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Monte Carlo - 25-28 Jan 18

Posted: January 26, 2018 9:42 AM - 5581 Hits

Round 1 - 2018 World Rally Championship

WRC: Live Results (Monte Carlo 2018) Also available at: rally-base results & ewrc-results.com
Radio: WRC All Live Audio Stream
News: www.wrc.com
Event Website: acm.mc/en/edition/rallye-monte-carlo-edition-2018/

First stage each day - Irish/UK Times
Shakedown - Wed - 15:00
SS1 Thu - 20:43
SS3 Fri - 07:51
SS9 Sat - 07:08
SS14 Sun - 07:32

M-Sport: CARDS ON THE TABLE FOR SEASON OPENER IN MONTE-CARLO

Posted: January 22, 2018 6:56 AM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are ready to put their cards on the table for the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship. Taking to the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC at the traditional season opener, Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Bryan Bouffier are prepared to fight for one of rallying’s most sought-after accolades – a Rallye Monte-Carlo victory.

The team completed two comprehensive test sessions in anticipation – a development test at the end of last year followed by a more targeted set-up session last week. A thrilling competition awaits, and the Cumbrian squad are determined to put their best foot forward with the first roll of the dice.

RALLYE MONTE-CARLO AN ICONIC CHALLENGE

There’s nothing quite like a victory at Rallye Monte-Carlo. It’s something every driver wants to achieve and something everyone will be pushing for this week.

As an iconic fixture in the FIA World Rally Championship, the Monegasque event represents the ultimate challenge – changeable mountain weather bringing unpredictable conditions that can see the crews encounter snow, ice and dry asphalt in a single stage.

Tyre choices can often prove pivotal and the crews will have to decipher the best combination – and often the best compromise. It is, in essence, the definitive test of strategy.

Facing the challenge head on, M-Sport Ford will have no fewer than 22 team members solely responsible for reporting the conditions. From the weather crews to famous names such as Simon Jean Joseph, Phil Mills and Jarmo Lehtinen to name but a few in the gravel crews, every effort is made to stay a step ahead.

This year the challenge will be intensified as the rally gets underway with one of the sport’s most daunting stages – Sisteron, in reverse, in the dark.

As heart-rates rise on the start line, a challenging stage will launch a thrilling start to the 2018 season.

MALCOLM WILSON THE MAN BEHIND THE TEAM

Following the most successful season in M-Sport’s history, Team Principal Malcolm Wilson OBE is determined to see the team continue in the same vein this year. The team are resolute on defending their FIA World Rally Championship titles but remain acutely aware that the competition will be stronger than ever.

MALCOLM WILSON THE MAN BEHIND THE TEAM

Following the most successful season in M-Sport’s history, Team Principal Malcolm Wilson OBE is determined to see the team continue in the same vein this year. The team are resolute on defending their FIA World Rally Championship titles but remain acutely aware that the competition will be stronger than ever.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Last year saw us enjoy our most successful season in motorsport and that’s something that we want to see continue in 2018. The hard work has not stopped and everyone has been working around the clock to ensure that we start our title defence on a high.

“We have completed two comprehensive test sessions and the feeling amongst the team is more determined than ever. It might not be possible to make huge gains within the regulations, but we have been working with our partners to enhance what was already an extremely strong package.

“Every team is capable of securing the ultimate prize this year and I am expecting the competition to be closer than ever. It’s so difficult to predict who will even come out on top this week, and that in itself is fantastic for the sport.

“In Sébastien, Elfyn and Bryan we have three very competent and intelligent drivers who are all more than capable of securing a Monte-Carlo victory. That has to be our aim so let’s see what happens. Like every rally fan, I am very much looking forward to the start of this exciting new season.”

OGIER AND INGRASSIA THE FIVE-TIME WORLD CHAMPIONS

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia head into 2018 as the crew to beat – the reigning World Champions and the reigning Rallye Monte-Carlo victors. The Monegasque event may be notoriously difficult to predict, but few would bet against the Frenchmen.

Having contested the rally on six previous occasions, they have five victories to their name – as part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2009 and unbeaten in the WRC since 2014.

Previous starts: 8
Previous WRC starts: 6
Best result: 1st (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2009)
Best WRC result: 1st (2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014)

Sébastien Ogier said:

“We start the new season with an event that is always a real highlight for me – Rallye Monte-Carlo. As my home event, I always want to give my best and challenge for the top results.

“We started something great here last year and want to try and build on that in 2018. We will need to work hard as the competition will be very tough. Every team has a winning car and a winning driver so everyone is a threat and we need to be ready right from the start.

“It’s such a challenging start to the season – the ultimate test with extreme conditions that can see us go from dry Tarmac to pure ice and snow in the space of a single stage. It’s certainly not easy, but that’s what makes a good result here so rewarding.

“We’ll start this year with what could be the biggest challenge of the entire rally – Sisteron, in reverse, in the dark. It doesn’t get much tougher than that, but that’s Monte. It’s always a challenge and that will be the case from the very first stage this year.”

EVANS AND BARRITT THE LATEST WINNING PARTNERSHIP

After securing their maiden victory on home soil at last year’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt are hungry for more and could well be the dark horse for a championship challenge in 2018.

Having contested Rallye Monte-Carlo on four previous occasions, the pairing have collated good knowledge and often shown promising speed through the challenging terrain – just 0.5 seconds shy of a stage win on the third stage of their joint world rally car debut in 2014 and posting a string of three fastest stage times more recently in 2017.

Previous starts: 4
Best result: 6th (2017)

Elfyn Evans said:

“Rallye Monte-Carlo is one of those events that every driver looks forward to. I’ve always said that it offers some of the best Tarmac roads in the world, but at this time of year the conditions make it a true challenge and the ultimate test of strategy. To do well, you really do need to get absolutely everything right.

“We’ve just completed two days of testing in mixed conditions. The road was constantly evolving which is great when it comes to getting a flavour for everything we’ve come to expect on a rally like this, but it can also be a bit of a double-edged sword at times – making it difficult to judge which direction to go in terms of set-up.

“Overall, I would say that we had two pretty good tests and that we are feeling fairly well prepared. Monte can always be a bit of a lottery and it can go either way, but we’re definitely ready to get the season started. We want to start the year on a high, so we’ll give it our best and see what happens.”

BOUFFIER AND DEGOUT THE EXPERIENCE AND THE KNOWLEDGE

Joining the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team for Rallye Monte-Carlo, Bryan Bouffier’s extensive knowledge could prove invaluable. As a previous winner of the prestigious event, the Frenchman knows what it takes to succeed and has more experience than most when it comes to reading the changeable conditions.

This will however be his first time behind the wheel of a new-generation world rally car. To prepare for his latest debut, Bouffier took to the co-drivers’ seat alongside Sébastien Ogier during last week’s test. Taking note of the World Champion’s advice, he and co-driver Jérôme Degout then completed a full day of testing so as to be best prepared for the challenges ahead.

Previous starts: 8
Previous WRC starts: 6
Best result: 1st (2011)
Best WRC result: 2nd (2014)

Bryan Bouffier said:

“Since learning that I would be driving the Ford Fiesta WRC, Rallye Monte-Carlo could not come soon enough! It’s one of my favourite events and having the opportunity to do it in one of these new generation world rally cars – the championship-winning car – is a dream come true.

“I have a lot of experience at Rallye Monte-Carlo which helps when it comes to reading the road and adapting the pace to suit the conditions, but this event is never easy. It’s one of the toughest events on the calendar and to do well you need to drive a clever rally by making the right calls on the tyres and finding the right balance between pushing hard and being more cautious.

“As one of the ‘French’ events, I feel at home at Rallye Monte-Carlo and am really looking forward to it. First and foremost, we want to have fun. We’ll start in a relaxed frame of mind and if we could help the team by scoring some good points for the manufacturers’ championship it would be amazing.”

ELSEWHERE IN THE TEAM

Éric Camilli and Teemu Suninen will both take to the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 as part of the FIA World Rally Championship’s premier support series – WRC 2. Here’s what they had to say ahead of Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Éric Camilli said:

“Rallye Monte-Carlo is my home event and one that I always look forward to. This will be my fourth time here and I hope that experience will help. Anything can happen on the Monte, but that added knowledge should help when it comes to reading the road and knowing when to push and when to be more cautious.

“The competition will be really tough, but I hope that we can pull everything together for a strong result. This rally is very unforgiving so we will need to work hard and make all the right choices. We will need to be clever and give it our very best.”

Teemu Suninen said:

“This is only my second attempt at Rallye Monte-Carlo so I don’t have a vast amount of experience on these roads. My main aim is to drive well even if the conditions are very challenging – which they usually are on this rally! The WRC 2 category will be very competitive, but we will give it our best and aim to learn as much as we can.

“I feel really happy at M-Sport with my excellent team mates. They are all very experienced and there is no better driver to learn from than Sébastien Ogier. Everyone is very open when it comes to help and advice, so it is the best place for me to be and improve my driving.”

A REGAL RETURN FOR THE CITROËN C3 WRC

Posted: January 22, 2018 6:49 AM

The countdown has begun: in a few days' time, the World Rally Championship returns to action on the wintry roads of the Rallye Monte-Carlo. On its second season in the category with the C3 WRC, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT has opted for stability, its driver line-up once again consisting of Kris Meeke – Paul Nagle and Craig Breen – Scott Martin.

AT ONE WITH YOUR CAR

At Monte, more so than elsewhere, the crews and teams really must know their cars inside out. They need to be truly at one with the car, anticipating each of its reactions as precisely as possible, so as not to get caught out by the tricky conditions. Because sometimes, there can be a patch of black ice that suddenly appears on a bend, other times there is a heap of soft snow or even a puddle of water. Having developed the Citroën C3 WRC in 2016 and then competed in it last year, Kris Meeke and Craig Breen have racked up a lot of miles in the car, in a wide variety of conditions and on various road surfaces. This experience represents a clear advantage for the brand at this, the 86th Rallye Monte-Carlo and the setting for the start of the 2018 season, which will see the C3 WRC tackle its second year in the WRC. After spending its first year back in the category learning and improving, secured two promising wins (Mexico and Catalonia) and finishing as runners-up once (Germany), this campaign will be all about confirmation for the team.

The team's greatest hopes of success in Monte-Carlo rest with Kris Meeke, who claimed both of Citroën's rally wins last year and is particularly experienced at this event. Buoyed by what he learned in 2017, the Ulsterman is determined to make the most of his experience and feature consistently among the leaders this year. Finishing Monte without incident invariably means you have made a good start to the season. Over the years and his numerous appearances in the Principality, Kris has developed the ability to spot changes in grip, and to drive with a mix of tyre compounds. Although not as familiar with the roads around Monaco as his team-mate, Craig Breen does not intend to be outdone. Having finished an excellent fifth overall at last year's rally in the DS3 WRC, he has the potential to do even better this season in the C3 WRC. In order to get the most out of the car, he – like Kris Meeke – completed three days of intensive testing, split across two sessions. The first session, held before Christmas, provided the team with the chance to work on tarmac, varying from bone dry to absolutely soaking wet, whilst the second session, held this week on roads around Gap, was intended to test the C3 WRC in conditions as close as possible to those the crews will experience next week, as well as on snow. These sessions also provided an opportunity to continue with work done to maximise the car's operating window.

NO SHORTAGE OF DIFFICULTIES AHEAD

Anyone harbouring hopes of finishing on the podium opposite the Palais Princier on Sunday will first of all need to successfully negotiate many hazards throughout the event's four days of racing. Four legs that will see the competitors tackle some of the most demanding roads in the Isère, Drôme, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes de Haute Provence and Alpes-Maritimes departments. The action gets underway on Thursday evening with one of the rally's truly iconic stages, Thoard-Sisteron. Always tricky around the Col de Fontbelle, this year the stage is contested in the opposite direction to usual, an unprecedented move, and in the dark. The rally concludes with equally famous Col de Turini, on which the C3 WRC claimed its very first stage win last year.

Initially contested in the dry, a thin layer of fresh snow fell on the stage two hours later for the second pass. And therein lies the true challenge at Monte-Carlo: its wintry nature, and the fact that road conditions can change so quickly from one side of the mountain to the other, mean that tyre choice is of absolutely critical importance. Based on experience from previous years, with assistance from the ice and snow crews, and on-the-ground informants, it is a matter of estimating what will be the best compromise on tyre choice for the next loop of stages, whilst also adapting the car’s settings accordingly. It's a huge challenge.

WHAT THEY SAID

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal

"The new season is upon us, which obviously means both excitement and uncertainty. After claiming second place in Germany and winning in Spain in the second part of 2017, which confirmed the growing strength of the team, I am determined to continue the work begun by Yves Matton, so that the team picks up in 2018 where it left off at the end of last year. This is especially the case since the C3 WRC has been further improved during the off-season, with intensive work put into widening its operating spectrum. Kris Meeke has the required experience to fight at the front at this unique event, as he showed in 2016, whilst Craig gained a lot of confidence from last year's appearance and is determined to use it to push for a good position. They both also know that you can't approach this rally just like any other: you must remain composed and treat the stages with the respect they deserve to avoid getting caught out by one of the many tricky sections."

Christophe Besse, Technical Director

"Rallye Monte-Carlo is above all about the drivers and the tyres. You need a car that is easy to drive, smooth in terms of its reactions, so that the driver feels confident behind the wheel regardless of the level of grip encountered. That's what our work focused on during the tests. The stages are generally held on bumpy, uneven roads, which is why we also worked on making further improvements to the C3 WRC's damper system. We equally tried to run through a large number of potential conditions, be it ice or snow, in the rain or on tarmac that was just cold and wet. On the one hand, the idea was to try out the two new Michelin tyres, and on the other hand, it was a matter of reviewing as wider range of tyre options as possible. As the stages are grouped together in loops, you never really have the right tyres at the right time. The challenge, therefore, is knowing how much time you'll lose with studded tyres on dry tarmac in order to opt for the best compromise."

Kris Meeke

"Monte is probably one of the season's hardest rallies, because of the constant changes in grip, but I've always really enjoyed it. I've also been quick here. I won the event in the Junior WRC class in 2005, I picked up a podium (3rd) on my full-time return to the WRC with Citroën in 2014 and I fought for the win in 2016… So I think that we can do a good job here, especially since our off-season tests were held on roads that are fairly representative of what we'll be facing during the rally, with a good variety of weather conditions. The test sessions also enabled us to keep improving the ability of our C3 WRC to adapt to changes in road surface, particularly by heading back to the Col de Faye, which is where we were least comfortable last year."

Number of appearances at the event: 9

Best result: 3th (2014)

Craig Breen

"Monte-Carlo is a rally that I love. It's a unique challenge, something you don't get on any of the other events. Until 2017, however, I never felt sufficiently confident in the kind of changeable, slippery conditions you get here. But last year, with the old car, we surprised ourselves. With a bit more horsepower, we could have aimed for the podium, so that gives me confidence. I'd like to think we can do it this time around, even though I'm not the most experienced driver in the line-up. Especially in that based on what we learned in 2017, we come into this event better prepared and with a C3 WRC that is even more versatile."

Number of appearances at the event: 3

Best result: 5th (2017)

KEY FIGURES

17 timed stages covering a total of 388,59 km
4 types of Michelin tyres : snow tyre (Pilot Alpin A41), snow tyre with studs (Pilot Alpin A41 CL), soft tyre (Pilot Sport S6) and super soft tyre (Pilot Sport SS6). Both Pilot Sport S6 and Pilot Sport SS6 are brand-new ones.
7 wins for Citroën and Loeb-Elena in Rallye Monte-Carlo (2003-2005 in Xsara WRC, 2007-2008 in C4 WRC, 2012-2013 in DS3 WRC)
2 wins for the Citroën C3 WRC until now (Mexico and Spain 2017)

A RALLY, A CHALLENGE

The importance of the relationship between the crews and the ice/snow crews

At Monte-Carlo, the crew and their ice/snow crews must have a perfectly developed understanding. The ice/snow crews run through the stages around two hours before the WRC crews, armed with a copy of their pace notes in order to make any corrections. The changes can be substantial on these stages if, for example, it has snowed between recce and the start of the stage. The road conditions also tend to change a lot between the first and second pass on a stage. The difficulty for the ice/snow crews therefore involves having the same view of the road as the crew would have, and also keeping the same, specific language as the crew. Which is why an incredible amount of trust and knowledge of one another is called for. Craig Breen has been working with Mikko Hirvonen (with co-driver Andy Hayes) since 2016 whilst Kris Meeke has used the services of Stephen Whitford and Derek Brannigan since 2014 and 2009 respectively.

CITROËN SECRETS

Didier Clément, now Technical Coordinator and Customer Racing Manager, recalls…

"I remember when we won here in 2012 with Sébastien and Daniel. They only really secured the win on the third leg, due to making the right call on tyres, as is often the case at Monte-Carlo. That day, we had to contest the Saint Jean en Royans stage, which was mostly damp or wet, and then Cimetière de Vassieux, where there was snow and ice on the stage. So we needed soft-compound slicks for the first stage, and studded tyres for the next one. But Seb was worried about losing a lot of time on Saint Jean en Royans by going with a mix of these two types of compound. Right up until a minute before the start, there were only two soft-compound slicks on the car and two studded tyres in the boot. But our analysis showed that we had to give preference to Cimetière de Vassieux, by going with four studded tyres. He let me choose the two missing tyres, which were of course two studded tyres. He produced an incredible performance on Saint Jean en Royans, losing only sixteen seconds with his inappropriate tyre set-up, before securing overall victory on the following stage thanks to his four studded tyres."

Yaris WRC’s second season begins with mighty Monte challenge

Posted: January 22, 2018 6:36 AM

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team will embark on its second season in the FIA World Rally Championship season at Rallye Monte-Carlo (January 25-28), with a strong driver line-up and an improved Toyota Yaris WRC. Ott Tänak, a two-time winner last year, will make his TOYOTA GAZOO Racing debut alongside Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi, who drove the Yaris WRC to victories during its development season in 2017. All three aim to follow in the footsteps of their Team Principal Tommi Mäkinen, a four-time winner of both the WRC title and of Rallye Monte-Carlo.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team

Rallye Monte-Carlo is the oldest rally in the world and also one of the most famous. It is known for its changeable weather conditions, which can vary from dry asphalt to snow and ice, sometimes in the same stage. This means tyre choices can make a big difference, as can the ice-note crews who provide the teams with last-minute information on the stage conditions.

The rally begins in the glamorous surrounds of Casino Square in Monte Carlo prior to the opening two stages held in the dark on Thursday night: a demanding start to the new season. Friday is the longest day of the rally with more than 150 kilometres of action, spread over three stages that are all run twice either side of service in Gap. After five more stages on Saturday, the rally returns to Monaco before four final tests on Sunday, including two passes of the iconic Col de Turini.

Quotes:

Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“This time last year, we didn’t really know where we were as we prepared for the debut of the Toyota Yaris WRC. In the coming season, I believe that we can be a lot more consistent, which is really what we need in order to fight for the championship titles. That is our aim after our learning season last year. The break since Rally Australia finished has not been very long but we have been very busy trying to make our car even better. Rallye Monte-Carlo is always a tough event to start the season with. Although I won it four times during my career as a driver, I didn’t prepare for it very well back then: I would not even think about rallying, and just go skiing instead! Our three drivers have been doing much better preparation, with a lot of testing, and we hope for a good result.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“We learned a lot last year during our first season together. We discovered where we needed to improve, and we are now ready for the second year and I think we should be very competitive. We have a very good driver line-up: all of us managed to win in 2017 and when everybody is aiming for victories it is usually good for the team. We already achieved a good result on Rallye Monte-Carlo on the debut for the Yaris WRC last year, finishing in second place, which equalled my best result there. Then, it was important to have a clean rally and the same will be true this year, but we also want to have good speed.”

Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“There is a lot of excitement ahead of my first rally for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. The team did a really good job last year: even though it was their first season they were already very competitive. I could see how much potential there is and I wanted to make sure I was part of this team in the coming years. Our target is the same: to win the championship. I am just getting used to the team but already I feel very welcome and the preparation has been going really well. In Monte Carlo we will see how we are compared to the competition. For sure, it is one of the most challenging events on the calendar. You don’t know what to expect: whether it will be snow or ice, wet or dry.”

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“This will be my first full season in a World Rally Car and the approach needs to be a bit different to before: I need to be a bit more consistent. I still need to gain some more experience: during the first part of the season there are rallies I do not know so well, and Rallye Monte-Carlo is one of those. It is an event where experience can really help, so my aim has to be to do all the stages. Later in the season there are the rallies where I have confidence and where I should be most competitive. The preparation is good: we have just been trying to improve the car and ourselves.”

Hyundai Motorsport WRC Preview: Rallye Monte-Carlo

Posted: January 22, 2018 6:34 AM

The 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) gets underway next weekend with the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo, the first of 13 events on this year’s WRC calendar.

Hyundai Motorsport has outlined clear ambitions to compete for both drivers’ and manufacturers’ championship titles this year, having mounted a strong challenge throughout 2017. Yet, with rivals M-Sport, Toyota and Citroën all gunning for glory, another fierce battle among the manufacturers is on the cards.

The team’s 2018 challenger - an upgraded specification of its multiple rally-winning Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC - made its public debut alongside all WRC machinery at the official season launch in Birmingham, UK last week.

Triple threat
Competing under the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team banner for 2018, a trio of crews will represent Hyundai Motorsport at Rallye Monte-Carlo. Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger will tackle the 17-stage rally in the #4 car, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul will aim for victory in the #5, while Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio will run the #6.

Neuville memorably led at Monte-Carlo twelve months ago, putting in an eye-catching performance until a premature retirement on the penultimate afternoon. The Belgian went on to dominate the Power Stage to take the maximum five points as consolation.

A tested development
The 2018-specification Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC has undertaken a thorough development programme over the winter. Three days of testing were held north of Nice, France in mid-December, followed by a three days closer to Gap in the New Year.

The team then travelled to Spain for a solitary day of evaluation in a range of conditions. All three crews competing in Monte Carlo had the chance to get acquainted with the car on dry and wet tarmac, as well as on snow and ice. It proved a useful opportunity to replicate the various scenarios that might occur on the Monte stages.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We are as well prepared for this new season as we can be with renewed ambitions for the championship. The performance of our Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in the final rounds of last season, especially winning in Australia, gave us a good springboard for winter development. We have taken the car and crews to France and Spain for seven days of testing in the past month, in an effort to replicate conditions that we expect in Monte. The beauty of this opening event is its unpredictability, so we have to be prepared for anything. Autosport International brought together all the manufacturer teams for a unique event, one that perfectly showcases the WRC’s community spirit. We know our rivals will be formidable and relentless, so we have to be on top of our game at all times. Bring on round one – let’s hope it’s another classic Monte.”

Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
The Norwegian crew begins their first complete WRC season for Hyundai Motorsport at Monte-Carlo. They are aiming to build on an impressive debut in final three rounds of 2017, which saw them lead in Spain and Australia and finish fourth in Wales Rally GB.

Mikkelsen said: “It’s an amazing feeling to be starting a complete WRC season with Hyundai Motorsport. Last year was a bit frustrating, so I am looking forward to a consistent year with lots of rallying and aiming to be in the championship fight. Monte, of course, is an incredibly difficult challenge to start a new year with all kinds of conditions, including night driving where black ice can catch anyone out. Alongside Anders, I can’t wait to get our 2018 campaign underway.”

Crew Comments: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Belgians Neuville and Gilsoul led last year’s Monte-Carlo by 51 seconds before an accident in SS13 put them out of contention. They are hoping to use the experiences from recent seasons to go one better in the championship than they managed in 2016 and 2017 – starting with a strong result next weekend.

Neuville said: “Excitement for this new WRC season is at fever pitch. The launch event in Birmingham put us all in a very positive frame of mind, and ready to attack the year ahead. Monte-Carlo is a very special event, one at which even the slightest error can be rally-ending. We saw last year, having led the event comfortably right until the penultimate day, that a small mistake put us out in a very frustrating manner. That’s what Monte is all about; it’s a tough challenge to start the year. We will aim to put all the lessons learned from our participation in the recent editions of this event to good use.”

Crew Comments: Sordo/Del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Monte-Carlo will represent the first of seven planned WRC events for the team’s Spanish crew in 2018. Sordo was the highest placed Hyundai Motorsport driver in last year’s Monte rally, finishing in fourth place. A podium challenge is therefore a realistic target.

Sordo said: “I am pleased to be starting my fifth season with Hyundai Motorsport at one of the most demanding events on the calendar – Monte-Carlo. We have developed a strong working relationship and although my schedule for this season is just seven events, I will aim to get as much out of them as I possibly can. I have a new co-driver for this season, Carlos, so there will be some areas we need to refresh, but we are optimistic we can deliver a positive result in this debut rally of the new year. We have to expect the unexpected at Monte-Carlo, and it will definitely be a tough fight against our rivals.”

Hyundai Motorsport renews championship ambitions for fifth WRC season

Posted: January 15, 2018 7:51 AM

Hyundai Motorsport aims to reassert its FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) credentials when the 2018 season gets underway at the opening event in Monte-Carlo later this month (25-28 January).

On the back of its most successful campaign in WRC to date in 2017, the team has raised the bar even further for its fifth season, with its sights set on a renewed challenge for both drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships.

Hyundai Motorsport played an integral part in last year’s WRC, taking four victories and finishing a close second in both titles. The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC proved itself to be a versatile contender, triumphing on gravel and tarmac, but the team was left ruing missed opportunities.

WRC’s sporting and technical regulations will remain largely unchanged for the coming season offering continuity to teams and crews as they prepare for another closely fought battle.

For Hyundai Motorsport, the rally winning Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC has been updated for the coming season in pursuit of a competitive edge. 2017 resulted in an intense and thrilling battle across all participating manufacturers in WRC, with the forthcoming season promising to reignite close rivalries between Hyundai, Ford, Toyota and Citroën.

Team Principal Michel Nandan said:
“We head into our fifth season in the WRC in high spirits and with even stronger ambitions to fight for the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships. We came close in 2017 but we also recognise where we fell short in terms of our performance and consistency. We aim to rectify that this season. There are no revolutionary changes to the regulations this year so all teams will be building on last year’s foundations. We are very respectful of our rivals. Their performances only serve to make us try to improve ourselves from one event to the next. This is what drives us forward, as we work towards our ultimate championship goals.”

Competing under the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team banner in 2018, the team will field three of its Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars in each of the 13 rallies on the calendar. Four crews will contribute to the team’s championship efforts: Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger, Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul, Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio and Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall.

Mikkelsen and Neuville will contest all rounds in the #4 and #5 cars respectively, while Sordo and Paddon will share the #6 car, each competing in selected rounds.

Neuville was unquestionably one of the stars of last season, taking the most victories and stage wins of any WRC driver. The Belgian finished second only to Sébastien Ogier in the overall standings, for the second year running, and now has his eyes on a bigger prize in 2018.

Neuville said:
“We might not have achieved the championship titles last season, but there was plenty to celebrate. We wanted to be in the fight and we definitely achieved that in many rallies. Taking four wins and being competitive in many other events gives us a real motivation to go one better in 2018. As a team, we have kept getting stronger and stronger with each season. Entering our fifth year, I feel that it’s our time to shine but we know our rivals will be tough to beat. If anything, that gives us even more determination. We have a good car in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, and the team has worked hard over the winter to further improve its performance potential. Our team spirit is very high so we have to harness that and perform at our best, consistently.”

Mikkelsen joined Hyundai Motorsport for the final three rounds of 2017, making an immediately positive impression. Leading Rally de España at the end of the opening day, heads turned at the Norwegian’s swift adaptation to the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. A near podium in Wales Rally GB reinforced his potential ahead of a full season campaign in 2018.

Mikkelsen commented:
“This is the moment I have been waiting for: the start of full championship campaign with Hyundai Motorsport! The final three rounds of last season were very useful for Anders and myself to get acquainted with the team and with the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. It was time well spent because I feel we are now ready to attack with confidence. The car proved to be quick on a variety of surfaces and that will hopefully serve us well this season. That’s not to say we are taking anything for granted! WRC is in great shape with lots of strong manufacturers and crews ready for battle. What happens when the gloves come off is anyone’s guess, so we have to be prepared.”

Sordo, who has been part of the Hyundai Motorsport team since 2014, scored two podiums last year, in Corsica and Portugal. The Spaniard will continue to be a trusted pair of hands for the team’s championship challenge at selected events in 2018, starting with Rallye Monte-Carlo, alongside new co-driver Carlos del Barrio.

Sordo said: “Although I am not taking part in the complete WRC season, I feel very loyal to my Hyundai Motorsport family and will do everything I can to support our push for the manufacturers’ title. We showed last year that when everything works well together as a unit, we could achieve really positive results. I have seen how much the team has grown since our first season back in 2014; the progress has been incredible. This year, I am 100% committed to giving everything I have in the rallies I join, starting with Monte-Carlo.”

A difficult 2017 season for Paddon ended on a positive note with a podium result at Rally Australia. It was his second top-three finish of the year after finishing second in Rally Poland. The New Zealander will share the #6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC this season, with his first event scheduled for Rally Sweden.

Paddon commented: “I am treating the 2018 season almost like a fresh start after our difficulties from last year. I want to put that behind me and use the positives from our podium results to spur us on to achieve what I know we are capable of. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t prefer to contest the full season but I have to accept things like this and make the most of each opportunity we get throughout the year. Of course we will do everything in our power to help the team towards the manufacturers’ title and we will be out to fight for podiums on each gravel event. 2018 is a reset to get back to our best and I cannot wait to get back in the car for our first event of the season at Sweden.”

The 2018 FIA World Rally Championship will be formally launched on Thursday, January 11 at a special event at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, UK. All WRC teams and crews will be present to show off their 2018 challengers.

The season itself will get underway later in January with Rallye Monte-Carlo. The only significant change to the calendar for this season is the addition of Rally Turkey in September, which replaces to outgoing Rally Poland to maintain a 13-event schedule.

Entry List

Posted: January 12, 2018 5:30 AM

M-Sport: BOUFFIER CONFIRMED FOR MONTE AND CORSICA

Posted: January 8, 2018 10:07 AM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are pleased to confirm that Bryan Bouffier will take to the wheel of the third EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC for two rounds of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship – Rallye Monte-Carlo and the Tour de Corse.

The Frenchman has strong knowledge of both events, and his unrivalled experience will provide a significant asset on what are considered two of the championship’s most specialised rallies.

Having contested the Monegasque event for the past eight years, and the Corsican event for the past seven, Bouffier’s knowledge is unequalled. As a past winner of both rallies, the Frenchman has expertise when it comes to understanding the challenging conditions that have come to typify the two legendary events.

Whilst contesting the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2011, Bouffier secured something every driver wants to achieve – a Rallye Monte-Carlo victory.

Three years later as part of the FIA World Rally Championship, he came close to a second victory – mastering the elements to take an early lead with his Fiesta before having to settle for second place behind Ogier.

In 2013, he also mastered the Tour de Corse as part of the FIA European Rally Championship. Locked in an intense battle for the win, the tricky final day conditions saw Bouffier pull clear with a proficient approach to tyre strategy.

All of these elements will make the Frenchman a strong addition to the team when the Cumbrian squad start their title defence in just over two weeks’ time.

Bryan Bouffier said:
“My nights are a lot shorter now that I know I will be driving one of these amazing cars, and I have already done a lot of kilometres with the Ford Fiesta WRC in my dreams.

“I honestly didn’t think I would get an opportunity to drive this car – not even on test – so I am very excited. It’s always a great pleasure to work with Malcolm and the M-Sport team, and their amazing success in 2017 makes me very proud to work with them again.

“Monte and Corsica are two very different events, but they are also two of my favourites. They’re the two ‘French’ rounds of the season and it is always a pleasure to drive on home soil – even more so with this new car!

“My plan is to be relaxed and to have fun. I would also love to score some manufacturer points for the team – that would just be the icing on the cake!”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s great to have Bryan on board for Rallye Monte-Carlo and the Tour de Corse. When it comes to these events, it’s fair to say that his experience is unrivalled. These are two of the most specialised rallies on the calendar and the conditions and tyre selections can so often determine who succeeds. With Bryan’s knowledge, we will have another string to our bow as we look to defend our championship titles.”

Entries Received

Posted: December 31, 2017 8:00 PM

WRC
1 – Sébastien OGIER / Julien INGRASSIA – FORD FIESTA WRC
2 – Elfyn EVANS / Daniel BARRITT – FORD FIESTA WRC
3 – TBA / TBA – FORD FIESTA WRC
4 – Andreas MIKKELSEN / Anders JAEGER SYNNEVAAG – HYUNDAI i20 WRC
5 – Thierry NEUVILLE / Nicolas GILSOUL – HYUNDAI i20 WRC
6 – Dani SORDO / Carlos DEL BARRIO – HYUNDAI i20 WRC
7 - Jari-Matti LATVALA / ANTTILA Miikka – TOYOTA YARIS WRC
8 – Ott TANAK / Martin JARVEOJA – TOYOTA YARIS WRC
9 – Esapekka LAPPI / Janne FERM – TOYOTA YARIS WRC
10 – Kris MEEKE / Paul NAGLE – CITROEN C3 WRC
11 – Craig BREEN / Scott MARTIN – CITROEN C3 WRC

WRC 2
Kevin ABBRING / Pieter TSJOEN – FORD FIESTA R5
Eric CAMILLI / Benjamin VEILLAS – FORD FIESTA R5
Guillaume DE MEVIUS / Louis LOUKA – PEUGEOT 208 T16 R5
Jan KOPECKY / Pavel DRESLER – SKODA FABIA R5
Teemu SUNINEN / Mikko MARKKULA – FORD FIESTA R5

WRC 3
Enrico BRAZZOLI / Luca BELTRAME – PEUGEOT 208
Jean-Baptiste FRANCESCHI / Romain COURBON – FORD FIESTA
Taisko LARIO / Tatu HÄMÄLÄINEN – PEUGEOT 208
Amaury MOLLE / Renaud HERMAN – PEUGEOT 208

Mathieu ARZENO / Romain ROCHE – SKODA FABIA R5
Yoann BONATO / Benjamin BOULLOUD – PEUGEOT 208 T16 R5
Olivier BURRI / Anderson LEVRATTI – FORD FIESTA R5
Nicolas CIAMIN / Thibault DE LA HAYE – ABARTH 124 RGT
Alessandro FIORIO / Guido D’AMORE – ABARTH 124 RGT
Quentin GIORDANO / Vincent LANDAIS – SKODA FABIA R5
Nicolas LATIL / Audrey NESTA– PEUGEOT 208 R5
Kalle ROVANPERÄ / Jonne HALTTUNEN – SKODA FABIA R5
Stéphane SARRAZIN / RENUCCI Jacques-Julien – HYUNDAI i20 R5
Ole Christian VEIBY / Stig Rune SKJAERMOEN – SKODA FABIA R5

Event Website / Details

Posted: September 12, 2017 7:20 AM

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