Rallye Monte Carlo 2017 review! M-Sport and Seb win first time out!


It was a classic Monte Carlo. Sadly, it was marred on Thursday evening with the death of a spectator when Hayden Paddon lost control of his i20 in stage two. Hyundai took the decision to withdraw that car out of respect for the family and friends of the individual concerned.

The overnight leader was Thierry and Nicolas in their i20.

1 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul 15:01.1

2 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia +7.8

3 J. Hänninen K. Lindstrom +15.0

3 K. Meeke P. Nagle +15.8

4 O. Tanak M. Jarveoja +19.4

5 E. Evans D. Barritt +21.0

6 C. Breen S. Martin +25.4

7 D. Sordo M. Martí +26.6

8 J. M. Latvala M. Anttila +28.4

These were the thoughts of the drivers after the Thursday evening stages.

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville said: “We have used today to really discover the car in competitive rally conditions for the first time. The stages here are tough, but we have had a decent start. We were probably running the car too soft and it was moving around quite a lot, but the times look encouraging nonetheless. We have more to come and areas where we need to improve, so that will be our focus on tomorrow’s stages.”

Dani Sordo said: “It’s still early days. Today, it was important to have a clean run through the opening stages. The feeling from the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC was actually better than expected; the car felt strong and fast. I enjoyed getting a taste for it now we are in full competitive mode even if the times were not so good. It’s going to be a long weekend, so we have to focus on learning about our new car and improving all the time.”

Hayden Paddon commented: “That wasn’t the start we wanted to this first rally of the season. We got caught out by some black ice near the end of the first stage. The car snapped sideways and, from there, we were just passengers. There wasn’t much damage to the car but I’m sorry for the team, who have all put in so much work to get here. I am incredibly saddened by today’s accident and my thoughts are with the family and friends of the person involved.”

M-Sport WRT

Sébastien Ogier said:

“It’s always tricky to start Rallye Monte-Carlo in the dark, but I think it’s been okay. I definitely took it on the safe side and could have gone faster for sure, but it’s just the first two stages. Tomorrow will be a very different day so we’ll discuss with the team and be sure to continue at our best.”

Ott Tänak said:

“It was very tricky out there this evening. The car feels really good, but we just need to find our rhythm. This is the very beginning, and we made it through which is good. Tomorrow will bring some more really challenging stages so we just have to stay focused and see what happens.”

Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT

Kris Meeke

“It’s not how I imagine anyone wanted to start the season, with a stage cancelled because one of the competitors went off. SS2 was tricky, especially due to the gravel dragged onto the racing line by the first few cars. When you’re as cautious as I was, it ends up costing you quite a bit of time. We learned some new things about the car and overall, I’m fairly pleased with this first leg.”

Craig Breen

“I was pleasantly surprised when I learned my time at the end of SS2. I thought I would be a lot further behind the 2017 cars! It’s quite good fun, although it was difficult to read the road in some places. I’m pleased with my opening stage.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing

Jari-Matti Latvala

“The conditions were really tricky: it was damp, slippery and there was a lot of ice. I was very cautious on the ice, perhaps a bit too cautious, but I wanted to make sure that we got through it without a problem. We will make some set-up changes as the car is too low at the moment: we are touching the ground in places.”

Juho Hänninen

“It was not an easy start as we had to wait a long time to begin the stage and everything was cold: brakes and tyres and everything. But we did a good job and in the end, it was a nice stage time, even though we did not get the chance to drive the first stage at all. The car is definitely good, now it depends also on the driver.”

So, to the start of the first full day of the 2017 season. This were the stages that the crews were facing.

10.11am: SS3 – Agnière en Devoluy – Le Motty 1 (24.63km)

10.44am: SS4 – Asprès les Corps – Chaillol 1 (38.94km)

11.47am: SS5 – St Léger les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve 1 (16.83km)

1.02pm: Service C (Gap – 33 mins)

2.28pm: SS6 – Agnière en Devoluy – Le Motty 2 (24.63km)

3.01pm: SS7 – Asprès les Corps – Chaillol 2 (38.94km)

4.04pm: SS8 – St Léger les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve 2 (16.83km)

5.14pm: Flexi service D (Gap – 48 mins)

So, the first stage of the day saw drama, with Seb running wide and losing a huge 40 seconds or more after getting stuck in a ditch on the outside of a very slippery right-hander. Ott won the stage from overall leader Thierry and with Seb’s problem, he’d moved up to third. Also to benefit was Kris Meeke, who’d jumped up from fourth to second place. The icy conditions catching out some indeed!

1. Tanak 19:17,8 (76,6kph)

2. Neuville +0:01,6

3. Meeke +0:02,3

Stage four saw Kris sadly crash. On a left-hander, he understeered wide and hidden under a bush on the edge of the road was something very hard, as it broke the front right suspension, with the impact causing the car to spin round. A big shame, as Kris and Paul were starting to get into the groove.

1. Neuville – 25:41,9 (90,9kph)

2. Ogier +0:04,9

3. Tanak +0:08,0

Stage five saw Thierry continue to pull away from the M-Sport duo. No-one appeared to have the pace to live with him. Juho Hanninen, was in third place before this stage, but crashed into a tree on a very tight left-hander. He’d damaged the cooling systems on the car, so would retire at the end of the stage. This meant that after his earlier delays, Seb was up to third place, half a minute down on Ott.

1. Neuville – 11:22,2 (88,8kph)

2. Ogier +0:04,8

3. Tanak +0:05,9

Midday service at Gap provided a chance for everyone to eat and get their cars ready for the afternoon.

So, into the afternoon’s action with a repeat of the morning stages. Thierry picked up where he’d left off, with another stage victory and increasing his lead further over Ott in stage 6

Neuville 18:09,6 (81,4kph)

Tanak +0:06,5

Ogier +0:13,2

With the snow and ice starting to melt, it would even things up for Seb, who was the first car into the stage. He took his first stage win for M-Sport, with Ott second and Jari-Matti in third, Toyota’s first top three stage time in this return. Thierry was fourth, still with a very healthy 33 second lead over Ott. Craig Breen, in a previous generation DS3, couldn’t quite believe his eyes. He’d moved ahead of Dani into fifth place! Giantkilling driving, from the young Irishman.

1. Ogier 24:17,8 (96,2kph)

2. Tanak +0:14,9

3. Latvala +0:16,0

The last stage of the day, and Thierry was second. He’d been on form all day, never looking like cracking. Seb found some good speed and won the stage, finishing 19 seconds quicker than Ott, this moving him into second overall by just three tenths of a second! Dani found some good speed as well, moving back ahead of Craig, who was still driving very well.

1. Ogier 11:05,4 (91,1kph)

2. Neuville +0:07,6

3. Tanak +0:19,5

The overnight halt provided the teams with the opportunity to service the cars. Citroen and Toyota had some work to do with some damage as well.

This was the top ten after Friday’s stages.

1 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul 15:01.1

2 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia +45.1

3 O. Tanak M. Jarveoja +45.4

4 J. M. Latvala M. Anttila +2:09.7

5 D. Sordo M. Martí +2:57.8

6 C. Breen S. Martin +3:04.1

7 A. Mikkelsen A. Jaeger +5:50.8

8 E. Evans D. Barritt +8:12.1

9 P. Tidemand J. Andersson +8:22.4

10 J. Kopecky P. Dresler +8:38.2

Here’s the thoughts of the drivers then.

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville said: “I felt really comfortable with the car in this morning’s loop, even if there were a few settings we wanted to change at lunchtime service. We experienced some understeer in the tight corners, and it was a bit more slippery than we thought it would be. We started the afternoon well but in SS7 we found our pace notes to be set up more for ice and snow, when the terrain was, in fact, more slushy. We lost too much time there. Then, in the final stage, we were going well until an engine stall at a hairpin that cost us around ten seconds during the restart procedure. It was not the best end to the day but we have to be happy to lead this rally by such a margin. It’s never enough around Monte-Carlo, though, and we know that Seb and Ott will push us tomorrow. There’s a long way to go, so we’re not getting carried away.”

Dani Sordo said: “It’s very difficult for everyone out there, but we’ve lacked pace today. The stages are nice but it has been hard to know where the grip is, and where we can push. It seems to be a moving target, so we’ve not been able to build our confidence in the car on any of the stages. We have tried to be careful and to make sure we get through the day, which we have achieved. Our aim is to find some improvements on Saturday and to target a solid points finish on Sunday. We hope to catch Jari-Matti (Latvala) but the first goal is to not make any mistakes.”

M-Sport WRT

Sébastien Ogier (2nd) said:

“It’s been a tough day with some very difficult conditions which were made all the more challenging as the first car on the road. We had a moment this morning which certainly wasn’t the start that we were looking for, but things got better this afternoon.

“I wasn’t completely happy with the set-up over the opening loop, but we made some positive steps with that this afternoon. We still have some work to do to feel completely comfortable, but we are getting there step by step.

“We have had such a warm welcome into the team. Everyone is working extremely hard and we can see how much they want to succeed. We want to deliver that and a podium would be a really good start. For the moment, we’ll continue as we are and see what tomorrow brings.

Ott Tänak (3rd) said:

“It’s been a tricky day with some difficult conditions and, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t expecting to be in this position on this rally. Of course, the car felt really good in testing and we were quietly confident but you never really know until you’re out there competing against everyone else.

“We planned to come here and find a good, consistent rhythm and that is what we’ve done. The partnership with Martin is working really well and we’ve both felt really comfortable in the car.

“The car is handling almost exactly as I would like it to and we’re just enjoying every minute of it. There is a little work to do before we are 100 percent where we want to be, but this is a very good start.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing

Jari-Matti Latvala

“This was a very important day for us and we made the most of it. We had a couple of minor problems but we are still here at the end of the day and I am very happy with our progress. Conditions were extremely difficult, so just to stay on the road was a good achievement. But the car is improving all the time.”

Juho Hänninen

“In a downhill braking area on SS5 we just made a small mistake and lost the car on the ice, which put the car into a tree and damaged the suspension. Luckily the damage is not big and we will be able to start again tomorrow: thank you to our mechanics for a great job. That will be another very tricky day, so it will be important to make the right tyre choice in particular.”

Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT

Kris Meeke

“The conditions were difficult, as is often the case in Monte-Carlo. Some corners were covered with a layer of sheet ice and it was difficult to judge the level of grip. I got caught out on a left-hand corner. The car drifted towards the outside and the right-hand side of the car hit a bank. With the front suspension arm broken, we couldn’t go any further. It was disappointing for me and for the team. This is obviously not the sort of start we were hoping to make. Clearly, we can no longer aim for a good result, but we’ll keep going tomorrow to try and learn more about the C3 WRC.”

Stephane Lefebvre

“We started our race in earnest today. I was struggling a little bit to get to grips with the car in these conditions, which I have never experienced before. As we completed more stages, we learned a lot. I now have to find a bit more consistency and speed to reduce the gap to the leading drivers. To do that, I think I need to make better use of the studded tyres.”

Craig Breen

“I’m pleased. To be honest, I didn’t think I would be so close to the 2017 cars! We lost fifth place after a minor off, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve never felt so confident at this rally and we set some good times in what were very tricky conditions. We’re eager to keep up our good form tomorrow.”

Day three then, and an early start for the teams!

7.17am: Start of day 3 and service E (Gap – 18 mins)

8.08am: SS9 – Lardier et Valenca – Oze 1 (31.17km)

8.58am: SS10 – La Batie Monseleon – Faye 1 (16.78km)

10.07am: Service F (Gap – 33 mins)

11.13am: SS11 – Lardier et Valenca – Oze 2 (31.17km)

12.08pm: SS12 – La Batie Monseleon – Faye 2 (16.78km)

1.17pm: Service G (Gap – 33 mins)

3.03pm: SS13 – Bayons – Bréziers 2 (25.49km)

4.23pm: Service H (Gap – 48 mins)

9.11pm: Parc ferme (Monaco)

Thierry would be looking to continue his good pace, whilst Seb and Ott were ready to pounce on any mistakes from the Belgian!

The start list looked like this; Evans, Breen, Sordo, Latvala, Tanak, Ogier, Neuville, Lefebvre, Hanninen, Meeke.

Well, Thierry didn’t disappoint. He won the first stage of the day and increased his lead a little. Craig was continuing to do well with fourth fastest time, even quicker than Ott and moving back ahead of Dani Sordo on the overall leaderboard by a couple of seconds.

1. Neuville 24:02,9 (77,8kph)

2. Ogier +0:02,6

3. Evans +0:05,8

Now, it was time for Elfyn Evans to make a statement and he won stage 10. Dani moved back ahead of Craig after producing a great time through the stage to put him third fastest, a few seconds slower than his rally leading teammate whose lead was now a minute! The rally went from bad to worse now for Kris. He suffered an ignition problem in the stage and had to stop. He got the car going again and completed the stage, knowing that there was a service break next which could be used to look into the problem.

1. Evans 9:15,2 (108,8kph)

2. Neuville +0:01,0

3. Sordo +0:05,4

Stage eleven now and Seb won his first stage in the Fiesta at last. Thierry was right in his wheel tracks though and kept the lead looking very healthy indeed. Dani was doing well too, now starting to pull away from Craig.

1. Ogier 22:53,0 (81,7kph)

2. Neuville +0:02,1

3. Latvala +0:14,4

Stage twelve saw the young welsh speed wizard Elfyn top the times again! Dani was also right up there, definitely finding his mojo and moving a little closer to Jari-Matti as well in the battle for fourth overall.

1. Evans 8:56,7 (112,6kph)

2. Ogier +0:07,4

3. Sordo +0:11,6

Unlucky for some, lucky for others, stage 13 lived up to its number! Thierry’s bid for his first WRC victory in Monte Carlo came off the rails… He went a little wide on a fast-left hander and broke his rear right suspension. His lead at the time to Seb was 51 seconds…. He stopped in the stage to see what could be done, did his best to patch it up, and completed the stage and ultimately losing half a minute. Of course, the demise of the Belgian meant that Seb was now leading with Ott in second place and the wily Jari-Matti now in third! Elfyn won the stage from Seb and Kris was third in his C3. Dani lost all the time that he had and then some, after he started getting problems with his powersteering. Losing over a minute, he dropped behind Craig into fifth place.

So, what a day! Well, the drama wasn’t over at all. Whilst driving back to Gap, Kris and Paul were involved in a road accident with a spectators’ car, with damaged the right rear suspension. They we’re out of the rally for good.

Saturday end of day top ten.

1. S.Ogier / J.Ingrassia 3:26:10.7

2. O.Tänak / M.Järveoja +47.1

3. J.M Latvala / M.Anttila +2:20.6

4. C.Breen / S.Martin +3:47.3

5. D.Sordo / M.Marti +4:03.2

6. E.Evans / D.Barritt +7:27.2

7. A.Mikkelsen / A.Jaeger +9:15.2

8. J.Kopecky / P.Dresler +12:34.4

9. B.Bouffier / D.Giraudet +14:41.9

10. P.Tidemand / J.Andersson +14:59.3

Thoughts of the drivers.

M-Sport WRT

Sébastien Ogier (1st) said:

“One month ago, we started a new project with M-Sport. We knew we had no time to prepare and we knew that it would be a big challenge to fight for the victory this weekend. But I felt some potential in the Fiesta and now, to be in the lead of our first event together at Rallye Monte-Carlo, it feels amazing.

“Of course, I’m sorry for Thierry as he was doing a great job, but that is the way this rally goes sometimes. The last 53 kilometres are going to feel very, very long. We’ve seen a lot of really tricky conditions and tomorrow won’t be any easier. We need to finish the job and it would be incredible to start this new chapter with a victory.”

Ott Tänak (2nd) said:

“It’s been a big challenge – the biggest I’ve ever had in Monte – but we’re in a really strong position and it feels good… it feels really good actually!

“We’ve put three tricky days behind us and we just have one more to go. Of course in Monte it’s never over until it’s over so we just need to keep focused and be smart.

“So far the performance has been good and the feeling inside the car has been really nice as well. All we need to do now is keep our fingers crossed and keep going.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing

Jari-Matti Latvala

“Honestly, I would never have expected to end up in this position before the final day of Monte-Carlo! We tried to keep a margin of safety all day in order not to have any problems because the stages were still very tricky and changeable. I just made a few changes to the settings and my driving style during the day to suit the different conditions. I enjoyed myself a lot, but now we have to stay concentrated in order to finish the rally well.”

Juho Hänninen

“It was a difficult day as it wasn’t so easy to get back into the rhythm after going off yesterday: I didn’t want to make another mistake. On the final stage I had the puncture less than one kilometre after the start. I’m not really sure what caused it but I lost the car in quite a fast corner and went into the ditch. Everything else is working fine, so we continue like this tomorrow.”


Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT

Kris Meeke

“It was good to be back in the rally today. We spent the day learning. It was a bit difficult to get the confidence back and find the right pace in these conditions. The last stage was drier and we managed to find some decent speed. We gathered a lot of information, so we’ve now got some work to do to analyse all of that and make progress. Although I could no longer aim for a good overall result, I’m very disappointed not be able to contest the final leg. The Col de Turini is always one of the highlights of the season.”


Stephane Lefebvre

“Today was pretty tough, especially on the snow, where I struggled to feel confident. I constantly had the feeling that I was almost about to go off. I’d have loved to set a better time on SS13, but I stalled at the start of the stage and that cost me a few seconds. Tomorrow’s stages are more familiar and I hope the weather conditions will be a little milder!”

Craig Breen

“It’s been an incredible day for us. We had some really nice stage times in the morning on the snow and ice, but we couldn’t match the pace of the 2017 WRCs on tarmac. And now we find ourselves in fourth position: it’s surprising and fantastic! Well done to the team, the guys are working really hard and my ice-note crew are doing an amazing job. And now on to Monaco!”

Hyundai Motorsport

Dani Sordo said: “We had a much-improved morning compared to the struggles we faced on Friday. The conditions were better, and we were able to find more grip. I was generally a lot happier and more confident in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. We still needed to work on the balance but we could set quicker stage times and move up the classification a bit. The afternoon loop continued this trend but then, in the final stage, we suddenly lost the power steering. We were very fortunate that nothing happened and we could make it to the end of the stage. We need to use the positive aspects from today to prepare for the final stages on Sunday – and hopefully to make up a position and score some Power Stage points.”

Thierry Neuville said: “We started this morning knowing that Sébastien would be pushing hard, so we responded to that confidently with a stage win. Our lead was up to one minute so we took a strategic decision at the start of the afternoon loop to play safe on tyre choice. We lost a bit of time but we were still in control. In the final stage, I felt comfortable. At the start of the stage, I played with the diffs to get into a good rhythm, and things felt fine. But we went wide into a third or fourth gear corner and there was a lot of gravel. We knew this from our gravel crew, but I must have been too quickly back on the throttle because the car went wide and we hit something like concrete. Immediately, we knew something had broken so we had to stop and fix it. It was a small mistake. I am very disappointed, more so for the team to be honest because they’ve worked so hard. We wanted to bring home the win for all of them but unfortunately, it’s not to be this time. The pace we have shown this weekend has been exceptional so let’s see what we can salvage on Sunday.”

The last day arrived, with M-Sport looking in a good position to score their first win in Monte Carlo since 2006 and their first victory since Wales Rally GB in 2012.

It wasn’t as early a start as day three, and Dani set about getting back ahead of Craig. He won stage 14 and closed to within eleven seconds. Jari-Matti had worked hard with his team and clearly found a sweet spot to so close to winning the stage. Seb increased his lead over Ott to nearly a minute.

1. Sordo 3:35,7 (91,8kph)

2. Latvala +0:01,1

3. Ogier +0:01,4

It had taken a long time, but finally Citroen had something to celebrate, with Stephane winning stage 15, after a gamble of running soft tyres all round. Dani had also set the second quickest time, to move back in front of Craig by a couple of seconds. Ott’s rally nearly fell apart though on this stage, with his engine lapsing onto 3 cylinders. Something had failed in the electronic management system and he lost a minute and a half in the stage. Now Jari-Matti was up to second overall and Ott was thirty seconds behind in third. News then came in that stage 16 had been cancelled as there were too many spectators’, that were not standing in the right places. The organisers weren’t taking any chances.

1. Lefebvre – 13:51,1 (92,5kph)

2. Sordo +0:01,5

3. Evans +0:13,5

So, there was just one stage left then, the Power Stage and with a tweak, the top five would now score points.

1. Neuville 14:14,4 (90,0kph)

2. LEFEBVRE +0:30,1

3. Hanninen +0:55,0

4. Evans +1:13,7

5. Sordo +1:42,8

Thierry got the consolation prize and took the stage victory and the 5 points that go with it. The drama was could Ott get his car to the line, as it still sounded horrible. There was the added aspect that it had started snowing up on the Col du Turini. Somehow, he squeezed every last ounce of performance from the car and got the car across the line to finish a fine third. He was sideways coming out of the last corner!

So, the news was that Seb had won and Jari-Matti had scored an incredible second place in the Yaris WRC! There were cheers and hugs in the M-Sport hub! They’d finally won after 5 years and also scored a fine third place.

It was also Seb’s fourth victory in a row, joining some special names for such a remarkable feat!

The final standings after a truly classic event.

Final Overall Classification – Rallye Monte-Carlo

1 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia 4:00:03.6

2 J. M. Latvala M. Anttila +2:15.0

3 O. Tanak M. Jarveoja +2:57.8

4 D. Sordo M. Martí +3:35.8

5 C. Breen S. Martin +3:47.8

6 E. Evans D. Barritt +6:45.0

7 A. Mikkelsen A. Jaeger +9:32.7

8 J. Kopecky P. Dresler +12:58.1

9 S. Lefebvre G. Moreau +14:43.8

10 B. Bouffier D. Giraudet +16:09.4

Here’s the thoughts of all the drivers then after an amazing but also sad rally.

M-Sport WRT

Sébastien Ogier (1st) said:

“Obviously, I feel really great. It always feels good to win at Rallye Monte-Carlo, but this year we had one of the most difficult challenges we have ever had. We had to contend with some really demanding conditions and also had a new car and a new team – it’s really incredible.

“We joined the team only a month ago, and have only had a couple of days in the car so far. Of course, we know that anything can happen at this event, but I really thought that we would be lacking the necessary preparation to challenge for victory this weekend.

“To be here now, on the top-step of the podium, I’m very happy and so happy for the whole team who really deserve this. We could never have won if they had not given us a good car, so congratulations to them.

“We still have some work to do, but we have started in the best possible way. I’m looking forward to the next events and there is nothing that does not allow me to be confident.”

Ott Tänak (3rd) said:

“It’s great to be here! For a moment, we didn’t know if we would make it, but the Ecoboost engine is clearly a very strong and at least we added a little spice to the final day.

“Of course, it’s a shame to have had the issue, but this is Monte-Carlo. We know it’s a tricky event and we have to be pleased with our performance.

“I was quite surprised to see how competitive we were. Normally I don’t enjoy challenging conditions but I felt quite comfortable in the car. We were quietly confident during testing, but you never know until you get into competition so all credit to the guys at M-Sport.

“We’ve got a great base car in the Fiesta WRC and also quite a bit that we can still improve. We had consistent speed this weekend and I think we are only going to get better as we continue to learn throughout the season.

“I must also say thanks and congratulations to my co-driver, Martin. This was one of the trickiest Rallye Monte-Carlo’s that we have ever seen and he did a really great job. He did his job so that I could concentrate on mine and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve in the coming events.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing

Jari-Matti Latvala

“I am so happy with the result, although I am sorry for Ott Tanak, who was second before he had a problem. If you had told me before the start of the rally that this is where we would finish, I would never have believed it. In fact, this equals my best-ever result on this rally. The last stages were very difficult, like the whole rally was in fact, and my main priority was to look after the tyres. On the final stage, there was some snow so it was hard to find the grip. It’s been an amazing rally, and it’s been fantastic to feel all the support of the fans in particular.”

Juho Hänninen

“Today I tried to be as careful as possible in order to be sure of us bringing two cars home on our first rally, which is a fantastic result: especially with one car on the podium. On the last stage, it was really difficult to see exactly where the snow and ice was. It’s a pity that we made a mistake on Friday as otherwise we had no problems and our pace was good. Considering my lack of experience, it was still a good result here for me and as a team we have learned a lot, which is the most important thing. We will try and keep improving now.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Dani Sordo said: “It has not been a good rally for us but there have been positive signs for the rest of the season. Today’s opening stages were really enjoyable. The stage win was good for the confidence and we were able to close the gap to Breen. There wasn’t much between us going into the Power Stage but the conditions were really terrible in the mountains. Unbelievable! All we could do was minimise the time loss and thankfully it was enough to hold onto fourth and to score some important Manufacturer points. The team has put in a lot of hard work on our new car and from the speed we showed this morning, it’s definitely competitive. We need to use all of the encouraging aspects of this weekend and look for a better weekend in Sweden.”

Thierry Neuville said: “We had to put the disappointment of Saturday afternoon behind us, and look to return to form. We definitely did that today. We wanted to push hard in the Power Stage and to pick up some points. When we could see, the snow was falling, we knew it would be tricky but thankfully we did enough. It’s a consolation for what we missed out on this weekend. I would like to say thanks to the whole team for a super job. The i20 Coupe WRC is fantastic to drive and offers us genuine promise for the season. We can leave Monte-Carlo in a positive frame of mind and confident in what we can achieve against strong opposition.”

Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT

Stephane Lefebvre

“The rally finished a lot better than it started! It was a morale-boosting finish to the rally with two good times, including a stage win on the Col de Turini. We made the right call on tyre choice and I felt confident in conditions that I know well. At the same time, I didn’t want to take any risks because it was important to make sure we scored points for the team.”

Craig Breen

“The conditions were unbelievably difficult. I guess that’s why the Col de Turini has become such an iconic test! I did wonder whether or not to go with the snow tyres for the final test, but I kept the slicks and it became more and more difficult the further we went on the stage. But we managed to make it to the end and stay in the top five, which is a great result.”

D-Mack WRT

Elfyn Evans, DMACK WRC driver, said: “It’s a fantastic start to the season for us. We didn’t have a great day on Friday but Saturday’s performance more than made up for that and really raised some eyebrows. I was very happy with my driving and the feeling with the car and tyres was really positive. It was easy to work with Daniel again, everything gelled together right from the start.”

So, what an amazing event! Its tinged with sadness though after the death of the spectator on Thursday evening.

The championship tables look like this


1 S. Ogier 25

2 J.M Latvala 18

3 O. Tanak 15

4 D. Sordo 13

5 C. Breen 10

6 E. Evans 10

7 A. Mikkelsen 6

8 S. Lefebvre 6

9 T. Neuville 5

10 J. Kopecky 4

11 J. Hänninen 3

12 B. Bouffier 1


1 M-Sport World Rally Team 40

2 Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC 24

3 Hyundai Motorsport 20

4 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 10

Next rally up is Rally Sweden! What chance a second victory for M-Sport, but you can count on Hyundai and Citroen taking the fight to our early surprising championship leaders!

Warren Nel

A new dawn- Rallye Monte Carlo 2017

WRC 2017 is here! On the 19th of January, a new era of the WRC will start in Monte Carlo. Volkswagen may have left, but lining up will be the reigning drivers champion Seb, who as you will all be aware has signed to drive M-Sport’s newest creation!

Citroen are back after their part season last year, with Kris leading their challenge to the French 4-times world champion. Their new car is based upon the brand new C3.

Hyundai return with another brand-new car based on the i20 Coupe and with an unchanged driver line

up, will be looking to win both the drivers and manufacturers championship. They can expect a big fight

with both Citroen and M-Sport.

Finally, Toyota return to the WRC after an absence of 17 years. With 4 times world champion Tommi

Makinen heading the team, and Jari-Matti in one of the cars, they have all the right elements in place to

have a very good season.

This was last year’s result, when Seb won Monte for the third year in a row.

01. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, 3h 49m 53.1s

02. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, + 1m 54.5s

03. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai, + 3m 17.9s

04. Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene (N/N), Ford, + 4m 47.7s

05. Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau (F/F), Citroën, + 7m 35.6s

06. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai, + 10m 35.5s

07. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, + 11m 39.9s

08. Elfyn Evans/Craig Parry (GB/GB), Ford, + 18m 30.8s

09. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN), Škoda, + 20m 41.0s

10. Armin Kremer/Pirmin Winklhofer (D/D), Škoda, + 20m 43.9s

Here’s a look at the stages that will make up this season opener. There are 17 stages in this year’s 85th edition of this classic event. Snow and ice can really make tyre choices very hard and there are stages that are run in complete darkness.



4.00pm: shakedown (Gap)


6.11pm: Start of day 1 (Monaco – Place du Casino)

8.14pm: SS1 – Entrevaux – Val de Chavalgne – Ubraye (21.25km)

10.57pm: SS2 – Bayons – Bréziers 1 (25.49km)

00.02am: Flexi service A (Gap – 48 mins)


9.00am: Start of day 2 and service B (Gap – 18 mins)

10.11am: SS3 – Agnière en Devoluy – Le Motty 1 (24.63km)

10.44am: SS4 – Asprès les Corps – Chaillol 1 (38.94km)

11.47am: SS5 – St Léger les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve 1 (16.83km)

1.02pm: Service C (Gap – 33 mins)

2.28pm: SS6 – Agnière en Devoluy – Le Motty 2 (24.63km)

3.01pm: SS7 – Asprès les Corps – Chaillol 2 (38.94km)

4.04pm: SS8 – St Léger les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve 2 (16.83km)

5.14pm: Flexi service D (Gap – 48 mins)


7.17am: Start of day 3 and service E (Gap – 18 mins)

8.08am: SS9 – Lardier et Valenca – Oze 1 (31.17km)

8.58am: SS10 – La Batie Monseleon – Faye 1 (16.78km)

10.07am: Service F (Gap – 33 mins)

11.13am: SS11 – Lardier et Valenca – Oze 2 (31.17km)

12.08pm: SS12 – La Batie Monseleon – Faye 2 (16.78km)

1.17pm: Service G (Gap – 33 mins)

3.03pm: SS13 – Bayons – Bréziers 2 (25.49km)

4.23pm: Service H (Gap – 48 mins)

9.11pm: Parc ferme (Monaco)


7.40am: Start of day 4

9.22am: SS14 – Lucéram – Col St Roch 1 (5.50km)

10.12am: SS15 – La Bollène Vésubie – Peira Cava 1 (21.36km)

11.16am: SS16 – Lucéram – Col St Roch 2 (5.50km)

12.18pm: SS17 – La Bollène Vésubie – Peira Cava 2 (21.36km)

1.53pm: Parc ferme

3.00pm: Prize-giving ceremony (Place du Palais Princier – Monaco)

So, here’s the views of the drivers ahead of this iconic event!

Hyundai WRT

Hayden Paddon commented:

“I am feeling in good shape and raring to go for the season ahead. I am cautiously optimistic about the potential of the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC but we never really know where we stand until we’re out on the stages. Monte-Carlo is a baptism of fire for everyone, particularly with the new regulations, so it promises to be an exciting rally. However, it is also the most challenging event of the year so the focus for us is to finish and get more miles in the new car for the rest of the season.”

Thierry Neuville said:

“I am looking forward to starting the new season. My experiences in Monte Carlo have been mixed in the past, but I finished on the podium last season. Undoubtedly it’s a great event and a spectacular one for the fans. There is a lot of strategy to it, which makes it interesting as it means that everyone on the team is involved. With the increased power of the new car too, we are confident that we can challenge here!”

Dani Sordo said:

“It has been good to be back behind the wheel of our Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in pre-event testing this week. I cannot wait for the new season to start properly. There have been a lot of changes with the regulations so it will definitely be exciting to see how everything unfolds in this first round of 2017. I am personally happy with the approach we have taken with our new car. I know the team has worked incredibly hard so now we want to get onto the stages and do our best for a good start to the new season.”

Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT

Kris Meeke said

“We’re getting close to the point where should be ready to start a rally in the best possible conditions! After our last test sessions, I can’t wait to move onto the next stage. I have the feeling that we’ll be in the spotlight here, but I hope I can concentrate on my driving. It’s never easy to compete at Monte-Carlo. At each service, we’ll need to put our heads together to come up with the right – or the least wrong – tyre choice. People have no idea of the mountains of work done during test sessions to acquire data and then work out whether a given option is the right one. In this area, Citroën Racing has a great deal of experience that I can make use of. For this first rally, my aim is pretty simple: stay relaxed and enjoy myself in the car. They do say, and rightly so, that anything can happen at Monte-Carlo.”

Stephane Lefebvre said

“Gradually, I realise that the day of reckoning is getting closer. What we have been talking about for months as being in the future is now here, in the present! We have been discussing all sorts of things with the engineers, every day, talking about the slightest detail related to my car. Nothing has been left to chance and it’s genuinely fascinating to be in the middle of this works team. On this, my first rally with this status, I will be aiming to finish in a good position and score as many points as possible for Citroën. I think I’m still short of time behind the wheel with the C3 WRC and I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I have to get to grips with the car in racing conditions before trying to drive on the limit. I think we’re all in the same boat to some extent, with a number of unknowns in all areas.”

Craig Breen said

“I will certainly be the driver under the least pressure this weekend! I’m pleased to start my season in an old car, because I don’t have a lot of experience at Monte-Carlo. This appearance will give me the chance to learn about the rally. It will also be an opportunity to note the gap between the two generations of World Rally Cars. My priority is to rack up the miles, but I will also be pleased if I manage to score a few points. They may come in handy in the final reckoning at the end of the season.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing

Jari-Matti Latvala, Driver (Yaris WRC #10)

Two months ago, I would never have imagined that I would be starting Rallye Monte-Carlo with Toyota, so that’s really exciting. In total I’ve done 12 days of testing: four days on snow, one day on gravel, and seven days on asphalt. That’s a good amount of testing and we’ve made some useful steps in that time. The car feels very strong but in terms of performance it’s difficult to say, as everyone comes with a new car. In any case this year is all about development: For Monte I would like to finish the rally well, then maybe towards the middle of the season we can start to think about podiums.

Monte-Carlo is so unpredictable that it’s not a good idea to set too many targets: in 2015 I didn’t have a particular plan and I finished second, so in 2016 I was aiming for the podium and then I ended up making a mistake! For any driver, Monte is quite a big stress during the event, because of all the unknown factors and tyre choices, but when you cross the finish ramp in front of the Royal Palace on Sunday, it is one of the best feelings you will ever experience in the sport.

Juho Hänninen, Driver (Yaris WRC #11)

I’ve done Rallye Monte-Carlo four times before, but just one time with a WR car. And actually the last rally I did was Finland in 2015 so as you can imagine I really can’t wait to get started now! I’ve had a very good feeling with the Yaris in testing but of course you never know what happens when you put numbers on the doors, and it’s been quite a long time since I last competed.

I’m not thinking so much about the result in Monte: I just want to have a relaxed drive and of course get to the finish. We still have plenty to learn but I think it will get easier once we are into the season.

This is the first rally I will drive with Kaj and he is a fantastic guy to work with: I think I have spent more time with Kaj than with my family over the last few months with all the preparation we have done. In fact the whole atmosphere within the Toyota team is very nice: It’s a family feeling, which is something that Tommi has taken care of. The guys have been working so hard, but they are still smiling and joking all the time. Like me, everyone is really looking forward to getting started.

D-Mack WRT

Elfyn Evans, DMACK WRC driver, said: “It’s a great feeling to be back at the top level of the world championship again and Monte Carlo is certainly a tough way to start the series. It’s unpredictable, a huge challenge but I’m very focused and motivated so really looking forward to getting the action underway.”

M-Sport WRT

Sébastien Ogier said:

“It’s a new season in every sense of the word – a new era, a new car and a new team. We all know that experience is an important factor in rallying and it would have been nice to have had more time with the team, but we have learnt a lot over the past month.

“Over the years, I have learnt to be pragmatic in my approach and to focus on the job in hand. That is exactly what we plan to do next week. We’ve not had a lot of preparation, but we go to this first event determined to do our best.

“We had two days of testing in typical Monte conditions last week and we all know the secret to doing well at this event – it’s all about making the right tyre choice, anticipating the conditions and judging the grip levels. If we can do all of that whilst continuing to grow as a team, then I think we could be in a good position.

“I’ve had a lot of success at Rallye Monte-Carlo, but I never fail to feel humbled in the face of such a historic and challenging event. It is an event like no other, and if you do well there then you know that you have delivered your best.”

Ott Tänak said:

“I can’t wait to start this season. There are a lot of new things happening and it’s a whole new challenge – I’m sure that it’s going to be interesting.

“So much hard work has gone on behind the scenes to get to this point. The work that the whole team has put into this car is incredible and there’s a real sense of excitement. It’s all new, and no one will really know where they stand until we get out there on the stages.

“The feeling is good, but we start with what is one of the most difficult rallies on the calendar – Rallye Monte-Carlo. It’s such a challenging event but actually the trick to doing well there is quite simple.

“Firstly, you need the experience from previously years. Secondly, you need to be consistent over all of the conditions. You need to avoid mistakes, make good tyre choices, and find a good set-up. If you can put that whole package together then you know you are going to have a strong event.

“The aim for this season is to be consistently strong. We’ve got quite a lot of experience now and we want to be scoring strong results, regularly. I’m so excited to chase my goals for this season, and there is not long to wait now!”

So, here we go! This is going to be amazing. New cars and drivers- A world champion out of his comfort zone, and Colin Mcrae’s former protégé in a top car! We’ve got new talent as well, with Juha Hanninen in the Toyota. It great to see Ott back with a top team and Elfyn Evans back in a top car.


Warren Nel

18th January 2017


Dayinsure Agree extention with Wales Rally GB

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2016 -WRC Wales GB (GB) – WRC 27/10/2016 to 30/10/2016 – PHOTO : @World

International Motor Sports Ltd (IMS), organiser of Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship, is delighted to announce today (Thursday) that Dayinsure has extended its title partnership of the event for the next two years.

Dayinsure Wales Rally GB is the latest name of the International Rally of Great Britain, one of the jewels of the UK motor sport calendar, which was previously known as the RAC Rally and supported by such brands as Lombard and Network Q.

The thrilling four-day event will take place from 26-29 October 2017 with the vast majority of the world-class competitive action staged in the legendary forests of mid and north Wales. The Welsh Government has been the event’s principal funding partner since the turn of the century, helping to deliver up to £10m of economic benefit to the country each year.

Established in 2005 and backed by industry giants Aviva and Allianz, Dayinsure is the UK’s premier provider of online, short-term vehicle insurance. It offers immediate short-term insurance cover for drivers of UK-registered cars and commercial vehicles. This provides a growing number of customers with an easy way to add an additional driver to their vehicle or a cost-effective way of insuring themselves on another vehicle on a temporary basis.

“We are absolutely delighted to continue this partnership with Dayinsure,” said Ben Taylor, Wales Rally GB Managing Director. “An event of this stature deserves a meaningful title sponsor and we really enjoyed working with Dayinsure in 2016. This renewal underlines perfectly the business return of an association with the rally and is an important part of the commercial strategy for the event.

“To have a long-term agreement is the best possible way to start to the next two years of our contract with the Welsh Government, whose support has been instrumental in the event since 2000, and we look forward to developing this project even further.”

Dayinsure’s high-profile title partnership has already enhanced the pioneering company’s reputation and visibility, with prominent exposure being generated through the rally’s far-reaching TV, media and online communications channels. This was supported by strong on-event branding which included the popular ‘Dayinsure Donut’ at Cholmondeley Castle, around which all competitors had to complete a dramatic, tyre-burning 360-degree spin during the stage.

“Partnering a world championship motor sport event was a totally new opportunity for Dayinsure, but the decision exceeded all of our expectations on many fronts – hence our enthusiasm to extend our involvement,” said Dennis Ryan, Dayinsure Founder and Chairman. “The availability of temporary vehicle insurance remains something of a new concept for many in the UK, and this partnership with Wales Rally GB provides us with the perfect platform to promote not only the availability of such short-term cover but also its simplicity. We are now looking forward to two more years of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB.”

The Welsh Government remains the World Championship round’s principal funding partner, having confirmed a three-year agreement to support the rally until the end of 2018.

Tickets for the 2017 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB will go on sale in the spring, when this year’s competitive route is announced. Full information can be found on the official www.walesrallygb.com website and via the event’s social media channels.

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2016 -WRC Wales GB (GB) – WRC 27/10/2016 to 30/10/2016 – PHOTO : @World

Hayden Paddon End of Season Interview

Hyundai Motorsport
2017 Team Launch
Monza, 1st December 2016
Hayden Paddon
Photographer: Sarah Vessely
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Welcome to my end season catch up with the young, fast Kiwi, Hayden Paddon. After his best season at the top the rallying world, he took some time out of his busy end of season schedule to answer some questions about his year.

This year he showed much improved consistency securing three podiums which also included a first win! On all other events, he also improved his finishing position by one to two positions compared to the 2015 season.


Firstly, out of all of your drives this year, which one, other than your first victory are you most proud of?


Poland – it was off the back of two very bad rally’s and was mentally very tough. To come back with a podium was a big relief.


Regarding your first victory, which was in Argentina, was it a surprise to take the win there, especially that you beat Seb in such a great way in the power stage?

2016 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 04 / Rally Argentina // April 21-24, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: Hyundai Motorsport


Of course, to win in that matter was a dream come true. Even today it’s something that I’m very happy about, but of course 1 win is never enough and now that we have the taste – we want more.


Now a question about your use of Twitter. After each event, you hold an Ask Paddon session and reply to fans. Are you surprised how many fans ask questions and what is the most surprising question you’ve been asked?


Yes, it’s great to interact with the fans and that people get involved – i really enjoy it. Generally, most questions are pretty straight forward but I don’t hide behind any questions or comments. I like being up front and honest.


This year at Rally de Catalunya, you showed much improved pace on tarmac, finishing in 4th compared to 6th the year before. What would you put this down to?


During Corsica, we discovered we were going backwards with our tarmac driving. So, during that rally we reverted back to a way of driving the car that was more natural, and ever since that it has clicked a lot better. Still room for improvement, but to be ahead of Thierry and Dani on some of the tarmac stages in Spain was a good step


Right, comparing this year’s car, with the 2017 Hyundai, what are the main things that are most noticeable from behind the wheel?


Obviously, the extra power is the first thing, and the extra width of the car. The active diffs are also very nice and allow us to tune the car more individually for different drivers, which is suiting my style quite nicely.


Recently, you answered one of my questions during your Ask Paddon twitter sessions regarding the amount of km’s of testing in the new car, and you answered at the time around 800km’s over tarmac and gravel. On which surface, have you done more than the other?


I have only done 1 day of testing on tarmac – it has mostly been on gravel. We will have 2 more days before Monte, but not a lot.


How surprised were you when Volkswagen pulled out of the championship?


Just like everyone else – very shocked. It come very suddenly and unexpectedly


Which driver do you get on with the most out of the current crop of drivers?


I think most drivers get on well. I have a good friendship with our team mate Dani and it’s good to work with someone who is very open and not afraid to offer me advice and help. But generally, all drivers get on.


Now that you and John have won your first WRC event, what are your hopes for next year in regards to results?


We need to keep making steps forward – the closer we get to the top the smaller and harder the steps get. We are searching for more speed in 2017 – more stage wins and of course many more podiums.


Have you been following any other motorsport championships through this year?


I follow most forms of motorsport, although with how busy our schedules are its sometimes hard to follow closely. Formula 1 I have always enjoyed to keep an eye on and local rally championships back in NZ


Lastly, what is the latest news on the possibility of a return of in the next couple of years of the WRC to New Zealand?


It’s looking promising and everyone in the service park is positive about this. Of course, there are a lot of formalities taking place behind the scenes but we have done everything we can. We are all hopeful for 2018.

I’d like to thank Hayden and Katie, his PR manager for taking the time to answer my questions. If you’re not already following him on Twitter, I recommend you do. Finally I wish him and his family a Happy Christmas and Great New Year.

Warren Nel


Hyundai launch 2017 WRC Challenger!


December 2, 2016


Warren Nel

Yesterday, Hyundai launched their new WRC car at the Cathedral of Speed in Autodromo Naz Monza!

Unlike last year’s car, it’s based on the three door i20. With completely new regulations, the car has been completely re-designed. More power, lighter and with new mechanicals as well, there is an air of anticipation as to what they could achieve with this car.

Hyundai says

‘The technical new regulations for 2017 have been introduced to enhance the overall spectacle of WRC even further than before, with cars sporting an aggressive new look. While changes have centred on improving aerodynamic and mechanical grip, there has been an increase in engine power from 300 to 380bhp, a reduction in the overall weight of the car, and the re-introduction of the active centre differential.’

The new car has done 6000km of testing this year! Hayden Paddon recently told me that he’d done 800km himself.

Last year saw the team take two victories in Rally Argentina with Hayden and also Thierry who won Rally Italia de Sardegna. The team also picked up a number of podiums, meaning that they’d finish second in the Manufacturers championship. 2016 was a very good year for the team.

The drivers said at the launch;

Hyundai Motorsport
2017 Team Launch
Monza, 1st December 2016
Thierry Neuville
Photographer: Sarah Vessely
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville said: “I have high hopes for our new Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, which is the product of a lot of hard work from everyone in the team. I am optimistic it will help us to continue our momentum in the competitive WRC. My initial impressions of the car in testing were very positive. The changes in regulations have allowed us to make improvements in key areas, such as aerodynamics and rear stability. The increase in power is incredible while the additional grip and driveability gives us more confidence to push. For the spectators, there will be a visibly marked difference in terms of the car’s speed. I can assure you we will be able to feel it in the car too! We had a very positive 2016 season, and I was delighted to finish the season second in the Championship. Of course, from here there is only one place to go, and we want to be firmly in the fight for the title in 2017.”

Hyundai Motorsport
2017 Team Launch
Monza, 1st December 2016
Hayden Paddon
Photographer: Sarah Vessely
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Hayden Paddon commented: “My target for 2017 is to continue the improvements we showed during this past season. I want to start challenging for more rally wins and demonstrate more consistent speed throughout the year. The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC is enjoyable to drive and I think it will be more exciting for the spectators too. I like that the cars will be more tuneable to each driver and driving style. The new regulations will help to make the sport even more appealing to a new generation of motorsport fans. With more radical looking and sounding cars, I think we will be able to attract a younger fan base that may not have been so familiar with rallying before. On a personal note, I feel happy to remain part of the Hyundai Motorsport family. We all know each other very well and we grow stronger all the time. There is a great team spirit and it’s amazing to work with such a highly-motivated group of people.”

Hyundai Motorsport
2017 Team Launch
Monza, 1st December 2016
Dani Sordo
Photographer: Sarah Vessely
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Dani Sordo said: “We are all looking forward to this new season. It will be a fascinating one for everybody with the new technical and sporting regulations. With such a significant change, we will have to wait until the first rallies of the Championship to see how things develop, but I am confident. When I first tested the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, I was taken aback by the speed of the car. The more powerful engine and increased grip from the aerodynamics are impressive. I am sure this will be an exciting season to be a WRC spectator as well as for us inside the car! It’s very special for me to remain part of the Hyundai Motorsport team. It’s more than just team; it really is like a family. We work very well together and the atmosphere is incredible. The people in this team are some of the best in the business, so we have everything we need for a competitive car and a successful 2017.”

Hyundai Motorsport
2017 Team Launch
Monza, 1st December 2016
Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Michel Nandan
Photographer: Helena El Mokni
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “We are heading into a new era for the sport with the biggest change to the regulations for some time. It’s a great new technical challenge and one that we have tackled with enthusiasm. It’s an opportunity to put into practice everything we have learned and experienced in the past three seasons. All teams are starting from scratch so we are on equal footing. Having finished in second position in 2016, we want to demonstrate our ability to fight for the Championship in 2017 – and we are confident the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC will help us do just that.”

So, can the team build on their success last year and challenge for both titles? With Citroen coming back full time and M-Sport WRT who will definitely be stronger next year, they will find it tough.

Not long before we find out now!

Warren Nel



2016 FIA World RX Rallycross Championship / Round 12 / Rosario, Argentina / November 25 – 28, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: IMG/McKlein

Norway’s Andreas Bakkerud has won World RX of Argentina, the final round of the 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy at the wheel of his Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Focus RS RX Supercar. Volkswagen RX Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson and EKS driver Topi Heikkinen finished second and third. EKS has clinched the 2016 World RX Teams’ Championship as team-mates Mattias Ekstrom and Topi Heikkinen racked up enough points during qualifying to scoop the coveted title ahead of Team Peugeot-Hansen.

2016 FIA World RX Rallycross Championship / Round 12 / Rosario, Argentina / November 25 – 28, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: IMG/McKlein

Ekstrom was crowned this year’s World RX drivers’ champion at the previous round in Germany after scoring enough points to secure the accolade before Argentina. In the three-way battle for the 2016 World RX runner-up spot, it was Kristoffersson who came out top – only one point ahead of Bakkerud and Solberg who finished third and fourth respectively.

“Now that it’s been confirmed that I’m third in the driver standings, I’m feeling very emotional – I’ve had so many people supporting me on my route to be here today and it’s a great feeling,” explained Bakkerud, who also wins the Monster Energy Super Charge Award following his rapid start off the front row of the final. “I am very proud of myself and want to thank all my partners and fans for supporting me. Ever since Ken called me last year to confirm that I was his team-mate, it’s been an incredible journey. Today was a very hard race because there was so much on the line and I’m just so happy that I secured a podium in the Drivers’ World Championship.”

2016 FIA World RX Rallycross Championship / Round 12 / Rosario, Argentina / November 25 – 28, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: IMG/McKlein

Second-placed Kristoffersson ends the year second in the standings – one better than his third place finish last year. He explained: “After the semi-final, I knew I had to finish P1 or P2 in the final to get second overall so the pressure was on. Once I got to turn three, I just focused on staying behind Andreas and keeping everything clean.”

2016 FIA World RX Rallycross Championship / Round 12 / Rosario, Argentina / November 25 – 28, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: IMG/McKlein

Newly-crowned 2016 World RX Champion Mattias Ekstrom spoke highly of his team-mate Heikkinen, who finished second today, and EKS taking the 2016 teams’ title. The new 2016 World RX Champion commented: “We have always dreamed of this moment but with the level of competition in World RX, it hasn’t been easy. As a driver and team owner, this year has been fantastic – only three years ago we were starting out with a blank sheet of paper and now we are double champions, it is just the best feeling. For the driver it is nice, but for the team it is even better as everyone has worked so hard.”

2016 FIA World RX Rallycross Championship / Round 12 / Rosario, Argentina / November 25 – 28, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: IMG/McKlein

Timo Scheider took the best result of the year for ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport after finishing fourth this weekend in a Seat Ibiza. The German DTM driver was delighted with his performance: “It felt awesome to make it through to the final after our issues with the power steering and we really found some pace this weekend.”

2016 FIA World RX Rallycross Championship / Round 12 / Rosario, Argentina / November 25 – 28, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: IMG/McKlein

The 2015 Argentina RX winner Robin Larsson qualified for today’s final and finished sixth in his privately-run Audi A1. Last year’s World RX Champion Petter Solberg looked on course for a strong finish after completing a clean sweep of qualifying race victories – a feat only accomplished once before in World RX history. The Norwegian started on pole of today’s semi-final one but sustained steering damage at turn one and later hit a tyre barrier. Despite Solberg and Bakkerud being tied on points, Bakkerud beat his fellow Norwegian to third place because he has more event wins.

Timmy Hansen finished a difficult weekend in 13th place. Hansen’s team-mate Sebastien Loeb started on the front row of the second semi-final but failed to reach the final after getting stuck in race traffic. Germany RX winner Kevin Eriksson was unable to repeat his Estering performance and finished the event 16th in his OMSE-run Ford Fiesta RX Supercar.

World RX Managing Director for IMG, Paul Bellamy, concluded: “Congratulations to EKS which has made it a double victory this year by winning both the drivers’ and the teams’ championships which is an extraordinary achievement. Today we saw three Audis in the final for the first time with Mattias, Topi and Robin all representing the marque. We also witnessed a fiercely-fought battle for second and third place in the drivers’ standings – Andreas took the event win but it was Johan who edged ahead in the standings by a single point. It’s quite incredible to think that our second, third and fourth placed drivers are separated by only one point at the end of 12 events. Now we have a four-and-a-half month break before the 2017 season-opener in Barcelona next April but first we are off to the FIA prize-giving in Vienna where we will watch Mattias and EKS crowned the new drivers’ and teams’ champions after what has been a year of fantastic race action.”

(c) all photographs courtesy of FIA World Rallycross

Neil Simmons


Rally Australia Review- The last hurrah for Volkswagen

Rally Australia represented the end of an era for a number of reasons. First of all, it was the last rally for the current regulations for car specification. Then came the news that Volkswagen were pulling out of the championship at the end of this year as well.

At the end of shakedown, Seb and Andreas were at the top. Ott was also right there, showing great pace in the D-Mack shod Fiesta RS WRC.

01. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, 3m 01.5s

02. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, + 0.1s

03. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, + 0.8s

04. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai, +1.0s

05. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai, + 1.0s

06. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 1.1s

This were the stages awaiting the crews on Friday.




09:48AM SS4 – NEWRY16 I





03:02PM SS9 – NEWRY16 II



So, at the end of stage one, with so many questions hanging over his future, Andreas won the stage to take a lead of just a little over a second from Ott. Thierry, who was one of the drivers who could finish as runner up to champion Seb was way off the pace. It didn’t start well for Jari-Matti…. He clipped some Armco on a bridge and broke his right rear suspension.

Stage one

1. A. MIKKELSEN 4:55.9

2. O. TANAK 4:57.2 +1.3

3. M. OSTBERG 4:57.3 +1.4

4. H. PADDON 4:57.3 +1.4

5. D. SORDO 4:57.7 +1.8

6. S. OGIER 5:00.3 +4.4

7. T. NEUVILLE 5:01.5 +5.6

8. E. CAMILLI 5:01.8 +5.9

9. L. BERTELLI 5:04.6 +8.7

10. E. LAPPI 5:06.5 +10.6

So, to stage two then and after he’d taken the decision to do something different with his tyres, Hayden took the lead of the event with a great time through Bakers Creek. Jari-Matti got his car temporarily fixed, but would have to wait till midday service before he’d get the car back to the point where he could push hard. This meant that through the remaining stages, he’d have to limp through. Very frustrating for the flying Finn.

Stage two

1. H. PADDON 10:05.5

2. A. MIKKELSEN 10:07.5 +2.0

3. O. TANAK 10:09.2 +3.7

4. D. SORDO 10:09.8 +4.3

5. M. OSTBERG 10:10.8 +5.3

6. E. CAMILLI 10:11.4 +5.9

7. T. NEUVILLE 10:12.2 +6.7

8. S. OGIER 10:14.0 +8.5

9. E. LAPPI 10:26.8 +21.3

10. L. BERTELLI 10:29.1 +23.6

The stages were coming thick and fast…. Just half a hour after stage two started, it was time for stage three. Andreas fought back and retook the lead from Hayden at the end of this one. Eric drove well through here as well and the experienced Mads also was showing good pace in fourth.

Stage 3

1. A. MIKKELSEN 5:49.3

2. H. PADDON 5:51.0 +1.7

3. E. CAMILLI 5:51.5 +2.2

4. M. OSTBERG 5:51.7 +2.4

5. O. TANAK 5:51.8 +2.5

6. D. SORDO 5:51.9 +2.6

7. T. NEUVILLE 5:54.0 +4.7

8. S. OGIER 5:55.8 +6.5

9. L. BERTELLI 5:59.9 +10.6

10. E. LAPPI 6:01.3 +12.0

Stage four next and just 2.6 seconds separated Andreas from Seb. Sadly, Ott spun in this one and lost 30 seconds and tumbled down the leaderboard.

Stage four

1. A. MIKKELSEN 6:22.6

2. S. OGIER 6:25.2 +2.6

3. T. NEUVILLE 6:28.7 +6.1

4. D. SORDO 6:28.8 +6.2

5. E. CAMILLI 6:32.7 +10.1

6. H. PADDON 6:35.2 +12.6

7. M. OSTBERG 6:36.8 +14.2

8. L. BERTELLI 6:46.0 +23.4

9. E. LAPPI 6:48.8 +26.2

10. O. TANAK 6:53.2 +30.6

Just Stage 5 next before the midday service and Andreas took his fourth stage win out of five. Seb was right there though, showing he wasn’t about to give up at all.

Stage five times

1. A. MIKKELSEN 1:17.6

2. T. NEUVILLE 1:17.6 +0.0

3. S. OGIER 1:17.7 +0.1

4. H. PADDON 1:18.1 +0.5

5. D. SORDO 1:18.4 +0.8

6. N. FUCHS 1:18.8 +1.2

7. E. CAMILLI 1:19.3 +1.7

8. O. TANAK 1:19.3 +1.7

9. E. LAPPI 1:19.5 +1.9

10. M. OSTBERG 1:19.6 +2.0

Jari-Matti of course was glad to get back to the service park, so the Volkswagen team could fix his rear suspension.

So, at the midday break, Andreas had a 14 second lead over second placed Hayden Paddon.

Stage six next and Andreas took that as well. He was really in the groove and doing an exceptional job. Jari-Matti would go well through here too.

Stage six times

1.A. MIKKELSEN 4:50.5

2.J. LATVALA 4:50.8 +0.3

3.S. OGIER 4:52.1 +1.6

4.D. SORDO 4:52.6 +2.1

5.O. TANAK 4:52.7 +2.2

6.H. PADDON 4:52.7 +2.2

7.M. OSTBERG 4:53.3 +2.8

8.E. CAMILLI 4:53.7 +3.2

9.T. NEUVILLE 4:54.2 +3.7

10.L. BERTELLI 4:59.7 +9.2

Stage seven and it was a stage victory for Thierry and now that Jari-Matti had a car that handled properly, he could get the hammer down. He would finish this stage in second as well.

Stage seven times

1.T. NEUVILLE 9:48.8

2.J. LATVALA 9:49.6 +0.8

3.A. MIKKELSEN 9:51.2 +2.4

4.S. OGIER 9:51.3 +2.5

5.H. PADDON 9:51.6 +2.8

6.E. CAMILLI 9:52.3 +3.5

7.D. SORDO 9:53.8 +5.0

8.O. TANAK 9:54.7 +5.9

9.M. OSTBERG 9:55.0 +6.2

10.L. BERTELLI 10:09.4 +20.6

It took till stage eight for Seb to get his first stage win of the event. He closed the gap a little to Andreas as well. Thierry was also showing good pace now in his Hyundai. He’d make some tweaks to his car during the midday service and was now more able to express himself.

Stage eight times

1. S. OGIER 5:37.5

2.T. NEUVILLE 5:39.2 +1.7

3. A. MIKKELSEN 5:40.1 +2.6

4.H. PADDON 5:40.7 +3.2

5.M. OSTBERG 5:40.8 +3.3

6.O. TANAK 5:41.0 +3.5

7.D. SORDO 5:41.3 +3.8

8.J. LATVALA 5:42.0 +4.5

9.E. CAMILLI 5:44.8 +7.3

10.L. BERTELLI 5:47.1 +9.6

At the end of this stage, Andreas had pulled further clear of Hayden, his lead now 17 seconds and Seb was getting closer to taking second place away from Hayden as well. Thierry was also pretty close to Seb as well.

So, stage nine next and this fell to ever present Seb again who went through 7.2 seconds quicker than Hayden, whose tyres were starting to give up. He would drop from second place to fourth sadly.

Stage nine times

1.S. OGIER 6:13.8

2.T. NEUVILLE 6:16.2 +2.4

3.A. MIKKELSEN 6:16.2 +2.4

4.O. TANAK 6:18.3 +4.5

5.J. LATVALA 6:19.6 +5.8

6.H. PADDON 6:21.0 +7.2

7.M. OSTBERG 6:22.7 +8.9

8.E. CAMILLI 6:23.8 +10.0

9.D. SORDO 6:24.5 +10.7

10.L. BERTELLI 6:35.3 +21.5

Stage ten and eleven were short stages at the end of the first day and Seb won them both.

Stage ten times

1.S. OGIER 1:02.4

2.A. MIKKELSEN 1:02.9 +0.5

3.J. LATVALA 1:03.8 +1.4

4.T. NEUVILLE 1:03.9 +1.5

5.M. OSTBERG 1:04.0 +1.6

6.D. SORDO 1:04.1 +1.7

7.H. PADDON 1:04.5 +2.1

8.O. TANAK 1:05.8 +3.4

9.E. CAMILLI 1:06.5 +4.1

10.E. LAPPI 1:06.5 +4.1

Stage eleven times

1.S. OGIER 1:02.0

2.H. PADDON 1:02.8 +0.8

3.T. NEUVILLE 1:02.9 +0.9

4.A. MIKKELSEN 1:02.9 +0.9

5.L. BERTELLI 1:03.4 +1.4

6.M. OSTBERG 1:03.5 +1.5

7.J. LATVALA 1:03.8 +1.8

8.D. SORDO 1:04.0 +2.0

9.O. TANAK 1:04.1 +2.1

10.E. LAPPI 1:04.5 +2.5

So, at the end of the first day down under, Andreas had a 15.4 second lead over Seb. There was also a battle between Thierry and Hayden for third, with just over a second between them.

01. Mikkelsen/Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, 57m 16.7s

02. Ogier/Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, + 15.4s

03. Neuville/Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai, + 22.5s

04. Paddon/Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai, + 23.7s

05. Østberg/Fløene(N/N), Ford, + 38.8s

06. Camilli/Veillas (F/F), Ford, + 46.6s

07. Sordo/Martí (E/E), Hyundai, + 50.2s

08. Tänak/Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, + 1m 30.6s

09. Lappi/JFerm(FIN/FIN), Škoda, + 2m 20.3s

10. Bertelli/Scattolin (I/I), Ford, + 2m 24.7s

16. Latvala/Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen, + 7m 53.4s

Here’s the driver’s thoughts then at the end of day one.

Volkswagen Motorsport

Sébastien Ogier (F), Julien Ingrassia (F)
Volkswagen Polo R WRC (2016)
WRC Rally Australia 2016
Photo: Helena El Mokni

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“A good start for us here in Australia. I am very happy with second place for Julien and me. The afternoon conditions were better than expected. I was flat out all day. After all, we have nothing to lose here. The heat is definitely a factor. If it is as hot as this tomorrow, it will be a very tiring 50 kilometres against the clock on ‘Nambucca’. The temperature will also play a role with the tyres. Whatever happens, I will try to stay ahead of Thierry Neuville, in order to help Andreas and Anders in the battle for second place in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“I don’t know how often I’ve been in this situation this year. No sooner had the rally got underway, than it was over for me again. I lost a bit of grip in a long right-hander just before a bridge on the opening stage, and caught the bridge with the rear-right tyre. It was not a big impact, but we suffered a damaged suspension as a result and had lost a lot of time by the midday service. This is obviously not how we wanted to say goodbye to the team on our final appearance for Volkswagen. We must now end the rally with dignity.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“An absolutely perfect day for us – it doesn’t get much better than that. The Polo R WRC was better than ever in the morning. The set-up was ideal and fantastic to drive. The conditions out on the route changed in the afternoon, and we struggled a bit with oversteering and understeering at times. We expected to lose a lot of time on those behind us. To lead the rally and have won five stages on the way is absolutely perfect. If we want to clinch second place in the world championship, we are almost compelled to win – and that is exactly what we are trying to achieve here. Our goal has to be to have a good lead by Saturday evening, then we will have a good chance of crossing the finish line in front on Sunday. To achieve this, however, we still have a lot of hard work ahead of us.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville said: “The morning loop went OK. Our goal was to keep up with Seb (Ogier), who was starting first on the road – just ahead of us. In those conditions, we could run quite close, better than expected to be honest. The afternoon loop went well, and we could set some fast times, which moved us up the classification. Andreas is doing well, and leading the rally, so we know we have to maintain our speed and rhythm in our fight for second in the Championship.”

Hayden Paddon said: “All in all, I’m pretty satisfied with how this opening day has gone. The first three stages were to my liking, everything was flowing and the car felt good. The only real disappointment was the fourth stage, which didn’t go to plan. We had a lot of moments, and the balance of the car wasn’t ideal. A few half spins lost us some time. We tried something different with the tyres in the first loop with a mix of hard and soft. The afternoon went without any real dramas, and I think we’re well placed for the remainder of the rally. We’re still in the hunt; I’m feeling relaxed and comfortable.”

Dani Sordo said: “It’s been a really disappointing day for us. We started well and were in the fight after the opening three stages. But the time penalty has cost us a 20-second penalty. We misjudged the time we had to make it to SS4. After changing tyres on the road section, we were under some pressure and we missed two junctions on the way to the stage. These things can happen; we are only human. But it’s still immensely frustrating. There’s a long way to go in this rally and we’ll keep pushing.”

M-Sport WRT

Mads Østberg (5th) said:

“It’s been a good day. We had quite a big moment in the morning, but we got away with it and I’m pleased to see that we are competitive and posting times to challenge the leaders.

“We seemed to lose quite a lot of time on both passes of the Newry stage (SS4 and SS9) and would have been even closer were it not for that. Okay, we were on the same pace as those around us, but there was quite a big gap to the guys ahead so we need to understand why that was.

“Apart from that, it’s been good. We’re only 15 seconds shy of the podium and it’s great to be back in the fight. We’ll do what we can to continue that fight tomorrow.”

Éric Camilli (6th) said:

“It’s been a really good day for us. We didn’t expect to be this competitive straight away so that is always great to see. We showed some really good speed in places and set the third fastest time on the third stage of the morning.

“This is our first time here and we took a lot of pleasure from the stages. We had a lot of confidence with the car and that was a big positive for us – especially after the last couple of events.

“We’ll try to continue like this for the rest of the rally and hope to secure a good result at the end.”

Day two, Saturday. These were the stages that were ahead of them all. The significant one was Nambucca. It was the longest stage of the itinerary at 50km’s. Tyre choice would be critical.


09:37AM SS13 – VALLA 16 I



02:25PM SS16 – VALLA16 II



Hayden made an excellent start to win stage 12 with Jari-Matti 2.5 seconds and second fastest and rally leader Andreas 10 seconds slower. Hayden drove a stormer to halve Andreas’ lead and move back into second place overall! This was despite dust coming into the car that he admitted was quite a distraction.

Dani also moved ahead of Eric into sixth place overall.

Stage twelve times

1.H. PADDON 28:38.6

2.J. LATVALA 28:41.1 +2.5

3.A. MIKKELSEN 28:48.8 +10.2

4.S. OGIER 28:51.2 +12.6

5.O. TANAK 28:52.7 +14.1

6.M. OSTBERG 28:57.9 +19.3

7.D. SORDO 28:58.4 +19.8

8.T. NEUVILLE 29:00.9 +22.3

9.E. CAMILLI 29:06.6 +28.0

10.L. BERTELLI 29:47.2 +1:08.6

It was great to see Jari-Matti win stage thirteen with a consummate drive in this 15km stage. He declared that he was back! Seb closed the gap a little to Andreas through this one having picked soft tyres for the morning loop. It appeared to work well for him.

Stage thirteen times

1.J. LATVALA 8:37.1

2.M. OSTBERG 8:44.9 +7.8

3.S. OGIER 8:44.9 +7.8

4.H. PADDON 8:46.0 +8.9

5.A. MIKKELSEN 8:46.1 +9.0

6.E. CAMILLI 8:46.7 +9.6

7.D. SORDO 8:47.2 +10.1

8.O. TANAK 8:48.9 +11.8

9.T. NEUVILLE 8:51.1 +14.0

10.L. BERTELLI 9:01.4 +24.3

The short blast around the Raceway stage showed that you couldn’t really separate Andreas, Dani and Seb, with all three setting the same time!

Stage fourteen times

1.A. MIKKELSEN 1:16.8

2.D. SORDO 1:16.8 +0.0

3.S. OGIER 1:16.8 +0.0

4.T. NEUVILLE 1:17.0 +0.2

5.H. PADDON 1:17.0 +0.0

6.O. TANAK 1:17.5 +0.7

7.M. OSTBERG 1:17.6 +0.8

8.E. CAMILLI 1:18.2 +1.4

9.E. LAPPI 1:18.3 +1.5

10.J. LATVALA 1:18.5 +1.7

After the lunchtime service break, it was time for the second run of the day through Nambucca. Andreas had a 13.6 second lead over Hayden with Seb a further three seconds adrift. This was not over. Well, what followed was another stage win for the resurgent flying Finn Jari-Matti, and Seb moved back ahead of Hayden with the Frenchman now four seconds ahead of the Kiwi.

Stage fifteen times

1.J. LATVALA 28:07.0

2.S. OGIER 28:07.9 +0.9

3.A. MIKKELSEN 28:12.5 +5.5

4.D. SORDO 28:13.5 +6.5

5.T. NEUVILLE 28:15.1 +8.1

6.H. PADDON 28:15.2 +8.2

7.E. CAMILLI 28:22.7 +15.7

8.M. OSTBERG 28:26.8 +19.8

9.O. TANAK 28:47.4 +40.4

10.E. LAPPI 29:11.0 +1:04.0

It was another stage victory for Thierry, but the big news from the stage was that Andreas suffered a problem with his pedals. Basically, the clutch and brake pedal for some reason became connected and pressing one would make the other react…. Andreas lost 9.8 seconds to Seb… Now the lead was just 2 seconds.

Stage sixteen times

1.T. NEUVILLE 8:31.5

2.S. OGIER 8:32.1 +0.6

3.H. PADDON 8:35.1 +3.6

4.D. SORDO 8:38.3 +6.8

5.M. OSTBERG 8:38.6 +7.1

6.J. LATVALA 8:39.3 +7.8

7.E. CAMILLI 8:39.7 +8.2

8.A. MIKKELSEN 8:41.3 +9.8

9.O. TANAK 8:44.9 +13.4

10.L. BERTELLI 8:53.0 +21.5

Now every single second counted for Andreas. In fact, you could say every tenth of a second…. There wasn’t much to separate the teammates. Seb was one second quicker through SS17, but then Andreas was two tenths quicker in SS18. Seb had Andreas in his sights and was not going give this up.

Stage seventeen times

1.S. OGIER 1:01.7

2.D. SORDO 1:02.3 +0.6

3.A. MIKKELSEN 1:02.7 +1.0

4.M. OSTBERG 1:03.1 +1.4

5.H. PADDON 1:03.1 +1.4

6.T. NEUVILLE 1:03.2 +1.5

7.L. BERTELLI 1:03.6 +1.9

8.J. LATVALA 1:03.7 +2.0

9.O. TANAK 1:04.1 +2.4

10.E. LAPPI 1:04.6 +2.9

Stage eighteen times

1.A. MIKKELSEN 1:01.3

2.S. OGIER 1:01.5 +0.2

3.T. NEUVILLE 1:02.0 +0.7

4.D. SORDO 1:02.0 +0.7

5.M. OSTBERG 1:02.4 +1.1

6.L. BERTELLI 1:02.7 +1.4

7.H. PADDON 1:02.8 +1.5

8.J. LATVALA 1:03.2 +1.9

9. E. LAPPI 1:03.3 +2.0

10.O. TANAK 1:03.3 +2.0

Overall standings at the end of day two

01. Mikkelsen/Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, 2h 15m 06.2s

02. Ogier/Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, + 2.0s

03. Paddon/Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai, + 12.0s

04. Neuville/Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai, + 33.8s

05. Sordo/Martí (E/E), Hyundai, + 59.2s

06. Østberg/Fløene (N/N), Ford, + 1m 00.6s

07. Camilli/Veillas (F/F), Ford, + 1m 21.7s

08. Tänak/Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, + 2m 19.9s

09. Bertelli/Scattolin (I/I), Ford, + 4m 56.6s

10. Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN), Škoda, + 5m 22.7s

11. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen,+ 7m 33.8s

Here are the thoughts of the drivers at the end of day two down under.

Volkswagen Motorsport

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“That was a perfect day for us. Julien and I decided to take the risk and go for it. I used the boundary markers along the track like a slalom skier, as you can tell from the dents on the bonnet. We put all our eggs in one basket with our tyre selection as well – and luckily, choosing four soft tyres paid off. Before the rally, I would not have expected us to still have such a good chance in the battle for the win. Tomorrow will be a thrilling day for the fans. Andreas and Hayden will give their all to claim the win, and I also have nothing to lose.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN), Miikka Anttila (FIN)
Volkswagen Polo R WRC (2016)
WRC Rally Australia 2016
Photo: Daniel Roeseler

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“From a driving point of view, today was definitely one of our better days and I am very pleased with the two best times. However, my mistake yesterday means that I cannot make a decisive contribution to the overall result. So, I will be keeping my fingers crossed that my team-mates Sébastien and Andreas cross the finish line at the head of the field. And then, with the whole team, we will raise a glass to the four extraordinary years that we have experienced.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“Sunday will be really interesting, although I could live with a little less tension. We had a great day today, we were always fast and we managed to stay ahead pretty well. We lost some time later on, as some damage to the footwell meant that the clutch and brake pedals were overlapping. That was a strange situation. It doesn’t change much about the grand finale tomorrow: whether we lead by two seconds or twelve and more – it will be a tough battle for the victory, and we would be happy to win it. We have to give our all until the finish line – and that is exactly what we intend to do.”

Hyundai Motorsport

2016 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 14 / Rally Australia / November 17-20, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: Hyundai Motorsport

Hayden Paddon said: “It’s been a good day. We started well with the stage win through Nambucca, which set a positive tone. There was a lot of dust coming into the car on those first stages. It was a bit of a distraction, but you have to expect that in Rally Australia. We knew that Seb (Ogier) would be on a charge in the afternoon, which proved to be the case, so we just focused on keeping up the pressure. We missed a bit of speed in the afternoon loop but all in all it’s been a good improvement over last year. We’re involved in a close fight up front. It’s a good position to be in and we’ll certainly be giving it a hard push tomorrow to see what we can do.”

Thierry Neuville said: “It’s been close to a perfect day for us considering the conditions. We made a wrong tyre choice this morning, which lost us some ground in the battle for third place. I was concerned the soft tyres would be too soft for the conditions. In hindsight, we should have perhaps taken the risk but that’s easier said than done when we’re trying to secure second in the Championship. The afternoon was better and I felt I drove well. We had to manage the tyres carefully but I was pretty pleased to set the fastest time in SS16, when conditions were more equal for everybody. We’re still firmly in the podium fight and we definitely won’t give up until the rally is over.”

2016 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 14 / Rally Australia / November 17-20, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: Hyundai Motorsport

Dani Sordo said: “A much more positive day for us. After incurring the 20-second time penalty yesterday, we wanted to make up some positions. We knew from our performance on Friday that we had the pace to compete with the front-runners, so I was pleased to set some good times today. We started with the long Nambucca stage so it was important to find a good rhythm quickly. We went a bit wide, and lost some time, but apart from that everything has worked well. The car has been nice to drive, even if we have had to take care with the tyres. I am feeling confident, so let’s see what we can do tomorrow. We want to finish the season strongly.”

M-Sport WRT

Mads Østberg (6th) said:

2016 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 14 / Rally Australia / November 17-20, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: M-Sport/McKlein

“It’s been a good day and, again, we showed that we have some really good speed with the second fastest time through the second stage this morning (SS13).

“We decided to make some changes to the set-up for the second pass of Nambucca (SS15) but unfortunately that didn’t work out and we lost quite a lot of time. It was still quite slippery and we were struggling for traction. I knew already after a couple of corners that it wasn’t going to work so to do 50 kilometres like that wasn’t easy.

“We did our best, but we’ll go back to the standard set-up tomorrow and fight again. The gap to Dani [Sordo in fifth] is very small, and we want that fifth place so that is what we will fight for.”

Éric Camilli (7th) said:

2016 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 14 / Rally Australia / November 17-20, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: M-Sport/McKlein

“Like yesterday, it’s been another good day for us. The rally is continuing very well and we are on the pace which is really good. Of course, I know I could go faster in places, but that brings more risk which is not the objective this weekend. Still, it’s really good to see that we are not so far away.

“The first pass of the long stage was not so easy as we were discovering the road for the first time, but then it got a lot better. On the next stages our times were a lot stronger and that was really good to see. Even when we lost the brakes through the second pass of Valla (SS16), we were able to manage the situation and the time was competitive.”



08:06AM SS20 – BUCCA 16




Day three dawned hot and dry just like the first two days. Just two seconds separated Andreas and Seb, with both wanting to give Volkswagen their last victory at the top of the rallying world. Would Andreas do it? All it would take would be one spin, and it would all be over.

So, the first outcome was that Mads had do what he wanted and moved ahead of Dani into fifth place. Thierry was pushing hard, and spun in the stage, losing 15 seconds. It was still nip and tuck between Andreas and Seb. Just six tenths of a second separating them at the end of the stage.

Stage nineteen times

1.A. MIKKELSEN 3:06.5

2.S. OGIER 3:07.1 +0.6

3.H. PADDON 3:08.9 +2.4

4.J. LATVALA 3:10.0 +3.5

5.O. TANAK 3:10.7 +4.2

6.M. OSTBERG 3:12.0 +5.5

7.D. SORDO 3:14.9 +8.4

8.E. CAMILLI 3:18.2 +11.7

9.L. BERTELLI 3:19.7 +13.2

10.E. LAPPI 3:20.2 +13.7

Stage twenty then and it all happened in this one. Hayden saw his podium hopes slip away after he ran wide and hit the rear right, and puncturing his tyre. He lost more than a minute and dropped from third to fifth…. It was this stage that also saw Seb make a mistake! Incredible stuff! On the exit of a left-hander he struck a bank, and this spun him around. Precious seconds ticked away whilst he got the car turned around. The upshot of it all was that he lost nearly twenty seconds to Andreas and thus his hopes on victory.

Stage twenty times

1.A. MIKKELSEN 17:22.5

2.J. LATVALA 17:41.3 +18.8

3.S. OGIER 17:42.1 +19.6

4.D. SORDO 17:42.3 +19.8

5.T. NEUVILLE 17:46.7 +24.2

6.M. OSTBERG 17:51.1 +28.6

7.O. TANAK 17:53.8 +31.3

8.E. CAMILLI 18:13.9 +51.4

9.H. PADDON 18:36.1 +1:13.6

10.E. LAPPI 18:48.1 +1:25.6

Okay, so was the drama over for this event, or would there be another sting in the tail for someone? Well, young Frenchman Eric had been going really well, setting some top times on his debut down under. It would all unravel for him. He got a bit greedy on a right-hander which had a small bank which he put his front left wheel onto, and this tipped the car over into a roll and onto its side.

Stage twenty-one times

1.A. MIKKELSEN 3:40.8

2.J. LATVALA 3:41.0 +0.2

3.S. OGIER 3:41.3 +0.5

4.T. NEUVILLE 3:42.5 +1.7

5.D. SORDO 3:42.6 +1.8

6.H. PADDON 3:43.1 +2.3

7.O. TANAK 3:45.3 +4.5

8.M. OSTBERG 3:45.4 +4.6

9.E. LAPPI 3:53.0 +12.2

10. N. FUCHS 3:55.7 +14.9

Just two stages left then…. Andreas was nearly there…. Seb took stage twenty-two with Andreas coming in third fastest letting Seb edge a little closer, but only a few seconds conceded there.

Stage twenty-two times

1.S. OGIER 3:05.1

2.H. PADDON 3:06.5 +1.4

3.A. MIKKELSEN 3:07.9 +2.8

4.T. NEUVILLE 3:09.2 +4.1

5.D. SORDO 3:09.3 +4.2

6.J. LATVALA 3:09.6 +4.5

7.M. OSTBERG 3:09.7 +4.6

8.O. TANAK 3:11.0 +5.9

9.L. BERTELLI 3:16.5 +11.4

10.E. LAPPI 3:16.7 +11.6

So, we came to the last stage on the last event of the year. Seb took the three power stage points, Thierry the two points and Dani third quickest through took one. Andreas had done it though. His third WRC victory, beating his 4-times world rally champion teammate. That’s no easy feat at all.

Stage twenty-three times

1.S. OGIER 3:36.8

2.T. NEUVILLE 3:38.0 +1.2

3.D. SORDO 3:39.5 +2.7

4.H. PADDON 3:39.6 +2.8

5.J. LATVALA 3:40.7 +3.9

6.A. MIKKELSEN 3:41.8 +5.0

7.M. OSTBERG 3:42.2 +5.4

8.O. TANAK 3:43.1 +6.3

9.L. BERTELLI 3:49.9 +13.1

10.E. LAPPI 3:51.1 +14.3

So, the final standings are as follows.

01. Mikkelsen/Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, 2h 46m 05.7s

02. Ogier/Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, + 14.9s

03. Neuville/Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai, + 1m 12.6s

04. Paddon/Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai, + 1m 26.7s

05. Sordo/Martí (E/E), Hyundai, + 1m 28.3s

06. Østberg/Fløene (N/N), Ford, + 1m 41.5s

07. Tänak/Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, + 3m 04.3s

08. Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN), Škoda, + 7m 32.3s

09. Latvala/Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen, + 7m 56.9s

10. Bertelli/ Scattolin (I/I), Ford, + 8m 00.1s

Volkswagen end their involvement at the top level of the rally world with a one-two and Thierry finishes in third. This meant that he kept his second place in the championship. After the poor results in 2015, this year has been remarkable for him.

So, let’s hear from the drivers for the last time this year.

Volkswagen Motorsport

Anders Jæger (NOR), Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)
WRC Rally Australia 2016
Photo: Toni Welam

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“What a fantastic weekend, and what a wonderful result at the end of our season. Today has been a very special day, as it was our last appearance as a team. I was so desperate to win this rally for Volkswagen. It is fantastic to have achieved that. Volkswagen is the team that gave me the opportunity to step up into the top class of the WRC. They put a lot of faith in me and made so much possible for me. They will always have a special place in my heart. Everything came together at the final rally. Everything, absolutely everything, worked perfectly – it was simply the optimum of what we have achieved together in four years in the World Rally Championship. On the one hand, it is a bit of a shame that we just missed out on second place in the championship. On the other hand, that is not so important. If I had been given the choice of winning our final rally together or finishing runner-up in the world championship, I would always have chosen the win.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“I was a bit wide exiting a left-hander at the end of the ‘Wedding Bells’ stage, and spun. In the huge dust cloud, it took me a few moments to work out where the road was. We lost almost 20 seconds as a result. However, I have no regrets. Julien and I were really going for it all weekend, and had had a great battle with Andreas up to that point. He deserved the win. The most important thing is that our fantastic team bids farewell to the World Rally Championship with a victory. This is a very emotional moment for me. I have so much to thank the team for. Volkswagen Motorsport has been like a family to Julien and me. I have made a lot of friends and will never forget the wonderful moments we have had together over the past few years. A fantastic journey is coming to an end, and I am proud to have been a part of it.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“I enjoyed the final few kilometres in the Polo R WRC on today’s Power Stage. We had some good special stages today and yesterday, and made good progress through the field. We can be happy with our performance over the past few days. Unfortunately, we made light contact with a wall on a bridge on the opening stage, and destroyed the rear suspension in the process. We lost a lot of time as a result, and had no chance of challenging for either the podium or the win. I would have liked to have done that – primarily to give our team a fitting leaving present. Our team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Sébastien Ogier claimed a deserved one-two. Congratulations to them both. We will celebrate as a team again this evening, before our time together in the World Rally Championship comes to an end. It is sure to be very emotional.”

Hyundai Motorsport

2016 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 14 / Rally Australia / November 17-20, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville said: “I am delighted with how this rally has gone. We had some tricky conditions on the first days with our road position, so it hasn’t been easy. We concentrated on keeping our driving clean and we’ve been able to achieve our objectives – a podium finish and second in the Championship. It was particularly nice to end the rally with some Power Stage points. We’ve had the speed in the car all weekend so I’m happy to complete the season in this positive manner. Thanks to the team for a job well done this year. We had a difficult start but since Sardinia we’ve been able to show the speed and consistency necessary to be genuine contenders. I am already looking forward to 2017.”

Hayden Paddon said: “We didn’t want to go down without a fight. We started this morning’s opening stages knowing we’d have to push for the win, but we were determined to give it our best shot. We might not have had the speed to achieve the victory, but a podium would still have been a great way to end the year. For that reason, I was pretty devastated with what happened. We ran slightly wide on a corner, which popped the tyre off the rim, and we had to drive 20km with a puncture. We got over it quickly and knuckled down for the final stages, moving back up to fourth. Not quite the result we wanted, but perhaps representative of our roller-coaster season. There have been ups and downs, but all in all there are plenty of positives and experiences to take forward to next season. Our thanks go to the whole team and to all our fans for the support. We’ll be back next season, stronger than ever!”

Dani Sordo said: “We wanted to give it a big push today to see how strongly we could finish the rally – and the 2016 season. We were in a very close battle with Hayden for fourth, and we gave it a good attempt. Of course, whether you finish fourth or fifth in these circumstances doesn’t really matter but it was nice to score a Power Stage point for our efforts. Without the time penalty on Friday, we could have been fighting for the podium but these things happen. Thank you to the team for their work this season. We might have missed a victory along the way but we have taken a few podiums. It’s been a positive season and definitely gives us something to build on.”

M-Sport WRT

Mads Østberg (6th) said:

“It’s been a good rally and I’ve been quite happy with the weekend. Like in Finland, we were able to set some really competitive times and were fighting close to the front. Unfortunately, there were just a few stages where we lost too much time and the big battles got away from us. Apart from that, it’s still been a really good weekend. We might only be sixth, but we had some really good stages and it was good to be back in the fight.

“It’s also been nice to have been at the very first rally with this Fiesta, and here again at its final outing in the WRC. I’ve had a lot of success in this car, especially from 2011 to 2013 where I had some really strong performances. It really took me forward in the championship and helped me gain a position as a manufacturer driver. The car really has meant a lot to me over the years.”

Éric Camilli (DNF) said:

“This time we didn’t deserve not to finish the rally. I don’t know if the word ‘unlucky’ exists in rallying as there are so many factors that can contribute to making you go off the road, but this one I think might be that.

“I thought the road would be very slippery, but in fact it was not. I turned in too early and went too deep into the corner. We went up on two wheels and rolled the car. It’s not a mistake because of experience, or a wrong pace note, or too much speed or anything like that, it’s just one of those things. We just need to forget about it and focus on the good race we were having before that moment.

“I really enjoyed the Australian stages and we were running a really good rally. We set a lot of good times and the most important thing was that our pace was very close to everyone else. We were in the battle and quite a few times we were setting times better than those with a lot more experience. We didn’t expect that, and for sure next year we will come back stronger.”

D-Mack WRT

Ott Tänak said: “Apart from the problems on Friday, it was a really enjoyable rally. The stages here are great fun to drive, with some nice, flowing sections. Overall it’s been a positive season and we’ve worked really hard with the DMACK technicians to move things forward. There have been highs and lows but the progress this year has been impressive.”

Last of all, the thoughts of the team principles.

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“Today is a very successful day for Volkswagen on the one hand, and an emotional goodbye to the world rally championship on the other. To bid farewell with a one-two is simply fantastic. Despite the difficult situation, the entire team gave their all and was thoroughly professional right down to the final metre. I am incredibly proud of our performance here at the Rally Australia – and over the past few years. I would like to thank everyone in Hannover, Wolfsburg and at the rallies, as well as our partners, who have all contributed to our success. We have achieved a lot and head into our future in motorsport full of confidence.”

Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR), Anders Jæger (NOR)
Sébastien Ogier (F), Julien Ingrassia (F)
Volkswagen Polo R WRC (2016)
WRC Rally Australia 2016
Photo: Toni Welam

Hyundai Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We knew we’d be in for a thrilling final day. There were a few final twists in the tale of the 2016 season, but overall we can be satisfied with our debut Australian podium. Well done to Thierry and Nicolas on their performance and claiming second place in the Drivers and Co-drivers’ Championships. They have had a fantastic season, particularly since their win in Sardinia. It was a pity for Hayden that his incident this morning prevented a push for victory. Dani, too, was also unfortunate not to be able to fight for a better result. As a team, we have had a strong year. The New Generation i20 WRC has done us proud but it’s the result of hard work by the entire team. We have shown a lot of progress and maturity this year, and I am personally grateful to every individual member of Hyundai Motorsport for their valuable contributions. I would also like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Volkswagen Motorsport for being such fierce competitors. They have set the benchmark very high. We will miss competing against them, but will continue to be inspired by their achievements.”

M-Sport WRT Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“It is the end of an era as we say goodbye to the current Ford Fiesta RS WRC – a car which has delivered a lot of success over the past six years. Closing this chapter is made all the more special exactly 20 years after signing the contract with Ford.

“For two decades we have been competing at the head of the FIA World Rally Championship and I’m sure that further success lies ahead. I’m convinced that we have produced another rally-winning car with the new Ford Fiesta WRC and the whole team are now fully focussed on next season where we’ll be determined to make a return to the top step of the podium.

“Before we wave goodbye to 2016 however, we must commend Volkswagen Motorsport and thank them for their commitment to our sport. Their achievements have been marked and the whole service park has benefitted from their involvement. I speak for the whole team when saying that it has been a pleasure to compete with them and they will be sorely missed. We hope to see them return in the future for more close-fought competition.”

So, the final championship standings.

Drivers’ Championship

1. Sébastien Ogier, 268 points

2. Thierry Neuville, 160

3. Andreas Mikkelsen, 154

4. Hayden Paddon, 138

5. Dani Sordo, 130

6. Jari-Matti Latvala, 112

7. Mads Østberg, 102

8. Ott Tänak, 88

9. Kris Meeke, 64

10. Craig Breen, 36

Co-drivers’ Championship

1. Julien Ingrassia, 268 points

2. Nicolas Gilsoul, 160

3. Anders Jæger, 15

4. John Kennard, 138

5. Marc Martí, 130

6. Miikka Anttila, 112

7. Ola Fløene, 102

8. Raigo Mõlder, 88

9. Paul Nagle, 64

10. Scott Martin, 36

Manufacturers’ Championship

1. Volkswagen Motorsport, 377 points

2. Hyundai Motorsport, 312

3. Volkswagen Motorsport II, 163

4. M-Sport, 162

5. Hyundai Motorsport N, 146

6. DMACK, 98

7. Jipocar Czech National Team, 18

8. Yazeed Racing, 4

Warren Nel

23rd November 2016

Twitter @Warren_S_Nel

Rally Australia Preview 2016-WRC heads Down Under

It’s the end of an era… Volkswagen are leaving… The current type of cars are being pensioned off…

The team that have won the last four world titles will want to go out on a high though. There is a real battle going on for second in the drivers’ standings as well. Thierry Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon can all finish in that position. There’s just 14 points between Thierry and Andreas, with Hayden a further 3 points away!

These are the stages that await the crews on this WRC Finale!

Friday’s Stages




09:48AM SS4 – NEWRY16 I





03:02PM SS9 – NEWRY16 II



Saturday’s Stages


09:37AM SS13 – VALLA 16 I



02:25PM SS16 – VALLA16 II



Sunday’s Stages


08:06AM SS20 – BUCCA 16




A total of 312.32 km of action over the three days awaits them all! Here’s the views of the drivers before this iconic rally.

Volkswagen Motorsport

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“It is a strange situation for everyone at Volkswagen Motorsport. The announcement of our withdrawal from the World Rally Championship at the end of the year was not the way that we, as a team, wanted to celebrate our fourth title. We will now contest our final rally together in Australia. When I look back at the last five years, I do not only think about the success we have enjoyed together. I am grateful to have worked with such great people at Volkswagen. We have formed genuine friendships over the years. I can only hope that I see as many as possible of them again. The final rally with Volkswagen – that sounds crazy. However, I am sure I will be able to put this out of my mind during the rally. Although my starting position is not exactly promising, I will do everything in my power to ensure that we have something to celebrate together again after our final outing in Australia.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“Last week’s news was far from pleasant. It is very difficult to comprehend the magnitude of this decision in such a short time. I can only repeat that I will always remember the time at Volkswagen Motorsport. The many great moments mean a lot to me, and I would like to thank everyone in the team. It is now my duty to focus fully on the season finale in Australia again. I am really determined to do well in my last rally with Volkswagen, and will push hard to try to challenge for the win. My season has not been easy, so a good result in Australia would be doubly nice – particularly as a farewell present to the team.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“The Rally Australia will be very emotional, as we all know that it is the final race for Volkswagen. The team has become very close to my heart. I am very grateful for the great time together, and really want to bid farewell with a good result in Australia. That is also important for Anders and me, because we want to take back second place in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ World Championship from my friend Thierry Neuville. To do so, we must go for the win. However, this will not be easy, as we will be third onto the special stages. Despite this, we will apply pressure from the word go and give it our all. The biggest challenge at the Rally Australia are the sections with fast corners, which are hard to see. A rally in the jungle – that is the best description. I am certainly very motivated and looking forward to Australia, as I really like driving there.”

Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR), Ola Fløene (NOR)
Volkswagen Polo R WRC (2015)
WRC Rally Australia 2015

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville commented: “We all love coming to Australia and it will of course be extra special this year as it is the last rally event on the calendar. Compared to Wales, the conditions will be very different. The gravel here can be a bit more abrasive and the temperatures will be much higher, so it will be a completely different challenge for both us and the car. It’s great to come here in the fight for second place. Both Nicolas and I are really looking forward to trying to finish the season on a high note!”

Hayden Paddon said: “Australia a special rally for us as it’s as close as it gets to being at home. We’re really looking forward to having a lot of Kiwis and maybe even a couple of Aussies supporting us. We’re in a really great position overall and I’m sure we can end the season on a real high. We’re going to be pushing really hard. I really enjoy the stages and the surface. We want to put ourselves in position to fight for the win. We want to put on the biggest show that we possibly can and give it our best shot.”

Dani Sordo commented: “I am very excited to be coming to Australia again. It is a really nice area for rallying and a great place to finish the Championship. We had a difficult rally in Wales and we couldn’t manage to get the best out of the car or ourselves. We want to bounce back that’s for sure. I know what we are capable of on gravel with this car. As it is the last race, we will of course try to get the best possible result and end the season on a positive note. We are involved in a close battle in the Drivers’ Championship, too, so it will be an exciting season finale.”

2015 World Rally Championship / Round 10 / Rally Australia // 10th – 13th September, 2015 // Worldwide Copyright: Hyundai Motorsport

M-Sport WRT

Mads Østberg said:

“Every year I enjoy coming back to Australia and the unique challenges that it has to offer. It really is like nothing else in the championship – so different to anything else we experience throughout the year.

“The character of the stages changes quite a lot and we often switch from very wide, open roads to tight and twisty sections in the forests. Recce is really important. You need to keep the rhythm in your notes and have every tree and rock noted. It’s a big challenge to end the season.

“The event is a little later this year so we’ll have to see how that affects the advantages and disadvantages of running order. Generally, it’s better to be further back, but there is also a risk of hanging dust which can be really challenging so we’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.

“It’s strange to think that I’ve only contested this event twice before, but we will give it our all and always want to achieve the best possible result.”

Éric Camilli said:

“I’m really looking forward to experiencing another new rally and discovering all of the challenges that Australia has to offer. This is my first time at this event so there will be a lot to learn, but we’re really looking forward to it. From what I’ve seen, it looks like a fantastic rally with amazing scenery and stages.

“As with any new event, the pacenotes that we make on the pre-event reconnaissance will be really important. Thankfully, we have made a big step forward in that area this year. Our pacenotes have progressed a lot over the past 12 months, and next week’s event gives us an opportunity to put everything into practice.

“We want to end the season on a high, but it is also important to complete all of the stages and gain maximum experience. I believe that we have already shown the speed that we can be capable of, so we’ll just take each stage as it comes and aim to build on our performance throughout the weekend.”

D-Mack WRT

Ott Tänak said: “Rally Australia is a special event and one that I really like. It’s a real mix of conditions and a proper challenge. The wide, hard roads are fast and flowing – really enjoyable to drive on. Then in the forests it’s really tricky and you have to be careful, especially with the changes in shade and light. I’m looking forward to it.”

Here’s a list of the former winners of this event.

2015 Sébastien Ogier Julien Ingrassia

2014 Sébastien Ogier Julien Ingrassia

2013 Sébastien Ogier Julien Ingrassia

2012 Event not held

2011 Mikko Hirvonen Jarmo Lehtinen

2010 Event not held

2009 Mikko Hirvonen Jarmo Lehtinen

2008 Event not held

2007 Event not held

2006 Mikko Hirvonen Jarmo Lehtinen

2005 François Duval Sven Smeets

The fascinating battle will begin on Friday morning…. Who will win down under?

Warren Nel

Wales Rally GB Review- Ott Pushes Seb all the way

Seb might have won Rally GB for the fourth time, but he was pushed all the way by the D-Mack tyred Fiesta WRC driven brilliantly by the young Estonian Ott Tanak.

On the days running up, it was dry and there was not much mud about. However, when Friday dawned, normal service resumed in the Welsh forests… Fog and lots of slippery stages, ready to chuck cars into the trees!

This was only going to benefit Seb in his Polo. Someone didn’t tell Ott and Raigo though. First stage down and there was only 7.6 seconds between him and Seb! The fight had begun!

Stage one top ten

01 Ogier (VW) 18m 07.0s

02 Tänak +7.6s

03 Paddon +8.0s

04 Breen +8.1s

05 Mikkelsen (VW) +11.5s

06 Meeke +11.7s

07 Latvala (VW) +16.4s

08 Neuville +22.3s

09 Østberg +32.2s

10 Sordo +34.3s

Stage two then, a much shorter stage and Seb won again, thus increasing his lead.

01 Ogier (VW) 2m 49.0s

02 Mikkelsen (VW) +3.3s

03 Neuville +4.5s

04 Tänak +4.5s

05 Latvala +5.5s

06 Paddon +6.1s

07 Sordo +6.2s

08 Breen +6.3s

09 Meeke +6.8s

10 Østberg +9.1s

Stage three though saw Ott fight back, winning it from Seb and reducing the gap to just 9.9 seconds! Clearly the D-Mack tyres were giving good grip out there!

01 Tänak 20m 45.4s

02 Ogier (VW) +2.2s

03 Latvala (VW) +6.5s

04 Meeke +9.5s

05 Sordo +10.5s

06 Neuville +12.6s

07 Paddon +14.2s

08 Breen +16.5s

09 Mikkelsen (VW) +21.6s

10 Østberg +26.7s

Stage four saw Ott win again and chip away at Seb’s lead again. It would also be the stage that would see Andreas start to get trouble with his transmission….. He lost 1 minute and 25 seconds thus dropping out of the top ten.

01 Tänak 10m 18.9s

02 Ogier (VW) +2.2s

03 Latvala (VW) +6.3s

04 Neuville +7.5s

05 Paddon +8.8s

06 Meeke +8.9s

07 Breen +10.6s

08 Sordo +11.8s

09 Østberg +14.8s

10 Lefebvre +20.6s

Stage five would see a Seb win with Ott only third, 7.4 seconds slower. What had happened? He reported at the end of the stage that he’d lost confidence in the rear of the car- with the geometry changing. The big casualty from this stage was Craig and Scott in their DS3. Coming around a left hander, he lost the rear and started to spin. The car then dug in at the front and rolled at least once coming to rest on its side. They were fine, but most definitely out of the event.

So, stage six saw Seb win again and Ott was third through this one, but only losing a couple of seconds. Between them, Thierry was just a second and a bit behind Seb, the Belgian finding his feet in the tricky conditions.

01 Ogier (VW) 2m 53.7s

02 Neuville +1.2s

03 Tänak +2.3s

04 Meeke +2.4s

05 Sordo +3.5s

06 Latvala (VW) +3.7s

07 Paddon +5.7s

08 Østberg +6.5s

09 Lefebvre +7.3s

10 Camilli +8.7s

Moving on to stage seven Now Jari-Matti fell to the transmission issue that had inflicted Andreas earlier… He spun in the stage sadly and lost over a minute. This dropped him to seventh overall, nearly two and a half minutes off the lead. Seb won the stage and increased his lead to over 20 seconds.

01 Ogier (VW) 20m 58.6s

02 Tänak +5.9s

03 Neuville +11.5s

04 Paddon +14.0s

05 Meeke +19.8s

06 Sordo +25.5s

07 Østberg +31.1s

08 Lefebvre +43.1s

09 Camilli +48.5s

10 Gilbert +1m 06.9s

Last stage of the day then, number eight…. We had another stage winner with Thierry taking it by just 7 tenths of a second. Ott’s tyres finally cried enough and he picked up a puncture on the right front with six km’s to go in the stage. Also, Seb’s driveshaft failed…. How lucky was that?!

Day one top ten

01 Ogier (VW) 1h 44m 31.2s

02 Tänak +37.3s

03 Neuville +1m 09.0s

04 Paddon +1m 12.8s

05 Meeke +1m 14.8s

06 Sordo +2m 07.2s

07 Østberg +2m 37.3s

08 Latvala (VW) +3m 43.6s

09 Lefebvre +4m 31.6s

10 Camilli +5m 26.0s

Right then, the thoughts of the drivers at the end of day one.

Volkswagen Motorsport

Quotes after day one of the Rally Great Britain

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“The first stage this morning was extremely difficult and slippery. The priority there was to make it through to finish in one piece. After that, the grip was noticeably better – particularly for us as the first car onto the route. I think that goes someway to explaining the large lead we had opened up over the majority of the opposition by midday. I am jolly glad to have made it through the day. It is obviously a great shame for my team-mates that they struggled with issues. I am confident that our team will get to grips with the problems, and that we will all be able to push hard again with the Polo R WRC tomorrow. Winning the Manufacturers’ title is the top priority for us – without our fantastic team, Julien and I will not be world champions. We want to give them something back by winning in Wales.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“I obviously cannot help but be disappointed. We basically made a good start to the rally and soon found a good pace, despite the conditions, which were not easy. The priority was to be ahead of the Hyundai’s, in order to score more points than our rivals in the Manufacturers’ Championship. We were on course to do precisely that. Unfortunately, the rear-right drive shaft broke on stage seven. That meant we were no longer competitive for the rest of the day. We must now shake off this disappointment, but will push hard again tomorrow.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“I’m incredibly disappointed. I would have preferred to have been challenging for second place in the world championship here. I had a really good start to the rally, despite taking things rather cautiously. Unfortunately, however, I was denied by a broken driveshaft at the front-right of the car on stage four, after which I only had rear-wheel drive. Instead, I ended up losing endless amounts of time. There is not a lot that Anders and I can do here now, apart from to go for broke on Sunday’s Power Stage. We will obviously do that, and then really go for it in Australia.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville said, “Conditions are tricky and we can’t relax at all. It was very slippery in there. I lost too much time in the fog on the first stage and we had a spin and stalled the car near the start of SS3 which cost us about six seconds. This afternoon has gone much better although the stages were still wet and it was easy to get caught out. It’s now a great battle and I tried to do a good stage to finish the day in the podium position.”

Hayden Paddon said, ”It’s hard with changing grip levels. Sometimes you brake too early and sometimes too late, but the margins between being too slow and too fast are very small. It’s difficult to judge pace but it’s the same for everyone. I’m happy with the progress we are making, particularly compared to last year and I think we can have a big attack for the podium tomorrow when the conditions are a bit more consistent and should suit us better.”

Dani Sordo said, “It was really difficult with lots of fog and slippery places – I didn’t feel comfortable throughout the first loop. Once conditions improved towards the end of the morning the times were not so bad and I started enjoying it a bit more. I tried to do my best – but it’s not easy to learn the grip. All in all, it has been a tough day for us and we are looking forward to a more positive Saturday.”

M-Sport WRT

Mads Østberg (7th) said:

“It’s been a tricky day and we’ve had to make quite a few adjustments to both the car and the driving throughout the day. It’s been challenging, but I felt we did some really good stages. The times might not have been what we were expecting, but we are in a strong seventh place and that’s not so bad.

“Tomorrow will be a different day with a different surface which will hopefully provide a bit more grip. At the moment I can’t seem to find the traction so hopefully with a bit more grip we can be faster.”

Éric Camilli (11th) said:

“It’s not been an easy day but we are still here and that is the important thing. It was a shame for us this morning as we had two very rare punctures and we don’t fully understand why. That’s life sometimes, and this afternoon we decided to continue on the same rhythm.

“This is never an easy rally and at times we were able to match the pace of Mads which is very important for us. He has a lot of experience here so that is a good first step with the experience that we have and we’ll work hard to keep building on that tomorrow.”

Abu Dhabi WRT

Kris Meeke: “It was a very, very long day! We weren’t expecting the conditions to be so difficult, with a lot of rain and fog. We also know that it’s in this type of situation where the lack of development on the car tends to show the most. I feel that I did my best and I enjoyed driving out there today, even though I was bit frustrated when I saw my times at the end of the stages! We’re not far off the podium, so we go again tomorrow!”

Craig Breen: “We had a good morning; the level of performance was enough to put me in the top five. I still had a bit of moment at one point so I was trying to get the balance right between pushing and being cautious. I wanted to use what we had learned during the first pass this afternoon, but we were a bit unlucky on SS5. The car skidded and the front hit a bank on the inside of a corner. We did several rolls and we weren’t then able to get away again under own steam. It’s frustrating, but these things happen in rallying.”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “I think I could have been a little bit higher up the standings, but we didn’t choose the right set-up. We thought that the roads would be drier and I lacked traction in the twisty sections. We had to make the best of this option throughout the day because there was no mid-leg service. In any case, I feel that I got the maximum out of what I had to work with and I’m pleased to finish the leg without having made any mistakes. We’ll be back tomorrow with the set-up that worked well last year and that should make things better.”

Quentin Gilbert: “We started at an extremely cautious pace. With the fog and lack of grip, the first stage had the worst possible conditions for building confidence! We improved as we completed more stages, reducing the gap with the leading drivers. I can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow. It was a joy to drive this car, everything works perfectly and I was really enjoying it despite the difficulties of the course.”

Day Two

Now this day was going to be interesting. They would have to do the whole day without any service. This meant that if they wanted new tyres, they would have to carry them in the car.

Stage nine was first up and it saw a continuation of the battle of who would be faster- Ott or Seb…. Well, Ott took it from Seb, thus being 1.5 seconds quicker. The D-Mack tyres giving great grip. A bit of history for you. This stage was last run in 1997 and it was the late great Colin McRae who won it.

01 Tänak 5m 47.1s

02 Ogier (VW) +1.5s

03 Neuville +2.0s

04 Latvala (VW) +3.8s

05 Paddon +4.3s

06 Mikkelsen (VW) +5.1s

07 Meeke +8.5s

08 Østberg +9.7s

09 Sordo +10.3s

10 Lefebvre +14.0s

Stage ten saw Seb and Ott first and second and the gap had increased again, now 38.2 seconds. He wasn’t about to give up though!

01 Ogier (VW) 12m 01.2s

02 Tänak +2.4s

03 Paddon +8.6s

04 Mikkelsen (VW) +11.1s

05 Neuville +11.8s

06 Latvala (VW) +13.4s

07 Østberg +19.4s

08 Meeke +20.1s

09 Sordo +24.6s

10 Camilli +36.3s

Stage eleven fell to Thierry with Andreas finally showing some pace now that his car was sorted, in second.

01 Neuville 7m 00.9s

02 Mikkelsen (VW) +0.3s

03 Tänak +1.0s

04 Ogier (VW) +2.9s

05 Paddon +4.4s

06 Latvala (VW) +5.7s

07 Sordo +5.9s

08 Meeke +9.4s

09 Østberg +10.6s

10 Camilli +14.5s

What happened next was that Ott won stage twelve, thirteen and fourteen and reduced the gap to Seb from 36.3 to 24.8 seconds! A big push to apply pressure to the rally leader.

Stage 15 next then and incredibly Seb went through the 14km stage seven seconds faster than Ott and as such took the lead straight back up to 31.8! A remarkable time!

Time for the last stage of the day then, and the crews headed into the UK for the first time since 1999. The short blast around Cholmondeley Castle saw Andreas win it, with Seb second and Hayden in third.

01 Mikkelsen (VW) 1m 08.6s

02 Ogier (VW) +0.3s

03 Paddon +0.6s

04 Neuville +1.3s

05 Sordo +1.5s

06 Meeke +1.9s

07 Tänak +2.3s

08 Østberg +2.5s

09 Latvala (VW) +2.6s

10 Lefebvre +3.5s

The thoughts then of all the drivers at the end of the second day

Volkswagen Motorsport

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“On the whole I am very happy with our day. It could hardly have gone better for Julien and me. We went on the attack and tried to make the most of our start position, which gives us a slight advantage here. We know that even our soft tyre compound is a little too hard for the conditions in Wales. For this reason, we wanted to open a good lead ahead of the finale on Sunday, in order to finish ahead of Ott Tänak. On the other hand, the fact that we had a harder tyre compound than our rivals meant we had absolutely no problem completing the hundred kilometres of special stage without a tyre change. Tomorrow is definitely going to be exciting, that much is certain. Ott is quick here at the rally in Wales. However, I am very determined to do my bit towards winning the Manufacturers’ title for the Volkswagen team, hopefully with a win.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“As far as the driving is concerned, today was a good day. Like yesterday, we soon got up to speed and then tried to go about making up some of the time that we lost yesterday. We obviously only had limited opportunities to make any progress in the overall standings. Despite this, we did make up over a minute on Mads Østberg and will try to take seventh place from him tomorrow and to do our bit for the team in the Manufacturers’ Championship.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“Today was all about finding our rhythm again. Having driven almost the whole of Friday with just rear-wheel drive, we first had to get used to the grip you have with four-wheel drive again. We managed to do that, and set some good stage times here and there. We had to change our driving style a little again in the afternoon – that is a feature of the Rally Great Britain, as the routes become more slippery in the afternoon and you have to choose a different racing line. All in all, we are looking forward to tomorrow. We want to attack on the Power Stage, in order to score as many points as possible in the battle for second place in the world championship.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville said: “We’ve had a good day, driving fast and smooth. The morning loop went OK. The first run through Dyfi was a bit more difficult. I clipped a bank on the inside and lost the steering, so I was a bit out of rhythm. We were fortunate because it could have been worse. We lost too much time in the foggy conditions but other than that it went well. We set the fastest time on the following stage and we’ve been able to extend our hold on third place. In the afternoon, we focused on controlling our pace, driving efficiently and finding traction. As long as we are on the podium tomorrow I’ll be content, but there’s still work to do before we can think of that.”

Hayden Paddon said: “It’s been a day of careful strategy today with no lunchtime service and no remote tyre fitting zone. We struggled slightly to get confidence on the morning loop. We didn’t lose much time but I needed to find my mojo a bit. The conditions were quite typical for Wales, still very slippery but with more consistent grip. I’ve had to dial-in the driving because it’s not my natural style, so that’s been the main struggle. We made some changes, which gave me a better feeling, but we couldn’t find enough traction. It’s a close fight for the podium with Thierry and the gap is not so big. We’ll have to see what we can do to build more confidence for Sunday’s final stages.”

Dani Sordo said: “It has not been a particularly memorable rally for us so far. The stages are wonderful and I enjoy them but we have simply not been able to find the pace we need to fight higher up the classification. The conditions have been difficult with slippery and damp patches throughout. It’s better than last year – and a characteristic of this rally – but it just hasn’t clicked for me this weekend. We will continue to do all we can to get the most out of the car and ourselves. The gap to those in front of us is too big to reduce tomorrow morning, so we have to keep it clean and secure this position.”

M-Sport WRT

Mads Østberg (7th) said:

“It’s been another typical day at Wales Rally GB with rain, mud and fog. It looked really dry on the recce, but today it was completely different – full wet with full fog and very tricky conditions.

“We also had a bit of a strange morning with Ola not feeling 100 percent. He was acting very strange and even in the stages he struggled a lot. He was reading the notes very strangely and we are a team so then I struggled as well.

“It looks as though he has been bitten by a snake! I don’t know if that’s what it was but it certainly looks that way and he wasn’t feeling very well at all. At the Regroup I made him see the doctor and after some medicine and a bit of a break he was feeling much better which is the main thing.”

Éric Camilli (10th) said:

“It’s been a good day for us, with proper Wales Rally GB conditions. It’s not been easy of course, but after the time loss yesterday we decided to take it steady to learn the stages and have really enjoyed the day.

“At times we pushed and were able to match the likes of Mads, Kris and Dani. They have a lot of experience here in a world rally car – and I have none – so that was very good to see. Of course there’s still a long way to go before we can be setting the sort of pace that Sebastien and Ott are setting up front, but this is a very good start and a good step ahead of next year.”

Abu Dhabi WRT

Kris Meeke: “What happened this morning was fairly unusual! After the first stage, we had a slow puncture on the road section. And then we had the same problem after SS10… I don’t understand what happened, but in any case it dictated – at least in part – the rest of the day. I kept pushing but I had to cope with early wear on my four remaining tyres. Apart from my misfortune with the tyres and our difficult starting position, I think we were just short of speed on this surface.”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “We did our best to try and improve in conditions like these. Our set-up was much better than yesterday, although I still felt short of traction. In terms of the gap per kilometre, I got a bit closer to Kris and that’s the key thing for me. Once again, I didn’t have any moments and I felt comfortable in the quickest sections. It’s another positive point, although I would have preferred to be close to the front. One step at a time, though!”

Quentin Gilbert: “I’m continuing to get closer to the leading drivers, but my progress was a bit up and down today. Several factors unsettled me this morning, such as the fog on SS10, my pace notes which were too optimistic in places and the variations in grip from one corner to another. The second pass went better and I’m pleased to have avoided making any mistakes. It’s sometimes frustrating to see the times of the leading guys, but you have to stay focused on your own targets.”

The last day then, and five stages to decide this rally starting with stage 17! Unlike last year, it wasn’t raining, but the stages were still muddy and very slippery! Could Ott mount a final attack on the world champion?

Well, he started the day well with yet another stage victory, but Seb was right there in second just six tenths off Ott’s time and the gap remained at just over 33 seconds. Looking good for third was Thierry, but Hayden wasn’t calling time yet on his bid for the final step on the podium. Jari-Matti was also right there, closing on seventh placed Mads and looking to move ahead.

Stage 18 saw Ott take another stage win with Seb losing more time to the Estonian crew in the D-Mack Fiesta. Hayden was again quicker than Thierry, still looking to move ahead of Thierry.

Stage 19 then and it was another stunning run through the forest for Ott, who now closed the gap to Seb taking seven seconds out of the erstwhile leader! Jari-Matti had won the battle with Mads and moved ahead into seventh place.

Into stage 20 then Ott’s charge was continuing- Would he have enough stages to get ahead for his first WRC victory? He’d closed the gap again to 23 seconds at the end of this stage and there were still two more to go! Thierry was now looking comfortable in third having been quicker through this one by a second.

Right then- stage 21…. Well, it was a fifth stage win in row for Ott and Raigo, an incredible 6.6 seconds quicker than Seb and Julien! The gap was just 16.4 seconds going into the last stage of the rally. Could Ott and Raigo pull it off? It certainly would be a popular victory!

Well, the crew won the last stage of the event to take all three power stage points, Andreas was second fastest, thus getting two extra points and Thierry was third getting one extra point.

Seb and Julien were fifth fastest, just a little over six seconds slower than the stage winner, meaning that they’d won Rally GB, but by only 10.2 seconds from Ott and Raigo. Third place went to Thierry and Nicolas in their Hyundai.

Fourth place went to Hayden and John, with Kris and Paul finishing in fifth, Dani and Marc sixth Jari-Matti seventh, Mads and Ola in eighth, Stephane ninth on his return to competition after that huge accident in Rally Germany back in August and Eric in the M-Sport Fiesta taking the final championship point in tenth.

Final classification

01 Ogier (VW) 3h 14m 30.2s

02 Tänak +10.2s

03 Neuville +1m 35.4s

04 Paddon +1m 54.9s

05 Meeke +2m 35.2s

06 Sordo +4m 02.6s

07 Latvala (VW) +4m 28.3s

08 Østberg +4m 38.3s

09 Lefebvre +7m 12.2s

10 Camilli +8m 19.3s

So, the thoughts of the drivers at the end of the penultimate rally of the year.

Volkswagen Motorsport

Sébastien Ogier (F), Julien Ingrassia (F)
Volkswagen Polo R WRC (2016)
WRC Rally Great Britain 2016
Photo: Helena El Mokni

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“This victory is fantastic. I am so delighted that we have wrapped up the Manufacturers’ title for our fantastic team. It was hard work hanging onto our lead in these extremely slippery conditions here in Wales. Ott Tänak put us under a lot of pressure, so Julien and I had to push ourselves to the limit all weekend. But we did it. Looking back, we have all been on an incredible journey over the past four years. To have such a run of success is definitely something very special – particularly in motorsport, where so many different factors come into play. I am very happy that I opted for Volkswagen before anyone knew where this WRC adventure would take us.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“Looking at today on its own, we did our job: we overtook Østberg and ended the rally in seventh place. On the whole, we were obviously hoping for a lot more from the weekend and are not happy with this result. On the other hand, Volkswagen claimed its fourth Manufacturers’ title in a row thanks to our team-mate Sébastien Ogier’s win. That is obviously a fantastic success for the entire team here and at the headquarters in Hannover. We will still push hard again in Australia and look to improve our record for this season.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“I am very pleased for our Volkswagen team that we have once again been crowned world champions in the Manufacturers’ Championship. That is no less than we deserve, and I am pleased to have contributed a little here and there. From a personal point of view, I am obviously disappointed with the outcome of the Rally Great Britain in general. We wanted to battle with Thierry Neuville for second place in the championship here, but unfortunately that was not to be. A drive shaft was damaged on Friday and we consequently lost many minutes. That is a real shame, but that is motorsport. These things can happen. We then focused fully on the Power Stage and really gave it our all. We could not have done any more and came away with two points. We will now have to do our very best in Australia to finish second in the world championship. That is exactly what we plan to do.”

D-Mack WRT

Ott Tänak said: “It was a great weekend. After a few issues on Friday we had a very clean run through all the stages and I really enjoyed being back in the battle fighting for the lead. The stages yesterday afternoon and today were very slippery but I think that was the place where the DMACK tyres were working the best and we had the advantage. We didn’t have the best road position but obviously, we benefited from having the best tyres.”

Hyundai Motorsport

2016 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 13 / Wales Rally GB / October 27 – 30, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville said: “It’s been a really nice weekend for us. The team has done an incredible job and we’ve had a good car to contest these tricky stages. We didn’t have the pace to fight for the win but I’m still happy with a podium result. To take a Power Stage point was an added bonus, even if we weren’t pushing for it. The conditions this weekend have been typically demanding but we’ve kept our focus and found some good pace when it has mattered. It’s nice to take the team’s first Wales Rally GB podium, and to continue our run of positive results. It’s particularly pleasing to move clearly into second place in the Drivers’ Championship. Our aim is now to finish the season on a high in Australia.”

2016 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 13 / Wales Rally GB / October 27 – 30, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: Hyundai Motorsport

Hayden Paddon said: “We’ve had a hard weekend, so to take fourth place isn’t too bad. We were involved in a tight battle with Thierry for the final podium position, but we weren’t able to take the fight any closer to him. All we could do was keep the gap as small as possible to remind him that we were there, but he had it covered. It’s the second rally in a row where we’ve just missed out, but there are still plenty of positives to take from this event. We know we have areas where we can improve in these conditions. I’ve had to work on adapting my driving style this weekend; this experience will be useful for the future. We now look ahead to Australia, with some positive momentum and a good road position.”

Dani Sordo said: “It’s really been a weekend to forget for us. We weren’t able to find a rhythm on these slippery stages, and we lacked confidence on all days. Our aim this morning was simply to bring the car home and to take some points, which we thankfully achieved without any issues. We have to sit down to analyse why we couldn’t repeat the sort of pace we have enjoyed in other events this season. I have tried my absolute best but nothing we did delivered any real improvements. I’m determined to bounce back in Australia.”

M-Sport WRT

Mads Østberg (8th) said:

“It’s been an enjoyable rally with some really nice stages. I feel as though we have been driving well and we’ve had a good rhythm through the stages but for some reason the times just weren’t coming.

“We also had a very strange moment yesterday when it looked as though Ola was bitten by a snake! I don’t know for sure if that’s what it was, but the symptoms were very similar to a snake bite. His hand swelled, and he was acting very strangely – losing focus even on the stages which is not like Ola at all!

“Thankfully, we got him to the doctor and after some medicine and a bit of a break he was feeling much better. He’s been back to his best today, and we set some encouraging times, but we’ll be hoping to challenge much closer to the front in Australia.”

2016 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 13 / Wales Rally GB / October 27 – 30, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: M-Sport/McKlein

Éric Camilli (10th) said:

“It was a shame about the time loss on the first day, but I think we have to be happy with this weekend. The aim was to gain experience ahead of next year and we have done that – adjusting the pacenotes and learning where it is possible to gain time on these tricky stages.

“When we felt comfortable, we pushed harder and it was good to see that we could match the times of Mads, Dani and Kris – especially when you remember how much experience those guys have.

“Experience counts for so much at this level, so our target will remain the same in Australia where we’ll focus on learning another new rally and being as prepared as possible for next year.”

Abu Dhabi WRT

Kris Meeke: “We’ve had a fantastic season. It was very important for me to keep competing in rallies, looking ahead to 2017. Yes, we won two rallies in Portugal and in Finland, but we also had a very high level of performance in Monte-Carlo, Sweden and Corsica. I did my best here in Wales and I’m pleased with my performance, given the conditions. It’s the end of a very special period for me, as the last three seasons have enabled me to secure my place at the highest level. But above all, I can’t wait to get started next season!”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “I’m pleased to have made it to the end without making any mistakes. I managed to find a good rhythm on this third leg. We changed the set-up again and that made a difference. With more traction, I immediately felt more confident behind the wheel. With a more favourable starting position, I set some good times and got a bit closer to Kris. I’m relieved because I was surprised to be so far off the pace of the leading guys yesterday. It’s obviously very important for the future and I am now really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Citroën C3 WRC.”

Quentin Gilbert: “My main aim was to make it to the finish. Apart from that, I wanted to improve consistently throughout the event. Some stages were better than others and I would have liked to have set some better times but overall, I feel that I did a good job for my first rally in a WRC. I think today was probably my best day of the rally. And yet the conditions were once again very difficult. I would like to thank everyone at Abu Dhabi Total WRT, who have done everything they could to get us in the best possible shape this weekend.”

Also, the thoughts of the team principles.

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“A performance worthy of world champions from Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, and a fantastic day for Volkswagen. To win all three titles in the World Rally Championship for the fourth time in a row is anything but a matter of course. It takes a lot of work from the entire team to be so successful. I am extremely proud of the whole team. Drivers, co-drivers, engineers, mechanics, logisticians, the medical department and catering team, meteo and weather crew, and team management – everyone has played an important role. The dedication they show Volkswagen, and their team spirit, cannot be beaten.”

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said:

“This result is extremely significant for DMACK, with our British tyres leading the world-class field on our home WRC rally. We targeted this event and the plan worked perfectly. We’ve demonstrated to manufacturers and competitors just how much we’ve progressed this season and it’s the result of a huge amount of work from our small but committed team, and of course a stunning performance from Ott and Raigo.”

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented:

“Firstly, we are all delighted to secure second place in the Manufacturers’ Championship with today’s result. It’s a special moment in our history and confirmation of our most competitive season in the WRC. It’s actually been a bittersweet weekend from a performance point of view. On the one hand, I am pleased we could take our first ever Welsh podium, thanks to a strong showing from Thierry and Nicolas. On the other hand, we were not able to put up a stronger fight for the top-two positions, which shows there are some areas of performance where we still need to improve. Looking at the positives, the New Generation i20 WRC ran reliably all weekend, and all three crews finished in the top-six – by far our most competitive showing in Wales to date. We can look positively towards the final event of the season.”

M-Sport WR Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“It’s been a really strong performance from Ott and Raigo this weekend – and one of the most impressive of the season. They have totally dominated the final day of competition here in Wales – winning all six stages and claiming maximum points in the Power Stage.

“The team now head to Australia in excellent spirits. Once again, Ott has proven that we have a car capable of claiming rally wins and we’ll be looking for a good performance before embarking on an exciting new era for both the team and the championship.”

Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal:

“I would like to thank our partners Abu Dhabi and Total for having made this transitional programme possible at eight European rounds of the WRC. Well done also to everyone at the PH Sport team, who have run the cars with an excellent level of quality. This season has seen Kris Meeke, Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre add to their experience and maintain their competitive edge, during a phase in which we are developing the new Citroën C3 WRC. Kris’ two victories have extended Citroën’s incredible record in the WRC to 96 wins. This programme also helped us to enhance our technical database. All the positive and negative experiences will help us to prepare more effectively for Citroën’s return in 2017.”

Well, there you go, the closest finish of the year, with a really good battle for the lead. One rally to go, Rally Australia, with shakedown on the 17th of November and then three days in one of the toughest rallies on the planet, with the young Kiwi Hayden essentially regarding it as an almost home event.

It will also as we know now, be the final event in the WRC for Volkswagen, with the news that they are ending their involvement at the end of that event. A big shock really.

Julien Ingrassia (F), Sébastien Ogier (F)
WRC Rally Great Britain 2016
Photo: Bodo Kräling

Here’s the points standings for the drivers and teams’ championship.

2016 Word Rally Championship standings, drivers

01 Ogier (VW), 247 points

02 Neuville, 143 points

03 Mikkelsen (VW), 129 points

04 Paddon, 126 points

05 Sordo, 119 points

06 Latvala (VW), 110 points

07 Østberg, 94 points

08 Tänak, 82 points

09 Meeke, 64 points

10 Breen, 36 points

2016 Word Rally Championship standings, manufacturers

01 Volkswagen Motorsport, 355 points

02 Hyundai, 285 points

03 M-Sport Motorsport, 154 points

04 Volkswagen Motorsport II, 138 points

05 Hyundai Motorsport N, 136 points

WRC Rally Great Britain 2016
Photo: Bodo Kräling

Warren Nel

8th November 2016

Volkswagen realigns motorsport programme

Sébastien Ogier (F), Julien Ingrassia (F)
Volkswagen Polo R WRC (2015)
WRC Rally Great Britain 2015

Commitment to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) ends after winning twelve world championship titles in a row

Wolfsburg, 2 November 2016 – The Volkswagen brand realigns its motorsport programme. From 2017, Volkswagen will focus on new technologies and customer sport. The commitment to the FIA World Rally Championship is coming to an end after four historically successful years, in which Volkswagen won WRC titles in the driver, co-driver and manufacturer rankings in a row with the Polo R.

“The Volkswagen brand is facing enormous challenges. With the upcoming expansion in electrification of our vehicle range we must focus all our efforts on important future technologies. We far exceeded our sporting goals in the WRC, now we are realigning Volkswagen Motorsport and moving the vehicle technology of the future more starkly into focus,” said Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Technical Development, to about 200 motorsport employees in Hannover. “At the same time, Volkswagen is going to focus more on customer racing. As well as the Golf GTI TCR on the circuit track and the Beetle GRC in rallycross, we also want to offer customers top products and will develop a new Polo according to R5 regulations.”

Started with the 2016 season, the Golf GTI TCR prepared by Volkswagen Motorsport offers a production-derived customer sport vehicle for ambitious drivers and teams committed on global and national levels in the fast growing TCR touring car category. In the USA, Volkswagen of America has successfully entered two Beetle vehicles, developed by Volkswagen Motorsport in Hannover, into the Global Rallycross series and has already prepared them for the 2017 season. Scott Speed won the drivers’ title in the popular US series in both 2015 and 2016, and this season the manufacturer’s title also went to Volkswagen. The brand will investigate the expansion of these activities on the strength of their existing experience in rallycross. Moreover, in 2017 Volkswagen will begin development of a new rally vehicle in the R5-category based on the next generation Polo and will offer the car to customers to buy from 2018 onwards.

The new vehicle, the Polo, will reap the benefit of the entire experience from the successful WRC commitment, where the factory teams of Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia, Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila and Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jæger competed in 51 rallies with 42 wins and 621 best times in the special stages – no other car in the history of the World Rally Championship has a better success rate. Last weekend, Volkswagen won their fourth manufacturer’s title* in a row in the UK World Rally Championship.

“I want to give our heartfelt thanks to our drivers and co-drivers for their outstanding achievements. They are not only unbelievably quick, but also extremely effective ambassadors for the Volkswagen brand. The whole team built around Motorsport Director Sven Smeets has created the basis for this success with the enormous commitment of each individual. We want to continue working with this excellent team and bring about the realignment. In the same way, we will expand the close cooperation between production development and motorsport, which has always shown benefits to both sides in recent years. There is a guarantee of employment for the Volkswagen Motorsport employees,” said Frank Welsch.

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets explained: “Of course, we regret the departure from the WRC very much – as this was the most successful chapter in the Volkswagen brand’s motorsport history. The team has done great things. At the same time, our vision is firmly ahead, because we are aware of the great challenges facing the entire company. We want our realignment to contribute to the success of the Volkswagen brand. From now on, the focus is on upcoming technologies in motorsport and on our customer sports range, where we will position ourselves more broadly and attractively.”

* Subject to ratification of the results by the FIA

©2017 The Pitcrewonline