WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2018

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VM kalendern 2018
25-28 jan Monte Carlo  
15-18 febr Rally Sweden  
8-11 mars Mexico  
5-8 april Frankrike  
26-29 april Argentina  
17-20 maj Portugal  
7-10 juni Italien  
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4-7 okt England  
25-28 okt Spanien  
15-18 nov Australien  
 


18-01-29 The true unsung heroes of WRC
Séb Ogier couldn't have won without his ice-note crew. But who exactly are they?
See that patch of ice? Yes, the one the sun’s just starting to catch the corner of. The ambient temperature is -2°C and I need to know whether that ice will be melted in precisely one hour.

Tell me now. Now.
Welcome to the world of the ice-note crew in the World Rally Championship. These are the genuine unsung heroes of the sport who have a very real input into the chances of a crew winning Rallye Monte-Carlo. By their own admission, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia couldn’t have won the event for a fifth consecutive – and sixth in total – time on Sunday without them.

Here is everything you need to know about them:
-Ice-note crews? They do what it says on the tin: they note where the ice is on the stages running through the French Alps.

-They? Just like the real-time rally crew, there’s a driver and a co-driver in the ice-note crew. All of the factory drivers have their own crew.

-The ice-noters are usually very experienced rally drivers and co-drivers – but almost as important is the personal relationship with the rally crew, their lives are in the ice-noters’ hands. Ogier and Ingrassia use Simon Jean-Joseph, a former Ford and Subaru factory driver and Jack Boyere, a super-experienced French co-driver.

-The ice-note crews are allowed through the stage one hour before the first car starts competing, but there’s always some jockeying for position at the start – everybody wants to be last in so they can offer the most up-to-minute, accurate weather information.

-The co-drivers in the rally car photocopy their pacenotes and their opposite number in the ice car will read the notes through the stage, marking the notes with changes voiced by their driver. These changes are then dictated from the ice car to the rally car before each stage.

-The ice car is the car used by the rally crew on the recce. It’s a standard, production car with full safety kit including roll cage and safety harnesses.

-Last week’s Rallye Monte-Carlo was an absolute nightmare for the safety crews. Ice on the first night, rain and mud on the first full day, then heavy snow and finally plenty of ice on the Col de Turini on the last day. The ice-note crews were making hundreds of changes to the pacenotes.

-The worst thing that can happen is a sudden drop in temperature – which happens regularly just as the sun’s coming up – which freezes a puddle in the braking zone. The consequences of that are a rally-ending crash. On the flip side, being too cautious and marking ice which has melted will slow the rally car down too much.

-Ice-note crews become gravel-note crews on the other asphalt WRC rounds. Instead of looking for ice, they’re looking for patches of gravel, mud or standing water which will affect corner speed after the rally crews have completed their pre-event recce.

-The lot of an ice-note crew is not always a happy one. They’re usually up and out at 0400 and the pressure is enormous, not just to get the changes right, but to deliver the changes as well. Ever tried using your mobile phone from the middle of the mountains?
18-01-29 Tuff inledning på 2018 WRC för Hyundai Motorsport i Rallye Monte-Carlo
Hyundai Motorsport avslutade ett tufft Rallye Monte-Carlo och inledning på 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) med endast en bil inom topp fem och några starka resultat i de avslutande fyra etapperna.

Dani Sordo tvingades dra sig tillbaka under lördagen efter att ha kört av vägen och utan möjlighet att dra nytta av Rally 2. Det lämnade Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team med endast två bilar under den sista dagen. Thierry Neuville och Andreas Mikkelsen siktade båda mot att avsluta rallyt på topp efter att ha stött på en del egna motgångar under helgen i Monte-Carlo.

Neuville sammanfattade teamets etappsegrar till sex efter att Neuville kört snabbast på SS15 och SS16 under söndagen. Dessutom körde han hem fyra poäng med en andraplats i Power Stage. Belgaren som tillsammans med kartläsare Nicolas Gilsoul redan kämpat sig tillbaka upp till sjundeplats under lördagen, tog sig till slut om Evans med en sekund. Tack vare ett misstag av Lappi slutade Neuville sedan på femte plats.
Mikkelsen hade redan startat om rallyt under Rally 2-regler på lördagen. Något som gjorde att han satte sitt fulla fokus på en stark avslutning i Power Stage. Norrmannen bestämde sig för att köra på fem mjuka däck under de fyra avslutande etapperna (vilka saknade servicestopp eller zon för däckbyte). Hans fart begränsades därför på de isiga vägarna upp mot Col de Turini, men därefter körde Mikkelsen starkt i SS15 för att ge Hyundai Motorsport en 1-2-position. Avslutningsvis körde han in som trea i Power Stage.

För Hyundai Motorsport blev första omgången av 2018 inte alls som planerat men Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC visade rejäl potential mot ett konkurrenskraftigt motstånd. Något som gör att man ser positivt på säsongen.

Nästa stopp i WRC-cirkusen är Rally Sweden den 15-18 februari. Hyundai Motorsport har tidigare tagit hem två pallplatser i Sverige med Thierry Neuville 2015 och Hayden Paddon 2016. Teamet ställer här upp med tre bilar där Mikkelsen och Neuville får sällskap av Paddon.

Slutresultat - Rallye Monte-Carlo
1 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC 4:18:55.5
2 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Toyota Yaris WRC +58.3
3 J. M. Latvala M. Anttila Toyota Yaris WRC +1:52.0
4 K. Meeke P. Nagle Citroën C3 WRC +4:43.1
5 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +4:53.8
6 E. Evans D. Barritt Ford Fiesta WRC +4:54.8
7 E. Lappi J. Ferm Toyota Yaris WRC +4:57.5
8 B. Bouffier X. Panseri Ford Fiesta WRC +7:39.5
9 C. Breen S. Martin Citroën C3 WRC +9:06.7

2018 FIA World Rally Championship - Förarmästerskapet
Efter omgång 1
1 S. Ogier 26
2 O. Tanak 18
3 J.M Latvala 17
4 K. Meeke 17
5 T. Neuville 14
6 E. Evans 8
7 E. Lappi 6
8 B. Bouffier 4
9 A. Mikkelsen 3
10 C. Breen 2
11 J. Kopecky 1

2018 FIA World Rally Championship – Konstruktörsmästerskapet
Efter omgång 1
1 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 33
3 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 33
3 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 18
4 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 14
18-01-28 Five in a row for Ogier
Frenchman holds off Tänak for home win at Rallye Monte-Carlo season opener. Defending FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier has made the perfect start to his bid to clinch a sixth drivers’ crown by mastering the elements to clinch his fifth Rallye Monte-Carlo in a row on home soil.

The M-Sport man began the final day of the season curtain-raiser 33.5sec ahead of the pursuing Ott Tänak following a sustained push from his Toyota rival, but he immediately quelled any thoughts the Estonian may have had of launching a late bid for glory by going 11.5sec faster than the Toyota Yaris driver on SS14 (La Bollene Vesubie - Peira Cava).

The tone was set, and with Tänak thereafter backing off to secure a superb second place on his debut for his new employer, Ogier could pace himself to the finish for a fifth consecutive victory in the principality.

“Rallye Monte-Carlo is a special event for me,” the Frenchman reflected. “I’ve always done well here – I seem to have a really good connection with my home rally – and I’m super happy to take another win.

"It's been a difficult weekend. You often have to face tough conditions here, but this one was extremely tricky. I've never struggled so much with tyre choice. It was all about trying to minimise mistakes, and I managed to make fewer than the others.

"I need to thank the team for the best possible start to the season, but it has also shown that the competition will be huge this year. It’s wide open – and I’m looking forward to it.”

Tänak was delighted to seal the runner-up spoils on his first outing with Toyota, 58.3sec adrift of Ogier but 53.7sec clear of Jari-Matti Latvala, who made it a podium double for the Japanese manufacturer.

Although unable to match his team-mate’s speed, the Finn was consistent throughout and happy to banish the memories of the Power Stage accident that cost him second place on the final event of 2017.

The Power Stage this time was dominated by Kris Meeke, who salvaged some consolation for Citroën at the end of a troubled weekend with fourth overall – 2min 51.1sec behind Latvala – and five additional points.

Meeke’s position had initially looked like going the way of Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi, but the young Finn made a costly mistake on SS17 (La Cabanette - Col de Braus), dropping him behind not only the Ulsterman but also Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans.

Neuville was the architect of a remarkable recovery in his Hyundai i20, battling back from opening day misfortune to overhaul Evans and Lappi with a determined effort. The Belgian ultimately fell just 10.7sec shy of similarly passing Meeke, finishing 1.0sec clear of Evans overall and 3.7sec ahead of Lappi.

2011 winner Bryan Bouffier came home eighth – the Frenchman losing time in a snow bank on SS16 (La Bollene Vesubie - Peira Cava) – with Craig Breen ninth in the second Citroën C3, the Irishman never recovering from a significant time loss as the ‘snow plough’ on Saturday morning. WRC 2 winner Jan Kopecky completed the final top 10.

Leading positions:
1. S Ogier FRA Ford Fiesta 4hr 18min 55.5sec
2. O Tänak EST Toyota Yaris + 58.3sec
3. J-M Latvala FIN Toyota Yaris +1min 52sec
4. K Meeke GBR Citroën C3 + 4min 43.1sec
5. T Neuville BEL Hyundai i20 +4min 53.8sec
18-01-28 Kris Meeke finishes just shy of podium
Today's fourth and final leg enabled the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews to showcase their skills. Whilst Craig Breen and Scott Martin set a third fastest time, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle snatched fourth place as they took maximum points on the Power Stage, claiming the C3 WRC's very first such win of its career. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT leaves the Principality in third position in the manufacturers' championship whilst and Kris Meeke lies fourth in the drivers' standings.
Peaking at just over 1,600 metres above sea level, the Col de Turini is one of the highlights of the event. The excitement surrounding this stage owes much to the atmosphere created by the large numbers of fans that line the roads and the invariably unpredictable weather. This year's running of the iconic Monte stage proved to be no exception, with twenty percent of the roads on the first loop covered in frost, mainly found on the Col de Turini's ultra-fast downhill section leading to Peira Cava.

An ability to read the level of grip accurately was necessary to keep out of trouble. Of the two Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews, Kris Meeke managed negotiate the loop best, with two studded Michelin tyres and two super softs, whilst Craig Breen opted for a mix of soft-compound tyres (4) and super softs (2). Both drivers then produced strong performances on the stage contested between La Cabanette and the Col de Braus, grouped together in third and fourth places.

Craig Breen confirmed his good form with a third fastest time on the second run over the legendary Col de Turini. Meanwhile, Kris Meeke showed strength and consistency to hold off some of his determined rivals, whilst helping himself to fourth place after claiming an encouraging win on the Power Stage. A positive end to the rally that meant he put seventeen points on the board in the drivers' standings and therefore made a good start to the season, whilst Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT scored eighteen points to end this opening round in third place in the manufacturers' championship.

WHAT THEY SAID
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"We had two different targets for Kris and Craig today: for Kris, the idea was to hold onto his position, whilst Craig was hoping to do well on the Power Stage, which is why they opted for differing tyre strategies. I'm pleased that Kris did what we asked of him – and more – in securing maximum points on the Power Stage. Craig was also on course for a good result in the Power Stage, but he lost a few seconds when he stalled on a hairpin. If it hadn't been for that, he would also have set a very good time."

Kris Meeke
"It was the hardest Monte-Carlo that I have ever experienced. We had everything: sheer ice on slick tyres on Thursday evening, rain on Friday, snow on Saturday and frost on the Col de Turini today. I'm surprised to finish the rally with seventeen points, but I'll certainly take them! We now have to stay humble and keep working hard to try and improve."

Craig Breen
"The weekend got off to a difficult start, with our mistake on Thursday evening. And then things went from bad to worse with the brake problems on Friday, which left us opening the road as something of a snow plough on Saturday. But we produced some good performances on a good few occasions, and did so again today on the dry tarmac. We now need to keep working in more changeable conditions, like those you typically get in Monte-Carlo."

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:18:55.5
Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 58.3
Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 1:52.0
Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) + 4:43.1
Neuville/Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 4:53.8
Evans/Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 4:54.8
Lappi/Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 4:57.5
Bouffier/Panseri (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 7:39.5
Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) + 9:06.7
Kopecky/Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) + 16:43.0

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Sébastien Ogier – 26 points
Ott Tänak – 18 points
Jari-Matti Latvala – 17 points
Kris Meeke – 17 points
Jari-Matti Latvala – 17 points
Thierry Neuville – 14 points
Elfyn Evans – 8 points
Esapekka Lappi – 6 points
Bryan Bouffier – 4 points
Andreas Mikkelsen – 3 points
Craig Breen – 2 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
M-Sport Ford WRT – 33 points
Toyota Gazoo Racing – 33 points
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT – 18 points
Hyundai WRT – 14 points
18-01-28 Uheldig Mikkelsen med sterk avslutning
Andreas Mikkelsen var svært uheldig i Rallye Monte-Carlo da han fikk løpet ødelagt med dynamoproblemer. Men 29-åringen slo hardt tilbake på den avsluttende etappen, og fikk med seg tre verdifulle VM-poeng.

Nordmannen, som er fabrikkfører for Hyundai Motorsport, gikk offensivt ut før årets sesong og uttalte at målet for 2018 var å bli verdensmester. Derfor var skuffelsen stor da han måtte bryte fredag med en ødelagt dynamo, etter å ha startet Rallye Monte-Carlo på en god måte. Sammen med kartleser Anders Jæger, kjempet de helt i toppen etter de tre første etappene, men fikk dynamoproblemer på vei til den fjerde fartsetappen.

De var tilbake på start lørdag, og det eneste det handlet om da var å sikre seg ekstra VM-poeng på den avsluttende fartsetappen søndag.
– Derfor tok vi et dekkvalg som kun var ideelt for power stage. Jeg synes vi gjorde en god jobb på den etappen, men veien tørket opp for hver bil som kjørte – og det gikk raskere og raskere. I og med at vi var første bil på veien, så var ikke det optimalt for oss. Kjøremessig fungerte det imidlertid bra, og jeg er veldig fornøyd etappen. Det holdt til tredjetid og tre VM-poeng, som er bedre enn null. Jeg lover å komme sterkere tilbake, sier Mikkelsen.

Neste mulighet er VM-runden i Sverige i midten av februar. Til uka skal han testen bilen på snø for første gang, og han tror det blir en positiv opplevelse.
– Jeg liker bilen veldig godt på grus, og det lover bra. For når en bil fungerer bra på grus, så er den som regel det også på snø. Det viste for øvrig også Thierry Neuville i Sverige i fjor. Så utstyret er nok i orden, sier han med en smil.
Sebastien Ogier, som har vunnet VM fem år på rad, åpnet årets sesong med seier i Rallye Monte-Carlo, foran Ott Tanak og Jari-Matti Latvala.

18-01-27 Estonian hot on tail of Frenchman heading into Rallye Monte-Carlo finale
Tänak gives chase to Ogier
Sébastien Ogier is just four speed tests away from a popular home WRC victory at Rallye Monte-Carlo, but the Frenchman will need to hold his nerve in the Sunday finale after impressive Toyota debutant Ott Tänak kept him on his toes throughout Saturday.

Ogier and Tänak began leg three of the season curtain-raiser separated by just under 15 seconds. Although the Frenchman had more than doubled that advantage come day’s end, the figures do not paint the full picture of a see-saw scrap that at one point saw him more than a minute clear.

The M-Sport man produced a virtuoso performance on the SS9 opener, maximising his favourable road position in treacherously snowy conditions to extend his lead over Tänak to 1min 18.4sec – but then the Estonian fought back.

Fastest on both SS10 and SS11 – notwithstanding an excursion into a field – by the time the cars headed back to evening service, the gap between the pair was just 33.5sec.

“Losing six seconds (to Tänak) on SS13 was what we had allowed for – I wanted to have at least 30 seconds in hand tonight, and that’s what we have,” reflected Ogier.

“We perhaps didn’t make the perfect tyre choice for today’s final stage – it was very dirty and we were a bit on the limit – but it’s ok.”

Tänak’s Toyota team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala briefly flirted with second spot himself – closing to barely 20 seconds shy after SS9 – before falling away and settling into a solid and lonely third place. The Finn’s cause was aided when Hyundai rival Dani Sordo crashed out of a podium position.

Latvala overhauled compatriot Esapekka Lappi in another Yaris as he moved up the order, with the younger Finn falling behind Britain’s Kris Meeke when a mistake precipitated a puncture on SS11.

Lappi spent the remainder of the day playing catch-up, with his dogged determination paying off as he narrowly reclaimed fourth spot from his Citroën rival on the final stage (SS13).

Elfyn Evans sits sixth overnight as the Welshman continues to battle back from opening day misfortune in his Ford Fiesta, with Hyundai’s similarly delayed Thierry Neuville recovering to seventh.

Bryan Bouffier has slipped to eighth ahead of Citroën’s Craig Breen, who suffered for being the ‘road-sweeper’ through the snow of SS9. WRC 2 pace-setter Jan Kopecky completes the overall top 10.

On Sunday, crews will tackle two identical loops of two stages totalling 63.72km in the steep Alpes-Maritimes hills – including the legendary Col de Turini and the points-paying Power Stage – with no service break in-between.

Leading positions:
1. S Ogier FRA Ford Fiesta 3hr 30min 30.9sec
2. O Tänak EST Toyota Yaris + 33.5sec
3. J-M Latvala FIN Toyota Yaris +1min 32.7sec
4. E Lappi FIN Toyota Yaris + 4min 38.5sec
5. K Meeke GBR Citroën C3 + 4min 40.1sec
18-01-27 The C3 WRCs move up the standings
Kris Meeke – Paul Nagle and Craig Breen – Scott Martin successfully negotiated the day's snow-covered roads, as they moved up to fifth and ninth place respectively in their C3 WRCs ahead of tomorrow's final leg, where racing conditions may be well-suited to the qualities of their machines.

There was a mix of tension and excitement in the air early this morning: Champsaur, the setting for today's third leg, had been covered with a blanket of fresh snow overnight. Unlike yesterday, however, tyre choice proved to be rather straightforward: studded tyres would be needed to get through the forty-five or so kilometres of the first two stages, and both Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews opted to take six tyres for the loop.

First on the stages after ending day two tenth overall, Craig Breen acted as something of a snow plough for the crews behind him, and had no chance of setting good times in the conditions. This was especially true given by the time the stages got underway, a combination of rising temperatures and light rainfall meant the snow had melted and turned into treacherous slush. Fifth in the running order, Kris Meeke enjoyed clearer roads, but the grip was much better for those coming after him. Both Citroën drivers nonetheless performed admirably, moving up into ninth and fifth places respectively.

For the second pass on this loop of stages, this time a mix of four winter tyres and two studded tyres was required. Although the snow and slush on the road – of which there was still plenty – prevented Craig Breen from producing any fast times, Kris Meeke showed his pace in the tarmac lines that appeared as more cars completed the stages. The Northern Irishman was third fastest at the second split on SS11, pointing to the potential of the C3 WRC, but then dropped eight seconds by running straight on into a field.

After briefly moving into fourth overall, Kris Meeke – who is determined to score good points this weekend and get his season off to a strong start – was unable to hold off Lappi's comeback on the day's final stage. Craig Breen, finally enjoying decent conditions, then reminded everyone of his pace, setting a fine third fastest time on SS13, just 2.2s behind the stage winner.

Everyone decamps to Monaco and the Alpes Maritimes department for tomorrow's final four stages. Although the drivers will have to watch out for patches of ice left by the overnight frost, the stages are expected to be contested mostly on dry tarmac roads. Conditions in which the C3 WRC has already proven its worth, whilst Kris Meeke is only 1.6s off fourth place…

WHAT THEY SAID
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"Hats off to Craig for having got the car back in one piece this evening despite opening the road today, which meant he had to cope with very low-grip conditions for most of the leg. Especially as he finished the day in style on SS13. Meanwhile, Kris held his position well until Lappi picked up a puncture, which then put him into a fight for fourth place. Our target, however, is above all that he scores big points tomorrow and that he keeps growing in confidence behind the wheel."

Kris Meeke
"On the first pass this morning, the grip was bound to improve as time went by, but on the second loop, there were two narrow lines of tarmac visible. Of course, when you're driving at close to 170kph, you absolutely cannot afford to step out of the lines, or else you're off. I don't know if we'll be able to fight for fourth place, but getting to the end in fifth position would be a good start to the season in itself, given our misfortune on Thursday evening."

Craig Breen
"The first two loops proved to be very difficult for us, due to our road position. But I'm pleased to have shown our pace on the day's final stage, which was drier, and I hope the conditions are like this tomorrow."

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 3
Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:30:30.9
Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 33.5
Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 1:32.7
Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 4:38.5
Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) + 4:40.1
Evans/Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 5:00.2
Neuville/Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 5:33.6
Bouffier/Panseri (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 5:43.4
Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) + 8:49.0
Kopecky/Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) + 14:04.4
18-01-26 Fikk erfare hvor brutalt Monte er
Ole Christian Veiby fikk erfare hvor brutalt Rallye Monte-Carlo kan være – og måtte bryte etter en avkjøring lørdag.

Rallytalentet uttalte før løpet at målet var å fullføre den vanskelige VM-åpningen for å høste mest mulig erfaring. Dessverre lyktes han ikke med å ta seg til mål, men sammen med kartleser Stig Rune Skjærmoen rakk han likevel å markere seg med meget god kjøring.
– I dag var det ekstreme forhold. Det kom snø i løpet av natta, og det la seg flere centimeter med snø på veien – noe som gjorde det utrolig glatt. Jeg forsøkte bare å kjøre kontrollert og holde meg i sporene. Men plutselig så slapp rompa på bilen, og vi måtte bare være med på ferden. Bilen smalt inn i autovernet på venstresiden og traff en bergknaus på høyresiden. Jeg vet ikke helt hva som skjedde, men tror bakhjulene må ha kommet utenfor sporet og mistet grepet, forklarer han.

Dette var hans tredje deltakelse i verdens kanskje mest berømte og fryktede rally. Men det var første gangen han ikke kom til mål.
– Selvsagt er det kjedelig ikke å fullføre, som var målet. Samtidig er det mye positivt å ta med seg. Jeg har kjørt store deler av løpet, og fått mange kilometer med erfaring under ekstremt vanskelige forhold. I tillegg har jeg kjørt bra, spesielt fredag. Vi kjørte veldig bra på starten av dagen da det var tørt. På ettermiddagen kom regnet, og forholdene ble mer utfordrende. Men da kjørte vi veldig fornuftig og klarte oss bra, mens andre gjorde feil, forteller han.
Under de tørre forholdene på starten av fredagen var han raskere enn flere av toppførerne på enkelte etapper.
– De viser at vi holder et bra tempo, konkluderer han.

Nå har han rettet fokuset mot neste VM-runde i Sverige, hvor han som Skoda Motorsport-fører skal kjempe om VM-poeng. Han skal kjøre Rally Finnskog 3. februar som forberedelse til Rally Sweden.
– Vi skal ha en liten test på onsdag for å komme inn i ordentlige vinterforhold igjen. Rally Finnskog blir en viktig oppkjøring for oss, sier han.
18-01-27 Mikkelsen vil slå tilbake på power stage
Andreas Mikkelsen kjørte kontrollerte under dagens svært vanskelige forhold i Rallye Monte-Carlo. Nå satser han alt på å gjøre det bra på den avsluttende power stage-etappen.

Nordmannen var svært uheldig og måtte bryte med dynamoproblemer fredag. Dermed var en god plassering i sammendraget lagt i grus. Han var imidlertid tilbake på startstreken i dag, og åpnet like godt med en sterk etappeseier.
– Der hadde jeg en snurring i høy hastighet, men det gikk heldigvis bra og jeg var raskest på etappen. Det har vært veldig, veldig vanskelige forhold i dag, med mye snø og is. Derfor har jeg kjørt så trygt og kontrollert som det er mulig for å komme gjennom dagen. Hadde jeg brutt også i dag, ville jeg ikke fått mulighet til å kjøre power stage – og dermed heller ikke hatt mulighet til å kjempe om VM-poeng, forteller Hyundai Motorsport-føreren.

Sammen med kartleser Anders Jæger tok han seg greit gjennom etappene og høstet mer erfaring med bilen.
– For oss er det viktig å få så mye tid som mulig i bilen. Og med det som utgangspunkt, har det vært en viktig og lærerik dag for oss, sier han, og retter blikket mot den avsluttende etappen.
– Rallye Monte-Carlo ble ikke den starten på sesongen som vi håpet på, derfor blir det viktig å gjøre det bra på power stage-etappen for å få med oss så mange VM-poeng som overhodet mulig. Dette er mitt eneste fokus nå, forklarer han.
De fem siste års verdensmester, Sebastien Ogier, har festet et grep om seieren. Han leder med over halvminuttet på estlenderen Ott Tanak.

18-01-26 Diverse fortunes for the C3 WRC crews
Seventh and ninth overall this morning, Craig Breen – Scott Martin and Kris Meeke – Paul Nagle experienced contrasting fortunes on day two. Whilst the former crew suffered poor luck, falling back to tenth position after a brake problem, the latter pair moved up the standings to end the day in sixth place, ready to seize any opportunities on day three, during which the snow that has been forecast all week is finally due to make an appearance…
With or without snow, the Rallye Monte-Carlo is a real challenge from start to finish. There was plenty evidence of this today, as extremely difficult road conditions prevailed with dampness in the air throughout the morning loop, and then rain in the afternoon. However, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews were not caught out by the changeable weather, opting to run with four Michelin soft slicks (S6) and two super softs (SS6) in the morning, before deciding to go with six SS6s for the second loop.

Craig Breen made a strong start this morning, setting the third fastest time through the final split on the opening stage. Unfortunately, he then suffered a stroke of bad luck, a stone lodging itself in the wheel rim and damaging the brake calliper's bleed nipple, which meant that he gradually lost braking power. With advice from the team, he managed to perform makeshift repairs in the time allowed between stages, but lost more time on the next two speed tests, dropping down to tenth overall at the end of the opening loop.

With his hopes dashed of achieving a strong points finish, he will now treat the rest of the rally like an in-competition test for future outings. He nonetheless set a fourth fastest time on the second pass on Roussieux-Eygalayes (30.54km), the wettest stage of the afternoon loop, thus confirming his good pace on this atypical road surface.

Meanwhile, following his misfortune yesterday evening, Kris Meeke made a relatively cautious start to the day, but changes made to the set-up of his C3 WRC during midday service enabled him to increase his confidence for the second pass. He showed his renewed confidence after lunch, setting the fifth fastest time on Vitrolles-Oze (26.72km), just 8.2s off the pace. His time was all the more impressive given he was running seventh, a less than ideal position given all the mud dragged onto the line by those tackling the stage before him. Back up to sixth overall this evening, the Ulsterman ended the day on a high note, with another fourth fastest time.

With substantial gaps already established between the competitors, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews hope to take advantage of the rain and snow forecast for tomorrow in Champsaur, to the north of Gap, to show what they can do…

WHAT THEY SAID
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"Obviously, I'm disappointed for Craig, who deserved better. After his problems, we decided to concentrate our efforts on the future, the aim now being for Craig to get as many miles as possible under his belt whilst we focus on improving the set-up. I'm pleased to finally see Kris gradually grow in confidence, and move back up the standings. We are going to try to keep moving in this direction, whilst remaining ready to seize any opportunities that may come our way."

Kris Meeke
"Snow is forecast for the rest of the rally and when it comes, it might just shake everything up, so I hope that it works in our favour! Although it's not quite perfect yet, I'm pleased to have got a better feeling in the car this afternoon, especially as the level of grip was particularly low, with a lot of rain, mud and patches of blacktop…"

Craig Breen
"We didn't have a lot of luck this morning with the brake issue. It has never happened to me before, but it ruined our loop. The afternoon was much better, particularly with the good time on SS7, although it's really difficult to get among the leaders when you're driving on stages at full racing speed for the first time. I hope we manage to make the most of our strengths in the conditions tomorrow, which are expected to be really tough again."

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 02:07:15.4
Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 14.9
Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 59.7
Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 1:09.9
Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 1:10.1
Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) + 2:45.5
Bouffier/Panseri (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 3:34.6
Evans/Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 4:01.7
Neuville/Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 4:04.1
Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) + 5:06.6
18-01-26 Monte-Carlo escape for Ogier
Lucky Frenchman keeps Tänak and Sordo at bay during WRC season opener. Rallye Monte-Carlo master Sébastien Ogier escaped an uncharacteristic second error to remain on target for a fifth consecutive WRC win on Friday night.

He spun his Ford Fiesta into a ditch on Friday’s penultimate speed test and watched his lead of almost 40sec dwindle as fans manhandled it back onto rain-soaked mountain roads in the French Alps.

The incident followed a previous spin on an icy bend during a crazy opening night of the four-day event on Thursday, but the reigning champion still led this opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship by 14.9sec from Ott Tänak.

“It was a difficult day but we’re here and still leading,” said Ogier. “It would have been better without the spin, we would have been a minute ahead. Tomorrow must be better.”

Tänak climbed from fifth overnight, but lacked the confidence to push hard in the heavy rain on his Toyota Gazoo Racing debut. Driving a Yaris, the Estonian won two of the day’s six speed tests and was one of three drivers to take on the mantle of Ogier’s closest pursuer.

Andreas Mikkelsen, second overnight, conceded the position after overshooting a junction in the opening stage before retiring on the following liaison section with a broken alternator in his Hyundai i20.

Team-mate Dani Sordo moved up but fell back to third, after a mix-up in tyre selection and a misted windscreen delayed the Spaniard. He ended 59.7sec behind Tänak.

Toyota’s Finns, Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala, were fourth and fifth to complete an impressive showing by the Japanese manufacturer. Lappi trailed Sordo by 10.2sec and was just 0.2sec ahead of his colleague, who struggled with understeer this morning.

Kris Meeke was a lonely sixth, the Northern Ireland driver 1min 35.4sec further back in his Citroën C3 and admitting he needed those ahead to hit problems to give him any chance of climbing higher.

Bryan Bouffier was seventh ahead of fellow M-Sport Ford driver Elfyn Evans, who won two stages as he recovered from a time-consuming puncture on Thursday night.

Thierry Neuville, who dropped more than four minutes on Thursday after sliding into a snow bank, climbed to ninth in his i20. The Belgian has set himself the target of a top-six finish.

Craig Breen was a deflated 10th, the Irishman losing more than three minutes on Friday morning with a brake problem in his C3.

Saturday's drivers will face two identical loops of two stages north of Gap before a repeat of Thursday night’s Bayons - Breziers test. After 117.55km of action, they make the long journey south to Monaco ahead of Sunday’s finale in the mountains above the Principality.

Leading positions:
1. S Ogier FRA Ford Fiesta 2hr 07min 15.4sec
2. O Tänak EST Toyota Yaris + 14.9sec
3. D Sordo SPN Hyundai i20 + 59.7sec
4. E Lappi FIN Toyota Yaris + 1min 09.9sec
5. J-M Latvala FIN Toyota Yaris +1min 10.1sec
18-01-26 Dynamoproblemer ødela for Mikkelsen
Felt av tekniske problemer
Andreas Mikkelsen lå an til å få en god start på rallysesongen. Men en kranglete dynamo ødela Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Hyundai Motorsport-føreren fikk en fin åpning på sesongens første VM-runde. Sammen med kartleser Anders Jæger kjørte han godt under de vanskelige forholdene torsdag kveld, og lå på andreplass – med kun Sebastien Ogier foran seg på sammenlagtlista. De norske guttene var godt fornøyd med åpningsetappene, og var optimistiske foran fredagens etapper. Dessverre måtte de kaste inn håndkleet før SS4. De fikk problemer med dynamoen på transportetappen, og gjorde alt som sto i deres makt for å fikse problemet, uten å lykkes.
– Selvsagt utrolig skuffende, og fryktelig synd med alle VM-poengene som nå går tapt, sier Andreas Mikkelsen – som retter blikket fremover mot neste VM-runde i Sverige.
– At vi får en så dårlig start på sesongen kan gi oss en bedre startposisjon i Rally Sweden, selv om det er en veldig mager trøst, poengterer han.
Han beskriver torsdagens etapper som vanskelige. Han startet sent i feltet, og bilene foran hadde kuttet svinger og dradd ut mye grus i veien.
– Kjøringen fungerte veldig bra, til tross for utfordrende forhold. Bilen kjentes også fin ut, og vi var veldig motiverte for fortsettelsen av løpet, sier han.
Fredagens veier var tørre og fine, og alt lå til rette for en god dag.
– Vi var forberedt på at det skulle komme nedbør i ettermiddag, men dessverre måtte vi takke for oss. Bilen blir imidlertid reparert, og vi stiller til start igjen i morgen, sier en skuffet Andreas Mikkelsen, som selvsagt et sjanseløs til en god plassering i sammendraget.

Tidsplan Rallye Monte-Carlo 24.-28. januar 2018

Onsdag 24. januar
16:00 Shakedown Gap (3,35km)

Torsdag 25. januar
21:43 SS1 Thoard-Sisteron (36,69km)
22:51 SS2 Bayons-Breziers 1 (25,49km)
23:56 FlexiService Gap

Fredag 26. januar
08:51 SS3 Vitrolles-Oze 1 (26,72km)
10:04 SS4 Roussieux-Eygalayes 1 (30,54km)
11:37 SS5 Vaumeilh-Claret 1 (15,18km)
12:52 Service Gap
13:58 SS6 Vitrolles-Oze 2 (26,72km)
15:11 SS7 Roussieux-Eygalayes 2 (30,54km)
16:44 SS8 Vaumeilh-Claret 2 (15,18km)
17:49 FlexiService Gap

Lørdag 27. januar
08:08 SS9 Agnieres en Devoluy-Corps 1 (29,16km)
09:16 SS10 St Leger Les Melezes-La Batie Neuve 1 (16,87km)
10:31 Service Gap
11:57 SS11 Agnieres en Devoluy-Corps 2 (29,16km)
13:08 SS12 St Leger les Melezes-La Batie Neuve 2 (16,87km)
14:23 Service Gap
16:09 SS13 Bayons-Breziers 2 (25,49km)
17:29 Service Gap
22:17 Parc Fermé Monaco

Søndag 28. januar
08:32 SS14 La Bollene Vesubie-Peira Cava (18,41km)
09:08 SS15 La Cabanette-Col de Braus (13,58km)
10:55 SS16 La Bollene Vesubie-Peira Cava (18,41km)
12:18 SS17 La Cabanette-Col de Braus (13,58km) Power Stage

18-01-26 Ogier overcomes early scare
WRC champion leads Mikkelsen and Sordo in Monte-Carlo season opener. World champion Sébastien Ogier recovered from a spin on the opening stage at Rallye Monte-Carlo on Thursday night to secure a handy 17.3sec lead heading into day two. A number of his rivals weren't quite so lucky as patches of black ice and snow shook up the early leaderboard.

The Frenchman, who was born close to the host town of Gap, used his local knowledge to master the asphalt stages that were smattered with patches of ice that could barely be seen in the darkness.

Despite a slow half spin in the 36.69km Thoard - Sisteron stage, Ogier was fastest through both of the opening speed tests in his M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Fiesta WRC.

He was happy with his start as he went in search of his sixth Rallye Monte-Carlo win. "We knew on the first stage it would be difficult to pass the icy section. Before the spin I was right in the middle of the road doing 10kph. Luckily I managed to stay on the road," he explained.

"The information we got from the ice note crew was correct. We have some small things to improve but it's not a bad start."

Andreas Mikkelsen emerged from the darkness as the second fastest driver overall. The Norwegian managed to keep his Hyundai i20 pointing in the right direction across both opening stages but complained that it was hard to know how hard he could push – without doing anything he would later regret.

Hyundai team-mate Dani Sordo was a further 8.3sec behind as he made a positive start to the first rally of the 2018 WRC season. The Spaniard was 11.8sec ahead of Toyota Gazoo Racing's fastest driver, Esapekka Lappi.

The Finn beamed: "We are on a mission. No mistakes, that was the target tonight. The pace was not the best but it's not so easy to drive on these stages. I need to build up the confidence step-by-step."

Team-mates Ott Tänak and Jari Matti Latvala completed the top six in their respective Yaris WRCs but both men had endured a fraught opening night of competition. Tänak dropped 37.3sec in the opening test when he spun and got stuck, while Latvala slid off the road twice in the same stage and dropped even more time.

"It was very difficult. The road was icy so I went into the snow to try and get some more grip. But it was worse and we spun a couple of times. That's Rallye Monte-Carlo," Latvala said philosophically.

Craig Breen guided his Citroën C3 to seventh place despite getting it stuck when he too suffered a first stage spin. He was 48.7sec clear of 2011 winner Bryan Bouffier who filled eighth spot.

Kris Meeke, Elfyn Evans and Thierry Neuville all suffered a disastrous first night at Rallye Monte-Carlo and found themselves in ninth, tenth and 11th places respectively.

Meeke and Neuville both spun off the road and got stuck in the opening stage while Evans had to stop his Fiesta to change a puncture after only 12km of the same stage. Meeke ended the day 2m 12.7sec off Ogier's lead while Evans and Neuville were already more than four minutes off the pace as the opening night drew to a close.

The rally resumes on Friday, when crews will tackle six more mountain stages covering a total distance of 144.88km.
18-01-26 A constrasting start for the C3 WRCs
At the end of this evening's short but very difficult opening leg, during which almost all the drivers ran into trouble of some kind, Craig Breen – Scott Martin and Kris Meeke – Paul Nagle made it to the Gap service park in seventh and ninth places respectively. Their positions were not a fair reflection of the pace of the cars, as once again, Monte lived up to its reputation for unpredictability.

Only 62.18 kilometres of timed stages, i.e. barely 16% of the total competitive distance, were contested this evening. However, these first two stages came with the difficulty of being held after nightfall, with only the lamp pods to guide the cars. First up, a genuine test of guts and bravery: contested this year for the first time in the opposite direction, the opening stage between Thoard and Sisteron has made plenty of rallying history over the years, due to the snow that is ever present around the Col de Fontbelle.

Covering the tarmac over almost three kilometres on this opening stage, and mostly on the downhill section, the snow provided the teams with a real headache in terms of tyre choice in service before the start in Digne-les-Bains. Although feedback from the safety crews suggested that that the loop was predominantly dry, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews decided to play it safe in opting to take six Michelin super soft slicks (SS6).

However, Craig Breen and Kris Meeke needed all of their acrobatic talents to get through this critical section, where they both lost time, after briefly getting stuck in ditches like many of their WRC rivals. In setting the fifth fastest time, just 24.6s off the leader, Breen got off the lightest, whilst the cost was heavier for Meeke, who finished tenth, some 1:44.7 off the pace.

The trouble encountered on the first stage then made it difficult for them to be completely relaxed on the second, especially as Craig Breen – who had trouble contacting his safety crews – arrived late at time control and set off on stage without the correct pressure in his front tyres.

Featuring six stages in the Hautes-Alpes, Drôme and Alpes de Haute Provence departments and covering a competitive distance of 144.88 kilometres, i.e. 37% of the total distance, tomorrow's leg will be the longest day of the rally for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT. The team is determined for its crews to show what they can do, especially as the weather looks set to shake things up...

WHAT THEY SAID
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"Obviously, this wasn't the start we were hoping for, especially as we had made the right call on tyre choice. There was a difficult section on the first stage, which proved more costly for us than many of the others. Inevitably, our crews were then on the back foot on the next stage. I nonetheless note the positive feedback from the drivers about the handling of the C3 WRC, and I have high hopes that we'll back able to show that over the course of remaining three long legs."

Kris Meeke
"On the snow, I understeered slightly, so I pulled the handbrake and ended up spinning in the middle of the road. Most of the time, you'd just turn round with the handbrake and set off again. This time, I decided to stay calm and just reverse to get the car facing the right way but, unfortunately, we slipped into a ditch. It was a stupid and very frustrating mistake. The feeling wasn't great on the next stage either. But there's still a long way to go in the rally."

Craig Breen
"On the first stage, we got stuck on a verge for almost thirty seconds, and we needed help from the spectators to get going again. Without that minor error, we'd have grabbed the stage win. And then on the road section to the next stage, we lost time getting corrections from our safety crew and arrived late at time control, which meant we picked up a ten-second penalty, and we didn't have the correct pressure in the tyres because we didn't have time to adjust them before the start. It's not been a dream start, but I'm really pleased with our pace when everything was going well."

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 38’09’’8
Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 17’’3
Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 25’’6
Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 37’’4
Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 42’’4
Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 55’’4
Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) + 1’02’’3
Bouffier/Panseri (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 1’51’’0
Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) + 2’12’’7
Camilli-Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5) + 2’42’’2
18-01-24 A constructive final outing before the start
The Rallye Monte-Carlo shakedown provided the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews with the opportunity to complete a final dress rehearsal before the real action gets underway tomorrow evening. Benefiting from generally dry conditions, which are not expected to hold for the whole of the rally, Kris Meeke – Paul Nagle and Craig Breen – Scott Martin completed final testing in their C3 WRCs, finishing with the fourth and ninth fastest times respectively.

The Rallye Monte-Carlo's 3.35km-long shakedown stage wasn't necessarily representative of the difficulties to come over the weekend. This was particularly due to the different tarmac of the surface and its deep cuts, which led to rapidly deteriorating road conditions as more cars came through the stage and dragged mud onto the racing line.

As grip levels gradually decreased, most of the crews set their best times on one of their first two passes on the stage. Among the last of the WRCs to head out and tackle what were already dirty roads, Craig Breen set his fastest time on his first run, finishing ninth overall. The Irishman went on to complete another four runs. Fourth fastest on the stage, Kris Meeke was the only driver to improve his time on his third pass, before completing a final run after nightfall.

The various WRC drivers opted to run on Michelin's brand new soft slick tyre (Pilot Sport S6), the super soft version (Pilot Sport SS6) or a mix of both. Running on soft-compound slicks on their first attempt, when the quickest crews opted for four super soft tyres, Kris Meeke and Craig Breen then completed the rest of their session with a combination of the two compounds. Meeke ended up by also testing a set-up with four SS6s. The later runs gave both drivers the chance to note the improved capabilities of the French manufacturer's latest tyres on greasy, damp roads.

Pleased with the variety of conditions they faced during their winter testing, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT mainly used this final test session to give their drivers some time in the car, check that the headlamps were working properly and confirm the handling of the C3 WRC with versatile settings in conditions that called for a more tarmac-like set-up.

After a good night's rest, the crews have a busy schedule ahead of them tomorrow, with VIP car experiences in the hills above Monaco, followed by interviews and more photo sessions on the famous Place du Casino. Place du Casino is where the ceremonial start will be held at 5.50pm, whilst the competitive action kicks off at 9.43pm with the famous Thoard-Sisteron stage, contested this year in the opposite direction for the first time ever.

WHAT THEY SAID
Kris Meeke
"The shakedown was generally dry at the start, although there were a few muddy corners. The level of grip then gradually dropped off as more cars came through the stage, but we nonetheless used the session to review the various tyres one final time and try out one or two things. I'm pleased with this final test, the times weren't especially representative, but the feeling is always a good indicator, and it was good this evening. "

Craig Breen
"We went with soft tyres on the first run, which probably weren't the quickest option, but having said that, this evening wasn't really about setting fast times. The shakedown provided some very useful information for the rest of the rally and the positive point is that I really felt confident behind the wheel of my Citroën C3 WRC. "

SHAKEDOWN STANDINGS
1.Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2’00’’2
2.Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2’00’’3
3.Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2’00’’7
4.Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) 2’00’’9
5.Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2’01’’0
6.Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2’01’’5
7.Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2’01’’6
8.Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2’02’’1
9.Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) 2’02’’9
10.Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2’02’’9
18-01-24 Frenchman begins push for sixth straight FIA World Rally Championship title
Sébastien Ogier will begin his push for a sixth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title on home ground tomorrow (Thursday) at Rallye Monte-Carlo [25-28 January].

The iconic winter asphalt rally is the first of 13 events on the 2018 calendar and has special significance for Ogier, who was born near the host town of Gap.

The 34-year-old M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver will start with the best Monte record of this year's crews, with five wins and unbeaten here in the WRC since 2014.

But the Monte's notoriously tricky mix of wet and dry asphalt, often covered in slippery ice and snow, mean nothing can be taken for granted. Tyre strategy plays a decisive role with conditions varying dramatically, often within a single stage.

Ogier warned Thursday night’s opening speed test could prove decisive in his bid to repeat his win 12 months ago. The classic Sisteron special stage, the longest of the four-day event, will be driven in darkness and in the reverse direction to normal.

“We’ll start this year with what could be the biggest challenge of the entire rally. It doesn’t get much tougher than that, but that’s Monte. It’s always a challenge and that will be the case from the very first stage this year." Ogier explained.

Ogier's closest rival could be last year's championship runner-up, Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville. The Belgian was a sensation in 2017, and led until the penultimate day, when broken suspension shattered his hopes of a maiden Monte win.

"That’s what Monte is all about; it’s a tough challenge to start the year," Neuville reflected. "We will aim to put all the lessons learned from our participation in the recent editions of this event to good use."

The rally marks the first appearance in a Toyota Yaris for Estonia's Ott Tänak, who collected two wins last year with M-Sport Ford. Welshman Elfyn Evans replaces Tanak as Ogier's team-mate.

The event will get underway on Thursday night from Casino Square in Monte-Carlo, and finishes back in Monaco on Sunday afternoon after 17 stages covering 388.59km in the French Alps.
18-01-24 Hyundai Motorsport siktar mot toppen när 2018 FIA World Rally Championship startar i Monte-Carlo
Nu till helgen är det äntligen dags för starten av 2018 FIA World Rally Championship. Öppningen med Rallye Monte-Carlo är det första av totalt 13 rallyn markerade i årets WRC-kalender.

Hyundai Motorsport har ställt siktet mot och uttalat tydliga ambitioner att köra för seger i både Förar- och Konstruktörsmästerskapet det här året. Rivalerna hos M-Sport, Toyota och Citroën kommer garanterat sträva efter samma mål så ännu en spännande och jämn säsong är att vänta.

En trio av uppgraderade Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC kommer tillsammans med sina besättningar representera Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team i Rallye Monte-Carlo. Andreas Mikkelsen och Anders Jæger attackerar de 17 etapperna i bil #4, Thierry Neuville och Nicolas Gilsoul siktar på seger i bil #5 medan Dani Sordo och Carlos del Barrio kör #6.

Neuville ledde stort i Monte-Carlo förra året med imponerande körning. Något som tyvärr slutade i en incident vilken tvingade honom till att bryta under näst sista dagen. Belgaren fortsatte sedan dominera i Power Stage där han tog hem maximala fem poäng.

2018 års version av Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC har genomgått ett omfattande utvecklingsprogram under vintern. Tre dagars tester hölls norr om Nice i Frankrike under december, följt av ytterligare tre dagar nära Gap under nyår. Därefter åkte teamet till Spanien för några sista dagar av utvärdering i en mängd olika förhållanden. Alla besättningar som tävlar i Monte-Carlo fick chansen att bekanta sig med bilen på torr och blöt asfalt likväl som på snö och is. Allt för att vara förberedda på de olika scenarion som Monte-Carlo kan ställa dem inför.

Team Principal, Michel Nandan kommenterar: ”Vi är så förberedda vi bara kan inför kommande säsongen och redo för en ny kamp om mästerskapstiteln. Bilens fina prestationer under förra säsongens sista omgångar, speciellt segern i Australien gav oss en bra start inför vinterns tester.
Vi har haft både bilar och team i Frankrike och Spanien för utveckling den senaste månaden. Allt för att försöka återskapa de väderförhållanden och underlag som vi kan vänta i Monte-Carlo. Vad som är så spännande med det här öppningseventet är just oförutsägbarheten. Därför måste vi vara förberedda på allt. Vi vet att våra rivaler kommer vara enastående och obevekliga så vi måste hela tiden vara på topp. Nu river vi av omgång ett och hoppas på ännu ett klassiskt Rallye Monte-Carlo.”

Den norska duon bestående av Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) inleder sin första kompletta WRC-säsong för Hyundai Motorsport i Monte-Carlo. De siktar på att bygga vidare på en imponerande debut under de sista tre omgångarna 2017 där duon var uppe i ledningen under både Spanien och Australien samt slutade fyra i Wales Rally GB.

Mikkelsen berättar: ”Det är en fantastisk känsla att få köra en hel WRC-säsong tillsammans med Hyundai Motorsport. Förra året var lite frustrerande så jag siktar på ett mer konsekvent 2018 med massor av rallyn och vara med i kampen om mästerskapstiteln. Monte är förstås ett extremt utmanande rally att starta året på då det bjuder på alla möjliga förhållanden, inklusive nattetapper som med blåis som snabbt kan sätta bilen ur spel. Tillsammans med Anders är jag extremt laddad på att få dra igång säsongen.”

Belgarna Neuville och Gilsoul ledde förra årets Rallye Monte-Carlo med 51 sekunder innan en olycka i SS13 satte dem ur spel. De hoppas nu att erfarenheterna de samlat under senaste säsongerna skall placera dem högst upp på pallen 2018 och med starkt resultat redan i inledningen.

Neuville säger: ”Spänningen inför den här WRC-säsongen är extrem! Lanseringseventet i Birmingham för några veckor sedan gjorde oss väldigt taggade och skapade en härligt positiv känsla. Monte-Carlo är ett väldigt unikt rally där minsta lilla fel kan bli ödesdigert. Precis vad som hände oss förra året då vi ledde överlägset, till näst sista dagen då ett litet misstag satte oss ur spel på ett väldigt frustrerande sätt. Men det är precis vad Monte handlar om; det är en tuff utmaning som rivstartar året. Vi kommer använda alla de läxor vi lärt oss under tidigare WRC-upplagor för att ta oss till seger.”

Monte-Carlo blir första av sju planerade WRC-event för den spanska duon Sordo och Bel Barrio.
De delar säsongen och #6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC med Hayden Paddon och Seb Marshall som gör sin debut under Rally Sweden. Sordo var den bäst placerade föraren från Hyundai Motorsport i Monte-Carlo förra året då han slutade på fjärde plats. En pallplats i år är därför ett väldigt realistiskt inledande mål.

Sordo berättar: ”Jag är glad över att köra min femte säsong för Hyundai Motorsport och få möjligheten att starta i ett av de mest krävande eventen för säsongen – Monte-Carlo. Tillsammans med Hyundai Motorsport har vi utvecklat ett starkt samarbete och trots att jag bara kommer köra sju rallyn i år siktar jag på att få ut så mycket jag bara kan av dem. Jag har en ny kartläsare för säsongen - Carlos, så det kommer vara områden utveckla ihop men vi är optimistiska och skall ge våra rivaler en rejäl match.
18-01-22 A regal return for the Citroën C3 WRC
The countdown has begun: in a few days' time, the World Rally Championship returns to action on the wintry roads of the Rallye Monte-Carlo. On its second season in the category with the C3 WRC, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT has opted for stability, its driver line-up once again consisting of Kris Meeke – Paul Nagle and Craig Breen – Scott Martin.

AT ONE WITH YOUR CAR
At Monte, more so than elsewhere, the crews and teams really must know their cars inside out. They need to be truly at one with the car, anticipating each of its reactions as precisely as possible, so as not to get caught out by the tricky conditions. Because sometimes, there can be a patch of black ice that suddenly appears on a bend, other times there is a heap of soft snow or even a puddle of water. Having developed the Citroën C3 WRC in 2016 and then competed in it last year, Kris Meeke and Craig Breen have racked up a lot of miles in the car, in a wide variety of conditions and on various road surfaces. This experience represents a clear advantage for the brand at this, the 86th Rallye Monte-Carlo and the setting for the start of the 2018 season, which will see the C3 WRC tackle its second year in the WRC. After spending its first year back in the category learning and improving, secured two promising wins (Mexico and Catalonia) and finishing as runners-up once (Germany), this campaign will be all about confirmation for the team.

The team's greatest hopes of success in Monte-Carlo rest with Kris Meeke, who claimed both of Citroën's rally wins last year and is particularly experienced at this event. Buoyed by what he learned in 2017, the Ulsterman is determined to make the most of his experience and feature consistently among the leaders this year. Finishing Monte without incident invariably means you have made a good start to the season. Over the years and his numerous appearances in the Principality, Kris has developed the ability to spot changes in grip, and to drive with a mix of tyre compounds. Although not as familiar with the roads around Monaco as his team-mate, Craig Breen does not intend to be outdone. Having finished an excellent fifth overall at last year's rally in the DS3 WRC, he has the potential to do even better this season in the C3 WRC. In order to get the most out of the car, he – like Kris Meeke – completed three days of intensive testing, split across two sessions. The first session, held before Christmas, provided the team with the chance to work on tarmac, varying from bone dry to absolutely soaking wet, whilst the second session, held this week on roads around Gap, was intended to test the C3 WRC in conditions as close as possible to those the crews will experience next week, as well as on snow. These sessions also provided an opportunity to continue with work done to maximise the car's operating window.

NO SHORTAGE OF DIFFICULTIES AHEAD
Anyone harbouring hopes of finishing on the podium opposite the Palais Princier on Sunday will first of all need to successfully negotiate many hazards throughout the event's four days of racing. Four legs that will see the competitors tackle some of the most demanding roads in the Isère, Drôme, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes de Haute Provence and Alpes-Maritimes departments. The action gets underway on Thursday evening with one of the rally's truly iconic stages, Thoard-Sisteron. Always tricky around the Col de Fontbelle, this year the stage is contested in the opposite direction to usual, an unprecedented move, and in the dark. The rally concludes with equally famous Col de Turini, on which the C3 WRC claimed its very first stage win last year.

Initially contested in the dry, a thin layer of fresh snow fell on the stage two hours later for the second pass. And therein lies the true challenge at Monte-Carlo: its wintry nature, and the fact that road conditions can change so quickly from one side of the mountain to the other, mean that tyre choice is of absolutely critical importance. Based on experience from previous years, with assistance from the ice and snow crews, and on-the-ground informants, it is a matter of estimating what will be the best compromise on tyre choice for the next loop of stages, whilst also adapting the car’s settings accordingly. It's a huge challenge.

WHAT THEY SAID
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"The new season is upon us, which obviously means both excitement and uncertainty. After claiming second place in Germany and winning in Spain in the second part of 2017, which confirmed the growing strength of the team, I am determined to continue the work begun by Yves Matton, so that the team picks up in 2018 where it left off at the end of last year. This is especially the case since the C3 WRC has been further improved during the off-season, with intensive work put into widening its operating spectrum. Kris Meeke has the required experience to fight at the front at this unique event, as he showed in 2016, whilst Craig gained a lot of confidence from last year's appearance and is determined to use it to push for a good position. They both also know that you can't approach this rally just like any other: you must remain composed and treat the stages with the respect they deserve to avoid getting caught out by one of the many tricky sections."

Christophe Besse, Technical Director
"Rallye Monte-Carlo is above all about the drivers and the tyres. You need a car that is easy to drive, smooth in terms of its reactions, so that the driver feels confident behind the wheel regardless of the level of grip encountered. That's what our work focused on during the tests. The stages are generally held on bumpy, uneven roads, which is why we also worked on making further improvements to the C3 WRC's damper system. We equally tried to run through a large number of potential conditions, be it ice or snow, in the rain or on tarmac that was just cold and wet. On the one hand, the idea was to try out the two new Michelin tyres, and on the other hand, it was a matter of reviewing as wider range of tyre options as possible. As the stages are grouped together in loops, you never really have the right tyres at the right time. The challenge, therefore, is knowing how much time you'll lose with studded tyres on dry tarmac in order to opt for the best compromise."

Kris Meeke
"Monte is probably one of the season's hardest rallies, because of the constant changes in grip, but I've always really enjoyed it. I've also been quick here. I won the event in the Junior WRC class in 2005, I picked up a podium (3rd) on my full-time return to the WRC with Citroën in 2014 and I fought for the win in 2016… So I think that we can do a good job here, especially since our off-season tests were held on roads that are fairly representative of what we'll be facing during the rally, with a good variety of weather conditions. The test sessions also enabled us to keep improving the ability of our C3 WRC to adapt to changes in road surface, particularly by heading back to the Col de Faye, which is where we were least comfortable last year."

Number of appearances at the event: 9
Best result: 3th (2014)

Craig Breen
"Monte-Carlo is a rally that I love. It's a unique challenge, something you don't get on any of the other events. Until 2017, however, I never felt sufficiently confident in the kind of changeable, slippery conditions you get here. But last year, with the old car, we surprised ourselves. With a bit more horsepower, we could have aimed for the podium, so that gives me confidence. I'd like to think we can do it this time around, even though I'm not the most experienced driver in the line-up. Especially in that based on what we learned in 2017, we come into this event better prepared and with a C3 WRC that is even more versatile."
Number of appearances at the event: 3
Best result: 5th (2017)

KEY FIGURES
•17 timed stages covering a total of 388,59 km
•4 types of Michelin tyres : snow tyre (Pilot Alpin A41), snow tyre with studs (Pilot Alpin A41 CL), soft tyre (Pilot Sport S6) and super soft tyre (Pilot Sport SS6). Both Pilot Sport S6 and Pilot Sport SS6 are brand-new ones.
•7 wins for Citroën and Loeb-Elena in Rallye Monte-Carlo (2003-2005 in Xsara WRC, 2007-2008 in C4 WRC, 2012-2013 in DS3 WRC)
•2 wins for the Citroën C3 WRC until now (Mexico and Spain 2017)

A RALLY, A CHALLENGE
The importance of the relationship between the crews and the ice/snow crews
At Monte-Carlo, the crew and their ice/snow crews must have a perfectly developed understanding. The ice/snow crews run through the stages around two hours before the WRC crews, armed with a copy of their pace notes in order to make any corrections. The changes can be substantial on these stages if, for example, it has snowed between recce and the start of the stage. The road conditions also tend to change a lot between the first and second pass on a stage. The difficulty for the ice/snow crews therefore involves having the same view of the road as the crew would have, and also keeping the same, specific language as the crew. Which is why an incredible amount of trust and knowledge of one another is called for. Craig Breen has been working with Mikko Hirvonen (with co-driver Andy Hayes) since 2016 whilst Kris Meeke has used the services of Stephen Whitford and Derek Brannigan since 2014 and 2009 respectively.

CITROËN SECRETS
Didier Clément, now Technical Coordinator and Customer Racing Manager, recalls…
"I remember when we won here in 2012 with Sébastien and Daniel. They only really secured the win on the third leg, due to making the right call on tyres, as is often the case at Monte-Carlo. That day, we had to contest the Saint Jean en Royans stage, which was mostly damp or wet, and then Cimetière de Vassieux, where there was snow and ice on the stage. So we needed soft-compound slicks for the first stage, and studded tyres for the next one. But Seb was worried about losing a lot of time on Saint Jean en Royans by going with a mix of these two types of compound. Right up until a minute before the start, there were only two soft-compound slicks on the car and two studded tyres in the boot. But our analysis showed that we had to give preference to Cimetière de Vassieux, by going with four studded tyres. He let me choose the two missing tyres, which were of course two studded tyres. He produced an incredible performance on Saint Jean en Royans, losing only sixteen seconds with his inappropriate tyre set-up, before securing overall victory on the following stage thanks to his four studded tyres."

RALLYE MONTE-CARLO SCHEDULE (GMT+1)
WEDNESDAY 24 JANUARY
4.00pm : shakedown (Gap)

THURSDAY 25 JANUARY
5.50pm : Start day 1 (Monaco – Place du Casino)
9.43pm : SS 1 – Thoard – Sisteron (36,69 km)
10.51pm : SS 2 – Bayons – Bréziers 1 (25,49 km)
11.56pm : Flexi Service A (Gap – 48')

FRIDAY 26 JANUARY
8.00am : Start day 2 and Service B (Gap – 18')
8.51am : SS 3 – Vitrolles – Oze 1 (26,72 km)
10.04am : SS 4 – Roussieux – Eygalayes 1 (30,54 km)
11.37am : SS 5 – Vaumeilh – Claret 1 (15,18 km)
12.52pm : Service C (Gap – 33')
1.58pm : SS 6 – Vitrolles – Oze 2 (26,72 km)
3.11pm : SS 7 – Roussieux – Eygalayes 2 (30,54 km)
4.44pm : SS 8 – Vaumeilh – Claret 2 (15,18 km)
5.49pm : Flexi Service D (Gap – 48')

SATURDAY 27 JANUARY
6.57am : Start day 3 and Service E (Gap – 18')
8.08am : SS 9 – Agnières en Devoluy – Corps 1 (29,16 km)
9.16am : SS 10 – St Léger les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve 1 (16,87 km)
10.31am : Service F (Gap – 33')
11.57am : SS 11 – Agnières en Devoluy – Corps 2 (29,16 km)
1.08pm : SS 12 – St Léger les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve 2 (16,87 km)
2.23pm : Service G (Gap – 33')
4.09pm : SS 13 – Bayons – Bréziers 2 (25,49 km)
5.29pm : Service H (Gap – 48')
10.17pm : Parc ferme (Monaco)

SUNDAY 28 JANUARY
6.49am : Start day 4
8.32am : SS 14 – La Bollène Vésubie – Peira Cava 1 (18,41 km)
9.08am : SS 15 – La Cabanette – Col de Braus 1 (13,58 km)
10.55am : SS 16 – La Bollène Vésubie – Peira Cava 2 (18,41 km)
12.18pm : SS 17 – La Cabanette – Col de Braus 2 (13,58 km)
1.58pm : Parc ferme (Monaco)
3.00pm : Prize giving (Place du Palais Princier – Monaco)
18-01-16 Emil Bergkvist kör Junior-VM i rally 2018
2015 blev Torsåkers Emil Bergkvist Europeisk Juniormästare i Rally för Opel Motorsport. Efter det har Emil kört två tuffa säsonger i Rally-VMs ’s fyrhjulsdrivna klass WRC2 med mycket problem och uteblivna framgångar. Nu nysatsar Emil och kommer köra Junior-VM, JWRC, i en tvåhjulsdriven Ford Fiesta ihop med kartläsaren Ola Floene.

– Jag är oerhört tacksam över att få chansen att köra Junior-VM, säger Emil.
– Framför allt vill jag tacka Jourdan Serderidis och J-Motorsport, utan dom skulle det inte vara möjligt.

JWRC drivs av det Brittiska Ford-teamet M-Sport och alla deltagare kör i identiska Ford Fiesta R2T. 2018 görs mästerskapet över fem deltävlingar och startar i Sverige genom Rally Sweden i mitten på februari.

Emil, som haft stora framgångar i R2-bilar tidigare, ser fram emot utmaningen.
– Detta känns som helt rätt steg i min karriär, nu kommer jag kunna fokusera mer på körningen och hoppas att resultaten ska komma, fortsätter Emil.

Junior-VM bjuder i år på en stor prispott där vinnaren får en egen Ford Fiesta R5 med fria startavgifter, däck och bränsle i 2019-års WRC2-mästerskap.
– Vi är ödmjuka inför uppgiften och är beredda på en tuff utan i och med att alla kör likadana bilar.
Jag kommer ta med mig mina tidigare erfarenheter från både EM och VM och hoppas dra nytta av det för att kunna slåss om VM-titeln, avslutar Emil.

Förutom Emil Bergkvist tävlar även Värmlänningen Dennis Rådström i JWRC. Dennis, som slutade femma i serien förra året, blir en av de tuffaste konkurrenterna i mästerskapet.

Junior-WRC 2018 avgörs över fem tävlingar; Sverige, Korsika, Portugal, Finland och Turkiet.
18 -01-11 Ford storsatsar på rallyteamet M-Sport inför FIA World Rally Championship 2018
Ford utökar sitt samarbete med rallyteamet M-Sport, vinnare av FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Teamet kommer erbjudas ett utökat tekniskt och finansiellt stöd, lett av Mark Rushbrook, global chef för Ford Performance.

Ford utökar nu samarbetet med rallyteamet M-Sport under 2018, med tekniskt och finansiellt stöd. Teamet kommer köra rallybilen Ford Fiesta WRC, baserad på den nya Fiestan, försedd med Fords 1,6-liters EcoBoost-bensinmotor.
– Ford har haft en relation med M-Sport i över 20 år, vilket bidragit till en rad framgångar på olika nivåer inom rallysporten, och det är vi väldigt stolta över. Samarbetet har också etablerat Fiestan som en klassiker inom rallyvärlden. Förra året stöttade vi M-Sport med utvecklingen av den nya Fiestan, som senare kom att vinna FIA World Rally Championship. Vi hoppas nu kunna ge ännu mer uppbackning under 2018, säger Mark Rushbrook, global chef för Ford Motorsport.
– Vi har en fantastiskt bra relation med Ford och har haft det under många år, därför känns det extra kul att samarbetet utökas under 2018 när vi ska försöka försvara våra titlar i FIA World Rally Championship, säger Malcolm Wilson OBE, vd för M-Sport.

Bakgrund Ford Performance
Ford Performance fungerar som ett innovationslaboratorium och testcenter för att kunna skapa unika prestandafordon, delar, tillbehör och upplevelser för Fords kunder. Det omfattar utveckling av innovationer och tekniker inom aerodynamik, lättviktsmaterial, elektronik, drivlineprestanda och bränsleekonomi som sedan kan implementeras ännu bredare i Fords produktportfölj.


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