WRC 2017, the seat hunt of the reigning 4-time World Champs!

WRC 2017 the hunt for the seat!

As speculated, Sebastien Ogier flew immediately back to Europe after the culmination of the 2016 season final event of Rally Australia. He & his co-driver Julien Ingrassia also missed the WRC Gala for the hunt of new car for the upcoming, newer cars for 2017 season.

Toyota Yaris WRC 2017 during a test
Toyota Yaris WRC, from the Finnish outfit under the name Toyota Gazoo Racing at the helm of Tommi Makinen was the first of it. He reportedly tested the new WRC car of the lot, at Spain on both tarmac (wet conditions) and gravel roads.

Happy Tommi Makinen
Tommi being an 4-time world rally champ himself, had no confirmation about the signup of the reinging 4-time world champ, but was eager to have him onboard.
"Like I said, we are talking to the drivers, but we didn't make the offer yet.
"The problem we have is for the car availability.
"We will run with just the two cars until the spring time and Juho [Hanninen] will be driving on all of the rallies."

Sebastien Ogier & Julien Ingrassia Fiesta'ing a gravel stage
After a quick testing of the Yaris WRC on wednesday, the duo left towards Cumbria for the testing of MSport's Fiesta WRC weaponry.

With Hyundai almost denying a seat for the driveless world champion in their stable, and Citroen not willing to arrange a test drive without a signed contract, Ogier's wish to test all the 4 cars before making decision were left with just 50 percent of the chances of the next gen WRC car's lineup.

An excited Malcom Wilson, said
"The test went well. The car performed very well all day. I have to say it looked very impressive from where I was watching from, it was great to see Seb in the car."
Happier Malcom Wilson!
"People had told me before how straightforward and easy he was to work with and that's just how I found him," he said.
"I was really pleased with the respect shown from him and Julien [Ingrassia, co-driver] and our guys.
"The car started the test in the same set-up it had been when Ott [Tanak] was driving it yesterday.
"Seb drove it like that, then came back and made some changes - he was keen to see how the car felt when he'd made some specific changes. And the good news was that the sun was shining!"
Ogier & Ingrassia soon left to Hannover, for the season ending party (one last time at) Volkswagen Motorsport.

What a musical chair run-up for the top runner! As they notoriously say, "anything is possible"!

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RFC India Winners Head for RFC Grand Finale, Malaysia

After winning RFC India 2016, Chandigarh’s Gurmeet Virdi and Kirpal Singh Tung get ready to battle it out in Malaysia in the RFC 2016 Grand Final

Gurmeet Virdi (left) and co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung
Chandigarh, November 22, 2016: After creating history in July at Force Gurkha RFC India 2016 by becoming the first Indian duo to win the country’s toughest off-road motorsport event, Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh’s Gurmeet Virdi and Kirpal Singh Tung are all set to hoist the Indian flag in the Malaysian soil at the 20th edition of the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) Grand Final. To be held from 25th November to 5th December, RFC 2016 Grand Final is going to be a mega clash of the best offroaders from across the globe, as they compete for the winner’s trophy at the 2016 Edition of one of the world’s top ten toughest motor races.

RFC Grand Final is the culmination of the Global RFC Series, which has 25 editions worldwide in countries like India, Australia, Russia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Korea, Myanmar, Ukraine, Balkans, South Europe and North Europe among others. The event was launched in India in 2014 by Delhi-based Cougar Motorsport Pvt. Ltd. and despite being only three editions old, RFC India is today proclaimed by the entire Indian off-road community as the toughest off-road motorsport event of the country.

As per RFC India format, the top Indian driver of the competition gets a free automatic entry to RFC Grand Final. Therefore, Gurmeet will be representing India at the global series’ finale this year. This is the second time that an Indian team would be competing in RFC Grand Final and it is also Gurmeet’s second attempt at this mega event. In 2014, he was the co-driver of the first ever Indian team that participated in RFC Grand Final. This time round, Gurmeet will be competing as the driver while Tung will support him as his navigator.

As per Mr. Luis J.A. Wee, the Founder of the Rainforest Challenge, “It’s really wonderful to see our current RFC India champion making it to the mother event RFC in Malaysia. I am very sure that the skills that Gurmeet & Kirpal have displayed in Goa will be put to good use competing against the other internationals. They are also both very cool players, and such traits plus their improved driving and recovery skills will add to their advantage. So, good luck and best wishes to our Indian champion team!”

This year’s special 20th edition of RFC Grand Final will take place in Pahang, the biggest state in peninsula Malaysia and a tropical paradise for sports & adventure based tourism. The event will have twenty four Special Stages (SS) that will be divided into four progressively difficult competitive legs - the Prologue, the Predator, the Terminator and the Twilight Zone. The competition will test the competitors’ strength, endurance, driving and vehicle recovery skills under extreme off-road conditions and the team with the maximum points at the end of all the SS will be announced as the winner.

Wishing the Indian team luck for the upcoming competition, Force Motors Ltd’s Managing Director Mr. Prasan Firodia said, “Force Motors would like to wish Gurmeet and team good luck for RFC Malaysia 2016. His performance at Force Gurkha Rainforest Challenge, India has raised the bar of Indian off-roading. May he bring the Winner’s trophy back to India!”

For Gurmeet, participating in RFC Grand Final 2014 was a true test of his survival instincts and unlike anything he had experienced before. In contrast to RFC India, where the competitors had a decently-sized support team to take care of the team’s food and other requirements, in Malaysia they had to fend for themselves throughout the competition, having only a skeleton support team of 2 mechanics.

Recounting his experience at RFC Grand Final 2014, Gurmeet said, “We faced a lot of issues with our vehicle and had to deal with all mechanical faults ourselves. Ultimately we had to bow out of the competition because of vehicle failure. It did not really affect us then, as we were happy just to have competed against such renowned and experienced international offroaders, that too in our dream event! However, this is my second attempt at RFC Grand Final and we are very serious about the competition. That’s why we have been extremely careful in our selection of vehicle. After extensive research, we have finalized a Suzuki Samurai, with a 3000 cc turbo engine, which meets all RFC specifications. We are very confident about our technique and skills and are sure that we can give a tough competition to other international offroaders. After all, throughout RFC India 2016 we competed neck-to-neck against and ultimately scored more than Tan Eng Joo and Merwyn Lim, who have won RFC Grand Final multiple times! If the vehicle supports us till the end, then I am quite hopeful of getting a podium finish at RFC Grand Final 2016.”

Gurmeet’s confidence is also due to the exceptional navigation skills of his co-driver, who has a major role to play in RFC. “Kirpal has the spirit of a champion and the patience required to handle pressure situations. He is extremely fit and proactive and comes up with quick and practical solutions to problems. We share a very strong rapport and understand each other well, which makes for a great team work. I am happy that he is accompanying me for the upcoming competition. If he had not agreed to be my navigator, I would not have participated in RFC Grand Final 2016.”

Cougar Motorsport’s Founder & Director Mr. Ashish Gupta is keeping his fingers crossed for the duo and hopes to see some amazing offroad action from them in the upcoming competition. He said, “Both of them are seasoned offroaders and Gurmeet’s graph has steadily grown over the last three years at RFC India. At this year’s edition, they displayed international level of skill and technique that ultimately resulted in their historic win. Since the toughness quotient of RFC India is quite high and they nailed it beautifully, I am confident that the Indian team will give a very tough competition to the other teams at the RFC Grand Final.”
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No rebranded Skoda WRC for 2017, based on VW Polo R WRC


Skoda Motorsport CEO, Bernhard Maier has announced that there will be no Skoda branded WRC car from technology lifted from the fully developed & recently abandoned VolksWagen Polo R WRC. 

In the past couple of day, there was rumour that VW might enter into the top level WRC category, from its fully developed Polo R WRC under its sister brand Skoda. With the homologation process being still active for the developed car, it was natural to such speculations.

On a reply to this, Bernhard said, "It will not happen. We have enjoyed success in rallying and we are enjoying success in rallying, in the WRC2 category.

"We have a successful customer programme that doesn't cost us money and could earn us the championship, so why would I change that?

"Doing more is not always better - what would we bring ourselves in addition to what we are already achieving in rallying?

"A WRC2 championship is fine for Skoda - certainly it provides the best return on money invested, because it does not really cost us."

With this annoucement, it is likely that the 4-time championship winning car will disappear into the dust cloud of its own. A shame indeed!
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Volkswagen Motorsport exits WRC from 2017!

Four times consecutive world champions - Ogier, Ingrassia and Volkswagen Motorsports, Polo R WRC

In an absolute surprise (shocker!?) against what everybody were anticipating of the great battle for the title at the top level of rallying with the newer, more powerful cars in WRC from the upcoming season onwards, Volkswagen Motorsport breaks the hard news of exiting. With the new specification Polo R WRC car recently homologated(?), it was really a hard surprise for everyone following and cheering for WRC campaign.

The announcement explains their shift in horizon towards Electric Vehicles, which are posed to be the future of personal and mass mobility. With the Audi & Toyota brandishing their vehicles at WEC, and the newer Formula E on the news, the move by the VW's may not be shocking though! With this news, the future seats for the crew of VW is wide open for the upcoming and unconfirmed teams. 

2017 spec VW Polo R WRC during recent test.
MSport, Toyota, have a better bargain because of this, but for the sport, loosing a leading manufacturer is not a good news in any perspective. Hyundai and Citroen already have announced their driver-lineup, but however a reconsidering to inducting the 4-time world champion looking for a seat, might shake it up.

As confirmed by the VW Motorsports division, that newly developed car or the current spec will not be available for a customer program. So that leaves most of us wondering and disappointing to loose those super spectacular cars eating dust in their museum or at a car show!? The complete news release, here.
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