Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm Rally - 2013

After the snow capped stages of Rally Sweden, WRC ending up in Ogier & VW's kitty bag, our eyes shifted towards the 11th edition of the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm Rally, [a.k.a. the Indian version of Dakar, though a mini version]. The event was flagged off the Maruti Suzuki Brand Center Arena, Delhi and the rally dug up the dunes of the Thar desert, and all the way up to the capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur clocking a total of 2,200+ km.

Niaz Ali & Nikhil Pai in Mighty Hilux
This year saw an extra competition from the Australian team lead by Niaz Ali, Team QMSC who shipped their mighty 4x4 Nissan & a Hilux, which was the highlight of the rally. Unfortunately both their steed ended up retiring on the first day/night's outing over the dunes, and disappointing their team who flew all the way to India.

Multiple rally-raid champion, Suresh Rana won the prestigious event in the factory [Maruti Suzuki] backed Grand Vitara to the top of the podium, while the Team Mahindra's, Super Thar 4x4 prepared by Performance and driven by Sunny Sidhu took the second place and the third spot was also secured by the Red Rooster Performance prepared Mahindra Super-XUV500 driven by Lohitt Urs.

In the Quad category, the title defender Brandon took the top honours, while Raj Singh Rathore settled for second. It was the Bikes category that was watched more closely, as the Chief Organiser of Raid-de-Himalaya, Vijay Parmar in a KTM was leading until the penultimate leg of the event, only to be overtaken by the younger Mohit Verma in his KTM Duke 200.

Complete results can be found here.

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Ogier still keeps his lead, Loeb at +26.9s | Rally Sweden - 2013, Day 2

Sebastien Ogier maintains lead, at SS16
At the end of SS 16, Sebastien Ogier is showing his eagerness to keep his position over Loeb and maintains a good 26.9s lead. Loeb seems to be not in a hurry to push or being pushed as he is atleast 30+s lead from down under and probably waiting for the final day to yield the result he needs.

Rolled Qatar M-Sport Fiesta by Mathew Wilson
Jari Matti-Latvala keeps his cool and his car on the road without any issues, while not worrying of the slip to 4th overall by a tiny 6.1s to the Norwegian, Qatar Fiesta driver Mads Ostberg, who now settles in third position at the end of the day.

Celebrating the win - Solberg couple
In the down order, it was Mathew Wilson who went under serious scrutiny by the rally critics as he rolled the Qatari's car on being a guest driver [since Nasser had called in sick just before the start of the rally].

In the historic class, Petter Solberg with his wife/codriver Pernilla Solberg won the Rally by nearly 2 minutes in their Ford Escort Mk2 rally car.

Second Day,  top 5 result.

| Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia  | 2:18:22.8
Volkswagen Polo R WRC

| Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena        | 2:18:49.7 | +0:26.9
Citroen DS3 WRC| Mads Ostberg / Jonas Andersson   | 2:19:20.5 | +0:57.7
Ford Fiesta RS WRC

| Jari Matti-Latvala / Miika Anttila     | 2:19:26.6 | +1:03.8
Volkswagen Polo R WRC| Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor            | 2:20:06.3 +1:43.5
Ford Fiesta RS WRC

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Seb.Ogier is On Fire - Day 2 | Rally Sweden - WRC

Sebastien Ogier screams his Polo WRC to be the fastest.
Sebastien Ogier in his VW Polo R WRC is the fastest man on snow / ice at the end of Day 2 of Rally Sweden. He started his winning streak and the dominance since the opening stage of the day, totaling of 5 stage wins today. His team-mate Jari Matti-Latvala has been equally competitive, but couldn't manage to out-win any stage, which is accepted with his experience in his new car.

Senior Seb, Loeb was surprisingly competitive on the pure-white-stuff, which was not seen in the past and he sits in second overall, with a large 30s+ down the leader. Latvala is in third with a little margin of 1.7s down the nine-timer.

A Frustrated Mikko Hirvonen..
It was a disaster rally for Mikko Hirvonen as his car stuck into a snow bank and lost more than 25 minutes and fell way below point scoring points, to end the day at 30th overall. However, it was the local young Swedish lad, Pontus Tidemand who put a surprising and applauding performance in his homeland by finishing 6th overall at the end of the leg, in his first ever WRC event.

Thierry Neuville takes a big leap!
There were many off's to other drivers, but few managed without much time penalties with the help of the nearby spectating crowd, including Dani Sordo.

And this year's Colin's Crest trophy goes to Thierry Neuville of Qatar M-Sport WRT.

Second Day,  top 5 result.

| Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia  | 1:16:00.1
Volkswagen Polo R WRC

| Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena        | 1:16:31.5 | +0:31.4
Citroen DS3 WRC

| Jari Matti-Latvala / Miika Anttila     | 1:16:33.2 | +0:01.7
Volkswagen Polo R WRC| Mads Ostberg / Jonas Andersson   | 1:16:42.4 | +0:09.2
Ford Fiesta RS WRC| Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor            | 1:17:11.8 +0:29.4
Ford Fiesta RS WRC

So what would be up for tomorrow's news at the WRC's winter wonderland?! Stay tuned for more updates!
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Finally it is here! Stage One Technology's present for the Rally Addicts!

Early this year, Stage One Technology had promised that they will be releasing an alarm clock based on their timing system that they provided for the WRC for more than a decade. They called it nothing but the more obvious name, the "Launch".

Basically it is nothing but an Alarm Clock that will wake you up in the morning with the dearest music we all love to hear.. the launching of the WRC car at the stage start to mark our launch of our active day! I am sure that is nothing short of an engineering marvel by them, in short it is a "Must Have" on every motor-head's bedroom table.

Check their page here, and don't forget to order yours.
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Seb's top on Opening Day - Rally Sweden | WRC -2013

Full ice/snow round of the WRC's, Rally Sweden took off on a high note on Thursday. It was VW Polo R WRC driver Sebastien Ogier who went fastest on the Qualifying stage, while the senior Seb, Sebastien Loeb clinched the Karlstad SSS [SS1] win to end the opening leg in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

Opening Day,  top 5 result.

| Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena      | 01:34.5
Citroen DS3 WRC| Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor         | 01:35.0 | +0:00.5
Ford Fiesta RS WRC

| Jari Matti-Latvala / Miika Anttila    | 01:35.0 | +0:00.5
VW Polo R WRC| Mads Ostberg / Jonas Andersson   | 01:35.2 | +0:00.7
Ford Fiesta RS WRC

| Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen  | 01:35.2 | +0:00.7
Citroen DS3 WRC

That being a short spectator stage, the real action begins in a few hours from now. Stay hooked for more updates!
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Rally Sweden - 2013 | Round 2, WRC - A Preview

Round 2 of the 2013 season is just around the corner and teams are ready to whip their machines on the snow covered icy roads of Sweden.

Rally Sweden is one of those classic [which is 61st time in running] & probably the most celebrated, mainly due to the weather conditions, high-speed snow laden gravel roads, lined by one of the most enthusiastic spectators and being in the Scandinavian countryside is just too good to enjoy the sideways action.

This year, despite all the Global / European economic hibernation, it draws nothing short of 20 WRC spec rally cars in the competitive field. WRC2 & WRC3 categories are not forgotten either! In the historic class, it is none other than the former WRC 2003 Champion, Petter Solberg who is set to enjoy and all set to make the crowd going crazy in his own Ford Escort Mk2 rally car.

The rally is going to span for 3 days totaling to 22 special stages with 338.91 km on the odo, the last being the Power Stage, which offers those extra bonus points for the fastest top 3. This rally also has some new's of the spectators getting a chance to get to choose who will go head to head at the super-special stage, which is definitely a good initiative by the organisers and the feds.

Rally HQ is once again based in Karlstad with the service park located 85 kilometres away at Hagfors airport. Action starts from Hagfors on Thursday, with a free practice session between [08:00 hrs-10:00 hrs], quickly followed by the Qualifying Stage at 10:33 hrs. The spectator's decision of head-to-head super-special will start in Karlstad on Thursday night, and the real stage action will begin on Friday with the first of two days in the Swedish countryside around the service park in Hagfors.

Friday and Saturday action is primarily on the traditional special-stages in the host country, including classics like Vargasen [featuring Colin’s Crest] and Lesjofors. While on Friday, its Sagen, Fredriksberg and Rammen on Saturday. For Sunday the event crosses the border into Norway through the day's opening stage Mitandersfors starting in Sweden and finishing at Norway, and the action returns back to Sweden for the Power Stage at Torsby to conclude the rally.

Prediction of Probable Winner is not easy, as there are many equally competent Scandinavians in the entry list. Ford boys have made on the top podium everytime since 2006, but those winning pairs have changed their weapon of choice to other manufacturers and most of them are quite new to what they will be driving this weekend.

Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen are the most established pair with the new team, but we cannot rule out surprises from Jari-Matti Latvala / Miika Antilla since what we saw in Monte. Neither of both the Seb's are any better, but will the younger is there to gain more experience on the loose white-stuff, while Loeb looks like he is still curious boy who want to crack the code on how to win there!

Existing Ford boys are nothing short of winning crews, with what we saw in 2011 of Mads drive, while Juho Hanninen has not had an outing on the Swedish for a long time. Evgeny Novikov, Jari-Ketomaa can be dangerous too!

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Finns Win, Rally Liepaja [Latvia] | ERC - 2013, Round 2

Jari Ketomaa / Kaj Lindström win the Rally Liepāja-Ventspils, second round of the ERC series - 2013.

Thrilling three day battle on gravel/snow roads was immensely competitive for the young pairs, especially between the winning Finns and the Irish squad,

Craig Breen with his codriver David Moynihan in their Peugeot 207 S2000 rally car. The Irishmen were leading at the end of day 1, however since noon of day 2 the Finns took charge of the lead and to win it in style.

The third place was finally taken by the legendary Frenchman Francois Delecour after the Russian team Lukyanuk / Arnautovi failed to finish the rally due to a broken engine in the penultimate stage of day 3, i.e., today.

Final [Day 3],  top 5 result.

| J.Ketomaa / K.Lindström   | 2:05:51.3
Ford Fiesta RRC (2)

| C.Breen / D.Moynihan       | 2:06:22.0 | +30.7
Peugeot 207 (2)

| F.Delecour / D.Savignoni   | 2:08:35.2 | +2:43.9
Peugeot 207 (2)

| J.Černý / P.Kohout             | 2:08:57.5 | +3:06.2
Skoda Fabia (2)

| V.Švedas / Ž.Sakalauskas  | 2:11:33.1 | +5:41.8
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X (3)

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Ketomaa snatches the lead from Breen, ERC - 2013 | Day 2

Jari Ketomaa managed to reverse the overnight deficit of 6.4s to take on the lead in Rally Liepāja-Ventspils by 12.1s over Craig Breen. Today's stage was of high-speed stages over ice and snow stages over Latvian gravel roads.

The turbocharged 1.6 Fiesta RRC motor is probably more suited and undoubtedly has more power than the S2000 spec 207, yet the Finn is nothing short of talent either. Breen lost like 12s in one particular stage today and since then couldn't manage to regain his loss of time to his rally rival, Ketomaa. Frenchman Francios Delecour slipped to 4th overall by the day's end, while Russian Alexey Lukyanuk is now 3rd overall, while Lithuanian, Vytautas Svedas is in 5th overall.

Day 1, top 5 result.

1 | J.Ketomaa / K.Lindström   | 1:09:19.9
Ford Fiesta RRC (2)

2 | C.Breen / D.Moynihan       | 1:09:32.0 | +12.1
Peugeot 207 (2)

3 | A.Lukyanuk / A.Arnautov  | 1:10:23.3 | +1:03.4
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X (3)

4 | F.Delecour / D.Savignoni   | 1:10:37.3 | +1:17.4
Peugeot 207 (2)

5 | V.Švedas / Ž.Sakalauskas  | 1:11:42.2 | +2:22.3
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X (3)

A view from yesterday's stage action!

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Craig Breen leads Rally Liepaja - Ventspils | ERC - 2013

At the end of the opening leg of the rally, Craig Breen leads the rally by a little over 6s to Finnish Jari Ketomaa, and Francois Delecour another 6s further in third overall.

Jari Ketomaa was the fastest through the qualification stage this morning and Craig Breen all the way down at 6th and the turn around was a bit of a surprise for the top field, but the Irish got the talent. Delecour's third is something extraordinary, as he had to drive through SS3 by holding the door closed which had latching/locking issues.

Day 1, top 5 result.

1 | C.Breen / D.Moynihan       | 22:15.4
Peugeot 207 (2)

2 | J.Ketomaa / K.Lindström   | 22:21.8 | +6.4
Ford Fiesta RRC (2)

3 | F.Delecour / D.Savignoni   | 22:27.5 | +12.1
Peugeot 207 (2)

4 | A.Lukyanuk / A.Arnautov  | 22:48.1 | +32.7
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X (3)

5 | V.Švedas / Ž.Sakalauskas  | 23:06.2 | +50.8
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X (3)

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All-time Top 5 +NEWS