Rally New Zealand 2022 – Full rally report. Kalle makes history!

Well, what an amazing return this event has made to the world championship. We were treated to a spectacular rally on the Northern Island of New Zealand.

Friday’s action.

The first full day of the rally would see almost 160km’s of stages and with just a tyre fitting zone in the middle of the day, it would be an important day to make it to the end with no problems. We already had a top ten after the stage run on the Thursday and Ott Tanak held the early lead for Hyundai, with Craig Breen second and Thierry Neuville holding third.

The startlist looked like this – Rovanperä, Tänak, Neuville, Evans, Katsuta, Breen, Greensmith, Ogier, Solberg, Bertelli.

The first proper stage then, SS2 Whaanga Coast 1 – 29.27 km, and after opening the stage, championship leader Kalle was only sixth fastest, 6.5 slower than Gus Greensmith who was fastest from Seb and Craig. These good times from the M-Sport Ford crews meant that they leapt up the overall leaderboard into the top two spots, whilst overnight leader Ott dropped down three spots to fourth. The top placed Toyota was Seb holding third place behind the two Puma crews.

The little bit longer stage, SS3 Te Akau South 1 – 31.48 km followed of course and there were a few crews on the move. Elfyn won the stage from Ott and Craig who set the same time!! Craig remained in the lead, whilst Ott and Elfyn moved up into the top three at the expense of Gus and Seb. Meanwhile, Hayden held ten overall and also the WRC2 lead by 34 seconds from Kajetan. It was going well for the Kiwi driver and his longstanding co-driver John. Keeping things very interesting was the rain that had so far affected both stages so far, and there were a few drivers that spun in the same spot, including Thierry, Takamoto and Harry Bates, who was another driver competing in the WRC2 category.

The shortest stage of the day, SS4 Te Akau North 1 – 18.53 km was a quick one as well, and Ott was fastest from Kalle and Elfyn. The Welshman’s pace lifted him up into second overall, but he and Craig were on the same overall time. The battle between Kajetan and Hayden was on, with the Pole driver winning the WRC2 category, but the gap between the local favourite and the second placed driver was over 30 seconds.

After the tyre fitting zone, the second run of SS5 Whaanga Coast 2 – 29.27 km was won by Seb from Elfyn and Gus. Kalle was only sixth fastest, but gained one place, moving into fifth overall pushing Thierry down one place. Meanwhile, Seb’s pace lifted him four positions and into the overall lead, whilst Ott dropped two into third. The top placed M-Sport driver was Gus holding fourth, but there was huge disappointment for his teammate Craig, who slid off the road at the so called Mcrae corner, the same corner the Scottish driver slid off twenty years ago.

SS6 Te Akau South 2 – 31.48 km was next and Kalle hit the top of the timesheets with Ott second and Seb third. Seb remained in the lead from Elfyn, whilst Kalle’s pace had brought him up into fourth overall. Meanwhile Hayden continued his great run in the WRC2 category, holding the lead by over a minute from Kajetan and was also ahead of Lorenzo Bertelli.

The final stage of the day then, SS7 Te Akau North 2 – 18.53 km and Ott was fastest from Elfyn and Kalle, and this pace lifted the Estonian into the lead, with Elfyn holding second and Seb dropping down to third. Kajetan set the pace in the WRC2 category, four seconds faster than Hayden and Shane van Gisbergen was third. The super car V8 and GT racer was going really well with his co-driver Glen Weston and having a lot of fun out there.

Let’s take a look at the standings and hear from the drivers.

Classification after Day One

1 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 1:36:48.6
2 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +0.2
3 S. Ogier B. Veillas Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +6.7
4 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +7.2
5 G. Greensmith J. Andersson Ford Puma Rally1 +43.8
6 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +45.6
7 O. Solberg E. Edmondson Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +1:28.3
8 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +1:42.0

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak (1st)

“It’s been a very long day with an early morning and a late evening finish. In a way, it’s been quite a consistent day; the conditions were not so bad for us, although some stages were worse than others. This afternoon, we had some heavy rain but aside from that it’s been OK. The roads here are really fun to drive, but it is just difficult to get into the right rhythm. You need confidence in the car to get into a good flow, and we definitely need to look for more to improve in this area. It seems that the weather is coming in quite strong tomorrow, so these tenths-of-a-second lead don’t really mean anything – we’ll have to see what happens.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship Round 11,
Rally New Zealand 2022, 29 September-02 October 2022
Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai i20 N Rally1, Action during Day 1 of WRC Rally New Zealand 2022
Photographer: Romain Thuillier
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville (6th)

“The day kicked off with a bit of a struggle in the first three stages, which were tough. We set some good split times but were fighting with the rear of the car and got spun around a couple of times. We were able to react at the midday tyre fitting zone; we worked on the diffs to find a better feeling. We just went too stiff on the settings immediately this morning and were then too careful during the day to make bigger changes to get more grip. With the weather conditions, somehow, I see a chance for us to get more into the fight tomorrow. Anything can happen and we’ve not got much to lose so we going to try and gain some positions.”

Oliver Solberg (7th)

“It has been fantastic to drive these roads and it is great experience. It has been a tough and tricky day out there, but we have been improving with the car and building our speed. We worked hard in the morning but struggled to get the proper feeling, along with some power and transmission issues. We had only a short regroup and tyre fitting zone to refresh and refocus ourselves for the afternoon. We were very unlucky with the weather, it seemed to start raining every time I was on the stage, but with our road order for tomorrow I’ll be hoping for more of that! We’re just taking it steady and building step by step.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing

Elfyn Evans (2nd)

“I’m fairly happy overall with our day. It’s been a full-on day with a lot of long stages but also a lot of fun. The conditions have been challenging in some places but in others it’s felt like we’ve had quite a lot of grip, so it’s been changing quite a lot. It’s been a bit up-and-down with the conditions favouring different positions on the road and we got caught in the rain ourselves at one point but to finish the day right in the fight is positive. We’re expecting heavy rain tonight and tomorrow, and those stages are usually a bit faster, so it should be a challenging day but I’m looking forward to it.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 11 / Rally New Zealand 2022 / 29th September – 2nd October 2022// Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Sébastien Ogier (3rd)

“Overall, it’s been a good day. It’s been fun to drive and I think we’ve had decent pace returning on such a fast rally where you need the commitment and the confidence. I had quite a good rhythm already on the first stage this morning, and the afternoon started really well in Whaanga Coast. In the next stage we got the rain quite heavily, I knew we had to take risks to not lose too much compared to the others and we went a bit wide. Unfortunately, we damaged the rear wing on some branches, and the last stage without that was quite difficult. But I’m happy to still be in the fight for the win.”

Kalle Rovanperä (4th)

“It’s been a long day and it’s nice to get through it in quite a good position tonight. It was good to get some rain this morning but there was still a bit of loose gravel in the first stage especially. Then on the other two we had a bit more grip and could enjoy the driving more. In the afternoon, Whaanga Coast was drying up so there was plenty of cleaning for us even on the second pass. On the next one there was a lot of rain and mud, I tried to push in the tricky conditions and we managed to get some time back. We’re still fairly close to the lead so we have to be happy. The weather was helping us a bit and hopefully we can enjoy it again tomorrow.”

Saturday’s action

The second full day then of this rally and the startlist looked like this – Breen, Bertelli, Katsuta, Solberg, Neuville, Greensmith, Rovanperä, Ogier, Evans, Tänak.

There were penalties for some of the crews due to hybrid over boost. Ott, Thierry and Kalle all received 5 second penalties, and this meant Elfyn would now be the leader at the end of the next stage. The rain had been really heavy overnight and was continuing to fall on the stages. It was a lot heavier than Friday, and would have a big impact on the day’s results.

First up was SS8 Kaipara Hills 1 – 15.83 km and showing great pace and also that the conditions in the stage were getting worse, Craig was fastest from Kalle and Ott. Kalle moved up one place into third at the expense of Seb. Elfyn held the lead from Ott, but the gap was just 2.9 seconds. Hayden continued to increase his lead over Kajetan, that gap now over I minute and 20 seconds.

Elfyn’s lead was sadly short lived as the Toyota driver lost control of his car in SS9 Puhoi 1 – 22.50 km spinning into a bank on the inside of a right-hander at high speed and causing a high-speed roll. The car landed on its wheels and the Welshman finished the stage. He and Scott drove away in electric mode, and were hoping to make some repairs to the radiators on the front of their car, so that they could stop the leaking and stop any overheating. The car had lost its rear tailgate as well. We had a new leader with Kalle winning the stage from Craig and Seb. Meanwhile Thierry was suffering with gearbox problems, having lost third gear.

Into SS10 Komokoriki 1 – 5.81 km and there was only one car that completed the stage, Craig. Gus and Jonas slid wide on a left hander into a ditch and rolled their Puma. The car ended up on the road and the stage was then red flagged after Kalle had been released into the stage. The Finn stopped alongside the stricken Puma as per the rules to check that Gus and Jonas were okay and got the thumbs up from Gus. The cars headed back to the service park for mid-day service. Sadly, once Elfyn and Scott got their car back, it was discovered that elements of the roll cage were damaged and the pair were now out of the rally.

The re-run of SS11 Kaipara Hills 2 – 15.83 km and Kalle was fastest from Seb and Thierry whose car now had a new gearbox and the Belgian could enjoy a full set of gears. However, things were not good in the Hyundai camp as all three of their drivers gained 10 second penalties due to more hybrid over boost. Ott was now in third behind Kalle and Seb. The loss of Elfyn meant that everyone moved up one place, and Hayden was now in seventh overall and a full two minutes ahead of Kajetan, whilst Harry Bates had set the best time in the WRC2 category.

Photo Credit, Tayler Burke

Next up was SS12 Puhoi 2 – 22.50 km and Kalle was fastest, showing great pace in the very tricky conditions. Seb and Ott were second and third, and continued to hold these two positions on the overall leaderboard. Sadly, we lost Takamoto in this one, as the Japanese driver slid off the road. Meanwhile Oliver was suffering his own technical problem, with his engine lapsing sometimes onto three cylinders, but he was finding that if he revved it more, then the problem would clear.

The final stage then of the day, SS13 Komokoriki 2 – 5.81 km and Craig was fastest from Kalle and Thierry. The gaps between the top cars remained high, with Kalle holding a 29 second lead over Seb and Ott a further 17.4 seconds behind. With the demise of Takamoto, Hayden was now into sixth overall.

Let’s look at the standings and hear from the drivers.

Classification after Day Two

1 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:28:26.3
2 S. Ogier B. Veillas Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +29.0
3 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +46.4
4 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +1:41.4
5 O. Solberg E. Edmondson Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +3:34.9

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (1st)

“It has been a really tricky day but it was actually quite enjoyable in the car and I think we managed the conditions really well. It was a big challenge but I saw that as an opportunity more than anything and I think we took that opportunity and used it quite well. I was happy with the car and I was pushing really hard to gain some time. Now we are leading and can be pleased with the gap we have built. We will try to prepare for tomorrow like any other day. It’s not a long day but there’s still four stages to go and they could be tricky ones, so we just need to try and do a good job and see where we are at the end.”

Sébastien Ogier (2nd)

“We had really challenging conditions today and I’m happy that we could bring the car to the end of the day because there were some very tricky places. But it was still a lot of fun in the car. This afternoon when there was even more heavy rain and more water on the road, Kalle did an amazing job. Hats off to him, because doing this speed in these conditions was again very impressive. After what unfortunately happened to Elfyn this morning I knew it was important to be there for the team. Nothing is decided yet but I would be very happy if we can secure this result tomorrow.”

Elfyn Evans (DNF)

“All went OK in the first stage this morning but then in the second stage in a downhill braking we were a bit too fast and lost control of the rear of the car. There was no chance to recover it with the throttle and we touched the bank on the inside and rolled the car. Thankfully we landed on our wheels and were able to carry on. Cosmetically the car didn’t look so good but it was still driving remarkably well. There was a small leak which we managed to plug so that we could bring the car back to service, but unfortunately there was some rollcage damage detected and we had to retire.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak (3rd)

“Certainly not one of the best days we’ve had this season, and in fact it’s been very demanding at times. We have picked up some time penalties, as well as having other trouble, but we’ve made it to the end of the day. We’re still here in third place, so it’s not all so bad. We lack a bit in the package to find any confidence in these conditions. If it’s good, consistent grip then we can drive OK, but this afternoon when we’ve had stages full of water and mud, it’s much more difficult.”

Thierry Neuville (4th)

“It has been a challenging day but there’s not been much more we could do. We have been driving on our rhythm and trying to make it through. We are in a bit of no man’s land. We tried to do well this morning, but we had a problem with third gear. Conditions this afternoon were a bit more like we expected, but we couldn’t match the pace of the guys in front, so we have to be satisfied with fourth place. With two spins on Friday, and losing 15 seconds through time penalties, when you start a rally in that way, you can’t fight for victory. Tomorrow is one of the shortest days we’ve had for a while, so we’re going to try and end it in a good position.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 11, Rally New Zealand
29 September – 2 October 2022
Thierry Neuville
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Oliver Solberg (5th)

“We started this morning’s opening stage not so badly but on the second one I struggled with the car in a few areas, which knocked my confidence, so I backed off to avoid making any mistakes. We wanted to try and improve in the afternoon loop but we had an engine misfire and only had three cylinders. It’s a shame because we had quite a good feeling and the stages are fun in these tough conditions. I have enjoyed myself and it’s been a really cool experience. I’ve not made any mistakes, so hopefully we can find something overnight to have clean final day and to secure our fifth place.”

Sunday’s action

The final day then and with just 31km’s of action over two stages run twice, what would happen? The startlist looked like this – Breen, Bertelli, Solberg, Neuville, Tänak, Ogier, Rovanperä. The day dawned dry on the stages, but rain would arrive after the first two were run.

The first stage then, SS14 Whitford Forest – Te Maraunga Waiho 1 – 8.82 km and the top three was the same as the overall top three. Ott reported that he nearly crashed in this one, whilst Kalle was just stroking it home and was very comfortable.

Onwards to SS15 Jacks Ridge 1 – 6.77 km, the stage built with a nod to some famous stages around the world. This was taken by Ott, with Kalle second fastest and Seb third. Oliver was really spectacular over one of the jumps in this one landing so hard that his visor in his helmet came down! Hayden and Kajetan continued to fight it out for stage wins in the WRC2 category, with the Kiwi just pipping the Pole by 1 tenth of a second.

The afternoon stages began with the second run of SS16 Whitford Forest – Te Maraunga Waiho 2 – 8.82 km and Seb was fastest from Kalle and Ott third fastest. Harry Bates set the fastest time in the WRC2 category by 1 tenth of a second over Hayden.

To the final stage then, SS17 Jacks Ridge 2 [Power Stage] – 6.77 km and Hayden set the early pace in his Hyundai before the top cars came through. Ott set the best time, but then Kalle came through a full 6 tenths quicker than the Estonian and that was it. The young Finns, Kalle and Jonne had won their first world championship, with their sixth victory of the season and with it became the youngest ever world champions, taking the honour from Colin Mcrae who won it aged 27 in 1995.

Let’s take a look at the final result and hear from the drivers.

Final Overall Classification –Rally New Zealand

1 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:48:01.4
2 S. Ogier B. Veillas Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +34.6
3 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +48.5
4 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +1:58.8
5 O. Solberg E. Edmondson Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +3:55.3
6 H. Paddon J. Kennard Hyundai i20 N Rally2 +10:03.7
7 L. Bertelli L. Granai Ford Puma Rally1 +10:39.0
8 K. Kajetanowicz M. Szczepaniak Škoda Fabia Evo +12:36.8
9 S. Van Gisbergen G. Weston Škoda Fabia Evo +13:28.8
10 H. Bates J. McCarthy Škoda Fabia Evo +16:51.6

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (1st)

“The biggest feeling right now is that it’s quite a big relief. We have had such a good season, then a few difficult rallies and now finally we could do it. I want to say a big thanks to the team who made such a fast and reliable car for this season which meant we could just enjoy the driving. Also, in the more difficult moments they were always believing in us and supporting us. I don’t think about the age too much but it’s still special to know we could achieve this. It means a lot, to become champion is the only goal we ever had in this sport. I was actually a bit more nervous on Friday than I was today: Then we needed to push hard to stay in the fight, but today we could just enjoy it.”

Sébastien Ogier (2nd)

“Today we have witnessed history. It’s fantastic for Kalle, Jonne and for the whole team. It’s been an amazing season from him and it was only a matter of time. He did it in style this weekend and I think that’s the mark of a great champion. I can take a lot of satisfaction from this weekend. It was a nice comeback after three months away, on a challenging rally with faster roads than those I’ve driven this season and with really tricky conditions. Kalle was untouchable in those difficult conditions like he has been many times this season. I realised it was not the moment to take crazy risks as I’m here to help the team, and we are also getting very close to the manufacturers’ championship.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 11 / Rally New Zealand 2022 / 29th September – 2nd October 2022// Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Takamoto Katsuta (DNF)

“This was my first time here in New Zealand and it was a big challenge but one that I enjoyed quite a lot. The conditions were difficult but the roads were nice and fun to drive. On Friday the rain was affecting the grip level and when the grip was consistent, I was quite comfortable and confident, but when it was inconsistent, I was not committed enough. On Saturday there was more rain and more mud, and the stages were also more technical. I was still missing a bit of pace but it was getting better in the afternoon. I felt very good in the first stage of the loop and then I tried to push in the second one. Unfortunately, in a high-speed right-hand corner I went too fast and couldn’t slow down for the tight left-hander that came straight afterwards and we rolled. It was not good to end our rally early, but I was still able to learn a lot about how to improve for the future.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak (3rd)

“Altogether, Rally New Zealand has been a difficult weekend for us, but it’s been a great place to be, on amazing roads and fun to drive. We have not been up to the pace to fight for the win but we’re still on the podium with a good finish to add points onto the board. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve not been in the drivers’ championship fight, even if something was coming back in the middle of the season. Fair play to Toyota, and especially to Kalle, who has beaten everyone fair and square. Congratulations to them.”

Thierry Neuville (4th)

“Fourth place was about the maximum we could do this weekend with all the time penalties and the two spins we had on Friday. It was a bit of a harsh start to the event, so we really couldn’t do much more. We were just in a waiting position today, with our only chance to gain positions dependent on those in front of us. We need to work on the car in these conditions; I just don’t feel comfortable, and it’s been a bit of a struggle for me to drive and go fast. We’re getting there slowly but we’re going to carry on working on it. It has been nice to come back to this rally, which is a very special event, far from home, even if it didn’t go as we wanted.”

Oliver Solberg (5th)

“It has not been a perfect weekend for sure, so to come away with a fifth-place finish is a real positive. We’ve had a lot of small things occurring that prevented us from getting into a good rhythm. I tried to push a bit in the Power Stage but, again, it wasn’t great. At least we gave it a go. We have gained a whole lot of experience and learnings, for both us and for the car in the future. Thanks to the team for all their preparations for this long-haul event, and to the mechanics for sorting the car after all our issues this weekend.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 10, Rally New-Zealand
29 September – 02 October 2022
Oliver Solberg, Elliott Edmondson, Hyundai i20 N Rally1
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Hyundai New Zealand

Hayden Paddon (6th Overall, 1st WRC2)

“We ticked all the boxes with this event, thanks to a big team effort, to win WRC2 and the NZRC titles. Having built up a lead on Friday morning, from then on there’s a huge amount of pressure to make no mistakes until the end. I’m pleased that part of it is over, to be honest, as I don’t really enjoy that kind of pressure when you’ve got everything to lose.

“The conditions were tricky throughout the weekend which is quite typical of Rally New Zealand and gives it a bit of character.

“The result does lead into our goal of putting together a full campaign for next year in WRC2. We don’t yet have the budget so that’s the first thing to work on. We’d love to not only do the full WRC2 season next year but also aim to do some one-off rallies in a Rally1 car.

Photo Credit, Tayler Burke

“It’s a massive achievement to secure the NZRC manufacturers and team’s championships this weekend as well. It truly reflects all the work that everyone’s put in all year. I’m really proud to represent Hyundai New Zealand.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’

After Round Eleven

1 K. Rovanperä 237
2 O. Tänak 173
3 T. Neuville 144
4 E. Evans 116
5 T. Katsuta 100
6 C. Breen 77
7 E. Lappi 58
8 S. Ogier 55
9 D. Sordo 49
10 G. Greensmith 36
11 S. Loeb 35
12 O. Solberg 33

 

2022 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’

After Round Eleven

1 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 455
2 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 374
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 224
4 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team NG 112

 

Well, next up is Rally Spain in around 17 days’ time.  The teams will have a very busy time, travelling back from New Zealand and then preparing their cars to then go back out into Europe. Look out for my preview in the days before.

Rally New Zealand 2022 Preview – Back to the famous roads!

We have just three rounds of this season’s championship left and a brilliant and long-awaited return to New Zealand.

The championship race remains firmly in the young Finns Kalle and Jonne’s grip as they come to this event 53 points ahead of their closest challengers 2019 champions Ott and Martin. Last time out Hyundai Motorsport took their first ever 1-2-3 as Thierry took victory from Ott and Dani in the classic Rally of Gods, Acropolis Rally.

In the Toyota camp, Seb Ogier returns to his GS Yaris to bolster the bid for the driver and manufacturers titles after the mishaps suffered by Kalle in the last two rallies. Seb competed at this event the last time it was part of the championship, when driving for Citroen in 2010.

M-Sport Ford come with just two cars for Craig and Gus as Adrien sits this one out. The car has shown great pace on the gravel, but perhaps with the lack of knowledge, this may hamper their ultimate pace.

Also competing this weekend are Hayden and John in their Paddon Sport run i20 Rally2 sponsored by Hyundai New Zealand. They are hoping to compete at the front of the WRC2 class, and who knows, maybe take a top ten finish to boot!

Let’s take a look at the stages and hear from the drivers.

Rally New Zealand gets underway on Thursday evening with the Pukekawa Auckland Domain (1.78km) super special stage.

Friday’s itinerary is extensive, containing two loops of three stages that combine to a total of 158.56km, more than half of the overall rally distance.

Two passes each of Kaipara Hills (15.83km), Puhoi (22.50km) and Komokoriki (5.81km) make up Saturday’s schedule.

The rally concludes on Sunday with the crews twice taking on Whitford Forest – Te Maraunga Waiho (8.82km) and Jacks Ridge Haunui (6.77km), with the final pass of the latter acting as the rally’s Power Stage.

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä

“It will be really interesting to go to Rally New Zealand. I have only heard good things about the country and the rally and how nice the roads are. To prepare we have been watching whatever videos we can to get an overview of how the stages are and to understand what we might need from the car before we get there. Recent rallies have not been ideal for us but we know what we need to improve and we are working hard to have more pace and be more comfortable. Again we will be opening the road in New Zealand but hopefully we can have good speed, enjoy the event and finish with a good result.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 08 / Rally Finland 2022 / 4th-7th August 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans

“It’s going to be exciting to finally have the chance to compete in New Zealand for the first time. I’ve heard many great things about the event and especially about the roads and how rewarding they are to drive. So, if what everybody says is true then I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of fun there and hopefully we can have a good rally. It’s never easy to prepare for a new event like this, particularly because we’re not able to test outside of Europe, but within the team we do at least have some previous experience from New Zealand, not least from Jari-Matti and Seb. We’ve also been having a look through the archives for old videos of the stages just to get an idea of what we’re likely to face.”

Sébastien Ogier

“After a nice break it’s exciting to be getting back in my GR YARIS for these three events to end the season. Rally New Zealand is one of the rallies I really wanted to do this year. I was there once before in 2010 and I have mostly good memories; it was a very close fight until the final corners when a spin handed the win to Jari-Matti. At the time it was hard to take but thankfully I could score my first WRC win just a few weeks later. The rally itself is beautiful with some of the best roads in the world. After this break it won’t be easy to get back in the rhythm right away, but like always I will try to compete for the victory and help the team to the best possible result.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak 

“I competed at Rally New Zealand ten years ago and I have good memories of the event, so I am looking forward to going back. I have been watching videos to refresh myself and the roads look fantastic; they have a lot of positive camber and seem as if they were made for rallying. As it is in a far corner of the world, we have not been able to test on similar roads, meaning getting the right set-up will be difficult. We will just have to do our best to learn from the shakedown and adjust as we go. Hopefully we can get 100% from the car and achieve a strong result.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 08, Rally Finland
4-7 August 2022
Ott Tanak
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville

“Rally New Zealand was an event I always dreamed of going to when I was a kid growing up watching guys like Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz on TV. For me it always looked like the rally with the most beautiful scenery in WRC. I was lucky enough to compete there in 2012 and it was an incredible event with very interesting and enjoyable stages. The roads are very loose on the first pass but grippy on the second pass, where you need to have a very precise and stable car. It is hard to prepare for such an event, but we will try our best to perform well.”

Oliver Solberg

“It is my first time going to Rally New Zealand, so I am very excited for this new adventure. The roads look amazing and the whole event seems to be very beautiful. Of course, we do not know what to expect from the stages, but hopefully we can get up to speed quickly and find a good balance and rhythm. The season has been a rollercoaster for us so far, but our last rally was a good one, coming fourth in Belgium. Our target for this event is to keep learning, keep pushing, and hopefully get a good result for the team.”

M-Sport Ford WRT

Craig Breen

“Really excited to get to New Zealand, it’s a rally that I’ve read lots about, watched lots of videos and heard all of the stories, but never witnessed it myself. It’ll be my first time in New Zealand and doing the rally it seems like it’s going to be a really nice adventure with beautiful roads. I feel really lucky to be able to go there and experience it all. It should suit us, we’ll have a good road position starting the rally on Friday so we will try and make the most of it. Greece was good in some respects, our pace was nice, I’d like to try and make some progress towards the podium positions after a difficult couple of rallies.”

Gus Greensmith

“Really looking forward to New Zealand, it’s the one rally I’ve always wanted to compete in since starting my career so I feel like I finally get to tick that one off the bucket list. Incredibly excited, arriving early to adjust to the jet lag and we will see what we can do on the rally.”

Hyundai New Zealand

Hayden Paddon

“Seeing the WRC back in New Zealand is something I’m very proud of for the New Zealand rally community. I’m grateful for the work done by a great team of people to make this happen. I’m excited to tackle these awesome rallying roads again in our Hyundai Rally2 car with our own homegrown team.

Hayden Paddon, Ashley Forest by Tayler Burke

“With the Rally2 and R5 cars competing in the same category, there’s going to be some great competition. Between Ben, Shane and Harry, I’m expecting there to be close competition which I’m looking forward to.

“Rally fans are in for a real treat as Rally New Zealand once again features on the world stage. The hybrid Rally1 cars and drivers are going to be a sight to behold on some of the most spectacular stages in the world. The Auckland Domain stage, with free public access on Thursday night, will be an amazing way to start the event.

Hayden Paddon John Kennard Rally Finland WRC2 by Timo Anis

“Our goal is simple, to win WRC2. There have been a lot of questions about the overall result, but the gap is now too big between Rally1 and Rally2 cars for us to even consider competing with them, but we will give it everything we’ve got!”

Summary

We are set for one of the most hotly anticipated rallies of the year. The roads in New Zealand are particularly iconic in the championship, and are loved by those that have had the opportunity to compete on them. We will now have a new generation of crews making their own history on them.

The action gets underway very soon with shakedown at 9:00pm on the 29th of September! Make sure that you pop back to check out my daily reports.

Rally Estonia 2022 Preview – Can anyone stop Kalle and Jonne?

The championship heads back from the Kenya plains to the fast roads of Estonia, with Kalle and Jonne holding a huge lead over their closest rivals from Hyundai. The young Finnish pairing took their first victory on these roads last year, but it will be interesting if they can repeat this feat this year. Last year he came to this event holding sixth in the championship standings and had a good road position therefore. The challenge this year will be quite different as they open the road. Still, who knows what they will be able to do given their results from the last few rounds.

His closest challengers are the two regular Hyundai crews, Thierry and Martijn and Ott and Martin. The Estonian crew will eye up a strong run on their home roads, and hope to take victory and boost their championship chances.

Amongst the usual WRC2 runners will be a returning Hayden Paddon and John Kennard, driving a i20 Rally2. The Rally Argentina 2016 winners are making a return to the world championship stages, and its fantastic to see them back.

Let’s take a look at the stages then – This year there are 313km’s over twenty-four stages.

A Super Special Stage – Tartu (1.66km) – on Thursday evening kicks off the action at Rally Estonia

Friday is the longest day of the event, with two passes each of Peipsiääre (24.35km), Mustvee (17.09km), Raanitsa (21.45km) and Vastsemõisa (6.70km) totalling 139.18km

Saturday’s running consists of two loops of four new stages, followed by another pass of the Tartu super special stage

The event concludes on Sunday with a final six stages, as the crews twice take on Tartu Vald (6.56km), Kanepi (16.48km) and Kambja (15.95km).

Let’s hear from the drivers.

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä

“Of course, it’s going to be nice for me to go back to Rally Estonia. Winning there last year was a great moment and it was a really strong weekend for us. This year we are in a different situation leading the championship and so we will be opening the road, but hopefully we can do another good result there. I always enjoy rallies like this one with fast and flowing roads, they suit me pretty well. It’s really important to feel confident in the car when driving at those speeds, so we have done a lot of work in testing to try and get the setup how we want it.”

Elfyn Evans

“I’m looking forward to these next two rallies on fast gravel roads, which will be quite different to what we’ve experienced during the last few events. Estonia will be the first really fast gravel rally that we’ve done with these cars, so the testing has been really important to try and prepare for that. I enjoy the high-speed stages we have in Estonia but it always helps a lot if you feel good in the car, so the target is to have a car that works well in all conditions and then hopefully secure a strong result at the end of the weekend.”

Esapekka Lappi

“I’m really looking forward to being in the car for these next two events, and especially my home rally in Finland of course. Estonia will not be so easy as I didn’t do the rally last year, so there are some stages that will be new for me. I believe I can do well there, but I’m not going into it with any big expectations. So far this year we have had good pace on every surface but I haven’t always been able to put it together. Therefore, the main goal for Estonia is just to have a good, clean rally.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville

“Rally Estonia is one of the fastest events on the calendar, and also the home event of Ott, so it is a rally where we always want to be strong and get good results. Personally, it is a rally I enjoy. The first season there was a bit difficult, but once you get to know the roads you start to like it more. This is because the speeds are very high, so it helps to know the conditions and the terrain. It’s very similar in terms of setup to Rally Finland, as both have fast roads that are generally flat. In Estonia the surface is a bit softer than Finland so it gets more rutted on the second pass, and the jumps are actually bigger and faster too. I was able to finish on the podium there in 2021 so hopefully I can do the same again this year.”

Ott Tänak 

“Rally Estonia is always a great event. For the first time this year we will be going to smoother, faster roads, so I am expecting it to be fun, but we also need to make sure we extract all the performance and speed we can from the car. It will be a big challenge and we will have to be fast out of the box right from the beginning. The best part for me is that I have no travel days! It’s also great to have a rally at home because we get to have the amazing fans and those close to us around us. But there is no extra pressure, we just want to score as many points as possible. We will try our best and do everything we can to finish in the top positions.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally Italia Sardegna
2-5 June 2022
Ott Tanak
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Oliver Solberg

“Rally Estonia is the event I have been looking forward to most all year. It is one I have done many times before and I have been able to win there twice. Hopefully I will be able to fight for the podium, that is my personal goal for next weekend. It is a very tricky event with a lot of jumps. It’s also very fast and it is the first time I’ve competed there in these WRC cars, so it will be a different challenge. I’ve have driven in Estonia so much it feels almost like my second country, so I feel very comfortable on the roads. In the second loop the roads can get very rutted, so you need a car that is easy to drive and has good traction. But the main thing you need is to just keep your right foot flat down!”

Teemu Suninen WRC2

“Rally Estonia has been always a great challenge with a mixture of technical, narrow roads and super-fast wide roads. However, I have always liked the rally as it is similar to my home rally in Finland. Normally conditions change quite a lot from first loop to second loop when big ruts start appearing, so you have to adapt your driving to that. We had a good pre-event test and I am starting to feel happier with car; I have a better understanding of how to get a more balanced setup for fast gravel rallies. I am looking forward to bring good points home for me and team.”

Fabrizio Zaldivar WRC2

“Rally Estonia is a very interesting event. The roads are incredibly fast and very technical at the same time, so much so that sometimes you think you are going fast and then that is not reflected in the final time. A few weeks ago, we did an excellent test here, together with Teemu and Ott. The truth is that I learned a lot from their experience, especially when they were driving the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 on these kind of roads. I am confident that we will put everything into practice which will allow us to continue learning and scoring points for the team.”

Also competing for Hyundai and sponsored by Hyundai New Zealand is Hayden Paddon and co-driven by longstanding mate, John Kennard. This is what he had to say.

Hayden Paddon WRC2

“We don’t have the stage experience and still trying to get their head around the car, so just a smooth consistent event is what we are looking for.”

M-Sport Ford WRT

Craig Breen

“Obviously really looking forward to Estonia, it’s a rally that has served us well in the past, we’ve been on the podium now a good couple of times, and the last two years as part of the world championship we managed to bring home two podiums there as well. Honestly, I can’t wait for it, it’s a run of three rallies now that I’m very familiar and comfortable with. They are the complete opposite of the last couple of rallies of the season so far! I don’t feel alien heading to Estonia, I know what it’s all about.

“We had a really good test last week, the car felt great and I was really comfortable from the beginning, so I’m looking forward to it. The stages look great, obviously with high speeds, big jumps and big crests.”

Gus Greensmith

“Really looking forward to Rally Estonia, last year we already had a good package, and things were going very well before some problems, so we showed that we can certainly set up the car in a way that works.

“From the test, I probably haven’t been this comfortable in the car since Monaco, so really looking forward to this one for sure. Super-fast rallies mean very close times and putting everything together is a big job here, so we’ll do our best.”

Pierre-Louis Loubet

“I’m very happy to be going to Estonia, it’s always amazing to drive this type of car on such a fast rally. From our side it will be very important to continue our progression after Portugal and Sardinia, to stay calm and not try to do too much because on a rally like this it is very easy to make a mistake, like always, but you can’t make any mistakes at these high speeds.

“For us it will be important to keep continuing our progress and be very focused on our side and to build maximum confidence in the car. After Estonia we also have Finland, so these are two very important rallies in the season for me.”

Adrien Fourmaux

“Estonia will be completely different to the previous rallies; it will be a really fast rally. It will be my first time with top category car on this event, but it’ll be my fourth participation in total, so I have a good knowledge of most of the stages.

“It will be nice to drive on these fast roads with all the big jumps, it’s always a good experience and a good feeling, so we can look forward to that. We had a good day of testing before the rally, and we’ll use that to do our best to achieve a good result for the team.”

Jari Huttunen WRC2

“Sardinia was a good event for us, and I am feeling very happy in the car. Estonia is a big challenge with the high-speeds, but we are looking forward to it. We started well last year, and I’ve learnt a lot from the events this season so far, so I think it’ll be good. The focus will be on not making any mistakes and keeping in tune with the car and hopefully we will get a good result for the team.”

Summary

Well, what a very interesting rally we are set for then. Can the championship leaders take another amazing win, or will it be one of his teammates? Elfyn and Scott will want to win and make some steps up the championship standings, and given that he showed such amazing pace in last season’s Rally Finland, the scene of their last win, they have a very good chance of it. There will be competition from Ott and Martin though, who will also want victory on home soil. Meanwhile, Craig and Paul in their Puma come to a rally that has seen some good success for them, and given that their car has shown good pace in their hands, they could be the dark horses for a win, which would be very welcome in the service park. Also, just want to welcome back Kiwi duo Hayden and John. It’s great to have them back.

©2017 The Pitcrewonline