Rallye Monte Carlo – Sunday’s Report, Seb Loeb and Isabelle Galmiche win!

The final day then and 67km’s over four stages were ahead of the crews. The startlist looked like this – Katsuta, Solberg, Evans, Neuville, Greensmith, Rovanperä, Breen, Loeb, Ogier. Once again, there wasn’t a midday service, just a regroup and tyre changing zone.

First up was SS14 La Penne / Collongues 1 – 19.37 km and Loeb trimmed 1.1 seconds from Ogier’s’ lead, the two former Citroen teammates setting the pace out front, whilst Craig was just 9 tenths back with the third fastest time. Kalle continued his excellent pace with the fourth best time. It would be the last time we’d see Oliver and Elliott though, as the Hyundai crew withdrew at the end of the stage, still feeling the aftereffects of the fumes that had been coming into the cabin of their i20 Rally1.

SS15 Briançonnet / Entrevaux 1 – 14.26 km was next up and the top three was Thierry, Ogier and Takamoto. Loeb was fifth in the stage, losing some more time to Ogier in their battle for victory, the gap now 24.6 seconds! Elfyn stopped in the stage to change a tyre after getting a puncture, but it was better to have the car in good shape for the final stages.

The penultimate stage then, SS16 La Penne / Collongues 2 – 19.37 km and there was drama! The top three were Loeb, Gus and Takamoto, but a big problem for Ogier, as his left-hand front tyre suffered a puncture and he was 34.1 seconds slower than Loeb. The M-Sport driver was back in the lead, 9.5 seconds ahead of Ogier. Takamoto’s time was good enough to lift him up into ninth overall.

The final stage then, SS17 Briançonnet / Entrevaux 2 [Power Stage] – 14.26 km, and the startlist was changed again – Mikkelsen (WRC2), Cais (WRC2), Gryazin (WRC2), Johnston (WRC2), Munster (WRC2), Evans, Katsuta, Neuville, Greensmith, Rovanperä, Breen, Ogier, Loeb. Elfyn set the early benchmark, which Takamoto, Thierry and Gus could not get close to. Then came Kalle who was almost a second faster than his teammate, setting the fastest time. After Craig finished the stage, only eighth fastest, it was time to see who’s take the win. The early splits showed that Ogier was setting a faster pace than Kalle, but then we found out that he’d jumped the start and would get a 10 second penalty. All Loeb had to do was finish the stage and he’d win the rally. Loeb and Isabelle were the winners of Rallye Monte Carlo 2022 for M-Sport Ford! It was the first time a female co-driver had stood on the top step of the podium since 1997 when Piero Liatti and Fabrizia Pons took the win for Subaru and Prodrive. Just amazing and about time!

Final Overall Classification –Rallye Monte-Carlo

1 S. Loeb I. Galmiche Ford Puma Rally1 3:00:32.8
2 S. Ogier B. Veillas Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +10.5
3 C. Breen P. Nagle Ford Puma Rally1 +1:39.8
4 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +2:16.2
5 G. Greensmith J. Andersson Ford Puma Rally1 +6:33.4
6 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +7:42.6
7 A. Mikkelsen T. Eriksen Škoda Fabia Evo +11:33.8
8 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +12:24.7
9 E. Cais P. Tesínský Ford Fiesta Mk II +12:29.2
10 N. Gryazin K. Aleksandrov Škoda Fabia Evo +13:41.3

 

Let’s hear from the drivers!

M-Sport Ford WRT

Seb Loeb (1st)

“I feel really happy! I didn’t expect so much when I came here, but it was a great fight. Ogier was really fast and I struggled a bit yesterday and even this morning.”

Craig Breen (3rd)

“It feels amazing. This is the result of 18 months of incredibly hard work by a group of people all the way through Covid, and it’s all worth it because this is an absolutely amazing machine.”

Gus Greensmith (5th)

It’s been a good weekend in terms of performance and I want to congratulate everyone at M-Sport and Ford Performance because this thing is a weapon and it’s going to get better all through the year.”

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Sébastien Ogier (2nd)

“It has been a huge joy to compete in this special rally again and to be in this incredible fight. This weekend we don’t come out as the winner but we can definitely keep our head up. Together with Benjamin and the team we did the job. We have done a great performance over the weekend and there were no issues on the car, which is a fantastic achievement. Fate decided differently today but I’m still smiling and I still enjoyed this fight very much. Honestly, I feel there was nothing I could do about what happened on the penultimate stage. It was a cut I avoided on the first pass but on the second pass it was impossible to avoid, it was very dirty and I had to follow the line of the others. But well done to Sébastien and Isabelle for the victory, they have done a remarkable performance and it was a very tough fight. It’s been a good weekend for the sport.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 01 / Rallye Monte Carlo 2022 / 20-23 January 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (4th)

“I am really happy to see the progress we made during the rally. I didn’t really know what was happening at the beginning but we believed in ourselves, pushed hard and found a good pace in the car. We did everything we could and finally got the setup much better and I could start to learn the car myself. I have to say big thanks to my engineer for pushing with me and doing big changes to the car. So, it was a really positive weekend in the end and we could do a good run in the Power Stage also. It’s important to get all the points we can so it’s nice to be in this position, even if it means we will be cleaning the road in Sweden. That’s going to be a bit tricky but we will do our best to be ready for that.”

Elfyn Evans (21st)

“It’s been an encouraging weekend in some ways but it’s massively frustrating to make the error that was so costly yesterday. I had a good feeling in the car but that doesn’t count for much because we finish the rally with very few points, which is a disappointment. I had a pretty good run in the Power Stage but maybe towards the end I didn’t make the most of the hybrid system in the tricky conditions. Overall, the team has done a really good job. We didn’t have a lot of testing but I found a much happier place with the car during the event. I think it performed really well without any issues, so a big thank you to the team.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville (6th)

“At the end of this rally, we are left with feelings of disappointment and frustration. We had a tough weekend. I drove for my life in the Power Stage, I gave it absolutely everything, so I was disappointed with the time. There has been a huge amount of work behind the scenes to prepare for this event, from me and Martijn, as well as the team, so to come away without any reward is hard to accept. We won’t give up. We are trying to keep everyone motivated and we will continue pushing. The will is definitely there and that’s important. There are different areas we are going to work on but most important is the reliability. We need to be much stronger for the upcoming events.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship Round 01,
Rallye Monte-Carlo 2022, 20-23 January 2022
Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai i20 N Rally1, Action during Day 3 of WRC Rallye Monte-Carlo 2022
Photographer: Romain Thuillier
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Oliver Solberg (DNF)

“We started the day with some hope. Our plan was to gain more mileage today – for the car, the team and ourselves – we just wanted to drive and have fun. We were seventh through SS14 but after the stage we agreed with the team to retire the car as we were not feeling well after what we’d experienced over the past couple of days. It’s been a long, tough weekend but I am happy with what I’ve done. Even if it’s been tricky, we’ve set some good splits and stage times. There are always positives to take away. Big thanks to the team too, it’s been long days and the dedication is fantastic. Together as a team we’ll keep pushing and working to improve for next time!”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings
After Round One

1 S. Loeb 27
2 S. Ogier 19
3 K. Rovanperä 17
4 C. Breen 15
5 T. Neuville 11
6 G. Greensmith 10
7 A. Mikkelsen 6
8 T. Katsuta 4
9 E. Evans 4
10 E. Cais 2
11 M. Gryazin 1

2022 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings
After round 1

1 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 40
2 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 39
3 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 13
4 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team NG 8

Summary

Well, that was amazing! Just an incredible first round of this season’s championship. Look out for my roundup of the driver and co-driver performances this coming week.

Rallye Monte Carlo 2022 – Saturday’s Report, Seb Ogier and Ben Veillas move into the lead

With five stages and 96km of action, we were set for another really intense day of competition. The startlist looked like this, now running in reverse order – Solberg, Rovanperä, Katsuta, Greensmith, Breen, Tänak, Neuville, Evans, Ogier, Loeb.

Into the first stage then, SS9 Le Fugeret / Thorame-Haute – 16.80 km and Elfyn was fastest from Kalle and Ogier. It was Loeb’s turn to have a slow one, only setting the seventh best time and losing time to Ogier, the gap now just 6.5 seconds. There was drama again for Ott though, getting a puncture and losing three spots to Craig, Gus and Takamoto. The Estonian duo were now in eighth place. Of course, Elfyn’s great time meant that he’d closed the gap to Loeb to just 8.2 seconds.

Next stage then, into SS10 Saint-Jeannet / Malijai 1 – 17.04 km and Ogier was fastest from Elfyn and Kalle. The young Finn was definitely having a better day after his troubles on Friday and getting into a groove for sure. Ogier’s pace meant that he and Loeb now shared the lead after ten stages. There were contrasting fortunes for Craig and Gus. Gus suffered a mechanical problem and then a puncture in the stage, whilst Craig passed Thierry into fourth place.

The next one, SS11 Saint-Geniez / Thoard 1 – 20.79 km and it was smooth drive for Ogier who emerged from this one with a 5.4 second lead over Loeb. It was a disaster for Elfyn though who’s been setting some great splits throughout the stage. The Welshman slid off the road near the finish and the GR Yaris was stuck. His decision to go with studded tyres so nearly paid off with the lead. The stage was red flagged and this would mean that once the remaining cars had proceeded through, the car was moved and Elfyn could continue on and complete the rest of the day’s stages. Kalle continued to go well, setting the second fastest time, whilst Craig was third fastest and moved into third overall after the problem with Elfyn.

It got even better for Kalle SS12 Saint-Jeannet / Malijai 2 – 17.04 km as the Finn took the stage win from Loeb and Ogier. There were problems for Thierry, who was suffering with a damper problem and dropped back two places to sixth with Kalle and Takamoto both moving ahead into fourth and fifth place respectively.

So, to the final stage then, SS13 Saint-Geniez / Thoard 2 – 20.79 km and Kalle put his studded tyres to good work and set the fastest time, whilst Ogier and Oliver were second and third. Gus moved ahead of Thierry into fifth place as the Belgian battled through the stage with the returning problem with his front suspension as it attempted to break through the bonnet.

 

Classification after Day Three

1 S. Ogier B. Veillas Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:19:43.1
2 S. Loeb I. Galmiche Ford Puma Rally1 +21.1
3 C. Breen P. Nagle Ford Puma Rally1 +1:26.0
4 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +2:03.8
5 G. Greensmith J. Andersson Ford Puma Rally1 +6:33.8
6 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +7:44.1

 

Let’s hear from the drivers.

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Sébastien Ogier (1st)

“It has been a good day for us and a positive step forward compared to yesterday. Generally, I felt better in the car today. In the first stage this morning I struggled to use the hybrid system in the way I wanted, but it’s something new for everyone and I try to adapt my driving style to make it work. We managed to make a bit of a gap tonight with a slightly crazy tyre choice in the last stage. It has been such a close battle all weekend with Sébastien [Loeb] and knowing him after all these years, I guessed he would try something. I wanted to have a straight fight with the same tyres and see who was faster, even though it was not the best choice for the conditions. It was a bit challenging in the snow but it felt really good on the dry roads and I had a really good stage. But tomorrow is still long and still with the potential for tricky conditions.”

Kalle Rovanperä (4th)

“We changed the car quite a lot from yesterday and the balance is much better for my driving style, it’s much easier to drive. We have done a bit of everything on the setup, a lot of small steps which are finally paying off. It felt really nice to win two stages, and the last stage was particularly good for us. At the beginning of the rally, it was hard to look at the stage times, but now it’s nice to start enjoying the driving. I am happy to have made such a big step and now we’ll try to see what more we can do. It always helps when you finally get a positive feeling in the car because it gives you the confidence to drive a bit better and everything gets easier.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 01 / Rallye Monte Carlo 2022 / 20-23 January 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans (26th)

“It is obviously frustrating what happened today. It was going pretty well up until then with a good morning overall and it was going well in SS11 as well. I’d made it out of the difficult part of the stage but then I just got caught out on a tricky right-hander. I had some information in my pace-notes but it seemed to spring out of nowhere and I just braked too late. The car was in a difficult position so thanks to the fans for all their help, they were really good. We got it back on the stage and got going again but we had lost so much time. After that it felt like a bit of a long afternoon. We didn’t want to do anything to jeopardise the Power Stage tomorrow when we will try to get some points.”

 

M-Sport Ford WRT

Seb Loeb (2nd)

I lost some time with my super softs, I had two crossed super softs and I didn’t really understand why, then in Sisteron, Seb was really fast in both runs, so nothing really major. The gap to the front is large, so we’ll see tomorrow.

Craig Breen (3rd)

It’s been a rally of attrition more than others in recent years, and I’ve been quite happy with the pace today, honestly, we’ve definitely increased it up since yesterday, I feel that if we had the same settings as we run yesterday as today, we’d be a level up. That was just a consequence of not having all the seat time in the test, my own fault entirely, but it’s good and I’ve been happy with that. We have a good tyre package for tomorrow as we used old tyres this afternoon, and this means that we have new sets available tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the new stages tomorrow.

Gus Greensmith (5th)

Yeah, from as good as things were yesterday to as bad as things were today. Nothing more could have gone wrong, engine issues, puncture, everything. Not a good day, but not much I could have done about it, I’m proud of my bodge, it’s got us to the end of the day and at least we can go again tomorrow.

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville (6th)

“I don’t know what to say, really. We have made it through the day somehow after experiencing an ongoing issue with the front-right damper. At the start of the middle morning stage (SS10), the car suddenly felt like it was pulling to one side, but it was only at the end we realised that the top-mount fixation of the damper was gone. We kept fighting, although it was a bit of a struggle without lunchtime service. We had to carry out some repairs ourselves in between the two loops, but a few kilometres into SS12 the damper came through the bonnet. We then did some fixes on the road section before the final stage, but it gave up again in the final kilometres. It’s been a day of survival.”

Oliver Solberg (49th)

“We had the same issue with fuel fumes coming into the car as we have had on the previous days. In SS10, we lost concentration in the middle of the stage and went off the road at a medium speed right-hander. Miraculously, we got the car out and could continue the rally. I really didn’t think we would manage it – we had about 25 people pushing, pulling, and dragging the car out. Thankfully it was just cosmetic damage. We used the afternoon as another valuable learning experience. Setting the joint third-fastest time through a snowy SS13, equalling my best-ever stage result, was a nice way to end to a really difficult day.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 01, Rallye Monte-Carlo
20-23 January 2022
Oliver Solberg, Elliott Edmondson, Hyundai i20 N Rally 1
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Ott Tänak (DNF)

“The car felt OK today, there was no real drama. The puncture on the first stage was one of those things that happen. We continued but with no spare tyre left we had to keep things as tidy as possible. Unfortunately, in the final stage on the icy conditions, we made a very small, but ultimately costly mistake. We picked up some damage and that was it. We were leaking coolant and the engine was overheating so we had to stop the car on the road section. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to continue tomorrow but we are committed to learning from this challenging weekend to build for the rest of the season.”

Sunday

Well, we are set for 67km’s over four stages and no service again either. Who will emerge on top? Can Loeb fight back for M-Sport Ford, or will Ogier triumph again? We shall find out tomorrow!

Rallye Monte Carlo 2022 Preview – The Hybrid Era starts!

Time for the fiftieth world rally championship season to start with the new rules and new cars that were launched on Saturday evening. The driver movements are well documented as well, so let’s get on and review this incredibly iconic rally. With four days of competition ahead, lets take a look at the stages.

The 90th running of this event this year is based in Monaco instead of Gap and with 296km over 17 stages the challenge of this rally remains as tricky as ever. We may not see any snow, but there will almost certainly be ice on the stages making it a big challenge to stay on the road.

Shakedown takes place on Thursday the 20th of January with a short 2.29km stage that starts at 9:31 local French time.

Later the same day the opening ceremony takes place in Monaco followed by two stages run in the dark: Luceram / Lantosque (15.20km) and La Bollène-Vésubie / Moulinet (23.25km)

Friday’s itinerary consists of two attempts of Roure / Bevil (18.33km), Guillaumes / Péone / Valberg (13.49km) and Val-de-Chalvagne / Entrevaux (17.11km) with just a tyre fitting zone between the morning and afternoon loops

Saturday begins with Le Fugeret / Thorame-Haute (16.80km), before presenting the challenge of two passes of Saint-Jeannet / Malijai (17.04km) and Saint-Geniez / Thoard (20.79km)

Sunday features two loops of La Penne / Collongues (19.37km) and Briançonnet / Entrevaux (14.26km). The second pass of the latter will be the rally’s Power Stage.

The usual crews will be challenging for the podium spots I suspect.

Let’s hear from the drivers!

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Team Toyota poses for a photograph during the WRC launch at the Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria on January 15, 2022.

Sébastien Ogier

“I’m at the beginning of a different stage in my career, and as I’m not taking part in the full championship the feeling is a little bit different to usual for me at this time of the year. But being part of this programme with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is still exciting and going to Rallye Monte-Carlo is always special for me. I’m still a competitor and I still want to win, so I will be giving my best to perform. I know the team has been working very hard to be ready with this new generation of car and big steps have been made in every test. I’ve had the chance to do three days of testing in the GR YARIS Rally1 in December and another day last week, all to prepare for this event. It’s quite a big change and it’s an exciting challenge to try and adapt to that. But I think going to Monte Carlo will be a huge challenge for everybody: There’s more uncertainty than ever going into this rally.”

Elfyn Evans

“This is an exciting time in our sport and I’m looking forward to the challenge of these new cars. Since I first tested the GR YARIS Rally1 we’ve made some good progress, but it’s impossible to know where we stand relative to the competition until we get to Monte Carlo. So much has changed and it’s a clean sheet of paper. It’s not been easy to jump from a car that was so well-developed, where everything was coming quite easily, and into something that is a lot more unknown. The additional power from the hybrid system makes a huge difference and how you manage it could be worth quite a lot in certain cases. We’ve already learned a lot in testing and I’m sure we’re going to continue learning a lot during the year, starting in Monte Carlo. It’s a rally that’s always a bit of a lottery with the weather anyway, and now the base has moved south there’s a lot of new stages and different terrain to get to grips with.”

Kalle Rovanperä

“My feeling with the new car is good and we have some good preparation behind us. With any new car there are always many things to work on and to improve, but I feel we have been making good progress all the time. It’s been especially interesting to get used to the boost from the hybrid. It gives you much more power, and that’s usually a good thing, but it can also be a bit tricky in certain points if you’re not ready to use it. As a driver you need to think about how to use it and if you can do that better than the others it could make quite a big difference. Rallye Monte-Carlo is going to be quite special this year. It’s always a tricky rally but this year we are going to have a lot of new stages as well as a totally new car. Friday and Saturday are going to be long days without mid-day service and if you can get through those days without issues that will already be quite good.”

Hyundai Motorsport

2022 FIA World Rally Championship, WRC Launch 2022,
15 January 2022
X
Photographer: Vincent Thuillier
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville

“Our main target in Monte-Carlo is to finish and gain experience in the car. I don’t think we are going to have a completely dry event but I don’t think it will be full of snow either; as usual, we are expecting a mix of conditions. Because of this, it’s very hard to have the perfect tyre choice for all the stages, so it’s all about compromise next weekend – the driver who does it best is going to be the most competitive. Choosing the tyres is not so easy because you have to collect a lot of information, trust yourself and commit. It will be a challenge, but I like driving in these conditions, so it is going to be exciting.”

Ott Tänak

“I think there is some uncertainty heading to Monte-Carlo, so it is important that we get through the rally without any major issues and keep the car running so we gain as much experience as possible – that will be the priority. Rallye Monte-Carlo is not as much about pure performance; it is about the reliability and the small decisions you make. Of course, we want to finish well and score many points for the championship this weekend. The very first stage in the dark with the new car will certainly be an adventure.”

Oliver Solberg

“Starting my first WRC campaign in Monte-Carlo is going to be very exciting. I think we have realistic expectations for the event – the most important part for us is just finishing and helping the team as much as possible. Rallye Monte-Carlo is an event where everything can happen; a stage can start with snow and end with tarmac, so it’s a very interesting and unpredictable way to begin the season with the new cars, but it’s also very exciting. I know I will take some time to find my feet but I have the best guys in the team to learn from.”

M-Sport Ford WRT

Sebastien Loeb

“It’s a radical change of scenery after spending three weeks on the Dakar Rally but it’s still very exciting to be at the start of the Monte Carlo Rally, especially with the WRC’s new hybrid era.

“I’m also proud of this collaboration with Malcolm’s team, working with them has been talked about throughout my career but never quite managed to happen, so thank you all, M-Sport, Ford Performance and Red Bull for finally making this happen on such an amazing event.

“For this rally, I will certainly be less prepared than the other drivers but the feeling with the Puma Hybrid Rally1 was immediately very good and everything just came together. I am looking forward to having fun this weekend with Isabelle, my new co-driver, and the whole M-Sport team.”

Craig Breen

“It is always something very special competing on Rallye Monte Carlo, but to be doing it for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, is a dream come true! The team has done an unbelievable job building and developing the Puma Hybrid Rally1 and it really shows. It is by far the best rally car I have ever driven and with the addition of the hybrid unit, it is going to add another dimension to the rally. Paul and I are relishing the challenge and are really looking forward to the year ahead with M-Sport and Ford.”

Adrien Fourmaux

“For Rallye Monte-Carlo, we will try to do our best, feel the car and understand its level of performance compared to the others. It will be the first time here in the top category of the WRC, I have been here previously in the Fiesta Rally2, my first appearance was already a top ten overall finish! I love these roads; I have performed quite well in the past so I have good hopes. By the way it’s a new era for everyone so we’ll need the perfect match between the car’s reliability and driving skill to perform well until the end of the rally. We hope to deliver the best result as we can, everything is possible!”

Gus Greensmith

“I’m excited to be a part of the 2022 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team as we head into the most significant rule change in WRC history. The team has done a great job developing the new car, and I feel really comfortable driving it. We’re all confident the car should be a lot more competitive than recent years, which will hopefully give us more opportunities to fight near the front. I was happy with my improvements last season, and I want to build on that going into 2022. I was within a second of my first stage win last year, and I feel that with the new package, this is definitely an achievable goal, and we also want to try to push for our first podium as well. Monte Carlo has always been a tricky opener for the championship, but I have done the rally a few times now, and with the new car feeling so good, I am really looking forward to the challenge. It will be essential to build the speed throughout the weekend, especially with this being Jonas and I’s second rally together. Thanks again to all the team for all the hard work they have put into the Puma Hybrid Rally1, and I hope we can repay them with a good result in Monte.”

Summary

Well, we are set for another gripping season of top-level rallying. Which team have done the best job with the new regulations and who will take victory this weekend? Make sure that you are following the action online and pop back at the end of each day for my daily reports.

Extreme E: X44 Continue Saturday Streak | Qualifying Report

image courtesy of ExtremeE

Lewis Hamilton’s team, X44, qualified fastest for the fourth race in a row this weekend in Sardinia; putting in a dominant display over their championship rivals.

Qualifying 1:

Championship leaders Rosberg X Racing (RXR) kicked off the Island X Prix qualifying, with the German team coming into the weekend mathematically able to win the title. Johan Kristofferson showed some strong early pace but that was to be undone as teammate Molly Taylor had an off. The RXR car stepped out as she was going over a blind crest and it rolled as the tires dug into the dust. Fortunately for the team, the car landed upright and Molly was able to finish her lap, setting a respectable time of 11:37.557.

Chip Ganassi’s Sara Price was next to take to the track as the team hoped they had put all their bad luck behind them. It was not to be, however, as the suspension broke within the first minute. Christine GZ also suffered from mechanical problems on her lap, which meant both Chip Ganassi and Xite Energy recorded a DNF.

X44 followed Xite Energy as they looked to continue their hot run of qualifying form. Christine Gutierrez was first out and barring a minor spin, set a solid foundation for Loeb to build upon. And build upon it he did! Loeb flew round the course to comfortably set the fastest time of the session so far with a 11:05.105.

Andretti United’s Timmy Hansen had the unfortunate job of trying to follow that run and a loss of power steering certainly didn’t help the cause. He limped the car to the pits and the issue was fixed as Katie Munnings jumped in. She had a steady lap and the American outfit posted a time 1:18.79 off of X44’s benchmark.

The final four teams all had quick runs, but none were able to match the pace of the X44 team, who finished Q1 top of the pile and took maximum qualifying points from the opening session.

Qualifying 1 Classification:

  1. X44 11:05.105 (9 Points)
  2. Acciona Sainz +12.28 (8 Points)
  3. Veloce +18.07 (7 Points)
  4. ABT Cupra +19.69 (6 Points)
  5. JBXE +22.90 (5 Points)
  6. RXR +32.45 (4 Points)
  7. Andretti United +1:18.79 (3 Points)
  8. Xite Energy +1 Lap (2 Points)
  9. Chip Ganassi +2 Laps (1 Point)

Qualifying 2:

Christine GZ kicked off Qualifying 2 for Xite Energy. Fortunately for them, she and teammate Oliver Bennett were able to finish their run and set a decent time of 11:33.636. Not so fortunately, the team received a 10 second time penalty after Bennett missed a waypoint flag.

Current Qualifying leaders X44 were next onto the track and they set a blistering run to smash their Q1 time and go provisionally to the top of the standings with a time of 10:55.401. They were to be the only team to go under 11 minutes.

Andretti United’s Katie Munnings followed as the team looked to just get round the course without a repeat of the issues from Q1. They did so, just 18.72s off of X44’s time.

It was disaster for Acciona Sainz and Veloce though, with both teams suffering from mechanical faults. The Sainz team had an issue with the steering which saw them finish some two minutes off the back of the pack, whilst Stephane Sarrazin’s suspension broke completely and he was unable to complete a lap.

The remaining four teams all had fast and uneventful runs to put themselves right up the order. None, however, were able to get near X44, who had taken maximum qualifying points.

Qualifying 2 Classification:

  1. X44 10:45.401 (9 Points)
  2. Chip Ganassi +17.20 (8 Points)
  3. RXR +18.37 (7 Points)
  4. Andretti United +18.72 (6 Points)
  5. ABT Cupra +47.16 (5 Points)
  6. JBXE +48.75 (4 Points)
  7. Xite Energy +58.23 (3 Points)
  8. Acciona Sainz +2:32.54 (2 Points)
  9. Veloce +2 Laps (1 Points)

Overall Qualifying Classification:

  1. X44 18 Points
  2. RXR 11 Points
  3. ABT Cupra 11 Points
  4. Acciona Sainz 10 Points
  5. Chip Ganassi 9 Points
  6. Andretti United 9 Points
  7. JBXE 9 Points
  8. Veloce 8 Points
  9. Xite Energy 5 Points

Teams on the same number of qualifying points were separated by the fastest traction zone (formerly super sector) times. Qualifying points do not count towards the championship, the points for which were distributed 12-4 through the field.

It will be X44 racing against Chip Ganassi and Andretti United in the first semi final, as the teams battle it out for their spot in the final. RXR, ABT Cupra, and Acciona Sainz will compete in semi final 2, whilst JBXE, Veloce, and Xite Energy will face off in the crazy race.

RXR’s championship lead shrunk (albeit ever so slightly) today as X44 look to chase them down. Chip Ganassi, who sit at the bottom of the table, were also able to close in on the team above them (Xite Energy).

Championship Standings:

  1. RXR 104 Points
  2. X44 96 Points
  3. Andretti United 83 Points
  4. JBXE 74 Points
  5. Acciona Sainz 70 Points
  6. ABT Cupra 64 Points
  7. Veloce 54 Points
  8. Xite Energy 51 Points
  9. Chip Ganassi 48 Points

Rally Turkey 2020 Review – Elfyn and Scott take their second win of the year!

Shakedown saw a fight for the fastest time between Thierry and Ott with the Belgian emerging fastest. The Toyota’s were next, with Kalle and then Ogier and Elfyn with Loeb sixth fastest. Fastest of the M-Sport Fiesta’s was Teemu and then Gus and Esapekka. Loubet went well in his i20, setting the second fastest time on the second run through!

 

Friday

Thierry Neuville took the first stage of the weekend, winning SS1 İçmeler – 13.90 km from nine-time champion Loeb, with Ott making it a 1-2-3 for Hyundai. Elfyn was next up in his Yaris, with Ogier fifth and Teemu the fastest Fiesta.

Ogier took SS2 Gökçe – 11.32 km, from Loeb and Kalle. Loeb’s pace moved him into the lead from Thierry and Ogier, whilst Elfyn held fourth overall.

Classification after Day One

1 S. Loeb D. Elena Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 18:50.9
2 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1.2
3 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Toyota Yaris WRC +1.3
4 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota Yaris WRC +2.1
5 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota Yaris WRC +2.7
6 T. Suninen J. Lehtinen Ford Fiesta WRC +4.2
7 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +4.8
8 E. Lappi J. Ferm Ford Fiesta WRC +6.6
9 G. Greensmith E. Edmondson Ford Fiesta WRC +16.1
10 P. L. Loubet V. Landais Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +28.5
2020 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally Turkey
18-20 September 2020
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Photographer: Helena El Mokni
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Saturday

The start list looked like this – Loubet, Greensmith, Lappi, Tänak, Suninen, Rovanperä, Evans, Ogier, Neuville, Loeb.

The first stage of the day, SS3 Yeşilbelde 1 – 31.79 km saw Ogier win the stage from Thierry and Elfyn, who’d jumped into third. The gap between Ogier and Neuville was just 1.7 seconds at the top of the leaderboard. It was a disaster for Ott however. 25km into the stage he’d stopped and the reason was that he had a steering problem. He was out for the day.

Next up, SS4 Datça 1 – 8.75 km and Ogier opened up the gap to Thierry, with the gap afterwards now three seconds between them. Elfyn continued to hold third overall, and was now eleven seconds from the lead. Best of the M-Sport drivers was Teemu, and he was in sixth overall, and 45 seconds from the lead, but still in the running for a good result.

Thierry came back at Ogier on the next one SS5 Kızlan 1 – 13.15 km, halving the gap to the leader. Was this the start of the push to remove the Toyota driver from the lead? Elsewhere, the gaps remained much the same.

After the service break, the second run of SS6 Yeşilbelde 2 – 31.79 km saw Thierry set a really fast time, jumping into the lead. Sadly, Ogier’s good run in the lead was brought to an end with the Frenchman coming to the stage end with a left front puncture. Elfyn was now in second place overall and 21 seconds from our new leader. Ogier still held third however.

Thierry also took SS7 Datça 2 – 8.75 km as well, with Ogier second in the stage. Elfyn could only manage the seventh fastest time and dropped behind his teammate, and Loeb was now just 8 tenths from the Welshman.

It was a stage win for Loeb in SS8 Kızlan 2 – 13.15 km which moved him into second overall behind his Belgian teammate, who now held a 33 second lead. Esapekka was finding some pace now, going fourth fastest in this one. Just such a shame that he’s lost so much time already. Ogier and Elfyn held third and fourth overall.

Classification after Day Two

1 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1:36:38.6
2 S. Loeb D. Elena Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +33.2
3 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Toyota Yaris WRC +33.2
4 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota Yaris WRC +1:00.8
5 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota Yaris WRC +1:18.8
6 T. Suninen J. Lehtinen Ford Fiesta WRC +1:35.0
7 E. Lappi J. Ferm Ford Fiesta WRC +2:28.0
8 G. Greensmith E. Edmondson Ford Fiesta WRC +3:15.4
9 P. L. Loubet V. Landais Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +4:20.4

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville (1st)

“This afternoon went much better than the morning. We worked a lot on the set-up, and I was much happier with the car on the repeat loop, especially in the rougher sections. We found what we were looking for and, although it’s not quite 100%, we’re heading in a good direction. I am very pleased with the work of the team that has allowed us to fight at the front. Tomorrow is going to be the toughest day of the rally; we will have to avoid punctures and damage, while also pushing to drive fast. I am going to try my best and hope we’ll come through in one piece!”

Sébastien Loeb (2nd)

“We were frustrated after the first loop because a poor tyre choice lost us a lot of time, when we were determined to give it everything. In the afternoon, thankfully, we were able to fight back. We were still at the limit with the tyres, so we had to save a bit on the middle stage, but we managed it well. We have been able to regain ground to second overall, but it’s too early to think about what we might be able to achieve tomorrow. There are still a lot of kilometres to cover.”

Ott Tänak (DNF) Rally 2

“Not much positive for us to report today, as we were forced to stop on the first stage of the day with a steering issue. There was no warning, it was quite instant and nothing we could do. It had generally been a pretty demanding stage with very low grip and a lot of cleaning. The conditions were not particularly harsh, just loose. Tomorrow, we will go again and try to score some points in the Power Stage; there’s little else for us to do unfortunately.”

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Sébastien Ogier (3rd)

“It was a good morning loop for us, winning two stages and being in the lead of the rally. The car was working well and we had some ideas to make it even better for the afternoon. Unfortunately, it was not exactly the afternoon we were looking for. But it’s part of the game sometimes in motorsport, and in the end I’m happy to still be here tonight. Of course, it is frustrating not to be in the fight for the win, but at least we are still in a position to fight for the big points and for the podium. I’m sure the team can fix the car tonight and we can finish the rally well tomorrow. There are still some long stages with conditions that are probably even more challenging than today, so nothing is over yet.”

Elfyn Evans (4th)

“It was a decent morning for us. Already from the first stage it was very hot in the car, but everything was working well. We had a good feeling in the car and the rhythm was good. We knew the afternoon would be tough. The time in the long stage was not so bad but my tyre wear was much higher than expected. We need to study it to find out why, but I wasn’t managing the tyre well. That made the next two stages very difficult: It was a case of trying to manage it as best as we could. It’s still all to play for tomorrow. The long stage will be very challenging and there could still be an opportunity to be on the podium, so we have to go and try our best.”

Kalle Rovanperä (5th)

“The morning was quite OK for me even though the road was quite slippery and it was still cleaning. The afternoon was really tough. On the longest stage we had a puncture: The conditions were really rough and rocky all the time so it’s impossible to know where we got it. After that we had to be careful to get through the other two stages. The overall position is still good for us though, and tomorrow is a long day so anything can happen. If we can keep this position or even gain something more, that would be good.”

 

M-Sport WRT

Teemu Suninen (6th)

“I’ve been quite happy with the day. I felt like I was driving well and that our tyre management was good. We were pushing hard while still taking care of the tyres and we were able to set some good times this afternoon. But then on the last two stages we had quite a lot of dust in the car when one of the small windows on the side popped open – which was really distracting. Tomorrow the plan is to continue what we are doing and get through the day. We have some really rough stages – the roughest of the weekend I would say – so we need to keep our eyes open and make sure we get to the end with some more good times.”

Esapekka Lappi (7th)

“It’s been really hot and challenging out there today – it’s tough on the cars, on the tyres and on the crews as well. It was tricky running so early on the road, but we tried to drive well and learn as much as we could about the car on these kinds of roads. We learnt quite a lot and things got better this afternoon, but there’s still some more to do so let’s see what we can discover tomorrow.”

Gus Greensmith (8th)

“We were making quite a few changes after each stage and on the long one this afternoon the splits were looking really strong. But unfortunately, we picked up a puncture. I’m not sure where we got it, but we did, and for the last two I had a bald tyre on the rear which made things pretty interesting with some pretty big slides! I’m trying to do the best I can and it seems to be getting better with every stage. We’ve been pretty good on the rough sections, and that’s what we’ll have to contend with tomorrow so let’s see what we can do.”

Sunday

With four stages to run, totalling almost 89km, the drama would really happen in the first stage of the day. The start list looked like this: Tänak, Loubet, Greensmith, Lappi, Suninen, Rovanperä, Evans, Ogier, Loeb, Neuville.

 

As Ott started the first stage of the day, SS9 Çetibeli 1 – 38.15 km, there was a problem for the Estonian pairing! Their intercom had failed, and Ott couldn’t hear what Martin was saying. Martin resorted to using hand signals to guide Ott through and they still took second fastest in the stage, behind Elfyn who was 30 seconds fastest than the Hyundai crew. It was a stage of drama, with first Loubet and then Suninen stopping. The Finnish pairing had broken his left rear suspension and they were out. The stage was living up to its reputation to be a car breaker. Then Ogier had a puncture at 18km and stopped to change the wheel. Lappi then also got a puncture at 10km, and so did Kalle! Rally leaders, Thierry and Nicolas were another crew to suffer a puncture, albeit much closer to the end of the stage at 25km’s. Loeb also suffered a puncture, losing a minute and twenty seconds! Elfyn now led, from Ogier who was 47 seconds from his teammate and Thierry dropped to third, just one second from second place.

 

Thierry won SS10 Marmaris 1 – 6.22 km, and moved ahead of Ogier into second place. Loeb and Ogier were second and third fastest in the stage. The new leaders Elfyn and Scott were fifth fastest, and were now just making sure that they completed the remaining stages with no problems.

 

There was more drama in the rerun of SS11 Çetibeli 2 – 38.15 km! Our leader suffered a stall in a hairpin, but was still second fastest behind Thierry. Ogier was the big loser though, with engine failure, and he stopped at 16.7km’s into the stage. Lappi completed with a puncture, but was still faster than his teammate Gus Greensmith by 7.3 seconds who was now in fifth overall. Loeb was now into third overall, with the demise of his former Citroen teammate.

 

A tweak to the running order then before the final stage of the rally, and the starting order looked like this: Brynildsen, Fourmaux, Tidemand, Heller, Avci, Bulacia, Kajetanowicz, Tänak, Lappi, Greensmith, Rovanperä, Loeb, Neuville, Evans.

 

Thierry won SS12 Marmaris 2 [Power Stage] – 6.22 km, with Ott just four tenths from the stage victory, picking some points up, but not the result that he and Martin wanted. Elfyn was third fastest in the stage, sealing a very good third victory. Kalle and Loeb completed the top five in the power stage.

There you go then, with all kinds of drama on the morning of the final day, Elfyn and Scott took a remarkable victory, with Thierry and Nicolas taking second position, and Seb and Daniel completing a good third place for Hyundai.

 

Final Overall Classification – Rally Turkey

1 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota Yaris WRC 2:43:02.7
2 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +35.2
3 S. Loeb D. Elena Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +59.4
4 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota Yaris WRC +2:35.9
5 G. Greensmith E. Edmondson Ford Fiesta WRC +4:08.3
6 E. Lappi J. Ferm Ford Fiesta WRC +5:36.2
7 K. Kajetanowicz M. Szczepaniak Škoda Fabia R5 +12:35.5
8 P. Tidemand P. Barth Škoda Fabia R5 +12:59.7
9 A. Fourmaux R. Jamoul Ford Fiesta R5 +14:42.6
10 M. Bulacia M. Der Ohannesian Citroën C3 R5 +14:46.4

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans (1st)

“It obviously feels good to come away from a really tough rally with a win. We showed some good pace from the start. We were perhaps not the fastest driver out there this weekend, but we were there or thereabouts and we knew that today was going to be critical. We really tried to focus on keeping it in the middle of the road and that paid off for us, and I’m happy to come away with all those points. It’s probably not the sweetest victory because we know that others had some bad luck, but this is the nature of Rally Turkey and we knew this coming into the weekend. It’s a great result towards the championship and a good position to be in.”

2020 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 05 / Rally Turkey / September 18-20, 2020 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

Kalle Rovanperä (4th)

“This is another good result for us. It’s nice to keep finishing these rallies with good points. I have to say a really big thank you to the team, because they are doing a very big job in a rally like this to keep the car in a good condition as it’s really rough for the car. The long stage today was tough as we expected. On the second pass we were really careful to save the car and the tyres. Then in the Power Stage we couldn’t push too much because we wanted to get the points for the manufacturers’ championship, but we still managed to set a nice time and get some more points.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville (2nd)

“I have the feeling we deserved to have taken more away from this weekend, but it is still a great feeling to be back on the podium again. We showed a strong performance and the car was working really well; we made some changes on Saturday afternoon and the speed was definitely there. Unfortunately, we were among the unlucky crews to pick up a puncture on the first stage today, which prevented us from taking the victory. Still, we fought back to take P2 and five Power Stage points, so from a championship point of view it was a good move. Even if we didn’t take the win, we did the maximum we could. I have to say thanks to the team for all their efforts.”

Sébastien Loeb (3rd)

“It has been a tough final day of this rally. The first stage this morning was a bit of a lottery and we didn’t get the right numbers! There was a lot of dust and I was driving carefully because I knew there was a chance of a puncture, and suddenly that’s exactly what happened. We only had ten pages of notes left so we decided to bring the car to the end, but I lost the tyre completely so had to drive really slowly. We were still in the battle for the podium. Our aim in the second loop was the get the car through safely and we were able to do that to secure third place – and a great podium finish.”

Ott Tänak (17th)

“Since the beginning of the weekend, it has been a very challenging event for us. Friday night, we had some demanding conditions, then on Saturday morning we had to retire with the steering issue. Today, we had to drive through the first three stages with a target of getting something from the Power Stage. I didn’t really have the full commitment to go flat out, somehow it was only at 90%, but we made it through and got four extra points which is much better than nothing.”

 

M-Sport WRT

Gus Greensmith (5th)

“I’m pretty pleased at the end of this one and happy with how our weekend panned out. That long stage today was so rough, and considering where we were, I decided that caution was the better act of valour. That turned out to be the right decision – it worked out, and we come away from this weekend with our best ever result.

“I was hoping that we would be able to transfer our Shakedown pace to the rally, but without a pre-event test that proved difficult and we still made a lot of improvements over the course of the weekend – so a big thanks to the team for that. And I think I’ve also made an improvement inside the car. Whereas I might have just sent it once upon a time, I’m now focused on being mistake-free and getting the mileage under my belt – and the confidence will come with that.”

Esapekka Lappi (6th)

“It’s always a challenge coming here, but I think you also need a little bit of luck and that wasn’t really on our side today. That long stage is the roughest of the weekend and we got a puncture on both passes through there. The first one was quite early on so we had to stop and change, and the second was about five kilometres from the end.

“It was a shame because the times on both passes of that stage were actually looking pretty good. We’d made quite a few changes throughout the weekend, and it looked as though everything was starting to come together. So hopefully that’s all good information that we can take forward to Sardinia in two weeks times.”

Teemu Suninen (DNF)

“It’s really disappointing how we had to end the day as I think we could have achieved another good result this weekend. I would say that we were quite unlucky. There were so many big rocks on the stage and so many people having problems – unfortunately for us, our problem was quite a big one as the damper was completely broken and it meant that we couldn’t continue.

“It’s a shame because I think we were driving well and the time looked pretty okay too. We’ve still learnt a lot this weekend, and it’s all good practice for Sardinia where we’ll try again to close the gap and bring home a good result for the team.

“And there was some good news from today as we found out that my engineer Callum has become a father for the very first time – so I would like to say a big congratulations to him and his girlfriend.”

 

2020 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings
After round 5

1 E. Evans 97
2 S. Ogier 79
3 O. Tänak 70
4 K. Rovanperä 70
5 T. Neuville 65
6 E. Lappi 38
7 T. Suninen 34
8 C. Breen 25
9 S.Loeb 24
10 G. Greensmith 16

 

2020 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings
After round 5

1 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 174
2 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 165
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 101
     

Summary

This event lived up to its reputation as the modern-day Rally Acropolis. Just when you thought it was settled, the first run of the Çetibeli 38km stage threw Thierry’s hopes for victory right out.

Elfyn and Scott were a minute from the leader at the start, but came through to win that stage, and take the lead of the rally. All three crews in front of them suffered punctures, and lost so much time. It was a great victory for the Toyota pairing, and as you can see, this has moved them back into the championship lead.

Thierry and Nicolas kept their heads and showed their pace, coming through to second place, after winning seven stages. Definitely one that got away from the Belgian pairing though, who at least got their second podium of the year, after their win in Monte Carlo.

Seb Loeb and Daniel Elena showed their class, with a first podium since Rally Chile last year, but again a puncture meant that they were always playing catchup.

Kalle has proved that Tommi made the right decision, with a good drive to fourth place, now holding fourth in the championship.

At M-Sport, Gus Greensmith got his best finish to date, with fifth place. What could he do next time out in Rally Italia? He still has a lot to learn from his teammates. Teemu would have been ahead, but for the damage to the left-rear wheel and suspension.

Next up is Rally Italia Sardegna in two weeks’ time! Another gravel event, and as championship leaders Elfyn and Scott will open the road. Pop back before the 8th of October to check out my preview for this event.

Rally Turkey 2020 Preview

Time for the fifth round of this year’s championship. As you will be aware of, our current world champion took victory last time out in his home event. This lifted him into third place in the drivers’ championship. It was a Hyundai 1-2, but could have been much more. Thierry Neuville will want to hit back and get his challenge for this season’s drivers title back underway. Joining Ott and Thierry will be Seb Loeb. Hyundai team boss Andrea will hope that the combination of these three drivers will bring the team a good haul of points.

Last year Seb Ogier and Esapekka Lappi took a one-two for Citroen in this event. Now they drive for Toyota and M-Sport. They will hope to be able to repeat this result this year with their new teams.

At Toyota, they lead both the drivers and teams’ championships. This does mean that Seb Ogier and Elfyn Evans will be the first two cars onto the stages throughout Friday. They will be praying for rain, and lots of it! It will be tough for them otherwise.

M-Sport will be wanting a much better event, and the road positions should help them, as their two quick Finns will start sixth and seventh on the road. Gus Greensmith will take this opportunity to learn more about his car on these stages. The young Englishman finished tenth overall last year, and won the WRC2 Pro category. What will he be able to do this year?

 

Here’s the stage information for you. There are two stages on Friday, totalling 24km. The longest day is Saturday, with three stages run twice totalling 107km’s and then on Sunday 90km’s over two stages.

 

 

Okay, let’s hear from the drivers then.

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)

“I obviously have some good memories of Turkey from last year when Julien and I won the rally. To repeat this result this time is not going to be easy: It is a tough rally for everybody, but for us opening the road it will be especially challenging I’m sure. But I’m actually excited to see what we can do with the Yaris WRC. We had some very good tests recently to prepare for the event, and I believe we have definitely made some improvements and some steps forward with the car, so let’s see what we do.”

FIA World Rally Championship / Round 11 / Rally Turkey 2019 / Sep 12-15, 2019 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)

“Rally Turkey is always a difficult event and it will be quite a stark contrast to the fast roads that we had in Estonia: It’s a lot more slow-speed and a different character altogether. It is sure to be very hot and very physically demanding for the crews, and also very demanding on the cars. We need to be ready to adapt to that. We did some testing in Greece a few weeks ago to prepare and the car felt pretty good, so we hope that will transfer to a good feeling on the rally.”

Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)

“The roads in Turkey are very rough and I think that these conditions are generally quite difficult for me: I haven’t done so many rallies like this yet in my career, although I did do Rally Turkey last year in WRC2 so I have a little bit of experience of what the rally is like. It seems that the team has made a very big step from last year with the car and I think we should be better now in these types of conditions. I hope that we can all show good pace there.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville (Driver car 11)

“We didn’t get a representative result in Estonia, so we definitely want to put that right in Turkey. It’s our third time visiting this event, since it moved to Marmaris, and it’s one of the roughest rallies of the season. The stages are really nice, some flowing parts and other very twisty sections. We have to try to push hard, even in the rough, while trying to survive with the car. Our objective will be to get the maximum points we can from the event with a focus on the championship. We’ve always had good speed in Turkey but haven’t been able to get the desired result, so hopefully it will be third time lucky.”

2019 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 11, Rally Turkey
12-15 September 2019
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Photographer: Helena El Mokni
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)

“It was a special moment to get our first victory for Hyundai Motorsport in Estonia, but now we must refocus on the next event. The championship is short, so we need to make the most out of every opportunity that presents itself. Rally Turkey is definitely the roughest event of the season; it is always very hot and demanding for both car and crew. Our objective this year is to fight for the win and to continue our title push.”

Sébastien Loeb (Driver car 6)

“I am excited to be back competing for Hyundai Motorsport for the first time since Monte-Carlo – and my first gravel event since Catalunya last season. I actually haven’t competed in Rally Turkey since 2010, and I have no knowledge of these particular stages compared to other crews who have taken part in the past two seasons. We have had a day of testing ahead of the rally, so I am focused and ready to do the best I can for the team. My aim is simply to be competitive and in the game; we require a lot of familiarisation, but I am always motivated to push for a good result.”

 

M-Sport WRT

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 4)

“We finished second in Turkey last year, and it would be great to follow that up with another strong result this week. We’ve seen good speed from the Fiesta there in the past, and for sure we will be better suited to these stages. You need to use your head at a rally like this and know when to push and when to take your foot off the pedal. It’s a fine balance between speed and endurance, but if we can get that right then we shouldn’t be too far away from a strong result.”

Teemu Suninen (Driver car 3)

“We had a really good rally in Turkey last year. I learnt a lot that weekend and I think we had the right balance between showing good pace and driving well through the stages without making any mistakes. The goal will be to build on that again this week, and hopefully challenge for another strong result. A rally like this is never easy and it demands a lot physically, mentally and mechanically, but if we can have another clever drive with the right speed for the right sections then I’m confident of another strong result.”

Gus Greensmith (Driver car 44)

“I’m really looking forward to Rally Turkey, and hope it won’t be quite as eventful as last year! That has to be the most dramatic win of my career, but it just goes to show how strong the Fiesta is across all categories. That strong chassis should be a big advantage for us this week as we know how demanding the Turkey stages are. They’re the roughest of the year, but they’re also physically and mentally demanding and you need to calculate when to push that loud pedal and when to back off. It’s a tricky balance, but we plan to get it right and continue learning as much as we can.”

 

Summary

The winner will be the driver that keeps out of trouble. The stages of this event are very rough, and can damage the car. Keeping it smooth will be the key. Now anyone of these three drivers can win it, Seb Ogier, Ott or Thierry.

With the consistent drive that Elfyn can bring, he could be a podium contender, along with Esapekka and Seb Loeb.

We shall see! Enjoy the event!