WRC Rallye Deutschland 2014 | First Taste Of Victory For Hyundai And Thierry Neuville

Rallye Deutschland, ninth round of WRC 2014  saw the maiden win for the Korean car maker Hyundai WRT  and also its star driver Thierry Neuville winning his first ever rally in his career. Nobody expected that the rally which began with a heavy crash in shakedown for Neuville will end up in taste of Champagne! He gave the perfect gift for his mechanics who worked hard to put the car back on shape for the rally.

Leg 1 of rally consisted of 6 special stages and as expected Ogier took the early lead. The chasing pack was headed by Latvala who was only few seconds away. The whole day Ogier found himself battling with his team mate Latvala for the lead, who won two SS out of five and was only few seconds separated both drivers. It was the last stage of the day and there came the big moment of rally, Ogier went off the road, into the vineyards and that was end of rally for Ogier, thats what pressure can do. This left Latvala with a healthy 37sec overnight lead over Kris Meeke. Dani Sordo was in third 42.6sec off the lead. Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville rounded off the top five after end of Leg 1.

Leg 2 saw drivers complete eight more stages. It was one job for Latvala to maintain his lead and try to extend it more , which he did it very well by winning 5 stages in the day and extended his lead by 56.6secs over Citroen driver Kris Meeke. Thierry Neuville also had a good day in third just 4.3 sec away for second spot. Robert Kubica won two stages and showed his tarmac pace but he was not able to do that consistently and was in 10th overall. Sordo and Mikkelsen were in fourth and fifth respectively finishing the day 2.

Leg 3 was a short day with just 4 stages to go. It was all smooth sailing for Latvala who had to just bring the car home to win the rally. But the Leg 3 drama had just begun. Latvala went off the road in slippery conditions and the vineyards took another victim.  Now young Britt Kris Meeke was leading, but just by 8.4 secs over Belgian Bullet Neuville. The very next stage it was another surprise, this time Kris Meeke hit a wall and lost his rear wheel and was out of rally. This handed the lead to Thierry Neuville. Ahead of his team mate Dani Sordo by 35.7 secs. Now it was a Hyundai 1-2 and they had to just bring the cars safely to finish line. And they did so. Which meant it was maiden win for Hundai WRT and both their drivers finishing in top two spots was a bonus. Andreas Mikkelsen ended the rally with podium finish. Young Welshman Elfyn Evans impressed by his fourth place finish, by outpacing his experienced team mate Mikko Hirvonen who finished fifth. Mads Ostberg struggled to find pace and was happy with sixth place.  Martin Prokop and Dennis Kuipers finished seventh and eighth respectively. WRC 2 runners Pontus Tidemand and Ott Tanak  rounded off the top ten finishers.

WRC 2 was won by Pontus Tidemand, with a last stage push he crossed the line just 1.8 sec ahead of Ott Tanak who finished in runner-up spot. Armin Kremer finished third.  Stéphane Lefebvre took victory in WRC3 class , who was followed by Christian Riedemann just 9.4 secs behind. Drive Dmack Cup was won by Britt Tom Cave by over 3mins  17.1 secs over Sander Parn.

The German vineyards gave us many surprises, next trip is to the Australian forests. Untill then Happy Rallying! 
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Press Release:Pune off-roaders ready to take on RFC India 2014 in Goa

Pune off-roaders ready to take on RFC India 2014 in Goa

Participant Mr. Ramessh Belaaram Ahuja from Pune
The first edition of the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) India will be held in Goa from August 8-14. With participants signing up from all over India and the world, Pune has its own competing heroes. Representing Pune at the event this year are 58 year old Ramessh Belaaram Ahuja and 32 year old Daulatram Chaudhary.

RFC is counted among the top 10 toughest motor races in the world. Adapted from the mother event that was launched in Malaysia in 1997, RFC India 2014 will see off-road enthusiasts and 4x4 vehicle owners negotiate a 250km stretch from North to South Goa, battling the forces of nature and the blinding rain. As they manoeuvre through the slush in their modified 4x4 vehicles and try to make the best time in 30 Special Stages (SS) lined throughout the course; their mental and physical capabilities will be pushed to the limits.

A wine shop owner in GanjPeth, Pune; Mr. Ramessh Ahuja’s alliance with off-roading is very recent. Owing to the lack of a national level platform for off-road motorsport events in India; Mr. Ahuja would take his Maruti Suzuki Gypsy 4x4 and go on long drives. A couple of years ago he became a member of the Pune Pathfinders 4x4 P2 Team who have helped and supported him turn his interest into a passion. Since then, Ramessh Ahuja has participated in nine events– the Gokak Challenge, Karnataka and other locally organised ones all over Maharashtra. His club members told him about RFC International, which got him hooked to it and when the event came to India, he couldn’t let an opportunity to participate slip.His age hasn’t deterred him from participating in this extreme off-road event.

RFC is a test of one’s mental and physical abilities and isn’t a challenge for the weak-hearted. With the course being designed by experts from RFC International and most of his competitors being younger and stronger, Mr. Ahuja has been training very hard, spending most of his free time working on vehicle modifications and bulking up physically for the challenge. “As I started to explore the world of off-roading two years ago, I got drawn deeper into it. My tryst with off-road motor sports started quite late in life which makes me more determined to explore all that it has to offer. At RFC India, I will be up against stronger opponents, but I want to participate in an event of this stature. My aim is not to win the trophy. My total focus is only on completing the 30 Special Stages successfully,” he said.

Daulatram Chaudhary on the other hand is competing to win. A trader by profession, he had developed a keen interest in motorsport events as a child. He had participated in the 2012 and 2013 editions of the Mahindra Great Escape. This proud owner of a Toyota Land Cruiser FJ 40 has religiously followed all the off-road action on the RFC International scene for the past 5 years. When asked about how preparations were underway for the event, he said, “I have been working on my car since February; modifying it to suit the RFC India specifications.” He added that he spends up to 3 hours daily on modification work for his car. He said that RFC India is a platform for him to understand how international events take place and what preparations go into participating in one. “I am confident that I will win RFC India and will go to Malaysia for the mother event,” he said.

Spread over six days, RFC India 2014 will be divided into four stages – the Prologue, the Predator, the Terminator and the Twilight Zone. The Prologue stage is proposed to be held close to town where competitors can interact with viewers. In the Predator and Terminator stages, competitors will have to fend for themselves while traversing the rugged terrain.The event will culminate with the Twilight Zone which will be an overnight drive through uncharted territory. The winning entry at RFC India will get a direct entry into the mother event that will be held in Malaysia late this year. Ashish Gupta, the Founder and Director of Cougar Motorsport Pvt. Ltd., which has brought this international off-road event to India said, “We have participants of all ages participating in the launch edition of RFC India. It is very inspiring to see people from all age groups come out and participate in an international event of this stature.”
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Ken Block & Neymar Jr. - All Geared Up for Footkhana

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Brazil’s Neymar Jr swaps turf for tarmac as he goes head-to-head with Ken Block in ground-breaking Castrol experiment

London, 15th April 2014: In a world first, Castrol, one of the world’s leading lubricant brands and Official Sponsor of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, has brought together the pioneers from the worlds of football and motorsport to create Castrol Footkhana; an innovative experiment that sees Brazilian star Neymar Jr take on new Castrol Ambassador and global rally icon Ken Block.  

In this challenge an unexpected series of events unfold, as Ken and Neymar Jr push the boundaries of performance and attempt ground-breaking new skills.

In Castrol Footkhana, Castrol continues its proud history of fuelling pioneers by bringing together the most innovative performers in their respective fields. You have Castrol Ambassador Neymar Jr leading a team of world champion freestyle footballers against Ken Block and his rally car, powered by Castrol’s strongest oil, Castrol EDGE boosted with TITANIUM FST™.

Ahead of the eagerly awaited 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, who will come out on top - will it be the football pioneers led by Neymar Jr or stunt driver Ken Block, famous for his Gymkhana series that has become a YouTube phenomenon?

Castrol is offering fans across the world the chance to be amongst the first to witness Neymar Jr and Ken Block battle it out in this cutting-edge experiment in an exclusive online premiere, set to air on Tuesday 22nd April 2014. Football and motorsport fans alike can support Neymar Jr or Ken Block by registering online today at castrol.com/footkhana.

Neymar Jr, commenting on the project, said: It has been amazing to work with Ken Block and the other freestylers, bringing our skills together in this Castrol experiment. I can’t wait for football fans to see our freestyle tricks in action as we go head-to-head against Ken and his car. I hope my fans will join my team for the premiere!”

Ken Block, who will also be featuring in a number of upcoming Castrol campaigns over the next 12 months, said: “I'm stoked to be partnered up with Castrol again this season. I'm also very excited to have this opportunity to work with Neymar Jr, as well as the freestyle guys on this film. All of them are as passionate about their sport as I am about mine, so to have all of us working together on this project has made for some great results. I know my fans are going to enjoy this Footkhana film since it's a spin on my Gymkhana series that's now integrating some of the best football players in the world, which is why they should register online now for the premiere to be some of the first people to see it globally.” 

A. S. Ramchander, VP Global Marketing at Castrol, said: “Both Neymar Jr and Ken Block have demonstrated amazing levels of skill in their respective sports and we see a great synergy between their pioneering spirits and what our brand stands for. Our sponsorship of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ has given us the perfect opportunity to pair up Ken with Neymar Jr to bring to life Castrol’s passion for superior performance, innovation and football.”

Claim your seat for the digital premiere by registering online today at castrol.com/footkhana.

4pm Update - The full video!

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The Rainforest Challenge launched in India - Cougar Motorsport

Perhaps, this one is definitely for the toughest in the field of off-roading specialists. Rainforest Challenge, which originated in the Malaysia the brim of the last century, has taken the repute of being one of the toughest and honoured events in the off-roading world. Not a race, but can definitely be tagged marathon and it is not for the weak hearted. Much respected organiser in the Northern-India, Cougar Motorsport will be the Indian franchise for the event. Below here is their official release of the event, that was held early last month at Delhi, India.

The Rainforest Challenge launched in India
The first ever international off-road motorsport event of India to be held in August in the Western Ghats

One of the world’s top ten toughest motor races and the most internationally represented 4X4 off-road motorsport event, the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) is now entering India with RFC India’s first edition set to take place in August. The event will be held over a period of ten days from 7th to 17th August and will witness contesting teams struggling to survive through rugged terrains of the rainforests of western India.

The hardcore adventure motorsport event has been introduced in the country by Cougar Motorsport, which conducts off-road events in India for various automobile manufacturers including Land Rover and Mitsubishi. The announcement about India’s entry to the RFC Global Series 2014 was made in the capital today with RFC Founder Luis J.A. Wee handing over the RFC India Flag to Ashish Gupta of Cougar Motorsport.

Rainforest Challenge was first launched in the jungles of Malaysia in 1997 with an aim of giving an avenue to daring off-road driving enthusiasts for sharing their passion and competing with like-minded people. Adventurers from all over the world have participated in this challenge of a lifetime where competitors are taken through mud, drenching rain, steep slippery slopes, deep ruts, gullies, flooded rivers, and landslides that are mercilessly demanding and dangerous. Over the years, RFC has not only become an annual international off-road challenge of Malaysia but has also been replicated globally in countries like Italy, Russia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Tunisia, China and Australia. Listed in the top 10 Toughest Motor Races in the World, RFC has now set its eyes on catering to the needs of its fans in India.

According to Mr. Wee, “Globally, RFC follows the motto of the survival of the fittest, not only in terms of physical fitness but also mental endurance. It is an extremely tough challenge for all 4×4 fanatics who dream of taking on a jungle adventure with all its hardship, endurance and extremities; especially considering the fact that RFC’s core philosophy requires for the event to be organized in the rainforests in monsoon season. Now it’s time for the Indian off-roaders to join the ranks of the world 4X4 community and with RFC coming right at their doorstep, they have the best opportunity to upgrade both the skills of man and machine with real live action and learning experience. I would like to see how well Indian off-roaders are able to stand the unpredictable jungles amid perpetually wet conditions without losing their cool and positive frame of mind. Hopefully, they will live up to the standards that have been set by RFC Champions globally.”

Over 50 teams, both Indian and foreign, are expected to participate in the first edition of RFC India. The participants will have to complete 30 Special Stages (SS) designed by experts from RFC Malaysia across a multitude of obstacles where the challenge is to complete each SS in the fastest time and score the highest points. The Prologue stage will be followed by the Predator and Terminator stages that will be laid inside and on the fringes of the jungle. The final stage of Twilight Zone will be an overnight drive across uncharted jungle territory.

Commenting on the partnership with the Rainforest Challenge, Cougar Motorsport’s Director Ashish Gupta said, “It is a matter of pride for all of us to see India on the global RFC map. All 4x4 offroad driving enthusiasts in India aspire to participate in the Rainforest Challenge but it is difficult for them to travel abroad with their vehicles and be a part of this mega international event. With RFC coming to India, they will get to experience the same level of extreme offroading and competition as the mother event in Malaysia right here in their home ground.”

Following the announcement of the launch, registrations for RFC India 2014 have also started. Entry Forms can be downloaded from the RFC India website www.rfcindia.in
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FMSCI Prize Giving Gala | Season - 2013, INRC

Recently concluded 2013 season for Indian Motorsport Prize Giving Gala was held in Mumbai few days back. Here is a quick glance of the INRC Team Champion press release.

Pune’s first rally team crowned national champions in first full season in the Indian National Rally Championship

Mumbai, March 08, 2014: With victories and podium finishes in all five rallies of the 2013 season of the FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship, Pune-based Slideways Industries has clinched the INRC team championship. Making this feat even more commendable is that the accolade has come in only the first full season for the team in the championship. The team trophy was presented by senior officials of the FMSCI, the governing body of Indian motorsport, at a glittering ceremony in Mumbai.
Backed by Pune-based Pinnacle Group and Golden Sparrow Corporation, Slideways Industries was launched in September 2012 by four rally enthusiasts – Aniruddha Rangnekar, Byram Godrej, Rohan Pawar and Sirish Chandran. After a slow start thanks to the 2012 INRC season being truncated to just two rounds, Team Slideways Industries stepped on the gas in 2013 and debuted the Volkswagen Polo in the INRC.
With factory backing from Volkswagen Motorsport, Slideways Industries was the first team in India to enter the Polo in rallying. Over the first two months of 2013 the team invested time and money to build, prepare and test the Polo rally car at their facilities in Pune and Coimbatore, and all the rigorous testing and focus on quality paid rich dividends when Sirish Chandran took the Polo to its debut class victory at the opening round of the season in Chennai. That was the first time a brand new car won in its very first rally in seven years, defying all odds and beating other established vehicles, and this set the ball rolling for an incredible campaign.
With India’s leading tyre manufacturer JK Tyre partnering the team from the next rally onwards Slideways Industries enlisted the services of former Production WRC and Asia Pacific champion Karamjit Singh (from Malaysia) and he stunned the rallying fraternity by taking the Slideways Polo to the top step of the podium in the Rally of Maharashtra in Nashik. In clocking the fastest times amongst all the cars Karamjit provided a crushing demonstration of the potential, capability and sheer pace of the Slideways Industries cars. The rally also saw six cars – all VW Polos – entered by Slideways Industries, increasing to seven by the end of the season, making it the largest team in the INRC.
The Slideways Industries Rally Polo is built to Group N (production class) specifications and runs a 1.6-litre engine uprated to over 130bhp with the addition of a Race Dynamics motorsport ECU. It runs on 15-inch JK rally tyres for excellent grip on gravel and tarmac stages, a Quaife limited slip front differential for improved traction, can tackle six-foot-high jumps at over 130kmph thanks to Reiger 3-way adjustable rally suspension and has a ultra-strong roll cage for safety among the other extensive modifications.
Thanks to car and tyre development the pace and reliability of the cars kept improving with Karamjit again clocking the fastest times amongst all the cars at the following rally in Coimbatore. Then on, and with an eye on the future, Slideways Industries entered the uprated R2-spec Polo for Karamjit Singh for the last two rallies. Run by VW Motorsport the car was used as a test bed for the more powerful engine and uprated transmission and suspension components in preparation for a full-fledged assault, and this will be the car to watch out for in the 2014 season.
With cars entered in the IRC, INRC overall, INRC 1600 and J-INRC Slideways Industries ended the 2013 season with 6 wins and 16 podiums. In the driver’s standings Sirish Chandran and Byram Godrej took second and third in the 1600 championship while Rohan Pawar and Aniruddha Rangnekar took third and fourth in the Junior-INRC championship.
Rohan Pawar, team principal, Slideways Industries said: “This is only the start. We are fortunate to have some of the fastest drivers, brilliant engineers and excellent partners and winning the team championship in our first full year is just reward for all the hard work the team have put in. Here on we step on the gas and expand our offerings with ‘Arrive and Drive’ packages for young up and coming drivers. Our aim is to make rallying affordable and less complicated for rally enthusiasts, give them a reliable and fast car that compliments their talents, provide training if required, and ensure more petrol heads can experience the joys of flying off crests and putting a rally car sideways on dirt. I can assure you it is the most fun you can have with your clothes on!”
Apart from Arrive and Drive packages, for the 2014 season Slideways Industries is also renting rally cars for as low as Rs 1.3lakh per event, including full service support and back-up, in order to bring in fresh faces and young talent to the sport.
The 2014 INRC season kicks off with the Rally of Maharashtra, the home rally of Slideways Industries, in the last week of May and is expected to have five rounds at Bangalore, Chennai, Chikmagalur, Coimbatore and the possibility of Delhi NCR or Kolkata joining the fray.
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A Hatrick 1+2 finish for VW, Finally a Podium for Hyundai - WRC

Rally Mexico always delivers what it promises.., a lengthy list of retirements & wrecks. This year's spoils were spoilt by the Gung-ho of VW Polo drivers while the final spot was secured by the much sought after, the new-comer, Hyundai, by its star driver Thierry Neuville.

Rally debutante Andreas Mikkelsen had a nasty rocking moment, and knocked off a wheel from his VW Polo R WRC, while former F1 driver, Robert Kubica, learnt it the hard when he had a roll and retired. He had to sit out of the event, as the damage was sufficient enough to not to continue. Many others too were forced to follow suit.

A good first three events top-two finishes is definitely helping the VW, and pushing themselves towards numero-uno spot and are definitely tough to stop in this year's manufacturer's crown. It was again Sebastien Ogier who showed his dominance and his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was quick, but not enough. Finn was more than a minute away from the challenge, which the Frenchman had put up.

Although Thierry Neuville was at a distant 5+ minutes to the leader, it was enough to secure a third place on the podium. Elfyn Evans displayed a commendable 4th place finish, in his first outing in Mexico, while Martin Prokop finished the top 5.

After a series of retirements in the opening rounds of the season, had left Hyundai to re-consider their development programme [as they say this year's entry, for the next year's full-assault].

The decision is also made and New Zealander Hayden Paddon will be joining the third car in Hyundai's 'B' team, termed as 'Hyundai Motorsport N'. This announcement came a week before to this event.

Citroen men had actually started the rally in full vigor, with Mads Ostberg dominating the rally initially, only to succumb to the pressure from Ogier later in the day.

Kris Meeke had his debut in Mexico going pretty well initially, until he knocked off a wheel from the car and dropped way below the leaders. Hence, the Mexican event was not productive in the overall championship game, for the French team.

Similar fate too had the M-Sport's Mikko Hirvonen who retired due to alternator failure and there by loosing any of the chance in making to the top score. Elfyn's performance was the only chance the team could gather upon any points at disposable.

The car'-nage of the Mexican soil was still not-so-ever enough to stop the charging Seb from taking away the honors of the top step on the podium, after displaying a spectacular car management and control throughout the event. It almost felt like a gift from his senior compatriot, but doing so will not shrink this man's talent in any account.

Jari-Matti despite his pedal-to-the-metal efforts was not enough and he was separated by more than minute the rally winner. Perhaps a few more hundred kilos on the 'odo' might make him as potent as his team-mate.

So for more on gravel [hi]story will be written on Portugal soil soon. Until then keep the spirits up!
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Rally Mexico 2014 - Day 1 | Ogier breathes easy in thin air!

Round three of WRC 2014 has began this weekend, in the hot, dusty and high altitude mountains of Mexico. Rally began with the colourful ceremonial start, followed by the Guanajuato Street stage flocked by rally fans. Ogier again made the pacy start by going fastest on the stage, Ott Tanak was a surprise to finish just 0.3 sec slower than Ogier in his Fiesta R5, going faster than all other WRC machines.

Real Rally Mexico began on Leg two with 10 Special Stages. Again Ogier was the man of the day to beat, but Mads Ostberg too found good rhythm with his DS3 WRC and was giving Ogier a hard time, finishing 26.1 seconds behind Frenchman. . Ostberg took three stage wins and Ogier six. Jari Matti Latvala endured the gravel sweeping as first on the road, and climed to third overall. Elfyn Evans had no problems and in a strong fourth position overall. Thierry Neuville lies in fifth trying to find a sweet setup with his i20 WRC. Where as his team mate Chris Atkinson had a problen filled day and was unable to find good pace and lies in eight overall. Local Star B.Guerra is in seventh overall behind Prokop who finished the day in sixth spot. Robert Kubica and WRC2 runner Protasov rounded off the top ten.

Coming to the retirement list there were few to name. Mikko was first to be out with the alternator failure of his Fiesta WRC , Finn was in a podium spot before retiring, Kris Meeke was behind Mikko but he too went off and hit a rock  breaking a suspension arm. Mexico debutant Robert Kubica rolled his Fiesta WRC in Leone SSS, Andreas Mikkelsen too went off from second place after hitting a rock and breaking the Polo WRC's suspension. WRC 2 entrant Ott Tanak crashed heavily on 43km El Chocolate stage.

Thats all for Leg 2 , another seven stages to go on Leg 3 including marathon test 'Otates' until then Happy WRC Weekend!
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WRC Rally Sweden 2014 | Latvala Tops Scandinavian Rally!

Round Two of WRC, Rally Sweden, in the frozen forests of Scandinavia has come to an end, and the results surprised many as top four spots was occupied by Scandinavian drivers! And total 6 Scandinavian drivers in top 10 elite WRC finishers.

The action unfolded with the SSS of Karlstad, and it was won by Andreas Mikkelsen, fellow Norwegian driver. The real test began from SS2 which ran through frozen forests, the main problem for drivers was managing tyres, lack of snow means they will be on gravel on studds! Ogier showed it how to do it by winning SS2 and jumping into lead. SS3 was also won by Ogier, followed by Mikkelsen and Latvala making it a VW trio on the overall leaderboard. SS4 went to Mikkelsen, again showing what he can do on his home surface. Next three stages was won by Ott Tanak, Andreas Mikkelsen and Sebastien Ogier respectively bringing the day to an end. After Leg 1 VW trio were leading the rally, led by Ogier, Mikkelsen and Latvala, Ott Tanak was in fourth showing impressive pace in his Fiesta WRC. Citroen driver Mads Ostberg was in fifth struggling to find a pefrect balance with his car. Mikko too was out of pace lying in sixth, in the rally which he won previously. Hyundai drivers Thierry Neuville and Juho Hanninen were in seventh and eight respectively, trying to keep up with top guns as their main goal was to finish the event. It was all difficult for snow debutants Kubica, Evans and Kris Meeke.

Leg 2 of Rally Sweden was all set for the VW battle to resume. And it all changed in the opening stage thats SS8. Sebastien Ogier made a mistake, got stuck in a snowbank and lost the lead and slipped to 20th overall. Mikkelsen took the advantage and won the stage and took the rally lead followed by Latvala, Mads Ostberg too found some pace and stormed to third overall. Very next stage was Ogiers turn to win making up for the mistake. SS9 again changed the rally Leader this time its Latvala. SS11 was won by Henning Solberg showing he has got the pace inspite of staying away from WRC for a long time. The next four stages was won by Ogier fighting back up the leaderboard and the last SSS was won by Mikkelsen. After end of Leg2, Latvala was in lead followed by Mikkelsen in second,  Mads Ostberg in third, Mikko in fourth, Tanak in fifth, Meeke, Solberg, Tidemand in sixth, seventh and eighth repectively. Ogier fought all day and made it to ninth overall an impressive drive from Frenchman. Evans rounded off the top 10.

Leg 3 and the stage was set for the battle of Scandinavian's for the rally lead. Latvala made a good start by winning first stage of day thats SS17 and stamped his authority on the rally. Next it was another three in a row stage wins for Finn Latvala and built a healthy lead over his compatriot Mikkelsen. SS21 was cancelled. Which means Latvala was only three stages away from his victory. And next three stages he took it cool and calm and made it to finish and won Rally Sweden for third time. Andreas Mikkelsen surprised and impressed by his pace and finished runner up, it was a dream come true for him! Mads Ostberg completed the podium, finally getting some pace and got to understand the car. Mikko Hirvonen finished fourth, a point finish and getting some pace. Ott Tanak had a impressive rally, getting into pace very quickly and finishing fifth. Ogier's fightback has made him to occupy sixth overall. Henning Solberg had a solid drive and was seventh overall. Local star Pontus Tidemand finished eight and brought smiles on faces of local fans. Craig Breen and Kris Meeke rounded off the top 10 WRC finishers.

Both Hyundai drivers finished the rally but were not able to score points, Juho Hanninen finished 19th overall with some off-road incidents, Thierry Neuville finished 28th struggling to find pace. Robert Kubica also finished lower down the order 24th overall, as it was leap into the unkown for the Pole.

WRC 2 was won by Karl Kruuda, a last stage win for him and his maiden victory in a rally. WRC 2 also had surprises! Finn Jari Ketomaa finished second and local star Fredrik Ahlin finished third in his Fiesta R5.

Well it was a action packed Rally Sweden, also with some dramas! Winter is gone now and the heat and dust of Rally Mexico is waiting next! Untill then Happy Rallying!    

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Rallye Monte-Carlo 2014 | Perfect Start For Ogier, Not For Hyundai!

Rallye Monte-Carlo, first round of WRC 2014 has just came to an end, and the championship has begun. The man who made the perfect start was Sebastien Ogier with his Polo WRC, defending his title. But everyones attention was on the Korean car maker Hyundai, a.k.a Hyundai Shell WRT. But when the rally began it was over for Hyundai, as their top driver Thierry Neuville crashed out in the very first stage , it was third time the Belgian was out of Rallye Monte Carlo on the first day, may be Monte is a not so lucky for ‘Belgian Bullet’! It was not over yet, after four more stages Dani Sordo was out, it was not a driver error this time, but alternator failure of i20 WRC, with that both the cars were out leaving behind a huge disappointment in Hyundai camp.

Very first stage was won by Pole Robert Kubica, showing what he can do in a WRC machine, going quicker than Ogier. Followed by another win on SS2, and from then drama began, wrong tyre choices left some drivers stranded, Ogier dropped to ninth place in just one stage and Bouffier moved to top, and after end of Leg 1 Frenchman Bouffier was in the lead. Ogier managed to jump to fourth. Rober Kubica and Kris Meeke in second and third repectively.

Leg 2 of Rallye Monte Carlo was set for Frenchman’s battle for top spot, Ogier won the first stage of the day and next was Bouffier’s turn to take a stage win and from then Ogier was unstoppable, winning all stages except last one of the day and few mistakes by Bouffier which costed him the lead, ending day two in second place. In between that Robert Kubica went off on SS8 a disssapointing end to battle with Kris Meeke. Fellow Citroen driver Mads Ostberg was on fourth place , Latvala fifth and M-Sport drivers Evans and Hirvonen sixth and seventh respectively.

After end of Leg 2 it was Ogier’s rally to loose, as only four more stages for the third leg which he won two of that and the rally. But drama was still not over, Mikko Hirvonen’s Fiesta WRC gave up with an alternator failure with only Power stage to go, big disappointment for the Finn. Latvala won the final Power stage and Ogier won the rally, Bouffier finished as runner up with a fine drive. Kris Meeke had a strong weekend and ended in a podium finish with his team mate Mads Ostberg in fourth. Elfyn Evans was impressive on his Monte debut finishing sixth. Andreas Mikkelsen and Melicharek rounded off the top eight finishers.       

WRC 2 victory went to Yuriy Protasov, his maiden win in the category, Bertelli and Barrable rounding off the top three spots. Sebastien Chardonnet took WRC 3 win with a strong drive in his Citroen DS3 R3T.

Well Monte is over for now, next trip for WRC crews is the frozen forests of Scandinavia Rally Sweden. Plenty of action awaited! Untill then Happy Rallying!
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Dakar - 2014 ~ Just one more day left..

Dakar2014 is all set for a thrilling battle, at finale tomorrow. Perhaps, it was the cold of Monte, that had taken its toll on us to even think of the scorching heat in the South American desert, that was disposing off onto its annual conquerors.

Here is a brief insight of the situation at hand, as of now.

Bikes: Marc Coma is going stronger and keeping it all together for the final day, to celebrate his almost certain 4th victory in the most demanding rally-raid event on the planet. Unfortunately, for the title defender Cyril Despres it was a bitter pill, with his new bike from Yamaha that he rode with many issues.

Quads: Title defender Marcos Patronelli opted out early on Stage 8, so the fight is between Ignacio Casale & Rafal Sonik both in a Yamaha, while Sebastien Husseini trails them in a Honda. The gap between the trio is quite huge and in hours, so they are expected to cruise through to hold their positions.

Cars: A definitive tight fight between the team players, Mini All4 drivers and Dakar veterans, Stephane Peterhansel & Nani Roma, who are separated by less than half a minute. Another Mini driver, Nasser Al-attiyah is 54+minutes to the top and will surely be interested in holding his position from the chasing Toyota driver Giniel De Villiers.

Trucks: It is a tight battle between Kamaz & Iveco. Andrey Karginov & Eduard Nikolaev are wrapping up Iveco driver Gerard de Rooy in their Kamaz trucks. The gap for the top two are just under a minute, and it is almost nothing in a Dakar stage. This also promises a good tactical and close fight for the victory. Another two Kamaz are in the top five positions for now.

So tomorrow the competition is both freezing at Rallye MonteCarlo & sizzling hot at Dakar. Stay tuned!!

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Ogier rises up to no.1, Bouffier & Meeke settle for 2nd & 3rd, Day 2 | Rallye MonteCarlo - 2014

Was it too much for Bryan Bouffier to handle or was it simply the world champion had determined a comeback day, but it was Sebastien Ogier who flew through the day with maximum attack to take the lead from his fellow compatriot. Being in a privateer+Msport-supported entry into top level rallying, in Monte up and against the biggies, definitely deserves a loud applaud to the Frenchman. Bravo Bouffier!

The day opened with a monstrous special SS7 Vitrolles - Faye, with 49.03 km between the ends. Ogier emerged victorious and moved up one position to 2nd overall by the stage win, Bouffier finished just under 12s down the winner. Kris Meeke & Robert Kubica quickly populated the scoreboard below. The stage reported heavy downpour mid-way.

SS8 Selonnet - Breziers, [22.68 km] was where Bouffier showed his best skills and took the stage win with just 0.2s to the world champion, despite reported presence of ice on the stage. M-Sport driver Mikko Hirvonen had issues with a misted windscreen, up until the last three kilometers at which it cleared.

Ah, also it is in this stage that Ogier & Mads Ostberg and other fast runners, who had to go off the road just after flying finish to avoid collision with the car & people ahead at the stop control, which was reportedly located in just around 100mts from the flying finish. It was reported as '6th gear flatout at the flying finish' by Mads, and the short tarmac section wet with rain was not sufficient enough to stop the car within that the control zone. However, nothing uneventful happened, with the presence of mind of the drivers and the cars left towards the mid-day service. Lucky or crazy? Lucky, I guess!

SS9 was the second pass of the longest stage [49.03 km] and it was here Ogier really flew against others [despite a hair raising moment in an off, but was lucky] & Bouffier lost considerable time with his off-road excursion [helped by spectators to push his car back on road] and along with it, the rally lead. It was not good either for the Finn Jari-Matti Latvala, it was a stage of agony as he hit a kerb in the very first corner and costed him dearly with a puncture and had to stop to change it, thus slipped down from 6th to 8th in overall ranking. Mads was having a good time, especially on his least preferred surface, wet & that too on tarmac. Perhaps, he Citroen is made for him or he for the double-helical. It was not a good stage for Kubica fans, as he happened to loose control & going off the road, unable to get the car back on road was terminal for his outing. Luckily nobody were hurt, including the crew.

SS10 - Sisteron-Thoard 36.85 km, is a piece of history and very Iconic to Rallye MonteCarlo & Carlos Sainz holds the record here way back in 1993 in a Lancia Delta HF Integrale. It is a very fast run up to the ascent and then a much slower and technical run back down to the finish. Ogier was quickest, Boufffier & Mads finish behind him. Andreas Mikkelsen had an incident at 27 km mark, and had stopped after going off the road. They had to convince some 6-7 spectators, who seemed not to be confident / bothered to push him back, until sometime after they did it successfully.
A quick remote service at Digne Les Bains was in schedule and SS11 went on live in the dusky, cold & wet final stage for the day. Clumanc - Lambruisse a distance of 20.77 km & Latvala was the quickest of the lot, Ogier & Meeke finished behind the flying finn. Bryan Bouffier braved this stage with borrowed pacenotes from his senior compatriot Francois Delecour.

Yes, I agree that it is a lengthy writeup for today, but the day was even more dramatic than this. Another four stages for tomorrow, in the dusk & dark will decide and crown the winner & the runner-ups. Until then 'au revoir'!
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Bryan Bouffier leads Rallye MonteCarlo, after Day 1 | WRC - 2014

Rallye MonteCarlo roads can be bad for you, especially if you don't respect it during winter! It proved true for the debuting Hyundai World Rally Team's driver Thierry Neuville on the very first stage in under 10 km from the start. He crashed heavily on the car's rear, fortunately nobody was hurt, but did populate the first on the retirement list of the rally within an hour of competitive stage start.

Fortunate or unfortunate, it was a driver error in his case, but not so with the second car, piloted by Dani Sordo. His i20 WRC suffered a flat battery quickly after SS4 & had to retire. And remember, in Monte if you retire, there is no Rally2 and the end of the game. Right there! A bitter start to the debuting team, unfortunately.

It was the pole, Robert Kubica who started to show his potential with consecutive stage wins in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC. The third stage victory went to another Fiesta driver Bryan Bouffier, who took over the overall tops from the pole and retains at the end of the day with a gap of 38.8s.

Ogier, Latvala & Mikkelsen seemed lost with bad choice of tires, and remember it is not just tarmac or wet-tarmac here. Ice and snow lines a good sheet of anti-grip layer on the tarmac, hence most of the top players were troubled by it. So much is the importance of it, even a front wheel driven R3T car piloted by Sebastien Chardonnet was 4th quickest in SS3 up against the big boys!

Citroen WRT's newer drivers, Kris Meeke & Mads Ostberg were making some good times, while Monte the experts were failing. Meeke is in the runnerup spot by the end of the day.

The stages for the day were,
  1. Orpierre - St Andre De Rosans  [25.49 km]
  2. Rosans - Ste Marie - La Charce [17.98 km]
  3. Montauban Sur L'Ouveze - Laborel [19.34 km]
These stages were run twice consecutively, once in morning and for the final time in the noon after a service break.

In the second pass of the morning's stages, Volkswagen drivers sprang up with the right tyre choice and took the stages win, Latvala SS4 & Ogier the remaining two stages of the day and moves up to 4th overall.

Top 10 overall scoreboard [courtesy wrc.com], by the end of SS6 [Day 1]
Pos    No    Driver
Time           Diff Prev     Diff 1st

11:15.9 +4.0 +4.0
11:28.9 +13.0 +17.0
11:29.6 +0.7 +17.7
11:30.4 +0.8 +18.5
11:31.7 +1.3 +19.8
11:33.1 +1.4 +21.2
11:40.0 +6.9 +28.1
11:45.6 +5.6 +33.7
12:17.7 +32.1 +1:05.8

Nine more stages more to declare the winner, with 5 stages on tomorrow's itinerary and the remaining four for Saturday.
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