Time for Acropolis Rally of Greece, 2013 & RalliHeart is One Year Young [Online]!

The Rally of Gods, a.k.a., Acropolis Rally of Greece, is already buzzing with activity at the Service Park & Rally HQ, at coastal resort in Loutraki,  about 90 km from Athens, Greece. The rally was first featured in 1973 for WRC and has been active since then.

Characteristics of this rally is its high ambient temperature, very rocky, dusty, with a combination of hard, fast sections also softer, winding tracks combine is surely takes no prisonsers of no kind. Let it be cars, driver/codriver nor its service crew.

The rally has been shortened by a distance of the stages approximately 100 kilometres and is just merely a two day affair this year. This makes it the shortest event being contested, so far in this season.

The Qualifying Stage of 6.05 km on Friday morning decides the running order for day one. Then crews head east to the capital Athens and the famous Zappion for the ceremonial start.

After that, the event proper begins with the marathon 47 km Kineta-Pissa stage - the longest test of the rally - and then a late evening run of Kineta.

On Saturday, the day has eight stages over a demanding 12-hour period. The service for the day is restricted to just one 30-minute halt in Loutraki, so the challenge is further increased due to the limited amount of repair work that can be undertaken, making it a tricky event for the competition to tackle in a more strategic manner.

Sunday has just four stages to tackle and the event concludes with the repeat of the 30km Loutraki test, this year's Power Stage for the rally to make a mark at the finish line.

By the way, RalliHeart turns an year old [young] at the beginning of Acropolis Rally [on 31st May, 2013]. A warm hug & many thanks to all of you for your appreciation and support.

The video below is the teaser from last year's action. Enjoy and stay tuned!

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Vatanen is back to Mainstream Rallying... !

Yes, you heard it right! Vatanen is back to rallying.. by the way, the catch is it is Ari Vatanen's son Max Vatanen. The 1981 World Rally Champion driver is more than happy, excited and announced that his son would be driving his debut rally in about a month's time from now at the 6th round of the ERC, Geko Ypres Rally, in which Ari himself drove like 3 decades back.

Speaking to ERC media, Max, "This rally will be like a second homecoming for me,” said, for whom Ypres will mark his first full event on asphalt. “My idea is just to get as much experience as possible. This year, I’m driving in the Finnish and Estonian championships in R2. In Belgium, I just want to finish: there’s no way that I can compete with all the local drivers. My dad gives me a lot of moral support and plenty of useful advice."

We wish best of luck & many more successful rallies in his rallying career!
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One Weekend = Twice the Fun.. | Tour de Corse, ERC + Intl.Rally of Whangerai, APRC !

Buckle up guys! This weekend is going to be an exciting one, with two International Rally Championship rounds held at two different ends of the planet. The opening round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and the 5th round of the European Rally Championship is just a few days/hours away!

APRC - Round 1 : International Rally of Whangerai, New Zealand

The opening round for the APRC, Season 2013', having stages similar to that ran last year for the WRC. A set of fantastic super-fast-flowing gravel stages awaits for the competitors. However, there are some big & important changes in the competition this year.

Proton Motorsports decided to bow-out of the international motorsport and want to concentrate on their home-ground. After-all it is where their cars have the bigger market and have to impress their potential customers.

Team MRF has joined hands with Skoda Motorsport who will provide the factory support, and in the newly formed joint-venture they have also brought the star driver from Finland, Esapekka Lappi who will be driving one of the two cars. While the Team MRF's home grown talent from India, Gaurav Gill will drive another Skoda Fabia S2000.

APRC basically has now been restructured from the formerly Group N production championship, to the next level, where S2000 cars and R4 cars will compete for the overall honours.

Season 2013 will now see the re-introduction of the Production Cup, thus providing the older Group N competitors a chance to win in their own series. Also the FIA has ramped up to encourage the Group N competitors, and have extended many homologations to cater the needs.

This move of FIA with the Production Cup, has encouraged to bring more competitors to the series. Encashing to this opportunity was last year's 2wd champion driver, India's Sanjay Takale who has upgraded to 4WD this year in a Subaru Impreza N4.

"Four-wheel cars are the pinnacle of world rallying. I wanted to begin my APRC pursuits with 2-wheel drive class to get used to the circuits, and it was but natural to graduate to 4-wheel drive in the next season," says Takale,

He would be in direct competition with the Cusco Team who are dominant since Team MRF switched to S2000's. Sanjay Takale adds to his plight explaining, "We don't have even a single sedan in India with 4-wheel drive, which makes it all the more difficult to get used to a car that is more powerful and needs greater control."

In the 2WD competition, there is good news as Toyota has entered into the competition, with their flagship model Yaris/Vitz. This was announced last year in October and also we had reported about this intention of their return to the rally stages.

ERC - Round 5 : Tour de Corse, France

The fifth round of the European Rally Championship heat lands on the historic Tour de Corse, Corsica. The island in the Mediterranean is famous for the winding narrow tarmac roads, that trademark characteristic aura to make it into thrilling rally stages.

All of the likes of the drivers/codrivers have arrived here and the recce is mostly done. The action begins early tomorrow at 08:23 with the opening stage, SS1 Le Fangu - ND de la Serra  [27.53 kms], and other 5 more stages, SS2 Erbajolo - Pont d'Altiani 1  [24.57 kms], SS3 Barchetta - La Porta 1  [23.24 kms], SS4 Taverna - Pont de Castiria  [15.28 kms], SS5 Barchetta - La Porta 2  [23.24 kms], SS6 Erbajolo - Pont d'Altiani 2  [24.57 kms], with the service between two stages at Corte Airport.

Live results can be tracked here. Stay tuned for more updates.
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The Next Edition of Croatia Rally - ERC, 2013


The new logo of CROATIA RALLY 2013 has been approved; the tenth round of the 2013 European Rally Championship will take place from September 26th to 28th in Croatia with its headquarter based in Poreč, one of the most beautiful place on the Adriatic coast. The city has tourist infrastructures that run along the 37km of coastline and offer more than 95,000 beds.

The new logo of Croatia Rally, with graphics created by UNITED BUSINESS, shows the traditional and characteristic red and white checks with blue graphic inserts, the same which can be found on the Croatian national flag. Logo is approved by the Board of CCKF (Croatian Car and Karting Federation) and its President, Matko Bolanca.

It has been agreed a cooperation between CCKF and the Italian sports management company, UNITED BUSINESS, which will cooperate with the CCKF to promote the Croatia Rally 2013, the agreement was signed by Matko Bolanca, CCKF’s President and Pier Liberali, General Manager of UNITED BUSINESS.

Zrinko Gregurek, Secretary General of CCKF said:  “For the 40th anniversary of Croatia Rally, which has been organized many years and previously known as INA DELTA RALLY by AC DELTA from Zagreb, EUROSPORT EVENTS the promoter of the European Rally Championship, will ensure a worldwide media coverage. United Business is planning a number of initiatives both at sporting level and of side events, to make this Rally one of the most attractive in Europe.”

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The French rally will see, for their second race of the season, Molly Taylor and Seb Marshall with the Citroen DS3 R3 with which they took part in the Rally of the Azores.

If it is true that the first race of the year was unlucky for Molly Taylor, as she was forced to retire after a small off, to avoid another competitor, the sports programme of the strong Australian driver  continues as announced by United Business, the Italian company which takes care of her sports management.

Molly Taylor will be at the start of the Tour de Corse (16-18 May), one of the "mythical" races of international rallying, a rally of great tradition, difficult and challenging, which takes place on the beautiful Mediterranean island.

Molly Taylor and Seb Marshall are aware that the event which awaits them will not be an easy one, but their spirits are high, “The Tour de Corse is definitely a challenging race - says the Australian driver – I am anxious to do the recce, it is the first time I take part in this rally. Other United Business drivers, who have already been there, have confirmed that it is really full of corners and very twisty. I am sure that the Citroen DS 3 will help me but it is a totally new rally, it will be important to read the race well trying to get the maximum result. I do not yet know our opponents, probably some of them will not be at their first time on the Corsica roads and they will certainly be favoured over me, but Seb and I will certainly will not be mere spectators, I like challenges and the Tour De Corse is a great challenge”.

To best prepare the challenging Corsican race, United Business has planned a test session for next week, most likely in Tuscany, in order to find the best set-up for the car in accordance with the new tyres which Molly Taylor will use in Corsica.

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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Grande Seb.Loeb Wins His Last Outing On Gravel - Rally Argentina, 2013

In a final stand off between the two Frenchmen, it was the veteran who snatched the win!

Sebastien Loeb would be both nostalgic and happy with his last outing [on gravel] in his decade long career into the sport. He took to the top step on the podium today at Villa Carlos Paz, Cordoba - Argentina.

The day opened with the SS11, Mina Clavero - Giulio Cesare [22.64km] stage, in which both the Sebs decided to 'Keep Calm and Rally On' mode in practice and were more interested in keeping their positions intact rather than risking it to the distant low-runners. Similar strategy involved in the second stage, the pre-run of the Power Stage - SS14, El Condor-Copina, [16.32km].

However, Jari-Matti Latvala went into a stage winning frenzy to claim all the stages of the day, including the Power Stage. Laudable performance by the younger Finn.

Sebastien Ogier who was into careful and no-nonsense driving since morning, opened up for the extra points which were at disposal and took away the two points in his second place finish. Mikko Hirvonen followed and managed with the final single point for being third quickest. Senior Loeb kept his lead and took the overall victory.

Top 10 - Final Results

1.1S. LOEB4:35:
2.8S. OGIER4:36:51.7+55.0+55.0
3.7J. LATVALA4:37:57.5+1:05.8+2:00.8
4.5E. NOVIKOV4:38:33.4+35.9+2:36.7
5.11T. NEUVILLE4:40:37.2+2:03.8+4:40.5
6.2M. HIRVONEN4:42:20.6+1:43.4+6:23.9
7.4M. OSTBERG4:46:58.9+4:38.3+11:02.2
9.10D. SORDO4:49:19.0+0.2+13:22.3
10.21M. PROKOP4:50:04.3+45.3+14:07.6
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Dramatic twist in the Leadership - Seb.Loeb is no.1 @ Philips LED Rally Argentina - 2013

Starting the day, Seb.Ogier was in a healthy distance of over 17s and also won the opening stage of the day - SS6 Santa Rosa - Villa del Dique 1 [40.69km].

However, he lost his lead after going off, straight off a corner and lost over 40s. This elevated the senior - Seb.Loeb to the top position and also his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen to second overall by the end of SS7 - Amboy - Yacanto 1 [39.16km].

Frustrated Ogier explained, “We went straight on at a long corner,” as told to WRC Live. “The road tightened but we understeered on to mud and had to reverse out. The handbrake didn’t work again to save me.” A broken windscreen was the cost he paid, with other minor cosmetic damages.

Loeb was second-quickest in SS7 and confessed to have had a lucky escape for mistake himself. “I went wide like I did on the earlier stage but this time it cost me only about one second,” he said. “It’s tricky, eh? Very fast, the grip is good then suddenly it’s gone, watersplashes after the crests - it’s difficult.” 

After the mid-day service, and lunch break the cars resumed to repeat the morning loop of stages once again. Winning the SS8 was a good motivation that Loeb experienced, and Ogier finished quickly although with a front left puncture towards the stage end, down by 3.4s. Mikko loses his second place, puncture he told.

Andreas Mikkelsen retired from the day's action after he crashed onto a bridge, that resulted with too much damage to his VW Polo R WRC.

SS9 was the most dramatic stage of the day, maybe even of the entire rally. Almost everybody in the top 5 had issues, and it was Loeb who came clean and fastest. He extended his lead to a little over 40s to regroup in for the second and last SSS10.

Mikko, Latvala had stopped in stage, later the Finns managed to finished the stage. Qatar M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC boys were playing tactics with the roughest stage of the day and Novikov climbed to third after Mikko slipped to 6th.

Top 10 results - Overall after SS9

1.1S. LOEB3:27:
2.8S. OGIER3:28:05.3+40.3+40.3
3.5E. NOVIKOV3:30:04.5+1:59.2+2:39.5
4.7J. LATVALA3:30:18.0+13.5+2:53.0
5.11T. NEUVILLE3:30:56.1+38.1+3:31.1
6.2M. HIRVONEN3:34:06.9+3:10.8+6:41.9
7.4M. OSTBERG3:38:05.1+3:58.2+10:40.1
8.21M. PROKOP3:39:24.2+1:19.1+11:59.2
9.10D. SORDO3:40:26.1+1:01.9+13:01.1
10.23G. POZZO3:41:55.2+1:29.1+14:30.2

With one super special stage pending to end the day tonight, 3 stages and a power stage is all left for tomorrow's Ultimate Stand-off for the Super Sebs'. Till tomorrow, ciao!
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Face off - Ogier & Loeb ? | Full Action Day-2, at Rally Argentina - 2013

After the quick flick SSS yesterday, VW Polo R WRC driver Sebastien Ogier enjoyed a slender lead of about 2 secs. Sebastien Loeb was perhaps still settling in his break from the routine attack mode that he enjoyed over a decade, and was about 2.2 secs down his younger compatriot. Perhaps it was Dani Sordo, who was the surprise package, despite the spectacular roll he had in the road show early this week. He was 1.9 secs down the leader and quicker than the nine-timer.

Day 2 was the day to tackle with just four special stages, but it had the marathon stage [51.88 km] that had to be passed twice which by itself was a tremendous challenge to the crews & technicians alike. Weather was pretty cloudy and some drizzle at places, making the stages even more treacherous. The first stage of the day was tackled with much care and was a no drama for anyone. Ogier again topped the charts, the Flying Finn's Latvala and Mikko were about 6 secs down, but the surprise came from Loeb who was slower by 8.5 secs. Mads, Andreas, Dani and others followed suit.

But the second and bigger one the SS3 Ascochinga / Agua de Oro 1 [51.88km], that proved costly to Dani Sordo who rolled his Citroen DS3 WRC and lost over 7 minutes in the stage. Ogier was caught in the dust of the Spaniard's crawling DS3, and was initially furious at the end of the stage. However Ogier understood the situation, as Dani explained that he didn't know about his follow.

After the mid-day service & break, the crews resumed with new set of [mostly softer compound] tires as the stages were getting much wetter. In the repetition of the morning's loop of two stages, bad-luck hit the Qatar M-Sport's Ford Fiesta WRC driver Mads Ostberg in SS4. He was forced to retire after he hit a stone and damaging the steering link, along with driveshaft.

The 51.88 km, brutal SS5 [covered with fog and low clouds] was yet another major obstacle that demanded utmost respect to complete the day unscathed. However, it was the Czech rally star driver Martin Prokop, who fell prey to the longest running stage of the rally and rolled his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, although managed to complete the stage with huge time penalty. Sebastien Ogier finished the stage with the fastest time.

At the end of the day's action, Ogier leads, while his team-mate Latvala had his share of gremlins, after he realised that there was no handbrake left in his VW Polo R WRC finished 4th overall down by 40s. Loeb finished in second overall with a fractoin over 16 secs gap, while his team-mate Mikko is about 18s to the leader. They both had hard compound tires on all 4 wheels, and hence lost precious time in the long run. Evgeny, Andreas and Thierry finished the stages without too much drama, but at the expense of time.

Leaderboard at the end of the day, Top 10 :
1.8S. OGIER1:57:
2.1S. LOEB1:57:30.4+16.3+16.3
3.2M. HIRVONEN1:57:32.2+1.8+18.1
4.7J. LATVALA1:57:54.8+22.6+40.7
5.5E. NOVIKOV1:58:51.8+57.0+1:37.7
6.9A. MIKKELSEN1:59:09.2+17.4+1:55.1
7.11T. NEUVILLE1:59:26.6+17.4+2:12.5
8.21M. PROKOP2:03:55.5+4:28.9+6:41.4
9.23G. POZZO2:07:24.4+3:28.9+10:10.3
10.10D. SORDO2:07:46.7+22.3+10:32.6

That's it for today, see you tomorrow. Stay Tuned !!
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Philips LED Rally Argentina, WRC, Round 5 - is ON !!

Philips LED Rally Argentina, the 5th round in the 2013 calendar for World Rally Championship is all set and a go! It was hosted as a round of the WRC first in 1980, and is cited as one of the toughest events of the WRC trails.

Rally HQ will be based at Villa Carlos Paz, north to the national capital Buenos Aires. The rally is best known for the jumps, water splashes the stages offer, and the lunar landscape of the high altitude El Condor stage, which also happens for the Power Stage on its last run this rally.

The surface is pretty much sandy, that also increases the risk of punctures with the rocks being pulled onto the road by the passage of competing cars. Ruts are definitely expected as the road surface is softer, with second or more passes, more ruttier the stages is going to be become.

Tens of thousands of fans who line the route, and are considered some of the most enthusiastic rally folks on the planet. This was proved today, as the Qualifying stage run was almost jam-packed, and the organisers had to stop the stage in middle of the heat to control the crowd, as Mads Ostberg explained, "Too many spectators in wrong places on Qualifying, so stage is stopped. If I had followed only my pace notes, I would have hit someone!"

A total of 14 stages round up the event over a span of three days, starting with the opening super special stage later today.

Pic.map by Volkswagen Motorsport
Day 1 - The real actions begins early tomorrow, Thursday - 2nd May with the Sta. Catalina / La Pampa 1 stage, quickly followed by the marathon stage of Ascochinga / Agua de Oro 1. With a quick mid-day service, the action returns to a second run of the morning stages to end the day back at the Rally HQ.
Day 2 - Again two more stages Santa Rosa - Villa del Dique and Amboy - Yacanto, that are run twice with a service break in between the repetitions, and the day ends with the second super special stage.
Day 3 - Final day has Mina Clavero - Giulio Cesare and El Condor - Copina stages that are going to be repeated, but the latter stage will be the final Power Stage to conclude the rally back at Villa Carlos Paz.

In the Qualifying stage held today, the VW Polo R WRC driver Jari-Matti Latvala goes fastest, while the returning [with limited season outing] Citroen driver, Sebastien Loeb was second quickest with a difference of +0.035s to Jari, while VW Motorsport's no.1 driver Sebastien Ogier was +0.292s below the leader.

Citroen DS3 WRC driver Dani Sordo finished 4th quickest with +0.912s over, while Mikko Hirvonen, Mads Ostberg, Thierry Neuville were in the order downward. Latvala who topped the Qualifying chose his best position to start with tomorrow, i.e., last of the WRC cars hoping for a good dry weather conditions.

Stay tuned with us for more updates!!
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