Whats' up for Rally Weekend, at Barum Czech Rally Zlín | ERC - 2013

The Land of the Skoda's! Wonderful countrside, winding narrow asphalt roads, welcomes the wider gap from the last event at Romanian, Sibiu Rally.

Highlights of the rally are that , there will be three ŠKODA teams compete for victory in home rally in the Czech Republic. It is all going to be three way fight between, the Finn - Esapekka Lappi, Sepp Wiegand who has an advantage of good-competitive-form from the ADAC WRC round last week., the local and leading driver of the current ERC season, Jan Kopecky.

Tomas Kostka to perform with a brand new Ford Fiesta R5, Pavel Valousek too has a Fiesta R5 drive in this weekend. Antonín Tlusťák, with the local knowledge could be at an advantage, in his Skoda Fabia S2000! Frenchman Bryan Bouffier will be driving a Peugeot 207 S2000 and many more too watch out. Apart from the 103 competitor, there is a host of historic & other support drives too, check this entry-list for complete details of the competition.

Raffael Sulzinger is making a comeback to FIA European Rally Championship at Czech Republic this week in a Ralex Sport Renault Clio R3 rally car, with support from one of the rally sport’s legendary - Walter Röhrl, European champion in 1974 and world champion in 1980 and 1982.

For spectators, check the itinerary here. Official Rally website. More to come, stay in touch... Rally Radio

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Dani Sordo WINS - ADAC Rally Deutschland | WRC - 2013

A thrilling finale at ADAC Rally Deutschland's victory battle with the last two stages, the twice run special stage, Dhrontal and the Citroen DS3 driver, Dani Sordo scores atop to claim his first ever WRC victory! Being in a WRC car for the past few years, the Spaniard had a few slippages from claiming a proper rally victory, but that was just until today!

Fiesta RS driver, the Belgian Thierry Neuville was right on Dani's tail, since the over night leadership commanded a mere 0.8 seconds. In the first run of SS Dhronthal, Sordo literally flew through to take the stage win and also increased his chances by another 2.2s, with a 3s separating the Fiesta RS driver. Ogier surprised everyone by dropping nearly 12s to the rally leader, although he was expected to go all out for the bonus points in the re-run being the 'Power Stage.' Latvala completed the stage, and Mikko settled with being 5th quickest, to hold his 3rd position intact.
In WRC-2, Kubica was almost 10s quicker to Evans and Paddon was comfortably in 3rd overall. 

Power Stage was the ultimate showdown to the rally, along with some extra championship points at disposal. Ogier was expected to be the claimant and he did whisk away those top 3 points with the stage win, although it was Dani Sordo who was second quickest who with additional 2 points took the Rally victory. After Loeb's retirement, Citroen team seemed to have caught in a landslide without any good results, but now they had the moment to finally jump off their seats & rejoice with two cars finishing at the podium, with Mikko taking the final podium step.

Latvala completed third quickest through the stage to claim the final bonus point, and Thierry Neuville the weekend's brave young driver seems to have encountered some issue to not be competitive and slips off the top 5 in the stage results, with 32s down to Ogier, however he retains his second podium spot. Job well done! Robert Kubica wins the WRC-2 class, Elfyn Evans & Hayden Paddon complete the top three, respectively.

For the next round, WRC travels across the Indian ocean to Rally Australia in second week of September.
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Spaniard Leads at the end of [Tragic] Day 3 - ADAC Rally Germany | WRC - 2013

Saturday's stages were expected to be more brutal for the top contenders, and it certainly was to most of the top players. With Sebastien Ogier's early exit from the possibilities to the top step, literally the rally has turned to be a game of 'musical chair'! Although not in the pursuit of a podium chances, Seb surely looking to collected any points that could be at disposal and was definitely 'right foot heavy'.

SS9 Stein & Wein 1 [26.54km] - went straight into the bag of Ogier. He finished 3.5s quicker than the Citroen tarmac specialist Dani Sordo. The other Polo R driver JM Latvala & Fiesta RS driver Thiery Neuville too quickly passed through just 4s down the stage winner. Mikko Hirvonen too displayed a better driving pace [as compared to last year], although 9.4s down, still not that bad.

In WRC-2, Robert Kubica was doing his best to hold his lead, with a very close gap with Elfyn Evans, who passed to top with 2.5s overall at the end of the stage. New Zealander Hayden Paddon too took a step over and finished third overall, with Sepp Wiegand dropping to 4th overall by 3.5s.

SS10 Peterberg 1 [9.23km] - Dani Sordo, yes, the Spaniard who went fastest through the stage! Latvala & Ogier were closely down, surprising stage win indeed! Neuville & Evgeny Novikov were the next in top 5. However in WRC-2, Kubica regains his lost position, 3.6s up against Evans, and Paddon in battle with Wiegand for comfy third.

SS11 Arena Panzerplatte 1 [41.08km] - The most awaited, dreadful and longest of the rally was the next in the passing & it happened with much big drama. Of course, Ogier won the stage, as Sordo, Latvala were quickly behind in top 3 and Neuville & Mikko finished in top 5. The battle in the WRC-2 was on as in the earlier stages, between Evans & Kubica and the latter kept his top position, although the Welsh was quickest through.

A quick mid-day service separated the repetition of the morning stages in the noon, and filled the stages with real drama with the top lot of the WRC players. It had started raining in many parts of the stages and made the narrow sealed surface a lot greasy.

SS12Mads Ostberg was first to take a walk along the German countryside after an off, but before him it was perhaps Latvala fell for the spell, went wide in a corner, sideways, on to a pile of timber and damaged his right rear wheel. He ran after the hit, but the wheel steered him off the road a little further, never to recover back to the road.

Neuville too did the same as the Finn, but was lucky enough to pick apiece of the timber itself all-through the stage. In the process he damaged his exhaust, lost considerable power till the stage end. Although he stopped at the transport section to pull it out and free his car of carrying the additional misery, but the retirement of Latvala put him on the top of the list, even though Sordo was faster than him. Ogier claimed the stage win, when the rest of the field were struggling. In WRC-2, the musical chair was on between Kubica and Evans, and the latter moved a step higher at the end of the stage. Paddon was third, but Wiegand very closely behind.

SS13 - with Neuville's battered Fiesta RS vs' the perfectly in shape DS3, the Spaniard flew through to win another stage, although Ogier had a perfectly functioning Polo R finished second. This also relinquished the top step to Sordo who took the rally leadership.

SS14 - But something really terrible happened before in the support category of historic class of cars, when a pair Dutch competitors crashed their historic rally car at SS Arena Panzerplatte 2. As they jumped off the Gina crest, and crashed out of the road. Despite, frantic efforts by the Medical team, it proved fatal for the duo. With this terrible tragedy in hand, the organisers cancelled the stage and so the day ended. For quite sometime, there was news/rumours flying around about organisers calling the rally to an end, however, later it was made official the rally will continue as per the next day's itinerary.

As the excitement was building up, an unfortunate incident flooded all the cheering with this really tragic news. At Ralli Heart, we extend our deepest condolences to the departed souls and their near & dear ones.

Special stage Dhrontal, opens up the final day's action, while its repetition being the 'Power Stage' will mark and decides the victory. So who will win, the Spaniard or the Belgian?

Overall top5 at the end of day 3.
Pos     No         Driver                       Time            Diff / Prev     Diff / 1st
1.3D. SORDO2:43:
2.11T. NEUVILLE2:43:49.3+0.8+0.8
3.2M. HIRVONEN 2:45:16.1+1:26.8+1:27.6
4.21M. PROKOP2:49:54.8+4:38.7+6:06.3
5.74R. KUBICA2:51:21.6+1:26.8+7:33.1

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Gaurav Gill leads Malaysian Rally - Day 1 | APRC - 2013

Rally Malaysia, the 4th round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship kick-started at Angsana complex early Friday. With a single 2.5 km short stage, the competition begun and it was Gaurav Gill in his Team MRF Skoda Fabia who took the early lead. His team-mate the Finn Esapekka Lappi finished second.

As expected the rain had made the road surface very slippery, leaving the competitors struggling for grip in the tight and muddy corners. However the opening shorter stage proved of things to come in the next set of stages, in the Tai Tak Plantation tomorrow.

In two-wheel-drive category Michael Young in his Cusco Toyota Vitz will battle with  Hiroshi Asakura in a Proton Satria Neo.

Tomorrow the action shifts north of the capital, Johor Bahru, over seven stages over 130 kilometres of closed special stages early in the morning. See you there!


Results courtesy [www.malaysianrally.com]
1 2 Gaurav Gill IND
Skoda Fabia S2000 00:02:15.2
2 1 Esapekka Lappi FIN
Skoda Fabia S2000 00:02:20.4
3 3 Yuya Sumiyama JPN
Subaru Impreza 4WD 00:02:23.7
4 6 Shuhei Muta JPN
Subaru Impreza 4WD 00:02:36.2
5 5 Tomohide Hasegawa JPN
Mitsubishi Lancer 4WD 00:02:52.6
6 8 Michael Young NZL
Toyota Vitz RS 00:02:52.9
7 7 Horishi Asakura JPN
Proton Satria Neo 00:02:56.2
8 4 Sanjay Takle IND
Subaru Impreza 4WD 00:02:56.6
9 9 Chaiyan Longton THA
Suzuki Swift 00:03:03.4
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Latvala leads, as Ogier crashed on Day 2 - ADAC Rally Germany | WRC - 2013

Sebastien Ogier - the overnight leader, lead the pack on day 2 of ADAC Rally Deutschland, as the event moved towards the vineyard roads on the north-eastern country side of the Trier, Germany. Although it rained in the morning on the stages, it dried up considerably soon after sometime.

As always a calm and confident looking Ogier took the day's first stage start, about 5km into the SS3 under-estimates the wetness lurking right at the braking point, skids off the road into a ditch, hitting a stepped surface in the process and damages his left-front suspension. Getting the car back on the road and a temporary repair cost him dearly, and during so, those looses vital minutes, but manages to limp out of the stage.

Jari-Matti Latvala passes him in the stage, so did Thierry Neuville who also out-timed JML to claim the stage win. Ogier dropping from the quest of rally winning chances, promotes the down-order in one each step up towards the top position. Daneil Sordo & Mikko Hirvonen is elevated to 3rd and 4th overall in the process. PG Andersson too falls victim to the opening stage and damages right-rear suspension of his Fiesta RS, and retires.

In the following stage, SS4 Moselland 1, the limping Polo R breaks down and puts Ogier into the retirement list. The young Belgian Neuville surprises once more with his pace and sets another fastest time to claim the stage win. Latvala & Sordo fall a tad shorter in few seconds.

SS8 Grafschaft 1 [19.94km] was the next stage to tackle before the mid-day service break, for many of the cars and here too Neuville showed his pace and clinched a straight 3 consecutive stage win with this one too! Latvala, Sordo, Mikko & Mads Ostberg were the next quick finishers on the top 5 list.

With the cars & crews refreshed with the break, the rally returned to the repitition of the morning loops. Once again it was Thierry fast pace that pretty much shocked most of us, Latvala returned much confident out of the first noon stage and soon finished quicker than everyone on the remainder of the next two stages to end the day. "Car is lovely, I really like driving it.," says JML with a smile.

Neuville slips 7.3s overall at the end of SS8, explains "a lot of the stage I was maximum flat out...I cannot do more actually....when I see the splits I am a little frustrated." Mikko looked almost plain, but says, "I'm happy with the pace I had today. Rally still long and things can happen."

Overall top5 at the end of day 2.
Pos     No         Driver                       Time            Diff / Prev     Diff / 1st
1.7J. LATVALA1:38:
2.11T. NEUVILLE1:38:11.4+7.3+7.3
3.2M. HIRVONEN 1:38:30.4+19.0+26.3
4.3D. SORDO1:38:51.7+21.3+47.6
5.4M. ÖSTBERG1:40:16.4+1:24.7+2:12.3
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ADAC Rally Germany - Day 1 | WRC - 2013, Ogier is the Leader !

Opening day of ADAC Rallye Deutschland [i.e., Rally Germany as most of us know] being the first of the proper tarmac rally of the WRC season, was also the home event of Volkswagen Motorsport. The grand ceremonial flag off was held in the city of Cologne in front of the historic Cathedral, late in the afternoon. 

Evening was the time for the real action and it began with SS1, where Sebastien Ogier started the rally and also took the stage win, nearly 5s ahead of his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. Qatar M-Sport's Thierry Neuville showed his pace here as he did in Finland and was third quickest. Sordo & Mikko, the Citroen boys finished in 4th and 5th respectively. Almost everyone experienced lack of grip and complained of understeer, however the Russian Evgeny Novikov crashed in the stage and thus ended his rally at the beginning on the opening day.

The brilliant itinerary accommodated SS2 en-route [a few kilometers down the road from the end of SS1], which ended almost near to the Service Park in Trier, Germany. The stage results were virtually the same of the first one and it just parted the gap with the top 5.

Today's stages were mostly over the plains, however tomorrow's [Friday] action shifts to the tight and fast roads around the vineyard. It is surely going to be a good fight with the VW boys and the tarmac loving drivers.

Pos     No         Driver                       Time            Diff / Prev     Diff / 1st
1.8S. OGIER19:
2.7J. LATVALA19:38.9+5.7+5.7
3.11T. NEUVILLE19:45.9+7.0+12.7
4.3D. SORDO19:53.7+7.8+20.5
5.2M. HIRVONEN19:58.9+5.2+25.7

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What is going to be new in 2014? FIA announces 'Hill Climb Masters' !

FIA announces a new breed of World Motorsport Event, titled,
'Hill Climb Masters'. 

The new challenge of its own kind emerges to enthrall the motorsport aficionados'. Check this below announcement by the global supreme authority of motorsport, has broken the news a few minutes ago.

New in 2014: the FIA Hill Climb Masters
During its last meeting the World Motor Sport Council gave the go-ahead for the creation of a new prestigious FIA hill climb competition: the “FIA Hill Climb Masters”.
Tue 06.08.13, 9:09AM

In the landscape of the various forms of motor sport, hill climb is a discipline which stands alone, yet it is also one of the longest-standing disciplines, with events dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century and the first European Championship of the AIACR (which would later become the FIA) in 1930.

Practised in over 20 European countries, but also on other continents (the most famous being Pikes Peak, a climb that has been held in Colorado, in the United States, since 1916), the acme of hill climb is the FIA European Hill Climb Championship, with 13 events held in 11 countries. In addition to the European Championship, there is a Championship reserved for historic cars (12 events) and two other series called the FIA International Hill Climb Challenge and the FIA European Hill Climb Cup (11 events).

With national and international competitions, the calendar is full and the pool of drivers is fundamentally amateur. It is therefore difficult to convince competitors to take part in one championship for the entire season, particularly given the current economic climate.

The idea therefore emerged to create a single event, at the end of the season (mid-October), to showcase the discipline and to celebrate national and FIA champions of the year gone by. Thus the “FIA Hill Climb Masters” concept was born, following a similar format to that of Masters practised in a number of other sporting disciplines. In the same way as these other sports, the organisation of the Masters will be on a rotational basis, of a minimum 3-year period, and awarded to countries and events in a position to attract a maximum number of champions, bearing in mind that they will come, for the most part, from all over Europe, and to guarantee a quality of organisation and promotion which enhances the prestige of the discipline.

Clash of champions, clash of nations

The Masters will bring together the winners of national championships recognised by the ASNs, as well as the winners of the FIA Championship, Challenge and Cup. For this event, each of the champions will have to race behind the wheel of the car which he has been using during the season.

The Masters will include two classifications: an individual classification, where the winners will be awarded gold, silver or bronze medals, and a Nations Cup. Since thee equipment entered and its level of performance may differ between the participants with varied backgrounds, the classification of the Nations Cup will be based on a regularity index, rather than sheer speed. Therefore, a nation which does not enter a prototype or single-seater could still aim to win, just as a nation which has drivers in its ranks capable of going for overall individual victory.

“All the events of the FIA European Hill Climb Championship are very popular,” explained, Paul Gutjahr, President of the FIA Hill Climb Commission. “The number of competitors in each event often exceeds 150 and sometimes approaches 250. Many national events also regularly reach 150 entries. But hill climb is a discipline of amateur drivers, who work Monday to Friday; most of these enthusiasts, even if they are champions in their own country, cannot travel up hill and down dale to take part in events abroad. The Masters being a single event, we can attract these drivers, particularly in light of the fact that, for those selected, it will be a kind of apotheosis, coupled with the pride of representing their nation. Moreover, the Masters will be an occasion to bring together drivers who never compete against each other. We want to make this the climax of the hill climb season, in an atmosphere which is both sporting and celebratory.”

Following this green light from the World Motor Sport Council on the concept of the competition, over the summer, the Hill Climb Commission will work on creating sporting regulations (including the exact criteria for the qualification of drivers) for this “Hill Climb Masters” and a list of requirements for the organisers, on the basis of which countries and organisers will be able to submit their candidature in view of the future editions of this new and promising competition.

Check the official press release here..
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A Fantastic Showdown to a Spectacular Rally - Neste Oil Rally Finland, 2013

On the final day with only 8 stages left, totalling to 130.20 km, and with the first stage SS16 Surkee 14.95 kms scheduled at 8:26 local time. Overnight the rally stewards decided to change the stage time for Chris Meeke, as he was blocked by Evgeny Novikov in SS8, yesterday and hence lost a lot of time, also with a damage to the front of his car and windscreen.

SS16 Surkee 1 - 14.95 km, and it was Mini WRC driver Riku Tahko who was the first into the stage, "Was nice , no problems, quite nice to drive there," said the local boy at the of the stage, after a clean run. Next was Jari-Matti Latvala, "We touch something on the right hand corner going uphill… The main thing is to enjoy driving, it is nice to get to the Ouninpohja," says the VW's Flying Finn.

It was much of a clean run for most of the drivers, except to Kris Meeke  who had a 360 spin, "At the last junction I lost maybe 10-seconds. I think it was the right decision (Stewards decision to change his time on stage 8), but yesterday was yesterday and today is today." Mads Ostberg took the stage win with a 2 seconds gap from the Finns', Mikko, while Sebastien Ogier with 5.5secs down said, "I am not in a position to take a risk, I took a bit of time to start my day. The first one I prefer to start like that and get the rhythm."

SS17 Leustu 1 - 9.65 km, Volkswagen driver Latvala was not quite confident with his car and says, "Its okay, generally happy with everything. On this stage I was trying to be more precise with the driving style. I realise that I need more kilometres in the car on fast roads." Meeke, Mikko and Mads were feeling better than the other guys who drove through earlier, while Thierry Neuville enjoying his outing in the Finnish forest roads to a stage win, said, "The rhythm is very good, that was a very good stage, not perfect but it was good. There are small mistakes in the stage, over the jump the car went sideways and I had to lift the throttle, I lose 1 or 2 seconds. Now we should fight once for a good position."Again Ogier was cautiously picking up his speed and rhythm, as he had a good gap between the nearest contestant.

SS18 Ouninpohja 1 - 33.01 km, the legendary stage with blind crests and super-fast gravel road in a World Rally Car, and it happened to be a bit of a slippery conditions to Novikov, Tahko, Juho Hanninen, and Latvala,and Dani Sordo had a little moment on a hairpin, had to reverse to continue. A.Mikkelsen was happy with his drive and said, "To drive it in the Volkswagen is amazing, the amount of grip you have with this tyre is amazing. Hopefully next year we can go maximum attack!", so did Kris Meeke who was for the first time in a WRC car, that too after a gap of 7 years, said, "I always dreamt of Finland in a world rally car and the Citroen have given me the chance."

Mikko was okay with his outing, and Thierry had a small scare, as he explains, "I just hit very slightly the barrier, otherwise good time." Mads was not really happy with his pace through the stage and Ogier was loving it, "I said I dream to do this stage in a world rally car and that was just amazing… We can go even a bit faster this afternoon," and took the stage win to his kitty.

SS19 Painaa 1 - 7.49km, was last stage left to mid-day service, and most importantly the second run of this stage was the final Power Stage of the rally so it became a priority test for everyone. But not very good omen for Tahko, as he hardly had any rubber left on this wheels, Juho was enjoying the stage, and so did Latvala and the rest of the cars. The podium contenders had mixed outcome on their first outing, and it was Mads once again, who took the stage win. Ogier was not clear on his real motive here, as he said, "I just drive through. We will see, I don't think we need anymore points (from the power stage)."

After a much needed good service break, both cars and crews, the first stage of afternoon, SS20 Surkee 2, and it was Riku Tahko in his Prodrive John Cooper Works Mini WRC who started the re-run of the morning stages, and was a bit okay and not! Juho explains, "Okay rough, but this is normal, more than 100 cars went through… For sure you can do much faster." Latvala was gaining confidence as he progressed through the day and was feeling better at the end of SS20. PG Andersson had his car a bit tweeked setup and was gaining confidence too.

Evgeny explains his setup, "We changed the diff (in service)." Sordo was a bit too cautious due to his soft tyres, said "Little bit of this stage very broken, the car touch everywhere (bottoming)." Mikko had his share of scare, "Its alright. There is so much rock, we hit one rock, we did not know it was there. We did the gamble with the tyre and hopefully it will help us." Weird feeling for Thierry "I thought I had a puncture, rear left. I had to be a bit more careful towards the end, I was not sure. I was pushing and I felt something on the rear, so I slow down a bit." For Mads and Ogier it was okay stage as they were more into car saving mode, though funnily Ogier was the quickest through the test.

JWRC podium ceremony
SS21 it was quite a disaster for Jarkko Nikara who knocked his front right wheel off his Mini WRC, said "There was something in the ruts, I try to take quite carefully but I hit something." It was a scary ride for Mikko said, "We nearly rolled, it is so bumpy, it was just one rut, it was a massive hole. It jumped completely on 2 wheels..", Mads, "We had a half spin at a junction, I just don't know what happened. That was not good. It felt like I lost the power", Sebastien Ogier, "It's okay, no problem at all, but for sure there are some sections that are so rough", Neuville, "Thats good, we try, but it is very rough, we have to be careful in some places, We must do really well there (next stage). We have some tyre wear with the new differential, I struggle a little bit with this", and takes the stage win.

SS22, Ouninpohja 2, the re-run of classic and Latvala explains his experience, "Its very difficult, it was a pretty good stage for me. The tyres started moving towards the end. It was one of my best runs through Ouninphja." Andersson explains, "I was quite careful as I clipped a rock early on and this is one of those stages where you don't want to have a flat turning in." Russian Rocket Novikov, "Of course we tried, but you have to be very confident here with the pace notes to drive 100%."

It was a rally disaster for Kris Meeke as he rolled his Citroen DS3 WRC, his follower Mikko Hirvonen explains, "It was just slippy, it was still damp in some places, especially in the small road in the end. We had to slow down a little bit where Chris (Meeke) was off." Mads Ostberg explains his scare "Maybe 25 kilometres into it, there was a massive rock in the road, so I had to go off the road to avoid it. The stone was far too massive and I had to avoid it otherwise it would have been the end of the rally."

Thierry Neuville who was flat-out all the rally, says "It was very, very fast everywhere, but then I got the split from Mads (Ostberg) and when I see the car of Chris (Meeke) off the road, I slow down. There is possibility to be quicker. It is very easy to drive, I just love this car." Sebastien Ogier had a big hit on a front tyre but still inflated, says "A lot of tyre but the tyre were completely gone at the end. Still we got the (stage) record here. The rear of the car was sliding a lot." and took the stage win to his records.

In the WRC2, Jari Ketomaa was enjoying, though a bit cautiously, Hayden Paddon said "Just thought we had a puncture… Quite a funny feeling with the car moving all over the place." Former F1 driver Robert Kubica says, "We driving safe mode. Everything okay."

Finally in the Power Stage SS23 Painaa 2, the re-run of  the morning stage, Thierry Neuville goes pedal2metal and win's the bonus 3 points "Unbelievable the feeling, I think we have done a very good job. A good clean run, smooth run. We can do a big party tonight. I could not imagine, but the car was so nice, with this budget to beat the Citroen and the other Ford team it is unbelievable."

Jari-Matti Latvala takes the final bonus point, said "It's not going to give me 3-points… " Mikko Hirvonen (Citroen) 3:50.8 "We overshot 2 junctions a little bit, but it is finished now. We had our moments, we got to the finish in the end."
A much happier Mads Ostberg with his roller coaster ride to a third on the podium, "It has been a very good weekend and it has been good to be back and fight for a rally a whole weekend. We end up being 3rd, still it is very nice to be back and build the confidence back up. I was really looking forward to Finland, it has been difficult season so far. It has been fantastic."

Sebastien Ogier takes the two bonus points and most importantly, the Rally Victory says, "I am so happy to join Didier (Auriol) for the French one (non-Finnish rally winners). It has been a fantastic weekend. This weekend is just perfect, another big step to the title!"

It is a shame of what happened with Kris Meeke, who showed his potential but hit a DNF. Despite his first outing in 7 years, and first in a WRC car, he has shown the incredible speed, and definitely deserves a pat on the back. Well done! And what a performance by the young Belgian, who by just with 20 WRC starts has started commanding a podium finishes. Well done Thierry!

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Loads of Drama on Special Stages - Day 2, Rally Finland - 2013

Today was a perfect example to explain about Sebastien Ogier and his veteran compatriot Loeb. It takes loads of patience, perhaps even large quantities of skill combined with a super intelligent mind to take it towards the victory. Competitor after competitor, stage after stage the carnage of the gravel GP took its toll, yet Ogier was the one who fought like a knight to take a 5.2 seconds overnight deficit to a 38.1seconds lead on the penultimate day. To make story easier, all tiny details are better explained below!

A morning rally stages in a cool damp Finland @15C, with overnight rain and light drizzle still, meant slippery roads! Opening stage for the day, SS7 Jukojärvi 1 with a total stage distance of 21.9 km was the first challenge and almost everyone got through safely on the top order cars, but not so lucky with Elfyn Evans. He had to tackle with a damaged front right suspension of his Fiesta R5 rally, and fix it at the end of the stage.

SS8 Palsankylä 1 - 13.92 km, and the WRC carnage started to with Novikov's crash [yet makes it to the service later, without serious damage, amazing!]. In the process of completing the stage, he showering with gravel to the Citroen DS3 WRC driver Kris Meeke, who was quickly behind. Meeke certainly not happy, as Novikov's car blocked him, unable to overtake.

SS9 and the drama keeps coming, now it was Hanninen's mistake and a rally end to him, for the day after clipping a rock alongside the road.

SS10: No tragedies, but Meeke remarks "When I've got nobody in front I'm really, really enjoying it", hinting the frustration in SS8

SS11, marks end of road to Martin Prokop who was forced to retire after a water pump failure.

SS12 Mikko has damage to the front, although not serious but with had a front left puncture from his moment.

SS13 & this time Thierry Neuville picks up a front left puncture near the start, he drops nearly 20 seconds. 

SS14 & it's Andreas Mikkelsen this time into trouble, shows up with his 3 wheeled Polo. Literally! He lost a rear left wheel completely off with the damper, to the floor dragging to the finish. But the drama didn't end there, quickly Mads Ostberg arrived with a front left puncture.

With just one super special stage to end the day, it was a moment of truth as to who would be the opener of the final day. Sebastien Ogier! Not to miss it, but what a class performance by Neuville!

The young Belgian fought with the odds back to 2nd overall by the end of the day. Laudable! The same cheer goes to Kris Meeke who despite being first time in a WRC car in Finland finished the day in top 5.

Now by the end of the day, it is VW 1 & Ford 2 & 3.. Check EOD timings here. Until tomorrow, sayonara!
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Day 1 Concludes, Quite a Bit of Drama on the Stages at Rally Finland - 2013

Sebastien Ogier opened the first stage win, Latvala came close in second, while Mikko clocked third quickest. The second stage, Torittu 1 got dramatic to VW boys after a bit of drama at the top 2 positions, as Ogier slipped down to get out 5th fastest, and Latvala hit a rock damaging the left-rear suspension and bled a lot of time finishing 35th.

Latvala narrates, "It happened just before the road widened, on a right hand corner over a crest," explained the Finn. "The car lifted and went wide and we hit a stone on the outside which broke the rear suspension." One man's agony is another man's opportunity, M-Sport's Fiesta WRC driver Thierry Neuville literally flew through the stage to claim the stage win, equalling Mikko on the top of the overall leadership status.

In SS3 Koukunmaa, Ogier took the stage victory, but was not enough to reclaim his top overall position. Neuville was very much behind Ogier with under a second and maintained his top rank. The impared VW pair with four more stages to complete without any service, Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila worked on to repair their car frantically. Later, the duo checked into SS3 being 28 minutes late, incurring a 4min 40sec penalty and also adding another vital three minutes after carefully cruising through the stage to finish the day.
Latvala realised that the suspension was getting worse and decided to call it a day at the end of SS4. With the lost advantage of another 2m30s in the repeat of the SS4 Torittu 2, it was inevitable to save the car for atleast tomorrow's action in Rally 2. It was the turn of stage win to Mikko in SS4 and to move upwards to equal first overall held by Neuville, while Ogier slipped to 3rd.

SS5 was the most dramatic, with showers in the middle of the stage, left the downhill part of the stage rutted and filled with water. Mikko lost nearly 16seconds and was left fuming with the situation, after dropping to 5th overall. The situation was almost same with most of the competition, who most of them barely racing in the narrow rainy gravel road section. Ogier, Neuville and most of them experienced fog inside the cabin due to steam arising from the drenched hot parts of the car.

Killeri was the celebrity super special, with Tommi Makinen entertaining the crowd with the classic Mitsubishi Evo3 Grp A rally car. Here again, Neuville took the stage victory and is the overnight leader of he pack. Ogier finished the day at second overall and Mads Ostberg in third. That being two fords in top-3, M-Sport boss should be a happy man.

In WRC-2 category, Jari Ketomaa leads the pack with Robert Kubica under 24 seconds deficit, while Elfyn Evans is right under the former F1 driver nose, a close 2 seconds short.

The action starts tomorrow morning, with SS7 Jukojärvi 1 at 21.9 km, it is one of the longest for tomorrow. Until tomorrow, Adios!
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Pirelli to Join the existing band of tire suppliers, Michelin, D'MACK and Hankook in 2014

FIA, the international motorsport authority announced that Pirelli, one of the most prominent global tyre manufacturer is shown interest to be one of the tyre supplier for WRC. Below is the official press release by the FIA.

The FIA is pleased to confirm that four manufacturers have registered to supply tyres to the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship.
DMACK, Hankook and Michelin continue to support the Championship and will be joined by Pirelli for next season.

FIA Rally Director, Jarmo Mahonen said: “We are obviously very pleased to have competition between four manufacturers next year, three of whom are already supporting our Championships. Having Pirelli return to the series is also very positive, and together these four brands will provide a great platform for open competition as well as choice and variety for our competitors.”

They were out of WRC by the end of season 2010, and it is indeed a good omen to the sport. Hope more competition fields up in every area of the sport.
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