WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2019

2019

VM kalendern 2019
24-27 jan Monte Carlo  
14-17 febr Rally Sweden *
7-10 mars Mexico  
28-31 mars Frankrike *
24-28 april Argentina  
9-12 maj Chile  
30-2 juni Portugal  
13-16 juni Italien *
1-4 aug Finland *
22-25 aug Tyskland  
12-15 aug Turkiet  
3-6 okt England *
24-27 okt Spanien  
14-17 nov Australien  
* = Junior-VM  

19-07-11 Full-scale test session in Estonia for Esapekka Lappi and the C3 WRC
Already hard at work preparing for the second part of the season, Citroën Total World Rally Team has decided to take advantage of the WRC’s summer break to enter Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm in Rally Estonia, a non-world-championship event. The aim is clear: to use this particularly rapid rally to prepare for Finland (1-4 August).

Between the last WRC round in Sardinia and the next one in Finland in early August, the average speed will rise by nearly 30 kph, while the number of jumps will literally increase tenfold. Hence the appeal of Citroën Total World Rally Team entering Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm and their C3 WRC in a non-world-championship rally known to pose the same kinds of difficulties as the forests of Jyväskylä. In what will be their one hundredth rally together, this is an opportunity for the Finns to reacquaint themselves with driving at very high speed in order to be perfectly prepared for their home rally, where, having already emerged victorious in 2017, they can harbour genuine hopes of a win.

Having already used the 2012 and 2018 editions of Rally Estonia as full-scale test sessions, the Reds will approach this year’s event with the same goal, seeking to hone the setup of the C3 WRC prior to the conventional tests scheduled after the race. The exercise bore fruit last year, with the crew subsequently securing a hard-fought second-place finish in Finland.

As this is a WRC partner event, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm will come up against at least one representative of the other three manufacturers that compete regularly in the World Rally Championship. Based in Otepää, in south-eastern Estonia, the action will be concentrated on the Saturday and Sunday, spanning 151.98 kilometres and 15 stages. The rally will culminate in a final special stage in Tartu, the country’s second-largest city.

REACTIONS FROM...
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal:
“The goal of this exercise is twofold. First, we want to get Esapekka in the best possible shape for his WRC round, by allowing him to clock up some kilometres in the C3 WRC in conditions similar to those he can expect in early August. The other goal is, like last year, to take advantage of the wider variety of roads offered by a rally in comparison to a conventional test session to choose the best technical options. Situations like that where you discover the roads as you drive, with only your notes to help you, always teach you a lot.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT Driver
“At Rally Finland, we won’t have the luxury of an observation round. The gaps are so tiny that we will have to be up with the pace from the off. Finland is also a rally that is close to my heart, and this one-off appearance should enable me to show up ready to go, especially as I’ll have another day of testing afterwards. I have fond memories of the reception I got from the fans the only other time I raced in Estonia, back in 2014.”
19-06-17 Tom och Henrik tog tredje pallplatsen i JWRC i Rally Italia Sardegna
I tredje deltävlingen i årets Junior-VM, JWRC, tog Tom Kristensson, SMK Hörby, och codriver Henrik Appelskog, Östergyllens RC, sin tredje pallplats genom att sluta på tredje plats i den tuffa tävlingen på Sardinien.
- Det blev om möjligt tuffare än vad vi förväntat oss, berättar Tom efter målgången på söndagseftermiddagen, efter 3 dagars tävlande.
- På många sträckor var det sten i spåret, sten sidan om, lös grus eller sand och smalt, några av dem, bl. a. den sista sträckan, SS 19, var de råaste vi någonsin kört. Vissa sträckor och partier var dock bredare, hårdare och snabbare, så lite omväxling blev det.
- Värmen gjorde det även krävande, både, för oss som besättning, och bil. Jag vet inte hur många liter vatten och vätskeersättning vi druckit.
- Vår taktik vara att hitta vårt tempo, undvika misstag och punkteringar, och det lyckades vi med till 100%. Det enda missödet var en lös bärarm på lördagens sista sträcka, som gjorde att vi förlorade lite tid. Bilen uppförde sig konstigt, vi trodde först att det var en punktering eller en trasig stöddämpare.

Problemet fixade teamet på servicen efter dagens etapp.
- På söndagens avslutande sträckor bevakade vi endast vår tredje plats, då marginalen både uppåt och nedåt var så pass stor att det inte gick att göra något, såvida inte något missöde inträffade.

JWRC-klassen vanns av spanjoren Jan Solans, efter en hård fight med det andra svenskparet, Dennis Rådström och codriver Jan Johansson. Dennis ledde inför söndagens avslutande sträckor, men här satsade spanjoren allt och gick om. Men dubbelt svenskt på pallen för andra tävlingen i rad.
- Som helhet är vi mycket nöjda med tävlingen och hur vi genomförde den, det var något av en nyckeltävling i serien. Vi hade ju inte någon erfarenhet av den här typen av vägar och vilka inställningar på bilen som fungerade bäst, samt de hårda däck som vi använde. Vi är imponerade av hur stark och hållbar bilen, Ford Fiesta R2 T, är. Drygt 31 mil SS på dessa vägar och inga större tekniska problem.
- Tre pallplatser på tre starter är ett bra facit så här långt, som vi är jättenöjda med, avslutar Tom och Henrik före hemresan.

I JWRC leder nu Jan Solans på 71 poäng före Tom på 62 poäng och Dennis på 56 poäng.

Nästa deltävling i JWRC går i samband med Neste Rally Finland den 1-4 augusti.

19-06-17 Snabb Veiby fick slita för poängen
Det blev en problematisk helg för Ole Christian Veiby i VM-rallyt på Sardinien, men trots det så plockade han viktiga VM-poäng och är fortsatt med i kampen om titeln i WRC 2.
- Det gick inte helt som planlagt, men vi fick i alla fall visa att vi kan köra både smart och fort när allt fungerar, säger Veiby.

Efter branden i Portugal senast stod revansch på programmet, men tyvärr började motgångarna redan efter första specialsträckan. Stötdämparproblem gjorde att man inte tog sig vidare.
- En stor besvikelse, berättar Ole Christian.

Redan där och då, på torsdag kväll, tvingades norrmannen och co-drivern Jonas Andersson ge upp sin kamp om segern, men man kunde ändå starta om på fredagen enligt rally 2-reglementet, med tio minuters strafftid.

Förutom problemen med stötdämparna drabbades det norsk-svenska ekipaget av ett par punkteringar, men när allt fungerade gick det fort - riktigt fort - på de italienska vägarna. Veiby noterade sju sträcksegrar i WRC 2 av totalt nitton möjliga med sin Polo GTI R5.
- Vi höll samma tempo som Rovanperä och Östberg och det är något vi tar med oss framöver.
Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS-föraren matchade alltså toppnamnen i WRC 2 Pro-klassen under långa stunder av tävlingen på medelhavsön.

Vid slutmålet på söndagen hade Veiby jobbat sig upp till en femteplats i WRC 2-klassen, vilket innebar tio viktiga poäng i sammandraget. Ole Christian knappade in på täten och ligger fortsatt på topp tre.
19-06-17 Veiby skuffet etter Rally Sardinia
Etter brannen i Portugal var det en revansjesugen Veiby som stilte til start på Sardinia. Bilproblemer satte en stopper for seier, men fort gikk det allikevel. – Det gikk ikke helt som planlagt, men vi fikk i alle fall vist at vi kan kjøre både smart og fort når alt virker, forteller Veiby som var raskeste WRC2 bil på 7 av de 19 fartsetappene.

Målet for løpet var seier, men dessverre ble det 10 minutter tidsstraff allerede etter første fartsprøve. Med ødelagt støtdemper måtte Ole Christian og kartleser Jonas Andersson kaste inn håndkleet allerede etter åpningsprøven på torsdag kveld, og bilen ble fraktet tilbake til service på henger. – Det var ordentlig kjipt, og veldig skuffende. Vi har egentlig slitt med demper-problemer hele løpet, og da ble det utfordrende både med grip og å pushe. Vi fikk også ett par punkteringer. Men når alt har fungert, så har vi fått vist at vi kan kjøre både fort og smart, og det er viktig på ett så teknisk krevende løp som Sardinia er. Vi var raskest på 7 av prøvene, og holdt samme tempo som både Rovanpera og Østberg, og det er noe vi tar med oss videre.

Det ble tilslutt en femte plass i WRC2 klassen i Sardinia, og med det viktige poeng og Veiby ligger nå på andre plass sammenlagt i klassen
19-06-17 Sordo snatches Rally Italia Sardegna win after late drama
Tänak's steering problem lets Spaniard in for second-ever win. Dani Sordo claimed his second career victory at Rally Italia Sardegna on Sunday afternoon after late agony for long-time leader Ott Tänak.

The Spaniard celebrated his second success in 164 world rally starts when a steering problem in the final rough road speed test denied Tänak a third consecutive FIA World Rally Championship victory.

Tänak led the hot and dusty rally since Saturday morning in his Toyota Yaris. He began the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage with a half-minute advantage over Sordo’s Hyundai i20, only for disaster to strike shortly after the start.

Damaged steering caused him to spin and he crawled to the finish, losing two minutes and plunging to fifth in the standings. The only consolation was that he regained the series lead ahead of a mid-season break with a four-point advantage over Sébastien Ogier.

Sordo, who scored his previous victory in Germany in 2013, was stunned by the late drama.

“It's unbelievable. I don’t have words to describe this, I’m really shocked. It’s amazing to win but I’m sorry for Ott, he was faster than me in some places over the weekend,” he said.

Tänak’s despair in his 100th world rally start brought delight for Teemu Suninen. The Finn claimed a career-best second place in his first rally alongside new co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen. Driving a Ford Fiesta, he finished 13.7sec behind Sordo.

Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen won all four Sunday tests to secure the final podium place in another i20, a further 18.9sec behind.

He demoted Elfyn Evans by 0.9sec in the final special stage, a task made harder as the Welshman was this morning credited with 7.0sec after being delayed in the dust of Kris Meeke last night. Meeke restarted in front of Evans after stopping to change a wheel.

Evans was almost a minute clear of Tänak, with Thierry Neuville completing the top six. It was a disappointing weekend for the Belgian, who celebrated his 31st birthday today, but Tänak’s problems kept him firmly in the title fight, seven points adrift of the lead.

Ogier had a trouble-filled rally. Twice he swiped roadside rocks and broke his C3’s suspension, but he returned to take four bonus points from the Wolf Power Stage.

The championship resumes at the gravel road Neste Rally Finland which is based in Jyväskylä on 1 - 4 August.

Final positions after leg 1:
1. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 3hr 32min 27.2sec
2. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +13.7sec
3. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +32.6sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +33.5sec
5. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +1min 30.1sec
6. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +2min 16.7sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 8 of 14)
1. O Tänak 150pts
2. S Ogier 146pts
3. T Neuville 143pts
19-06-17 Super-søndag og pallplass for Andreas Mikkelsen på Sardinia
Andreas Mikkelsen og Anders Jaeger-Amland klinte til på siste dag av Rally Italia Sardinia, og kjørte inn til en tredjeplass sammenlagt etter å ha vunnet samtlige av søndagens etapper. – Utrolig deilig, forteller Andreas etter målgang.

Gutta startet siste dag av Rally Italia Sardinia på femteplass sammenlagt, og hadde 7 sekunder opp til Elfyn Evans som lå på fjerdeplass. Med bare 4 fartsetapper å gjøre det på, var det bare å klemme til fra start skulle det være en sjanse til å ta igjen. I løpet av dagen fikk imidlertid Evans tilbake tid som han tapte på lørdag, etter å ha blitt liggende i støvet etter bilen foran, og dermed var det totalt 14 sekunder som skulle taes igjen. Andreas og Anders satte standard fra første meter, og vant samtlige fartsetapper i dag. Selv med etterhvert så slitte dekk, så ble det også seier på Power Stage og ekstra VM-poeng.
- Det kuleste i dag var at vi ikke ga oss da vi fikk 7 sekunder til å ta igjen. Vi fortsatte å pushe og så gikk det akkurat. Det er det jeg er mest fornøyd med, vi ga oss ikke men fortsatt å pushe på. Det viser i hvert fall at man aldri skal gi opp!

Rally Italia Sardinia er ett av de mest teknisk krevende løpende som kjøres i rally-vm, og dekkvalg er helt avgjørende. Løpet er røft og varmt og krever virkelig sitt både av bil og dekk. Ett feil dekkvalg fredag morgen, gjorde at det ble krevende å kjøre seg opp til en god start posisjon for lørdag, allikevel avsluttet de dagen på fjerdeplass. Lørdag var det en god fight med både Elfyn Evans og Kris Meeke om fjerdeplassen.
- Vi visste at vi i dag måtte virkelig gi gass skulle vi klare å ta igjen noe tid. Alle kjenner prøvene like godt, og det gjør det vanskelig å skulle ta igjen noe tid. Kjente litt på det på første prøven, og det stemte bra, så da var det bare å gi gass.

Rally Italia Sardinia ble vunnet av Andreas’ team-kamerat Dani Sordo i en høydramatisk finale, hvor Ott Tanak måtte gi tapt etter å ha ledet nesten hele helgen. Andreas og Anders tok igjen hele 7 sekunder på Evans på den siste prøven, og avanserte dermed på resultatliste.

Resultat totalt Rally Italia Sardinia 2019
1 Sordo
2 Suninen + 13,7
3 Mikkelsen +32,6
4 Evans +33,5
5 Tanak +1.30,1
6 Neuville +2.16,7
7 Lappi +2.59,6
8 Meeke +4.40,1

Nå er det sommerferie, før VM-sirkuset tar turen til Finland og noen av årets raskeste fartsprøver på grus. Rally Finland kjøres 1 – 4 august.
19-06-17 Citroën fights to secure precious points with the C3 WRC in Sardninia
Although Citroën Total World Rally Team’s chances of a good overall result were compromised on day one, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia confirmed once again that they remain fierce competitors on the Power Stage, grabbing the second fastest time and four bonus points. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made it to the finish in seventh overall, having managed the last two legs admirably.

After making a mistake on day one (SS5) as they attempted to minimise the major disadvantage of running first on Sardinia’s technical and very loose gravel roads, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia – having rejoined under Rally 2 rules on Saturday’s leg – were solely focused on attempting to grab a few bonus points on the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage during today’s short final leg (41.90km). Once again showing their incredible fighting spirit, the French six-time world champions claimed four points, which means they now lie second in the world championship standings, four points behind the new leader.

Whilst it falls short of Citroën Total World Rally Team’s hopes for this round, the result means that when the championship resumes after the summer break, they will tackle roads in Finland (1-4 August) that have already been cleaned by a competitor. The forthcoming break will undoubtedly be used by the Red Army to redouble its efforts in preparation for the second half of the season.

On gravel, the first leg tends to be decisive because it determines the running order for the rest of the rally, and Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm unfortunately experienced this first hand. They were running in sixth overall and were gradually getting their bearings when they dropped almost 40s when one of their tyres came loose (SS4). They put in a lot of hard work in the C3 WRC to move back up the leaderboard (stage win on SS5, second on SS9, just 0.1s off the pace), but were unable to finish the opening leg any higher than eighth, after also suffering a sensor issue (SS6). In spite of a less than ideal position in the running order on Saturday, they managed to produce a consistent, error-free performance on day two, as they continued to get to grips with the C3 WRC on gravel and regained seventh position when one of the other crews suffered a puncture. They ended the final leg in the same place. This race, which they managed intelligently once they were no longer able to fully express themselves, will undoubtedly help them to begin the next event, their home round in Finland, in the best possible shape.

REACTIONS FROM…
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Sometimes in motorsport, you have a weekend where things just don't go your way and this weekend was clearly one of those. We’ll put it behind us and focus on the future. In running first on the road, the best we could have realistically hoped for would have been to finish around fifth, so my mistakes cost us a few points. But it is still incredibly close in the championship, even though I'm not the kind of person to take any pleasure from the misfortune of others, especially when it’s Ott.I'm now going to have a holiday and recharge my batteries. We’ll be back in Finland and try to do a lot better.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
"Obviously, it wasn't quite the result that we were hoping for. The problems we had on the first leg went a long way to determining the rest of our weekend. We weren't able to perform at our true level given our position in the running order. It was pretty much impossible to make up ground on these roads, where the grip increases so much with each passing car. We also weren't helped by making the wrong call on tyres on Saturday morning. But at least we made it to the finish. We’ll now get back to work so that we’re in better form for our home round in Finland.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL
What is your analysis of this weekend's race in Sardinia?

Obviously, this isn't the result we were hoping for, although we knew that running first on the road here, where the roads clean so much, Sébastien and Julien were bound to have their work cut out. We certainly can't blame them for their mistakes, because such errors are so highly uncharacteristic. And they did a great job on the Power Stage, showing their incredible fighting spirit once again. Esapekka and Janne had a slightly disappointing first half of day one and unfortunately, this had a knock-on effect on the rest of their weekend, forcing them to carve out the racing line for the rest of the field. In Sardinia, it’s a disadvantage that is almost impossible to overcome. However, they managed to cope intelligently with the frustration involved, getting more miles under their belt in the C3 WRC and making it to the finish. They will now look get their season back on track in Finland, where we know they definitely have the potential to do very well.

With the championship so tight, it looks like the summer break may be more work than play…

Yes, Sébastien and Julien’s never say die attitude, combined with the dramatic end to the rally, means that the championship remains wide open. It doesn't change the way in which we approach our WRC campaign at all, however. We are going to continue to deploy all our forces in the battle! We’re testing next week and one thing’s for sure, we will be redoubling our efforts to try and provide our drivers with the best weapons possible for the second half of the season.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND
Described by many observers as being more suited to a cross-country rally given the roughness of the road, the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage (6.89km) once again saw Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produce another majestic performance, despite being the first WRC crew to contest the stage.

Sébastien Ogier had predicted that the Power Stage would be very tough, given the extent to which the rough, gravel roads clean and provide more grip to those further down the running order. On these sorts of sandy roads, where ruts can form quickly, the ability to take risks could make all the difference. Sébastien and Julien produced an extremely committed performance, clearly shown in the utter concentration displayed on their faces in the on-board camera footage. Their driving, usually so clean and tidy, was extraordinarily aggressive, but their approach paid dividends at the finish! Only Andreas Mikkelsen, who started five places further down the running order, managed to go faster by just over two seconds. These hard-fought four points may yet prove decisive at the end of the season...

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
1.Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:32:27.2
2.Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +13.7
3.Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +32.6
4.Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +33.5
5.Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:30.1
6.Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:06.7
7.Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) + 2:59.6
8.Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4:40.1
42. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:22:58.5

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Ott Tänak – 150 points
2.Sébastien Ogier – 146 points
3.Thierry Neuville – 143 points
4.Elfyn Evans – 78 points
5.Teemu Suninen – 62 points
6.Kris Meeke – 60 points
7.Andreas Mikkelsen – 56 points
8.Dani Sordo – 52 points
9.Esapekka Lappi – 40 points
10.Jari-Matti Latvala – 40 points
* Subject to publication of the standings by the FIA

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Hyundai WRT – 242 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 198 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 170 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 152 points
19-06-17 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson tvåa i Italiens VM-rally
Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson slutar Italiens VM-rally på medelhavsön Sardinien på en andraplats i Junior-VM efter en stenhård fight med spanjoren Jan Solans, som vann tävlingen.

– Det är skönt att vara i mål, säger en lättad Dennis efter målgång.
– Det har vart en tuff tävling där vad som helst kunde hända. Vi pushade hårt på slutet, men Solans var riktigt snabb. Det var kul med en hård fight, och vi är riktigt nöjda.

Dennis och Johan inledde tävlingen starkt och tog ledningen på fredagen, en ledning de höll till söndag morgon. Jan Solans ökade tempot under lördagen och knapade in på Svenskarnas ledning successivt. Under söndagen slogs man om sekunder fram och tillbaka, innan Solans på sista sträckan kunde fastställa segermarginalen till 14,9 sekunder.

Teamet tar med sig mycket positivt från Sardinien. Bland annat ett högt tempo, mogen körning och ett starkt samarbete i bilen.
– Vi har haft riktigt bra tempo hela tävlingen och har inte gjort några misstag. Vi hade som mål att hitta en nivå där kunde åkte fort men ändå se efter bilen på de tuffa och steniga vägarna, och det lyckades vi med, fortsätter Dennis.
– Denna tävlingen är den tuffaste jag åkt som kartläsare. Det är inte bara att det vart extrem värme, utan det är mycket att hålla reda på här på Sardinien. Samtidigt som vägarna är dåliga och steniga och bilen hoppar och skakar hela tiden, säger Johan.

Med två deltävlingar kvar av årets mästerskap finns det mycket kvar att köra om, då finaltävlingen i Wales ger dubbla poäng. Nästa tävling avgörs i Finland i början av augusti, en tävling där Dennis och Johan tidigare stått på pallen.
– Nu är det fullt fokus på Finland, en tävling som vi åkt tidigare. Vi vet vad som väntar och ska förbereda oss väl för att komma högt upp, avslutar Johan.
19-06-17 Clean sweep for Tänak as he takes Rally Italia Sardegna lead
Estonian puts in a flawless day's driving to lead the way into Sunday. Ott Tänak produced perfection to win all six speed tests and take a commanding lead at Rally Italia Sardegna on Saturday night.

He finished the longest and toughest leg of the four-day Mediterranean island rally with a 25.9sec advantage in his Toyota Yaris over previous leader Dani Sordo. Teemu Suninen was a further 17.0sec behind in third in a Ford Fiesta.

Having overnighted in third, the Estonian took the lead in the last of this morning’s three tests, before extending his 6.4sec advantage to almost half a minute when the stages were repeated this afternoon.

Neither Sordo nor Suninen had any answer to his pace. Spaniard Sordo finished second in all three morning tests, while Suninen did likewise twice this afternoon.

Abrasive rocky tracks and high temperatures posed a fierce test for cars, drivers and tyres. Tänak’s morning mix of Michelin’s medium and hard compound rubber, followed by the durable hards this afternoon, paid dividends.

“To win all the stages is great, but my main priority is the rally win, stage wins make no difference,” he said. “It was a good fight today, Dani was pushing hard and did a really good job. I tried to be careful this afternoon because it was really rough in places.”

Sordo lost vital seconds this morning as his Hyundai i20, shod with hard tyres, suffered wheelspin. Suninen was delighted with his performance, blending pace with caution as he benefited from highly experienced co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen’s knowledge for the first time.

Elfyn Evans and Andreas Mikkelsen fought furiously for fourth. They swapped places in every morning test and the gap never exceeded 2.6sec until the final stage, when Mikkelsen lost time with badly worn tyres in his i20. Evans ended on top by 7.9sec in his Fiesta.

Both kept Kris Meeke at arm’s length until the Northern Irishman stopped to change a puncture on his Yaris in the final test. He dropped to eighth.

His time loss promoted Thierry Neuville into sixth, almost a minute adrift of team-mate Mikkelsen. The Belgian made a poor tyre choice this morning and struggled to find a rhythm in his i20, despite changing the set-up at the midpoint service.

Sunday’s final leg is the shortest of the weekend at 41.90km. Two identical loops of two stages culminate in the picture-postcard Wolf Power Stage along the west coast, which offers bonus points to the fastest five drivers.

Leading positions after leg 2:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 3h 04min 10.3sec
2. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +25.9sec
3. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +42.9sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +1min 25.4sec
5. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +1min 33.3sec
6. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +2min 32.4sec
19-06-17 C3 WRCs test set-up options in competitive conditions
With their position in the running order preventing them from expressing their full potential, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm focused mainly on working for future events, and their application was rewarded as they climbed to seventh overall. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia made another uncharacteristic error this morning, but still managed to gather information that will undoubtedly be useful for the forthcoming rounds.

The weekend’s longest leg, with a competitive distance of 142.42km and including two runs on the long Monti di Ala’ (28.21km) and Monte Lerno (28.03km) stages, day two seemed to possess all the ingredients to provide yet more drama.

Unfortunately, Citroën Total World Rally Team ended up centre stage for all the wrong reasons. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who had rejoined under Rally 2 rules following their retirement yesterday, made a mistake on the second stage of the day. As they exited a corner, the Frenchmen hit a rock that wasn't in their notes, damaging the rear left-hand suspension of their C3 WRC. They nonetheless managed to perform some makeshift repairs to get the car back to the mid-leg service, and once it had been fully repaired by the Reds’ technical team, they then effectively ran some in-competition testing for future outings. A test session that nonetheless saw them grab the second fastest time on SS13.

Fourth in the running order, which became third on the second stage of the day, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were not expecting to have the kind of conditions that would let them express their full potential, given the extent to which the Sardinian roads clean. The fact they went with a less than ideal set-up in terms of tyre choice for the opening loop certainly didn't help matters. However, the Finns – in addition to picking up more experience for future events – more or less managed to keep pace with the driver currently lying third in the championship, even though he was behind them in the running order. They even concluded the day on a positive note, claiming a fourth fastest time (7.4s off the pace over the 28.03km-long SS15) and moving up to seventh overall after one of their rivals suffered a puncture.

Tomorrow’s very short (41.90km, with four stages) final leg concludes with the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage (6.89km), set against the magnificent backdrop of the Mediterranean. Citroën Total WRT’s crews will have their work cut out to pick up any bonus points on this stage, as they will be among the early runners on these sandy gravel roads.

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Esapekka and Janne didn't have sufficiently favourable racing conditions today to allow them to express themselves fully and yet, at times, they showed really good pace in the C3 WRC, whilst also adopting a smart approach. Obviously it’s a shame that Sébastien and Julien made a mistake but it didn't prevent us from running some tests on set-up options that we had planned after they dropped out of contention to score heavily at this round.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Our mistake this morning was disappointing, because it then prevented us from really testing ourselves against our rivals on the second loop. We tried to do what we could, but without having driven the stages at full speed on the first run, it was clearly almost impossible to set fast times in the afternoon. SS13 is the only stage where I tried, because we had completed it in normal conditions on the first loop, and the time was okay. Obviously, you can count on me to try and grab some points in the Power Stage, even though it looks like it will be mission impossible. As the stage is rough, perhaps some crews won't be flat out, but we’ll be pushing as hard as we can.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Apart from one stage where we lost a bit of ground, we more or less managed to keep pace with Neuville today, who was behind us in the running order, so that’s pretty pleasing. I was comfortable in the C3 WRC but we couldn't hope to do much more with our road position.”

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:04:10.3
2. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +25.9
3. Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +42.9
4. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:25.4
5. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:33.3
6. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:32.4
7. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +2:58.3
8. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:53.3
9. Hänninen / Tuominen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +7:23.2
44. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:19:20.6
19-06-17 Sordo leads Rally Italia Sardegna as WRC leader Ogier crashes
Spaniard wins in Italy with championship leader hitting a rock in drama-filled day. Dani Sordo led Rally Italia Sardegna on Friday night as the captivating three-way battle in the FIA World Rally Championship took many twists and turns on hot and dusty Mediterranean island roads.

The Spaniard, driving a Hyundai i20, finished a drama-filled leg with a 10.8sec advantage over Teemu Suninen. Ott Tänak, the only driver of the title-tussling trio to steer clear of trouble, was a further 0.4sec back.

On a day in which five drivers led, Sordo moved to the front this afternoon. Although he won just one of the eight rocky and abrasive dirt road speed tests, he pulled clear in the final three after he and Tänak were tied at the top.

Sandy tracks covering a rocky base meant early starters struggled for grip. As one of the last frontrunners to start, Sordo benefited from a cleaner and faster line as those ahead swept the sand away.

“It was a hard day with high temperatures inside the cars and for the tyres, but I was on the right pace all the time. We had a little bit of an advantage because we started further back. I really want to fight for the victory, but it will be tough to hold off Ott,” he said.

Championship leader Sébastien Ogier had a disastrous day. He was almost 30sec off the lead in ninth when he hit a rock which shattered his Citroën C3’s suspension. Retirement was instant.

Thierry Neuville, third in the title fight, salvaged a ragged day to finish seventh. The Belgian twice made a wrong tyre choice, while a series of off-road errors, one of which followed a pace note mix-up and damaged his i20’s radiator, cost more time.

Suninen was the early leader in a Ford Fiesta after winning two stages, but a spin set him back. A third stage victory this afternoon helped to regain lost ground and he edged back ahead of Tänak in the final test.

Despite opening the roads following Ogier’s retirement, Tänak excelled in his Toyota Yaris to head Andreas Mikkelsen’s i20 by 9.0sec. Elfyn Evans was only a tenth behind in fifth, despite overshooting a hairpin in his Fiesta.

Jari-Matti Latvala led after the morning loop but it went badly wrong this afternoon when he rolled his Toyota Yaris. He battled on without a windscreen and remarkably won the next stage, but retired after going off the road in the final test.

Saturday is the longest leg. Three tightly-clustered stages east of Alghero are driven morning and afternoon, adding up to 142.42km. The highlight is the famous Micky’s Jump in the Monte Lerno test, where cars fly high as the road literally drops away beneath them.

Leading positions after leg 1:
1. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 1hr 36min 01.5sec
2. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +10.8sec
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +11.2sec
4. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +20.2sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +20.3sec
6. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +29.5sec

19-06-14 Rally Sweden säkrar nytt långsiktigt VM-avtal
Efter en längre tids förhandling har WRC Promoter och Rally Sweden enats om ett nytt långsiktigt VM-avtal som än en gång säkrar Sveriges plats i den prestigetunga VM-cirkusen. Avtalet som tecknats omfattar åren 2020, 2021 och 2022.

”Vår ambition har hela tiden varit att teckna ett nytt treårsavtal och nu är vi äntligen där. Alla som brinner och kämpar tillsammans med oss bär en viktig del i detta och jag vill rikta ett stort tack till hela vår organisation och våra funktionärer, våra offentliga och privata samarbetspartners och framförallt våra besökare och fans” säger Rally Swedens vd Glenn Olsson.

”Jag är väldigt nöjd över att vi har nått en överenskommelse där rally-VM fortsätter att återkomma till Sverige och Norge. Kombinationen av dynamiska WRC-bilar och moln av uppriven snö och is ger spektakulära actionbilder och unika sportsliga utmaningar till WRC. Värmland har visat sig vara en utmärkt värdregion och vi uppskattar verkligen den support som finns för rally-VM både från fans och media i Sverige” säger WRC Promoters vd Oliver Ciesla.

VM-avtalet säkrar Sveriges plats i kalendern fram till 2022 där konkurrensen hårdnar i takt med det ökande intresset globalt för rally-VM. Den uttalade långsiktiga visionen för WRC-kalendern är att utöka från dagens 14 tävlingar till 16, med fördelningen åtta i Europa och åtta utanför Europa. Nya länder de senaste åren är Turkiet och Chile och länder på väg in i kalendern, förmodligen redan nästa år, är Japan och Kenya. Det finns även en rad ytterligare länder som förhandlar om inträde i kalendern, exempelvis Kanada som vill arrangera en vintertävling.

”Att världens bästa sportkanal SVT redan köpt de nationella rättigheterna för rally-VM fram till 2021 placerar oss i finrummet exponeringsmässigt och var en viktig faktor för att våga ta steget och göra klart affären. Den ökande konkurrensen om platser i VM-kalendern återspeglar sig i avgifterna och våra kostnader kommer fortsätta öka stadigt de kommande åren. Vi har en stor utmaning framför oss att finansiera arrangemangen” säger Rally Swedens vd Glenn Olsson.

Rally Sweden är Sveriges största årligen återkommande sportevenemang och attraherar 100 miljoner tv-tittare och 200 000 besökare.
19-06-12 Dennis Rådström jagar segern på Sardinien
Till helgen avgörs den tredje deltävlingen i årets Junior-VM i rally på den Italienska ön Sardinien. Dennis Rådström, från Torsby, och kartläsaren Johan Johansson från Valdemarsvik ligger efter de två första deltävlingarna på en tredjeplats i mästerskapet, och siktar högt när årets första grustävling ska avgöras.
– Känslan inför tävlingen är bra. Vi var här och körde 2017, och känner till utmaningen. Vi ser fram mot tävlingen och hoppas på en bra helg, säger Dennis.

Tävlingen på Sardinien är en av de tuffaste på hela VM-kalendern med sina höga temperaturer, och sitt mycket grova grus med stora stenar. Något som sätter stor press på både bil och team.
– Största utmaningen med Sardinien är att hålla fokuset uppe. Det är långa dagar, höga temperaturer och utmanande sträckor. Så det är oerhört viktigt att hålla koncentrationen, säger Johan.

Dennis och Johan, som hittills har en tredjeplats i Frankrike som bästa placering, siktar på att vara med och kriga högst upp i resultatlistan i Sardinien.
– Vi har högt uppsatta mål och vill givetvis vinna, men även ha en rolig helg i bilen, avslutar Dennis.

Junior-VM i rally, Junior WRC, avgörs över fem deltävlingar där alla deltagare tävlar i identiska Ford Fiesta R2T från det Polska Fordstallet M-Sport.

Rally Italia Sardegna 2019 startar på torsdag den 13 juni och avgörs över 19 sträckor med målgång på söndag.
19-06-12 WRC title leader Sébastien Ogier discounts his chances to win in Italy
Frenchman rules out win after opening gravel roads at Rally Italia Sardegna. FIA World Rally Championship leader Sébastien Ogier has ruled out prospects of a third victory of the season in Italy this weekend.

Ogier must open the gravel roads in Friday’s first leg at Rally Italia Sardegna and believes the handicap will be too great to overcome during the final two days.

Starting first in the running order on the Mediterranean island’s sandy tracks will cost the Frenchman vital time as he fights for grip. His rivals behind will enjoy a cleaner and faster line, gaining seconds that Ogier will find hard to recover.

“Running first on the road means we can more or less write off our chances of winning from the word go, given how much the stages clean here,” said the six-time world champion, who holds a slender two-point lead over Ott Tänak.

“It looks like we won't be getting any help to upset the odds from the weather, with no forecast for a repeat of the rain that fell last year. So I’m expecting a tough weekend. Our performance on day one will once again largely determine our overall result.”

Tänak manoeuvred Ogier into the position by sacrificing bonus points in the final speed test at the previous round in Portugal. He slowed metres from the finish to ensure Ogier retained the championship lead and would start first.

Ogier, a three-time Sardinia winner, is no stranger to road sweeping. He performed similar duties in Portugal, minimising the first leg time loss to secure a sixth podium in seven rounds in a Citroën C3, whose performance in low-grip conditions has improved.

Tänak, making his 100th WRC start, is chasing a hat-trick of wins in his Toyota Yaris to take into the mid-season break after victories in Chile and Portugal reignited the Estonian’s flagging title bid.

The third driver in this year’s captivating title fight is Thierry Neuville. The Belgian, who recovered from a massive crash in Chile to finish second in Portugal and trail Ogier by only 10 points, won in Sardinia in 2016 and 2018.

“It’s one of my favourite events,” he said. “It suits perfectly to my driving style and to our pace note system. The championship is heating up nicely, so it will be another close.”

Temperatures exceeding 30°C and roads which become rough and rutted for the second pass make this fixture one of the toughest of the 14-round series. The tracks are fast but narrow, with trees and rocks lining the roadsides to leave little margin for error.

The rally starts in Alghero on Thursday evening and drivers face 19 tests covering 310.52km before the traditional harbour plunge finish celebrations in the town on Sunday afternoon.
19-06-11 Favoritrally väntar Andersson och Veiby
Ole Christian Veiby tar nya tag efter branden som stoppade norrmannens framfart i Rally Portugal. På medelhavsön Sardinien ska Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS-föraren på nytt ta upp jakten på VM-ledningen i WRC 2.
- Sardinien är en tävling jag verkligen gillar! Jag har kört rallyt två gånger och slutat tvåa båda gångerna.
Segerchanser har funnits tidigare och finns förstås även nu.
- Förra året ledde jag med över en halvminut, men fick tekniska problem på lördag kväll och tvingades slutföra dagen med bara bakhjulsdrift. Ändå körde jag in som tvåa totalt. Alla specialsträckor i år är ungefär som tidigare, så jag känner att vi kan de här vägarna. Det är en fördel.

Att farten finns i teamets Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 råder ingen tvekan om. I Portugal dominerade Veiby och co-drivern Jonas Andersson i WRC 2-klassen.
- Jag ser fram emot att ta upp tråden från Portugal och fortsätta det jobbet vi påbörjade där. Vi hade ju en ganska komfortabel ledning när vi tyvärr tvingades bryta och jag hoppas att vi klarar att finna den härliga känslan när vi sätter oss i Polon igen.

Efter branden har det varit bråda dagar för teamet att dels renovera bilen dels hitta orsaken till felet som har satt flera bilar av samma typ i brand. Teamchefen Tommy Kristoffersson förklarar:
- Det är kort tid mellan de här tävlingarna, men vi har haft en bra dialog med Volkswagen Motorsport, Volkswagen Sverige och Even Management och med hjälp av ett åtgärdsprogram känner vi nu att bilen är säker att köra. Dessutom kommer vi att få fysisk hjälp av en ingenjör från Tyskland på plats i Italien.

Kristoffersson anser att Veiby förtjänar en framgång efter sina senaste prestationer.
- Vi tycker att vi skulle ha vunnit senast, men det är sånt som händer i den här branschen. Ole Christians insatser har varit värda mer. Han har kört moget och tagit kliv framåt i år. I Portugal hanterade han situationen mycket väl så länge han var med.

På smala grusvägar ska Veiby nu visa att han vill vara med i kampen om WRC 2-titeln.
- Vi hade som plan att vinna så många tävlingar som möjligt i år och har ju visat att vi kan, så det är bara att fortsätta på den vägen. Vi satsar allt och kör för seger, avslutar Ole Christian Veiby.

Rally Italia inleds med en superspecialsträcka i närheten av staden Alghero på torsdag kväll.

19-06-11 Veiby går for seier på Sardinia – Rally Italia Sardinia 14 – 16 juni
Det er gått knapt en uke siden brann-dramaet i Portugal, men Ole Christian Veiby og kartleser Jonas Andersson er allerede klare for ett nytt VM-løp, det samme er Polo’en. – Bilen er fikset, så jeg er absolutt klar for Rally Italia Sardinia, som faktisk er ett av mine favoritt-løp, vi skal gå for seier, forteller Ole.

Dette er tredje gangen Ole Christian kjører VM-runden på Sardinia, og med to andreplasser i bagasjen gleder han seg til å ta fatt på det som kanskje er VM-kalenderens mest teknisk krevende grus-løp. - Sardinia er ett løp jeg absolutt liker! Kjørt det to ganger og ble nummer to begge gangene. I fjor ledet jeg også med over halv-minuttet, men fikk tekniske problemer lørdag kveld og måtte fullføre dagen med bakhjulstrekk. Kjørte allikevel inn til andreplass totalt, og vant over halvparten av prøvene. Alle fartsetappene er omtrent som før, så jeg føler jo at vi kan løpet litt. Er jo egentlig ett favoritt-løp, og det er jo en fordel.

Serviceparken har fått tilholdssted på kaia i kystbyen Alghero, og det kan ventes temperaturer opp mot 30 grader, noe som fort kan bli til 60 grader inne i bilen. Fartsetappene på den idylliske middelhavsøya er smale og dekket av ett lag med sandete grus, så her blir det både tørt, støvete og varmt. Første loopen er gjerne preget av mye road-cleaning og lite «grip», mens det for ettermiddagsloopen forventes mer «grip», så her er det viktig med en god dekk-strategi. I tillegg ligger det gjerne en god del store steiner gjemt under sanden, og trær langs veikanten kan fort ødelegge om man kommer litt bredt i en sving. Lange dager ventes også, lørdag kommer crewet til å være i bilen i nesten 17 timer.

Under den forrige VM-runden i Portugal lå Ole Christian i ledelse da han måtte bryte lørdag etter at bilen plutselig tok fyr inne på en fartsetappe. Fram til da hadde han vunnet 5 av 9 fartsprøver, og fredag kveld var han også raskest R5 bil totalt. - Gleder meg til å ta opp tråden fra Portugal og fortsette den gode jobben vi startet der. Hadde jo en ganske komfortabel ledelse når vi dessverre måtte bryte, og håper virkelig at vi klarer å finne igjen den go’følelsen når vi setter oss bak rattet på Polo’n igjen. Bilen har vært igjennom en ganske stor rebuild og er nå heldigvis klar igjen.

I VM-sammendraget ligger Ole Christian på en tredjeplass, etter seier i Sverige og tredjeplass i Monte-Carlo. Seieren glapp i Portugal etter en plutselig brann i bilen, men Ole Christian er fortsatt optimistisk. - Hadde som plan å vinne mest mulig løp i år, og vi har jo vist at vi kan, så vi fortsetter med samme målsetting. Vi satser alt, og går for gull igjen!

WRC2 vs WRC2PRO info
Klassen WRC2PRO er for fabrikksteam, og det kåres en egen vinner i klassen. WRC2 er for de som ikke kjører for ett team, og det kåres også her en egen vinner. I begge klassene kjøres det med R5 biler. Det konkurreres under samme regler, bortsett fra på asfalt løpene – hvor WRC2PRO har lov til å ha routenote-crew (safety-crew). Dette er ikke tillatt for de som kjører i WRC2. Team påmeldt i WRC2pro må ha med minst én bil (max to) i minimum 7 løp, og ett av de må være utenfor Europa. Fører/kartleser i WRC2pro får poeng i 8 av løpene de deltar i. I WRC2 kjører man 7 løp, også telles de 6 beste når poengene skal telles opp.

Tidsplan
Torsdag 13 juni
09:00 Shakedown Olmedo (3,92km)
17:00 SS1 Ittiri Arena Show (2,00km)

Fredag 14 juni
06:00 Service Alghero
08:03 SS2 Tula 1 (22,25km)
09:20 SS3 Castelsardo 1 (14,72km)
10:09 SS4 Tergu – Osilo 1 (14,14km)
11:18 SS5 Monte Baranta 1 (10,99km)
12:14 Service Alghero
14:42 SS6 Tula 2 (22,25km)
15:59 SS7 Castelsardo 2 (14,72km)
16:48 SS8 Tergu – Osilo 2 (14,14km)
18:04 SS9 Monte Baranta 2 (10,99km)
18:40 Service Alghero

Lørdag 15 juni
05:20 Alghero Service
08:08 SS10 Coiluna – Loelle 1 (14,97km)
09:11 SS11 Monti Di Ala’ 1 (28,21km)
10:03 SS12 Monte Lerno 1 (28,03km)
12:35 Service
16:08 SS13 Coiluna – Loelle 2 (14,97km)
17:11 SS14 Monti Di Ala’ 2 (28,21km)
18:03 SS15 Monte Lerno 2 (28,03km)
20:35 Alghero Service

Søndag 16 juni
07:15 Alghero Service
08:15 SS16 Cala Flumini 1 (14,06km)
09:08 SS17 Sassari – Argentiera 1 (6,89km)
11:15 SS18 Cala Flumini 2 (14,06km)
12:18 SS19 Sassari – Argentiera 2 Power Stage (6,89km)
13:15 Alghero Service
15:00 Podium
19-06-04 Tom och Henrik bröt SOuth Swedish Rally men laddar nu för nästa VM-tävling på Sardinien
Helgens South Swedish Rally tog slut för Tom Kristensson och Henrik Appelskog på den 7:e av 11 specialsträckor efter en avåkning.
- De syd småländska vägarna är inte förlåtande, glider man lite för långt ut ligger det oftast en sten i kanten ,och sedan bär det till skogs, detta var det som hände oss, förklarar Tom.
- Vi hann dock skaffa bra erfarenhet av bilen på grus inför nästa VM-tävling, genom att testa lite olika inställningar och däck, vilket vi tar med oss till Sardinien.
- Det var även kul att kunna visa upp VM-bilen, Ford Fiesta R2T, på hemmaplan för supportrar och publik, som fick möjlighet att studera den på närmre håll på serviceplatsen i Älmhult.
- Jag vill även tacka alla som på olika sätt gjorde det möjligt för oss att starta i South Swedish Rally, och teamet IK Sport från Slovenien för sin proffsighet.
- Resten av veckan skall vi rehabilitera lite ömmande muskler och planera inför avresan i helgen till den 3:e deltävlingen i Junior-VM på Sardinien, säger Tom.

Tävlingen på Sardinien, Rally Italia Sardegna, är den 8:e deltävlingen i VM och den 3:e i Junior-VM, JWRC.

Underlaget är grus, och vägarna är överlag ganska smala men snabba, och blir oftast lösa, detta i kombination med värmen gör att däcksstrategin är viktig.
Starten sker nästa torsdag kväll, den 13 juni med en superspecial och målgång är på söndag eftermiddag. Då skall man ha avverkat 19 specialsträckor på 31,3 mil. Sträckorna är på den norra delen av ön och körs två gånger vardera, förutom superspecialen.
- Det är, precis som övriga VM-tävlingar, en helt ny tävling för oss, säger Tom. De förberedelser vi gör är att studera filmer och annan information om sträckorna. På rekognoseringen i början av veckan får vi se hur de är i verkligheten.
- Vi kommer att använda samma taktik som i de två första tävlingarna, hitta känslan och vårt tempo, det har fungerat jättebra både i Värmland och på Korsika, så det ändrar vi inte på.
- Dessutom skall det bli en fantastisk upplevelse, som vi skall njuta av, avslutar Tom

19-06-02 Tänak captures back-to-back wins in Portugal to boost title bid
Ott Tänak withstood intense pressure to claim his second consecutive 2019 FIA World Rally Championship victory in an action-packed finale in Portugal on Sunday afternoon.

He claimed a third triumph of the season at Vodafone Rally de Portugal, his second in a row following last month’s success in Chile, to move within two points of championship leader Sébastien Ogier.

Driving a Toyota Yaris, Tänak finished the hot and dusty dirt road encounter 15.9sec clear of Thierry Neuville, in a Hyundai i20. Ogier clinched his sixth podium in seven rounds in a Citroen C3, a further 41.2sec behind.

After taking the lead on Friday morning, Tänak repelled challenges from Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke and also overcame brake and suspension problems in his Yaris to score a ninth career victory.

“This is one of my hardest victories ever. We had a big fight and some small issues but managed to win it. Before the rally it was looking tough. It wasn’t looking too bad on Friday but yesterday lunchtime it was looking quite bad,” said the Estonian.

In a bizarre twist, Tänak sacrificed extra points in the final Wolf Power Stage to ensure he does not have the disadvantage of starting first at the next round in Italy. He slowed in the closing metres to ensure Ogier took maximum bonus points and will open the road.

Meeke closed to within 2.4sec of Tänak this morning before spinning out of second place. He then crashed into a tree stump and wrecked his car’s suspension in the final stage.

His retirement promoted Neuville into second. The Belgian trails Ogier by only 10 points at the season midpoint in another enthralling three-way title fight.

M-Sport Ford team-mates Teemu Suninen and Elfyn Evans finished fourth and fifth in Fiestas after a crushing final day retirement for Esapekka Lappi. The Finn firstly rolled his C3 and then exited with broken rear suspension after swiping a bank.

WRC 2 Pro winner Kalle Rovanperä scored a career-best result in sixth ahead of Latvala, who regained ground after stopping with similar suspension problems to Tänak on Saturday.

Vodafone Rally de Portugal final positions:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 3hr 20min 22.8sec
2. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +15.9sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +57.1sec
4. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +2min 41.5sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +7min 08.3sec
6. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Skoda Fabia +10min 34.2sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 7 of 14)
1. S Ogier 142pts
2. O Tänak 140pts
3. T Neuville 132pts
19-06-02 Citroën pocket yet another podium
With their chances of pushing for the win compromised by their successive road positions, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia nonetheless refused to give up. Their never-say-die attitude was justly rewarded with their sixth podium of the season, the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s seventh top-three finish in as many rounds. Equally deserving of a good result, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were unfortunately caught out in the closing stages with the finish in sight.

With today’s final leg covering just fifty-two kilometres and held on stages well known to all the crews, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s chances of making up the 11.8s gap to the podium were slim. Citroën Total WRT’s standard bearer focused on the Power Stage, and the bonus points available, whilst remaining ready to pounce if a rival crew should make a mistake under pressure. And that is exactly what happened on the final stage, enabling the French crew to move up to third position. They therefore secured their sixth podium of the season – and Citroën Total WRT’s seventh – after yet another very intelligently crafted performance. With the five extra points earned for winning the Power Stage, Sébastien and Julien continue to lead the world championship.

Leaders coming into the Portugal round, and therefore forced to run first on the road, the six-time world champions feared they would suffer here, given the very loose, dry conditions seen in recce. They managed nonetheless to produce a heroic performance on day one, reaching the end of day service in fifth place, just 3s off the podium, having in particular successfully gambled on tyre choice. However, the difference in road position compared to the other podium contenders was so significant on Saturday that it prevented Sébastien and Julien from fighting in even conditions. They therefore began today’s final leg 11.8s behind the third-placed crew.

Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm, who were just 2.3s off fourth place after SS2, had also made a good start to the rally. Unfortunately, one of their tyres came loose on landing a jump (SS3) and the pair found themselves down in eighth overall by the end of day one. They then produced an impressive performance on Saturday’s leg to climb to fifth overall, including three fourth fastest times, despite having spent two thirds of the day running in a very tough second position on the road. Unfortunately, a minor error at the start of Sunday’s leg (SS16) proved to be extremely costly. The pair turned slightly too sharply into a right-hand hairpin and ended up spinning and then rolling their C3 WRC. As they attempted to defend their fifth place on the next stage, they clipped a bank, damaged the rear left-hand suspension and had to retire within sight of the finish.

REACTIONS FROM…
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I didn't think we could score twenty points this weekend. Although we never had a chance of winning the rally with our position in the running order, we gave it absolutely everything, regardless of the situation. So, to that extent, this result is just rewards. In truth, I was hoping not to be first on the road in Sardinia, but every point counts at the end of the season. I'm pleased to see that we were competitive on the Power Stage, which was more or less the only stage of the weekend where we had the same grip conditions as our rivals. That means we have also progressed in terms of performance although it was difficult to show it, given the circumstances.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“After our roll, the car wasn't too badly damaged, it was just missing the rear spoiler. I thought I had a good rhythm on the following stage but I was slightly too optimistic on a right hander over a crest and I hit a bank, which caused a puncture and then damaged the suspension. There were too many kilometres left to cover with our makeshift repairs. I'm really very sorry for the whole team, who deserved better.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again showed superb race management this weekend…
Yes, absolutely! Given, their road position on day one, but also throughout the weekend, they clearly did a great job on these roads, where cleaning is such a major factor. Despite not being able to fight on even terms, they managed to maintain the pressure and remain ready to seize any opportunities that came their way. Their determination and resilience were rewarded with another podium finish and a handsome tally of points for the championship. They had a good feeling in the C3 WRC, which also confirms that we have made significant progress with the car and are moving in the right direction. We’re going to keep working even harder because we’ll have to deal with the disadvantage of cleaning the road again in Sardinia.

Despite their retirement today, there some promising signs in the performance of Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm…
We’re obviously disappointed they didn't make it to the end of the rally after two mistakes, especially after such a fine day yesterday. After very good pre-event testing, during which we identified the differential set-up that suits them the best, they were really on their way towards putting together a decent performance, so I hope they can build on this in Sardinia. We are now going to work together and support them so that they can manage this kind of situation better in the future.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND
Thomas Breton, race engineer to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, looks back on the crew’s incredible performance during the first leg, which they ended in a somewhat unexpected fifth place…

“Given the extent to which we expected the road to clean this weekend, we had focused on maximising the balance of the car in low-grip conditions during pre-event testing. Apart from on Friday’s opening stage, where they were probably getting a feel for the loose conditions, Seb and Julien were genuinely incredible. It is also worth mentioning that on the first stage, Seb had accidentally switched to road mode and by the time he realised this, he had probably lost a couple of seconds. The afternoon loop went particularly well, since they were only two tenths per kilometre off the stage-winning times. Tyre choice undoubtedly also played a role in their performance. Due to running first on the road, and also the fact that Seb is a driver who really looks after his tyres, we opted for a different strategy to the other drivers in the afternoon. We kept two Michelin mediums, despite the high temperatures, where all the other crews went with five hard tyres. Having the right strategy is one thing, of course, but you still have to deliver! And that’s precisely what he did. The data shows that Seb just doesn't overdo it when there’s no need and his approach paid dividends in the times.”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3h20’22’’8
Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +15’’9
Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +57’’1
Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2’41’’5
Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 7’08’’3
Rovanperä / Haltunen (Skoda Fabia R5) + 10’34’’2
Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 11’28’’2
Kopecky / Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) + 11’41’’9

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Sébastien Ogier – 142 points
Ott Tänak – 140 points
Thierry Neuville – 132 points
Elfyn Evans – 65 points
Kris Meeke – 56 points
Teemu Suninen – 44 points
Sébastien Loeb – 39 points
Jari-Matti Latvala – 38 points
Andreas Mikkelsen – 36 points
Esapekka Lappi – 34 points
* Subject to publication of the final standings by the FIA

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Hyundai WRT – 202 points
Toyota Gazoo Racing – 182 points
Citroën Total WRT – 158 points
M-Sport Ford WRT – 122 points
* Subject to publication of the final standings by the FIA
19-06-02 Emil Bergkvist tvåa i Portugals VM-rally
I helgen körde Emil Bergkvist från Torsåker tillsammans med kartläsaren Patrik Barth sin andra deltävling i årets Rally-VM i Portugal i klassen WRC2. Tävlingen slutade med en andraplats för Emil och Patrik, som även blev 10:a totalt i WRC tillsammans med sitt team J Motorsport.
– Det känns som en seger faktiskt, säger Emil.
– Det är oerhört skönt att äntligen få till det, vi har lyckas köra utan problem hela tävlingen. Jag har längtat efter att få stå på pallen i WRC2, och nu vi en konkurrenskraftig bil som funkar kanon. Jag är lättad nu.

Emil, som förra året blev Juniorvärldsmästare, vann den Ford Fiesta R5 som han nu kör tillsammans med däck och bränsle. I Rally Sweden i februari blev han fyra, men har sedan dess inte suttit i bilen. Därför trodde Emil själv att en pallplats inte skulle vara möjlig.
– Det har gått för bra egentligen, med tanke på inte kört nått sen i februari så trodde vi inte detta. En pallplats var vårt absolut högsta mål, men vi siktade på topp fem, fortsätter Emil.

– Bilen vart kanon hela tävlingen, teamet har var bra, och framförallt har Patrik var oerhört koncentrerad och levererat noter i den extrema värmen som vart här. Vi har hållt oss kalla och inte gjort några misstag.

Emil har jobbat hårt de senaste månaderna för att få ihop allt till tävlingen i Portugal, och nästa inplanerade tävling skulle vart på Sardinien om två veckor. Men eftersom att det blir för tight för att få ihop allt tills dess väljer Emil och Patrik att stå över tävlingen, för att istället fokusera på Finlands VM-deltävling senare i sommar - dit de ska den nyutvecklade Ford Fiesta R5 som M-Sport nu håller på att färdigställa.

Men eftersom att Emil och Patrik efter den starka inledningen på säsongen nu ligger bra till i VM-tabellen, är planen att lägga till en tävling om man har bra medaljchanser mot slutet av säsongen.
– Vi kommer nu jobba hårt mot finska rallyt i den nya bilen, och försöka att få ihop resten av säsongen. Vi hoppas att denna starka start på säsongen ska ge medvind, och vi planerar för att kunna lägga till en tävling i slutet av året, avslutar Emil.

Regerande Juniorvärldsmästaren Emil Bergkvist tävlar med kartläsaren Patrik Barth för teamet J Motorsport i en Ford Fiesta R5 från M-Sport i klassen WRC2. I WRC2 räknas poäng från de sex deltävlingar som respektive ekipage ställer upp i.
19-06-01 Tänak clings on to Portugal lead after late Saturday drama
Estonian holds slender advantage in Toyota over Meeke and Neuville. Ott Tänak's Vodafone Rally de Portugal lead was hanging by a thread on Saturday night after a dramatic finale to the penultimate leg.

He clung onto a 4.3sec lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing colleague Kris Meeke after damage to his Yaris' front right suspension left him limping through the final speed test – the longest of the rally at almost 40km.

An identical problem for team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, on the other side of the car, sidelined the Finn from second place before the same test after he was on course to deny Tänak a second consecutive WRC victory.

Brake problems in the opening test slowed Tänak and two stage wins for Latvala slashed the Estonian’s overnight lead from 17.3sec to 5.1sec.

Latvala damaged his suspension after a heavy landing in the afternoon’s opener. He struggled through the next test before stopping, leaving Tänak 15.2sec clear of Meeke before the leader struck trouble of his own.

“Twenty-five kilometres before the finish we broke the front right damper. Five kilometres after I went wide in a corner and had to reverse. It was a challenging stage. Tomorrow, if there are no issues, it should be a good day,” said Tänak.

The top three places were blanketed by 9.2sec as Thierry Neuville won the final two stages in a Hyundai i20 to close to within 4.9sec of Meeke.

A hydraulic problem meant Meeke could not use his handbrake in the last stage, which was littered with hairpin bends. The Briton limited the time loss to stay ahead of Neuville and set up a pulsating battle for the podium on Sunday.

High temperatures, hanging dust and rough roads ensured the leg, which comprised more than half the rally’s competitive distance, was a gruelling challenge.

Championship leader Sébastien Ogier was fourth in a Citroen C3, 21.0sec off the lead and an unwitting player in a double dose of tactics by Neuville's Hyundai team.

With Dani Sordo and Sébastien Loeb out of the running for a top place after fuel pressure problems on Friday, the Korean squad ordered them to deliberately incur time penalties by dropping down the start order to slot in after Ogier and ahead of Neuville.

It meant Ogier had two cars fewer starting before him to sweep loose gravel from the road and provide a cleaner and faster line.

Team-mate Esapekka Lappi climbed from eighth to fifth, leap-frogging Teemu Suninen, who was almost half a minute behind in a Ford Fiesta.

Sunday's finale is the shortest of the weekend. Five sandy stages include a double run over the famous Fafe test, the second of which forms the Wolf Power Stage with bonus points for the fastest five crews. They add up to 51.77km.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 2hr 47min 23.1sec
2. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +4.3sec
3. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +9.2sec
4. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +21.0sec
5. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Citroën C3 +1min 37.5sec
6. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +2min 02.7sec
19-06-01 C3 WRC just shy of the podium
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, despite having to contend with poorer grip conditions than the other podium contenders, more than held their own to end day two fourth overall, within a few seconds of the podium places. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm confirmed their good feeling in the C3 WRC by moving up to fifth overall, after a really successful day on the Portuguese gravel.

Accounting for more than 52% of the total route, today’s second leg was contested over a competitive distance of160.70 kilometres and was widely expected to be a huge battle between the main challengers for the podium. And that is precisely what it turned out to be.

Running fifth on the road, whilst the other podium contenders enjoyed considerably better conditions (between 8thand 11thin the starting order) on the Portuguese gravel – where the grip level improves as more cars complete the stages – Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia faced a serious challenge today. However, once again, they showed their undeniable resilience and fighting spirit. They confirmed their desire and determination to finish third on the opening test (SS8) and although they subsequently occupied the minor places, they ended the leg with another third fastest time on the second pass on Amarante (37.60km), just 3.5s off the pace. Their pugnacious performance put them fourth overall this evening, within striking distance of the podium places (+11.8s) ahead of tomorrow’s final leg, which promises to be very closely contested…

Third in the initial running order, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm found themselves second on the road from the third stage of the day onwards. A handicap on these gravel roads – which clean significantly – that they nonetheless managed to overcome in impressive manner, confirming their return among the frontrunners thanks to the work done with the team in pre-event testing. They moved up to seventh place on the opening stage before grabbing sixth overall with fourth place on the first run on Amarante (37.60km), just 6s off the lead pace. Two more fourth fastest times in the afternoon (SS12 & SS13) saw their combative approach rewarded with fifth place.

With 51.77 kilometres and five stages left to go, the longest of which is barely twelve kilometres long, Sunday’s leg will be something of a sprint finish. A short final dash that includes two runs on the Fafe stage, which is expected to be mobbed once again with local fans.

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Our crews have both had a good day today. I would like to pay tribute in particular to the performance of Esapekka and Janne, who set some first rate times, despite having a really tough road position. They were very comfortable in the C3 WRC and I think that shows we’re moving in the right direction together. Sébastien and Julien had a slightly tougher day, where they were unable to fight with their direct rivals in even conditions. But they nonetheless had a solid day and a lot can still happen tomorrow.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I’m pleased with my fourth place this evening. The morning went better than the afternoon. We made a call on the tyres and changed the set-up, and perhaps that wasn't the best decision for the second loop. I am still learning the C3 WRC. It is still a positive result so far, because I feared the worst given the very loose conditions we saw in recce.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a very good day for us. I really enjoyed driving the C3 WRC! We have done some good work with the team and the car suits my driving style much better now. In fact, you can see this in the times we set, despite our position in the running order. The aim is now to keep up the momentum tomorrow.”

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:47:23.1
2. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4.3
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +9.2
4. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +21.0
5. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:37.5
6. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:02.7
7. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 6:10.4
8. Rovanperä / Haltunen (Skoda Fabia R5) + 8:33.8
19-06-01 Brann-drama for Veiby i Rally Portugal
Ole Christian Veiby hadde en solid ledelse i WRC2-klassen da bilen hans plutselig tok fyr under lørdagens tredje fartsetappe i Rally Portugal. – Vi merket plutselig at det luktet brann i bilen, og når vi så flammer i bakspeilet var det bare å stoppe, forteller Ole Christian.
Det som lå an til et vinnerløp for Ole Christian Veiby og kartleser Jonas Andersson, fikk altså en dramatisk slutt når duoen måtte bryte inne på SS10 lørdag formiddag. – Vi hadde kjørt ett lite stykke inn på prøva da jeg lurte på om jeg kjente at det luktet røyk inne i bilen. Jeg spurte Jonas om han kjente røyklukt, og han bekreftet det. Plutselig ser jeg i speilet at flammene står ut bak bilen, og da er det bare å stoppe. Heldigvis var det brannbiler og brannmannskap stasjonert akkurat der vi stoppet, og de fikk raskt kontroll over brannen.

Ole Christian hadde en soleklar ledelse i Rally Portugal når brannen skjedde, en ledelse han tok allerede etter SS2 og beholdt helt til han måtte bryte. Han var raskeste bil gjennom 5 av de 9 kjørte prøvene og avsluttet også fredag med å være raskeste R5 bil totalt, det vil si også raskere enn de som kjører WRC2pro. – Dette var kjedelig, forteller Ole Christian. – Alt fungerte perfekt, vi kjørte smart og kontrollert og allikevel gikk det fort. Det var fortsatt mye igjen av løpet, men det kjentes litt som om vi hadde denne seieren inne. Vi var «on fire», bokstavelig talt, så dette var kjipt! Nå får vi analysere og gå igjennom med fabrikken hva som har skjedd, før vi bestemmer veien videre.

Ole Christian og Jonas kommer ikke til å restarte igjen søndag morgen. Neste planlagte løp er Rally Sardinia 13 - 16 juni 2019.
19-06-01 Tänak tops Toyota trio in punishing Portugal opener on dusty Friday
Estonian creates impressive gap up front to title rivals Neuville and Ogier. Ott Tänak led a clean sweep of the podium positions for Toyota Gazoo Racing after Friday’s tough opening leg of Vodafone Rally de Portugal. He was one of the few drivers to avoid trouble in hot and dusty conditions to build a 17.3sec advantage in a Yaris World Rally Car over Jari-Matti Latvala. Kris Meeke completed Toyota’s treble a further 5.5sec back.

This seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship returned to famous roads near Coimbra for the first time since 2001. Hanging dust prompted organisers to extend start intervals to four minutes to avoid visibility problems.

Second in the start order threatened to hamper Tänak on narrow, twisty roads as he swept away loose gravel to leave cleaner roads for those behind, but he made light of the issue.

He was second initially before gaining a lead he did not relinquish. Two fastest times placed him 6.9sec clear at the midpoint, and he doubled that this afternoon.

“We said before the rally this was a critical day to survive in this event and ensure a better start position for tomorrow. We managed it and now we need to do the rest of the job,” said the Estonian.

Latvala remained hot on his heels until he stalled at a penultimate stage hairpin. The Finn stayed ahead of Meeke, who survived a broken intercom this morning, which required co-driver Seb Marshall to use hand signals to explain their pace notes.

Meeke briefly lost his grip on third to Teemu Suninen, but the Finn fell to sixth when brake failure forced him to zig-zag his Ford Fiesta through the penultimate stage to slow down.

Title rivals Thierry Neuville, driving a Hyundai i20, and Sébastien Ogier, in a Citroën C3, filled the next two places, blanketed by 1.6sec. Both lost time through cleaning, but profited from others’ troubles to climb the order. Neuville dropped 10sec with a stall.

Elfyn Evans dropped four minutes when his Fiesta stopped with an electrical problem in the throttle while, Neuville apart, the day was a disaster for Hyundai.

Dani Sordo led for the first two stages but both he and team-mate Sébastien Loeb spluttered through the third with fuel pressure problems in their i20s. Sordo dropped nearly 19min and Loeb yielded almost 16min.

Saturday’s toughest leg contains more than half the rally’s competitive distance. Crews face a double run over three tests, the opening two through the demanding Cabreira Mountains. They add up to 160.70km.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 1hr 03min 26.7sec
2. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +17.3sec
3. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +22.8sec
4. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +24.2sec
5. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +25.8sec
6. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +1min 15.7se
19-06-01 Citroën well placed to keep fighting
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia enjoyed yet another brilliant opening leg, making up for the handicap of running first on the road by pushing hard at every opportunity and ending the day fifth overall, just 3s off the podium. Equally comfortable in their C3 WRC, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were on course to record a similarly impressive performance but were stopped in their tracks when one of their tyres came loose. They nonetheless end the day within striking distance of sixth place.

Despite being contested on stages in the Arganil region that were new to the entire current generation of crews, this very short opening leg (94.50km) turned into something of a sprint. It must be said that the stakes were high, with today’s opening leg deciding the running order for tomorrow, the rally’s longest day. The challenge looked set to be tough for the crews, with the stages contested in stifling heat and on roads where grip levels improve dramatically with each passing car.

Obliged to open the road as championship leaders, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia came through the testing circumstances remarkably well. Sixth overall at the mid-leg point, having limited the damage incredibly well, the six-time world champions did even better in the afternoon loop. The only crew to take two medium compound Michelin tyres along with three hards, whilst their rivals opted for five hards, their gamble paid off. They were second fastest on SS5 and then third on SS6, ending the leg fifth overall, only 3s adrift of the podium places. They will therefore start in seventh position tomorrow and should be able to continue to challenge at the front.

Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm also made a promising start to their weekend, where they contested their maiden rally in a WRC in 2017. They were sixth overall after SS2, just 2.3s off fourth place. However, unfortunately, one of their tyres came loose on landing after a crest and resulted in them losing more than a minute (SS3). There were also unlucky in the afternoon, held up on SS5 in particular and unable to push as they would have liked due to dust kicked up ahead by a delayed competitor, but the crew were subsequently credited with part of the time lost. They nonetheless showed good form, with a third fastest time on SS6, just 3.2s off the lead pace. This evening, the two Finns lie 8s off sixth place and are determined to make the most of their fourth place in the running order tomorrow to keep making progress.

With a competitive distance of 160.70 kilometres (in six stages), day two includes two runs on Amarante (37.60km), the longest stage of the weekend. The crews also return to more familiar stages, regularly contested in recent years. Roads where the sandy ground tends to break up significantly on the second pass…

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Given how much the roads clean here, Sébastien and Julien produced another impressive performance today. They probably could not have hoped to do much better, really. It certainly augurs well for the rest of the rally, where they should enjoy conditions that will make it easier for them to fight for the leading places. Esapekka and Janne were also showing promising pace and were clearly unlucky with the tyre coming loose. Their feeling and their confidence in the C3 WRC still improved constantly and I have high hopes they can continue to show that tomorrow.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I’m pleased with what we managed to do in the really tough conditions we had today in opening the road, especially on the first stage of the loop. If you’d offered me fifth position at the end of day one before the start, I’d have bitten your hand off! The gap to Ott is already pretty big, but the second-placed crew is not that far ahead. We’re now going to try our very best to catch them. Day two will be very long and probably very rough but we’ll give it everything.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“We were unlucky with the puncture but I’m pleased to see that we are a lot more competitive here than at the previous rounds. We’re moving in the right direction, especially as I’m now starting to feel that we can do even better. That’s our aim for the rest of the rally: focus on our race, undoubtedly fight with Teemu, whilst trying to keep out of trouble.”

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:03:26.7
Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +17.3
Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +22.8
Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +24.2
Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +25.8
Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:15.7
Greensmith / Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:22.1
Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:23.7
Veiby / Andersson (VW Polo R5) +3:45.2
Kopecky / Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +3:49.3
19-05-30 Emil Bergkvist ödmjuk inför Rally Portugal
I helgen avgörs Portugals deltävling i Rally-VM, och på plats finns den regerande Juniorvärldsmästaren Emil Bergkvist från Torsåker tillsammans med kartläsaren Patrik Barth i klassen WRC2, där de tävlar i en Ford Flesta R5 med teamet J Motorsport.

Emil och Patrik, som inte har tävlat sedan deras fjärdeplats i Rally Sweden i mitten av februari, har jobbat hårt för att få ihop ekonomin för fortsatt tävlande i Rally-VM.
– Jag vill rikta ett stort tack till alla runt mig som ställt upp och hjälpt till nu när det vart tuffa tider, även alla andra som bidragit med ekonomiskt stöd för att få oss till start, säger Emil.

Som förberedelse inför tävlingen har Emil och Patrik kört ett test i början av veckan för att slipa av rattrosten och komma tillbaka in i körningen.
– Vi har inte tävlat sedan Rally Sweden, men har kört 5 mil test här i Portugal som var väldigt givande. Så både vi och teamet är redo för tävlingen.

WRC2-klassen mönstrar som vanligt hårt motstånd, med inte mindre än 23 bilar till start i klassen. Där även topptrion i årets mästerskap finns med.
– Det är oerhört tufft motstånd som vanligt, men vi ska försöka göra ett felfritt rally så får vi se vart det ta oss i slutändan. Framförallt ska vi ha roligt i bilen, avslutar Emil.

Tävlingen startar på fredag morgon och avgörs över totalt 18 sträckor med målgång på söndag.
19-05-29 WRC heavyweights primed for Portugal rally duel
Loeb’s late call-up brings the prospect of another mouth-watering duel with Ogier. The two most successful drivers in WRC history locked horns again in Chile three weeks ago. Ogier fended off his fellow Frenchman in a final-leg fight to finish second and regain the championship lead in his quest for a seventh straight world title.

It was expected to be their last head-to-head for a while as Loeb’s part-time programme with Hyundai Motorsport was not due to continue until the second half of the season.

But Loeb’s stunning performance in Chile, when he finished third on his first gravel appearance in a Hyundai i20, prompted the Korean squad to draft him into their Portugal line-up in place of the out-of-form Andreas Mikkelsen.

Despite not having driven northern Portugal’s gravel speed tests before, Loeb has a favourable start position for Friday’s opening leg, and some believe the 45-year-old can topple Ogier and challenge for what would be a remarkable 80th WRC victory.

"Participating in this rally is an unexpected bonus,” he said. “It’s not easy to discover a new rally, especially one my opponents have already taken part in, but I’ve seen there are some beautiful stages on the first day in the Arganil area.

“It is always difficult to set goals, given that my opponents already know the rally but my goal is to be at the front in the fight for first place.”

Ogier is a Portugal master. He has five wins to his name and a sixth would break the record of Finland’s Markku Alén. It was also the scene of his first WRC victory in 2010.

His fifth podium in six rounds in Chile left him 10 points clear of Ott Tänak and 12 ahead of Thierry Neuville in the title race.

Despite a significant improvement in his Citroën C3’s performance, he has demanded further development to improve grip in slippery conditions – exactly the circumstances he will encounter on Friday from first in the start order.

“If we’re to have a chance of scoring heavily here, we’ll need to manage running first on the road as best we can on Friday’s fairly short opening leg to end the day as high up the standings as possible. On gravel, it’s crucial in order for the rest of the weekend to go well,” he said.

Tänak’s Chile win rejuvenated his bid for a maiden title while Neuville has fully recovered from a massive crash there which left the Belgian with bruising and an injured leg.

The rally, round seven of 14, begins on Friday morning. Drivers face 18 speed tests covering 306.97km before the finish in Matosinhos, near Porto, on Sunday afternoon.
19-05-29 Veiby jagar VM-ledning
Det har varit ett långt uppehåll från rally-VM för Ole Christian Veiby, men kommande helg är norrmannen och Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS på plats i Portugal för att försöka återta VM-ledningen i WRC2.
- Jag har fått köra lite på grus, både en del test och Rally Sörland, säger Veiby, som vann NM-tävlingen hemma i Norge.
- Vi visade bra speed och en seger är bra för självförtroendet.

Teamet har använt veckorna sedan tävlingen på Korsika i slutet av mars till att optimera den Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 som Veiby rattar med co-drivern Jonas Andersson bredvid.
- Vi har gjort en total genomgång av bilen. Det mesta är utbytt, säger stallchefen Tommy Kristoffersson, som skickar ett starkt manskap till norra Portugal, med tekniske koordinatorn Kai Roger Waaler i spetsen. Samtidigt ska teamet täcka upp South Swedish Rally i SM-serien.
- Det blir en större utmaning för oss att vara på två tävlingar samtidigt, men det är inspirerande och vi har kompetent personal på båda ställena, menar Kristoffersson.

Efter att deltävlingarna i Argentina och nu senast Chile har avgjorts utan Veibys deltagande så har VM-ledningen tagits över av mexikanen Benito Guerra, 61 poäng, med japanen Takamoto Katsuta, 47 poäng, på andra plats. Ole Christian ligger för närvarande trea med sina 40 poäng efter en tredjeplats i Monte Carlo och seger i Rally Sweden hittills.
- Vi har valt de rallyn som passar oss och Ole Christian bäst, med mer fokus på Europa, så det är helt enligt beräkningen. I Portugal har han kört två gånger tidigare och jag tror han har goda chanser att ta en pallplats, kommenterar Tommy Kristoffersson.

Veibys tidigare erfarenhet av Portugal är med tvåhjulsdrift i juniorklassen, men optimismen frodas.
- Jag känner till en del av sträckorna och på fredagen är det bara nya vägar, så det är ju bra för oss att det är lika för alla. Det är ganska tuffa sträckor så det blir en balans mellan att köra fort och att ta vara på bil och däck.

Kampen i toppen kommer att bli hård. Startlistan innehåller hela 23 bilar i WRC 2 och ytterligare fyra i WRC 2 Pro.
- Vi kör alltid för en plats på pallen, men det är ett stort startfält och många bra chaufförer, konstaterar Veiby.

Rally Portugal inleds på fredag morgon och avslutas med power stage på söndag eftermiddag.
19-05-28 Veiby er klar VM-rally på grus, Rally Portugal 30 mai – 2 juni
Med seier fra Rally Sørland i bagasjen er det en optimistisk Ole Christian Veiby og kart-leser Jonas Andersson som reiser til Portugal for årets 7 VM-runde, og deres første VM-løp på grus med Polo’n. - Jeg gleder meg skikkelig, Rally Portugal blir nok ett bra rally!

Rally Portugal blir det første VM-løpet som kjøres på grus med Polo’n for Ole Christian. Men med ett par test-dager før løpet og seier på Rally Sørland, er Kongsvinger-gutten klar; - Har fått kjørt litt på grus, både litt test ogRally Sørland. NM-runden på Sørlandet var bra, der viste vi bra speed. Selv om underlaget der er ganske hardpakket, nesten som asfalt enkelte steder, så har vi fått testa ut grusoppsett. Seier er dessuten alltid godt for selvtilliten, vi er klare for å kjøre på grus!

Kun to ganger før har Ole Christian kjørt Rally Portugal, begge gangene som junior og i en tohjulstrekker. Både i 2015 og 2016 kjørte Ole Christian inn til femte-plass med en DS3 i JWRC klassen. - Selv om jeg ikke har fått kjørt løpet mer enn to ganger før, så har jeg vært der på gjennomkjøring, så føler at jeg kjenner prøvene ganske bra. Også er det bare nye prøver på fredag, og det er jo bra for oss at det er nytt for alle. Prøvene er ganske røffe, og de er nok ganske oppkjørte når vi kommer på andre gjennomkjøring, så det blir en balanse mellom å kjøre fort og ta vare på bil og dekk.

Etter tre kjørte VM-løp ligger Ole Christian på en tredjeplass sammenlagt i WRC2-klassen. Han ledet klassen totalt etter Rally Sverige, og med ett godt resultat i Portugal er ledelsen innen rekkevidde; - Vi går alltid for en plass på pallen, men det er ett stort start-felt i Portugal og mange gode sjåfører. Målet er allikevel topp 3, og gjerne seier, sånn at vi kan ta tilbake ledelsen sammenlagt i WRC2. Hele 23 biler står på start-lista i WRC2-klassen, hvor vi denne gang også finner nordmannen Henning Solberg.

Løpet starter med 3 helt nye fartsprøver som kjøres to ganger fredag. Dagen avsluttes imidlertid med en kort prøve på rallycross-banen Lousada, som er kjent fra før. Både lørdag og søndag kjøres på kjente veier, og løpet avsluttes med den berømte Fafe Power Stage, kjent for utallige tilskuere og ett heftig hopp.

WRC2 vs WRC2PRO info
Klassen WRC2PRO er for fabrikksteam, og det kåres en egen vinner i klassen. WRC2 er for de som ikke kjører for ett team, og det kåres også her en egen vinner. I begge klassene kjøres det med R5 biler. Det konkurreres under samme regler, bortsett fra på asfalt løpene – hvor WRC2PRO har lov til å ha routenote-crew (safety-crew). Dette er ikke tillatt for de som kjører i WRC2. Team påmeldt i WRC2pro må ha med minst én bil (max to) i minimum 7 løp, og ett av de må være utenfor Europa. Fører/kartleser i WRC2pro får poeng i 8 av løpene de deltar i. I WRC2 kjører man 7 løp, også telles de 6 beste når poengene skal telles opp.

For Rally Portugal er det påmeldt 4 biler/ sjåfører i klassen WRC2pro, her kjører blant annet Mads Østberg. I WRC2-klassen er det påmeldt hele 23 biler/ sjåfører, her kjører Ole Christian Veiby og blant andre Henning Solberg.

Tidsplan Rally Portugal 2019 (lokale tider, Portugal ligger en time etter Norge)
Torsdag 30 mai
09:30 Shakedown Paredes (4,60km)

Fredag 31 mai
08:30 Tyre Fitting Zone Coimbra
09:48 SS1 Lousa 1 (12,35km)
10:32 SS2 Gois 1 (18,78km)
11:20 SS3 Arganil 1 (14,44km)
12:33 Tyre Fitting Zone Arganil
13:51 SS4 Lousa 2 (12,35km)
14:35 SS5 Gois 2 (18,78km)
15:23 SS6 Arganil 2 (14,44km)
19:03 SS7 Lousada (3,36km)
20:10 Service Exponor

Lørdag 1 juni
06:45 Service Exponor
08:38 SS8 Vieira do Minho 1 (20,53km)
09:31 SS9 Cabeceiras de Basto 1 (22,22km)
10:47 SS10 Amarante 1 (37,60km)
12:50 Service Exponor
15:08 SS11 Vieira do Minho 2 (20,53km)
16:01 SS12 Cabaveiras de Basto 2 (22,22km)
17:17 SS13 Amarante 2 (37,60km)
19:15 Service Exponor

Søndag 2 juni
06:50 Service Exponor
08:25 SS14 Montim 1 (8,76km)
09:08 SS15 Fafe 1 (11,18km)
09:49 SS16 Luilhas (11,89km)
10:35 SS17 Montim 2 (8,76km)
12:18 SS18 Fafe 2 Power Stage (11,18km)
13:50 Service Exponor
15:45 Podium Matosinhos
19-05-27 Röjsel mot Junior-VM
23-årige smålandsbosatta dalmasen, Daniel Röjsel, tar nästa steg i karriären efter 7 SM-medaljer inom svensk rallysport.
Även om ekipaget, Daniel Röjsel med co-drivern Mikael Johansson, leder SM i trimmat 2WD inför stundande South Swedish Rally är planerna för 2020 redan satta då start i Junior-VM i rally är målet.
- Egentligen tycker jag, och de personer jag har runt mig, att vi skulle ha tagit klivet ut internationellt tidigare. Rally är lite som att bygga företag. Det händer sällan över en natt, och genom dom 6 år jag har tävlat i sporten har jag hunnit knyta mycket kontakter och fått personer att tro på mig genom både bra resultat och seriöst agerande kring tävlandet. Förhoppningsvis är det tillräckligt många nu för att vi ska få igenom detta, säger Daniel.

I Junior-VM hyr deltagarna en plats i anrika Fordteamet M-Sport, där alla kör identiska tvåhjulsdrivna Ford Fiesta R2t. Elektronikboxarna och även mekanikerna lottas ut inför varje tävling för att göra det så rättvist som möjligt. Fem deltävlingar körs, från Rally Sweden i februari till Wales Rally GB i oktober. Kalendern för 2020 är däremot inte helt fastställt ännu. Daniel räknar med en budget på strax över 2 miljoner kronor för att kunna köra mästerskapet fullt ut med ekonomiska marginaler.
- Sverige har hög klass inom rally där vi ofta hävdar oss bra internationellt. Förra årets junior-världsmästare är svensk och i år har vi två ekipage från landet som är med och slåss om mästerskapet. Serien ser just nu ut att vara den bästa språngbrädan ut till större team i högre klasser, kommenterar Daniel.

Efter Junior-VM, eller J-WRC som det heter, kommer WRC2 följt av WRC, som är själva VM på absolut högsta nivå. I WRC2 finns stora team med fabriksuppbackning och än fler i WRC. Där har eventuella investerare möjlighet till avkastning genom andel av förarnas lön och sponsorkontrakt, något som varit populärt i den starka rallynationen Finland som skördat stora framgångar genom åren.

Vidare information och upplägg för personer och företag som är intresserade av att vara delaktiga kommer framöver.

Mer information om Daniel går att läsa på hemsidan: https://www.danielrojsel.se/se/info-5138127
19-05-27 Rallye de portugal notebook & Citroën secrets
THE RALLY DE PORTUGAL NOTEBOOK BY… SÉBASTIEN OGIER
53rd Rally de Portugal (30 May – 2 June) – Story
Fast-tracked into the world rally championship by Citroën, the now six-time world champion claimed his maiden WRC win in a C4 WRC at the 2010 Rally de Portugal. Having won the rally four times since then, this is also one of the events where he has enjoyed the most success.

On your first appearance at the event in 2009 in a C4 WRC, you showed genuine promise when running sixth overall on the opening leg, before making a mistake the next day…

“Yes, coming over a huge crest, I misunderstood a pace note and unfortunately turned the wrong way! But it’s true that I have always thought the roads on this rally were magnificent. At the time, the rally was held in the Algarve further to the south and I have to say I preferred the road surface there, which was more consistent. In 2015, the event became based in Porto, where the conditions are unfortunately very rough on the second runs. Having said that, the level of enthusiasm among the fans on the stages is unlike anywhere else and that’s good for the sport, so I guess I understand why the event was moved back to the north. With the change this year to the opening leg, which was previously the hardest of the three days on the cars, I hope that the roads will be smoother and faster.”

For a long time, this rally was famous for how the fans moved out of the way of the cars at the very last moment as they flew through the stages. Did you grow up watching footage and dreaming about racing here?

“When I was younger, the only rally that I really followed was Monte-Carlo. When I look at pictures from the past, it was undoubtedly impressive but in the end, I’m very glad I didn’t experience that. I'm pleased that we, both the fans and the crews, now enjoy improved safety thanks to all the efforts made since then.”

In 2010, following your performance in New Zealand, were you expecting to record your maiden win at the next round, in Portugal?

“We had certainly got to the point where we were close to winning, so of course I hoped that we would manage to do it as quickly as possible. However, it’s never all that easy to take the final step. Clearly, securing the win at this rally was a fairly important stage in my career. Afterwards, we kept on improving and making progress. Winning your first rally certainly takes some of the pressure off. You feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. So I have very fond memories of the way in which we managed to secure our maiden win.”

Was it your greatest win?
“I’m lucky in that I have quite a few great wins. It will always be a bit special as it was our first win and undoubtedly one of the most important too, because it enabled us to more relaxed about aiming higher.”

What is your favourite stage on the current itinerary?

“Fafe, in addition to its iconic status and the huge crowds that gather around the jump, is a magnificent stage in terms of driving too. It’s just that nowadays, we all know it by heart, so it tends to feel more and more like track racing than rallying.”

CITROËN SECRETS
In finishing just 2.4s behind Jari-Matti Latvala at the fifth round of the 2010 season in New Zealand, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia came very close their first WRC win. At the following round in Portugal, they seized the opportunity and confirmed their undeniable potential, as they secured a stylish win.

Whilst Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, also competing in a C4 WRC, swept loose gravel off the road surface on day one, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia took advantage to move clear at the front and build up a healthy 44.8s lead over their experienced team-mates. Back then, however, the regulations stated that on the next two legs, the rally leader was first in the running order and therefore swept the loose gravel off the roads for the rest of the field. At a significant disadvantage for two days, the then talented youngsters nonetheless produced a heroic performance to hold off their team-mates and win the rally by 7.9s, having held the overall lead from SS4 to SS18 and finishing as second best performers with six stage wins!
19-05-13 Nytt bra rally av Mads Østberg og Torstein Eriksen i Citroen C3 R5 i WRC2 Pro i Rally Chile
En teknisk feil gjorde at det allikevel «bare» ble 2. plass. På den 7. fartsetappen lakk all bremsevæske ut, og de siste 2/3 av etappen ble gjort uten bremser. Det ble mange sekunder tapt, og Mads endte helt nede på 11. plass på den etappen. Da var det 2 etapper igjen før de kunne kjøre inn på service, og få fikset bremsene der. En god mekanikerjobb fra Mads og Torstein på transporten mellom prøvene, gjorde at de fikk ordnet bremser foran, blokkerte tilførselen bak, og vant de 2 neste prøvene kun med forbremser.

Alt i alt dette løpet vant Mads og Torstein 12 av 16 etapper.
«Jeg er fornøyd med kjøringen,» forteller Mads. «Skoda har dominert WRC2 og R5 (bilklassen) i all tid, og de hadde sin beste sjåfør her. Vi overtok en bil som har hatt store utfordringer og som ikke har levert noe som helst på low-grip tidligere. Sammen med fabrikken har vi testet oss fram til noe som går fort, uten at vi har nye deler på bilen, bare brukt det vi har. Nye deler kommer senere, og da blir bilen enda bedre. Vi har absolutt tempo til å vinne, og kjører raskest på de fleste fartsetappene, så jeg er ikke fornøyd med at vi blir nummer 2. På siste dag, mens det er full fight mellom Seb Ogier og Seb Loeb om viktige plasseringer, (2. eller 3. plass), er vi mindre enn 1,5 sekunder langsommere pr. km enn beste WRC bil på vårt beste. Det er jeg veldig fornøyd med - bilene tatt i betraktning.» avslutter Mads.

Neste løp for Mads og Torstein er rally Portugal fra 30. mai til 2. juni.

19-05-13 The C3 WRC secures its sixth consecutive podium as Ogier-Ingrassia finish as runner-up!
Once again among the leaders on their debut outing in Chile, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia continued their impressive series of podiums to finish as runners-up after an incredibly intense battle in their C3 WRC, following the improvements made to the car by Citroën Total World Rally Team since Argentina. This result sees them reclaim the championship lead. Increasingly comfortable as the rally progressed, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm ended sixth overall, completing a fine all-round performance by the team.

With more narrow and fast stages to experience for the first time at full pace, today’s final leg was not short on difficulties, but it was made even more taxing by the fine drizzle that had fallen overnight, leaving roads significantly damp. In these testing conditions, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia saw the third-placed crew trim their advantage to just 1.1s on the opening stage. The six-time world champions then produced the kind of performance of which they alone are capable. They pushed throughout the full 18.06 kilometres of Lircay, the rally’s narrowest stage, to claim their second stage win of the weekend, 4.2s ahead of their rival for second place.The French crew then managed the gap to the end, finishing second overall and thus securing their fifth podium in six rounds, following wins at Monte-Carlo and in Mexico, second place in Corsica and third in Argentina.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia also collected four bonus points in the Power Stage, meaning they head back to Europe from Chile with a ten-point lead in the championship standings. This sixth podium finish in as many rounds this season, combined with the sixth position of Lappi-Ferm, also means the Citroën Total World Rally Team stays within touch of second place in the manufacturers’ standings.

On stages in the wooded sections, left damp by rain before the start, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia immediately settled into second position on day one. And although the morning of day two proved more difficult, they were able – in conjunction with the team – to respond perfectly in the afternoon loop, grabbing a stage win and a third fastest time on their way to doubling their advantage over the third-placed crew. Unfortunately, they were hampered by the late arrival of fog and rain on the final stage of the day, allowing their rivals back into the mix ahead of the short final leg.

After a cautious, focused start to the race, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm had closed to within 10.3s of fifth place with the third fastest time on yesterday’s final stage. They confirmed their growing confidence and improved form today, grabbing a fifth and a fourth fastest time. Their splits on the Power Stage were also very promising until a minor error dashed their hopes of any bonus points. They nonetheless finished sixth overall. They can take heart from an encouraging result, one which they will hope to build on, so they can start the next round in Portugal in the better shape.

Engaged in a close fight for the WRC2 Pro class win until a minor brake issue cost them time on Saturday morning’s loop, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen had to settle for second place in the end. The Norwegians nonetheless claimed twelve stage wins out a total of sixteen, demonstrating the competitiveness of the C3 R5 once again.

REACTIONS FROM…
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“This podium further confirms our very good start to the season. We have been very consistent and the points are good for the championship. It wasn't an easy weekend, however, even though things moved in the right direction after Saturday’s mid-leg service. We got the best out of the C3 WRC once again. We now need to develop the car even more so that we can be more competitive in low-grip situations.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“We had a difficult start, but we managed to make progress bit by bit. We also managed to improve the set-up of the C3 WRC with the team and our pace started to be pretty decent today. I really hope that we can keep going forward like this in our forthcoming tests. In any case, it ended up being a positive weekend in terms of my confidence.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL
What is your assessment of this sixth round?
Clearly, it was a positive weekend, with the fine second place secured by Sébastien and Julien. They produced another attacking performance, on these totally new stages, which needed quite a bit of getting used to. Their perseverance was rewarded with a good result that sees them back at the top of the standings. The other cause for satisfaction is the feeling that Esapekka and Janne have found again. They put together a smart, mature performance to finish the race, after gradually building their pace. It certainly augurs well for the rest of the year, especially as we now start a run of events that they know better. I think we also showed that we were able to react and introduce a few minor upgrades, which worked, in the fairly narrow window available between Argentina and Chile. Having said that, we are fully aware that these changes are not enough as yet to fight with the fastest crews in all conditions, and we are going to step up our efforts in order to keep improving.

What did you think of this first edition of Rally Chile in the WRC?
I think the event has been a successful addition to the championship! Having driven on the stages in recce, I have to say they really are very attractive. The roads are fast, undulating but also highly varied. We have also been very warmly welcomed by the local fans. They were especially noisy and enthusiastic at the ceremonial start and at the finish, but were also out in big numbers on the stages and in the service park.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND
In finishing 4.2s ahead and all but securing second place on Sunday morning on Lircay (SS14), the narrowest stage of the rally, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again showed their ability to take incredibly precise pace notes, as well as their talent for striking at just the right moment. The number 1 C3 WRC driver explained…

“Obviously, with Julien, we give our all on every stage, that goes without saying. Although we’re not always able to compete with the fastest crews on technical stages and in low-grip conditions, I knew that SS14 and SS15 were the kind of stages that suited us best. They were fast – in fact, the average speeds were above 100kph for the first time this weekend – and we know that the C3 WRC performs well in conditions like this so we couldn't afford to miss this opportunity! Especially as we had just dropped four seconds on the opening stage of the day. We had to hit back and that’s exactly what we did.”
19-05-13 Dominant Rally Chile victory boosts Ott Tänak’s WRC title challenge
Ott Tänak reignited his FIA World Rally Championship title bid with victory at the inaugural Copec Rally Chile on Sunday afternoon. The Estonian led from the second of the 16 speed tests on Friday morning in a Toyota Yaris. He measured his pace on wet, slippery and foggy forest tracks to claim his second win of the season by 23.1sec from Sébastien Ogier.

Victory promoted him to second in the drivers’ standings after disappointing results at the previous two rounds. He lies 10 points behind new leader Ogier, who replaced Thierry Neuville at the top as the championship approaches its midpoint.

Neuville lies two points further adrift after his huge rally-ending crash yesterday. All three have now scored two wins each this season.

Aside from an overshoot in the first speed test, Tänak was firmly in control, quickly getting to grips with the tricky conditions and new pace notes required for Chile’s WRC debut. A final charge ensured maximum bonus points from the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage.

“It was a very difficult and demanding weekend and I needed a lot of focus and energy to be perfect,” he said. “We weren’t on the limit all the time. We’ve had two setbacks in a row before this where we lost the rally lead, but we proved we’re back in the fight.”

Ogier locked horns with fellow multi-world champion Sébastien Loeb in a furious fight for second. Driving a Hyundai i20 for the first time on gravel, Loeb closed to within 1.1sec of Ogier this morning before the Citroen C3 driver battled back to finish 7.1sec clear.

Ogier’s Power Stage drive was handicapped when a fire extinguisher went off, leaving the Frenchman light-headed by the end of the 12.52km test.

Elfyn Evans eased through the short final leg to claim fourth in a Ford Fiesta, more than a minute adrift of Loeb. Team-mate Teemu Suninen held off Esapekka Lappi to secure fifth, his cause aided when Lappi spun his C3 in the final stage.

The championship returns to Europe later this month for the first of two hot weather gravel road fixtures there. Vodafone Rally de Portugal is based in Matosinhos, Porto, on 30 May - 2 June.

Final positions
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 3hr 15min 53.8sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +23.1sec
3. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +30.2sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +1min 36.7sec
5. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +3min 15.6sec
6. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Citroën C3 +3min 45.4sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 6 of 14)
1. S Ogier 122pts
2. O Tänak 112pts
3. T Neuville 110pts

19-05-12 Tänak controls Rally Chile as WRC leader Neuville escapes huge crash
The Estonian driver extends his lead after a dramatic Saturday in Chile. Ott Tänak stayed on course for his second FIA World Rally Championship victory of the season after extending his lead at Copec Rally Chile on Saturday.

With one leg remaining, he led Sébastien Ogier by 30.3sec. A charging Sébastien Loeb rolled back the years to close to within 5.1sec of fellow Frenchman Ogier after a stirring drive on the fast gravel tracks.

Series leader Thierry Neuville suffered a huge blow after a violent crash in his Hyundai i20. His car was destroyed when it rolled seven times after drifting wide in a fast corner, but the Belgian and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul escaped with bruising. Neuville had been third.

Tänak won two of the six speed tests, covering 121.16km, in his Toyota Yaris, keeping Ogier at arm’s length all day.

“It was a tough day and in these kind of conditions it’s difficult to control anything. I tried to find a good rhythm but in the last stage, with fog, rain and the wrong tyres, everything was wrong. We made it through and the gap is good, but we need to focus tomorrow,” he said.

Ogier wanted more pace from his Citroën C3 during the morning. He gambled with tyre choice in the afternoon and was happier with his speed, although the bad weather in the final stage allowed nine-time world champion Loeb to close in.

Loeb, driving an i20 on gravel for the first time, was the quickest driver today. He won two stages and only finished outside the top-three times once as he gained in confidence to charge from an overnight sixth.

He was locked in battle with Jari-Matti Latvala, but the Finn’s impressive drive came to a sad end when he hit a rock in the final test and broke his Yaris’s driveshaft. He is expected to restart tomorrow.

Elfyn Evans ended half a minute behind Loeb in fourth in his Ford Fiesta. He lacked stability in the high-speed sections but had almost two minutes in hand over young team-mate Teemu Suninen, who moved up from ninth to fifth. Esapekka Lappi had an improved day in his C3 to claim sixth.

Sunday’s final leg is the shortest, with four stages covering 58.38km near host city Concepción. Two runs through the Bio Bió test, the second of which forms the Wolf Power Stage and offers bonus points to the fastest five drivers, sandwich two longer tests.

Leading positions after leg 2
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 2hr 41min 05.5sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +30.3sec
3. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +35.4sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +1min 06.3sec
5. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +3min 03.0sec
6. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Citroën C3 +3min 13.3sec
19-05-12 The C3 WRC remains second ahead of final sprint
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia had increased their advantage over the third-placed crew, winning one stage during the afternoon loop, when fog and rain led to them losing time on the final test, but they nonetheless held onto their second place. Despite a less than ideal position in the running order, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made steady progress as they moved up into sixth overall.

Contested on wider, faster roads than on the opening leg, day two of Rally Chile revealed a new side to the local difficulties. With the roads offering increasing grip as more cars completed the stages, the running order proved to be a decisive factor.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again made the most of the conditions. After a solid, consistent opening loop, the six-time world champions then upped their game in the afternoon, with a smart call on tyre choice (three hard Michelin tyres and two mediums compared with five hards for their rivals) and improved set-up with the team on the C3 WRC. A stage win and a third fastest time followed, enabling them to consolidate their second position, whilst relegating their closest rival from being 6.4s behind this morning to trailing by more than twelve seconds. Unfortunately, on the final stage of the day, fog and rain moved over the area just as they were about to set off. Their lead was therefore cut to 5.1s going into tomorrow’s final leg.

Running second and therefore forced to act as road sweepers for those further down the order, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm nonetheless saw their feeling in the C3 WRC improve as they racked up more miles in the car. Keeping out of trouble, they moved up into sixth position, having started the day tenth overall, with a controlled, intelligent performance on today’s leg. After closing to within just 10.3s of the crew ahead of them with a third fastest time on the day’s final test, they now have fifth place in their sights. The places gained today mean they will be fourth on the road tomorrow, a starting position that should provide them with better conditions to express themselves on roads that they describe as being the ones they are most looking forward to this weekend.

Tomorrow’s 58.38km-long (four stages) final leg will see the crews fight it out once again on fast, narrow roads, with plenty of blind crests.

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“We’re pleased to see Sébastien and Julien remain in second position this evening after another tough day, which they managed very well. The C3 WRC was better suited to them in the afternoon loop of stages, which suggests that our efforts continue to move things in the right direction, although we clearly still have some work to do. I'm also pleased to see Esapekka and Janne gradually get the feeling in the car again and set times that reflect more accurately their undeniable potential. As usual, we’ll keep fighting hard right to the end.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I hoped for more this morning, but the second loop went better. This was mainly due to the substantial changes made during the mid-leg service, although the grip was also naturally better too. We were a bit unlucky on the final stage with the fog and rain, which cost us about ten seconds. Tomorrow’s stages look like being difficult as well, with the narrowest test of the weekend and lots of loose gravel on the Power Stage.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I'm pleased that my confidence behind the wheel improved as we completed more kilometres, and with the adjustments made to the set-up of my C3 WRC. The afternoon loop went better than the morning, and I’m beginning to enjoy it a bit more. I hope we can keep it up tomorrow, without taking any unnecessary risks. Keep it clean and tidy, and remain consistent.”

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:41:05.5
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +30.3
3. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +35.4
4. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:06.3
5. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:03.0
6. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +3:13.3
7. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:43.4
8. Rovanperä / Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) +6:33.2
9. Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +7:09.3
10. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 7:21.9
19-05-11 The Estonian builds a big lead after a strong perfomance on Friday afternoon
Ott Tänak shrugged aside an early error to hold a comfortable lead at the end of Friday’s fascinating opening leg of Copec Rally Chile. The Toyota Yaris driver won three of the six speed tests on slippery forest roads south of Concepción to head Sébastien Ogier by 22.4sec. Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was a further 6.4sec back in third.

Inconsistent grip and poor visibility caused by bright sunshine piercing the dense tree canopy ensured a demanding welcome for drivers at the FIA World Rally Championship’s first visit to Chile.

They also struggled for confidence with brand-new pace notes, which proved far from accurate in many cases after being made in thick fog.

Tänak overshot a corner and stalled his engine at a muddy bridge in the opening speed test but won the next test to grab the lead.

He dominated the afternoon to win both dirt road tests in a car that handled better after mid-leg changes, stretching his lead from a handful of seconds to almost half a minute.

“At lunchtime the engineers did a good job with the car. The feeling improved and the confidence is there. It won’t be easy tomorrow, but we’ll try to keep focused and hopefully we can keep our rhythm,” he said.

Ogier made an identical error in the opening special stage, but the Frenchman quickly grabbed second. He edged further clear this afternoon on drier roads, enjoying better performance from his Citroën C3 than in Argentina a fortnight ago.

Latvala had a rollercoaster day. The Finn shared the fastest time in the opening test with Kris Meeke but several mistakes, culminating in a final stage engine stall when on course for fastest time, kept him down in third.

Championship leader Thierry Neuville held fourth in a Hyundai i20, only 0.7sec behind. His morning push was interrupted when a red flag, issued for safety reasons, halted his attack on the second stage but a notional time kept him in the hunt.

Meeke’s day worsened after a strong opening test. He lacked confidence and slid to fifth in his Yaris, 2.2sec clear of nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb. Loeb got to grips with his i20 on his gravel debut in the car and climbed to sixth after a powerful afternoon.

Saturday’s action is based in similar territory south of Concepción, sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Biobió river. Two identical loops of three speed tests, covering a mix of forest tracks and more open roads are drive morning and afternoon, covering 121.16km.

Leading positions after leg 1:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 1hr 24min 12.8sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +22.4sec
3. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +28.8sec
4. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +29.5sec
5. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +46.5sec
6. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +48.7sec
19-05-11 Ogier-Ingrassia grab second in the C3 WRC
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced a fine display on day one of Rally Chile, ending Friday’s stages in second place. They are therefore ideally placed going into tomorrow’s second leg, where road order is expected to play a decisive role. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made it back to service this evening in tenth position, having spent the day building confidence and upping their pace bit by bit.

Described by the drivers as a subtle mix of Finland, Wales GB and Australia, this first ever Rally Chile served up a very tricky opening leg. The stages in the wooded sections, left damp by rain before the start, were especially slippery in the sections deprived of any sunshine.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia made a solid start with the fourth fastest time on SS1, just 2.6s off the pace despite a minor overshoot, immediately putting themselves among the frontrunners. Their early pace reflected the quality of the work done in recce by the six-time world champions on these roads, which are new to everyone. The second stage tackled straight afterwards on El Puma (30.72km), the longest test of the weekend, saw them move up into second position. They went on to strengthen their hold on second throughout the day, despite the poor visibility in the dense forests, with dazzling sunshine one minute and gloomy, dark shadows the next. This solid opening leg means the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s French crew will have one of the most favourable starting positions (10th) tomorrow, on stages that are expected to be slightly quicker than today.

Keen to get their bearings back after their misfortune in Argentina, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm did not get off to the kind of start they were hoping for, with a spin on SS1 forcing them to use reverse gear. They then tried to gradually find their marks in the C3 WRC, whilst progressively increasing their pace with each stage, ending day one in tenth place.

Their classification means, however, that the Finnish pair will start tomorrow’s 121.16km-long leg (six stages) in second position, where roads are widely expected to clean more significantly than on the other legs.

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Sébastien and Julien have had a pretty good first day, despite the tricky, low-grip conditions, thus confirming their ability to take effective pace notes in just two runs and adapt to unfamiliar road profiles. It also shows that the team has worked well to provide them with a better-prepared C3 WRC than in Argentina. We are now going to try and keep up this momentum, so they can continue to fight at the front. As regards Esapekka and Janne, they need more miles under their belt to be able to express their full potential. We’re doing everything we can to support them as effectively as possible as they rebuild their confidence. Their position in the standings is nonetheless consistent with that of the crews that have the same level of experience.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a tricky first leg, so I'm pleased to have completed it without making any significant mistakes and having given it everything I have. It was difficult to match Ott’s pace this afternoon, but we'll be back fighting tomorrow. The stages will be quicker, so I hope that will suit us a bit more. In any case, I’m pleased with the improvements made to my C3 WRC in the short timeframe available after Argentina.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Obviously, I was hoping for more from today’s opening leg, but it was a really complicated day for many of us. My pace and my confidence in the car were better in the afternoon, though.”

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:24:12.8
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +22.4
3. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +28.8
4. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +29.5
5. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 46.5
6. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +48.7
7. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:01.4
8. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:08.1
3. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:09.1
10. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +2:18.3
19-05-09 Excitement builds as Chile becomes 32nd country to host a WRC round
Neuville chases a hat-trick of wins to extend lead at top of overall standings. Chile’s graduation this week as the 32nd country to host an FIA World Rally Championship round adds an intriguing new aspect to an already captivating title battle.

Thierry Neuville chases a hat-trick of wins to extend his 10-point series lead after success in Corsica and Argentina. But Copec Rally Chile’s debut throws up a raft of questions and challenges that will only start to be answered when the action begins on Friday (10 May).

One thing is certain. This sixth round will be fought on a level playing field as none of the front-running drivers have previous experience of the dirt road speed tests. Tuesday’s initial recce day marked the first opportunity to view them other than in briefing videos.

It placed a huge emphasis on accuracy and spotting potential hazards, as crews had just two passes of each stage in which to compile new pace notes.

The 16 fast and smooth speed tests are based south of the port city of Concepción, mostly on forest tracks sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the imposing Rio Biobió, Chile’s second biggest river. Despite heavy rain last week, they are in good condition.

Neuville’s winning run has left the Belgian full of confidence but he admits Chile is a step into the unknown.
“It’s hard to set too many expectations when it promises to be a rally of surprise. We only discovered the stages for the first time during the recce but it will be a nice challenge. A lot of work awaits us, but I’m looking forward to it,” said the Hyundai i20 pilot.

Reigning world champion Sébastien Ogier has demanded more speed from his Citroën C3 than on the rocky and rugged roads in Argentina two weeks ago, when the Frenchman acknowledged he was lucky to snatch third place.

“I hope we’ll have slightly better performance here. From what I can tell by watching the videos available, the roads do seem really quite different to those we had in Argentina. The stages seem to be fairly flowing and fast,” he said.

Disappointing results on the last two rounds have relegated Ott Tänak from the lead to third, 28 points adrift of Neuville. However, the Toyota Yaris driver starts as many people’s favourite for a second win of the year.

The action starts on Friday morning and competitors face 304.81km of competition before the finish in Concepción on Sunday afternoon.
19-05-03 The C3 WRC tastes Chile for first time
Round six of the season, the third on gravel after Mexico and Argentina, introduces the C3 WRC to Chile, which hosts a world rally championship event for the very first time. With Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm, Citroën Total World Rally Team is well equipped to tackle this brand new challenge successfully.

Always very comfortable when tackling stages for the first time, after just two runs in recce, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will be aiming to rack up their fifth podium of the season at this new round, adding to the overall wins at Monte-Carlo and in Mexico and top-three finishes in Corsica (2nd) and Argentina (3rd). Although they are still fine-tuning certain points with the team as they adapt to the C3 WRC, the win in Mexico and the podium in Argentina, along with ten stage wins set at these two events, confirm that they are already comfortable in the car on gravel. Currently occupying the runners-up spot in the championship standings, they will be starting second on the road on day one. This position should provide them with the beginnings of a line to follow if conditions are dry, and may offer a significant advantage if it rains.

Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm still need to rack up more miles in the C3 WRC on this surface, which is why their approach will be about building their pace during the event, whilst also gradually showing the full extent of their undeniable potential. For once, the Finnish pair, who are one of the least experienced crews in the championship, will not be at a disadvantage compared with their rivals as regards knowledge of the roads. Starting eighth on Friday’s leg – provided the weather stays dry – also means that the roads will be swept clear of loose gravel and dust by those higher up the running order, thus enabling them to get their bearings more quickly.

As testing is forbidden outside of Europe, the quick transition from Argentina to Chile ruled out the option of holding any more tests. However, Citroën Total World Rally Team also prepared for Chile during the four-day test session it held in Portugal ahead of both South American rounds. The road surfaces are nonetheless somewhat different between Argentina and Chile, so Citroën’s engineers used all of the information available to them to adapt the basic set-up of the C3 WRC. They will also be looking to use the shakedown, due to be held on representative roads, to confirm the direction taken.

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“There’s always something exciting about competing at a rally for the first time. This one looks like it is going to be held on some great roads, which should make for a highly unpredictable race, with the crews all on an equal footing as regards experience. Recce will be critical, as will our ability to adjust our basic set-up. And then there’s the weather, which could well play a key role. But we are determined to provide the crews with the best C3 WRC possible so that we can grab our sixth consecutive podium of the year in Chile.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“From what I can tell by watching the videos available, the roads do seem really quite different to those we had in Argentina. The stages seem to be fairly flowing and fast, somewhat reminiscent of the ones you get at Wales Rally GB with all these sections through the undergrowth. I hope we’ll have slightly better performance here. There is still a significant layer of fine gravel on the road surface, which may make life complicated for the early runners. We’ll have to see whether the rain that has fallen recently limits the extent to which the roads clean or not.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“After a tough start to the season, I'm determined to get back on track in Chile and come away with a decent result, and regain confidence behind the wheel step by step. I hope that the weather will be kind to us on Friday. If it stays dry, the roads are likely to clean. That would enable us to make the most of being down the running order and get off to the ideal start. The stages look really nice and interesting. The road surfaces look good, or at least they did when they were filmed for the videos provided by the rally organisers.”

KEY FIGURES
16 timed stages covering a total of 304.81 km
30.72 km on El Puma, the longest stage of the rally, held twice on Friday’s leg
32nd Chile is the thirty-second host country in the history of the world rally championship
63 the high number of entries, compared with 23 and 25 respectively in Mexico and Argentina this year

RALLY CHILE SCHEDULE (GMT-4)
Although the rally will be based in the coastal city of Concepción (over 220,000 inhabitants), the stages will be mainly held in the forests located to the south between the Pacific coast and the Rio Biobio, the country’s second longest river.

The roads are likely to clean if the weather stays dry, in which case the timed stages are expected to be fairly flowing and fast. However, the weather may – as happened in Argentina – disrupt matters, the month of May being typically one of the wettest in this part of Chile.

The action starts on Friday with the longest leg of the weekend, over a competitive distance of 125.27 kilometres and featuring two runs on El Puma, the rally’s longest stage.

Even more so than usual, recce and the work done afterwards using the on-board footage, may well prove crucial. Needing to take paces notes for each of the three hundred and five kilometres covered during the weekend, the crews must maintain maximum concentration in order to describe the roads precisely and consistently, in just two runs at limited speed. The crews that manage do this and who are then able to really go for it on the first competitive runs, showing complete faith in their notes, may create even bigger gaps than usual.

THURSDAY 9 MAY
10.00am: Shakedown (6,45 km)

FRIDAY 10 MAY
6.30am: Start day 1
8.00am: SS 1 – El Pinar 1 (17,11 km)
9.33am: SS 2 – El Puma 1 (30,72 km)
10/36am: SS 3 – Espigado 1 (22,26 km)
12.51pm: Service A (Talcahuano – 40 mins)
3.24pm: SS 4 – El Puma 2 (30,72 km)
4.27pm: SS 5 – Espigado 2 (22,26 km)
6.40pm: SS 6 – Concepcion – Bicentenario (2,20 km)
7.15pm: Flexi service B (Talcahuano – 45 mins)

SATURDAY 11 MAY
6.30am: Start & service C (Talcahuano – 15 mins)
8.08am: SS 7 – Rio Lia 1 (20,90 km)
9.08am: SS 8 – Maria Las Cruces 1 (23,09 km)
10.20am: SS 9 – Pelun 1 (16,59 km)
12.05pm: Service D (Talcahuano – 40 mins)
2.08pm: SS 10 – Rio Lia 2 (20,90 km)
3.08pm: SS 11 – Maria Las Cruces 2 (23,09 km)
4.20pm: SS 12 – Pelun 2 (16,59 km)
5.45pm: Flexi service E (Talcahuano – 45 mins)

SUNDAY 12 MAY
7.00am: Start & service F (Talcahuano – 15 mins)
8.08am: SS 13 – Bio Bio 1 (12,52 km)
9.30am: SS 14 – Lircay (18,06 km)
10.20am: SS 15 – San Nicolàs (15,28 km)
12.18pm: SS 16 – Bio Bio 2 Power Stage (12,52 km)
1.15pm: Finish (Talcahuano)
19-04-28 Neuville increases WRC lead to 10 points with Rally Argentina win
Belgian cruises to victory with Mikkelsen second and title rival Ogier third. Thierry Neuville extended his FIA World Rally Championship lead to 10 points by completing back-to-back wins at Xion Rally Argentina on Sunday afternoon. Neuville, who moved into the series lead with victory in France last month, finished 48.4sec clear of Hyundai i20 team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen.

He seized the lead late in Friday’s rain-soaked opening leg when a broken driveshaft sent Ott Tänak into a time-consuming spin. He fended off the hard-charging Estonian on Saturday before an alternator problem ended Tänak’s hopes for good and left Neuville clear.

The Belgian eased through Sunday’s final three speed tests in the rough and rugged Traslasierra Mountains, near host town Villa Carlos Paz, to secure his second Argentine win in three seasons.

“I’m feeling great and we can be proud of what we’ve done. We had a fantastic car all weekend and I felt very comfortable. The entire team is working hard and we can see the progress. The result is good for the championship but upcoming events could be tougher,” he said.

Second for Mikkelsen at this fifth round of 14 represented a welcome change of form for the Norwegian. It was his first podium since Sweden in February 2018, coming on his return to the team after being axed for the previous round.

Sébastien Ogier snatched third in a Citroën C3, a further 16.4sec behind, in a dramatic finale in the iconic El Condór speed test. He overhauled Kris Meeke who struggled with a puncture in his Toyota Yaris for the final 5km. The gap between them was 1.4sec.

Ogier’s charge through El Condór also earned maximum bonus points in the Wolf Power Stage.

Meeke had earlier fought back after a 10sec time penalty late on Saturday for taking the wrong route demoted him to fifth from a podium place. The fired-up Briton quickly saw off Dani Sordo and Ogier this morning to reclaim third, only to fall back again.

It was a disappointing day for Spaniard Sordo. The i20 driver struggled for pace and slipped from fourth to sixth. He was also demoted by Jari-Matti Latvala, the Finn taking fifth in a Yaris on his 200th WRC start.

The championship remains in South America for round six. Copec Rally Chile makes its first appearance in the WRC on May 8-12. The gravel road encounter is based in Concepción.

Final positions:
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 3hr 20min 54.6sec
2. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +48.4sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +1min 04.8sec
4. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +1min 06.2sec
5. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +1min 21.1sec
6. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +1min 26.7sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 5 of 14)
1. T Neuville 110pts
2. S Ogier 100pts
3. O Tänak 82pts

19-04-28 A fifth consecutive podium for the C3 WRC as Ogier-Ingrassia finish third in Argentina
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced another heroic performance to claim their fourth podium of the season and Citroën Total World Rally Team’s fifth in 2019, after a nail-biting finish on the final stage!

After a ten-second penalty was handed to their direct rivals for the final podium place by the rally organisers late last night for failing to follow the racing route on one of Saturday’s stages, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia went into today’s final leg in third position. They held a slim 6.0s lead as they prepared to tackle the very rough stages of El Condor and Giulio Cesare. Displaying their famous never-say-die attitude, the six-time world champions put up a determined fight in the C3 WRC, whilst not forgetting the importance of ensuring they secured big points for the championship. Their efforts were rewarded in the end: victory on the Power Stage, their third stage win of the weekend, saw them hang onto the final podium spot by just 1.4s!

Sébastien and Julien’s third position, combined with the five bonus points earned on the Power Stage, means they consolidated their hold on second place in the world championship, ten points behind the leaders. This is their fourth podium this year, after winning in Monte-Carlo and Mexico, and finishing as runners-up in Corsica. It is also the fifth time in as many events this season that Citroën Total World Rally Team has finished in the top three.

Despite the difficult, changeable grip conditions, particularly on the opening day after the heavy rain that fell prior to the event, the French crew made an excellent start, consistently among the frontrunners to end the leg second overall, just 11.9s behind the leaders. Day two proved to be trickier. Confused about which route to take on the morning loop (SS11) by a gate left open – whereas the roadbook indicated it was meant to be closed – Sébastien and Julien hesitated and ended up damaging the power steering of their C3 WRC when they hit the gate. They therefore dropped back to sixth position, 21.8s adrift of the podium. They then fought back like the champions they are on the second loop, claiming two stage wins on their way to fourth overall, keeping them in with a good chance of finishing on the podium going into the final day.

After making a decent start with a fifth fastest time on the rally’s first proper stage (SS2), Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were unfortunately then held up by a puncture immediately afterwards (SS4) when they hit a bank following a crest. The Finnish pair were gradually upping their pace on what was only their second appearance in Argentina – as could be seen in their promising split times – when a tyre came loose following a puncture, rolling the car (SS8) and forcing them to retire from the rally on the opening leg.

Competing in the WRC2 Pro class in a C3 R5, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen claimed their second consecutive category win after Rally Sweden, whilst also amassing a handsome tally of ten stage wins from the overall total of seventeen contested. Yet further evidence of the competitiveness of Citroën Racing’s flagship customer racing product on the very demanding Argentinian roads, where the C3 R5 was competing for the first time.

REACTIONS FROM…
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It’s a pretty good result in terms of points, but we can't be pleased with our out-and-out performance level. There are some conditions, like those we saw in Mexico or here on the second runs, where we are fairly competitive. But we have to improve when there is less grip or when the road is more technical. I’m pleased to see our persistence rewarded, because once again this weekend we pushed as hard as possible right to the end.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Despite not knowing the roads here particularly well, I was obviously hoping for a better outcome from this round. But after we had picked up a puncture, I was caught out when the tyre suddenly came loose. This caused the car to understeer, we hit a bank at the side of the road and rolled the car. Obviously, I'm sorry for the team, but after a few days’ rest with my family, Janne and I will back raring to go and have the best Rally Chile possible, where we’ll all be on an equal footing in terms of experience.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL
How do you assess your performance in Argentina?
It was clearly a tough weekend, one that we can't be satisfied with. The points for third place and from the Power Stage are fairly positive as regards the championship, but we lacked pace on these roads. The result is down in large part to Sébastien and Julien’s relentless commitment and persistence. Meanwhile, Esapekka and Janne deserved at least to make it to the end of the rally, in order to keep adding to their experience. Perhaps in future they will need to manage a puncture differently, but we are still 200% behind them so that they can finally get back on the right track in Chile.

How are you intending to tackle the transition to Rally Chile?

First of all, we’ll be shipping the backup C3 WRC out to Chile for Esapekka and Janne, so that they will have a completely new car for the event. Although we have relatively little time, we are also going to get to work on improving the C3 WRC as much as possible in clearly identified conditions, and define the best set-up for the rally. It’s a new event for everyone, and will also be fairly different to what we experienced this weekend. In any case, we are all fired up to keep fighting as hard as possible for the championship.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND
Jean-Luc Gaucher, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s Chief mechanic, was the man in charge of coordinating Saturday’s mid-leg service, during which the Citroën mechanics repaired the stricken number 1 C3 WRC. He told us about how they took just forty minutes to repair the car’s power steering, broken by the French crew in a minor impact.

“Actually, we had a whole load of parts to replace. The entire power steering, of course, but also the gearbox, the hydraulic unit and the clutch. Generally speaking, these sorts of repairs need careful planning beforehand, so that everyone knows precisely what order to do things in and so that everything goes smoothly once you get started. Given that we only had one car left in the race at that point, we could have all eight of our mechanics involved, but on the other hand, we were limited by the physical space to four people working on the front on the car, in the critical area. Although we train for this kind of situation, it’s always satisfying to see things work out when it’s for real. It was important to get the car working again as quickly as possible, because when you work on the hydraulics, the start-up procedure takes quite a bit of time, but that’s precisely what we managed to do. After a long, difficult service like this, there’s always a niggling fear that you might have missed something, so it was nice – and reassuring – for all of us to see Sébastien and Julien grab two consecutive stage wins straight afterwards!”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:20:54.6
2. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +48.4
3. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:04.8
4. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:06.2
5. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:21.1
6. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:26.7
7. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:57.3
8. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +14:24.8
9. Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +14:28.5

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Thierry Neuville – 110 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 100 points
3. Ott Tänak – 82 points
4. Kris Meeke – 54 points
5. Elfyn Evans – 43 points
6. Andreas Mikkelsen – 30 points
7. Jari-Matti Latvala – 28 points
8. Esapekka Lappi – 26 points
9. Dani Sordo – 26 points
10. Sébastien Loeb – 22 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Hyundai WRT – 157 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 120 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 117 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 78 points
19-04-28 Sterk 2 plass til Andreas Mikkelsen i Rally Argentina
Endelig klaffet alt for Andreas Mikkelsen og kartleser Anders Jaeger-Amland, som i dag kjørte inn til en sterk og etterlengtet andre plass i Rally Argentina. «Veldig deilig med denne andreplassen nå, det føles vel egentlig som en seier. Tusen takk til hele teamet for at de leverer en så fantastisk bil og stort takk til Anders for perfekt jobbing, som alltid!»

Sammen med team-kollega og venn Thierry Neuville, sørget Andreas for at det ble dobbelt podium i Argentina for Hyundai Motorsport. Thierry vant, mens Andreas fulgte opp med en strålende andre plass, etter 3 dager med kjøring ved foten av Andes-fjellene i Argentina. Andreas og Anders klatret til andre plass lørdag ettermiddag, og beholdt den plasseringen helt til mål.

«Utrolig godt at dette resultatet kom nå, det føles som om jeg har fjernet 200kg fra skuldrene. Vi har jobbet hardt og målbevisst den siste tiden, men med mye uflaks, så føles veldig deilig at ett bra resultat endelig kom nå. Dette resultatet betyr mye for selvtilliten og jeg håper virkelig at vi er i flytsonen nå for å levere toppresultater over tid. Følelsen med bilen har vært fantastisk god hele helgen, jeg føler at vi er i ett nå og da er det egentlig ganske enkelt å kjøre rally.»

Med en start-posisjon langt bak i feltet, lå alt til rette for en god start i Argentina for Andreas. Men 48 timer med non-stop regn gjorde at forholdene på prøvene forandret seg ganske betraktelig etter gjennomkjøringen tirsdag og onsdag. Fredagens prøver var så gjørmete og glatte de fleste førerne sa de følte seg som passasjerer i egen bil, og at de holdt på å kjøre av til og med på rett strekkene. Med en noe ugunstig startposisjon for fredag, så det ikke lyst ut for Andreas og Anders, men på tross av å starte sist, så kjørte de inn til flere gode tider og satte til og med raskeste tid på SS5.

«Fredag var en bra dag, sett bort i fra en punktering, så føler jeg vi kunne ikke gjort så mye mer. På ettermiddagen var det vanskelig med vår startposisjon, jeg pushet alt det jeg kunne men fortsatt var vi langt bak. Men jeg var rask i forhold til de som var rundt meg, og det tyder jo på at vi har gjort en bra jobb tross alt.»

Lørdag kom solskinnet, med veldig raske prøver over den argentinske pampasen og flat-out på lange rettstrekker over flere hundre meter. Andreas og Anders sikret seg 2 etappeseire, og avsluttet dagen på andre plass totalt.

«En utrolig bra dag! Tapte litt tid på morgen-loopen, men studerte veldig nøye tilbake på service hvor vi hadde tapt og hva vi skulle endre på for å få bedre tempo. Og det klarte vi jo absolutt! Nå føles alt veldig bra, bilen fungerer akkurat sånn som jeg vil, og jeg sitter og kjører med ett stor smil.»

3 legendariske fartsprøver avsluttet Rally Argentina søndag, El Condor og Mina Clavero. Mer en 75.000 tilskuere har campet ute i flere dager for å få med seg dette, og de er alle med på å skape en fantastisk ramme rundt Rally Argentina.

«Jeg håper jeg får beholde den godfølelsen nå inn mot Chile og at vi kan leverer ett nytt toppresultat der!»

VM-sirkuset holder seg i sør-amerika, og neste løp er Rally Chile 9 – 12 mai.

Resultat Rally Argentina 2019
1 Neuville
2 Mikkelsen +48,4
3 Ogier +1.04,8
4 Meeke +1.06,2
5 Latvala +1.21,1
6 Sordo +1.26,7
19-04-28 Belgian Neuville clear after Tänak exits on Saturday at Rally Argentina
Championship leader extends lead over rivals heading into Sunday finale. Thierry Neuville held a comfortable lead at the end of Saturday’s second leg of Xion Rally Argentina after a troubled day for closest rivals Ott Tänak and Sébastien Ogier.

He ended the longest leg of this fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship with a 45.7sec advantage over Hyundai i20 team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen on a stellar day for the Korean manufacturer.

Neuville fended off a charging Tänak this morning after the Estonian made light work of demoting Ogier and climbing to second. His lead was slashed to less than seven seconds, but Tänak's attack ended when his Toyota Yaris stopped with alternator problems.

Earlier Ogier broke his Citroën C3's power steering after hitting a stone gate pillar when he became confused over which route to follow at a cattle grid. He dropped almost a minute and their demise left Neuville on course for a second straight WRC win.

"We can start using the word comfortable for the gap we have, but tomorrow's stages are far from comfortable. They are rough, tricky and narrow so we need to keep our concentration and rhythm. We just need to keep it calm and in the middle of the road," said Neuville.

The water and mud of yesterday was gone, replaced by blue skies and bright sunshine. The fast pampas roads in the Punilla Valley dried quickly, but grip was still inconsistent through the early morning speed tests until temperatures reached 23°C.

Mikkelsen enjoyed his best day for some time. He won two speed tests and capitalised on the problems of others, despite swiping a bank and having to stem a gearbox oil leak.

Kris Meeke headed a closely-packed trio in third, a further 17.5sec behind. He lost 20sec this morning after brake problems in his Yaris. He struggled to slow the car entering a watersplash and hit the same bank as Mikkelsen, limping through the next test with a broken rear wheel.

After plunging to sixth, a fired-up Ogier won two of the afternoon's three stages to move up to fourth, 6.0sec clear of Dani Sordo in a third i20. Jari-Matti Latvala completed the top six in another Yaris, despite a slow puncture.

Elfyn Evans retired from sixth after rolling his Ford Fiesta heavily. He and co-driver Scott Martin were unhurt, but their car came to rest below the road with the sump guard ripped from the chassis.

Sunday's finale heads into the rugged Traslasierra mountains for one of the WRC's classic days. Two passes through the El Cóndor test, the second of which forms the Wolf Power Stage, sandwich the lunar-like landscapes of Mina Clavero. The three tests cover 53.16km.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +2hr 37min 23.6sec
2. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +45.7sec
3. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +1min 03.2sec
4. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +1min 06.0sec
5. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +1min 12.0sec
6. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +1min 28.3sec
19-04-28 The C3 WRC pusches for podium spot with Ogier-Ingrassia
Confused when the rally route seemed to differ from the instructions of the roadbook, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia mainly lost a lot of time when they broke the power steering on their C3 WRC. However, they then showed great persistence and skill to fight their way back to within striking distance of the podium places, just 2.8s adrift in fourth place.

Day two, the longest leg of the weekend (146.52km), was contested on faster roads than on day one, which also dried out as the day unfolded. But the stages nonetheless provided plenty of incidents.

Fifth fastest on the day’s opening stage (SS9) between Tanti and Mataderos (13.92km), Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia fell back to third place, but still had high hopes of securing a podium finish. The Citroën Total World Rally Team crew unfortunately then suffered a fairly unusual incident: surprised by a gate left open on SS11, whereas the roadbook indicated that it was to be passed on the left, the French pair hesitated to take the shorter route through the open gate, before ultimately taking the route stipulated in the roadbook. The pair lost time with this brief hesitation, however to add insult to injury, they ended up clipping the gate, which immediately broke the C3 WRC’s power steering. With another stage to complete before service, Sébastien and Julien dropped down to sixth position, 21.8s adrift of the podium.

Citroën Racing’s mechanics then pulled off a minor feat in managing to repair the car in just forty minutes. The six-time world champions repaid the hard work of the team after service: with two stage wins and a third fastest time in the afternoon loop, they showed incredible spirit and determination to fight back up to fourth overall, just 2.8s off the podium. Proof, if any were needed, that they will keep pushing right until the end of the rally!

Tomorrow’s 53.16 km-long final leg will see the crews climb to just over 2,000 metres above sea level, for the slow and technically difficult stages of El Condor and Giulio Cesare, and the huge crowds that always gather there.

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"It wasn't an easy day for Sébastien and Julien. They lost a lot of time this morning when the power steering broke, after they were confused by the gate left open, which should have been closed. We are therefore expecting the rally organisers to take the appropriate decisions for those crews that didn't follow the route indicated in the roadbook. With the car fully repaired for the afternoon, they certainly adopted an exemplary attitude and showed real pace, clearly managing to get themselves back into the fight for the podium places. The final leg therefore looks set to be action-packed again, and I think it’s safe to say they'll fight right to the end.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“We had an up and down day. After dropping a lot of time this morning, I had very little to lose this afternoon, so I pushed hard with the C3 WRC. There was also a bit more grip and that appeared to help us. I'm expecting to move up a position or two this evening, after the rally organisers look at what happened at the gate this morning. Tomorrow, the goal will be to keep out of trouble on these rough roads and score as many points as possible.”

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:37.23.6
2. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 45.7
3. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 1:03.2
4. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:06.0
5. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:12.0
6. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:28.3
7. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:48.4
8. Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +12:04.5
19-04-27 Neuville grabs late Friday lead in dramatic Rally Argentina finale
Championship leader forges gap ahead of title rivals Ogier and Tänak. Thierry Neuville seized a last-gasp lead in Friday’s captivating opening leg of Xion Rally Argentina.
The FIA World Rally Championship leader snatched the initiative from Ott Tänak when a broken driveshaft on the Estonian's Toyota Yaris sent him into a time-consuming spin near the finish of the final speed test.

Tanak's lead was wiped out and fastest time for Neuville promoted the Hyundai i20 driver into a 11.9sec advantage over Sébastien Ogier's Citroën C3. Tänak was a further 1.5sec behind in third.

Persistent rain over the previous 48 hours meant the Calamuchita Valley tests were treacherous. Standing water and huge mud patches provided inconsistent grip and Neuville was shocked to top the leaderboard after languishing in ninth this morning.

"Consistency paid off. I felt I had a good drive in the opening stage and was really surprised when I saw others were faster. Things improved and I drove a good last stage when the road was very rough. We only have a small advantage so nothing is done yet," he said.

Tänak started the last stage aware of the mechanical problem but limited his time loss until spinning 2km from the finish. Having lost his overnight lead, he had regained top spot in the afternoon, despite regularly losing his brakes in the many water splashes.

Ogier felt his C3 lacked performance and the Frenchman was fortunate to survive a one-wheel landing after clipping a bank on the inside of a tight bend.

Kris Meeke was fourth, 28.1sec off the front, and the third leader of the day. The Yaris driver led for three of the six tests (one was cancelled for safety reasons due to the weather) but could not maintain his pace on rougher afternoon roads. Losing third gear further hampered his efforts.

Andreas Mikkelsen was 1.3sec behind in fifth, despite a morning puncture in his Hyundai i20, with Elfyn Evans rounding off the top six in spite of balance issues in his Ford Fiesta.

Saturday's leg is the longest of the rally. Competitors head into the vast pampas plains and hills of the Punilla Valley for two identical blocks of three stages. The loops are split by a repeat of Friday's theme park test in host town Carlos Paz. It adds up to 146.62km of action.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +1hr 11min 13.9sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +11.9sec
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +13.4sec
4. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +28.1sec
5. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +29.4sec
6. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +38.2sec
19-04-27 Ogier-Ingrassia hold second in the C3 WRC
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced a consistent performance on the opening leg’s wet, muddy stages, using all their race craft to end day one in second position in their C3 WRC, just 11.9s off the lead. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm escaped unhurt from a minor off, which nonetheless prevented them from showing all of their potential.

With the heavy rain that had fallen around Villa Carlos Paz in the last few days, the145.92 kilometres of today’s first full leg promised to provide constantly changing grip levels on roads featuring plenty of standing water and puddles at best and turned into genuine mud baths at worst. The state of the roads made it all the more important for the drivers to read the conditions as best they could in order to constantly adapt their pace. And although the first run on Amboy – Yacanto (29.85km) was cancelled for safety reasons, this opening leg more than lived up to expectations.

Right in the mix (2nd) on yesterday evening’s super special stage held in Villa Carlos Paz, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were hampered by running second on the road on the opening test as the grip improved as more cars came through the stage. However, the six-time world champions then upped their game, setting the third fastest time and then finishing tied for second on the next stage, concluding the morning loop third overall. On these fast roads, littered with embedded rocks, they confirmed their good form in the C3 WRC in the afternoon to move up into second position, just 11.9s behind the leaders. They are therefore very well placed once again to challenge for the overall win.

Having set a promising fifth fastest time on today’s first stage (SS2), unfortunately Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were then caught out straight afterwards (SS3) in a very low-grip section hidden behind a crest. The crew ran wide into a bank, picking up a puncture. After their misfortune saw them drop down to ninth overall, they were continuing to learn about the event on what is only their second appearance here when sadly, they rolled on the final stage of the day. Fortunately, they were unharmed in the incident. However, they will not be able to rejoin the rally tomorrow as their car is too damaged.
Next up, the crews tackle the longest leg of the weekend tomorrow (146.52km), with roads that are expected to be easier to negotiate than today.

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“In the incredibly changeable grip conditions seen today, we’re obviously pleased that Sébastien and Julien have ended the day in second position. We’re now going to get on with preparing as effectively as possible for tomorrow’s leg, in order to give them the tools to keep fighting for the win. We are however disappointed for Esapekka and Janne, who deserved better than this off, which appears to have come after they picked up a puncture. The most important thing is that they are both okay. I’m sure they’ll bounce back from this very quickly.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“The opening leg at Rally Argentina is always very complicated and rough. I’m pleased to finish the day in this position. It was all the more difficult because we did recce on these stages before the rain fell. We fought as hard as possible, and although the car isn't running perfectly as yet, we’re still in contention for victory and it’s still open at the front. The second leg looks like it will be very difficult again, probably with fog early on, as is often the case on these stages.”

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 1:11:13.9
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +11.9
3. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +13.4
4. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 28.1
5. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 29.4
6. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 38.2
7. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +41.1
8. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:13.6
9. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:59.2
10. Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +6:11.1
19-04-24 Tense title fight enters vital period at the atmospheric Rally Argentina
Almost a million fans expected to witness the tough battle on the gravel roads. Just five points blanket the leading three drivers as the FIA World Rally Championship embarks on a crucial phase of five fixtures on gravel, the series’ dominant surface, in Argentina.

Thierry Neuville edged into a two-point lead over Sébastien Ogier after snatching a dramatic late victory in Corsica last month. Former leader Ott Tänak slipped to third, a further three points adrift, after four of the 14 rounds.

The middle third of the campaign starts on Xion Rally Argentina’s (25 - 29 April) dirt roads. It is the first of a south American double-header which continues when Copec Rally Chile (9 - 12 May) makes its WRC bow on the other side of the Andes Mountains two weeks later.

Almost a million fans are expected to line the demanding speed tests in Cordoba province, 700km north-west of Buenos Aires, for one of the season’s most atmospheric rounds.

Neuville’s first 2019 win means the Hyundai i20 driver will be first to start Friday’s special stages. The Belgian is all too aware that Argentina’s roads demand clever thinking as well as outright pace.

“As one of the roughest rallies of the season, it requires a careful approach. On the one hand, we need to look after the car but on the other there are some sections where you can really attack. It’s a balancing act,” he explained.

Remarkably, six-time champion Ogier has never won in Argentina and the Frenchman admitted it is a statistic he wants to erase from the record books.

“I would even go as far as to say I feel slightly more motivated by the prospect of winning this rally for the first time. The type of roads used varies a lot, but what really stands out is how rough the gravel can be in places,” said the Citroën C3 pilot.

Tänak dominated 12 months ago, recovering from an early spin to claim his first victory for Toyota Gazoo Racing. The Yaris World Rally Car driver is clear about his expectations.

“We’re expecting nothing less this year. I believe we should be able to perform well again here. The fast roads and the kind of surface we have in Argentina should really suit our car quite well,” said the Estonian.

Heavy rain has soaked the region in recent days and with more scheduled ahead of the start, the roads are likely to be soft with plenty of water filling the famous river crossings.

The rally starts in Villa Carlos Paz on Thursday night. Competitors face 18 gravel road stages covering 347.50km before Sunday afternoon’s finish.
19-03-31 Neuville snatches victory from Evans at Tour de Corse
Late puncture causes heartbreak for British driver as Belgian retains overall championship lead. Thierry Neuville grabbed a dramatic victory at Corsica linea - Tour de Corse on Sunday afternoon after final stage heartbreak for Elfyn Evans.

Neuville was en route to the podium ceremony in Calvi believing he had finished second when he discovered leader Evans had punctured a tyre in the final speed test.

Evans dropped 90sec limping to the finish, handing Neuville a victory in his Hyundai i20 that moved the Belgian into a two-point lead in the FIA World Rally Championship.

Neuville carried a 4.5sec lead into today’s final leg on Corsica’s east coast. His hopes were dented when Evans destroyed him in the opening test, regaining 16.0sec to move into a seemingly comfortable 11.5sec advantage ahead of the final Wolf Power Stage.

“I tried to contact the team to get information, but we were unsure if we had won or not,” said Neuville. “Arriving at the podium I saw my mechanics and only then I understood we had.

“I’m really disappointed for Elfyn, who did a really good job, but we deserved it as well. It was a great battle.”

Evans put on a brave face after finishing third in his Ford Fiesta. Three times he fought back to regain the lead during a topsy-turvy weekend on the asphalt, but there was no opportunity to do so for a fourth time.

“It’s difficult to accept but it’s the nature of the sport,” said Evans. “I think it happened on a straight piece of road, a hole or piece of stone that had lifted. I felt it straightaway but tried to drive on it to see if we could minimise the time loss.”

Sébastien Ogier was relieved to claim second, 40.3sec behind Neuville, after a torrid rally in his Citroen C3. Handling problems slowed the Frenchman and despite many set-up changes, he never found the pace he expected. He was 26.3sec ahead of Evans.

Dani Sordo took fourth in another i20, despite final day brake problems. The Spaniard fended off Teemu Suninen’s Fiesta by 6.2sec.

Ott Tänak completed the top six in a Toyota Yaris, the Estonian unable to recover from yesterday afternoon’s puncture which cost the lead and a potential second victory of the season.

Round five takes competitors to south America for the first of two fixtures there in three weeks. The gravel-road Xion Rally Argentina is based in Villa Carlos Paz on 25 - 28 April.

Final positions
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 3hr 22min 59.0sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +40.3sec
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +1min 06.6sec
4. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +1min 18.4sec
5. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +1min 24.6sec
6. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +1min 40.0sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 4 of 14)
1. T Neuville 82pts
2. S Ogier 80pts
3. O Tänak 77pts
19-03-31 A fourth consecutive podium for the C3 WRC as Ogier-Ingrassia finish a runner-up in Corsica!
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s stubborn, never-say-die attitude helped them secure their third podium of season in Corsica and the fourth top-three finish in as many races this year for Citroën Total World Rally Team. Their hard-earned second place took them to within two points of the top of the drivers’ world championship.Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm finished seventh overall, both helping to consolidate Citroën’s second place in the manufacturers’ standings and racking up important miles in the C3 WRC at an all-asphalt event.

Beginning the day with just a 5.1s lead over their closest challengers, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia immediately secured third place by extending their advantage to almost thirty seconds by the end of SS13, the first and longest stage (31.85km) of the day. On the Power Stage, contested in the idyllic setting of Fango valley, with the crystal blue water of the Mediterranean forming a magnificent backdrop, the French crew once again showcased their fighting spirit to grab the fifth fastest time and collect a bonus point, whilst an unexpected final-stage incident resulted in them being promoted to second position. They therefore closed to within just two points of the world championship leader, meaning they won't be opening the road at the next round of the WRC, in Argentina (25-28 April).

Having struggled with some set-up issues on the opening leg, and unable to make proper corrections due to there being no mid-leg service, the six-time world champions made the best of the situation by ending the day sixth overall, just 10.2s adrift of fourth place. They then produced a heroic effort the next day on both runs on the brand new Castagniccia stage. They used all of their attacking instincts on the dirty, worn roads and their ability to have good pace notes for the first pass at full speed, managing to grab the third fastest time on the first run and then the second fastest time on the repeat. These two performances in particular enabled them to move onto the podium with just the short final stage to go.

In finishing as runners-up in the C3 WRC, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claimed their third podium this year from four races. Citroën Total World Rally Team has now finished on one of the top two steps of the podium in all four events this season, with wins at Monte-Carlo and Mexico (Ogier-Ingrassia), and second places in Sweden (Lappi-Ferm) and Corsica. The Satory team has thus consolidated its second place in the manufacturers’ world championship standings.

Also struggling with the set-up of their C3 WRC, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm quickly found themselves in a situation where their hopes of making up ground were remote. They therefore decided to use the remaining kilometres to run through a range of set-up options on the C3 WRC and add to their experience in the car on tarmac. Their persistence was nonetheless rewarded with a seventh place finish, which also provided a worthwhile contribution to the overall team result.

REACTIONS FROM…
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“In terms of points, it’s a good result, scoring nineteen points at a difficult round. On the other hand, we really suffered in terms of pure performance. We need to understand why, so that we don't have the same problem again on this surface, on which the C3 WRC had performed well previously. In any case, I’m pleased to have managed to get the most out of the car I had and also that I don't have to open the road on gravel in Argentina.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“We all had high hopes coming into this round, so obviously we can't be satisfied with this result. We were short on performance and suffered quite a lot of understeer throughout the weekend. We’re going to work hard to put things right for the next rounds on tarmac, in Germany and then in Spain. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to getting back on gravel in Argentina.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL
How would you assess this Tour de Corse?
In terms of points, it was a good result, as we have consolidated second position in the standings for both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships. However, obviously, we can't be satisfied with our performance level this weekend. We were missing something, somewhere, throughout the weekend. We’ll now analyse everything in detail so that we get to the bottom of this drop in form and ensure we return to the level of competitiveness we had previously on tarmac at the rounds in Germany and Spain. I would nonetheless like to pay tribute to the reaction of my team in this difficult situation. They never let up, working hard to try and find every possible solution for our crews. We improved during the weekend and it’s by maintaining this attitude that we’ll keep making progress and coming back even stronger.

How would you describe the performance of your crews?
The sign of a true champion is managing to produce performances even when some of the ingredients you need to be competitive are missing. Securing a result like this at a difficult weekend is how you win championships and Sébastien and Julien know this all too well. Once again, they showed their remarkable ability and never-say-die attitude. This podium is above all down to them. They really nailed it with their performances on Castagniccia, whilst remaining incredibly consistent on the other stages. Esapekka and Janne have nothing to be ashamed of either, but for the time being they just lack experience in this kind of situation. I'm convinced, however, that as soon as we give them a good car, they will start producing the kind of speed that we know that they are capable of.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND
Former WRC driver and safety crew driver for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, Simon Jean-Joseph looked back at the French crew’s performances on the two runs on the Castagniccia stage during Saturday’s leg.

“For us, as safety crew, the two runs on Castagniccia were really the only two tests this weekend where we had quite a lot of corrections to make. Apart from their obvious talent, combined with the fighting spirit and determination of Seb and Julien, I think one of their real strengths comes from their incredibly precise system of pace notes. In dirty and tricky conditions like these, they have very subtle variations in describing the road, which gives them a sense of security and enables them to show off their full potential. For the safety crews, it’s then a question of having a good feeling for things, adding corrections in the right place without overloading the notes. But it’s then a real feat for Julien to manage to convey all the subtle differences, given the speed at which they run through the stages, and for Seb to manage to take it all in.”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:22:59.0
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +40.3
3. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:06.6
4. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:18.4
5. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:24.6
6. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:40.0
7. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +2:09.1
8. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:39.2
9. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:06.3
10. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6:44.6

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Thierry Neuville – 82 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 80 points
3. Ott Tänak – 77 points
4. Elfyn Evans – 43 points
5. Kris Meeke – 42 points
6. Esapekka Lappi – 26 points
7. Sébastien Loeb – 22 points
8. Dani Sordo – 16 points
9. Jari-Matti Latvala – 15 points
10. Teemu Suninen – 14 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Hyundai WRT – 114 points
2. Citroën Total WRT – 102 points
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 98 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 70 points
19-03-31 Tom och Henrik tvåa på Korsika och leder JWRC efter två tävlingar
Den andra deltävlingen i JWRC, Tour de Corse på Korsika, utvecklade sig till en högdramatisk kamp mellan svenskarna Tom Kristensson/Henrik Appelskog, Dennis Rådström/Jan Johansson och det tyska ekipaget Julius Tannert/Jürgen Heigl. Inför söndagens två avslutande sträckor på 51 km sammanlagt, ledde Tom med 0,4 sekunder före Dennis och 6,2 sekunder till Tannert. Tannert, som har asfalt som sitt favorit underlag, hade redan på fredagen förlorat en minut på en snurrning. Han jagade sakta men säker ikapp och passerade Dennis på näst sista och efter en rejäl satsning på sista Powerstage lyckades han även passera Tom, så marginalen blev 1,9 sekunder efter 35 mil specialsträckor på tuffa asfaltvägar. Det är inte för inte som tävlingen kallas de 10 000 kurvornas rally. Tom och Henrik slutade över förväntningarna på en andra plats och den tredje pallplatsen tog det andra svenskekipaget Dennis Rådström och Jan Johansson.
- Vi är supernöjda, säger en glad Tom vid målgången i Calvi. Vi gratulerar Julius och Jürgen, verkligen starkt att köra in den minut man tappade. Det är nog en av de tuffaste tävlingar jag kört hittills, och Henrik har gjort ett strålande jobb med notläsningen, han lär nog vara rätt så tystlåten det närmsta dagarna efter all information han rabblat.
- Vi har hållit oss till vår plan, köra snabbt, men undvika misstag, och ha en hel bil i mål, och det har lönat sig i två tävlingar nu. I så långa tävlingar är det jämnheten som ger resultat, och det blev även tre sträcksegrar som ger extra poäng.
- Bilen har även fungerat perfekt, även om bromsarna, helt naturligt, blev lite varma på den 47 km långa sträckan vi körde i lördags.
Det gäller att ha känsla för de påfrestningar som bil och däck utsätts för, avslutar Tom innan det är dags att rulla upp på podiet för prisceremoni.

Tävlingen blev redan från början då två av förhandfavoriterna mer eller mindre försvann. Den störste favoriten, spanjoren Jan Solans, fick en punktering redan på sträcka 2, och på sträcka 9 krökte han till en hjulupphängning och tappade ytterligare tid. Däremellan gick det fort och med 6 sträcksegrar ordnade han till slut en 4:e plats, dock nästan 5 minuter efter. Sämre gick det för förra årets segrare i Junior-EM, letten Mãrtins Sesks, som åkte av vägen på sträcka 3 och tvingades bryta.

Efter 2 deltävlingar i JWRC leder Tom på 47 poäng före Jan Solans på 34 poäng och Dennis Rådström på 32 poäng. Henrik leder följaktigen JWRC för co-drivers på 47 poäng.

Nästa deltävling går den 13-16 juni på Korsikas grannö Sardinien, och då är det grusunderlag som gäller.

19-03-31 Brutt løp, men bra kjøring for Veiby på Korsika
Alt lå til rette for en plass på pallen på Korsika, dessverre ble det brutt løp for Ole Christian Veiby. – Vi prøvde, vi kom ikke hit for å bli nummer tre!

Etter seier i Sverige og tredjeplass i Monte-Carlo var målet helt klart topp 2 for VM-runden på Korsika. Før de to avsluttende prøvene søndag morgen, lå Ole Christian og Jonas på en tredjeplass sammenlagt, kun 12,5 sekunder etter Gryazin som var på andre. Dessverre ble det stopp ett par kilometer etter start på SS13. – I en høyre sving kutta vi nok litt for lite, havna i løsgrusen og slo i en stein på siden av veien. Og det var det! Med ødelagt hjuloppheng var det lite vi kunne gjøre etterpå.

Ole uttalte tidligere at han ønsket å vinne løp, og at det ikke var noe alternativ å safe inn til en sikker plassering. – Vi ga alt her på Korsika, vi kom ikke hit for å bli nummer tre. Skulle vi ha den andre plassen var vi nødt til å pushe, og det gjorde vi. Andreplassen var absolutt innen rekkevidde. Det er kjedelig når det ikke går, men vi prøvde!

En punktering tidlig på fredag gjorde at Ole Christian og Jonas tapte tid og ramlet ned på sammenlagtlisten. Målbevisst jobbing gjorde imidlertid at pallen var innen rekkevidde før siste dag av løpet. – Etter punkteringen på fredag, så jobbet vi med å komme oss tilbake i posisjon for pallen. Etter første gang gjennom den lange prøva på lørdag (SS9) så skulle vi jobbe spesielt med to sektorer før neste gjennomkjøring. Da handler det om å se mye video og finpusse på notene. Vi kjørte veldig mye fortere på den ene sektoren, og ville nok gjort det på den andre sektoren også – men dessverre ble prøva stoppet da bilen til Camilli tok fyr. Allikevel, vi har kjørt bra og fort i helgen, og det er det vi tar med oss videre!

Italieneren Andolfi vant til slutt WRC2 klassen på Korsika, mens russeren Gryazin kom på andre plass. Tredjeplassen gikk til Kajetanowicz, som også kjørte en Volkswagen Polo. Etter Rally Korsika beholder Ole Christian sammenlagt-ledelsen i WRC2. Neste VM-løp blir Rally Portugal i slutten av mai, også dette skal kjøres i en Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, driftet av Kristoffersson Motorsport/ Volkswagen Dealerteam Bauhaus.
19-03-31 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson på pallen i Frankrikes VM-rally
I helgen har Dennis Rådström från Torsby, och hans kartläsare Johan Johansson från Valdemarsvik, kört årets andra deltävling i Junior-VM i rally på den Franska ön Korsika. Trots sin knappa erfarenhet av körning på asfalt var duon konstant med och slogs i toppen av den tuffa klassen, och slutade på en stark tredjeplats.
– Det har varit riktigt bra rally. Under den andra dagen fick vi upp riktigt bra fart, men idag hittade vi inte riktigt tillbaka till det tempot.Men vi är otroligt nöjda med så mycket poäng till mästerskapet som tredjeplatsen innebär. Det är otroligt hårt motstånd i klassen, och vi hade inte räknat att vara så här högt upp i listan, säger en nöjd Dennis efter målgång.

Dennis och Johan tog under lördagen sin första sträckseger på asfalt, och tredjeplatsen är deras bästa resultat någonsin i den franska tävlingen som de nu körde för tredje gången.
– Det mest est positiva med denna helgen är att vi visar att vi hänger med Tom Kristensson och Julius Tanners som är erkänt snabba på asfalt. Det plus att vi tar vår första sträckseger, gör att vi ser väldigt positivt på framtiden, säger Johan.

Tredjeplatsen på Korsika, i kombination med ett starkt resultat i säsongsöppningen i Sverige gör att Dennis och Johan ligger trea i mästerskapet med 15 poäng upp till ledande Tom Kristensson.

Tre tävlingar återstår av mästerskapet där nästa deltävling avgörs på grus på den Italienska ön Sardinien i mitten av Juni. En tävling Dennis och Johan har erfarenhet från sedan 2017 när de tävlade där senast.

19-03-31 Plötsligt slut för palljagande Veiby
Ole Christian Veiby hade en pallplats på gång i Rally Korsika när en sten satte stopp för framfarten. Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS-föraren tvingades bryta tidigt på den näst sista sträckan.
- Vi försökte. Vi kom inte hit för att bli nummer tre och ville pusha för att ta andraplatsen. Den var inom räckhåll. Tråkigt när det inte fungerar, men vi gav allt, summerar Ole Christian.

Det svårbemästrade rallyt på medelhavsön skördade sina offer under helgen. Ole Christian Veiby råkade ut för en tidig punktering på fredagen och tappade en halv minut, men höll sig sedan borta från problem resten av dagen och under hela andra etappen. Det innebar stadigt avancemang uppåt i resultatlistan för WRC 2.

Under lördagen noterade Veiby och co-drivern Jonas Andersson stabila topp tre-tider i sin klass med teamets Polo GTI R5.
- Efter punkteringen på fredag, så jobbade vi med att komma tillbaka för att kunna jaga en plats på pallen. Det betalade sig. Vi hade ett bra utgångsläge inför sista dagen.

Inför avslutningsetappen låg Volkswagen-ekipaget på tredje plats, med häng på ytterligare avancemang. Men redan någon kilometer in på SS 13, dagens första och totalt den näst sista sträckan, tog det stopp.
- Ett par kilometer efter start, i en högersväng, hamnade jag lite för långt ut i lösgruset och slog i en sten. Det var det. Hjulupphängningen vänster bak blev förstörd, konstaterar Veiby.

Teamchefen för Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS, Tommy Kristoffersson, summerade en helg med blandade känslor:
- Surt när vi låg bra till för en tredjeplats, vilket är väldigt starkt i ett asfaltrally, men nu blev det stolpe ut på slutet.

Veiby ligger fortfarande kvar i toppen på WRC 2 med sina 40 poäng. Tävlingen vanns av Fabio Andolfi från Italien. Tvåan på Korsika, Nikolay Gryazin, Ryssland, är också ny tvåa i WRC 2-klassen på 28 poäng.

Nästa VM-rally för paret Veiby/Andersson blir Rally Portugal i månadsskiftet maj-juni.
19-03-30 The C3 WRC edgges onto podium with Ogier-Ingrassia
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced impressive performances on both runs on Castagniccia (47.18km), the longest stage of the weekend, to move their C3 WRC into third overall this evening, whilst Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm ended the day in seventh place as their understanding of the French car improved as they completed more stages.

Contested in Cap Corse, the Désert des Agriates and Castagniccia, three of the most emblematic regions of the centre and north of Corsica, day two featured a wide variety of road profiles and therefore of difficulties. The highlight nonetheless being Castagniccia, its new route, length (47.18km) and narrower, twistier roads than those tackled thus far making it the day’s most daunting stage.

Determined to fight all the way despite their set-up still not being totally right, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again showed their mettle on the first pass and their first ever run on what had been expected to be the rally's decisive stage. The French six-time world champions used all of their talent to grab the third fastest time, just 1.4s off the pace, to take them into fifth overall. They then gained another place in the afternoon when one of their rivals picked up a puncture (SS11), before producing another blistering performance on the repeat of Castagniccia. Their second fastest time swept them into third place by 5.1s, despite an engine issue towards the end of the stage.

After a difficult start to the rally yesterday, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm also tried to optimise the handling of the C3 WRC throughout the day, looking ahead to the rest of the season. A fourth fastest time in the afternoon, just 2.9s off the stage-winning time (SS11), confirmed their approach proved effective and they made it to service this evening in seventh position.

Tomorrow’s short final leg will see the competitors head for Calvi, for two new stages over a competitive distance of fifty-two kilometres. A thrilling battle in prospect…

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“We knew that today was going to be the biggest challenge this weekend, and Sébastien and Julien once again showed all their experience and strength of character, managing to make it count on the toughest stage of the day and end the leg on the podium. It was a superb performance from them, because although we have made some progress on the set-up, obviously it still isn't enough. Esapekka and Janne don't have their experience in managing this kind of situation but they stuck at it and did some in-competition testing and work on the set-up of their C3 WRC and that will certainly be useful for future events.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It’s a shame that we lost a lot of engine power about ten kilometres from the end of the last test, because otherwise I think we would have claimed our first stage win this weekend. Fortunately, it only lasted for two or three kilometres and then normal power came back. I'm pleased to be back in the top three. I hope that the slightly better feeling we had this afternoon will be confirmed tomorrow and we can keep improving. Because it looks like we’re going to have to fight right to the end if we want to hold onto third place. We have been losing most time on the wider, circuit-like roads but tomorrow’s stages are less like that, so I hope that they are more suited to us.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Although we’re still not where we had hoped to be, the main thing is that we improved today. Our rhythm was better. Seb also set some good times, so that would suggest that we are moving in the right direction. We’re going to give it our all to finish the rally on a high tomorrow.”

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:56:50.0
2. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 4.5
3. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +44.8
4. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +49.9
5. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:32.1
6. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:54.5
7. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:59.3
8. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:21.4
9. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:55.9
10. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6:35.4
19-03-30 Thierry Neuville springs to surprise lead at Tour de Corse
The Belgian snatched lead after dramatic finale to the longest day of the season.
Neuville heads into Sunday’s closing leg with a 4.5sec advantage after charging ahead of leader Elfyn Evans in the marathon 47km Castagniccia speed test which ended the day.

Evans started the test with an 11.5sec advantage in his Ford Fiesta after his frantic tussle for the lead with Ott Tänak ended in the previous special stage. The Toyota Yaris driver conceded two minutes after stopping to change a punctured tyre.

Evans’ advantage appeared healthy, but an increasingly confident Neuville outgunned him by 16.0sec in his Hyundai i20 to set up a thrilling final day shootout.

“This morning we couldn’t find a good feeling to push as hard as we wanted. This afternoon we raised the height of the car and I was able to attack in every stage,” explained Neuville.

“I knew I had to keep the car on the road, but when the feeling is good you drive as fast as you can without taking big risks.”

Evans was shell-shocked. “The afternoon started well but went downhill. It was a surprise to lose so much in the last stage. Three or four seconds maybe, but 16sec is a mountain. It was a shock but the best thing to do is forget about it and concentrate on tomorrow,” he said.

The Welshman, who led after yesterday’s opening leg, was demoted by Tänak in this morning’s final test but the margin between them was only 1.6sec when disaster struck the Estonian.

Sébastien Ogier was 40.8sec adrift of Evans in third after a persistent drive. A raft of overnight changes improved his Citroën C3’s handling. He still lacked pace but climbed from sixth this morning to overhaul Dani Sordo in Castagniccia for a podium place.

Sordo ended 5.1sec adrift but with a comfortable 42.2sec lead over Teemu Suninen in fifth. The Finn was plagued by several small issues in his Fiesta this morning but closed the day with a 22.4sec margin over a disappointed Tänak.

Drivers face just two stages covering 51.19km, culminating with the Wolf Power Stage in which bonus points will be awarded to the fastest five drivers.

Leading positions after leg 2
1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 2hr 56min 50.0sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +4.5sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +44.8sec
4. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +49.9sec
5. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +1min 32.1sec
6. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +1min 54.5sec
19-03-30 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson i segerfight på Korsika
Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson inledde den andra dagens tävlande i det Franska VM-rallyt på Korsika på en tredjeplats i Junior-VM, 22 sekunder bakom ledande Tom Kristensson.

Lördagen bjöd på sex sträckor på totalt 17 mil, där den längsta sträckan mätte nästan 5 mil på de tuffa asfaltsvägarna. Dennis och Johan gjorde en fantastisk insats, trots sin knappa erfarenhet på asfalt och tog sin första sträckseger någonsin på underlaget. De lyckades även minska gapen till toppen och är nu 0,4 sekunder bakom ledningen med två sträckor kvar att köra imorgon.
– Dagen har var riktigt bra, vi är nära att hitta hemligheten till att va snabb på asfalt. Vi visade riktigt bra fart andra loppen denna tuffa dag, och det är fränt att kunna vara med och slåss i toppen på detta underlaget också. Imorgon ska vi fortsätta å göra vårt jobb, så får vi se hur långt det räcker, säger Dennis.

Dagens sista sträcka fick avbrytas då ett framförvarande ekipage fattat eld, därför är inte tiderna för den avslutande sträckan fastställda i skrivande stund.
19-03-29 Evans leads Tour de Corse despite late fright
The Brit's Corsica linea lead marred by controversial end to opening leg.

He started the final speed test leading Ott Tänak by 4.5sec in his Ford Fiesta, but was inadvertently delayed for nearly a minute after catching a limping Kris Meeke near the end.

Elfyn Evans finished nearly 11sec slower than Tänak, provisionally plunging to third and promoting the Toyota Yaris driver to first. However, officials credited Evans with the same time as the Estonian, restoring him to first with an unchanged advantage.

The pair fought tooth and nail all day on twisty asphalt in the island’s southern mountains. Evans led initially before Tänak edged ahead after the morning loop, only for the Welshman to regain his advantage this afternoon as Tänak suffered a damper problem.

“The issue in the final stage was a difficult one to call but I think the outcome was fair. It’s been a really positive day, but we have another big one tomorrow. We have to take the fight to Ott and we know that when everything is working, we can be better and faster,” said Evans.

Thierry Neuville was third, 5.3sec adrift of Tänak. He struggled with his Hyundai i20’s handling but became increasingly comfortable as the day progressed and ended with fastest time in the final stage.

He headed team-mate Dani Sordo by 16.3sec. The Spaniard was third for most of the morning but could not reproduce the pace when the stages were repeated and fell away.

Teemu Suninen was fifth, careful to avoid mistakes in his Fiesta after his early exit at the previous round in Mexico. He had 5.4sec in hand over a frustrated Sébastien Ogier, who failed to find the expected speed which led many to make him favourite.

An opening stage spin cost 10sec and left him eighth, but the Citroën C3 driver struggled with understeer all day and climbed to sixth only as a result of others’ problems.

The rally moves to the north of the island on Saturday for the longest leg of the weekend, featuring more than half the total competitive distance. Two identical anti-clockwise loops of three tests near Bastia provide 174.50km of action.

Leading positions after leg 1
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta 1hr 09min 39.6sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +4.5sec
3. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +9.8sec
4. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +26.1sec
5. T Suninen / M Salminen FIN Ford Fiesta +30.9sec
6. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +36.3sec
19-03-29 A tough start in Corsica for the C3 WRCs
Citroën Total World Rally Team’s crews Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm were unable to express their full potential today as they struggled with a less than ideal set-up on predominantly unfamiliar roads. However, with almost two thirds of this year’s Tour de Corse still to go, both crews are within striking distance of the top five.

Held between Porto-Vecchio and Propriano, today’s opening leg was unusual in that there was no mid-leg service. Only a tyre-fitting zone was scheduled at the break between the morning and afternoon loops. This made it crucial to get the set-up right from the word go, or else end up struggling the whole day.

Unfortunately, Citroën Total World Rally Team suffered throughout day one. Slowed at the start by a spin on SS1 and a less than ideal set-up, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia ended the first loop in eighth position. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made a better start, lying fifth overall before also suffering a spin (SS3), which resulted in them dropping two places.

Although they were unable to make all the set-up changes they would have liked to make in the tyre-fitting zone, the crews – the only team members allowed to work on the car – improved a number of settings on the C3 WRC with guidance from the technical team. The target was clearly to make more of their potential in the second loop. Showing considerable fighting spirit, Sébastien and Julien managed to move up into sixth overall, just 10.2s adrift of fourth place, whilst Esapekka and Janne ended today’s opening leg just behind their team-mates.

Covering just 35% of the total distance, day one of this year’s Tour de Corse was little more than an appetiser compared to tomorrow’s main course, when the rally heads towards the north of the Mediterranean island. Almost a hundred and seventy-five kilometres of timed stages await the crews, including two runs on the all-new 47.18km-long test in the central region of Castigniccia. With its narrow, winding roads, where it is very easy to get your pace wrong, there could be plenty of twists and turns to come as yet…

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Obviously, we were hoping for better things from this opening leg but we suffered from our set-up not being completely right. With no mid-leg service, our crews were only able to make minor changes themselves and had to make the best of it until the end of the day. They nonetheless drove well considering this is their very first all-asphalt event with the C3 WRC. We are now going to try to make the most of this evening’s service to put things right and enable them to compete at their normal level tomorrow.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a difficult day, where we struggled with understeer. We made a few minor adjustments mid-leg and that helped us to limit the time lost in the afternoon, but it wasn’t enough. We have a few ideas about how to change the set-up in order to resolve the issues, so I have high hopes that we can move in the right direction tomorrow. We’ll certainly be doing everything we can to move back up the standings.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I pushed hard on the wide, fast sections of today’s stages but I had the same issues on the corners as Seb. And we also had a spin, which didn't help matters. I have faith in the team to put things right and obviously on my side, I’m going to give it everything.”

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1:09:39.6
2. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4.5
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +9.8
4. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +26.1
5. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +30.9
6. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +36.3
7. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +46.3
8 . Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:27.9
9. Camilli / Buresi (VW Polo R5) +2:46.4
10. Bonato / Boulloud (Citroën C3 R5) +3:06.4
19-03-29 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson trea i Franska VM-rallyt
Efter den första dagen på Korsikas VM-rally ligger Torsbyföraren Dennis Rådström och hans kartläsaren Johan Johansson på en tredjeplats i Junior-VM, 18 sekunder bakom ledande Tom Kristensson.
– Vi är nöjda med dagen, Det är alltid lika pulshöjande och roligt med asfaltkörning, säger Dennis.
– Det känns att vi fortfarande har en del att lära, men det går bitvis flatout. Vi har ett bra samspel i bilen och ett grymt teamwork mellan sträckorna, då vi har haft problem med en länkarm och behövt skruva. Imorgon väntas den absolut tuffaste dagen. Det finns inte så mycket mer att säga om idag, det är imorgon de avgörs.
19-03-27 Veiby siktar mot toppen även på Korsika
"De 10 000 kurvornas rally” väntar för Ole Christian Veiby kommande helg. Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS-föraren befinner sig på Korsika för att försvara sin ledning i WRC 2.
- Jag siktar inte lägre än tidigare. Om jag hittar flytet är ambitionen att slåss om segern, säger den 22-årige norrmannen som i överlägsen stil vann Rally Sweden på välbekant snö och is.

Årets fjärde VM-deltävling innehåller kurviga asfaltvägar i kuperad medelhavsmiljö och stallchefen i det Arvika-baserade Volkswagen-teamet tycker å sin sida att det viktigaste inte är att vinna utan att plocka poäng.
- Ole Christian kommer att ställas mot några riktiga asfaltspecialister och kanske måste han acceptera att han inte kan vara snabbast. Det är lika svårt för honom att vinna där som det är för fransmän och italienare att vara snabbast i Rally Sweden, säger Tommy Kristoffersson.
- Självklart måste man se hur det utvecklar sig och utifrån det välja vilka fighter vi ska ta, instämmer Kongsvinger-föraren.

Men en vinnarskalle med ambitioner siktar förstås högt och faktum är att Veiby, trots sin unga ålder, gör sin femte start i Tour de Corse.
- Vi gjorde det bra förra året tills växellådan låste sig, påminner Ole Christian.

I år kommer han att ratta den Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 som Kristoffersson Motorsport äger och som Johan Kristoffersson använde i det svenska VM-rallyt. Teamet har kört en testdag i trakterna av italienska San Remo.
- Det blev inte mycket testande före Monte Carlo så det var bra att få en hel dag på torr asfalt.

Tommy Kristoffersson var mycket nöjd med det nya rallyteamets första test på utländska vägar.
- Jättebra! Jag är stolt över den kompetens vi har när hela teamet är samlat, med influenser från många olika håll inom motorsport. Vi kommer väl förberedda inför Korsika.

Veiby och co-drivern Jonas Andersson har dessutom kört den officiella testdagen på medelhavsön.
- Och ovanpå det tre dagar recce, påpekar Ole Christian. Det är stor yta vi rör oss över så det blir mycket bilkörning.

Karaktären på vägarna gör att noterna blir extra viktiga för att undvika ödesdigra misstag.
- Det är ett stort jobb för kartläsaren och gäller att träffa rätt på noterna, men jag tvivlar inte på att Jonas får till det.

Rutinerade Andersson har också gjort några vändor runt Korsika, men årets tävling består till största delen av nya sträckor. Ole Christian Veiby tycker inte att det spelar så stor roll att närmare 80 procent av vägarna är obekanta sedan tidigare.
- Det är en miljon svängar så det är ändå svårt att lära sig vägarna utantill, inte riktigt som i Rally Sweden. Men karaktären är den samma så visst har man ändå nytta av sin erfarenhet.

VM-rallyt på Korsika körs med sex specialsträckor fredag respektive lördag och två stycken under avslutningen på söndag. Sexton bilar är anmälda i WRC 2.
19-03-27 Ogier confident and ready for his happy hunting ground in Corsica
Frenchman aims to maintain the Citroën transformation at the Tour de Corse.

Sébastien Ogier carries an air of confidence into this week’s Corsica linea - Tour de Corse (28 - 31 March) as he aims to maintain Citroën’s remarkable WRC transformation at one of his happy hunting grounds.

The Frenchman was peerless on the tricky and technical asphalt 12 months ago. He led throughout to score his second win in three seasons in Corsica’s mountains en route to a sixth world title.

Having returned to Citroën Racing for 2019, the 35-year-old has breathed new life into the squad which finished bottom of the FIA World Rally Championship last year.

He has wins in Monte-Carlo and Mexico from the opening three rounds to sit four points behind leader Ott Tänak, and holds no fears about a new-look Corsican encounter in which almost 80 per cent of the roads have been altered from 2018.

“The route has been changed quite a lot again this year, but that has already happened before here, which has meant that I have often had to get to grips with new stages and that tends to suit me.

“It adds a bit of stress and adrenaline to the rally, and it can lead to there being bigger gaps than usual,” said Ogier.

New roads demand pin-point accuracy in making pace notes during reconnaissance. This is even more crucial in Corsica where a never-ending stream of twists and turns earned the event the nickname Rally of 10,000 Corners.

“When the stages are new for everyone, obviously the difference comes from who does a very good job during recce and then has sufficient confidence in their pace notes to push right from the word go,” Ogier added.

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Tänak, the winner in Sweden, and nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb, back in the WRC with Hyundai Motorsport, will be snapping at Ogier’s heels.

“In the past Corsica was probably the rally on which I struggled the most, but we had good pace last year on our first time there in the Yaris World Rally Car,” said Tänak.

Unpredictable mountain weather is a hallmark of the rally, but drivers had a nasty surprise when they encountered snow during recce on Tuesday.

The rally starts in Porto-Vecchio on Thursday evening ahead of a day’s action across the south of the island on Friday. Attention switches to the north for the final two legs, and the event finishes in Calvi on Sunday afternoon after 14 speed tests covering almost 350km.

19-03-27 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson redo att fightas i JWRC-toppen
Till helgen är det dags för den andra deltävlingen i årets Junior-VM i Rally, JWRC, på den Franska ön Korsika. Där Dennis Rådström från Torsby tävlar tillsammans med kartläsaren Johan Johansson från Valdemarsvik. Paret kommer till Korsika som fyra i tabellen efter den inledande tävlingen i Sverige, och i år är det fjärde gången man ställer upp i den Franska VM-deltävlingen.
– Vi kommer till tävlingen med en bra känsla, det är som sagt tredje gången vi kör här - vilket känns tryggt. Vi är taggade och redo för tävligen, säger Dennis.

Tävlingen på Korsika avgörs helt på asfalt, till skillnad från premiären i Sverige som kördes på snö och is, ett underlag som efter tre år i VM-serien börjar bli mer bekant för Dennis och Johan.
– Asfalt har vart en stor utmaning för oss tidigare, och är fortfarande. Men vi vet vad som komma skall och är beredda på det, både körmässigt och mentalt, säger Johan.

Korsika är känt som ”de tiotusen kurvornas rally”, och är en av de mest utmanande tävlingarna på året med extremt långa sträckor som svänger konstant, och aldrig ger besättningen någon chans att slappna av.
– Den stora utmaningen på Korsika är att hitta ett tempo där däck och bil överlever hela sträckorna, det gäller att inte vara för het i början och överköra. Då har man inga däck till slutet av sträckorna och tappar mycket tid på det. Så det gäller att hitta en rytm som är lagom snabb över hela tävligen, fortsätter Dennis.
– För oss kartläsare är Korsika kanske den största utmaningen på hela året i och med att det svänger extremt mycket och är så länga sträckor. Förra året hade jag en sträcka med 76 sidor noter, så det är ganska många svängar, säger Johan.

Som uppladdning för tävlingen har teamet vart på plats i Slovakien och testat en likadan Ford Fiesta MK8 R2T som de kör i mästerskapet. Där man körde 10 mil och fick en bra känsla inför tävlingen.
– Testet gick bra, vi fick många mil och kom in i körningen på ett bra sätt. Nu känns det som vi är på tå från start, och inte som det är annars där man får jobba sig in i känslan under inledningen av tävlingen. Nu är vi på tå direkt.

Även om Dennis och Johan är relativt oerfarna av asfalt gentemot många andra i mästerskapet, så har du höga ambitioner på Korsika.
– Vi siktar som alltid på att göra vårt bästa, vi får se hur långt det räcker. Men vi vill vara med och fightas om segern, säger Dennis.

19-03-25 Tom och Henrik på Korsika för andra deltävlingen i Junior-VM
Med en ceremoniell start på torsdags i staden Port Vecchio på södra Korsika inleda Tour de Corse, den andra deltävlingen i Junior VM i rally, JWRC. Efter första tävlingen, Rally Sweden i februari är Tom och Henrik i ledningen på 26 poäng, före estländaren Roland Poom 18 poäng och Dennis Rådström och spanjoren Jan Solans Baldo, båda på 16 poäng.

Servicepark och huvudort är Bastia på den nordöstra delen av ön, men fredagens sträckor utgår från Port Vecchio och körs på den södra delen av ön. Man kör då sex sträckor utan service, drygt 12 mil SS! På lördag återvänder man till den norra delen av ön, och då är det även 6 sträckor på ca 17,5 mil SS, varav en SS mäter hela 47 km och körs 2 gånger. Tävlingen avslutas på söndag med två sträckor på drygt 5 mil med mål i Calvi på den nordvästra sidan av ön.

Tour de Corse kallas även för de 10 000 kurvornas rally, eftersom vägarna slingrar sig fram på den bergiga ön. Underlaget är helt och hållet asfalt, men denna är oftast både ojämn och skrovlig, så det blir en utmaning framför allt för däcken.
- Med så många kurvor är det även en utmaning för Codrivern, rapporterar Henrik från Korsika.
- Det gäller att vi är noggranna när vi gör noterna, som vi för övrigt börjar med att göra på 2 sträckor i eftermiddag.

Tävlingen är, liksom övriga deltävlingar i JWRC, en helt ny erfarenhet för Tom och Henrik, och det är även första gången med bilen, Ford Fiesta R2, på asfalt.
- Första testen på asfalt blir på Shake down, på torsdag, säger Tom.
- Det har inte funnit utrymme för någon test innan. Förberedelserna har bestått av studier av incar-filmer från förra årets tävling och träning hemma i vardagsrummet med min rallysimulator.
- Drygt 75 % av årets sträckor skall vara nytt, så någon direkt nytta av att se incarfilmerna har man kanske inte, men man får i alla fall en uppfattning om karaktären på vägarna, fortsätter Tom.
- Vi kommer att ha vår plan och strategi som vi kommer att följa, och det känns mycket bra att ha en seger med oss från första deltävlingen.
- Och så kommer vi att njuta av upplevelsen så mycket vi kan, avslutar Tom.

I den preliminära startlistan finns alla 13 som körde JWRC i Rally Sweden med, så det kommer att bli en hård kamp om poängen i seriens kanske tuffaste tävling.

19-03-11 Ogier captures fifth Rally Mexico win to peg back leader Tänak
Frenchman holds off Estonian to cut title gap to four points heading to Corsica.
Sébastien Ogier claimed his fifth Rally Guanajuato Mexico victory on Sunday afternoon to eat into Ott Tänak’s early season FIA World Rally Championship advantage.

Ogier never relinquished the lead after moving his Citroën C3 to the front of the four-day encounter on Friday afternoon. He headed Tänak by 30.2sec after the Estonian outgunned Elfyn Evans in a final-day fight for second.

His 46th career success was achieved with a third different manufacturer after previous victories with Volkswagen and Ford.

Scorching heat and tough gravel tracks in mountains near León ensured a rally of attrition, but Ogier delivered a measured display for his second consecutive Mexico triumph.

He overcame a differential problem and a trip into a tyre wall on Saturday night, and had to maintain a strong pace today to keep the door firmly closed on a charging Tänak.

Ogier, who made his WRC debut in Mexico in 2008, said: “It has always been a special place since the start of my career and I’m glad it remains that way."

“It’s been a tough weekend in difficult conditions. It wasn’t a trouble-free rally for us, but we managed to make the best of it and came out with maximum points,” added the Frenchman, who also scooped maximum bonus points by winning the Wolf Power Stage by 0.025sec.

Second for Tänak exceeded his dreams. As championship leader, the Toyota Yaris driver opened the roads in Friday’s first leg and faced the worst of the conditions, conceding big chunks of time ploughing a clean line through thick gravel.

He started the final leg, in which temperatures again topped 30°C, 2.2sec adrift of Evans. He overhauled the Welshman in the opening test to eventually end 19.2sec ahead. The pair were the only topline drivers to avoid problems in the gruelling conditions.

Thierry Neuville and his Hyundai i20 were both off-colour en route to fourth. The Belgian fought illness during the rally and struggled for pace in the high-altitude stages. He dropped to third in the championship standings behind Tänak.

Kris Meeke finished fifth, his best result since joining Toyota Gazoo Racing. With a huge time advantage over sixth-placed Benito Guerra, the Ulsterman drove slowly through today’s initial stages to ensure his tyres were in the best condition to chase a Wolf Power Stage win, only to be denied by Ogier.

The championship returns to Europe later this month for the opening all-asphalt fixture. The Corsica Linea - Tour de Corse is based in Bastia on March 28-31.

Final positions:
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 3hr 37min 08.0sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +30.2sec
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +49.9sec
4. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +1min 27.0sec
5. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +6min 06.2sec
6. B Guerra / J Zapata MEX Skoda Fabia +15min 35.5sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 3 of 14)
1. O Tänak 65pts
2. S Ogier 61pts
3. T Neuville 55pts
19-03-11 Citroën secures its second win of the season with Ogier-Ingrassia!
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced an incredibly calm and collected performance on Sunday’s final leg to claim their second win from three events in 2019, the C3 WRC retaining its record of finishing on the podium at every round since the start of the season in Monte-Carlo! Citroën Racing thus extended the record it holds for the most wins at Rally Mexico to eight.

Starting the day with a 27.0s lead over the second-placed crew, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia held their nerve despite the pressure applied by those behind. The pair’s controlled final day performance saw them secure victory with an extended winning margin after the final sixty or so final kilometres. They also collected five bonus points on the Power Stage with a seventh stage win, making them the weekend’s top performers. It was an excellent weekend in terms of points, as they climbed to second place in the world championship, just four points behind the leader.

The six-time world champions had taken the lead on the second pass on El Chocolate (31.57km), the most technical stage on day one, before finishing the first leg with four stage wins and overall lead of 14.8s, despite running third on the road. Although they were briefly unseated from top spot the next day when SS10 was red flagged and they were awarded a notional time that took account of the slow puncture collected during the stage, the French pair – despite no longer having a spare tyre – went back on the attack and managed to retake the lead on the next test, Otates, with the second fastest time just 1.2s off the pace. They then went one better, finishing first on the final stage of the morning loop. The afternoon saw them claim their sixth stage win of the weekend, despite the handicap of being the only crew to carry two spares. Their performance enabled them to build up a substantial lead, allowing them to manage the final leg with the kind of control they are famous for.

Eleven years after making their world championship debut here in a Citroën C2 Super 1600, Sébastien and Julien completed their fifth win in Mexico, after those secured in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018. It’s also their second win of the season, after Monte-Carlo, and the third time in as many rounds in 2019 that Citroën Total World Rally Team has finished on one of the top two steps of the podium. Confirmation, if any was needed, of its competitiveness.

In taking the honours for the second time in Central America after its maiden win in 2017, the C3 WRC has also made it mark at this event, despite its reputation as a particularly demanding rally due to the high temperatures and extreme altitudes, whilst Citroën Racing extended its record at this round to eight wins.

On only their second appearance in Mexico, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm quickly showed their undeniable potential. With a fourth fastest time, 6.2s behind their team-mates on El Chocolate (31.57km), and then a second fastest time (SS7), a mere two tenths off the stage-winning time on Friday afternoon, they ended the opening leg in a promising fifth position, just 2s behind fourth place. The pace set at the start of the next day confirmed that they were at one with their C3 WRC, but unfortunately a sudden change in grip caught them out and left them stranded by the side of the road. The final leg, during which they were first on the road, provided them with an opportunity to add to their experience, whilst preparing for the next few events on gravel. The point scored on the Power Stage, somewhat against the odds and as the championship contenders also battled for bonus points, served as a timely reminded that they will be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season!

REACTIONS FROM…
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Mexico is definitely a special place for me and I’m especially pleased to secure this fifth win here and take maximum points for the championship! That was what we came for, and although it wasn’t a trouble-free weekend, we managed it well from start to finish. The potential I saw in the C3 WRC continues to be borne out. It enabled us to be top performers this weekend. It’s now up to us to keep working hard because the championship looks set to be even closer than ever before. In the meantime, I would like to thank the team for the great job done this weekend! We’ll now head for Corsica looking for a similar outcome.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I'm pleased to have learned how to drive on this specific surface with my C3 WRC and to have equally made progress in understanding the tyre strategy for these stages. We’re now going to concentrate on the Tour de Corse, with the intention of getting back among the frontrunners.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL
What can you say about Citroën Racing’s eighth win in Mexico, and the second this season?

We’re delighted with it, because it is the result of an excellent team effort! Winning here is no easy feat. The combination of high altitude and hot temperatures make it the ultimate challenge for man and machine alike. But everyone was on the ball throughout the weekend and this win is just deserts for our hard work. This event remains unusual, but it’s also always positive to win the championship’s first round on gravel because it’s the surface on which the majority of the rallies are held and although we can't afford to rest on our laurels, it is confirmation that we are right in the mix with the C3 WRC. Three podiums in as many races – we really couldn't have hoped for a better start to the season with our two new crews. Obviously, all of this wouldn’t have been possible without a magnificent performance by Sébastien and Julien. Every day, they showed off their full array of qualities: speed, race craft, ability to react and management skills too. We knew it already, but they really do have it all!

What did you make of Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm’s race?

They made a minor error that proved very costly, but I prefer to focus on the way in which they got to grips with the difficulties of the Mexican roads. They haven't fully mastered them yet, but they gradually upped their game and managed to set a very respectable pace. They had a very good feeling in the C3 WRC on gravel and that augurs well for the rest of the championship.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND
Thomas Breton, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s race engineer, looks back on the opening leg of the rally, perfectly negotiated by his crew.

“They really impressed me on Friday. Obviously, our road position was better than that of Tänak and Neuville, but there were others who tackled the stages on even cleaner roads. It’s also true that these sorts of conditions are always difficult to work on and reproduce in testing. We gave them an easy car to drive and they made very good use of it! They have this incredible ability to adapt their rhythm to the circumstances, to push a bit more whenever it’s necessary and to control their pace when it’s not the right moment to take any unnecessary risks.”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:37:08.0
2. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +30.2
3. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +49.9
4. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:27.0
5. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6:06.2
6. Guerra / Zapata (Skoda Fabia R5) +15:35.5
7. Bulacia Wilkinson / Cretu (Skoda Fabia R5) +18:51.5
8. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +18:55.9
9. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 22:44.1
14. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +1h03’40’’5

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Ott Tänak – 65 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 61 points
3. Thierry Neuville – 55 points
4. Kris Meeke – 35 points
5. Elfyn Evans – 28 points
6. Esapekka Lappi – 20 points
7. Sébastien Loeb – 18 points
8. Jari-Matti Latvala – 14 points
9. Andreas Mikkelsen – 12 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 86 points
2. Citroën Total WRT – 78 points
3. Hyundai WRT – 77 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 45 points
19-03-09 Composed Ogier leads after drama-filled Friday at Rally Mexico
Frenchman keeps cool in fierce heat to lead Evans on dirt in the mountains. Sébastien Ogier kept his cool in the sweltering heat to lead Rally Guanajuato Mexico after Friday’s incident-filled opening leg.

The world champion headed Elfyn Evans by 14.8sec after a tough day of dirt road action in the mountains near León sidelined closest rivals and Hyundai i20 team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo.

Two morning speed test wins earned Mikkelsen a slender 1.6sec advantage over Ogier at the midpoint. The Norwegian’s efforts proved in vain when he retired near the finish of the afternoon’s repeated El Chocolate test with broken suspension after hitting a stone.

His demise left Sordo less than two seconds adrift of Ogier’s Citroën C3. The Spaniard, driving his first rally of the season, was powerless to challenge Ogier when he stopped on a liaison section after the following special stage with a suspected electrical problem.

Temperatures which topped 31°C and altitudes of more than 2750 metres ensured a trying day for crews and hard-working engines and transmissions, but Ogier’s problems were restricted to a puncture.

“It’s been an almost perfect day but it wasn’t easy. Starting third on the road wasn’t ideal and the grip was very low in the first pass. We can benefit from the best start position tomorrow, but we’ll have to stay out of trouble as well,” he said.

Evans’ Ford Fiesta ran hot all day but he had the better of a battle with fellow Briton Kris Meeke, edging clear to end with a 6.3sec advantage.

Meeke was hampered by dust inside his Toyota Yaris but headed championship leader Ott Tänak by 16.0sec. The Estonian overhauled Esapekka Lappi in the final pair of tests at León’s motor racing circuit to claim fourth, a position he could barely have dreamed of.

As road opener, Tänak swept loose gravel from the surface, leaving more grip and a faster line for those starting behind. He lost time in virtually every test, but two stage wins and the high rate of attrition helped him climb the order.

Lappi was disappointed by his pace and lost time with a spin to drop behind Yaris team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. It proved academic when Latvala retired from fourth before the circuit tests with alternator failure.

An unwell Thierry Neuville was sixth in the sole-surviving i20. He dropped nearly 45sec with an early puncture and second in the start order offered conditions only marginally better than Tänak.

Saturday’s leg is the longest of the event. Two identical loops of three tough gravel stages in the mountains north and east of León are followed by re-runs of today’s motor racing circuit and city street tests. The nine stages cover 138.37km.

Leading positions after Friday
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën 1:18.33.8
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford +14.8
3. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota +21.1
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota +37.1
5. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Citroën +39.1
6. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai +1:00.7
19-03-09 The C3 WRC leads the way with Ogier-Ingrassia!
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia took the overall lead on day one in their C3 WRC, also ending today’s opening leg as top performers with four stage wins in sweltering temperatures and high altitudes of close to 3,000 metres above sea level. Fifth overnight, just behind the fourth-placed crew, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm meanwhile made up for their lack of knowledge of the rally by adapting well to the conditions.

Scheduled for Thursday evening in the streets of the famous former mining city of Guanajuato, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the rally’s opening stage was interrupted when the ramp of a purpose-built jump was deemed unsafe after it moved from its initial position. And so it was on Friday’s leg that the battle began in earnest. The highlight was expected to be two runs on the famous El Chocolate (31.57km) stage, reputed for being particularly technical (contested at an average speed of just 80kph).

And it was precisely on this stage – on the second pass as temperatures peaked – that Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia struck a telling blow, moving into the overall lead with their second stage win of the day. The number 1 C3 WRC crew then confirmed their undeniable competitiveness, in spite of the extreme conditions at this unusual round, as they immediately grabbed a third stage win on Ortega 2, the high point of the rally (2,756 metres above sea level). Although they were then held up slightly by a puncture on SS7, they nonetheless made it to the end of day one in the overall lead, 14.8s ahead of the second-placed crew.

ompeting at this rally for only the second time in their fledgling WRC career, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm adopted a considered approach on the first loop. With confirmed pace notes, they upped their pace at the start of the afternoon loop, finishing fourth fastest on El Chocolate (31.57km), 6.2s behind their team-mates. A spin on SS6 did not prevent them from continuing their progress, this time with a second fastest time on the following stage, just two tenths off the pace. They ended the day in a promising fifth position, just 2s behind fourth place. A position that means they will start fifth on the road in tomorrow’s stages, therefore enabling them to continue to nurture high hopes of good result.

The weekend’s longest day, Saturday’s leg sees the crews tackle a competitive distance of 138.37 kilometres (over nine stages). The leg includes two runs on Otates (32.27km), the rally’s longest stage, the technical character of which means drivers and cars alike will be sorely tested.

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Running in third position on the road, Sébastien and Julien produced a remarkable performance today, holding off crews that had significantly better grip conditions than they did. I think that confirms that they also have a good feeling in the C3 WRC on gravel. Esapekka and Janne have a lot less experience on this event but I think they can be pleased with their performance too. Although we’re well aware that the hardest part of the rally is yet to come, with a very long leg scheduled tomorrow and big risks ahead, especially from loose stones, the target is definitely to keep up the momentum with both crews.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Clearly, it has been a very good day for us, despite the very difficult conditions. The level of grip was low, especially this morning, but I enjoyed having a line in front of me. It was important to finish in a good position today so that we are well placed in the running order for the longest leg tomorrow. We’ll still need to make the most of our position and also be careful because I expect there will be a few really tricky sections, with narrow and possibly quite rough roads.”Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver


I'm learning to drive the C3 WRC bit by bit on these low-grip roads. I still lack experience but the times are gradually moving in the right direction. I expect there to be a lot of road cleaning for the rest of the rally and my direct rivals have a better road position than us, but we’re going to keep fighting to secure the best possible result.”

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 1:18:33.8
2. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +14.8
3. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +21.1
4. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +37.1
5. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +39.1
6. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:00.7
19-03-07 Fortsatt rallysatsning med Veiby
Rallysatsningen fortsätter att växa för Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS. Nu är det klart att VM-ledaren i WRC 2, Ole Christian Veiby, tävlar vidare med det Arvika-baserade teamet. Efter succén i Rally Sweden blir det fortsatt samarbete i VM-rallyt på Korsika i slutet av mars.
- Det är en stolthet för vårt lilla team på Koppsängsvägen 5 utanför Arvika att vi får göra det här. Vi har precis hunnit börja med rally, men får redan ett så ansvarsfullt uppdrag, säger Tommy Kristoffersson, teamets grundare och chef.
- Jag är väldigt nöjd med hur det har fungerat hittills. Vi tror att det här är bästa paketet för att kunna visa vem som är bäst i R5-klassen, säger Veiby själv.

Even Management har haft flera tänkbara alternativ för den fortsatta coachningen av Ole Christian Veiby. Målet är seger i WRC 2 och på sikt en plats i stora WRC.
-Det är uppdraget vi har fått. Jobbet vi gjorde på Rally Sweden, det engagemang som teamet visade och det fina betyg vi fick från Volkswagen Motorsport har säkert spelat in. Dessutom tror jag Ole Christian känner sig trygg i vår miljö, menar Kristoffersson.
Ett bevis på detta är den prickfria insats Kongsvinger-föraren levererade i Rally Sweden, där han tog en ohotad seger och gick upp i VM-ledning.
- Absolut den bästa insats han har gjort, dessutom i tuffast tänkbara konkurrens och i svåra förhållanden.

Snabbt och säkert lotsade Veiby sin Polo GTI R5 på snö och is. Härnäst väntar luriga asfaltvägar vid Medelhavet.
- Ole Christian har ju kört där förut, men för oss som team blir det naturligtvis något helt annat än att ställa upp oss på Torsby flygplats.
Kristoffersson räds inte den utmaningen. Teamet är redo!
- Även om det har gått fort så har det här varit målet. Vi började med att integrera den rallykunniga personalen vi tog över från Even Management. Därefter körde vi ett testår med vår Skoda och till i år har vi förstärkt vår infrastruktur. Allt för att så småningom vara beredda att köra VM, så helt överraskade är vi inte.

Med tanke på den snabba expansionen inom rally verkar det som Kristofferssons team än en gång har visat fingertoppskänsla.
- Historiskt sett har vi varit lyckosamma med våra vägval. Vi lämnade racingen istället för att ge oss in i TTA och påbörjade en framgångsrik rallycrossresa. Vi gjorde en lyckad comeback i STCC med det nya TCR-reglementet, men har nu lämnat för den här utmaningen, säger Kristoffersson och fortsätter:
- Att allt har fallit väl på plats ligger också till grund för den långvariga relationen med våra samarbetspartner, med Volkswagen och BAUHAUS i spetsen.

Ett flerårigt samarbete har man också med Ole Christian Veiby, som kom in i Kristoffersson Motorsport redan som 16-åring för att köra Porsche Carrera Cup. Därefter blev det inhopp i rallycross och nu en målmedveten satsning på rally.
- Pojkarna i det här teamet vet hur jag vill ha saker och ting. Vi har så smått börjat förbereda oss för Korsika, berättar 22-årige Veiby, som kommer att göra sin femte raka start i det franska VM-rallyt.

Han kommer där att ratta den Polo GTI R5 som Johan Kristoffersson körde i Rally Sweden. Hur det blir med resten av säsongen återstår att se.
- Det är så långt vi har tittat hittills, förklarar Tommy Kristoffersson.
19-03-06 Championship leader Tänak faces dirt road trial in Mexico
As WRC leader, Estonian has tough task of first man out on gravel. Ott Tänak faces a massive task as he leads the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time into this week’s third round in Mexico.

His ‘reward’ for winning in Sweden last month and moving top of the standings is to head the start order for Rally Guanajuato Mexico (7 - 10 March), the first gravel fixture of the season. There are few more difficult challenges in the WRC.

The sun-kissed mountain roads near León are covered in thick gravel. As road opener in Friday’s first leg, the Estonian can expect to concede big chunks of time as he sweeps the dirt to leave a cleaner and faster line for those behind.

“It won’t be easy but we saw in Mexico last year that it is possible to have a good result from this position, so let’s see how it goes,” said the Toyota Yaris driver, who heads the standings by seven points from Thierry Neuville.

“It was a great feeling to win in Sweden, but we quickly changed our focus to Mexico. We flew straight to Spain for two days of gravel testing on the Monday and Tuesday after the rally.”

“We worked on a number of different things, just trying to be as well-prepared as we can be,” added Tänak, who must contend with plenty of other complexities.

The special stages reach a season high of 2,700 metres above sea level, starving engines of oxygen and depriving them of up to 20 per cent of their usual power.

Temperatures are forecast to top 30°C throughout the event and the Yaris has suffered overheating issues here in both its previous visits.

Tänak has yet to score a podium in Mexico. Arguably his biggest impact on the rally came in 2015 when his car plunged into a lake and sank. He and then co-driver Raigo Mõlder escaped unhurt after wriggling out seconds before it disappeared beneath the surface.

As the roads become faster with the passage of every car, drivers starting further back have a golden opportunity to set the first-day pace. This would put them in a strong position for the last two legs when competitors start in reverse order of classification.

Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen, driving Ford Fiestas, Hyundai i20 duo Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo, and Jari-Matti Latvala, team-mate to Tänak, will have their eyes on taking advantage.

The rally starts on Thursday night with an iconic street test through Guanajuato’s former mining tunnels. Three more days of high-altitude action follow in the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains before Sunday afternoon’s finish in León after 21 stages covering 313.87km.
19-01-27 Sébastien Ogier and Julien ngrassia secrure historic 100 th WRCD win for Citroën
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced a heroic effort in their C3 WRC on today’s final leg to win the Rallye Monte-Carlo by the narrowest margin in the history of the event. A winning margin that reflected the intensity of the fight and the performance delivered, a performance that saw Citroën Racing claim its hundredth WRC win at the start of the year in which the brand celebrates its centenary!

Tackling the last 13.58 kilometres of a Rallye Monte-Carlo held over some 324 kilometres with a lead of just four tenths of a second calls for one hell of a cool head. And never more so when your concentration has been somewhat disturbed by a throttle issue. With six world titles to their names, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have long since mastered the art of managing the pressure in this kind of situation and the adrenalin pumping through their systems, and they demonstrated it once again today. Second fastest on the final stage between La Cabanette and the Col de Braus, the Frenchmen sealed their seventh overall win and their sixth in a row in the Principality by just 2.2s, on their first competitive outing the C3 WRC! The result also means the pair now jointly hold of the record for the number of wins at this prestigious rally and confirms just how much Sébastien and Julien are already at one with their new car.

This exceptional performance is equally Citroën Racing’s hundredth victory in the World Rally Championship, almost twenty years after its first win at this level when the Xsara Kit-Car prevailed at the 1999 Rally de Catalunya, driven by the late Philippe Bugalski and Jean-Paul Chiaroni, who now works as recce and weather coordinator for the team. A historic achievement that reflects the kind of longevity at the highest level that few manufacturers can boast.

All too aware of the pitfalls invariably provided by Monte-Carlo, the French pair adopted a measured, intelligent approach from the outset, grabbing second position after Thursday’s opening two night stages. They then moved into the overall lead the following day in the afternoon (SS7), thanks in large part to two stage wins (SS5 and SS6) on Curbans – Piegut (18.47km) and Valdrome – Sigottier 2 (20.04km), both new stages this year. Having ended Friday’s leg with a narrow 2.0s lead, Sébastien and Julien managed to more than double their advantage on Agnières en Devoluy – Corps (29.82km), the opening speed test on Saturday and the longest of the weekend, and this despite the stage featuring plenty of ice. A lead that they managed for the rest of Saturday’s leg, meaning they began the final day 4.3s ahead of the second-placed crew. They traded blows with their closest challengers on Sunday’s short final leg before pipping them to victory in the last few hundred metres.

Meanwhile, although they were forced to retire on Saturday morning after an engine issues, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm had nonetheless made a promising start to the race, holding a brilliant fourth place on Thursday evening. Clearly, Citroën Total WRT made the right call in deciding to add them to their driver line-up, alongside Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. Given that they are also likely to have a good position in the running order in Sweden, they will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with again.

REACTIONS FROM…
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“We certainly weren't taking anything for granted. The final leg, in particular, was really stressful and difficult with our minor throttle issue, which meant the car kept on accelerating, even under braking. We got some good advice from the team and were able to perform some makeshift repairs on the road section. We then pushed really hard and in the end, it worked out! It was an incredibly intense weekend. It was a non-stop battle, but we managed to come away with the win. Obviously, we’re very proud of this result in our first race with the C3 WRC, especially because, as I’ve often said, this rally is the one that is the most special for me. And it also means we can celebrate Citroën’s centenary in style. In other words, we couldn't have hoped for a better start on our first race back with the team!"

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL
What are your feelings after this historic win?
Well, it certainly was a sensational win. I think, symbolically, it’s quite a big statement. It was extremely important for us to manage to secure this hundredth WRC win at the first round of the season, especially at such an iconic event as Rally Monte-Carlo and which is also held mainly in France. We’re also really pleased to add an eighth win to our joint record with Sébastien and Julien, in this, Citroën’s centenary year. When we decided to join forces again this year, we hoped to be able to add a few new pages to the history of the sport and our first race together couldn’t possibly have worked out any better.

How would you describe the performance of Sébastien and Julien?
At a rally as crazy as this one, with tyre choice once again proving very difficult and really tricky road conditions, quite simply, they produced a majestic performance. Majestic in the control and calm they exuded. It's very interesting working with them, because there’s no standing on ceremony, they speak their minds and they know exactly what we need to focus on. They are helping us to make progress very quickly but it goes without saying that we’re going to need to keep working relentlessly. This opening round has clearly shown that this season is going to be closer than ever. In addition to Sébastien and Julien, who were obviously exceptional this weekend, I would like to pay tribute to the performance of all the members of the team. Their commitment has never wavered, even in our moments of doubt last year, and they have all put in countless hours of hard work so that we could make such a great start to our 2019 campaign. This result is obviously down to them as well!

HIGHLIGHTS
Indispensable partner to Sébastien Ogier and first-hand witness of how comfortable he is behind the wheel, the French co-driver told us about their state of mind as they waited to start the final stage.

“Before the final stage, our engineer asked me if he could do anything for us and I just suggested he should light a candle for us, and perhaps prepare the tow-truck and straps as well, you never know… Because we had no intention of messing about! I think I aged a few years over the course of this morning’s loop of four stages, it was so tense. Once we were underway, we pushed really hard whilst not making any mistakes, which is pretty exceptional from Seb, really, on his first rally in the C3 WRC. And yet, once we passed the finish line, we didn’t know quite what to think. There wasn't much excitement at the stop control and then on the left, I saw Seb’s dad, who had a broad smile on his face. That was when I knew we’d won. Seb, however, didn't notice at the time, he had to look down to get confirmation. He realised we’d won and then there was quite a bit of emotion in the car."

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
1.Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:21.15.9
2.Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2.2
3.Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:15.2
4.Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:28.2
5.Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:29.9
6.Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:36.2
7.Greensmith / Edmondson (Ford Fiesta R5) +13:04.6
8.Bonato / Boulloud (Citroën C3 R5) +13:56.5

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1.Sébastien Ogier – 29 points
2.Thierry Neuville – 21 points
3.Ott Tänak – 17 points
4.Kris Meeke – 13 points
5.Sébastien Loeb – 12 points
6.Jari-Matti Latvala – 10 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1.Hyundai WRT – 30 points
2.Citroën Total WRT – 25 points
3.Toyota Gazoo Racing – 25 points
4.M-Sport Ford WRT – 14 points

19-01-27 Ogier claims sixth straight Monte Carlo win in thrilling finale
Frenchman wins closest Monte Carlo finish in history to open season in style. Sébastien Ogier overcame late drama to secure his sixth consecutive Rallye Monte-Carlo victory in a spellbinding final stage shootout on Sunday afternoon.

He fended off Thierry Neuville by 2.2s in the closest Monte Carlo finish in history to clinch an emotional debut win on his return to Citroën. It marked the 100th world rally success for the French manufacturer.

A throttle sensor problem on his C3 World Rally Car hampered Ogier throughout the fourth and final leg of this opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship in the mountains above Monaco.

Neuville clawed back a 4.3s overnight deficit in his Hyundai i20 to trail the six-time world champion by 0.4s starting the final speed test.
Despite dropping behind the Belgian on the clock before the midpoint, Ogier battled back to extend his slender lead and claim his seventh Monte Carlo win in total, with four different manufacturers.
“It's the rally I want to win the most in the season, that's why I'm so happy now,” said Ogier, whose home town of Gap hosted the opening three days of the rally.
“It was tough today because we had a problem with a sticking throttle which was pushing the car when I was on the brakes. Six years in a row with three different cars – that’s not so bad!” he added.

Neuville could only reflect on a second-day overshoot which cost 15s and, ultimately, victory. “It was a close fight, but we gave him a nice present on Friday when we made a mistake and gave him the lead,” he said.

Snow, ice and dry asphalt in the French Alps prompted frequently contrasting tyre choices by the pair, but they were never split by more than a handful of seconds during a captivating final two legs of the four-day encounter.

Ott Tänak filled the bottom step of the podium in a Toyota Yaris. After a clean sweep of four stage wins on Saturday, the Estonian was fastest in today’s opening two tests to climb from fifth and leave him regretting a broken wheel rim on Friday which cost almost 2m 30s.

He eased clear of Sébastien Loeb’s i20 and Jari-Matti Latvala’s Yaris, split by 1.7s in fourth and fifth. Kris Meeke rounded off the top six in another Yaris and claimed maximum bonus points after winning the final Wolf Power Stage.

Rally Sweden, the only pure winter round of the series, hosts the second round next month. It's based in Torsby from February 14 - 17.

Final positions
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 3h 21m 15.9sc
2. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +2.2s
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +2m 15.2s
4. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Citroën C3 +2m 28.2s
5. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +2m 29.9s
6. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +5m 36.2s

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 1 of 14):
1. S Ogier 29pts
2. T Neuville 21pts
3. O Tänak 17pts

19-01-27 Röjsel och Johansson segrade i SM-premiären
Klassiska Bergslagsrallyt, i Ludvika med omnejd, arrangerades som deltävling ett i Rally-SM 2019. För ekipaget Daniel Röjsel med co-driver Mikael Johansson blev segern ett faktum efter ledning från start till mål.

138 kilometer uppdelat på åtta sträckor under lördagen blev en tuff prövning för de tävlande. Hundratalet kom till start varav 65 ekipage med tvåhjulsdrivna bilar. Daniel och Mikael sågs som en av favoriterna inför start med sin framhjulsdrivna Opel Corsa. Helgen innan hade de vunnit en distrikstävling i Falun med god marginal.

De skulle däremot möta flera SM-medaljörer i material som definitivt inte var sämre än deras.

Som bil nr 61 skulle rallyt handla mycket om att köra taktiskt med däcken. Vilket märktes efter att de började få problem med greppet i slutet på sträcka tre. Isen hade körts bort av tidigare startande och kvar i spåren fanns mycket grus. Framtill detta tillfälle hade Daniel och Mikael däremot redan hunnit köra till sig en ledning på hela 30 sekunder.

Sedan tappade de tid på i stort sett vartenda sträcka. Bilen kunde inte köras till hundra procent, då skulle inte däcken räcka. När marginalen var nere i 6 sekunder till fördel mot Robin Sandberg/Mathias Bengtsson inför sista sträckan, som mätte 10 kilometer, valde Daniel och Mikael att lägga på ett par fräscha framdäck som de haft med sig i bilen som reserv. Det taktiska draget lyckades och de utökade ledningen med ytterligare åtta sekunder.
- Så skönt att vi äntligen får komma i mål med en bil som hållit måttet hela vägen, även om vi sinkades något av oljeläckage i mitten av tävlingen. Vet att farten finns och nu har vi fått visa det, även om vi tråkigt nog inte kunnat köra alla sträckor i maxtempo med tanke på att däcken skulle hålla, sa en nöjd Daniel vid målgång.

I tävlingen blev de dessutom 5:e bil totalt med de två fyrhjulsdrivna klasserna inräknade. Ekipaget leder nu tabellen i både SM och Junior-SM. Deltävling två, South Swedish Rally i Älmhult, körs inte förens första helgen i juni.

Resultat Bergslagsrallyt Trimmat 2WD
Röjsel/Johansson 1:25:12,5
Sandberg/Bengtsson +14,4
Holmberg/Bäck +1:10,3

Kompletta resultat: http://www.raceconsulting.com/rally/resultat/tavling.jsp?tavling=1188
19-01-27 Stabilt och erfarenhetsrikt genrep för Pontus Tidemand i Rallye Monte-Carlo
Pontus Tidemands uppdrag för säsongspremiären och debuten i nya bilen med det nya teamet i Rallye Monte-Carlo var att ta sig ta sig igenom tävlingen och inkassera värdefull erfarenhet. Rutinerat och sansat gjorde han exakt det och efter de 16 sträckorna i utmanande förhållanden har han en skön känsla och är redo att höja insatserna lagom till Rally Sweden.

Pontus Tidemand kom till Rallye Monte-Carlo fast besluten att få träning i den Ford Fiesta WRC som han rattar för M-Sport i VM-säsongens två första tävlingar med hopp om en fortsättning. Det här var inte hans debut i WRC-klassen, han körde även en M-Sport-Fiesta i Rally Sweden 2013 och 2014, men det var tävlingspremiären i den nya generationens WRC-bil. Det är ett relativt stort kliv från WRC 2 till den högsta klassen och Pontus och kartläsaren Ola Fløene ville se till att förvalta sin chans på klokast sätt.
- Vi sa från början att vi ska göra det här ordentligt. Våga låta oss ta tid att lära känna bilen, bygga upp vanan bit för bit och inte stressa upp oss över att andra åker snabbare. Vi kom hit utan förväntningar, vårt enda mål var att ta oss igenom tävlingen och få den erfarenheten vi behöver för att kunna ladda på i Rally Sweden, säger Pontus, som följde den strategin hela helgen.

Efter en solid start på torsdagskvällens två långa mörkersträckor, fortsatte han att plocka betydelsefulla kilometer under fredagen och blev mer och mer hemmastadd i bilen. Just som han började nagga på topptider, slog han i en sten i en innerkurva och ett styrstag gick sönder. Han och Ola tvingades bryta för dagen och missade två sträckor.

Med nya tag på lördagen fick de till en riktigt fin start i svåra förhållanden men åkte på en punktering på morgonens första sträcka. Med endast ett reservdäck med sig fick de ta det försiktigt resten av förmiddagen, men att ha huvudet med sig även under eftermiddagen var av stor vikt.
- Vi var tvungna att bara ta oss igenom sträckorna. Teamet sa detsamma och vi höll den linjen, att säkert ta bilen i mål på kvällen eftersom viktiga teampoäng också stod på spel. Det fanns ingen mer möjlighet att starta om, så hade vi gjort ett misstag kunde det ha varit slutet på tävlingen, förklarar Pontus, som var den enda av M-Sportförarna som klarade sig igenom rallyt utan att vid något tillfälle köra av vägen.

Sista tävlingsdagen utgick från Monaco och med mestadels torr asfalt ute på sträckorna, fick Pontus med sig sin första erfarenhet även från det underlaget med sin Ford Fiesta. Han tog sig säkert i mål och kunde summera helgen med att han gjort sitt jobb.
- Den här tävlingen har gett oss mycket med tanke på framtiden och jag är så tacksam över att vara här. Vi har gjort bra framsteg under de här dagarna i allt från känsla till hur vi måste jobba med noterna så de matchar farten. Mycket nytt på en gång, jag har inte behövt lära mig så här mycket på många år, men jag älskar det. Jag har sagt det många gånger i helgen, men bilen är helt fantastisk, och man vill gärna pusha hårdare när man känner att man kan, men nu hade det kunnat ge motsatt effekt. Rally Sweden är bara några veckor bort och jag är ordentligt taggad för att ge allt på hemmaplan. Där vill vi verkligen vara med och fighta och kunna konkurrera med våra motståndare. Det är vad vi ställer in siktet på nu och ska göra noggranna analyser och se vad vi kan göra för att optimera vår prestation, säger Pontus.

Rally Sweden avgörs mellan den 14:e och 17:e februari med Pontus värmländska hemtrakter som främsta spelplan.

Resultat WRC-klassen Rallye Monte-Carlo 2019
1. Sebastien Ogier 3:21:15.9
2. Thierry Neuville +0:02.2
3. Ott Tänak +2:15.2
4. Sebastien Loeb +2:28.2
5. Jari-Matti Latvala +2:29.9
6. Kris Meeke +5:36.2
7. Teemu Suninen +17:56.8
8. Pontus Tidemand +29:34.6

19-01-26 Ogier and Neuville deliver battle royale at close Rally Monte-Carlo
Less than a handful of seconds split the two rivals after mountain road duel. Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville head into Sunday’s Rallye Monte-Carlo finale split by less than a handful of seconds after another titanic mountain road duel today.

Ogier, hunting a sixth straight victory in the French Alps on his Citroën C3 debut, led by 4.3sec after the penultimate leg. Just four more speed tests covering 64km lie in wait to settle an enthralling opening to the FIA World Rally Championship season.

World champion Ogier extended his 2.0sec overnight advantage to 5.6sec in the opening special stage north of Gap. The Belgian reduced the deficit in the next two tests before Ogier eked out another few tenths in the last one.

“I have a big lead, I’ve doubled it since this morning!” he joked. “I expect easier conditions tomorrow and it will be an intense end. Thierry will not give up. We both want to cross the finish line but we both want to win.”

Neuville acknowledged he had a hard task against Ogier, who hails from Gap, on roads that varied between ice, snow and dry asphalt. “I kept it safe. Ogier is at home, it’s his area. He knows the stages well and I needed to be careful,” said the Hyundai i20 driver.

Sébastien Loeb and Jari-Matti Latvala fought an equally absorbing battle for third, almost two minutes behind the pair ahead. They traded places on three occasions before nine-time champion Loeb, driving an i20 for the first time, ended 2.3sec clear.

Andreas Mikkelsen restarted in third but his podium hopes were shattered when the Norwegian swiped a wall in the final corner of the opening test. The impact destroyed the rear left of his i20 and he retired.

Ott Tänak was unbeatable as he fought back from a broken wheel rim yesterday. Aided by a brave tyre choice this afternoon, the Estonian won all four stages in his Toyota Yaris to climb to fifth. He is just 15.0sec from gatecrashing the Loeb/Latvala scrap.

Kris Meeke was a lonely sixth, more than three minutes further back. The Ulsterman, making his Yaris debut, netted three second place finishes in four stages.

Elfyn Evans crashed out of sixth when his Ford Fiesta plunged down a steep bank while Esapekka Lappi parked his C3 midway through the opener with a suspected engine problem. Rallye Monte-Carlo rules mean none of today’s retirees restart tomorrow.

Sunday’s finale stays true to tradition. Based in the Alpes Maritimes mountains above Monaco, it comprises a double loop of two stages covering 63.98km and two passes over the legendary Col de Turini.

19-01-26 Ogier-Ingrassia double their lead in the C3 WRC!
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced another masterful performance to extend their overall lead to 4.3s, heading into what is set to be a very closely contested final leg! Meanwhile, their team-mates Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were forced into an early retirement due to an engine issue.

The action on day three opened with Agnières en Devoluy – Corps (29.82km), the longest stage of the weekend, providing the crews with a particularly challenging start to proceedings. The constant changes in rhythm on the stage and countless icy patches on the road meant the Citroën Total World Rally Team crews, on the sound advice of their safety crews, opted for four Michelin studded tyres and two super soft compound slicks.

In these tricky conditions, the drivers all reported the same feeling at the finish: that it was difficult to have a true idea of your pace with no split times to refer to, crews having been banned from having this information since 2015. However, once again Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia demonstrated their incredible consistency! Their third fastest time, just 2.8s off the stage-winning time, took their lead over their nearest rival from 2.0s to 5.6s. An advantage that the winners of the last five Rallye Monte-Carlo then worked hard to manage on the following speed test, which started less than five kilometres from the village of Forest-Saint-Julien, Sébastien’s birthplace, and also on the afternoon loop. Something they achieved with considerable success, since they ended the day with a 4.3s lead, determined to continue trying to gain a few seconds on tomorrow’s final leg!

After rejoining the race this morning, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm unfortunately suffered an engine issue on the opening stage of the day, which spelled the end of their rally. Despite starting with the right approach, they have unfortunately not been able to do themselves justice at this opening round. They will head for the next round in Sweden, however, determined to bounce back and with the consolation of having a decent starting position...

With a competitive distance of just 63.98 kilometres (in four stages), tomorrow’s final leg will nevertheless be anything but a Sunday stroll, since the crews will in particular be tackling two runs on the famous Col de Turini. Peaking at some 1,600 metres above sea level, it invariably contains plenty of tricky sections at this time of year…

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“The low-grip conditions were again incredibly difficult, but Sébastien and Julien remained impressively calm and collected, controlling from the front and doubling their lead. Obviously, four seconds isn’t very much, but it’s nonetheless a lead. We really are in one almighty scrap, and clearly I hope that it will work out in our favour tomorrow. In any case, Sébastien and Julien certainly have the talent and experience to secure the win. On the other hand, we’re sorry for Esapekka and Janne. We really wanted to see them rack up the miles in the car over these last two days of racing. We are going to analyse the origin of the problem to try and make sure it doesn't happen again."

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I’m pleased with my day, because once again today we had to find the right balance between pushing when it was dry and being cautious where it was icy and more slippery. But there’s still a long way to go. I'm expecting the final leg to be really close, but perhaps the conditions won't be so tricky, although the top of the Col du Turini always throws up a few surprises. The C3 WRC has proven it is a competitive car on these roads, so I have high hopes that it will
work well on tomorrow’s stages. Obviously, I'm going to try to win this rally, which means so much to me."

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Obviously, it’s a shame that we had this terminal issue with the engine, but it’s just part and parcel of racing. I hope to have a bit more luck in Sweden. In any case, I'm going to try and make the most of my two days of testing, so that I’m fully prepared and ready to fight on the fast stages of this event. It’s a rally that I really like."

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 3
1.Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 2:38:30.0
2.Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4.3
3.Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:58.7
4.Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:01.0
5.Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:16.0
6.Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:26.8
7.Greensmith / Edmondson (Ford Fiesta R5) +10:12.0
8.Bonato / Boulloud (Citroën C3 R5) +11:43.4
19-01-26 Uppåtgående lärokurva för Tidemand i Monte Carlo
Lärokurvan går uppåt för varje kilometer och Pontus Tidemand och kartläsaren Ola Fløene drar maximal nytta av chansen de har att känna bilen i Rallye Monte Carlo. 12 sträckor är avklarade, fyra återstår och trots en punktering håller de siktet stenhårt på att ta sig i mål.

Det var trixiga och komplicerade förhållanden som rådde på Rallye Monte-Carlos vägar under lördagen. Torr asfalt mixades med is och Pontus valde att gå ut med dubbade däck på morgonens första sträckor.
- Det började bra, men sex kilometer in på den första sträckan fick vi en smygpunka och blev tvungna att stanna och byta däck. Vi hade bara ett i reserv med oss så efter det fick vi vara extra försiktiga, särskilt som de torrare sektionerna är svåra med dubbdäck. Det sladdar mycket så visst är det kul, men man sätter inte de snabbaste tiderna, säger Pontus med ett leende.

Att de tvingades bryta under fredagen och dagens punktering kostade tid, men just tiderna är inget de lägger någon fokus på under premiärhelgen. De kör sitt eget race där första prioritet är att bli ett med sin nya Ford Fiesta WRC.
- Vi började bli varma i kläderna och få in rätta känslan redan igår och det känns allt bättre ju mer tid vi har bakom ratten. Bilen är fantastisk och vi njuter även när det är som mest utmanande. Jag vill också passa på att tacka vårt crew som gör isnoter, de gör ett fantastiskt jobb, säger Pontus.

De svårbemästrade förhållandena tvingade flertalet förare att kasta in handduken men Pontus och Ola klarade sig helskinnade efter punkteringen och fick tryggt med sig dagens 93,38 kilometer.
- Jag är glad att vi är här, fortfarande är med i tävlingen och gör exakt vad vi kom hit för, säger Pontus. Nu ska vi fortsätta så här och klara av de sista sträckorna imorgon och sen har vi gjort genrepet inför Rally Sweden.

Under eftermiddagen gled de tävlande in till den sista servicen i Gap innan de påbörjade den långa körningen till Monaco, där starten går på söndag morgon.

Ställningen i WRC-klassen efter SS12:
1. Sebastien Ogier 2:38:30.0
2. Thierry Neuville +4.3
3. Sebastien Loeb +1:58.7
4. Jari-Matti Latvala +2:01.0
5. Ott Tänak +2:16.0
6. Kris Meeke +5:26.8
7. Teemu Suninen +17:13.6
8. Pontus Tidemand +28:04.4
19-01-25 Rallye Monte-Carlo advantage to Alpine master Ogier
Sébastien Ogier held a slender lead in his quest for a sixth consecutive Rally Monte-Carlo victory after a captivating duel in the French Alps on Frida
The world champion, driving a Citroën C3 for the first time, ended the second leg of the FIA World Rally Championship’s season opener with a 2.0sec advantage over arch-rival Thierry Neuville.

The two adopted contrasting tyre strategies all day on the mixed condition speed tests, which varied from bone dry asphalt to snow and ice. It ensured as many twists and turns on the leaderboard as the drivers encountered on the corkscrew roads.

The cancellation of the opening special stage dealt a blow to Ogier, whose studded winter tyres would have allowed him to profit on the snow and ice. Neuville capitalised on the next two tests to depose overnight leader Ott Tänak and head Ogier after the opening loop.

The Belgian dropped 20sec following an overshoot in the afternoon’s opener, when conditions suited him, and Ogier built a 14.0sec advantage. But the Hyundai i20 driver retaliated to win the final test and close in.

“Only myself and Thierry are clear in front but in Monte-Carlo things can change quickly,” said Ogier. “It’s important to be on the limit tomorrow but at this rally the limit is safer than elsewhere. I can do a bit more, but in Monte a strategy that is a little more careful can pay off.”

Andreas Mikkelsen headed a trio of drivers battling for the final podium place. The Norwegian, driving another i20, climbed to third in the final test. He held a 7.4sec advantage over Jari-Matti Latvala’s Toyota Yaris, with the returning Sébastien Loeb 0.8sec further back.

Loeb’s brave tyre choices on his i20 debut saw the nine-time world champion bouncing up and down the leaderboard. He won two stages, despite a low start position meaning he had to contend with mud and gravel dragged onto the roads by those ahead.

Elfyn Evans completed the top six in a Ford Fiesta ahead of a frustrated Tänak. The Estonian, who resumed this morning in the lead, fell adrift of Ogier and Neuville before a broken wheel rim cost 2min 20sec.

Esapekka Lappi retired his C3 after breaking the front left wishbone and driveshaft following an impact, while Pontus Tidemand was sidelined with wishbone damage to his Ford Fiesta.

Saturday’s penultimate leg journeys north of Gap on familiar roads. A double loop of two stages precedes a long journey south to Monaco for Sunday’s finale.
19-01-25 Ogier-Ingrassia grab overall lead in their C3 WRC!
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claimed two stage wins during today’s leg on their way to grabbing the overall lead, proving they have already got to grips with their C3 WRC. Forced to retire after breaking a suspension wishbone on the apex of a corner, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm paid a heavy price for a relatively minor mistake.

After fresh snow fell on Thursday morning, Valdrome – Sigottier (20.04km) and Curbans – Piegut (18.47km), the two new stages that stood out in today’s leg, promised to be especially tricky in the many sections left in the shade, deprived of any warming effect of the sun. The Citroën Total World Rally Team therefore decided to opt for four Michelin studded tyres and two soft compound slicks for their cars, in what should have proven to be the right call on tyre choice. However, the cancellation of SS3 (Valdrome – Sigottier) – the iciest of the morning loop’s three stages – seriously compromised the tactics of the team.

Given the situation, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia managed to produce a sublime performance on SS4! Fitted with two studded tyres and two slicks mounted on opposite corners of the car, on a test more suited to a dry tyre set-up, they nonetheless managed to grab the third fastest time, reducing the gap to the leaders in the process. The pair then secured their first stage win in the C3 WRC on SS5, reaching the midday service just 3.4s off the leader. In the afternoon, the six-time world rally champions confirmed how much they relish this unusual event. They collected a second stage win on SS6 to take them into the overall lead, ended day two with a 2.0s lead over their nearest rivals. All of which suggests that they have already formed an effective bond with C3 WRC!

Following the cancellation of the day’s opening stage, which left him to cope with a tyre set-up that had suddenly become unsuited to the conditions, Esapekka Lappi had a slightly harder time of it. However, he remained in the fight for a top-five spot at the end of the first loop. Unfortunately, an impact broke part of the front left-hand suspension on his C3 WRC when action resumed in the afternoon (SS6), forcing him to retire from the leg. He will rejoin tomorrow, determined to keep building on his promising start with the C3 WRC.

The rally heads towards the Champsaur and Dévoluy mountains tomorrow, on what is home territory for Sébastien Ogier. The local favourite will therefore be determined to keep up his good form on the 93.38 kilometres contested on Saturday’s leg (in four stages).

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“We are clearly delighted to reach service in Gap this evening in the overall lead after another tough day of racing, especially in terms of tyre choice. Sébastien and Julien used all of their experience and talent to produce a very controlled performance today, but there is still a long way to go, with plenty of major difficulties ahead. We’re disappointed for Esapekka and Janne, however, who had shown glimpses of real potential. Sadly, their minor mistake had major consequences, but the main thing is that they can rejoin tomorrow and add to their experience."

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Obviously, I'm pleased to end the day leading the rally after another really difficult day, where there were some really significant changes in the conditions and the rhythm from one stage to the next. We perhaps didn’t have the ideal tyre set-up for this afternoon, but we nonetheless managed to cope with that. I'm driving with confidence in the C3 WRC and our strategy of taking an intelligent approach to the rally has paid dividends thus far, since we haven't made any mistakes at all. I'm going to try and keep it up, especially as tomorrow’s leg looks set to be very tricky again, particularly on Saint Léger Les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve."

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Like several other crews, our tyre strategy was seriously compromised this morning when the first stage was cancelled as it had more or less dictated our choice of going with four studded tyres. Then at the start of the afternoon, I hit something hard on a corner, probably a rock. It immediately broke the suspension wishbone and we were unable to repair it. It’s obviously a shame but we’ll now look to use the rest of the rally to continue to get used to the C3 WRC. We might even try out a few set-up options that we wouldn’t have dared to attempt under normal circumstances."

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1.Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 1:37:17.3
2.Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2.0
3.Mikkelsen / Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:17.7
4.Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:25.1
5.Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:25.9
6.Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:47.5
7.Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:34.9
8.Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:33.0
19-01-25 Tidemand håller sig till planen i Monte Carlo
Pontus Tidemand gjorde en samlad och stabil inledning i WRC-debuten med sin nya Ford Fiesta WRC för M-Sport. Han viker inte av från planen att fokusera på att lära känna nya bilen och känner framstegen komma, trots att han fick bryta med två sträckor kvar på fredagen.

Rallye Monte-Carlo klassas som en av de svåraste och mest oförutsägbara tävlingarna i VM och med tanke på att det här är första tävlingen i en ny bil med ett nytt team och helt andra förutsättningar än Pontus tidigare haft i WRC 2-klassen, är det erfarenheten som står i centrum.
- Bilen var fantastisk att köra från första metern och jag njöt verkligen på de två första sträckorna i mörkret igår kväll. Det är svårt att hålla igen när man vill så mycket och vet att kraften finns där, men vi är inte här för att kriga om pallplaceringar eller visa vart skåpet ska stå. Vi är här för att få erfarenhet i en för oss splitter ny bil och lära oss hur allt fungerar, konstigare än så är det inte och vi gick på den strategin, säger Pontus som låg på tionde plats efter torsdagskvällen.

Fredagens första sträcka blev struken, men Pontus och kartläsaren Ola Fløene tog sig säkert och rutinerat genom de återstående två innan lunchservicen. Laddade med ny energi, gick de ut med ett imponerande tempo på eftermiddagen. På rallyts sjätte sträcka visade splittiderna att han var ruskigt snabb, med höjdare som Sebastien Ogier, Ott Tänak och Thierry Neuville bakom sig. Men kort därefter tog det roliga slut för dagen.
- Vi genade lite och något slog i vänster fram och ett stag gick sönder, berättar Pontus, som blev fast på sträckan i flera timmar. En sådan här sak ville vi verkligen inte skulle hända, men det hände i alla fall inte i en tävling där totalplaceringen var viktig. Vi missar två sträckor med många kilometer som hade varit värdefulla men vi får komma tillbaka imorgon och fortsätta köra vårt race då. Att få erfarenheten med bilen är allt som spelar roll och känslan blir bara bättre och bättre nu när vi låter det ta den tid det behöver. Så strategin blir densamma resten av helgen.

19-01-25 Ott Tänak sets early pace in Monte-Carlo after tricky opening leg
Estonian avoids the many pitfalls in the French Alps to lead Rallye Monte-Carlo. The Estonian, driving a Toyota Yaris, headed world champion Sébastien Ogier by 9.1sec after two typically contrasting night-time stages near Gap. Thierry Neuville was 14.3sec off the lead in third.

The trio who fought such a thrilling battle for the 2018 drivers’ title were the class of the field in the opening action of the new season and nobody else finished within half a minute.

Michelin’s studded tyres were the choice of most drivers for the opening 20.76km speed test from La Bréole to Selonnet which contained patchy snow and ice.

Tänak was quickest and retained his advantage through the following longer stage from Avançon to Notre Dame du Laus, which was dry for virtually the entire 20.59km.

“I guess everything at this rally is a kind of surprise and it’s difficult to expect anything. We knew the start would be tricky and made a safe tyre choice to cover both stages. Some places were even more slippery and tricky than we expected,” he said.

Ogier posted top three times in both tests in his Citroën C3 to hold off Neuville, who was the night’s big gambler.

The Belgian opted for a mix of studded and non-studded rubber in the opener. He knew he would lose time, but it enabled him to capitalise in the following test when his four super soft tyres offered a big advantage in the dry. He was fastest by 11.0sec.

“It was maybe a little bit risky to make that choice but with the information I had it seemed to be a good choice. But it wasn’t enough, I expected to regain more in the second stage,” said the Hyundai i20 pilot.

C3 debutant Esapekka Lappi, Jari-Matti Latvala, driving another Yaris, and Elfyn Evans were clustered together in fourth fifth and sixth. They were blanketed by 3.0sec.

Kris Meeke was on target to make it a Yaris 1-2 but a front right puncture 9km from the finish of the second test cost 45sec and relegated the Briton to seventh.

Teemu Suninen was the night’s biggest casualty. The Finn went off the road 3km into the opening stage and retired his Fiesta.

Friday’s second leg is the longest as drivers face two identical loops of three tests south-west of Gap, covering 125.12km. A mid-leg service in the town splits the day.

19-01-25 Ogier and Lappi well placed
Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm made a promising start on this evening’s opening two stages, ending the first leg second and fourth overall respectively, despite the very tricky conditions.

Beginning a Rallye Monte-Carlo by running at night is never a bed of roses and all the more so when faced with two brand new, partially icy stages. In these testing conditions, Sébastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm, Citroën Total World Rally Team’s two crews, decided to play it safe by taking four Michelin studded tyres and two super soft compound slicks.

Five-time winner of the event and having finished first here last year, Sébastien Ogier knows just how important it is to keep a cool head on such a rally. Third fastest on the opening stage and second fastest on the next, the local favourite immediately moved among the frontrunners and reached service in Gap in second position, just 9.1s behind the leader.

Less accustomed to these roads, Esapekka Lappi gradually picked up the pace. Seventh on SS1, having undoubtedly attempted to look after his studs too much, he then upped his game on SS2, setting the fifth fastest time. He ended this short opening leg in fourth position, 45.2s back.

Day two will see the crews fight it out over a competitive distance of 125.12 kilometres (on six stages), particularly on the equally new stages of Valdrome – Sigottier (20.04km) and Curbans – Piegut (18.47km). Following the snow that fell yesterday morning in the Gap region, these stages may throw up a few surprises…

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Obviously, it's been a positive start for us. Both our crews went about things in the right way, adopting a considered, intelligent approach. Because it’s never easy starting at night, with a combination of studded tyres and slicks, which makes driving pretty difficult. However, they managed to avoid the pitfalls and we are now going to try and keep up the momentum tomorrow."

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“For my first two stages in the C3 WRC, clearly I'm pleased with the outcome, especially in these conditions. Perhaps I was bit too cautious on the first stage, but it’s difficult to really go for it when you are driving a new car competitively for the first time. But I certainly produced a decent time with the studded tyres on the second stage. I think that I made an intelligent start to the rally."

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was easy to make a mistake on tonight’s opening two stages, especially on SS1. I probably thought about that prospect a little too much and ended up being too cautious. We played it safe on the set-up as well. It was perhaps a little too soft. However, the confidence gradually came on SS2 and although there are already big gaps between the crews, I'm right in the mix, especially as there’s still a long way to go and plenty of things can happen yet!"

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1.Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 26:33.0
2.Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +9.1
3.Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +14.3
4.Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +45.2
5.Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +46.4
6.Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +48.2
7.Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +53.8
8.Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 55.2
9.Mikkelsen / Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 WRC) +59.6
10.Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:41.1

19-01-23 WRC returns in style as Ogier and Loeb lock horns on French Riviera
Two greatest drivers in WRC history renew their rivalry at Rallye Monte-Carlo. The two greatest drivers in FIA World Rally Championship history renew their fierce rivalry as the 2019 season roars into action at the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo on Thursday (24 - 27 January).

The French Sébastiens – Ogier and Loeb – have won the last 15 world titles and shared 13 Monte victories, but both might feel a sense of unease as they kick-off the campaign in new environments.

After six consecutive title wins, 35-year-old Ogier returns to the Citroën team after an eight-year absence in an attempt to tame its troubled C3 World Rally Car. He is hunting a sixth Monte win on tricky mountain roads around his home town of Gap in the French Alps.

Loeb, a nine-time champion with a record seven Monte wins, ended his career-long association with the French manufacturer to boost Hyundai’s title bid. His six-round programme in an i20 World Rally Car, his biggest in the WRC for seven years, begins with a mouth-watering clash against his former team-mate.

The pair crossed swords at Citroën between 2009 and 2011 and their relationship was tense as the ambitious young Ogier challenged the WRC’s master. It ended with Ogier’s departure.

“Eight years away from Citroën is a long time,” he said. “At the time we were the young kids trying to learn and now the team is counting on us to help them go forward.

“It’s nice to have Loeb back, we had some great battles. We are both changing environments and it has created a real excitement in the service park, everyone wants to see what will happen.”

It’s hard to imagine a more difficult event at which to learn their new cars. Essentially an asphalt rally, Monte-Carlo is complicated by changeable winter conditions and drivers can encounter snow, ice and dry roads in the same special stage. Shrewd tyre choice and the ability to ‘read’ the conditions is key.

“The most complicated thing is to find the right rhythm and not to fall into any traps,” said Loeb. “There is every possibility of finding ice as the temperature drops overnight. You always have to adapt to the changing and unpredictable conditions.”

Plenty more is new for 2019. Ogier is partnered at Citroën by fellow new signing Esapekka Lappi, who joined from 2018 manufacturers’ champion, Toyota. The Finn is replaced by Kris Meeke, returning after being axed by Citroën midway through last season.

Meeke joins Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala at the Japanese squad, while Loeb will have Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen as team-mates at Hyundai. M-Sport Ford, for whom Ogier won the last two titles, fields Elfyn Evans, Teemu Suninen and Pontus Tidemand.

The four-day rally starts in Gap on Thursday with two night-time speed tests. Drivers face 16 stages covering almost 325km before Sunday afternoon’s Monaco finish.
19-01-23 The Monte-Carlo notebook and Citroën secrets
THE MONTE-CARLO NOTEBOOK BY… SÉBASTIEN OGIER
The six-time world rally champion answered a few questions as he talked to us about his special relationship with Monte.

What’s your favourite stage?
I’ve often really enjoyed Col du Perty – Col Saint Jean. Although it’s not being run in its usual configuration this year, the test that finishes in Laborel, which was held last year in really heavy rain, should be a fantastic stage.

What about your favourite memory?
That’s a tough question, because I have lots of good memories. I guess I would have to say the first time I won the rally in 2009, because it was my first major international win.

And your worst memory?
That would be in 2012, with the S2000. We were on course to finish sixth overall, a fairly exceptional performance up against the WRCs, but we pushed perhaps a bit too much, given the huge crash that ended our race!

Which “spectator spot” would you recommend?
On the St Léger les Mélèzes stage, the finish is always nice, provided you stay within the authorised areas and follow the instructions of the stewards. There are some really fast and spectacular stretches because generally speaking, we come into that section with studded snow tyres, whereas it’s invariably pretty dry.

Which part of the rally you prefer most?
When we drive onto the final podium in front of the Palais Princier! Monte-Carlo has a very special atmosphere as the opening rally of the championship. And often, it’s such a tough race that you feel pleased just to make to the end, so when you manage to win it, it’s even more special. Having said that, it’s still the feeling in the car that is the most enjoyable. This is especially true when you start a stage knowing you have the right tyres to express yourself, because it’s not always the case.

Do you prefer it when the road is wet, damp, icy or covered in snow?
I really like it when there is a bit of mix, with changes in grip levels and you have to adjust your pace, because that’s when you can really make a difference.

CITROËN SECRETS
Whilst competing for Citroën Racing in the WRC, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia made their first appearance at Monte-Carlo in 2009, when the rally was part of the IRC, in a Peugeot 207 S2000. It proved to be a very successful one-off outing! Julien Ingrassia recalls…

We had been selected by BFGoodrich to take part in our home round of the IRC. We had just been crowned Junior world rally champions, but we were still in the early stages of our career. We therefore initially decided to focus on consistency, before gradually upping our pace and claiming our only stage win of the weekend on the snow-covered roads on Montauban sur l’Ouvèze – Eygalayes. That moved us into the overall lead. We had literally overtaken Freddy Loix, side by side, as we started to climb the Col Saint Jean, just after the village of Laborel, which you don't see very often in rallying! But we still had to get over the famous Col de Turini at night. I can still see us realising in the dark at Lucéram that we had claimed our first international win! As the job wasn’t over for the co-driver, however, it was only much later that I was really able to savour the moment, when it hit me that a year or two earlier, I was still just a fan with my mates, sleeping in the car at night on these same stages!”
19-01-21 Tidemand med fokus på erfarenhet i WRC-premiären
Efter fyra år som stammis i WRC 2-serien, inklusive en mästartitel i klassen, kom äntligen chansen som rallystjärnan Pontus Tidemand har väntat på - att få hoppa in i en maxad WRC-bil och tampas med eliten i den högsta klassen i Rally-VM. I en Ford Fiesta WRC för M-Sport gör han och nygamla kartläsaren Ola Fløene säsongspremiär i Rallye Monte-Carlo.

De franska alperna bjuder alltid på spänning när det vankas VM-premiär. Att kunna läsa av vägarna, reagera snabbt och hitta ett mellanting i inställningar och däckval som i så stor utsträckning som möjligt fungerar för både torr asfalt och fullt vinterväglag är något av en nyckel här. Och den nyckeln kommer med erfarenhet.
- Jag har kört Rallye Monte-Carlo en gång tidigare och gjort rekognoseringen två gånger så jag har ett hum om vad som väntar. Det är en väldigt speciell tävling, förmodligen den mest oförutsägbara i VM, och erfarenheten blir otroligt viktigt. Kanske inte på så sätt att man lär sig vägarna, utan snarare vägkaraktären och att hantera växlingen mellan underlagen. En och samma sträcka kan innehålla torr asfalt, snö och is och även om det klassas som ett asfaltrally är det helt unikt i och med väderomslagen uppe i bergen, berättar Pontus, som klämde till med en fjärdeplats i RC2-kategorin i sitt allra första Rallye Monte-Carlo 2017.

Säsongspremiären handlar för Pontus del först och främst att lära känna bilen och teamet helt och fullt, utan någon press eller förhoppningar om en pallskräll. Med sig i högerstolen har han en av världens mest erfarna kartläsare, norrmannen Ola Fløene, som bland annat var med Pontus under succéåret 2013 då han blev juniorvärldsmästare. Rallye Monte-Carlo blir lite av en uppvärmning och generalrepetition inför fortsättningen och Pontus behåller lugnet och tonar ner all form av press.
- Det är fem år sedan jag senast satt i en WRC-bil och det här är en helt ny generations rallybil. Det kändes kanon när vi testade och jag kom snabbt in i det och jag och Ola har hittat tillbaka till vårt samarbete. Men det här är trots allt tävlingsdebuten och jag vet att jag måste ha realistiska förväntningar. Jag har inte tagit mig så här långt för att vara tanklös och försöka bevisa något, nu ska jag ta det steg för steg och verkligen ta hand om chansen på ett klokt sätt med tanke på framtiden, förklarar Pontus.

Efter många år i WRC 2, kände Pontus att det nu var dags för nya utmaningar och när den här möjligheten kom, var han inte sen att nappa.
- Det ligger otroligt mycket hårt arbete bakom satsningen och jag känner en enorm tacksamhet gentemot M-Sport, mina partners och alla som hjälper mig för att jag faktiskt står på startlinjen på torsdag, säger Pontus. Motivationen är högre än någonsin och det är äntligen nu det gäller. Nu kör vi!

Efter starten i kärnan av Gap på torsdag kväll väntar en tuff inledning på årets första VM-rally med två nya sträckor, vardera över två mil, i mörkret i södra Alperna. 125 kilometer action uppdelat på sex sträckor står på fredagens schema medan lördagens fyra sträckor på 93 kilometer leder fram till tävlingens sista service i Gap. Sedan har de tävlande en lång sträcka att köra från Gap till Monaco där de tar kvällen några timmar senare. Söndagen är traditionell och innehåller klassiska och omåttligt populära inslag som Col de Turini innan målgången vid lunchtid.

Tidsschema Rallye Monte-Carlo 2019
Torsdag 24 januari
10:00 Shakedown Gap (3,35km)
19:38 SS1 La Breole - Selonnet (20,76km)
20:41 SS2 Avancon - Notre Dame du Laus (20,59km)

Fredag 25 januari
09:11 SS3 Valdrome - Sigottier 1 (20,04km)
10:14 SS4 Roussieux - Laborel 1 (24,05km)
11:37 SS5 Curbans - Piegut 1 (18,47km)
12:17 Service Gap
14:23 SS6 Valdrome - Sigottier 2 (20,04km)
15:26 SS7 Roussieux - Laborel 2 (24,05km)
16:49 SS8 Curbans - Piegut 2 (18,47km)
17:44 Service Gap

Lördag 26 januari
08:48 SS9 Agnieres en Devoluy - Corps 1 (29,82km)
10:06 SS10 St Leger Les Melezes - La Batie Neuve 1 (16,87km)
11:21 Service Gap
12:47 SS11 Agnieres en Devoluy - Corps 2 (29,82km)
14:08 SS12 St Leger Les Melezes - La Batie Neuve 2 (16,87km)
15:18 Service Gap

Söndag 27 januari
08:20 SS13 La Bollene Vesubie - Peira Cava 1 (18,41km)
09:08 SS14 La Cabanette - Col de Braus 1 (13,58km)
10:55 SS15 La Bollene Vesubie - Peira Cava 2 (18,41km)
12:18 SS16 La Cabanette - Col de Braus 2 (Power Stage) (13,58km)
19-01-19 Emil Bergkvist ser framåt med inspirerande blickar
Efter att det i veckan blivit klart att Emil Bergkvist och Patrik Barth skall tävla i WRC2 med sin Ford flesta R5 under 2019, så blickar vi nu ännu mer framåt.
- Vi jobbar stenhårt för att utveckla teamet och ta ytterligare steg för att nå den yttersta världseliten. Vi har fått tillskott i vår organisation på marknadssidan, och jobbar nu för att utöver WRC även köra tävlingar i Sverige. Men också andra internationella tävlingar, allt för att utvecklas och hitta ett högre tempo, säger Emil Bergkvist

- Vi är ett team och organisation i rörelse som expanderar. Vi söker ständigt nya ömsesidiga samarbetspartners och kunder. Vi har otroligt många olika skräddarsydda lösningar för att utnyttja varandras marknader. Har du själv, eller vet du någon/något företag/person/organisation som vill vara med på resan att utvecklas till ett fullskaligt professionellt rallyteam, på både nationell och internationell nivå så vill vi gärna komma i kontakt. Vi ser fram mot säsongen och att ta ytterligare steg mot den absoluta världseliten, avslutar han
19-01-19 The C3 WRC all set for regal challenge
The WRC season’s traditional opening round, Rallye Monte-Carlo is also one of the toughest challenges faced by the crews – a winter event held in unpredictable conditions. With Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janni Ferm in the team’s two C3 WRCs, Citroën Total World Rally Team will be able to count on the six-time world champions and rallying’s most promising crew to do the team proud.

Citroën Racing’s technical team has done everything to help its new crews rack up as many miles as possible and start the season with confidence. Both crews had three and half days of specific testing with the C3 WRC - generally covering more than two hundred kilometres per day - in order to run through the wide range of set-up options available. The pre-event tests were held on slippery, dry and wet tarmac, snow and ice, in other words, all of the difficulties that Monte is capable of throwing at you in a single stage! The efforts made confirm Citroën’s determination to up its game this season and quickly pass the milestone of a hundred WRC wins.

Understandably, as the defending six-time world champion and winner of the Rallye Monte-Carlo for the last five years, Sébastien Ogier represents the team’s greatest hopes of success at Monte. The local hero, who has proven time and time again his ability to adapt to conditions, has become an expert at reading the local roads and their countless variations in grip.

With three appearances at this round, Esapekka Lappi does not possess the same experience as his French team-mate. Building on his impressive performances in 2018, during which he scored three podiums, the 28 years old Finn is determined to keep improving in what will be only his second full season in the WRC.

REACTIONS FROM…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Although Sébastien and Julien recognised a few familiar faces in the team, this wasn't the case for Esapekka and Janne, and yet they have settled in quickly and smoothly. We used the off-season to prepare for 2019 in a composed manner, to learn from one another and enable the crews to get as used to the car as possible. At Monte-Carlo, it’s absolutely essential to feel confident in the car. As Sébastien and Julien are five-time winners of the rally, and finished first here last year, they will obviously be a force to be reckoned with. Esapekka and Janne are less experienced on these unusual stages and will undoubtedly be adopting a more gradual approach."

Olivier Maroselli, Citroën Racing Technical Director
“The C3 WRC has undergone some considerable changes since the 2018 Rallye Monte-Carlo, in terms of the dampers and the design of the suspension, and we now have a good understanding of the basic set-up. We worked on getting a car that was easier to drive, and which is therefore capable of adapting to the varied levels of grip that tend to be thrown up by this event. We had pretty much every condition going during testing: dry tarmac, snow and good quality ice, melting snow and slush. This meant we could analyse a wide variety of settings, such as cross-fitted tyres, which involves paying very careful attention to the set-up in order to ensure the car’s handling remains predictable. We also worked on set-up options that might be adjusted by the crews between stages on a loop, so I think we are well prepared for the rally."

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I had a wide variety of conditions during my three and a half days of testing, which was pretty good and enabled us to work on achieving the best possible compromise. The feeling was good, but it’s always difficult to estimate your level of performance for the first race in a new car. I'm going to do what I’ve always done and trust my feeling. This is especially true because Monte is a rally that you are more likely to win by driving intelligently, rather than on the limit, given how many places there are where you can get caught out. In any case, I’ve always done well here and I hope that my experience will help me again!”

Number of appearances at the event: 9
Number of wins: 6 (2009 in the IRC, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018)

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I’m pleased with our tests since we were able to try out everything, apart from completely dry tarmac. With the team, we found a set-up that suits me and I felt comfortable in the car. Having said all that, the Rallye Monte-Carlo is still a huge challenge. It’s an event you have to treat with great respect, especially as it’s never really the same rally from one year to the next, given the way the conditions are constantly changing. I hope to have amassed enough experience in the past to be able to fight near the front. A top-five finish would be a good start to the season for me."

Number of appearances at the event: 3
Best result: 7th (2018)

KEY FIGURES
16 timed stages covering a total of 323.83 km
43 the maximum number of Michelin tyres that may be used per car, chosen from 24 super soft-compound slicks (Pilot Sport SS6), 20 soft-compound slicks (Pilot Sport S6), 12 non-studded snow tyres (Pilot Alpin A41) and 24 studded snow tyres (Pilot Alpin A41 CL)

7 the number of wins recorded by Citroën at the Rallye Monte-Carlo (2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2013)

1 hr 10 mins at the latest before the first car on stage, the safety crews (Simon Jean-Joseph-Jack Boyère for Sébastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia and Mikko Heikkila-Jan Lonegren for Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm) are allowed to complete the stages. Equipped with a copy of their crew’s pace notes, they describe the condition of the road, something which is critically important at Monte-Carlo.

RALLYE MONTE-CARLO SCHEDULE (GMT+1)
This year’s route, whilst more compact, actually spans five French departments – the Alpes de Haute-Provence, Hautes Alpes, Drôme, Isère and Alpes Maritimes – and once again promises to provide plenty of difficulties and uncertainty. In fact, almost 47%of the stages have been revised, whilst Thursday evening’s stages, held after nightfall, are completely newthis year. The Valdrome – Sigottier (20.04km) and Curbans – Piegut (18.47km) stages, held on Friday’s leg, are also brand new for 2019.

With the weather always changeable at this time of year, where conditions can be radically different from one side of the mountain to the other, this year’s rally is certain to be a huge challenge once again. Monte-Carlo is often described as being all about “tyres and drivers”. More than anywhere else, perhaps, it is critical to make the right call on tyres and to be genuinely at one with your car, so that you can anticipate its reactions to the constantly changing grip levels provided by the roads.

THURSDAY 24 JANUARY
10.00am: Shakedown (Gap)
6.50pm: Start day 1 (Gap – Place Desmichels)
7.38pm: SS 1 – La Breole – Selonnet (20,76 km)
8.41pm: SS 2 – Avançon – Notre Dame du Laus (20,59 km)
9.41pm: Flexi service A (Gap – 48 mins)

FRIDAY 25 JANUARY
7.30am: Start day 2 and service B (Gap – 18 mins)
9.11am: SS 3 – Valdrome – Sigottier 1 (20,04 km)
10.14am: SS 4 – Roussieux – Laborel 1 (24,05 km)
11.37am: SS 5 – Curbans – Piegut 1 (18,47 km)
12.27pm: Service C (Gap – 33 mins)
2.23pm: SS 6 – Valdrome – Sigottier 2 (20,04 km)
3.26pm: SS 7 – Roussieux – Laborel 2 (24,05 km)
4.49pm: SS 8 – Curbans – Piegut 2 (18,47 km)
5.44pm: Flexi service D (Gap – 48 mins)

SATURDAY 26 JANUARY
7.37am: Start day 3 and service E (Gap – 18 mins)
8.48am: SS 9 – Agnières en Devoluy – Corps 1 (29,82 km)
10.06am: SS 10 – St Léger les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve 1 (16,87 km)
11.21am: Service F (Gap – 33 mins)
12.47pm: SS 11 – Agnières en Devoluy – Corps 2 (29,82 km)
2.08pm: SS 12 – St Léger les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve 2 (16,87 km)
3.18pm: Service G (Gap – 48 mins)
8.06pm: Parc ferme (Monaco)

SUNDAY 27 JANUARY
6.22am: Start day 4
8.20am: SS 13 – La Bollène Vésubie – Peira Cava 1 (18,41 km)
9.08am: SS 14 – La Cabanette – Col de Braus 1 (13,58 km)
10.55am: SS 15 – La Bollène Vésubie – Peira Cava 2 (18,41 km)
12.18pm: SS 16 – La Cabanette – Col de Braus 2 – Power Stage (13,58 km)
1.58pm: Parc ferme (Monaco – Quai Albert 1er)
3.00pm: Prize giving (Monaco – Quai Albert 1er)
19-01-16 Dennis Rådström och Johan Johansson värmer upp inför Rally Sweden
Dennis Rådström från Torsby och hans kartläsare Johan Johansson från Valdemarsvik laddar inför en tredje säsong i Junior-VM i Rally, JWRC, efter ett starkt 2018 där Dennis slutade tvåa i VM bakom Emil Bergkvist och Johan Johansson blev världsmästare för kartläsare.
– Vi fortsätter ett år till i JWRC. Planen var att kliva upp i år, men det blev lite tuffare när vi inte vann efter en tuff kamp med Emil. Men vi håller kvar målsättningen att köra WRC, och då känns JWRC som det mest naturliga. Det är en fantastisk kalender, med passande tävlingar och start i Rally Sweden, säger Dennis.
– Vi vill fortsätta utvecklas, och det naturliga steget nu är att vinna serien.

Teamet har ett intensivt schema med förberedelser inför hemmatävlingen som körs i Värmland den 14 till 17 februari.
– Vi har ett mer intensivt tävlingsschema inför Rally Sweden, efter som det är tid bakom ratten som är bästa träningen. Vi tävlar varje helg inför Rally Sweden för att bli varma i kläderna.
– Vi har redan kört två tävlingar i år, i Boden och Finnskogsvalsen. Vi har utvecklats enormt om man jämfört med våra tider från förra året. Så vi är fyllda med självförtroende, passion och ser fram mot säsongen.

Förra året tog Dennis och Johan sin första seger i VM-serien när de vann Rally Sweden, som gick i mål bara ett par hundra meter från Dennis hem, inför familj, vänner och supportrar. Men trots förra årets framgång känner Dennis ingen press.
– Vi känner ingen speciell press i år, utan vi känner att vi är i bra form och att självförtroendet är på topp. Vi ska bara gå ut och göra vår grej och köra vårt race, fortsätter Dennis.

Närmast kommer Dennis och Johan ställa upp i SM-premiären i Bergslagsrallyt den 26 januari, och helgen efter ställa upp i SM-veckan i Sundsvall, där man får mäta sig med Sverigeeliten som uppladdning inför Rally Sweden.
– Vi har som plan att köra full attack från första metern in till mål. Sen ska vi vara redo för VM, avslutar Dennis.
19-01-15 Emil Bergkvist kör WRC2 tillsammans med J Motorsport
Emil Bergkvist från Torsåker blev 2018 Juniorvärldsmästare i Rally efter en bra säsong där han vann den avslutande deltävlingen i Turkiet tillsammans med kartläsaren Patrik Barth.

Priset för vinsten var en egen Ford Flesta R5 från Brittiska Ford-teamet M-Sport tillsammans med däck och bränsle för WRC2-mästerskapet 2019, och det är nu klart att Emil och Patrik kommer till start i WRC2 i bilen tillsammans med Belgiska teamet J Motorsport.
– Det känns oerhört kul att ha fått till det här efter mycket hårt arbete, och vi ser fram mot säsongen, säger Emil.

Emil kommer inleda säsongen i bilen han vann förra året, och när M-Sport till sommaren presenterar sin nya Flesta R5 kommer man att gå över till den.

Emil och Patrik kommer att starta i följande tävlingar i WRC2-klassen: Sverige, Portugal, Sardinien, Finland, Tyskland, Spanien och Wales.
– Jag är tacksam till alla som har vart med och gjort detta möjligt, framförallt till Jourdan Serderidis och J Motorsport som gör detta möjligt, avslutar Emil.
19-01-14 Mads Østberg is ready for full season in WRC2-Pro with C3 R5
We’re happy to announce that we are back with a complete programme for WRC2 PRO 2019, in collaboration with Citröen Racing. Our first rally-start is only weeks away, on the snow covered winter roads of RallySweden (February 14th – 17th). Mads will be competing behind the wheel of a Citröen C3 R5, run by Belgian team DG Sport.
‘’I must admit I was disappointed when it was clear to me that WRC at the highest level was not an option for me in the 2019 season. Rallying for me is more than a job, it’s a passion, it’s in my blood. It was never an option to give up on my dreams.

I shared many good experiences with Citröen Racing during my three years as a factory driver in the team. That’s one of the main reasons I decided to go for this option.

OK, it will be a challenge. I have no experience with the car and my first rally is coming soon. It will be a busy time for sure. The main focus in the beginning is to develop the car, and hopefully to clinch the first C3 R5 win in WRC2. With the expertise of Citröen Racing and my experience combined, it’s possible.

I’m also happy to say that I will continue my collaboration with Torstein Eriksen as co-driver. He has proved himself as a hard working co-driver, more than good enough to compete at any level of rallying.

It’s been a long rally break since Rally Australia, and while other teams are testing for Monte-Carlo, I’ve been at home. These days I’m planning my test schedule before Sweden. There’s so much to be done in such short time. My first kilometers behind the wheel of the Citroën C3 R5 will be at Rally Hadeland on January 27th. The rally will serve as a test for Sweden.’’
19-01-08 Tom Kristensson satsar på Junior-VM Rally
Efter ett intensivt arbete med att få ihop budgeten är det nu klart att Tom Kristensson från Hörby, och tävlande för SMK Hörby, kommer att starta säsongen i Junior-VM i rally 2019. Efter andraplatsen i Junior EM förra året är det nu dags för att ta nästa steg.
- Budgeten för hela serien är inte i hamn ännu, det har det varit för kort tid för, men så mycket är klart att vi kommer till start till den första deltävlingen Rally Sweden i Värmland i mitten av februari, säger Tom.
- Även om det är en del kvar är det goda förutsättningar och vår absoluta målsättning att få till en budget för hela serien. Tack vare en fantastisk uppbackning av både tidigare och nya samarbetspartners har jag goda förhoppningar för att det skall gå i lås. Men det krävs ytteliggare en hel del arbete, den senaste månaden har verkligen varit intensiv med många möten och kontakter, säger Tom

- Till min stora glädje kommer jag även kommande säsong att ha Henrik Appelskog från Motala, och Östergyllen RC, vid min sida, han har varit min Codriver de senaste 2 åren, och han är väldigt kompetent och vi trivs bra och har kul ihop.
- Jag har sagt att jag inte kan ha en lika intensiv säsong som i fjol. Det fungerar inte med heltidsjobb och familj. Men nu blir det färre tävlingar utspritt på längre tid och Tom vill ju ha med mig. Han vill inte att jag ska sluta och det är ju smickrande, säger Henrik.

För att få delta i Junior-VM, J-WRC, får man vara högst 29 år, och avgörs i fem av de 13 deltävlingarna i Rally-VM, WRC, samtliga i Europa.
De fem deltävlingarna är: Rally Sweden, Sverige, 14-17 feb, Tour de Corse, Frankrike, 28-31 mar, Rally Italia Sardegna, Italien, 13-16 jun, Rally Finland, Finland, 1-4 aug och Wales Rally GB, Wales, 3-6 okt. Resultatet från fyra av de fem deltävlingarna räknas i slutställningen i mästerskapet.
Alla deltagarna i Junior-VM kör med en enhetsbil, en framhjulsriven Ford Fiesta R2 Eco Boost, som byggs och tillhandahålls av brittiska M-Sports avdelning i Polen, och alla kör även med samma däckfabrikat.

- Det är en bil som går i samma bilklass som den Opel Adam R2 som jag körde förra året i EM, säger Tom. Fördelen med att köra med en enhetsbil från samma team är ju att alla har samma förutsättningar, det går ju inte att skylla på materialet om det inte går bra.
- Nu ser jag verkligen fram mot Rally Sweden, avslutar Tom med ett stort leende.



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