Bryan Bouffier builds a healthy lead - Day 1 | ERC, Rally Poland - 2013

Bryan Bouffier keeps a tab on the rest of the field, while the homeland star Robert Kubica struggled. With a brilliant start, right from SS1 Talty 1 (6.15 kms), till the end of SS7 helped Bouffier in securing the top position.

Since morning, the conditions were not ideal enough to push, but still all the competitors braved to put a good show. Incredibly slushy and wet conditions prevailed at almost of the entire stages for the day. 

Although the former F1 star Kubica was quickest through the first pass of SS Mragowo 1 (25.16 kms), nature caught out the pole. Explains, "A big stone in the cut, in a 5th gear corner..." Front right wheel is knocked off the car and he thought it was just a flat tyre. When he was asked  "Superally tomorrow?","I don't know...", he said.

Sunday's action is over three [better?!] stages, that are run twice in a loop and will stick to the original itinerary - unlike today's shortened after intervention by the organisers, yielding to the nature's fury.


Top 5 scoreboard by the end of SS7, Day 1
Pos         No          Driver
Time             Diff
Prev
     Diff
     1st
1.6B. BOUFFIER
55:12.7 0.0  0.0
2.7K. KAJETANOWICZ
55:29.5+16.8+16.8
3.4M. SOLOWOW
56:18.6+49.1    +1:05.9
4.1J. KOPECKY
56:23.7+5.1+1:11.0
5.10K. HOLOWCZYC
56:59.6+35.9+1:46.9

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Seb.Ogier's Day Out - Day 3, Rally Australia | WRC - 2013

The penultimate day of Coates Hire Rally Australia was taken over by Sebastien Ogier! The Frenchman went on to claim all the 6 stage wins to extend off with a clear 45.9s to his nearest rival, the Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen. M-Sport's Thierry Neuville finished the day with third overall, with over a minute of gap to the rally leader. If all goes will the French VW Polo R driver, Ogier will be crowned the championship of the season, along with his co-driver Julien Ingrassia.

Day 3, consisted of just two stages run twice, apart from the day's ending, twice run SSS. SS11 - Nambucca I, was the first to run with a mighty 49.9 km distance separating the start and stop timers. Ogier started the day road to victory winning the stage and the next SS12 - Valla I was the next at hand with a distance of 14.84 km, and bagged it too.


After a 30 minute service, the rally returned back to re-run the morning loop, and the Frenchman out lead the rest of the field to secure a healthy gap, stage after stage.

It was a disappointing for the Britain's Kris Meeke when he crashed out on the second pass of the mighty SS13 - Nambucca II, when he went a little faster into a right hander corner and rolled down the hilly slope to retire for the day.

"It's quite simple. I made a mistake by braking a little bit too late," the Brit explains, "the car turned into the corner, but we ran wide and slipped off the road and down a steep bank into a field. We rolled several times, very slowly."


With Meeke's car in hand, the Citroen service staff had a tough job in their hands once the the FIA technical staff gave a green signal, after verifying the safety parameters to let him rejoin tomorrow in Rally 2 format. And they did it well indeed.

It was the VW Motorsport team who were very happy at the end of the day, with their prospects. However it certainly left Citroen's boss unhappy with the situation in hand, with Meeke's unwanted retirement and hence the chance of making it to the top of the Manufacturer's title race - a tough one.

Top 10 scoreboard by the end of SS16, Day 2
Pos         No          Driver
Time             Diff
    Prev    
    Diff
   1st
1.8S. OGIER           
2:14:53.9 0.0  0.0
2.2M. HIRVONEN
2:15:39.8+45.9+45.9
3.11T. NEUVILLE
2:16:05.3+25.5+1:11.4
4.7J. LATVALA
2:16:41.5+36.2+1:47.6
5.9A. MIKKELSEN
2:17:04.7+23.2+2:10.8
6.4M. OSTBERG
2:17:07.3+2.5+2:13.3
7.5E. NOVIKOV
2:21:30.5+4:23.2+6:36.6
8.22N. QUINN
2:24:04.7+2:34.2+9:10.8
9.10K. AL QASSIMI
2:25:16.9+1:12.2+10:23.0
10.48A. AL-KUWARI
2:26:54.0+1:37.1+12:00.1


So do you think, Ogier will take his throne tomorrow? Lets see!
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70° Rally Poland - A Preview | ERC - 2013

The 70th Rally Poland is one of the rally that was eagerly looked upon, being the former F1 star Robert Kubica's homeland and also because of his outing in the event with the Citroen DS3 RRC rally car.

But in the pre-event testing, Kubica crashed heavily and left the car looking beyond repair. But the Polish was determined and with a huge task in hand, the race engineers fixed the devastated DS3 back into a shiny piece of a rally car. Job well done!


And it seemed that it wasn't enough to plague the event, then a heavy downpour on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, left many sections of stages with slushy stages, and beyond immediate repair. Soon the organisers of LOTOS 70 Rally Poland to made a few modifications to the event itinerary.

On Saturday 14 September, special stage one and four, Tałty, is cut from 14.54 kilometres to 6.15 kilometres. Baranowo, which forms stages two and five of the gravel rally, is trimmed from 17.51 kilometres to 12.11 kilometres. However, the length of Mrągowo, which counts as stage three and seven and will be shown live on Eurosport, is unchanged.

The stages scheduled for Sunday 15 September are also unchanged, including the Mateuszek run, which will also be televised live on Eurosport.

The changes made to Saturday’s itinerary means that the total competitive distance of LOTOS 70 Rally Poland falls from 230.40 kilometres to 202.82 kilometres. The revised itinerary can be found in Bulletins and Notices in the Calendar section of www.fiaerc.com. 


With the above announcement, it was rest assured that the event was still achievable. Even though the recce was a disaster, the shakedown looked much better. Hope the conditions will be better for tomorrow's full fledged action.

In the shake down held today, Kubica was the fastest through and another fellow countryman and Fiesta R5 driver Michał Kosciuszko came second quick. Triple Polish champion Bryan Bouffier was third quickest in a Peugeot 207 S2000 and ERC championship leader Jan Kopecky fourth fastest driving a Skoda Fabia S2000 for Skoda Motorsport. “It was nice to see so many people in the stage,” said Kopecky. “But it was quite rough in some places and my car was quite low so it was touching.

Craig Breen was not really happy with his eighth position with his Peugeot 207 S2000 driving for Peugeot Rally Academy. “I wasn’t happy with my driving in there – I couldn’t find a good rhythm, but the real rally begins tomorrow.
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Sebastien Ogier gains speed - Day 2, WRC Rally Australia - 2013

Sebastien Ogier takes the lead early on day 2 after the opening stage, and also winning straight 7 of the 8 stages of the day. Fellow VW Polo R driver Jari-Matti Latvala regains his rhythm by taking the final stage victory. Baseline, it was an all Volkswagen day.

First pass through the three main stages, were reported very slippery with too much loose ground. This didn't stop the Frenchman to regain an early lead and start building up the gap with the other drivers. Mikko Hirvonen was looking in good form and started tailing Ogier, although it was not enough to slow him down.



Latvala suffered with lack of confidence since morning stages, although started to regain his for by the rest half of the day. M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS driver Thierry Neuville too suffered in the opening stages, still his time was not so bad and finished third overall by the day's finish.

Citroen's latest driver Kris Meeke was quick enough to settle through the dusty stages, with the running order of last of the WRC cars seemed to be of some help.


Top 10 scoreboard by the end of SS10, Day 2
Pos         No          Driver
Time             Diff
    Prev    
    Diff
   1st
1.8S. OGIER           
58:46.6 0.0  0.0
2.2M. HIRVONEN
59:06.6+20.0+20.0
3.11T. NEUVILLE
59:24.7+18.1+38.1
4.3K. MEEKE
59:25.2+0.5+38.6
5.7J. LATVALA
59:44.8+19.6+58.2
6.4M. OSTBERG
59:48.3+3.5+1:01.7
7.9A. MIKKELSEN
59:50.4+2.1+1:03.8
8.5E. NOVIKOV
59:55.8+5.4+1:09.2
9.22N. QUINN
1:02:49.2+2:53.4+4:02.6
10.10K. AL QASSIMI
1:03:28.0+38.8+4:41.4

Here is an exclusive ride with Ogier's onboard camera in SS5.



Tomorrow features a marathon stage, Nambucca [49.9 km] and Valla [14.84 km], that are run twice after a 30min mid-day service.

A couple of final SSS at Coffs Harbour will mark the end of the day for Saturday's leg. See you tomorrow.
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Andreas Mikkelsen Leads after SS2, WRC Rally Australia - 2013

Andreas Mikkelsen leads the Rally Australia after a couple of successive spectator special stages, at Coffs Harbour.

Although it is too early to rejoice, the Norwegian has managed to lead in a WRC rally for the first time ever. Kris Meeke is behind him, in less than a second and Latvala is third overall. Thierry Neuville & Sebastien Ogier are 4th and 5th respectively.

Citroen WRT's new recruit Kris Meeke went fastest through the with the shakedown stage, which was very much dry and dusty. It had not rained in the past 3 three weeks in the region and the rally is expected to trouble the drivers with the dust, if it doesn't rain during this weekend.

Thierry Neuville was 3rd quickest in Qualifying, and started 8th on the road, said; “Of course the second fastest time in Qualifying would have been better than third, but Kris [Meeke] was on a really big push and I am happy with my position. It was not a perfect run, and we could have gone faster in places, but eighth on the road is not a bad place to be.

Now, we just need to get a good rhythm from the start and take each stage as it comes. My main aim this weekend is to keep hold of my second place in the championship so we will be keeping a close eye on Jari-Matti [Latvala].”


Top ten results at the end of Day 1, SS2.
Pos         No          Driver
Time             Diff
    Prev    
    Diff
   1st
1.9A. MIKKELSEN           
2:45.3 0.0  0.0
2.3K. MEEKE
2:46.2+0.9+0.9
3.7J. LATVALA
2:46.2+0.5+1.4
4.8S. OGIER
1:23.5+0.1+1.5
5.2M. HIRVONEN
1:23.7+0.4+1.9
6.11T. NEUVILLE
1:23.8+0.8+2.7
7.4M. OSTBERG
1:24.5+1.9+4.6
8.5E. NOVIKOV
1:25.9+1.9+6.5
9.10K. AL QASSIMI
1:26.6+1.6+8.1
10.22N. QUINN
1:28.9+2.2+10.3

The frenchman Ogier could win the driver's championship, provided he makes more than 9 points off Thierry Neuville. Listen to him in this brief video below.


Local driver, Nathan Quinn will open the day tomorrow, while Meeke will be the last of the WRC cars to take start tomorrow morning.
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WRC moves to the land of Kangaroos - Rally Australia, 2013

It is time for round 10 of 13, and WRC moves to the land of the kangaroos. Starting from Thursday 12th September through the weekend to the final on Sunday 15th September, the action shifts to the eastern coastal land, around Coffs Harbour. Situated north of the capital of the Australian continent, about 400+kms off Sydney, the rally moves through wide roads on plains, and also in the forest roads of tight twisty lined with strong tall trees that can trap out even the best of the competition, if care is not exercised. 

Most of the surface in the competitive stage sections can be quite slippery, though not similar to those yester-years' 'ball-bearing' surface at location Perth, WA. Even though those loose tiny round stones almost missing in these roads, it is famous to be quite deadly when it rains. So bottom-line, it is going to be one heck of a rally awaiting to happen.

2011 witnessed these roads that showed its brutality by victimizing both the Sebs back in their Citroen DS3 WRC, while consistently driving Mikko Hirvonen claiming his victory, back then. Although now Ogier behind the wheel of VW Polo R and though Loeb missing all from the action, doesn't mean the rally be termed anywhere near to 'sober'! Ogier is almost in reach of taking his first WRC driver's title if he can claim top points, thereby ruling out any competition in the field to pressurize him during the rest of the remaining three other rallies.

However, all things is not easy for Ogier as Citroen who are back in the constructor's title race, when the VW's succumbed to the pressure in their homeland at ADAC Rally and hence leaving the title race open for the French auto maker to compete. And in an attempt to help with their campaign, Kris Meeke replaces Dani Sordo, who was seen struggling for pace in the past few gravel events.

A new in 2013 is at the rally base located in the centre of Coffs Harbour, incorporating the service park and the super special stage which runs on mixed surface during Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. It also features of two cars taking the start simultaneously on opposite sides of a former velodrome oval, and moving out onto surrounding streets and finishing back in the oval.

Organisers also decided to re-align and add new competitive sections while also retaining the most popular stages from 2011. This event is also one of the WRC’s most compact events ever, with two of the three legs being not more than 35km from Coffs Harbour, that also helps in running the event with a cost effective budget plan.



Itinerary!

Rally officially kicks off on Thursday 12th September with a short qualifying stage, followed by a rally show Coffs, the super special, run twice.
and then a ceremonial start and ends with a couple of competitive stage

Friday the rally moves near the town of Bellingen located south of the rally base, with three brand new stages; Tuckers Nob, Belligen and Newry. These tests are run consecutively and after the noon's 30-minute service halt the same are repeated. Another couple of trials at the super special marks the end of the day's action.

On Saturday the actions shifts even down south with a couple tests that are run twice, first one 'Valla' being same as in 2011, and another new 49.9km marathon stage called Nambucca, which is a fusion of two tests that ran in 2011. These two stages are run once in the morning and repeats post to mid-day service. Again, the day concludes with the final visit to the Coffs super special, run twice.

Final day, Sunday makes with another triple stages located north of Rally base, with a couple of new stages - Bucca and Wedding Bells - and the Shipmans same as used in 2011. Post to noon service break, the stages are repeated, and Shipmans being the Power Stage, bonus points are at the disposal for the fastest three crews. Finally, the podium at Coffs, after a quick 10m service back at the rally base.

And finally, coming down to a obvious question.. On who is your bet on?!

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