VM kalendern 2023
Monte-Carlo: 19 – 22 January
Sweden: 9 – 12 February
Mexico: 16 – 19 March
Croatia: 20 – 23 April
Portugal: 11 – 14 May
Italy: 1 – 4 June
Kenya: 22 – 25 June
Estonia: 20 – 23 July
Finland: 3 – 6 August
Greece: 7 – 10 September
Chile: 28 September – 1 October
Central Europe (AUT, CZE, GER): 26 – 29 October
Japan: 16 – 19 November

23-03-20 Oliver Solberg försvarade VM-ledningen i Mexiko
Endast en punktering under fredagen hindrade Oliver Solberg (21) från ytterligare en seger WRC2-klassen i rally-VM i helgen.

Trots det lyckades Solberg köra upp sig till tredje plats i Rally Mexico efter att ha vunnit tio av de 19 avklarade specialsträckorna. Oliver kom i mål 1.06,2 minuter efter teamkamraten Gus Greensmith från Storbritannien. Finnen Emil Lindholm – även han teamkamrat i Toksport WRT – kom tvåa, 33,3 sekunder före Solberg.

Han vann sin första poänggivande VM-tävling för säsongen på hemmaplan i Sverige förra månaden och leder nu WRC2-mästerskapet totalt.

Om inte Oliver hade tappat 1,40 minuter på den åttonde sträckan på grund av en punktering, skulle 21-åringen kunnat slåss om segern i WRC 2-klassen.
– En väldigt rolig tävlingshelg med bra bil och bra fart. Utan punkteringen i fredags vet vi att det kunde ha blivit ett ännu bättre resultat. Jag är otroligt nöjd med att vi lyckades slå tillbaka och komma på pallen, sa Oliver Solberg.

Fyra av tävlingens specialsträckor ställdes in på grund av olyckor som lyckligtvis slutade utan några personskador.

På det näst sista sträckan uppstod ett motorproblem för Solberg och kartläsaren Elliott Edmondson. Som ett resultat av det fick duon fullfölja tävlingen på tre cylindrar, men lyckades behålla sin pallplats.

Nästa VM-tävling äger rum i Kroatien helgen 20-23 april.
23-03-20 Seventh heaven for triumphant Ogier in Mexico
Frenchman tops Rally México roll of honour after claiming record seventh victory at gruelling gravel fixture.
Sébastien Ogier added another record to his already impressive tally with victory at Guanajuato Rally México on Sunday afternoon.

The Frenchman, starting the second rally of his part-time 2023 campaign, moved to top of the Mexico roll of honour with a record seventh victory at the North American event, an accolade he had previously shared with old foe Sébastien Loeb.

With a sizeable 35.8sec advantage going into the final leg, it was a relatively straightforward Sunday for the Toyota Gazoo Racing man.

He negotiated the remaining four speed tests with ultimate prowess and collected maximum bonus points from the Wolf Power Stage, finishing 27.5sec clear of Thierry Neuville at the event where he made his FIA World Rally Championship debut in 2008.

“The car was great this weekend and it was a faultless rally for us and the team,” said Ogier, who now leads the drivers’ championship by three points from Neuville.

“As I am doing the next rally, it's important to start first on the road there and it was important to get the points for the team as well,” he added, referencing the Croatia Rally.

Neuville's stubborn spirit behind the wheel of his Hyundai i20 N left fans on the edge of their seats as he battled relentlessly with Ogier's team-mate Elfyn Evans. Having started the day 5.3sec in arrears, Neuville closed in on the Welshman, who was impeded by a bent suspension arm.

The Belgian’s perseverance paid off as he overtook his rival in the finale, claiming second overall by just four-tenths of a second and providing an exhilarating end to the four-day fixture.

Kalle Rovanperä struggled to match the pace of the frontrunning trio and settled for a lonely fourth overall in his Toyota. The defending champion continued to pull further away from Hyundai’s Dani Sordo, who finished over one minute further back in fifth.

The rough gravel terrain took its toll on several of the leading Rally1 crews, enabling Gus Greensmith to finish a mighty sixth overall in his WRC2-specification Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. Behind him were fellow support category challengers Emil Lindholm and Oliver Solberg.

Ninth overall was the best Ott Tänak could manage after turbocharger failure cost the M-Sport Ford Puma driver more than 14 minutes on Friday morning, while WRC2 star Kajetan Kajetanowicz completed the top 10.

The WRC is back on asphalt for next month's Croatia Rally, which takes place from 20 - 23 April. The event is based in capital city Zagreb.

Overall classification:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 3hr 16min 9.4sec
2. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +27.5sec
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +27.9sec
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +1min 55.3sec
5. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +2min 58.8sec
6: G Greensmith / J Andersson GBR Škoda Fabia +12min 31.5sec

Drivers' Championship points (after round 3 of 13):
1. S Ogier 56pts
2. T Neuville 53pts
3. K Rovanperä 52pts

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-03-19 Saturday shake-up puts Ogier on track for Mexico triumph
Frenchman builds commanding lead as rival Esapekka Lappi crashes on penultimate day.
Sébastien Ogier is on the verge of a record-breaking seventh Guanajuato Rally México victory after establishing a commanding lead on Saturday.

The eight-time world champion, who drives part-time for Toyota Gazoo Racing, moved into the lead of the gruelling gravel event when Esapekka Lappi - whom he trailed by 5.3sec after Friday - crashed into an electricity pole in the opening stage. From that moment on, Ogier never looked back.

Armed with an advantage of almost half a minute over GR Yaris team-mate Elfyn Evans at the day’s midpoint, the 39-year-old was in no mood to compromise.

He managed his speed - and his hard compound Pirelli tyres - flawlessly over the afternoon’s scorching speed tests, taking a dominant stage win at El Mosquito 2 to end the day 35.8sec clear of the field.

Victory at this third round would be particularly special for the Frenchman, as it was here in Mexico where he made his FIA World Rally Championship debut back in 2008.

"I think this lead is good,” Ogier said. “It’s been another strong day for me. We had a little bit of a different approach after Esapekka went off in the first stage this morning.

“We didn't need to go for too much risk, but still we managed to set some good times and increase our lead. Tomorrow is still long which means we cannot afford to relax."

Evans’ position in second overall was much less secure, as he had a charging Thierry Neuville breathing down his neck. The Hyundai driver reeled in his rival, grabbing four fastest times to trail the Welshman by just 4.3sec heading into Sunday’s four-stage finale.

Kalle Rovanperä found himself sitting almost one-minute adrift of Neuville in fourth overall. A stall in Derramadero 2 cost the Toyota youngster a handful of seconds but, with a hefty 47.2sec gap to Dani Sordo behind, he had no reason to be alarmed.

Sordo, a lonely fifth, was unwilling to take any unnecessary risks. The Spaniard focused instead on trialling new set-ups throughout the day, although he found it difficult to keep the rear end of his Hyundai under control in the loose conditions.

Such was the high rate of the attrition that WRC2 cars comprised the remainder of the top 10. Gus Greensmith continued to lead the category ahead of his former M-Sport Ford team-mate Adrien Fourmaux, while Emil Lindholm, Oliver Solberg and Kajetan Kajetanowicz completed the leaderboard.

Championship leader Ott Tänak recovered from Friday morning’s turbo failure to haul his Ford Puma back up to 11th overall. Pierre-Louis Loubet, driving a similar car, retired for the second time in as many days with damaged rear suspension in SS17.

Sunday may be shorter, but it’s no less challenging. It opens with another blast through Las Dunas, which is followed by Otates - the longest stage of the rally at a daunting 35.63km. San Diego is up next before the event ends with the Wolf Power Stage in El Brinco.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 2hr 35min 37.6sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +35.8sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +40.1sec
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +1min 34.0sec
5. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +2min 21.2sec
6: G Greensmith / J Andersson GBR Škoda Fabia +10min 33.4sec

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-03-18 Lappi heads Ogier in Mexico thriller
Former team-mates trade blows in gripping opening leg, ending Friday just 5.3 seconds apart.
Esapekka Lappi kept a cool head in the scorching heat of Guanajuato Rally México to fend off six-time winner Sébastien Ogier during Friday’s dramatic opening leg.

Despite several of the FIA World Rally Championship's leading crews running into trouble on the gruelling gravel stages in the mountains around León, Lappi steered clear of drama to head Ogier at the first gravel round of the season.

The Hyundai i20 N star led from the outset after grabbing the top spot in the morning’s opener. But Ogier, who ironically alternated drives with Lappi at Toyota Gazoo Racing last season, stayed right on his heels, with the duo exchanging times for much of the day.

It was, however, Lappi's impressive performance in the latter half of the afternoon which made all the difference. Back-to-back stage wins in Las Minas and Las Dunas gave the Finn some much-needed breathing space and, while Ogier clawed back some time in the Distrito Leon super special, 5.3sec split the pair at close of play.

"I am a bit surprised, but I take it as it is,” Lappi beamed. “This was probably one of the best days of my career.

“I always hoped that I could fight at the top, but to be leading and fighting against Séb was never in my mind. I didn't really think about how this day would go, but I was just confident that our pace would be good."

Elfyn Evans filled the final podium spot, finishing 24.8sec behind his Toyota GR Yaris team-mate Ogier. With temperatures nearing 30°C and altitudes of over 2750 metres, it was a trying day for crews and cars alike, but the Welshman’s struggles were limited to a lack of traction on some of the stages.

Thierry Neuville was hampered by hybrid unit failure in the morning, followed by a seized rear-right damper and damaged driveshaft boot in the afternoon. He pressed on regardless, reaching the overnight halt 9.7sec adrift of the podium in his Hyundai.

Starting second on the road, defending champion Kalle Rovanperä was severely affected by the loose conditions. As a result, the Yaris driver lost time in almost every test, ending the day a 19.9sec down on Neuville.

Meanwhile, Dani Sordo leaked around a minute when he limped through SS7 with rear-left tyre damage on his Hyundai, dropping from fourth to sixth overall.

Championship leader Ott Tänak languishes more than 14 minutes back from the lead after crawling through the morning loop with turbocharger failure. It was a disastrous day for the Estonian’s M-Sport Ford team as both Pierre-Louis Loubet and Jourdan Serderidis retired their Pumas in the opening stage.

Also in trouble was birthday boy Takamoto Katsuta, who lost control of his Yaris in a high-speed section on SS5 and rolled down a steep embankment.

Saturday’s leg is the longest of the event and features nine more challenging stages totalling 126.52km.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N 1hr 25min 12.0sec
2. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris +5.3sec
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +30.1sec
4. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +39.8sec
5. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +59.7sec
6. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +1min 27.2sec

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-03-15 Tänak faces tough gravel challenge at Guanajuato Rally México
Championship leader opens the road on the WRC's return to North America.
It’s hot, it’s dusty, it’s the highest round of the season and it’s the first time we get to view the WRC’s class of 2023 in action on pure gravel roads.

We’re leaving behind the European winter for the sizzling heat of Guanajuato Rally México (16 - 19 March), back on the calendar for the first time since 2020 and home to the FIA World Rally Championship’s third round.

M-Sport Ford’s table-topping star Ott Tänak, who grabbed the championship lead with victory in Sweden last time out, knows his standing will come at a cost at this week’s fixture, the season’s first outside of Europe.

The Puma driver must pay his dues in the mountains around León when he opens the road for Friday’s opening leg on stages coated in dry and slippery gravel. Those tracks become cleaner and faster with each car that passes as the loose dirt is swept aside.

While the two-time Mexico runner-up is praying for rain to bind the loose gravel together, his wish may be in vain as the event is forecasted to have sunny skies with temperatures nudging 30°C.

“I'm not sure I’m that good a [rain] dancer to get the rain in a place where it almost never rains!” joked Tänak, who is joined in the team by Pierre-Louis Loubet and privateer Jourdan Serderidis.

“During testing it was my very first time on gravel in the Puma Rally1 and it was very important to discover as much as possible. The team is working hard to keep improving, but to really understand where we are now, we need to do a gravel rally first,” he added.

Neither Kalle Rovanperä nor Thierry Neuville will benefit that much from second and third in the order. But one man who does is Rovanperä’s Toyota GR Yaris team-mate Sébastien Ogier, a six-time Mexico winner, who starts fifth.

The eight-time champion drives part-time for the Japanese marque and returns to action for the first time since his Monte-Carlo win in January.

“When I knew that Mexico was coming back, I had to mark it in my calendar as an event that would be nice to do again. It’s where everything started for me in the WRC, as it’s actually where I made my debut in 2008," said the Frenchman.

Dani Sordo joins Neuville and Esapekka Lappi in a three-strong Hyundai i20 N line-up and will be the last of the frontrunners onto the road. He will be keen to make the most of the extra grip to put himself in a strong position for the last two legs, when competitors start in reverse order of classification.

"If we get it right, we believe we can be in the battle for victory, but we want to be on the podium as a minimum," said Sordo, who alternates drives with Craig Breen.

Elfyn Evans, fourth in the standings, also drives a GR Yaris, as does Takamoto Katsuta - although the Japanese driver will not score manufacturers’ championship points with Ogier in attendance this week.

The route climbs to more than 2,700 metres above sea level, where engines traditionally struggle to 'breathe' in the thinner air and lose 20 per cent of their power. However, the Rally1 cars’ hybrid specification brings a battery-powered boost less impacted by the thinner air, which could make this one of the fastest editions Guanajuato Rally México has ever seen.

The rally starts on Thursday night with two iconic street tests through Guanajuato's former mining tunnels. Three more days of action follow in the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains before Sunday afternoon's finish in León after 23 stages covering 320.23km.

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-02-18 FIA European Rally Championship 2022 Stop 5 - Liepaja, Latvia
Epic adventure in store as WRC gears up to take on uncharted terrain in 2024.
• Tet Rally Latvia set to join the WRC in 2024
• Long-time ERC success leads to WRC promotion
• Strategic move highlights the importance of Baltic regions for WRC

The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is set to visit a new country in 2024 when Tet Rally Latvia, formerly known as Tet Rally Liepaja, joins the calendar.

The decision comes after Latvia’s long-time success within the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) and reflects WRC Promoter’s commitment to keep at least one slot in the WRC calendar available for such events. As the commercial rights holder for both WRC and ERC, WRC Promoter is uniquely positioned to identify and support events which have the potential to grow and become part of the WRC family.

Tet Rally Latvia takes place on gravel roads and has a reputation for being one of the most challenging rallies in Europe, utilising blisteringly fast roads which require inch-perfect skill and precision from drivers and co-drivers.

“It has always been our goal to keep at least one slot in the WRC calendar available to enable an event to rotate from the ERC to the WRC,” explained Peter Thul, Senior Director of Sport for WRC Promoter.

“Tet Rally Latvia becoming the first to be granted this slot is a clear recognition of its sporting and promotional excellence, and the commitment of the Latvian Government to rallying.

“This decision highlights the strategic importance of the Baltic regions for WRC. We have a longstanding relationship with broadcast partner TV3 and look forward to expanded collaboration with them for the 2024 event. This, as well as our ever-increasing network of over 50 broadcasters in more than 150 countries, makes WRC one of the most widely viewed motorsport championships on the planet,” Thul added.

Event organisers have been working closely with the FIA and WRC Promoter to ensure the event meets the high standards required for a WRC round. The rally will reach a widespread area of Latvia, stretching from the cities of Riga and Liepaja to the regions of Talsi, Tukums, Kuldiga, Dienvidkurzeme.

“This is a dream come true moment. Our work that started many years ago, has finally concluded with a clear pathway for Latvia to host a WRC event in 2024," said Tet Rally Latvia director Raimonds Strokšs.

"For RA Events as an event organiser, this is a tremendous milestone that carries huge responsibility with it. But we have such reliable partners in the Latvian Government, our rally city Liepaja, our capital city Riga, and our general sponsor Tet - plus many more. Behind them there is an even broader team of enthusiastic people, with whom we can pull this off and are ready to tackle all the challenges that lay ahead of us."

The exact dates for Tet Rally Latvia 2024 will be confirmed in due course.

Subject to approval by the World Motor Sport Council
23-01-23 Record-breaking Ogier claims ninth Monte-Carlo victory
Frenchman triumphs at 2023 season opener, heading home Kalle Rovanperä in 1-2 finish for Toyota.
Sébastien Ogier celebrated a record ninth triumph at Rallye Monte-Carlo, confirming a lights-to-flag victory at the opening round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship on Sunday afternoon.

Ogier is undertaking selected drives for Toyota Gazoo Racing this year and kicked off his part-time campaign with a stellar performance in the French Alps, mastering twisty asphalt roads to head GR Yaris team-mate Kalle Rovanperä by 18.8sec in a dominant 1-2 for the Japanese squad.

His nine victories span three decades and have been achieved with five different manufacturers. Topping off Ogier’s perfect weekend was the fact that co-driver Vincent Landais celebrated his maiden win at world level.

The Frenchman led the season opener from start to finish after charging to a lead of over 30 seconds during Friday’s first full day of action in the mountains above Monaco.

Rovanperä reduced that deficit to just 16.0sec heading into Sunday’s finale, but Ogier, who was denied glory by a late puncture 12 months ago, kept his cool to maintain the buffer throughout the final four speed tests.

"It's huge," Ogier beamed. "I love this rally. It's the one which gave me the dream right at the beginning and I am so happy for Vincent. For me it's nice, but for him it's a dream to take his first win.

"We still need to enjoy these moments and that's why we are still here [in the WRC], to catch some victories like this. To win a famous one like Monte has no price."

Rovanperä finished on a high by winning the Wolf Power Stage to add five bonus points to his tally. As the highest-placed full-time driver, the young Finn’s title defence is off to a solid start.

"It was a good one," he agreed. "I think we can be quite happy with second place."

Heavy tyre wear prevented Hyundai i20 N driver Thierry Neuville from making any gains on Rovanperä. After 18 stages, the Belgian was forced to settle for third overall, 27.8sec ahead of Elfyn Evans.

For Evans, there were thoughts of what could have been. Were it not for a rear puncture which cost the Welshman over 40 seconds on Friday, a 1-2-3 finish for Toyota could well have been on the cards.

Ott Tänak went easy on his soft compound tyres in preparation for an all-out attack on the bonus points-paying Wolf Power Stage, but he missed out on the benchmark time by just half a second. Ending his M-Sport Ford Puma debut with a top-five result, Tänak felt like he’d made positive steps.

“It's a long season ahead but this is a positive start,” the Estonian remarked. “At least we have scored some points already - unlike the previous three years!"

Takamoto Katsuta was lucky to finish the event after limping through the finale with damaged rear suspension. The Yaris youngster held onto sixth overall by 14.9sec from Dani Sordo, whose Hyundai was plagued by a hybrid unit fault all day.

The championship switches to Scandinavia next month for the only pure winter round of the season. Rally Sweden takes place in Umeå on 9 - 12 February.

Overall classification:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 3hr 12min 2.0sec
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +18.8sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +44.6sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +1min 12.4sec
5. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +2min 34.9sec
6. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +3min 32.6sec

Drivers' championship points (after round 1 of 13):
1. S Ogier 26pts
2. K Rovanperä 23pts
3. T Neuville 17 pts

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-01-22 Oliver Solberg visade topp-speed i Rally Monte-Carlo
Tio av 18 sträcksegrar gav ett övertygande generaltest i Rally Monte-Carlo för Oliver Solberg (21) i jakten på karriärens första VM-titel.

Oliver avslutade tävlingen med att sätta den snabbaste tiden av alla WRC2-bilar på Col de Turini Powerstage.

Vinnare av tävlingens näst största klass blev teamkamraten Nikolay Gryazin i Toksport-teamet. Solberg slutade så småningom på en sjätte plats, 2.15,2 minuter efter ryssen.

En punktering i torsdagskvällen kostade totalt runt två minuter. På lördagen försvann ytterligare några sekunder på grund av en skadad hjulupphängning.
– Men vi hade inga VM-poäng att tävla om, så totalresultatet var inte så viktigt i den här tävlingen. Tio sträcksegrar av 18 möjliga är ganska tillfredsställande för mig. Syftet var att lära känna den nya bilen och ta reda på vilken speed vi kunde hålla. Vi lyckades bra på båda punkterna, sa Oliver Solberg.

Nästa race för Oliver Solberg blir VM-tävlingen på hemmaplan i Sverige den 9-12 februari. Där börjar också den officiella VM-säsongen i WRC2-klassen.
23-01-21 Vigilant Ogier puts one hand on Monte-Carlo crown
Sébastien Ogier sits on the brink of a record-breaking ninth Rallye Monte-Carlo victory after producing another faultless drive in the French Alps on Saturday.

Having built up a sizeable advantage of over half a minute on Friday, Ogier’s attentions switched to lead preservation as the Monaco-based fixture headed into the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence for six asphalt speed tests totalling 111.78km.

With today’s running order based on reverse rally classification, Ogier had to contend with the most polluted road conditions as gravel, rocks and mud were swept onto the stages by those running higher up the field.

Ogier, who drives part-time for Toyota Gazoo Racing, took a vigilant approach. He was in no mood for risk-taking and desperate not to repeat last year’s disappointment, where a sharp rock caused a late puncture which put the brakes on his victory bid.

But, as a result of his caution, the 39-year-old saw his buffer more than halved by charging GR Yaris colleague Kalle Rovanperä. He heads into Sunday’s finale 16.0sec clear at the top.

Ogier is confident he has enough time in hand but, with four treacherous stages still remaining, anything could happen. Victory here would put him top of the Rallye Monte-Carlo roll of honour, beating the record he currently shares with old foe Sébastien Loeb.

"I think it should be enough,” he said. “The last one was the most dangerous one for punctures so I took it easy and I am happy that stage is over now."

Reigning champion Rovanperä started strongly and won two of the morning’s three stages to put some distance between himself and Hyundai i20 N star Thierry Neuville.

Neuville responded by claiming two benchmark times himself, but a big push from the former under the darkness of Ubraye – Entrevaux left Neuville 16.0sec adrift of his rival in third.

Elfyn Evans made it three Toyotas in the top four with a solid comeback drive following his Friday puncture. The Welshman leapfrogged Ott Tänak in the day’s second stage and never strayed outside the top-three times for each test, ending 24.5sec off the heels of Neuville.

For M-Sport Ford returnee Tänak there were feelings of both relief and disappointment after a technical fault left his Puma with heavier steering than normal.

Although it left him unable to put up a fight against Evans, the flipside of Tänak’s issue was that the power steering did not fail completely – something he would have been dreading as there was no mid-leg service in the schedule.

Yaris youngster Takamoto Katsuta climbed to sixth overall after leapfrogging Dani Sordo on the first run from Le Fugeret to Thorame-Haute. Sordo, who now holds seventh, continued to feel puzzled by the lack of competitiveness in his stage times.

Sunday’s finale returns to the Alpes-Maritimes. The familiar Luceram / Lantosque opens proceedings and is followed by a re-run of La Bollène-Vésubie / Col de Turini, which crews have already driven in anger on Thursday evening. Both stages are repeated once again with the latter forming the Wolf Power Stage where bonus points are available.

Leading positions after Saturday:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 2hr 27min 11.5sec
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +16.0sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +32.0sec
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +56.5sec
5. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +1min 37.3sec
6. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +2min 15.7sec

The official Home of World Rallying:

23-01-20 Ogier sweeps up with Monte-Carlo masterclass
Frenchman holds commanding lead over team-mate Kalle Rovanperä after dominating Friday's stages.
Sébastien Ogier outclassed his FIA World Rally Championship peers to end Friday at Rallye Monte-Carlo with a commanding lead.

Driving a GR Yaris for Toyota Gazoo Racing, the eight-time world champion won four of the six French Alps speed tests to lead the opening round by 36.0sec from colleague Kalle Rovanperä after 145km of competition.

The Monaco-based fixture holds fond memories for Ogier, who was born and raised in the Hautes-Alpes. He is chasing down a record-breaking ninth victory this week.

Ogier set the tempo on Thursday night’s short opening leg and continued to assert the same dominance in the morning, stretching his advantage into double figures over team-mate Elfyn Evans despite nursing a hybrid unit fault.

When Evans dropped back after leaking 40sec with a rear-right puncture on SS5, Ogier was afforded room to breathe. He took less risks in the afternoon, even carrying an additional spare tyre, but still extended his buffer regardless.

"I am very satisfied,” Ogier reflected. “Obviously, the risk of punctures [in the last stage] was higher so I took things a bit more easy. I'm just happy to bring the car home tonight."

Rovanperä topped an intense battle with Hyundai i20 N driver Thierry Neuville. The pair were rarely split by more than a few tenths of a second, but Rovanperä found a slight edge in the afternoon to end 1.9sec clear.

Fourth overall went to Ott Tänak after challenging day spent learning the intricacies of driving M-Sport’s Ford Puma in competition for the first time. In the Estonian’s own words, his new steed did not feel “racey” enough, although he did admit to being comfortable in the car.

Tänak sits 16.3sec adrift of the podium heading into Saturday’s penultimate leg and faces increasing pressure from Evans, who put in an impressive recovery drive after his puncture to end 8.1sec behind.

Another 27.9sec in arrears and rounding out the top six is Dani Sordo, driving another Hyundai. The Spaniard appeared frustrated and felt that his times did not match up with the risks he was taking out on the stages.

Takamoto Katsuta was hampered by a handbrake issue on Thursday evening but enjoyed a trouble-free run aboard his GR Yaris. A series of top-four stage times promoted the 29-year-old to seventh overall ahead of Esapekka Lappi, who shared similar frustrations to Sordo in his i20 N.

The action switches west to the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence on Saturday for another 111.78km of competition. Le Fugeret / Thorame-Haute, Malijai / Puimichel and Ubraye / Entrevaux each run twice either side of another tyre fitting zone in Puget-Théniers. Again, there is no mid-leg service.

Leading positions after Friday:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 1hr 26min 39.4sec
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +36.0sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +37.9sec
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +54.2sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +1min 2.3sec
6. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +1min 30.2sec

The official Home of World Rallying:
23-01-19 Masterful Ogier builds early Monte-Carlo lead
Frenchman makes his intentions clear as 2023 season gets underway on Thursday evening.
Sébastien Ogier threw caution to the wind on Thursday evening’s opening leg at Rallye Monte-Carlo to end a spectacular opening night of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season with a useful advantage.

Ogier, an eight-time winner in the French Alps, was in a league of his own as he blasted his Toyota GR Yaris to a brace of fastest times, heading team-mate Elfyn Evans by 6.0sec after 40.02km of competition.

An uncharacteristically dry start to this iconic event heightened the importance of tyre management, with several drivers overheating their rubber on the winding mountain passes around the Col de Turini.

Ogier, however, remained unphased and – for once – was delighted not to be opening the road. His late starting position played to his favour as he could pick out any tricky sections by spotting the tracks of his peers.
"It's never easy to start this rally at night, but at least the conditions were not so inconsistent," Ogier reflected. "There was only one really tricky corner and for once I was not starting first on the road, so I could benefit from seeing the lines from the others. That helped.
"I think it's been a good start for us and we are happy with that, but obviously there is a very long way to go.

Ott Tänak rounds out the leading trio 9.4sec adrift of second-placed Evans. It was a troublesome night for the Estonian as he kicked off his debut aboard one of M-Sport’s Ford Pumas.

An electrical issue on the liaison section prior to SS1 did nothing to calm Tänak’s nerves, and those tensions were raised further as he completed both stages without fifth gear.

Just one-tenth of a second behind is Hyundai star Thierry Neuville, who dropped around eight seconds by stalling his i20 N after sliding wide on a patch of black ice. Puma privateer Jourdan Serderidis fell foul to the very same corner but fared much worse, losing over a minute as spectators extracted his car from a ditch.

Reigning champion Kalle Rovanperä had to tweak his driving style to keep the soft compound tyres on the front of his Toyota from overheating. The Finn is currently sandwiched by Hyundai cars in sixth overall, 1.6sec adrift Neuville with Dani Sordo 15.0sec behind him.

Seventh-placed Pierre-Louis Loubet adopted a cautious approach to his first day as a full-time M-Sport Ford driver. The same could be said for Hyundai debutant Esapekka Lappi, a mere 1.1sec in arrears.

Fourth-fastest through La Bollène-Vésubie – Col de Turini was a promising start for Takamoto Katsuta, but things quickly turned sour when his Yaris developed a handbrake issue on the next test. The Japanese driver haemorrhaged time through the series of tight hairpin bends and languishes 57.0sec back from the lead in ninth overall.

Friday heads further north for two loops of three stages covering 105.34km. Morning and afternoon runs through Roure / Roubion / Beuil (18.33km), Puget-Théniers / Saint-Antonin (19.79km) and Briançonnet / Entrevaux (14.55km) are on the schedule.

Leading positions after Thursday:
1. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris 26min 33.7sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +6.0sec
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +15.4sec
4. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +15.5sec
5. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +17.1sec
6. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +32.1sec

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23-01-17 Rallye Monte-Carlo takes centre stage as 2023 WRC roars into action
All you need to know as the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship gets underway
 · 2023 WRC season begins this weekend in Monte-Carlo (19 - 22 January)
· World champion Kalle Rovanperä heads field
· Multiple off-season driver changes add intrigue to season-opener

The wait will soon be over. On Thursday evening, the opening stage of Rallye Monte-Carlo (19 – 22 January) gets underway – signalling the start of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season.

Based out of the Principality of Monaco, Rallye Monte-Carlo is the jewel in the WRC's crown and the oldest event on the calendar. Treacherous and icy mountain passes in the French Alps provide a fitting backdrop for the opening round.

And what a season it’s going to be. With 13 gruelling rallies spanning five continents, global manufacturers battling for glory plus a host of exciting changes to the driver market, 2023 has all the ingredients for another thrilling campaign.

Setting out to defend its manufacturers’ crown, Toyota Gazoo Racing has retained the services of Kalle Rovanperä, who, at the age of 22, broke records last year by becoming the youngest WRC champion in history. As world champion, Rovanperä had the option to carry the number 1 on his car this year, but will stick with 69.

Joining the young Finn in the GR Yaris Rally1 line-up are Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta, with eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier also set to contest selected rounds. Although Katsuta starts every rally, he will only score manufacturers’ championship points on events where Ogier is not present.

Hyundai Motorsport has put its trust in a combination of new and familiar faces to field its flurry of i20 N Rally1 cars.

Team long-termer Thierry Neuville will be desperate to secure his maiden world title, while newcomer Esapekka Lappi is delighted to be in a full-time seat after car-sharing with Ogier at Toyota Gazoo Racing last season. Craig Breen returns to the team having spent the past year with rivals M-Sport Ford. He will alternate drives with seasoned Spaniard Dani Sordo in the third car.

Another driver returning to their former home is 2019 world champion Ott Tänak, who joins British-based M-Sport Ford from Hyundai. M-Sport shaped Tänak’s early career and it was team owner Malcolm Wilson who gave him his first factory drive back in 2012.

M-Sport’s second Ford Puma will be campaigned by young Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet, whose impressive performances during a seven-round campaign last year have resulted in a full-time contract.

"This is a time of the year that always comes with great anticipation,” enthused WRC Promoter Managing Director Jona Siebel. “There have been a number of changes to driver line-ups since FORUM8 Rally Japan which only adds to the intrigue of what is about to unfold.

“The changes also extend to WRC2 which has arguably its strongest-ever entry list with no clear favourite and we will be endeavouring to give this category more coverage than ever before.

“I want to avoid using the word ‘off-season’ as we know the 2023 campaigns already started with testing some weeks ago and all teams, drivers, organisers, the FIA and the Promoter have been working around the clock to be ready for Col de Turini on Thursday night.”

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