

After giving the World Rally Cars a complete overhaul to switch to their asphalt set-up, the teams then face a total 199.45 kilometres against the clock on Saturday and Sunday. Parts of last year's "Riudecanyes" stage will this time be tackled in the opposite direction on "Duesaig?es". The second running of this stage will also form the Power Stage, on which extra points towards the Drivers' and Co-Drivers' Championship are up for grabs. The rally has made the two roundabouts on this stage famous throughout Spain. It goes without saying that the drivers must pull off a crowd-pleasing donut on one of these. Narrow, winding downhill sections also define this famous stage. The Rally Spain demands a lot of feel for the car on the gravel sections and a good sense for the perfect line on the winding asphalt roads, some of which are reminiscent of classic racetracks.

One-twos, titles, milestones - happy stomping ground in Spain

Two wins from two appearances, the first one-two in the history of the Polo R WRC, the Manufacturer's title with one round to go in 2013, and the Drivers'/Co-Drivers' Championships for Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia last year ? the asphalt and gravel roads of the Rally Spain have proven to be a happy stomping ground for Volkswagen. Last year, Ogier/Ingrassia and Latvala/Anttila pulled off a spectacular tenth one-two with the 318-hp four-wheel drive car from Wolfsburg. Coming into this year's Rally Spain, the three Volkswagen crews now have a total of 16 one-twos to their name.

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

Quotes ahead of the Rally Spain

Sebastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
"When I think of the Rally Spain, the success we have enjoyed for the last two years obviously springs to mind. In 2014, Julien and I won to secure our second Drivers' title In 2013, we helped Volkswagen wrap up the Manufacturers' Championship with one rally still to come. Those scenes of jubilation and the big smiles on the faces of everyone in the team ? you simply don't forget memories like that in a hurry. This year we want to have cause for celebration again. Especially after what was a disappointing Rally France for Julien and me. However, it will be far from easy. Over half of the special stages at the Rally Spain are new, so we are all starting from scratch. Then there is also the added challenge of the different surfaces on the three days of the rally. In 2014 it was a close battle between Jari-Matti Latvala and me. I expect that to be the case again this time. Although we have already won the World Championship, it goes without saying that we will still be pushing hard. I think that is what makes our team so special. Everyone gives 100 per cent and we are all hungry to win."

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
"The Rally Spain is one of my favourite rallies. Last year Sebastien Ogier and I had a very close battle. I pushed hard right to the finish, and won the closing Power Stage. Unfortunately I missed out on victory by just over eleven seconds. I was not 100 per cent in gravel mode at the start of the rally. I had focussed more on the asphalt set-up, so won most of my special stages on the final day of the rally. However, you must also be set up for gravel on the opening day in Spain if you want to be right up there. I have learned from that: I now know how I need to set up the Polo and that I have to drive cleanly on these sections. The surface on the gravel stages is relatively hard, but it is covered by a fine, loose layer. Victory on Corsica has definitely given me plenty of confidence. There are just two rallies remaining this year - and I want to be in contention to win them both."

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
"This year there are a few new special stages at the Rally Spain. That suits me. I like working out new sections, and have always been fast on them in the past. However, one thing has not changed at the Rally Spain: the first day will be on gravel ? with the exception of the Barcelona stage on Thursday ? and the remaining two days on asphalt. It is always tricky to adjust from gravel to asphalt within a day. Hopefully Ola and I will find our rhythm quickly. Last year a puncture on Saturday cost me over two minutes. Without that, I could have been on the podium. As it was, I had to settle for seventh. I am yet to get through the Rally Spain without making a mistake, so a flawless rally is definitely my goal for this year. A podium would be nice too, but it goes without saying that I would like to be in with a shout of winning. Jari-Matti Latvala's victory on Corsica increased the gap to him and second place in the overall standings. There are still two rallies to come though, and I am obviously not going to give up. However, I will not put myself under any undue pressure or reflect too much on the situation. Ideally, I will finish ahead of him and get a good result."

Did you know ?

.... Carlos Sainz won his home rally twice- "El Matador" won in 1992 and 1995. At his side: Lu?s Moya, now a member of the Volkswagen Motorsport team.

.... Sebastian Salvado won the inaugural Rally Spain? The Spaniard was victorious at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo in 1957.

.... the first time the Rally Spain was not won by a Spaniard was in 1983? The Italian pair of Adertico Vudafieri and Tiziano Siviero won in a Lancia Rally 037.

.... the Rally Spain is being held for the 51st time this year, and the 23rd time as a round of the World Rally Championship- The event, which is run by the Reial Autom?bil Club de Catalunya (RACC) first featured on the WRC calendar in 1991. Only once ? in 1994 ? did the Rally Spain only count towards the 2-Litre World Rally Cup.

.... the Rally Spain was held on the Costa Brava between 1991 and 2004? Back then, the rally headquarters were in the party stronghold of Lloret de Mar. However, there has also been plenty on offer in the way of leisure activities since 2005: the headquarters, media centre and service park are housed in the grounds of the PortAventura Resort.

.... France is the most successful nation at the Rally Spain - Since the rally first appeared on the WRC calendar, it has been won by a Frenchman on 16 occasions. Sebastien Loeb alone won eight times between 2005 and 2012. Volkswagen driver Sebastien Ogier contributed two victories to the French total in 2013 and 2014.

.... the body shell of the Polo R WRC is made in Pamplona - Last year, 150 employees from the Volkswagen factory in Pamplona made the 400-kilometre journey to watch their three Polo R WRCs in action, courtesy of an invite from Volkswagen Spain.

The number for the Rally Spain: 4,044

The mechanics could produce a record-breaking performance at the Rally Spain. During the 75-minute service on Friday evening - the longest of the season - they will convert the Polo R WRC from its gravel configuration to the asphalt set-up. For an idea of the sheer effort required, look no further than the number of individual components that must be replaced. Per car, the mechanics must swap 13 modules, consisting of 1,348 individual parts ? that is a total of 4,044 parts for all three Polo R WRC.

M-SPORT CHASE CHAMPIONSHIP BOOST ON THE COSTA DAURADA

Posted: October 22, 2015 6:20 AM

M-Sport World Rally Team's Elfyn Evans and Ott Tanak will be looking for a strong haul of points on the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Journeying to Spain for RallyRACC Catalunya ? Costa Daurada, the team have high hopes of reigniting a three-way battle for second place in the manufacturers' championship.

As the series' only mixed surface event of the year, Rally de Espana will see the crews tackle speed tests on both gravel and asphalt. A gravel set-up is required for the first full day of competition; before M-Sport's expert team of technicians convert each Ecoboost powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC into its asphalt guise for the remainder of the rally.

The opening gravel tests are technical in nature and interspersed with stretches of Tarmac ? a challenge in itself as the drivers strive to extract optimum performance from their loose-surface set-ups.

The asphalt stages that follow are some of the smoothest and most flowing of the year. Resembling a racetrack, they can also be highly abrasive and the crews must manage their tyres perfectly during each phase of the event.

Coming off the back of a career-best performance in Corsica, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt will be relishing another outing behind the wheel of their Fiesta RS WRC. The Welshman has worked with the team to improve the loose-surface set-up, and when the competition turns to Tarmac, he'll be looking to excel.
There hasn't been much time for the WRC's latest star to bask in the glory of his best performance to date. Since returning from Corsica, Evans was in action at the Wales Rally GB media day ? entertaining guests and dignitaries with a spin in his Ford Fiesta. He also attended the Sportel Business Convention as a guest of the WRC Promoter in Monte-Carlo.

Tanak didn't get into his rhythm in Corsica, but the Estonian and his compatriot co-driver Raigo Molder will be looking to put that right next week. The Estonian will want to make an impact through the opening gravel tests ? making his mark and rebuilding his confidence ahead of the Tarmac stages. The Spanish asphalt is far removed from what the crews experienced at the Tour de Corse, and he'll be hoping that plays to his advantage next week.

Tanak too has not had much time to relax as he and Molder contested their local Saaremaa Rally in Estonia ? behind the wheel of a car built and prepared by Tanak's own OT Racing team. The popular Estonian also celebrated a birthday this week ? turning 28 years young on Thursday.

Elfyn Evans said:

"This is the only mixed surface event of the year and I'm really looking forward to the challenges ahead. The remaining battles in both the drivers' and manufacturers' championships and really close so we'll be looking for a strong haul of points before the season finale.

"The gravel stages are quite technical and have a few stretches of asphalt which is a challenge in itself. When you have long sections of asphalt in the middle of a gravel stage, the car moves around quite a lot and you have to think about preserving your tyres for the remainder of the leg.

"It's quite a strategic rally in that sense and you have to think about the long game. Hopefully we can have a solid run through the gravel ready for the asphalt on Saturday and Sunday.

"Spain's Tarmac roads are as close to a circuit that we get all season. There are a lot of changes to the itinerary this year and quite a few new stages that I can't wait to experience for myself.

"I've contested this event on three previous occasions so I'd like to be challenging amidst the top-five. Who knows, if everything is perfect, another podium might even be a possibility!"

Ott Tanak said:

"I haven't driven this event competitively since 2012, but we did the recce last year and it was good to see that it looked as good as I remembered. It's always a really enjoyable event.

"The gravel stages are smooth and fast ? which I enjoy ? and I think everyone would agree that the Tarmac stages are some of the best on the calendar.

"Going from one surface to another can be a little strange at the beginning. It's something that is a little out of the ordinary for us as we're used to driving on one surface for the entire weekend. But we tend to get into a rhythm surprisingly quickly and by the time we're into the second asphalt stage we're all pretty much up to speed.

"If the weather is good ? and dust isn't an issue ? we should have quite a good road position for the first day. I really enjoy this car on gravel and we plan to push from the very beginning. It'll be the same on the Tarmac ? pushing hard and having a good rhythm throughout."

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

"Rally de Espana is the only mixed surface event of the year and that brings some unique challenges. It's the only rally where we see the cars at maximum performance on both gravel and asphalt and I'm confident that we can be competitive on both.

"Having fought for victory on both surfaces, we know that the Ford Fiesta RS WRC is a competitive package on both loose- and sealed-surface rallies. We'll be aiming for a strong result from both crews which reignites our fight for second place in the manufacturers' championship."

ADDITIONAL M-SPORT DRIVERS

M-Sport will also run the Ford Fiesta RRCs of Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and Yurii Protasov as they continue their WRC 2 campaigns.

Craig Breen aiming to impress at Rally de Espana

Posted: October 20, 2015 4:40 PM

Peugeot Rally Academy driver Craig Breen is set to stir up some happy memories this week when he introduces his SAINTeLOC Racing run Peugeot 208T16 to the famous El Molar hairpin of WRC Rally de Espana, the event where he clinched the SWRC title back in 2012. Taking place this year from Thursday October 22nd to Sunday October 25th the Spanish round has featured on the World Rally Championship calendar for twenty five years in a row now. After eleven years as a completely asphalt rally it relocated to the holiday resort of Salou and is now a mixed surface event around the Tarragona region. For the 51st running of the rally there is a revised route to challenge the drivers that are familiar with it which includes seven new stages to keep everyone on their toes over the weekend. For the Peugeot Rally Academy driver taking on the only mixed surface event of the 2015 WRC is nothing to fear as not only has Craig been a winner here before but it was on a very similar mixed surface rally in Greece last year that saw Craig and the 208T16 take their maiden ERC wins.

A shakedown stage on Thursday morning will be the last chance for Craig and his co-driver Scott Martin to gauge themselves against their competition over 2.97km of mixed surface roads before the lunch time start ramp in Salou. From there the cars head to Barcelona where a short city asphalt stage opens proceedings in front of a typically huge crowd amidst a carnival atmosphere. Friday things get serious, six pure gravel stages and two more with asphalt sections totaling 128.6km for the day and all without any service halt. For Craig and Scott some much needed rest will be their reward after the day long endurance test but for the SAINTeLOC Racing mechanics it will mean converting the 208T16 to a pure asphalt racer ahead of the remaining legs. Saturday will be like starting a new rally for everyone when the cars take to the mostly flat roads that have characterized this event for so many years. Driving style too will have to be adapted to suit the newly set-up cars in an effort to extract every inch of performance over the eight stages that make up leg two. It?s an early start Sunday morning for the third and final leg which is made up of six asphalt stages before the beachfront podium early in the afternoon.

As his season draws to a close Craig will be out to prove he is the fastest man over both surfaces this weekend and he will have plenty of competition from rivals old and new in the WRC 2 class to challenge him. He goes there with very recent experience of both surfaces and despite the very stiff competition has a every chance of standing on the top step of the podium on Sunday afternoon.

You can keep up to date with Craig's 2015 season by visiting: www.craigbreen.com or www.peugeot-sport.com

Irish Interest / Entry List

Posted: October 6, 2015 8:48 AM

3 MEEKE Kris / NAGLE Paul (CITROEN DS3 WRC)
12 AL QASSIMI Khalid / PATTERSON Chris (CITROEN DS3 WRC)

31 AL RAJHI Yazeed / ORR Michael (FORD Fiesta RRC)
40 AL-KUWARI Abdulaziz / CLARKE Marshall (FORD Fiesta RRC)
49 Craig MARTIN Scott (PEUGEOT 208 T16 R5)

55 AL MUTAWAA Mohamed / McAULEY Stephen (CITROEN DS3 R3T)

89 McCORMACK Enda / MOYNIHAN Liam (SKODA Fabia S2000)
92 DUFFY Pauric / GLYNN Kevin (FORD Fiesta R5)
95 Woodside Robert / HARRYMAN Allan (MITSUBISHI Lancer Evo X)
118 ARMSTRONG Jon / O'SULLIVAN Noel (FORD Fiesta R2)

Rally Guide 1 / Event Website

Posted: July 12, 2015 6:51 PM

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