WRC - 2014 | Sneak-a-Peek..

Less than a month away for the start of a new WRC season, let us look into what to expect and look out for what the sport is prepared to entertain us.

In the closing 2013 season, we saw the evolution of a New WRC Machine and New Champions, VW Polo WRC and Sebastien Ogier, both making it large this season, and also marking the end of a 'Master' Loeb's era!

2014, the most hot and interesting topic is that everybody being curious about what the re-entry of the Korean car maker.

Hyundai is all set to stir the competition at the World Rally scene. Being not the first time, their outing into Rallying was almost a decade back, and it makes all that difference in re-entering this time with an all new car, with new regulations and a new approach. We had seen the Accent WRC on the stages back then, but were not very successful.

Hyundai's comeback with a fresh n' new car, with striking colours - the i20 WRC. It is not just the car that is stirring the excitement, but also the driver line up feels a strong enough to challenge the new and old champions. The car evolved at an amazing pace, at the helm of Michel Nandan's directions and the latest tests of the car with the new drivers, seems blisteringly quick.

Hyundai’s main assault weapon is Thierry Neuville a.k.a “Belgian Bullet” on a full season program, who will be accompanied by Spaniard Dani Sordo, Finn Juho Hanninen and Aussie driver Chris Atkinson, who will be driving in selected events for the team in the second car.

Michel Nandan, the boss of this young and dedicated team, they are hoping for some realistic results this season as it will be a learning curve for them. According to Michel Nandan, their primary goal is to bring home both the car safely on each rally and gain some valuable experience and later in the season even fight for podium finishes, which we can hope is possible. [Remember, it was the same old slogan of the VW team until almost till the championship was sealed.] All we can hope for is a good show from Hyundai this season!

Well it was all about Hyundai, its quite opposite when we come to Volkswagen camp. They are still “Hungry” for success as recently stated by the team. We can see them defending their titles both of course! They have already revealed that they are going with same team as it was in 2013, so they don’t want to spoil the winning combination and the winning run. So in this season too we can expect Polo WRC’s to dominate the stages in hunt for their second title.

Multiple World Champions, Citroen World Rally Team have completely shuffled their driver lineup, while retaining the livery and sponsors intact from the recently completed season. British driver Kris Meeke & Norway's Mads Ostberg have been selected for their twin full season assault, while their external sponsor Abu Dhabi driver Khalid Al-Qassimi will be driving in selected events, while being on full season at Middle-Eastern Rally Championship.

So there are three works team, one is just born and, another is still evolving but both teams very confident in their approach and the goals they have set.

Well I know there is much more to speak about another factory squad and also about Blue Oval, but its just the beginning, for now its too much to tell so lets discuss in the next part. Untill then Happy Rallying!
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Final Round of INRC ~ Coffee Day Rally of Chikmagalur - 2013

The finale to the 2013 season's Indian National Rally Championship [INRC], kick-starts tomorrow. It is also a APRC's Asia Cup contender event, and the delegates from the FIA will be supervising the course of conduct of the entire rally.
Opening day witnesses with the SSS at Amber Valley Residential School, Chikmagalur and the next two days the event moves over the terrains of the coffee plantations. The total Special Stage distance of the rally will be 113.50 km and liaison distance would be 171.20 km. For the first time in many years, the event has moved inwards the lush green forest lined and over a well prepared, yet narrow mud roads through the coffee land.
Mr. Venkatesh, Director, Coffee Day Hotels and Resorts, said "The Coffee Day Rally has become a tradition and year after year people from all over the country arrive in Chikmagalur to witness world class rally drivers compete against one another in demanding conditions. This year too we expect over 7000 spectators to be present for the rally. At Coffee Day we are very passionate about motorsports and hope to see India become a force to reckon with in the international circuit in the next few years. This year, for the first time, the Coffee Day Championship Rally – 2013 will run in four Coffee Day estates spread over 2500 acres namely Chetanahalli, Kumaragode, Chandrapore and Jagrimane."
The event has received a good 42 car entry, and both the manufacturers, Volkswagen & Mahindra along with a host of privateers along with the sole Evo X, will be fighting for the honors, albeit in a different category. Complete entry list here, and the revised itinerary can be downloaded/viewed at this link.

'Auto Track magazine' will be broadcasting the event video highlights, at the end of the day at their website.
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M-Sport confirms return of Mikko Hirvonen & Elfyn Evans for WRC 2014

Today, M-Sport officially confirmed the return of its former driver, Mikko Hirvonen, who after 8-year drive had moved to Citroen during 2012-13. Joining the attack lineup for 2014 along with the veteran would be the younger Elfyn Evans.

Read the excerpts of the official news-report, here below.
M-Sport will field a mix of youth and experience in the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) as the winning potential of Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen are combined with the raw talent and ambition of Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt. Both crews will take to the Cumbrian firm's Ford Fiesta RS WRC for all 13 rounds of next season's championship.

The news that Hirvonen is coming home will bring a smile to the face of many a rally fan. Having started his WRC career with the Ford / M-Sport operation in 2003, the Finn enjoyed eight years behind the wheel of M-Sport machinery and was instrumental in securing Ford's back-to-back manufacturers' titles in 2006 and 2007. With fourteen of his fifteen victories claimed with M-Sport's range of award-winning rally cars, Hirvonen's return also provides the team with a real contender for rally wins.

The Finn is hungry for success. Having finished as vice champion on four separate occasions, he was one of nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb's main rivals and missed out on the 2009 championship laurels by a single point.

As he and Lehtinen return to the team which delivered the bulk of their success, the squad will be keen to see the Fiesta RS WRC piloted to the best of its potential. Since parting ways with M-Sport in 2012, the two Finns remained a popular crew in the eyes of the M-Sport family, and their homecoming brings a real enthusiasm for the season ahead.

Occupying the seat of the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, is one of rallying's most promising up-and-coming young talents. Evans' breakthrough performance in 2013 saw him elevated to the top of WRC competition. The Welshman showcased some impressive pace in the WRC 2 category, but it was arguably his performance at Rally Italia Sardegna which saw him stamp his authority on the world stage.

A world rally car debut is no mean feat, but when combined with unknown stages, an unfamiliar co-driver and a mere two days of preparation, the youngster's sixth place finish was a revelation which saw him join an elite group of 'rookies' to have impressed to such an extent on their world rally car debut.

Working closely with the team, Evans and Barritt will be given the opportunity to learn from their team-mates' expertise whilst refining their own pace and experience ahead of a prospective long-term campaign with the Cumbrian firm.

In 2005, Ford and M-Sport set out to create an effective 'Ladder of Opportunity' through which rallying's brightest talents might progress to the pinnacle of the sport. Evans provides a near-perfect example of that system in operation.

The youngster started his career with the Ford / M-Sport partnership in 2007, winning the Ford Fiesta SportTrophy series in both the UK and Ireland. Progressing from the Ford Fiesta ST to the globally successful Ford Fiesta R2, it was not long before he was a regular on the WRC stage – winning the 2012 FIA WRC Academy Cup with a dominant display on both gravel and asphalt. The WRC 2 category swiftly followed with some inspired performances behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R5, and in 2014, the Welshman will complete his ladder of success by lining-up for a full season in M-Sport's top-specification Fiesta.
Read the complete report here.

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Hyundai Showes Off its Colors / Citroen Recruits New Lineup of Drivers

Finally we get to see some eye-catching colours in a WRC car after a long time. Hyundai unveiled the livery of its i20 WRC, and after which most assembled at the venue carrying smiles around, perhaps even back home. Many of us from the online community too were mesmerised with the livery and were praising for the different looks of the machine. 

Partnered with Shell, the team will run under the name of Hyundai Shell World Rally Team.

Shell is delighted to be returning to the WRC in 2014 with Hyundai,” said Colin Abraham, Shell Vice President Marketing [Fuels and Lubricants]. “Shell and Hyundai have worked closely together to deliver a high quality product to customers around the world for more than eight years. We bring a genuine understanding of each other’s strengths to this exciting new team as the Hyundai i20 WRC prepares for its first competitive season.

We have seen it being evolved for sometime now, and now its colourful outlook. All we need to wait is for a little more than a month to see it in competition in Rallye Montecarlo.

We have worked tremendously hard to get where we are today and to be able to launch our new WRC team to the world,” said Team Principal of Hyundai Motorsport GmbH, Michel Nandan. “In less than one year, we have built and tested a brand new WRC-specification car, the Hyundai i20 WRC, and established a professional team and modern motorsport facility. It’s a huge accomplishment but we know that we have a lot to learn in our first season. Our aims for 2014 are realistic: we want to finish each rally with both cars and build up a database of information and experience so we can develop ourselves into prospective rally winners in the future. If all goes well, we will hope to be competing for occasional podiums as the year progresses.

Thierry Neuville is going to be a permanent driver of choice, as long as he delivers what he has been hired for, otherwise the new regulations states that there is no necessity to hold on to any one driver for more than 10 rounds in a season.

There is quite a long lineup of reserve or non-permanent seat on the no.2 car. Juho Hanninen, Dani Sordo & Chris Atkinson will take their positions in the game of musical chair in the rest of the season, starting from Dani in Montecarlo, later with Juho in Rally Sweden and Atko will drive in Rally Mexico & Rally Australia. The rest of the rounds will be decided individually later.

And lastly, if you are wondering what that 'N' stands for, it is for the first version of the WRC car developed at Namyang, Korea at Hyundai's R&D center. Also the Hyundai's Europe is intent to develop a road going cars in the 'N' series, with technology implementation from the WRC car, is what the Hyundai's official announced. They perhaps, wants to emulate the 'R' series of various manufacturer's, like Volkswagen's Polo R and also maybe like 'M' series from BMW.

Citroen Recruits New Lineup of Drivers

On the other hand, Citroen has changed the two main drivers' lineup to Brit's Kris Meeke & Norway's Mads Ostberg in the coming 2014 season. Although the official press-release is on 16th this month, they couldn't hold themselves and shared the drivers' lineup.

Abu Dhabi's driver Khalid Al-Qassimi will continue to drive in a third car for a few selected events and will concentrate for MERC in a Citroen DS3 RRC.

Now the M-Sport is left as a team to announce its line of attack, since Volkswagen has no intent to change their attack formula!
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Hyundai Motorsport - Official WRC Team Unveils Today!

In less than three hours, today [11.00 CET], Hyundai Motorsport GmBH is all set to officially unveil their World Rally Team to the world, with its lineup and attack strategy for the upcoming 2014 WRC season, and most importantly i20 WRC's livery! Although, most of us kind of know almost all of the info, but an official statement will pull the curtains to their original intent and formula the team will follow through, atleast its initial debut year.

The presence of their lead drivers [& co-drivers] Thierry Neuville, Juho Hanninen & Dani Sordo [?!] are most likely to be present along with their team principal Michel Nandan & Hyundai Europe's channel team. It is a definite question, whether their initial test drivers - Bryan Bouffier & Chris Atkinson will get to drive!? If not, atleast hoping to see them today. Lets end the speculation and see what they are upto in a matter of couple or more hours!

The event will be live streamed over the internet, and we too are showcasing here below.

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FIA - Rally World Updates, Jean Todt Re-elected FIA President & FIA Prize Giving Gala!

In purview of the upcoming season 2014 motorsport series, FIA HQ was busy with meetings in this week. Two important meets were in the interests of the rallying flavour. The first one, being the top level rallying championships' [WRC] minor changes in the season format.

We remember the last time the meeting was held, reportedly had the newly crowned World Champions leaving the meet unhappy. So maybe, this seemed like unanimously accepted. Below is the excerpts from the official news announcement by the federation.

FIA World Motor Sport Council - 4th December, 2013


The start order for both gravel and tarmac rallies has been amended as follows, in order to increase the show for fans and reduce the use of tactics:

Day 1: Provisional Championship classification order for P1 and P2 drivers
Day 2: Reverse provisional rally classification order for P1 and P2 drivers
Day 3: Reverse provisional rally classification order for P1 and P2 drivers

Cars having retired and restarting (Rally 2) will be placed the next day after the P1 and P2 drivers group.

In order to allow greater flexibility to contract different drivers, manufacturers will no longer be required to nominate one permanent driver for the season. Instead, manufacturers will be obliged to nominate one driver for a minimum of 10 Championship events.

To bring consistency to events and thereby aid the Promoter, rallies must now follow a fixed format. There will be a ceremonial start on Thursday, with the last stage run on Sunday at approximately 12:00 hrs for European events. The final stage is defined as the Power Stage, the length of which will be set at a minimum of 10 kilometres.

All competitors registered in the Championships – WRC, WRC 2, WRC 3 and Junior WRC - will be obliged to use a colour-coded windscreen sticker to promote and identify the category in which they are competing and scoring points.

It was agreed to rename all classes of eligible cars in order to harmonise the numbering with the other FIA Championships. Therefore, the smaller number will define the most powerful cars (RC1 being World Rally Cars).

Permanent competition numbers will no longer be allocated to P3 drivers competing in the support championships. Drivers wishing to request a permanent number for marketing or promotional purposes will however be able to do so. The restriction on the number of servicing personnel has also been removed and testing during the three weeks preceding an event is now permitted for P3 drivers.

The date for the 2014 Rally d’Italia has changed to 08 June.


In order to increase the presence of professional teams, new titles have been created in the FIA European Rally Championship; the FIA ERC Manufacturers’ Cup, the FIA ERC Manufacturers’ Cup for 2WD Cars, and the FIA ERC Manufacturers’ Cup for Production Cars. The best two cars of each manufacturer entered in the Championship will score points in the respective classifications. The existing team titles have been deleted.

Free Practice and Qualifying will be staged on all tarmac rallies, as well as gravel events, following the same regulations concerning the definition of the rally start order for the first day.

A Junior Championship will be created within the framework of the FIA European Rally Championship to create a genuine ladder between the ERC and WRC for young talent. Designed to be an accessible and cost-effective series for drivers under 25 competing in currently named R2 cars, the Championship will run over seven events with the best four results – including one gravel or snow rally – counting towards the title.

It is confirmed that the currently named R5 cars will not be eligible for points in the FIA African Rally Championship in 2014.

A new award for Teams has been created within the framework of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, increasing promotion and interest among teams and sponsors. To increase competitor participation, drivers must participate in a minimum of three rallies for the Asia and Pacific Cups.

The European Rally Cup has been renamed the European Rally Trophy (ERT) from 2014.


If an opening Super Special Stage is run, a new system of determining the start order for the first leg has been introduced to give drivers the option of choosing tactical positions. The 10 fastest drivers will be able to choose from among the first 10 places, with the slowest driver selecting first and each subsequent driver choosing their position relative to those already chosen.

The scale of penalties imposed on competitors for speeding has been redefined in order to punish more heavily those competitors who consistently exceed speed limits.

The date for the 2014 Rallye OiLibya du Maroc has been moved to 09 October. Read complete report here.

FIA Annual General Assembly & Prize Giving Gala - 6th December, 2013

Today in the annual general assembly meet, Jean Todt was unanimously re-elected as the President of FIA for the second 4-year term, while C. Barbosa (Portugal) was elected as WRC commission President, and Robert. Reid (Great Britain) as Vice-President.
Read complete report here.

FIA Prize Giving Gala

Paris also hosted the Prize Giving Gala for the FIA series of events & championships of 2013 season's, in the evening after the Annual General Assembly.

Newly crowned WRC champs Sebastien Ogier & Julien Ingrassia, along with APRC's new champions Gaurav Gill & Glen Macneall joined to the hall of fame in their respective series.

Formula 1 champ, Sebastien Vettel received his third trophy, WTCC champ Yvan Muller his 4th, ERC champ Jan Kopecky and WRC2 champ Robert Kubica their first in Rally Championship, amongst a host of other champions.
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Hurray!! Toyota getting back to WRC, with Yaris in 2016!?

Toyota treats the World of Rallying with the much awaited news of returning back to WRC in the year 2016. Although this has not come from the Toyota's HQ in Japan, the German Motorsport outfit Toyota Motorsport GmbH [TMG] has already begun the preparation of developing for the WRC line-up. It will start with the RRC car, a close proximity to the top-level specification.

In the coming Spring season, the first prototype has been scheduled for tests and the German outfit is expecting a green-signal for the official manufacturer entry.

The whole of motorsport world is preparing with the world engine, aka, 1.6 liter direct injection turbo charged engine. Same is going on with the Toyota for a while now, and the engine is already under bench testing at TMG, and also has partnered with Motorsport Italia for the development of the rally car.

Last year in August, Toyota had announced the Yaris Rally car program and the same car was active this year around the world, especially in APRC.

Finally, the official announcement is at the onus of Toyota, Japan for the final nod.
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Fast & Furious Movie Series Star, Paul Walker [40] Killed in Tragic Car Crash

Paul Walker, the star of the 'Fast and Furious' movie series, was killed in a crash crash yesterday [Saturday, 30th November, 2013].

Walker died Saturday afternoon, Ame Van Iden told the press. His official facebook page updated, as below;
It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. He was a passenger in a friend's car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences.

Walker was in the area to attend a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's department said that deputies found a car engulfed in flames when they responded to a report of a collision in the community of Valencia. Two people who were found in the car were pronounced dead at the scene.

The Santa Clarita Signal reports a red Porsche crashed into a light pole and tree and burst into flames.

Walker was working on Fast & Furious 7 at the time of his death. He also starred in the suspense drama, Hours, which is set for release this month.
[excerpts from: theglobeandmail.com]

Rest in peace Paul Walker !

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Monza Rally Show - A 'LastRallyNews' Report


The Monza Rally Show was only the third event this year for Luca Rossetti, who had been away from competition for some months; the three-time European Champion has not forgotten how to race and moreover how to win.

Despite the evident lack of training with respect to his opponents, he topped the Super 2000 category in a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, finishing 52 seconds ahead of Craig Breen; the Irish driver of the Peugeot Rally Academy had to content himself with  second place. Rossetti and Breen also fought head to head in the Memorial Simoncelli - Masters’ Show, an end-of-event shootout on the start/finish straight of the Monza track, where the Italian driver beat his Irish rival in the class final.

Rossetti was at a charge and outpaced his opponents with a strong performance; his 2013 season has been poor in events, only three, but he once again proved that given the chance he is one of the fastest, concrete and winning professional drivers in activity. The Italian, ever a star on the international stage and the only driver to have won the European Championship three times, has shown in Monza that his absence from the continental series is depriving a championship in a great sports and media comeback of one of its protagonists.

Despite the domination in the 2013 Monza Rally Show, the 2014 season of the Italian driver is yet in the dark; neither the driver nor United Business which has been taking care of his sports management for many years have issued statements related to next year. The many fans of the three-time European Champion hope in a season at International level; Rossetti’s domination in the event over the weekend proves that, should he return to the continental series, he would still be the man to beat.
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Molly, 2013 has been a special season, can You recall something from each rally?
It's been a very different type of season from anything I'd known previously. A great experience and an insight into what it takes to move forward, from rallying for fun to try to turn it into a career. The whole year has been an incredible learning curve for me.
-Azores was incredibly unfortunate, the situation which happened with another car, and definitely not the way we wanted to start our championship. It's an incredible location for a rally, until the accident it was a fantastic experience.
-Corsica was the highlight, my favourite event so far. Being second in 2WD and winning stages in our class was great as it was the first time we managed to do it.
-Ypres was probably the most heartbreaking rally in my life
-Romania was fantastic to be back on gravel but a really tough event, incredibly rough. It was about having to manage many factors, not just the speed, to preserve the car and get to the finish
-Barum was also fantastic, we were a bit unfortunate with the weather which made some stages not ideal. It was still good experience as we do not normally get many opportunities to drive on such roads and conditions. In this year's ERC it tended to rain pretty much everywhere so we're getting used to it. When conditions were dry, the stages were incredibly fun to drive.
-Poland was not at all like we expected it, coming into the rally we believed it to be very fast. Conditions on event were, like in Romania, a real test of survival
-Croatia was a nice rally, we enjoyed the stages and had some god fights and stage times with in between quite a lot of unforeseen issues. We've been lucky all year with the reliability of the car, there almost everything that could go wrong did so, but we fought very hard and are happy with the final result.

How important is it to build on experience rather than rewriting new pacenotes every time? Is your pacenote system still evolving?
After Ypres we changed our pacenote system quite dramatically. Seb and I started training on random roads previously unseen, as well as on events. It has been a challenge as we are only allowed two passes while developing a new system at the same time. For sure we notice an improvement in stage times when stages are repeated in the rally and know that we still have room to move in this area. This is what has been really good about this year, developing this system on new rallies; we have a better understanding of how pacenotes relate to the speed. There is also the fact that every round of the ERC is very specialized, it's not just a tarmac or gravel rally: Asphalt in Barum is different from the one in Corsica, just like the sandy surface in Poland is different from the rough in Romania. Each rally has its individual characteristics, for sure going back a second time would be a massive help.

Do you normally prefer gravel or tarmac, and do you have a favourite event based on what you've seen this year? Based on your experience this year,  is it easier to make a difference on tarmac or on gravel?
I've always preferred gravel, since pretty much all of my rallying back home has been on this surface, that's where I learned how to rally and the feeling of pushing a car to its limits on gravel. We've had many tarmac events this season and it's been good to get some confidence on this surface, tarmac can be great fun if one has the right level of confidence especially on certain kinds of roads. It's a different sensation and feelings, trying to find the limit is not so progressive as on gravel. My favourite event this year was Corsica, which is on tarmac, I'm slightly contradicting myself there but for me, having less experience on tarmac, I think that it's on asphalt that it is possible to make more of a difference as it's often an “all or nothing” situation. Gravel is a lot more progressive and all about the feeling so one can play around with the limit, with a little give and take either way; one can slide a little bit more, turn the car in and have more room for adjustment through each corner if conditions change whereas tarmac is not so forgiving if you hit a slippery bit which you were not aware of. In this respect I find tarmac more specialized.

Molly, although you've praised your car's reliability there have been times when You have had to perform work on the car. You and Seb must have learned a lot as you had to carry out repairs roadside. You also spend time with the team and at the workshop, learning more about the car and what to do to take care of it.
We've been bush mechanics, as they say. It's important to know what it is possible to fix in between services with the tools and spares we have in the car; in Poland we were very lucky because due to the ruts and very rough surface we damaged and bent the rear beam in the car to the point where some bolts unwound loose: ultimately only one bolt was holding the rear beam into the chassis and we had to try to repair it. The socket that doesn't fit, the angle you can't quite get... we did our best to try and fix it and thankfully it only just got us through the last stage. Understanding of such things is vital, if whe hadn't tried to fix the car on the road section we wouldn't have got to the end of the rally. Knowing the car is crucial, both in terms of on-event repairs in between stages but also when You want to set up the car. It's important to know what you can change, what you are doing, what effect that will have on the car and why. I think that is really important so we do whatever we can and now that I have some time I plan to spend some more days in the workshop helping to prepare the car, for my own knowledge and benefit.

You said this season might possibly be the one where You learned the most in your career so far. You have come a long way since your debut, also going through the WRC academy. What are the differences between being in such a one-make series as opposed to having a team of your own, where you all work together but where you can also speak your mind and plan the work ahead. And what, if any, of this work do you do?
I guess the year in the Pirelli WRC Academy was an incredible learning experience; this year has been different as a whole group of different stakeholders have come together to make this season happen. Working with United Business and a whole lot of  sponsors, supporters and stakeholders coming from different areas is demanding; you are working as a team trying to put everything together. There are so many other things to think about: the performance inside the car is one thing but also all the other things which need to happen to make sure everyone gets their value from the year can help to make a career progress. From that point of view it  has meant working with all the factors involved in the sport, not just driving.

How important is it to have somebody helping you out, such as a good team and a professional management company? Again, what part of the job do you do and what do you entrust to others?
It has been critical for our progression to try being more professional in the sport, to have a proper management team. Thanks to United Business we've been able to get that step done, and we can now work towards the professional level. It's a commercial sport, not just one person going out there but rather putting a plan together. We have to learn our place in that wheel and how to make the best of it. From my side, I've worked very hard back in Australia to bring my supporters and sponsors together and through United Business we've made that a plan for the European Championship. I work with United Business to make plans for the events, it is then my responsibility to get out and do my job.

What does it feel like to have won the first edition of the FIA ERC Ladies' Trophy? How was your season, in terms of the relationship with your main opponents and what feedback are You getting from Australia? I imagine that an Australian girl becoming Europaen Rally Champion must attract attention?
Winning the championship was our goal coming into the season and we are really excited to have been able to achieve it. In some events we've had quite a lot of competition, which has been really good. With Ekaterina Stratieva we get on really well; many people were joking and trying to instigate some sort of girl catfight but it was really friendly and we very much enjoyed the competition. I'm quite surprised by the feedback from Australia, there's been a good reaction. We get quite a lot of support in every rally we do but particularly after Croatia when we sealed the championship I was quite overwhelmed by the amount of congratulations and the involvement of local media. Many people told me they'd heard me on news announcements of radio stations, it was much more than I'd expected.

Croatia was the first time you had a team mate, and a fellow countryman too. What was it like?
It was good to have some company and not being the only Aussie out there. They're great guys and we'd competed with them before this year. It was good to have them over and I think they really loved the experience. I remember when I first came over to Europe without knowing anybody, I was trying to start up, get a team organised, meet people.. it was nice to be in the position to help someone else to come along, hopefully they'll be back.

Last but not least, one more word on the support you can get from management companies. They can do a lot for you but ultimately you have to deliver with the driving. What can they take off your back and how can they help you to progress?
If you want to be viewed as a professional rally driver, I think you have to act in that way. Having a third party, a  management company to take care of the organization, the direction, the strategic  thinking about the future, deciding which rallies are going to be beneficial and why. All that side, the decision making process and looking ahead is where they really help. Also, acting as a representative on your behalf is useful when dealing with commercial partners, manufacturers, supporters. Everything has got to be dealt with at a professional level, and just as a driver it is not enough. You need to have the full package, and it is very hard for just one person. Ultimately our job is to get out and do the driving but we really see the help we get from a company like United Business.

Racing Press

United Rally Management s.r.l. |  V.le delle Terme, 97 |  27052 Salice Terme/Godiasco (PV) ITALY |  Tel.0383/944916 Fax 0383/934583
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39° K1000 Rally - 2013 | Indian National Rally Championship - Round 4

39° K1000, the fourth round of Indian National Rally Championship of 2013 is scheduled for this weekend. After a long hiatus the rally returns back to its older territory, famous for the car breaking mining stages near Gubbi, Tumkur.

As year the rally moves from the previous few years' Sidlaghatta's forest stages to the age old mining area near Kibbanahalli cross, the transport section is much bigger and makes most of the rally's cumulative distance. The weather is mostly dry and dusty, and temperature is expected to hover around 30+ °Celsius, but must confess to its spectacularly scenic countryside around the stages.

There are three physical stages, in which are run totally thrice for each of them. Total distance of the rally is 562.48 km, total liaison distance is 453.37 km and a total SS distance at 109.11 km. There are six stages for Saturday, 9th November 2013 and third loop of 3 stages for the final day on Sunday, 10th November 2013.

That being the difference of venue, coming to the rally cars in India which are finally evolving to the much modern day models like Volkswagen Polo, Mitsubishi Evo X in the top level competition makes the championship much more exciting.

Day one starts with a long liaison of 88.96 from the rally HQ to the service park. Rally starts on Saturday with the opening stage, at 10:13 hrs with the Alpha Stage [14.50 km], quickly followed with the Beta Stage [14.55 km] and later the India Mines Stage [7.32 km]. This completes the morning set of stages, and the much battered cars and crews head to the service are for the much needed pampering for the both.

Post a mid-day service, at the service park located near to the stages adjacent to NH-206, and the repetition of morning's loop of stages starts at 13:12 hrs, for the first car pass. Day's action with the total six special stages of the day and the return liaison to the Rally HQ will conclude the day's action.

The final day's action on Sunday, will start with the same long liaison and the remaining third loop of the stages, with service breaks before and after the specials. The final return liaison will end the rally back at the Rally HQ, with the announcement of results and Podium ceremony.

The entry list can be found here,  and the itinerary in this link should help to understand the event. Watch out for more update, tomorrow.
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Final Round of ERC @ Swiss Alps | Rallye International du Valais - 2013

Rallye International du Valais being the final rally to conclude the 2013 season of FIA European Rally Championship. Esapekka Lappi will be joining the final round, following a victorious trip to China in his factory supported Skoda Fabia S2000. Craig Breen & Jeremy Ancian will be driving Peugeot 207 Super 2000.

Sixty-eight crews will start the final round of the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship. The top 15 drivers ran in two-minute intervals with the remaining contenders running in gaps of one minute.  

Craig Breen lead the field away in his Peugeot 207 Super 2000 and won the first two stages. Jeremy Ancian equaled Breen in the opening stage, and was second on the leader-board by the end of SS3. Lappi claimed the third and last stage victory and sits in 4th overall.

Top 5 results at the end of SS3 [Day 1]
PEUGEOT 207 S2000

PEUGEOT 207 S2000



Results source fiaerc.com

Seven stages tomorrow, with 3 new stages run twice and the repetition of the [last stage of today], will leave another 8 stages for the last day on 9th to end the rally.

Itinerary for Day 2 - Friday 08 Nov
SS4Vercorin 1  (26.58 kms)09:45
SS5Veysonnaz 1  (13.62 kms)10:55
SS6Nendaz 1  (12.08 kms)11:15
SS7Vercorin 2  (26.58 kms)13:40
SS8Veysonnaz 2  (13.62 kms)14:50
SS9Nendaz 2  (12.08 kms)15:10
SS10Les Casernes 2  (6.18 kms)16:00
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Korean Car for Belgian Bullet | Thierry Neuville to Drive Hyundai i20 WRC in 2014

As much speculated and anticipated, it happened. Belgian bullet Thierry Neuville has been confirmed by the Korean car manufacturer Hyundai, for its car number 1 seat in the upcoming debut season of its new spec WRC car, Hyundai i20.

Almost since a month, the Belgian was spotted in the Hyundai campus, and various news and rumours were lingering around ever since. And since the official statement being made, it is pretty transparent. Thierry Neuville, who started his career in the WRC car last season in Citroen Junior World Rally Team and showed his potential. He displayed a stunning speed and brave driving style for a debut WRC driver, but it was the consistency that he had lacked. But his pace setting run in this season, the Belgian was offered a seat by the French team, and the outcome of the meeting was quite obvious in the last weekend's speech by its team principal, Yves Matton.

After moving to M-Sport's base this year, in the newly formed Qatar based World Rally Team, Thierry quickly settled down and started delivering what he really does his best. However, his real performances came to light after the mid-season break, where he came close atleast twice to win an event, but perhaps it was his rookie status that evaded his quest for immediate glory. His results were so strong, that he almost overshadowed his team-mates in QMWRT.

He currently holds a strong second overall with just the finale at Rally GB to happen. Let's hear, what he and his new boss-to-be Michel Nandan had to say during the announcement.

"I believe Hyundai Motorsport is the perfect fit for me because it is a young, emerging and ambitious manufacturer team with long-term objectives for championship success and I have long held aspirations of driving for a manufacturer team," Neuville said. "I was impressed with the team's facility, their approach to the rally programme and their clear potential. I hope my two years of experience in WRC will be beneficial to the team as we build a harmonious working partnership. We know we have a steep learning curve ahead of us in our first season but I am convinced we will have a successful future together."

Hyundai team principal Michel Nandan said, "Thierry is having a fantastic 2013 season and is proving himself to be one of the most exciting young drivers in WRC." He gladly mentioned that signing Neuville reflects Hyundai's long-term ambitions in this [WRC] top level sport.

"His raw speed, driving skill and dynamic approach to rallying make him the ideal lead driver for Hyundai," added Nandan, "By signing a driver of Thierry's talent, we can show that Hyundai's WRC engagement is serious and focused on long-term success. It is also great recognition for the work that the entire team has carried out in such a short time."

It was no-doubt that M-Sport was sad to lose Neuville, especially to its competitor and managing director Malcolm Wilson unquestionably admitted that losing Neuville was a serious blow to the team's future plans, especially when he was yielding results like it ought to be.

Malcom said, "we are obviously disappointed that Thierry has made the decision to go to Hyundai after a strong performance from all the team this year. However, now that he has made the decision, our focus turns to Wales Rally GB and securing his second position in the drivers' championship."

Malcom also mentioned, "Once this goal is achieved we will then re-direct our attention to the 2014 season. We are speaking to a number of drivers about potential options. M-Sport has a strong history of developing drivers in the WRC and we look forward to announcing our 2014 programme in the near future."

In two competing seasons in the World Rally Championship, Neuville has contested a total of 32 rallies. He finished seventh in the 2012 championship, which acted as a prelude to a championship challenging 2013 season in which he has so far claimed four consecutive runner-up results (Italy, Finland, Germany and Australia), in addition to two third-place finishes (Mexico, Greece), leaving him second in the WRC standings with just one rally left to run.

This is still not just the end of the shuffle, but just the beginning of the game of musical chair. Citroen is certainly not happy of loosing its numero-uno status to the new-comer and newly titled champions. We believe it would start to unravel once the dirt and muck kicks up and settles down for a while at Wales in all about less than a fortnight from now.
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Gaurav Gill new APRC Champion - 2013 | Esapekka Lappi wins China Rally

Indian driver Gaurav Gill is the new Asia Pacific Rally Champion, 2013, and team trophy for Team MRF Skoda. Although he was crowned at the end of day one itself, the manufacturer's and team trophy was sealed by the end of rally. Esapekka Lappi enjoyed his debut China Rally with a victory, and the top two finish in the team ensured the team & manufacturer's title for Skoda Motorsport.

Gill's early crash during shakedown dreaded him and Team MRF about the consequences, but it was mostly cosmetic and went on to lead the rally in the early stages until a puncture put him down his team-mate.

Excited with the APRC-title Gill says, "This is definitely the high-light of my career so far, we've come close on several other occasions and this year wasn't easy either. I have to thank the team, my co-driver Glenn (Macneall), Skoda and a big thank you to MRF tyres too as they've stuck with me all these years and so it's nice to reward them and my country." He also explained his mis-fortune of loosing the lead, "We stopped and changed it loosing 2-3 minutes, but the main thing is to get it the car back here."

Excerpts from the Indian Rallying Facebook Group.
Shakedown crash or no shakedown crash, Gaurav Gill is the new Asia-Pacific champion after Michael Young was a no-show on the China Rally Longyou, which began with a 1.82-kilometre superspecial stage this afternoon.

Young, from New Zealand, was the only driver in with a shout of preventing Gill from taking the title, despite his front-wheel-drive Toyota Vitz giving away a stack of performance to Gill’s pacesetting Skoda Fabia Super 2000. But Young’s non-appearance means Indian driver Gill cannot be caught in the championship charge.

And Gill, 31, celebrated his triumph by setting the pace among the APRC contingent on the opening superspecial stage. He was 0.5s faster than Team MRF Skoda stablemate Esapekka Lappi – who along with Gill is one of two drivers eligible for APRC points in China – through the spectator test.

Gill follows 2012 champion Chris Atkinson’s lead by winning the APRC title for the MRF-backed Race Torque Engineering team.

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It was a successful weekend for Molly Taylor with Citroen Ds3 R3 at the Ronde della Val d’Orcia, an Italian gravel rally in the heart of Tuscany.

The event featured one 11-km stage repeated 4 times, and attracted a field of 114 cars including WRC, S2000 and S1600 in action on the former WRC Sanremo rally stage.

With Molly’s usual co-driver Seb Marshall absent, Italian co-driver Giacomo Ciucci stepped in alongside the strong Australian lady driver and had his first experience with pacenotes in English.

With 44 4WD cars starting, Molly & Giacomo showed impressive pace and set the fastest 2WD time on the first stage.

Molly said “The first part of the stage was foggy and conditions were tricky so we were pleasantly surprised to set the fastest time straight up. Giacomo did a fantastic job adapting to the conditions and calling English notes for the very first time. For the second loop we didn’t anticipate the temperature rising as quickly as it did and we chose the wrong tyres, which were completely destroyed by the end of the stage. At that point we were disappointed to drop some time, but we really enjoyed the battle to get back up in the last two stages. It was a terrific weekend, and a good preparation for Rally GB; the car feels great. The guys at the team did a fantastic job as always and I owe this rally to them for making this possible. I would also like to thank Giacomo Ciucci who did a top job. It was such an enjoyable weekend, the Italian rally community are so friendly and welcoming, it was nice to be a part of it all”.

The United Business driver finished the Rally first in the R3T class, second in 2WD and 12th overall. After this remarkable performance, Molly Taylor will now tackle Wales Rally GB in fashion attempting to end her season on a high, after winning the first ERC Ladies’ Trophy in the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship, in an event where she did very well in 2012.

Racing Press

United Rally Management s.r.l. |  V.le delle Terme, 97 |  27052 Salice Terme/Godiasco (PV) ITALY |  Tel.0383/944916 Fax 0383/934583
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Sebastien Ogier snatches back the Win - RACC Rally Catalunya, Spain | WRC - 2013

A fantastic turn-around of dominance by the new world champion, who seemed to have poised to get back his lost ground with that puncture he had yesterday. Sebastien Ogier claims another rally win, as his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala losing his lead with an unfavourable start position to clean the loose gravel being first on the road today. With the 1,2 finish also secures the manufacturer's championship for Volkswagen in their debut WRC season. Bravo!!

Local star - Dani Sordo did his share of best driving, but being second to open the stages was not good enough either, and he ended up loosing a wheel in SS14 to be enlisted in the retirement list. His team-mate Mikko Hirvonen finished in 3rd place, which comes as a consolation for the french-team as they lost their manufacturer crown to the newcomer.

In WRC-2, Robert Kubica was the undisputable leader, and sealed the championship title and would soon would be switching to a WRC car in Wales Rally GB.
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