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2018 World Rally Championship

Posted: January 15, 2018 4:17 AM - 5457 Hits


Posted: January 15, 2018 4:17 AM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are pleased to confirm that Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula will take to the wheel of the Cumbrian squad’s third EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC on eight rounds of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship.

With his Fiesta in essentially the same livery as team mates Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans, Suninen will form a part of the manufacturer team at Rally Sweden, Rally Mexico, Rally de Portugal, Rally Italia Sardegna, Rally Finland, the Rally of Turkey, Wales Rally GB and Rally de España.

In addition, the Finn will also take to the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R5 as part of the FIA World Rally Championship’s premier support series – WRC 2 – at Rallye Monte-Carlo and Rallye Deutschland.

Following an impressive debut at the highest level of competition in 2017, Suninen is thoroughly deserving of further WRC outings and was the clear choice to assist M-Sport in the defence of their manufacturer title.

The Finn made his top-flight debut at last year’s Rally Poland. Securing an impressive sixth place finish on his competitive debut, he also had no hesitation in claiming his first stage victory – setting the fastest time through the Polish event’s seventh speed test.

Next time out at Rally Finland, he went even further – claiming a further three fastest stage times and challenging for a podium position on only his second outing with the Ford Fiesta WRC.

With eight events behind the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta in 2018, Suninen will have plenty of opportunity to prove his potential once more – and could well be knocking on the door of a maiden WRC podium.

Teemu Suninen said:
“This will be a nice season for us and I am very happy about my programme for 2018. The highlight will of course be the eight rallies with the Ford Fiesta WRC as part of the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team where I think we have a good opportunity to prove our potential.

“The plan is to start those rallies in a relaxed state of mind. There’s no now or never situation or anything like that and no need to focus on our position in the drivers’ championship. We’ll just take it rally by rally and make the most of every event we do.

“We need to ensure that we make the most of this opportunity, and that is exactly what we plan to do. I’m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of a top-specification world rally car and aim to learn as much as I can.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“There is no doubting Teemu’s potential and I am sure that he will prove himself a very valuable member of our team this year. More than a few heads were turned when he got behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta WRC for the first time last year. To secure a stage win on your debut outing is one thing, but to be challenging for a podium on your second is quite another.

“There is no denying that Teemu is a very talented young driver, and a future rally winner. With eight rallies this year he’ll get the vital experience needed to develop his career at this level and I would not be at all be surprised if we saw him challenging for a podium or two.”


Posted: January 15, 2018 4:16 AM

Gus Greensmith and co-driver Craig Parry have a busy 2018 ahead as they take to the wheel of the Ford Fiesta for nine FIA World Rally Championship events and a full campaign in the championship’s premier support series – WRC 2.

The 21-year-old Brit will first take to the stages later this month – making his Rallye Monte-Carlo debut behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R2.

Following advice from Team Principal Malcolm Wilson, he’ll use the outing to learn more about the challenging nature of the season’s traditional opener before being reunited with the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 for a further eight rallies.

The Brit will start his WRC 2 campaign on the gravel tracks of Rally Mexico. Having completed the recce last year, he and Parry will be well prepared to tackle the unique character of the Central American event for the first time in competition.

Having shown impressive speed and progression throughout his maiden year in four-wheel-drive machinery, Greensmith’s potential is clear to see. If the young Brit can couple that with improved consistency, he will undoubtedly be one to watch in 2018.

Gus Greensmith said:
“It feels great to be back in the swing of things, but this time in the colour blue. It’s been a long time since Wales Rally GB and now I cannot wait to get back behind the wheel.

“The 2018 WRC 2 Championship looks as though it’s going to be the most competitive yet and I’ve been working hard over the winter break for exactly that reason. I feel as though I’m going to be in a good place this year – mentally, physically, with Craig back by my side and of course with M-Sport, the reigning World Champions!

“Last year I think I showed my ability to drive as fast, if not faster, than my competitors. Speed wasn’t the issue, but consistency was and that is the key to doing well in any championship. This year, I need to focus on consistently scoring strong points.

“But at the same time I also have to admit that a goal of mine for this year is to secure my first WRC 2 victory. If the opportunity arises, and the circumstances are right, I’ll go for it. It’s a childhood dream and the second of six life goals I am aiming to achieve.”

Craig Parry said:
“We’ve got a really good programme for 2018 and I can’t wait to get started – with nine rallies to plan and contest we’ll certainly be kept busy!

“This will be my second year with Gus and it really was fantastic to see how quickly he progressed last year – a lot faster than any of us expected. He’s progressed in every area of the sport and it was great to see him mature not only as a driver, but also as a person.

“The main aim for this year will be to try and find a bit more consistency. The speed is already there, so now we just need to cut out some of those small but costly mistakes. We can have a good push on our stronger events, and try to focus a bit more on championship position as opposed to each individual rally. But as always, the main goal is to enjoy every minute of it.”

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s great to have Gus back with the team in 2018. He has the speed and the potential to go very far indeed. He’s still very young at only 21 years old, but he is also very determined to succeed. This could well be a breakthrough season for Gus and I’ll certainly be watching his progress with interest throughout the year.”

Revolution in WRC’s live coverage for 2018

Posted: January 11, 2018 6:48 AM

  • Follow the FIA World Rally Championship like never before
  • Every single special stage broadcast as it happens
  • Expert analysis and breaking news live from the rally service park
  • WRC Promoter offers more than 300 hours live coverage in 2018
  • WRC All Live upgrade available to WRC+ subscribers
WRC fans can look forward to watching unprecedented live coverage of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship under ground-breaking plans to transform the way the series is broadcast.

For the first time in the championship’s history, every special stage from each round will be shown as it happens. Additional live coverage will include the opening and podium ceremonies, press conferences and driver autograph sessions.

WRC Promoter, the championship’s commercial rights holder, will offer more than 25 hours of coverage from each rally as a continuous live stream, including expert analysis from the WRC’s TV studio and breaking news, interviews and reactions from across the service park.

Announcing the new WRC All Live service at the season launch at Autosport International Show in Birmingham on Thursday, WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla called the plans ‘pioneering’.

“WRC fans now have the choice and flexibility to join the live action at any time during a rally weekend,” he said. “Fans can choose to watch the stages they like best and enjoy unprecedented live access to the service areas, whenever they want and from wherever they are.”

Numerous stageside and onboard cameras, helicopters, drones and a production team of almost 100 people will provide thrilling coverage of the WRC’s stars battling for crucial tenths of a second in conditions as extreme as the frozen forests of Sweden and the raw heat of Sardinia.

WRC All Live will be available in English on the championship’s www.wrcplus.com subscription channel.

“With WRC+, All Live can be watched anywhere, anytime and on any device – computer, laptop, smart TV, smartphone or tablet,” added Ciesla.

“Fans won’t have to miss a thing as all stages can be watched live or on demand and an interactive programme guide will provide information to steers fans easily through each day.”

WRC All Live will begin with a live stream from the opening two stages at Rallye Monte-Carlo on Thursday 25 January.

“WRC All Live is the logical development of WRC+. A continuous live stream is the appropriate format for an endurance sport that runs for two-and-a-half days,” said Ciesla.

“It will also become an important new tool for journalists, teams, rally organisers and safety delegates working in the WRC.”

Popular existing features such as live maps, exclusive onboard videos, and on-demand daily highlights shows are included in the WRC All Live offer, which costs 8.99 euros per month or 89.99 euros for 12 months at www.wrcplus.com. Current WRC+ subscribers can update to WRC All Live.

The WRC+ basic package, containing live coverage of a Saturday afternoon test and Sunday lunchtime’s rally-closing Power Stage alongside the above features, remains available as a starter bundle.

All fans subscribing or upgrading to WRC All Live before February’s Rally Sweden have the opportunity to win a spectacular co-drive in M-Sport World Rally Team’s championship winning Ford Fiesta WRC at Vodafone Rally de Portugal in May.


Posted: December 20, 2017 7:25 AM

Contesting the full season next year, Kris Meeke will spearhead the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, whilst Craig Breen will drive the second Citroen C3 WRC at ten rounds of the championship and Khalid Al Qassimi will appear in a third car at a handful of rallies.

Sébastien Loeb will be making a much-anticipated return to the WRC with the brand in Mexico, Corsica and Catalonia.

Meanwhile, Stéphane Lefebvre will be tasked with driving the Citroen C3 R5 on its debut season in the WRC2.

Reaching the historic figure of one hundred World Rally Championship wins is one of the objectives that Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT has set itself for 2018. To secure the two victories needed to break this record, or indeed even surpass it, the team will once again be putting its faith in Kris Meeke, now capableof winning on any surface, as demonstrated by the five WRC rallies he has won since starting to compete for Citroen at world level in 2013. On the return of Citroen to the WRC as a works team this year, the 38 year-old Briton bagged the Citroen C3 WRC's maiden victory in only its third race, on the Mexican gravel, before also excelling on the tarmac in Corsica. The second part of the season confirmed his ability to take on the responsibilities of team leader. The highlight being a second, resounding win on the gravel and tarmac of Rally Catalunya, and a determined attitude, befitting that of a leader.

Kris will be supported in showcasing the qualities of the Citroen C3 WRC at ten rounds of the championship by Craig Breen, who enjoyed an incredibly consistent first full season in the WRC, so much so that he racked up no fewer than six fifth-place finishes. After learning about rallying at world level in 2016 as part of the Abu Dhabi Total WRT and finishing an impressive third overall in Finland, the 27 yearold Irishman is very determined to build on the experience acquired this year and secure more podiums in 2018.

The 2018 season will also see the Loeb-Elena crew back competing for Citroen, thus reforming a partnership that has already claimed nine world drivers' and co-drivers' titles (2004 to 2012), eight manufacturers' titles (2003 to 2005 and 2008 to 2012) and some seventy-eight rally wins. After retiring from full-time involvement in the WRC at the end of 2012, and having contested only four rallies in 2013 and made a one-off appearance at the 2015 Rallye Monte-Carlo, Sébastien Loeb will be looking to find the feeling specific to rallying when he drives the second works Citroen C3 WRC in Mexico, Corsica and Spain. It will be a chance for the rally legend to enhance his illustrious record even further at events where he has previously won on six, four and eight occasions respectively, whilst also enabling Citroen's 'Red Army' to benefit from his immense, almost unrivalled experience.

The team's loyalty is also reflected in the continuing involvement of Khalid Al Qassimi, who will drive a third Citroen C3 WRC on a few occasions, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre will be given the task of promoting the new Citroen C3 R5 in the highly competitive WRC2 class.


Yves Matton, Citroen Racing Team Principal
"For 2018, we have decided to capitalise on what we've been building for a number of seasons now with Kris and Craig. Kris' speed is unquestionable, and with the more relaxed mindset he had at the end of the year, he proved he had it in him to be a leader. The aim will be to target podiums, secure some wins, but Kris can also go for position in the championship. Meanwhile, Craig proved that he was the perfect foil, with some very consistent performances. There is still room for him to improve and aim even higher. I'm also delighted to see that there will be another chapter in the great history between Sébastien Loeb and Citroen: he couldn't have returned to the WRC with anyone other than us! Seb confirmed that he has lost none of his speed and skill during the test sessions completed, although he is bound to be short of knowledge of the stages and time in the car, compared with the increasingly tough competition. We still believe in Stéphane: we are convinced that he will be a good ambassador for the Citroen C3 R5, for which the brand has great hopes. And this programme will allow him to continue to add to his experience and therefore keep improving."

Kris Meeke
"We learned a lot during the first season with the Citroen C3 WRC and we've gathered a lot of informationto help us do better in 2018. Despite a few tough moments, we managed to show our potential. We are now going to try even harder to be more consistent on the variety of surfaces used in the championship. We won't be taking anything for granted but by working in a relaxed and calm manner, we can achieve good things. We'll be aiming to score heavily at Monte-Carlo and in Sweden in order to get off to a good start in this second campaign."

Craig Breen
"I'm delighted to stay with the team for another year. I had a lot of things to learn this first full year in the WRC, but I managed to be consistent. We also worked a lot on fine-tuning the handling of the Citroen C3 WRC, and the progress made on gravel at the end of the season fills me with optimism. We have to keep going in order to obtain even better results. In any case, I'm going to do everything I can to get my first win at events like Rally Finland or Wales GB Rally, where I have a bit of experience."

Sébastien Loeb
"Everyone was pleased after the test sessions done this year, myself first and foremost, and these three appearances were the next logical step. The feeling you get in rally is one of the most thrilling feelings I have ever experienced, and I was excited about driving one of these new WRCs in a race. And it's nice to be able to do it in the team with which I have enjoyed so much success! I don't have any expectations, I just want to enjoy myself. I thought it made sense to take part in the French round, especially since I've always loved racing on tarmac, although I'm not familiar with the current route of the Tour de Corse. Spain seemed like a good option too. And although I'm expecting it to be pretty tough given the time that has passed since I last competed there, I also wanted to contest a gravel rally. We opted for Mexico, since I have good memories of racing there and the route hasn't changed too much since I was last involved in the championship."

Khalid Al Qassimi
"We focused on 2018 as regards the development of the Citroen C3 WRC and it was therefore important to continue with the drivers who already know the team and the car well. Kris and Craig make a good duo. Like many fans, I'm also very excited at the idea of seeing Sébastien Loeb back in the WRC driving a Citroen! My commitments mean that I'll only be taking part in a handful of rallies this year. Although I won't be able to be in Monte-Carlo, which is held just after the Dakar Rally, I will obviously be following the start to our season with great interest."

Stéphane Lefebvre
"It's a new challenge for the new year: sometimes, you have to take a step back, before taking two steps forward. I've been given a great opportunity to show just how competitive the Citroen C3 R5 is, whilst still competing as a works driver in the WRC2, a very closely contested championship. The aim is to win the title, and make the car the new benchmark in the category. Having driven it already in tests, I know that it is a well-designed car. Given that there is a need to finalise its development, I'll come into the races with a lot of miles under my belt, and that’s what really matters at this stage of my career."


Posted: November 28, 2017 2:56 PM

M-Sport are delighted to confirm that Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans will continue their commitment to the team throughout the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship – leading the Cumbrian squad alongside their respective co-drivers Julien Ingrassia and Daniel Barritt.

With the five-time World Champion, and one of the sport’s most exciting up-and-coming talents, M-Sport are well-placed to defend their title in what is sure to be another exciting and closely-fought battle next year.

With both crews having good knowledge of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC, development can continue at pace – Ogier and Evans both determined to add to M-Sport’s repertoire of podiums, wins and championships in the year to come.

Negotiations with both crews have been on-going for some months and, during a team celebration at Dovenby Hall earlier today, Ogier spontaneously took the lead – he and Evans putting pen to paper there and then in front of M-Sport’s 240-strong workforce.

With Ogier and Evans, the team have a strong chance of preserving the huge success they had gathered to celebrate. Both crews have speed in abundance, but it’s their masterful understanding of strategy which could combine to produce the perfect recipe for M-Sport’s championship defence.

News on a third Ford Fiesta WRC is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“To have secured both Sébastien and Elfyn is brilliant news for the team. We’ve been working towards this goal for some time, so to finally have it confirmed is fantastic and means that we can now focus our attention on the continued development ahead of next season.

“In Sébastien and Elfyn, we have a strong chance of defending our titles. It won’t be easy. Our rivals certainly won’t have sat still and I’m expecting an even closer battle for the championship, but with these two crews we have a good chance. They’re both very intelligent drivers. There is no doubting their speed, but they also have a masterful approach to strategy that delivers results time after time.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be confident of adding to our success next year and – seeing the reaction of the team this afternoon – I know that everyone will continue to give 110 percent.”

Sébastien Ogier said:
“It’s great to finally announce our plans for 2018. What we have achieved together has been truly amazing, and we want to see that continue – to continue this fantastic journey and to defend all that we have achieved together.

“This season has been very exciting with some of the closest-fought competition for years. As a driver, I definitely want to be a part of that. I still get a lot of emotion from this sport, and this team has so much passion. That made my decision clear, and we will work hard to chase more success together next year.”

Elfyn Evans said:
“After a fantastic season for the whole team, it’s great that we’ll be a part of it again next year. After getting that first victory under our belts, we’re ready to take the next step and I think we all have another exciting season ahead of us.

“Honestly, I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel and Rallye Monte-Carlo can’t come soon enough. We’ll be working hard over the Christmas break to ensure we’re fully prepared, and the goal will be to build on the success of this year.”


Posted: November 26, 2017 4:30 PM

Pirelli will be the official tyre partner of the 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship – providing strong support throughout the year and supplying competition tyres for all five events on the new-look calendar.

The partnership between Pirelli and M-Sport builds on a strong relationship that was forged during the 2011 and 2012 FIA WRC Academy, and the two companies are resolute on nurturing the sport’s future stars.

Pirelli will provide their Sottozero-ice studded tyre for Rally Sweden before moving to their RK and RKW tyres for the sealed-surface roads of the Tour de Corse. Pirelli’s K Scorpion tyre will then be used on the gravel tracks of Rally de Portugal, Rally Finland and the returning Rally of Turkey.

Pirelli will also support the championship’s generous prize structure with 200 tyres towards the eventual champion’s 2019 WRC 2 campaign.

Pirelli Rally Activity Manager, Terenzio Testoni, said:
“Pirelli has held a philosophy of supporting young talent in rallying for many years, thanks to international programmes such as Pirelli Star Driver and WRC Academy, which have helped propel drivers such as Ott Tänak, Hayden Paddon, Craig Breen and Elfyn Evans to the very top of the sport.

"We’re delighted to renew our association with the Junior World Rally Championship, where previous winners on Pirelli tyres have included the current World Champion, Sébastien Ogier.

“With identical cars and tyres, the Junior World Rally Championship is the ideal platform to put the spotlight purely on driving talent – and it’s fitting that the car used is the Ford Fiesta, which won the FIA World Rally Championships for Drivers and Manufacturers this year.”

Junior WRC Manager, Maciej Woda, said:
“I would like to welcome Pirelli as the latest FIA Junior World Rally Championship partner. We have good memories of our collaboration with them in the WRC Academy and believe that, together, we can offer a very interesting and competitive package for the 2018 season.

“Pirelli were on board when we first delivered a one-make series alongside the FIA, and it’s great to have them back with us now. Together, we hope to discover the latest generation of rally stars.”

2018 WRC to launch at Autosport International

Posted: November 8, 2017 6:29 AM

The 2018 FIA World Rally Championship will blast off with a high-profile launch at the Autosport International (11 - 14 January) show in Birmingham.

The four manufacturer teams representing Citroën, Hyundai, M-Sport and Toyota will provide an exclusive first look at their 2018 World Rally Car liveries on the Autosport main stage during ‘Takeover Thursday’.

All the leading drivers, co-drivers and team principals will be present to share their views on the new season, two weeks before the prestigious Rallye Monte-Carlo (25 - 28 January) ushers in the opening action in Monaco’s glamorous Casino Square.

A packed day of WRC activities will herald the opening of Europe’s biggest pre-season motorsport show at the NEC Birmingham. All cars will stay on display throughout the weekend with top drivers present during the remaining three days.

Customer teams and support category competitors from WRC 2, WRC 3 and Junior WRC are also due to attend, while a dedicated WRC stand will be the perfect place for fans to get up to speed ahead of the season start.

The initiative to bring the cars and personalities close to the fans follows soaring interest in this year’s series. More powerful, aggressive and noisy new-era World Rally Cars sparked a big rise in rally attendances and season figures will top four million, a record for the modern-day WRC.

The most exciting and unpredictable title fight in a decade also inspired a surge in global TV viewers. Figures covering the first seven rounds from independent analyst Nielsen Sports showed the total audience leaped by 17 per cent.

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said there was no better place to launch the championship than at an event affectionately regarded as the beginning of the new motorsport season.

“We’ll have the stunning 2018 cars, the world’s leading drivers and co-drivers and the team principals altogether in the same location, at the same time. Thanks to Autosport International’s co-operation we have a wonderful opportunity to showcase the 2018 WRC.

“Thursday will truly be a WRC takeover, but fans attending later in the weekend will still have the opportunity to whet their appetite for the season ahead as the cars will remain on display and there will be plenty of driver appearances,” he said.

Show director Kate Woodley said it was a fantastic chance for fans to be part of the exciting build-up to 2018.

“What an honour and a privilege to have arguably motorsport’s most exciting series in the world launched under our roof. We understand the significance of what’s coming and we fully intend to do it justice,” she said.

M-Sport team principal Malcolm Wilson is a long-time exhibitor at Autosport International. He is delighted to see the WRC given a high-profile launch.

“I’ve been going to Autosport International since it began and it really is seen, industry-wide, as the start of the season, so to have an event with this sort of global reach is fantastic for the World Rally Championship.

“I’ve always championed more rally content at Autosport International and next year we’re going to have more than ever!” said Wilson.

Hyundai Motorsport selects Sarrazin Motorsport to run HMDP campaign

Posted: November 2, 2017 11:05 AM

Hyundai Motorsport has selected Sarrazin Motorsport to run a New Generation i20 R5 for Finnish driver Jari Huttunen in selected WRC2 championship events in 2018 as part of the Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program (HMDP).

The French outfit, headed by experienced driver Stéphane Sarrazin, was chosen from a number of teams who were invited to submit proposals for the project. Sarrazin himself took delivery of one of the first New Generation i20 R5 chassis in September 2016. His team was selected as the best option based on their professional approach to running the car, which they have shown on a number of occasions this year. Their most notable event came when they supported Tom Cave at Rally Finland, running the New Generation i20 R5 to a first WRC2 podium.

In the coming months the team will take delivery of a brand new car, which will be based in their workshop throughout the 2018 season. However, for events the crew will be entered under the Hyundai Motorsport name.

Working alongside Sarrazin, who has previously competed at the highest levels of racing and rallying as a manufacturer driver, will add another facet to Huttunen’s development over the course of the 2018 season. The Frenchman’s experience will aid the 23-year-old’s development, especially on tarmac.

Rally Sweden set as 2018 debut

Huttunen’s HMDP campaign will begin on the stages of Rally Sweden (15-18 February) alongside co-driver Antti Linnaketo. The snowy conditions will be familiar to the Finnish pairing, who have previously driven in winter events in their native country. The 2018 rally will, however, be their debut at the event and only their fourth competitive start at the wheel of a four-wheel-drive R5-specification car. The remainder of his schedule for the season will be announced at a later date.

He will make his third rally entry in an R5, his first in a New Generation i20 R5, at Wales Rally GB later this month working with Sarrazin Motorsport. While this entry has been privately arranged it will give the team and driver valuable experience of working together in competitive conditions ahead of the start of the 2018 season.

Sarrazin Motorsport Team Owner Stéphane Sarrazin said:
“We are really proud that Sarrazin Motorsport has been chosen for the Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us as a team. We tried to develop our team with a professional approach, based on what we learnt in the past working with manufacturers, whilst maintaining a family atmosphere. The whole team is very excited to start working with Jari, and we will do our best to provide him with an outstanding car and great support. Arnaud Mounier, our technical director, has invaluable rally experience working in WRC2 and the French championship. With our experience, we will be able to accompany him during the development phase. We have excellent facilities to work from, most notably our test roads located right next to our workshop. It’s a great environment to prepare Jari for his HMDP campaign.”

Hyundai Motorsport Team Manager Alain Penasse said:
“Sarrazin Motorsport was the obvious best choice to run Jari Huttunen for the Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program. Though they are a young team they are already knowledgeable in how to work on the New Generation i20 R5. With his experience at the highest levels of motorsport Stéphane Sarrazin will also be able to aid with the work Jari completes away from rallies to build his confidence on tarmac and prepare him for a career as a manufacturer driver in the WRC. Starting at Rally Sweden is the perfect opportunity for Jari. From his rallying in Finland he already has crucial experience of driving on snow and ice, and we are confident that he can make a strong start to his 2018 campaign at the event.”


Posted: November 2, 2017 11:03 AM

M-Sport are proud to announce a collaboration with Panta Racing Fuel for the 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship.

The Italian fuel giant will become an official partner of the one-make Ford Fiesta R2 feeder series – working in unison with M-Sport to discover the next generation of FIA World Rally Champions.

A member of the Mol Group Italy, Panta Racing Fuel was created in 1989 and has consistently enhanced their products through the key philosophy of persistent research and development.

Supplying prestigious championships, teams and drivers, the company has grown into one of the leading competition fuels – guaranteeing excellent quality and performance at every level.

Partnering with M-Sport and the Junior WRC, Panta Racing Fuel will support rallying’s future stars – all the way to the top.

Head of Panta Racing Fuel, Luca Monico, said:
“We started our presence in motorsport in the late 1980s and have since become the official fuel supplier of several championships throughout the world.

“We have seen several drivers start their career at the Junior level to become some of the most important and famous drivers in motorsport.

“We believe in motorsport, and this is the reason why we are very happy to start our partnership with M-Sport and the Junior WRC – the starting point for drivers to become the stars of the future.”

Junior WRC Manager, Maciej Woda, said:
“We are very pleased to start this partnership with Panta which just goes to show what an important and respected series the Junior WRC is.

“We are looking to refresh the format of the Junior WRC next year and having Panta on board will help us provide an attractive package with the cars performing at their highest level.”


Posted: November 2, 2017 10:53 AM

M-Sport are pleased to announce the prize for the 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship.

Having proven their pace on snow, asphalt and gravel, the eventual champion will become the proud owner of a brand-new Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta R5.

As well as their very own Fiesta R5, the champion will also receive free WRC 2 registration as well as free fuel and a generous tyre package for the 2019 WRC 2 season.

In order to win this once-in-a-lifetime prize, the competitors will have to master a variety of different surfaces and conditions behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R2.

Starting on the snow-covered tracks of Rally Sweden, the championship will then venture to the twisting asphalt of the Tour de Corse before one of the FIA World Rally Championship’s most popular gravel events – Rally de Portugal.

A further two gravel events complete the season with the iconic jumps and ‘yumps’ of Rally Finland and the return of the Rally of Turkey.

The best four scores count toward the championship and double points will be awarded on the final round in Turkey.

In addition, one championship point will be awarded for each stage victory – encouraging the competitors to show their maximum performance throughout each event.

The price for five rallies in the 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship is set at 139,500 EUROS and registrations open on 1 November 2017.

The first driver selection will be made by 15 December and we look forward to introducing some of rallying’s brightest future stars to the world stage.

Junior WRC Manager, Maciej Woda, said:
“I’m very pleased that we can now announce the Junior WRC package for next year. We have decided to introduce a revolutionary new prize which is the ownership of the brand-new Ford Fiesta R5.

“We want the winner to be in a position to continue their career in WRC 2 to the best of their ability and, with their own car, they will be able to do the additional testing required to learn the car and prepare for the events.

“We are working with our partners to provide as much support as we can and, with what we are already in a position to offer, we believe this is the best value-for-money step for the eventual winner’s career.”

Ott Tänak named as TOYOTA GAZOO Racing driver in 2018

Posted: October 18, 2017 2:57 AM

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team can confirm that Ott Tänak will drive the Yaris WRC from Rallye Monte-Carlo next year, together with his co-driver Martin Jarveoja. The 30-year-old Estonian, the winner of two rallies so far this season, has been one of the outstanding performers on the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT will enter its second season with three Yaris WRCs on every event, with Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila and Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm completing the driver line-up.

Kaj Lindström, currently co-driver for Juho Hänninen, is taking on a new role as sporting director for the team, starting from Rally Australia this year. With this revised line-up, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT will continue its challenge into the 2018 season.

Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“We’re delighted to have secured the services of Ott, having had our eyes on him for a while. He represents the perfect blend of youth and experience, together with the right sort of mental attitude that means he will fit into our team very well. Like the Yaris WRC, Ott has exceeded all expectations this year, so I’m sure it will be a strong partnership with both speed and consistency on all surfaces. I’d also like to congratulate Kaj on his new role. One of my favourite memories of my own driving career is our win in Monte-Carlo together; from this, and the experience of working with him since, I know that Kaj is the ultimate professional and he is sure to be a strong asset as we continue our team’s development. Finally, I would like to express my thanks and appreciation for everything that Juho has done for us. He will always be a member of our family, and has played an important part in taking us to where we are today.”

About Ott Tänak:
Date of birth: 15 Oct 1987
Age: 30 years old
Nationality: Estonian

2008 Estonian Rally Champion
2009 Estonian Rally Champion
2009 First WRC rally
2010 European Pirelli Star Driver
2011 2nd overall FIA SWRC Championship (3 wins)
2017 First WRC win, Rally Sardinia, second win in Rally Germany

WRC Statistics:
WRC starts 77, Victories 2, Podiums 10, Points scored 379, Stage Wins 73


Posted: October 4, 2017 3:30 PM

M-Sport are pleased to announce their initial plans for the 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship which is set to challenge the latest crop of candidates on every surface that the FIA World Rally Championship has to offer.

Following the same successful format as in previous years, the championship will be run on an arrive-and-drive format with M-Sport in Krakow supplying identical one-litre Ecoboost Ford Fiesta R2s.

Five events have been selected on snow, gravel and asphalt – providing a true test of the drivers’ ability on all terrain.

    Rally Sweden
    Tour de Corse
    Rally de Portugal
    Rally Finland
    Rally of Turkey
For the first time since 2006, the season kick-starts on the snow-covered stages of Rally Sweden before venturing to the sealed-surface endurance tests of the Tour de Corse.

Three gravel rallies then follow at Rally de Portugal, Rally Finland and double points for the final round at the Rally of Turkey which is returning to the championship for the first time since 2010.

Featuring some the season’s most iconic rallies, the calendar also provides a better spread of events to simplify logistics for the potential competitors.

Once again, championship points will also be awarded for every fastest stage time so as to encourage the competitors to push throughout each rally – a formula which has traditionally resulted in a nail-biting fight to the finish.

Further details will be announced at Wales Rally GB and those interested in further information should contact Maciej Woda, mwoda@m-sport.co.uk

Maciej Woda said:
“We’ve worked really hard on our one-make series over the years and believe that we have established a successful and competitive format alongside the FIA. Next year, we want to take it a step further to introduce more diversity – something the introduction of all three surfaces allows.

“By making the final round a double header, it also encourages the drivers to push to the very last kilometre – as we have seen in recent seasons – and the eventual winner will have shown consistent speed on every surface.

“There’s no denying that the Junior World Rally Championship produces drivers that go on to compete at the very highest level. You just have to look at names like Loeb, Ogier, Sordo, Breen, Evans and Tidemand to know that this formula has produced drivers of the very highest calibre – and we’re hoping to find another one in 2018.”

Hyundai Motorsport confirms two-year deal with Andreas Mikkelsen

Posted: September 28, 2017 9:36 AM

Hyundai Motorsport has today confirmed that Andreas Mikkelsen has signed a two-year deal to join the team for the 2018 and 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) seasons.

Mikkelsen will compete in all rounds of the 2018 championship in a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, co-driven by fellow Norwegian Anders Jæger.

Hyundai Motorsport’s existing crews of Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul, Dani Sordo/Marc Martí and Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall all remain under contract for the 2018 season.

Andreas Mikkelsen said:
“I am delighted that Hyundai Motorsport has offered me the chance to return to the WRC with a full-time seat for 2018 and 2019. Even before my first rally with the team, I feel that I have settled in quickly, and it is clear to me that I am joining a world-class team with realistic chances of fighting for both Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ championships. I look forward to helping to achieve these goals from Rallye Monte-Carlo next year, and making my own presence felt in the drivers’ title fight.”

Team Principal Michel Nandan said:
“Andreas is one of those rally drivers who fits in quickly and just gets straight down to business. From the few times he has already been to visit the factory in Alzenau, his determination and professionalism have shone through. We are pleased to have him on board in a full-time capacity for two complete seasons. He has already had the chance to experience the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in testing, and has delivered us positive and useful feedback. He has also driven our i20 R5, which has further allowed him to integrate into all areas of our team. We can’t wait to see him in action as a Hyundai Motorsport driver in the final three events of the season, into next year and beyond.”

Jari Huttunen joins Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program for 2018

Posted: September 27, 2017 5:50 AM

Finnish driver Jari Huttunen will join the Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program (HMDP) and compete at the wheel of a New Generation i20 R5 in 2018. The decision comes at the conclusion of a careful selection process, during which candidates had to prove not only their pace in the car, but also their communication skills and technical knowledge.

Though all eight of the drivers who tested the New Generation i20 R5 earlier this month impressed the watching members of the jury, it was ultimately a unanimous decision that Huttunen stood out from the group.

The 23-year-old has previously competed in Germany, where he won his class in six out of the seven events in 2016. In 2017 he moved into the European Rally Championship (ERC), campaigning an R2-specification car. Alongside his ERC exploits he also stepped up to R5 competition for the first time, entering two events this season.

In just his second start in the four-wheel-drive car he took victory in WRC2 at his home event, winning a majority of the rally’s stages ahead of a field of far more experienced drivers. It was this performance that initially caught the attention of Hyundai Motorsport and led to him being invited to take part in the HMDP selection process.

At the HMDP test in France he quickly impressed the watching members of Hyundai Motorsport’s management, overcoming his lack of experience at the wheel of an R5 car compared to many of the drivers he was competing against. Even in the slippery conditions that greeted the drivers during the test he was able to immediately show consistently strong pace on both the tarmac and gravel stages, despite the perceived disadvantage to his rivals.

The test days were designed to closely mimic the situation on World Rally Championship events. Each driver was given only two recce passes on each stage before running in the New Generation i20 R5. Their time in the car allowed them to adapt to the handling in the changing conditions on the road before beginning to discuss set-up changes with the Hyundai Motorsport engineers.

As well as his ability in the car his determination to succeed also shone though, not only during the test days, but also during the interviews that formed the first part of the selection for the HMDP opportunity.

Huttunen, will compete in selected WRC2 rounds next year in a Hyundai Motorsport entered New Generation i20 R5. He will also complete a program of tests throughout the season, in order to prepare fully for each event, and continue to progress his professional rallying career.

Jari Huttunen said:
“It’s obviously a huge honour to be selected as the winning candidate for the Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program. There were a lot of very talented drivers involved, with more experience than me, so to be chosen is a nice surprise. To be able to draw on the support from such a successful team will allow me to focus fully on my driving and training and continue to improve my performance behind the wheel. Though I only had a short time in the New Generation i20 R5 at the test I quickly felt comfortable and was able to push, even in the difficult conditions. Now I can concentrate on preparing over the coming months. I’m really excited for the year ahead.”

Hyundai Motorsport Team Manager Alain Penasse said:
“We were very impressed by the level of all the candidates at the test. They each had a very professional approach, and left a good impression with myself and the other judges. What stood out about Jari was his determination. With only a few starts in an R5 car he had less experience than many of the other candidates, but was immediately competitive and consistent in the New Generation i20 R5 on both the tarmac and gravel stages. He is a clearly a very talented driver, and has enormous potential as a rally driver. With the support of the Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program we are confident he can continue his rapid progress in the sport next season.”


Posted: September 27, 2017 5:46 AM

Next month’s Marmaris Rally Turkey takes on extra significance following last week’s decision by the FIA World Motor Sport Council to include Rally Turkey in the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar.

Turkey’s return to the WRC for the first time since 2010 will be rubber-stamped provided that the candidate event being hosted by TOSFED as a round of the FIA European Rally Trophy on October 20-22 meets with the necessary FIA approval. The event will replace Rally Poland in the 13-round calendar on September 13-16, 2018.

Turkey hosted the WRC for six years between 2003 and 2010 in Antalya and Istanbul and the country’s return rally will be based in Mu?la after a seven-year absence from the world’s premier motor sporting calendar. Senior FIA officials and representatives of the leading manufacturers’ teams are expected to attend the candidate event to gain valuable knowledge before 2018.

Serkan Yazici, President of TOSFED, said: “We are delighted to achieve our objective of being back in the World Rally Championship calendar after seven years and to be chosen ahead of several other important candidates. We are delighted for our country and our motor sport fans.

“Being a former rally driver myself, who has participated in WRC events in various countries, I am confident that our team – which has organised many top FIA events in Turkey over the last two decades – is more than capable of organising the best of the 13 rounds of the championship.”

Both next month’s candidate event and Turkey’s WRC return will be held in and around the Mediterranean holiday destination of Marmaris.

“We plan to make the most compact rally ever with stages passing close to the service park and one finishing just metres away from the entrance,” added Yazici. “We are sure that the challenging gravel stages, which have been named after notable Turkish rally drivers who have passed away, will be appreciated by teams and drivers and will provide classic action in the coming years.”

Turkey first held an international rally in 1972, but the idea of creating a WRC candidate event was conceived in 1999 with support from the late rally organiser Malcolm Neill.

Based in Izmir, the Anatolian Rally was duly created the following year and became an official reserve event for the WRC in 2001 when it moved to south-western Turkey and the area around Antalya and Kemer. The event adopted a WRC format in 2002 and joined the series for the first time in 2003.

Double World Champion Carlos Sainz won the inaugural WRC event in a Citroën Xsara WRC and Frenchman Sébastien Loeb followed on with back-to-back wins for the French manufacturer in 2004 and 2005.

Flying Finn Marcus Grönholm gave Ford a first win the following season and Mikko Hirvonen repeated the feat for the Blue Oval in 2008 after the event had missed out on the series through event calendar rotation in 2007. Loeb secured his third win and a fourth for Citroën with a C4 WRC in 2010.

October’s WRC candidate round will feature 205.10 competitive kilometres in a route of 609.5km laid on by Clerk of the Course Murat Kaya and his team.

Administration and scrutineering checks will take place on Thursday, October 19 and the pre-rally press conference, 4.5km shakedown stage and ceremonial start will take centre stage on Friday, October 20 in Marmaris.

Leg one gets underway on Saturday morning (October 21) and features two loops of three stages named after deceased rally drivers Ayhan Tokyay, Mustafa Koç and Ali Sipahi).

The action concludes after a second leg of seven special stages on Sunday (October 22) with three stages repeated twice and named in memory of Renç Koçibey, Lem’i Tanca and Yusuf Aramici and a single run through a Red Bull-backed test of 7.1km to bring the action to a conclusion.

WRC Promoter confirms 2018 championship calendar

Posted: September 21, 2017 3:19 PM

WRC Promoter has announced the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship calendar today (Thursday).

The 13-round calendar marks the return of Turkey after a seven-year absence. It replaces Poland in the fixture list, which was approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris this afternoon.

The championship begins with the traditional season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo in January and features a mix of gravel, asphalt, snow and ice action across four continents to find the world’s best all-round driver.

Innovations for 2018 include:

    · Turkey returns to the WRC for the first time since 2010. The 10th round will be based in the popular international holiday resort of Marmaris, in the south-west of the country, on 13 - 16 September.

    The gravel event will feature fast to medium-speed special stages, including a mix of smooth open roads near Marmaris and more demanding rocky mountain passes in Mugla state.

    Turkish motorsport federation TOSFED will organise the rally, which will be one of the most compact in WRC history with several stages starting or finishing close to the service park. The speed tests hug the coast in places, guaranteeing dramatic TV images for fans.

    WRC manufacturers Toyota, Hyundai and Ford build vehicles in Turkey, which was Europe’s fifth largest automotive producer in 2016 with almost 1.5 million vehicles constructed.

    Marmaris is a stylish Mediterranean resort along the Turkish Riviera. It sits in a valley between pine-forested mountains and the sea and is a popular sailing destination and beach holiday location.

    · The season begins later than in 2017 as Monte-Carlo moves back a week to 25 - 28 January. The second round in Sweden is also seven days later on 15 - 18 February.

    · Following the seventh round in Italy on 7 - 10 June, there will be a six-week break before the second half of the season begins in Finland on 26 - 29 July.

    · Great Britain switches from late October and will run three weeks earlier on 4 - 7 October, allowing the event to also count for the British Rally Championship.

    · Spain swaps with Great Britain to become the final European round and the penultimate event of the season. It reverts to its more traditional slot on 25 - 28 October.
WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said the 2018 calendar offered heritage and originality.

“The 2018 season brings an enticing blend of WRC tradition and history, in the form of classic and long-standing rounds such as Sweden, Argentina and Finland, with a welcome return to Turkey,” he said.

“Turkey is a hugely important automotive market, in terms of sales and manufacturing. Record sales of almost a million vehicles were recorded in 2016 and the sporting reasons for its reintroduction are matched by a compelling business rationale.

“We offer manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their products in a championship focused on production-based cars, and I’m delighted Turkey’s return was unanimously supported by our participating manufacturers,” he added.

Championship Rounds

Posted: September 21, 2017 2:35 PM

    1 Monte-Carlo 25 - 28 January
    2 Sweden 15 - 18 February
    3 Mexico 8 - 11 March
    4 France 5 - 8 April
    5 Argentina 26 - 29 April
    6 Portugal 17 - 20 May
    7 Italy 7 - 10 June
    8 Finland 26 - 29 July
    9 Germany 16 - 19 August
    10 Turkey 13 - 16 September
    11 Great Britain 4 - 7 October
    12 Spain 25 - 28 October
    13 Australia 15 - 18 November

Rally New Zealand unlikely to return to 2018 World Rally Championship

Posted: August 9, 2017 6:55 AM

Rally New Zealand organisers today said that it is unlikely that the event will return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar next year.

Latest discussions with the FIA and the World Rally Championship Promoter (WRC Promoter) suggest that expanding the 2018 Championship for a new event outside Europe will prove too challenging because of commercial considerations.

The final outcome will be known next month at which time Rally New Zealand will reassess their plans for the future.

Rally New Zealand spokesman Peter Johnston said his organisation is disappointed but will not give up on their long term goal of returning Rally New Zealand to the WRC calendar. Rally New Zealand has historically been considered as one of the greatest events in the championship, noted for its unrivalled, fast and flowing roads and spectacular scenery.

“There is still a small chance that we could be included on the 2018 calendar, but at this stage the WRC Promoter has said that the costs to venture to New Zealand are a major hurdle,” Johnston said.

“We want to thank the generous support from a number of public and private sector stakeholders across New Zealand including Tauranga City Council, the New Zealand motorsport community and the general public for their tremendous support in what we believe was a compelling bid for the WRC to return to this country.”

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