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Rally GB (S) - 14-16 Sep 12

Posted: November 23, 2016 6:44 AM - 7948 Hits

Round 10 - 2012 World Rally Championship
S - S2000 Championship

Latvala claims emphatic victory for Ford at Wales Rally GB

Posted: November 23, 2016 6:42 AM

Ford World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila today won Wales Rally GB for the second consecutive season. The Finns won this 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship by 27.8 seconds in a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car, securing their seventh world rally victory after three days of competition through slippery Welsh forests.

Team-mates Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson provided further celebration for the Ford squad by claiming third in another Fiesta RS WRC after a thrilling final day battle. Solberg swapped places with S?bastien Loeb through virtually every speed test in today's third leg, eventually missing out on second by just 0.9sec after 19 special stages and 324.92km of action.

Despite moving forward in the calendar from its traditional November date, conditions on the fast and flowing forest roads of central and south Wales were as tricky as ever. Rain made the gravel tracks muddy, but Ford controlled the rally from the start as first Solberg and then Latvala led.

Solberg held the advantage for Friday's opening two tests in mid-Wales before Latvala moved to the front of the field. The 27-year-old Finn was never again headed, extending his advantage yesterday in the Brecon Beacon mountains and measuring his pace today in the Vale of Neath to secure his second victory of the year.

"This win means a lot to me," said Latvala. "Rally GB is like a second home event because I started my career here 10 years ago, and I have more experience of this event than my own rally in Finland. It's one of my favourite rounds and this is the first time in my career that I have won the same rally in consecutive seasons.

"We had some doubts about our speed after the previous gravel rally, but we came back strongly. The team has done so much work since then and it paid off here, so this win is for everyone in the team. The car has been so fast all season but we've had too many disappointments and finally we delivered the result we deserved," he added.

The excitement today came from 37-year-old Solberg's duel with Loeb. The Norwegian started 6.4sec ahead of his French rival, but Loeb turned his deficit into a 2.9sec lead midway through the leg. Solberg regained second, only for Loeb to reclaim the position in the penultimate stage and the pair began the final 15.33km test divided by 0.1sec. Although Solberg moved in front again in the test, he could not hold on but was still delighted with a podium on a rally he has won four times.

"It was a massive battle!" enthused Solberg. "It rained in the penultimate stage but I managed to keep the fight alive into the final test. I moved in front but made a little mistake when I touched a small bank. I came back again but it wasn't quite enough.

"I could have pushed harder but I didn't want to go crazy because a double podium is so crucial to Ford. That was more important than destroying a rally by risking everything to take second. It was so exciting to be involved in such a close battle. It was so tense before the final stage that neither Seb nor I could look at each other!" he added.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson described first and third as 'a great result'.
"To dominate the rally in the way we did will give a great confidence boost for everyone in the team. We've had a difficult season and it hasn't been easy at times, but our team spirit shone through here. This win will give Jari-Matti great encouragement for the rest of the season. Petter had a fantastic battle for second and although he missed out, he can be equally happy with his display," he said.

Gerard Quinn, senior manager for Ford Racing in Europe, said:
"Jari-Matti did an outstanding job here. After a career-best result on asphalt in Germany last month, he had a great test for this rally and came to Wales with real momentum. Petter had a nail-biting finish while fighting for second. It didn't quite work out but he, too, delivered a stunning performance and this is a great boost for the team."

News from other Ford teams

Adapta World Rally Team's Mads Ostberg / Jonas Andersson finished fourth in a Fiesta RS WRC after overcoming an engine misfire this morning. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team's Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor moved up to sixth, despite dropping 30sec when they slid off the road in this morning's opening stage. They displaced team-mates Ott Tanak / Kuldar Sikk, who retired after the front right lower suspension arm broke on their car. Matthew Wilson / Scott Martin were ninth and top Britons, while Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hruza claimed 10th in the Czech Ford National Team car.

Next round

The championship reverts to asphalt next month when Strasbourg hosts Rallye de France on 4 - 7 October, the final pure sealed surface round of the season.

M-SPORT YOUNGSTERS IMPRESS AS FORD DOMINATE WALES RALLY GB

Posted: November 23, 2016 6:30 AM

The Ford Fiesta RS WRC dominated Wales Rally GB this weekend with 14 stage wins for the Fiesta over the course of the weekend. Amongst the success stories was the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team ? Ott Tanak and Evgeny Novikov proving that the privateers have the pace to challenge the works teams.

Continually challenging the top drivers during the course of the rally, M-Sport's regular point scorers impressed over the weekend. Posting continuous top-five times throughout yesterday's competitive action, both drivers were tantalisingly close to claiming a stage win - Tanak missing out by 0.5 seconds on SS10 and Novikov by just 0.1 seconds on SS11. But there were mixed fortunes for the youngsters on the final day. As Novikov claimed his best ever finish on the Welsh stages, Tanak hit cruel misfortune and was forced to retire from what was set to be sixth place.

Embarking on the last and shortest day of competition, the crews contested 83.10 competitive kilometres over two loops of three identical stages: the mix of fast roads and narrow tracks through the Margam Forest, the perilously quick climb high above the Neath Valley and the final dash through Walters Arena which forms the end of rally Power Stage.

Despite its earlier schedule this year, Rally GB would not be the same without its usual dose of drama and M-Sport's young guns provided just that over the final day of competition. Both Tanak and Novikov lost time being caught out by the tricky conditions over the morning's first stage (SS14). But thanks to their composure and ability to quickly rectify a mistake, the pairing completed the stage to maintain their sixth and seventh places respectively.

Caught out under braking, Tanak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk clipped a bank and spun their Ford Fiesta RS WRC on a narrow section through the winding hilltops and valleys of SS14. Although losing some 25 seconds to rally-rival Mikko Hirvonen, the Estonian pairing retained their sixth place with a comfortable gap to seventh. Continuing a steady pace through the remainder of the morning, Tanak continued with a string of top-ten times and the aim of making it to the end of the rally to claim his equal best sixth place finish from the event.

But disaster struck on SS16 when the 24-year-old succumbed to cruel misfortune. Making contact with one of the exposed rocks that litter the second pass of the Port Talbot stage, the Estonian damaged the front-right lower suspension arm of his Fiesta and was forced to retire having been on course for a strong result on the team's home soil.

Also caught out under braking towards the end of SS14, Novikov lost 30 seconds but thanks to his impressive showing yesterday ? agonisingly close to his first stage win of the season on a number of occasions ? the Russian maintained seventh place behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC with almost a minute's advantage to Thierry Neuville in eighth. But with the gap to team-mate Tanak too big to breach, Novikov backed off the pace through the following two stages ? taking no risks and concentrating on securing a good finish on the challenging Welsh stages.

With team mate Tanak out of the running, Novikov and new co-driver for this event Ilka Minor were propelled into sixth place ? the ALM supported driver's best ever finish at Wales Rally GB. A string of top-ten times and a composed and mature drive over the remaining afternoon loop saw Novikov secure the position and maintain his sixth place in the championship.

Elsewhere, despite struggling with an on-going misfire throughout the morning stages, Matthew Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin had clearly got back into the rhythm of competitive rallying. Piloting their Ford Fiesta RS WRC to a seventh and eighth fastest time through the opening morning's tests, the British pairing were well on course for a top-ten finish on their return to the championship.

Consolidating his position with further strong times over the morning loop, and with team mate Tanak being forced to retire from the event, Wilson claimed eighth place overall on his first gravel event of the season. Matthew Wilson was proud to be Cumbrian this weekend, and following an impressive performance on his long awaited return, the county in Northern England will certainly be proud of the 25-year-old today.

Learning a lot from his first experience behind the wheel of a world rally car, guest driver Jan Habig finished the event in 28th place following an unfortunate ?off' on the opening stage of the second day of competition.

Getting to grips with the handling and characteristics of the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, the South African found his rhythm through the final day of rallying. Enjoying the stages alongside British co-driver Robbie Durrant, Habig has obtained a wealth of knowledge from the M-Sport Team which can only help his assault on this year's South African Rally Championship ? in which he competes behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta S2000.

Evgeny Novikov (6th) said:
"The rally has been good. It was not so wet as usual, but still quite slippery and everything was fine and we coped well in the conditions.

"Ilka [Minor] was a very good co-driver for me on this event and we worked well together. I enjoyed the rally a lot and this was my best finish on this event. This was a very good result for me and of course I am very happy."

Matthew Wilson (8th) said:
"It was fantastic to be back ? I really enjoyed every bit of it!

"It was a bit frustrating this morning, but at least we fixed it and could have a proper go again this afternoon. It was brilliant fun.

"I definitely want to be back for Spain and I will be trying as hard as I can to get there, but we will just have to wait and see."

Jan Habig (28th) said:
"Generally I think this was a bit of a tough event for us. It was a steep mountain to climb. It didn't quite go to our plan but these things are hard ? that's why we have come to do it.

"If we come back again I think we will have to look for a new approach, come and do some practising and learn some more about the event. I don't think now-a-days you can just arrive and think you are going to get the good results!

"It was a good experience and we have learnt quite a bit. Now I think we are going to have to come back at some point and give it another go!"

Ott Tanak (DNF) said:
"There was a long straight through the forest and one of the marshals had told us that one of the cars in front had pulled some rocks onto the stage. They had managed to clear most of them, but there was one left and I didn't see it as it was behind a crest. We hit it and it went under the car and broke the suspension.

"For sure before that the event had been going really well. OK the first day was quite difficult making the change from Tarmac to gravel without a test. But yesterday was pretty good and we were setting some good times and keeping in touch with the guys in front."

Poignant Victory for Breen on Wales Rally GB

Posted: November 23, 2016 6:28 AM

Craig Breen has moved back into FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship title contention by becoming the third driver to win two rounds of this year's series following his dominant category victory on Wales Rally GB today. The result, Breen's first in the series since he and former co-driver Gareth Roberts triumphed on Rallye Monte-Carlo in January, puts the Irishman into joint second place in the title chase, eight points behind leader P-G Andersson.

Breen's victory prompted an outpouring of emotion at the finish of the final stage as he remembered Welshman Roberts, who lost his life competing on a rally in Sicily three months ago having partnered Breen to the inaugural FIA WRC Academy title in Wales last season.
"We did the job here last year and we've done it again this year," said Breen. "Everything was perfect and I couldn't ask for more. But I miss Gareth so much and I wish he could have been here."

The Irish driver began the gravel rally in based in Wales on the back of a penultimate stage exit on his last outing on World Rally Finland, placed fourth in the SWRC (FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship) standings, twenty five points off championship leader P-G Andersson. But Wales Rally GB has always been kind to the Waterford man having clenched the Fiesta Sport Trophy International in 2009 and the FIA WRC Academy title last year on the same event.

Craig, partnered by Killarney man, Paul Nagle got off to the perfect start when on stage two they set their first fastest stage time within the SWRC class, taking over the category lead. Their position was further enhanced when title rival Hayden Paddon hit trouble with an ignition problem dropping twelve minutes. This was quickly followed by more good fortune for the Irish crew when championship leader P-G Andersson retired for the day after ripping a wheel off his Proton. Breen driving the Kel-Tech Engineering Ford Fiesta S2000 went on to record five fastest stage times within the class to lead Yazeed Al Rajhi (Saudi Arabia) by 1 minute 14 seconds at the end of day one.

On Friday evening, Craig said,
"It's been a great day and to hold a lead of over a minute takes a lot of pressure off. We started cautiously on the first test this morning but from then on we set five fastest stage times. Looking to the championship it's been very interesting; Hayden (Paddon) and PG (Andersson) have had problems, so I'm now in a position that I can pace myself tomorrow."

Day Two Saturday consisted of seven stages and by the end of the day Breen remained in total control with a lead of 2 minutes 15 seconds over Briton, Tom Cave. This however does not reveal the cut and thrust of the day's action. Breen retained his comfortable advantage over the morning loop of stages but an oil leak forced a gearbox change at midday service and resulted in the Irishman incurring 1 min 20 sec of time penalties after a powersteering pipe leak was also discovered causing the Fiesta crew to leave service late. "The gearbox change went perfectly but when the guys put the ?box back in they noticed one of the powersteering pipes was damaged so it all had to come back out again," explained Breen. "They had the gearbox change done in 22 minutes, which was really impressive because it normally takes 26 but the extra repairs put us over the time limit."

Incurring the time penalty dropped Breen back to the second position in the class, twelve seconds behind Al Rajhi. Over the afternoon loop there was a see-saw battle between the two Fiesta drivers. Breen drew first blood by taking back the lead on stage ten but the Saudi driver hit back on SS11 recording his first fastest stage time of the weekend to move to top spot. On the penultimate stage of the day, Craig turned the tables to go 6s faster and 2.9 sec in front yet again. On a better tyre option Al Rajhi looked to have had the final Saturday say when he went in front by 0.1 on the ?Celtic Manor' superspecial but there was one extra twist. On the liaison section back to final service Al-Rajhi committed a speeding offence resulting in event officials imposing a five-minute time penalty for the offence dropping him down to third overall.

Instead of waking to begin a final day battle for victory Breen awoke now with a 2 minute 15 second advantage over Proton driver Tom Cave. Taking no risks over the morning stages Craig extended the lead to 2 min 23 sec by midday service. There were no heroics over the closing stages for Craig and when he reached the end of the final stage the emotions got the better of the twenty two year old,
"I couldn't have asked for anything better. This is where I met my best friend, where we always did best and I'm so glad we've done it this weekend."

The win puts Breen's championship aspirations back on track as he moves to joint 2nd (68 points), level with New Zealander Haydon Paddon. PG Andersson (Sweden) continues to lead after picking up 8 points over weekend and is now topping the table with 78.

The Super 2000 championship now moves to tarmac for the final two rounds of the season, World Rally France next month and World Rally Spain in November.

DMACK Takes Win On Wales Rally GB

Posted: November 23, 2016 6:27 AM

DMACK scored an impressive victory on its home round of the FIA World Rally Championship today when Bob Ceen won the Wales Rally GB National Rally after leading the event from start to finish.

In addition, Alastair Fisher finished fifth in the SWRC category after setting a fastest time to come back after suspension problems sidelined his challenge on the first day.

DMACK crews on the rally used the DMG+2 gravel tyre in S1 compound and the tyre performed exceptionally well on the mixed conditions that the tough Welsh stages pitched at tyres and crews. The results demonstrated DMACK's consistency on the forest roads after scoring a sixth overall finish on last year's event with Ott Tanak.

Ceen dominated the National Rally after taking fastest stage times on seven of the nine tests across the three-day event to seal victory by 45 seconds. His Subaru Impreza WRC benefitted from the S1 compound which delivered sufficient grip and traction to master the muddy stages.

Meanwhile Ulsterman Fisher got his rally off to a slow start. He hit a rock on stage three on Friday morning's opening loop which damaged the front suspension and forced him out of the day's action. However, he returned on Saturday and built up his speed, eventually scoring a fastest time on stage 16 and edging out factory PROTON driver P-G Andersson for fifth spot.

Wales Rally GB was contested over three days and took crews from a Ceremonial Start in Llandudno on the north Wales coast to a finish today in Cardiff in the south. Once again the event made use of the classic welsh stages including Sweet Lamb, Myherin and Halfway.

The weekend was rounded off with a second win when Brian O'Mahony took a convincing victory on the Clare Stages rally in Ireland. The result moves him into the lead of the Irish National Rally Championship.

Dick Cormack, DMACK motorsport director, said:
"We've had consistently strong performances on Rally GB and victory in the National rally demonstrates the suitability of DMACK tyres for international, national and clubman competitors. Alastair's performance was strong and he was able to set some impressive stage times in a field of more experienced SWRC drivers. We're continuing the development and evolution of our competition range and have a focus on more improvements for the 2013 season."

Wales Rally GB Success For Perez And Lancia

Posted: November 23, 2016 6:21 AM

Following on from his superb result back in 2009 when he last contested Wales Rally GB and brought his Kick Energy Ford Focus WRC home in a superb 11th place overall, Steve Perez was back in action on Britain's round of the World Rally Championship, this time in his popular Lancia Stratos.

And the success continued when the former triple British Champion, along with Welsh co driver Paul Spooner, brought the car home in a fantastic eighth position overall on the supporting Wales Rally GB National event and in doing so, took two-wheel drive honours by two minutes over his nearest rival and won the historic class too.

Cheered on by massive crowds, Perez, from Chesterfield, started the three-day event well by setting sixth fastest time through the opening stage on Friday in Dyfnant before ending day one in eighth overall. Saturday saw Steve consolidate his position on the tricky stages of the Epynt military ranges with 11th fastest time on each of the three stages to hold seventh overall going into the final day.

With even bigger crowds roaring the iconic 1974 Italian machine on, complete with the new Amigos Tequila-flavoured beer branding, Perez posted a pair of top ten times in Port Talbot and Rheola before easing off on the Walters Arena test to bring the car home to a rapturous reception in Cardiff this afternoon.

Steve said:
"I'm absolutely delighted to bring the car home to eighth overall and to win our class; this event is starting to become very special after our success three years ago. We were being egged on by the huge crowds and marshals and I was told we were trending on Twitter only just behind Ford and Citroen! We have spent the last year improving the car what with the new shell and sorting the handling so a massive thanks to Tim Ashton and the team at BTR for doing a fantastic job. It's taken us ten years but we now have the car where we want it to be and it's competitive and reliable. The new branding went down well also so if people have enjoyed seeing us on the stages, they can now go and enjoy some Amigos beer which is now available in most supermarkets!"

Steve's next outing is Rally Yorkshire later this month before tackling the Roger Albert Clark Rally in November.

CITROEN DRIVERS CERTAIN TO CLAIM WORLD TITLE

Posted: November 23, 2016 6:19 AM

After finishing second and fifth at the Wales Rally GB, Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen pushed all the other drivers out of the running for the title of 2012 World Rally Champion. In grabbing the runner-up spot on the final stage, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena obviously moved another step closer to a ninth consecutive title. The points secured by Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen in fifth also enabled the Citroen Total World Rally Team to move within grabbing distance of an eighth Manufacturers' World Championship.

The third leg of Wales Rally GB took the competitors close to Swansea, where three stages awaited them, each run twice. Starting the day in third, 6.4s behind Petter Solberg, Sebastien Loeb made no secret of his desire to get past the Norwegian. Two stage wins on Port Talbot and Rheola enabled the Citroen Total World Rally Team driver to move into second position.

"We completely changed the set-up during yesterday evening's service period," explained the eight-time World Champion. "Broadly speaking, we have adopted the solutions which worked well in New Zealand. We have found better performance again on roads which have been offering more grip than on the first two days. We are second now, but I don't think Petter will give up the fight as easily as that..."

Meanwhile, Mikko Hirvonen had also managed to find a good level of pace again during the first loop:
"I often get called ?Sunday Times', because I always set good times on the last day! There is no question that the grip has been a lot better, so I feel more confident and that has been reflected in the times... At the same time, the threat from Tanak has faded, but I'm going to keep pushing, because you never know what might happen at the front..."

The scrap between Sebastien Loeb and Petter Solberg became even more intense after the crews had stopped off at the Cardiff service park. Solberg moved ahead again on Port Talbot, before Seb fought back on Rheola, taking second by just a tenth of a second! Also offering the bonus points as the rally's Power Stage, the Walters Arena 2 stage became doubly significant. Confirming his status as the form driver on Sundays, Mikko Hirvonen went quickest, ahead of Seb in second, who therefore held onto his second position.
"It's good to finish the rally on such a positive note," said the Finn. "It hasn't been an easy weekend, but it's very good overall result for the team in terms of the two championships."

"I am pleased to have held onto second place. It reflects the real progress we've made today," commented Sebastien Loeb. "As I often say, nothing should be taken for granted. Sometimes, winning comes down to sheer hard work. This weekend, Jari-Matti was the best, and I'd like to congratulate him on his perfect rally. Personally speaking, I have to be pleased with the twenty points I have scored here. In terms of the title, it's a good result."

"At the start of the season, we stated that our goal was to retain the Drivers' and Manufacturers' titles," recalled Yves Matton, Citroen Racing Team Principal. "Thanks to the result we have achieved here in the UK, only Seb or Mikko can now win the Drivers' World Championship. So, we have achieved our first goal, and we have also moved a little bit closer to the second one. At the same time, we shouldn't forget that we weren't always the quickest this weekend. We will therefore keep working to try and make progress on this type of surface."

Results

Posted: November 23, 2016 6:10 AM

1 Latvala / Anttila Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3:03:40.3
2 Loeb / Elena Citroen DS3 WRC +27.8
3 Solberg / Patterson Ford Fiesta RS WRC +28.7
4 Ostberg / Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1:10.6
5 Hirvonen / Lehtinen Citroen DS3 WRC +1:29.5
6 Novikov / Minor Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3:37.0
7 Neuville / Gilsoul Citroen DS3 WRC +4:11.9
8 Wilson / Martin Ford Fiesta RS WRC +6:00.4
9 Prokop / Hruza Ford Fiesta RS WRC +6:58.9
10 Al-Attiyah / Bernacchini Citroen DS3 WRC 9:32.1

BRC to host Wales Rally GB app

Posted: September 11, 2012 10:44 PM

A free mobile app will provide global coverage of Wales Rally GB (WRGB) – thanks to the MSA British Rally Championship (BRC)

The BRC mobile app, free to download from Apple App Store or the Android Play (search for ‘British Rally Championship’) will serve a global audience with news and results from WRGB (12th to 16th September) made possible by a collaboration with the organisers of the BRC.

Scheduled to begin on Wednesday 12th September the app will include news from qualifying, regularly updated results, photos and driver comments from both the FIA World Rally Championship qualifier and the three-day National Rally, which runs immediately behind the international entry on nine of the 19 special stages.

The BRC app and its adaption for WRGB has been developed by Neil Burgess, founder of YNiL Ltd.

More Details:

Craig Breen Rallying: SWRC Rally GB Event Preview

Posted: September 11, 2012 10:42 PM

Next Weekend, Craig Breen returns to Wales Rally GB, where ten months ago he clinched the WRC Academy title. The 2011 event was a championship defining drive from the Irishman and as he stated himself, "We were left with no option but to go all out on every stage."

The same could be said for this year’s event as Breen has been left behind in the SWRC, Super 2000 class fight after his penultimate stage exit in World Rally Finland. Craig now sits in fourth place in the championship standings with five events complete. Swede PG Andersson moved to the top with his win in Finland (68 points) and has a two point advantage over Kiwi, Hayden Paddon (62 points). Maciej Oleksowicz (53 points) overhauled Craig with his 12 points score in Finland and Craig still holds a total of 43 points and fourth place, which he picked up from scores in Monte Carlo and SWRC Sweden.

"My exit in Finland has cost me dearly. I was leading the class with two stages to go but even if I didn't win the event second place and the subsequent 18 points would have given a totally different look to the table. I was very disappointed initially but just to be in Finland and to be back rallying was an achievement under the circumstances. It's time now for Rally GB and I'm looking forward to a good event." said Craig before travelling to the Wales.

Starting in the north of Wales and finishing in the south, Wales Rally GB is set to be a three-day feast of dramatic action over fast and undulating gravel stages.

"Wales Rally GB is always one of the toughest events on the calendar. You never know what the conditions or the weather are going to be like. This year should differ slightly with the September start, the weather has been good of late but we'll just have to wait until the recce to view the stages." said Craig.

He then went on then stating,
"As regards to the championship, we won't be giving up. Our exit in Finland has made a big difference; my non-finished gifted the win to PG but we must keep 100% focused as you never know what can happen. Rally GB is always tough on the cars and the season rounds off with two tough events so there’s still could be an interesting end to the year."

Apart from the rally action Craig is delighted to announce the launch a new section to his website that is dedicated to his former co-driver Gareth Roberts.
"I’m sad but honoured to be launching this new section of my website honouring Ted. Rally GB was Gareth’s home event and the venue where we claimed our biggest victory last season. We both took on this journey three years ago and it’s appropriate now that I include this section which is dedicated to his memory. There's no way to bring back the little man but he will always be part of the team. The new section includes highlights of Gareth’s career plus photos, videos, the poignant eulogy from Gareth's funeral thanks to Howard Davies and the condolence book but the part I want people to focus on is the 'Gareth Roberts Memorial Fund'. This new initiative has been setup to honour his memory."

Molly Taylor sets sight on Wales Rally GB

Posted: September 11, 2012 2:53 PM

The United Business driver and Seb Marshall, with the DS3 R3T in the United Business livery followed by BP Racing, return to the World Rally Championship.

After the excellent performances shown in Neste Rally Finland, where they had to abandon the fight for the class win due to an electrical fault a few special stages from the end, while traveling in second place after having previously occupied the top spot and having won some stages, the United Business crew returns to the well known roads of Wales Rally GB, which in the 2011 edition had seen them get their first stage win in the WRC Academy. A test before the race will allow Molly to fine tune the set-up of the Citroen DS3 R3T before embarking on the dirt roads through the Welsh forests.

Molly Taylor said:
"I am very excited to have the opportunity to compete at Wales Rally GB. From all of the WRC Academy events we did last year, I have the best memories of this event and it is where we got our first WRC Academy stage win. I have also done a few smaller rallies around the same area, so whilst the stages will be different, I have a good idea of the nature of the roads. I really enjoyed Rally Finland and am looking forward to spending some more time in the car and progressing from what we learnt in Finland ".

Pier Liberali (United Business) said:
“United Business is very pleased with what Molly is doing, both Seb and her have proven to be two excellent professionals, inside and outside the cockpit. Both myself and my staff are pleased with the steady growth that Molly is achieving, race after race and test after test her feeling with the car improves just like her performance. With Wales Rally GB the programme we had planned ends, we will see whether by the end of the year there will be the opportunity to tackle some other rallies, but this is not a priority, the most important thing on which we are now focused is to plan the 2013 racing season in the best way. We are evaluating and exploring different options and proposals that we have received. We hope to make the best choice, 2013 will be a very important year for Molly Taylor and her sporting career, we will try to make the right choice".

Wales Rally GB will start in Llandudno on Thursday, September 13th at 19:00 GMT, and will end in Cardiff on Sunday 16th at 15:40 GMT, after 1,606 km, of which 325 timed, divided into 19 special stages.

Ford Fiesta pair primed to continue Rally GB success story

Posted: September 11, 2012 2:46 PM

Ford World Rally Team enters next week’s new-look Wales Rally GB (13 - 16 September) bidding to add to its long list of successes in one of the sport’s classic events. The Blue Oval has claimed the top step of the podium on 10 occasions since the launch of the FIA World Rally Championship in 1973, a record unmatched by any other manufacturer.

Current drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg are also no strangers to the winners’ laurels in Britain. Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila will defend their 2011 victory when they won by almost four minutes in a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car, and Solberg, co-driven now by Chris Patterson, took four consecutive victories from 2002 to 2005.

Fiesta RS WRCs filled eight of the top nine places in 2011, but the 2012 event will be very different from last year’s encounter. Traditionally the final round of the championship in November, its hallmarks are rain, fog, ice and snow. However, a September date promises more benign conditions and this could be the fastest Rally GB ever.

Cardiff, capital city of Wales and located on the south coast, has been the rally base since 2000. The action takes place over narrow but fast gravel forest speed tests further north, more commonly used by lorries transporting timber.

Tree-lined tracks in the hilly woods contrast with wide-open sections on exposed military land, and log piles frequently line the roads ready to trap the unwary. The roads can become rutted during the second pass with exposed rocks presenting another hazard.

As well as their victories, both Fiesta RS WRC drivers bring a wealth of experience to the rally. Finland’s Latvala began his career in Britain and has more starts in this event than any other WRC round. This will be his 11th appearance. Solberg first competed in Rally GB in 1998 and this will be the 37-year-old Norwegian’s 15th start.

“I enjoy driving on narrow, fast, flowing roads like these and it’s one of my favourite rallies,” said 27-year-old Latvala. “We’re used to winter conditions here so if it stays dry then the characteristics of the event will change considerably. In dry weather the roads will give good grip and speeds will be high.

“One of the big decisions will be tyre selection. In the dry we should use Michelin’s hard compound rubber, especially as the surface in some forests is abrasive. But the allocation we’re allowed means we can’t do that for the entire rally, so it will be tricky to know when to use soft tyres and when to use harder rubber.

“In winter it’s important to identify muddy sections. If it’s drier it’s not necessary to pay so much attention to the surface, but I’ll need to concentrate harder in corners because the car will carry more speed. Logs are another hazard in Britain. They are often piled high on the side of the road and clipping one can break the suspension and end the day immediately,” added Latvala.

Solberg admitted that Rally GB was one of his pre-season targets for a strong result. “I’ve been very successful in Britain during my career and it’s a rally that suits me. I enjoy the forest tracks because they’re fast and a good challenge. You have to use the whole road – and sometimes a bit more – to keep the speed high,” he said.

“Accurate pace notes are important because overhanging branches often prevent a clear view of the road. The earlier date this year will obviously make a difference and I expect the roads will be faster and rougher in places. That could also make it tougher for the tyres.

“The team has worked hard since the last gravel round in Finland to unlock more speed. We were surprised at the pace of that rally and our priority is to ensure we are up there and challenging for a win,” added Solberg.

Team News

* Michelin’s Latitude Cross gravel tyres will be used by the Ford drivers, and will be available in both soft and hard compounds. Drivers have a choice of 30 soft tyres and 22 hard tyres, and a total of 35 can be used during the event. Teams are not allowed to hand-carve additional cuts into the tyres and each car can carry two spare wheels.

* Six crews will compete in privately-run Fiesta RS WRCs. Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk and Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor are nominated by M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. The team has also entered Matthew Wilson / Scott Martin and Jan Habig / Robbie Durant. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson represent Adapta World Rally Team and Martin Prokop / Zden?k Hr?za crew the Czech Ford National Team car.

* The team completes a three-day test in northern England today. Latvala drove on Wednesday and Thursday, with the first day being a development session before moving to specific pre-Rally GB work yesterday. Solberg is at the wheel today (Friday).

* Solberg will display a Fiesta RS WRC at CarFest North at Cholmondeley Castle in north-west England this weekend. The two-day festival on Saturday and Sunday (8 - 9 September) will raise money for the BBC Children In Need charity.

Rally Route

After a year when the route leaned more towards north and mid-Wales, the 80th anniversary rally has an increased emphasis on the south again. The main service park returns to Cardiff and the most northerly stages have been dropped. However, Llandudno, on the northern tip of Wales, continues to host Thursday evening’s start ceremony. Competitors then head south for an opening day in mid-Wales, with a remote service zone in Newtown. The second leg is based near Brecon, before ending with a short speed test at the Celtic Manor resort, host to golf’s Ryder Cup in 2010. The final day brings the return of stages in south Wales which were not used last year, before the finish in Cardiff on Sunday afternoon. Drivers tackle 19 stages covering 324.92km in a route of 1604.05km.

CITROEN - A ROUND THAT MAY ALREADY PROVE DECISIVE

Posted: September 11, 2012 2:22 PM

Wales Rally GB – usually host to the climax of World Rally Championship season in November – has been moved in this year’s schedule to a mid-September slot. The British round may still prove decisive, however, in determining the winner of the ‘Manufacturers’ title, which Citroën Total World Rally Team can secure if the team enjoys a good result in Wales. Winners of the last five rounds, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena will be looking to equal their own record of six consecutive victories. Among their rivals, they will first and foremost have to hold off their team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, who have been particularly quick here in recent years.

As was the case in 2004 and 2005, the Wales Rally GB will be held at the end of the summer. Conditions at this time of year, therefore, may well be radically different to the 'wind, rain and mud' that usually greet competitors at this event.
“Given that we even had rain on the Acropolis Rally, however, we’ll need to be prepared for all types of situation,” warned Didier Clément, the DS3 WRC’s Chief Operations Engineer at Citroën Total World Rally Team.

“The weather was fairly mild on both occasions when the rally was held around the same time of year, which meant the stages were even quicker than usual. The dry road surfaces were extremely hard on the tyres”. For this rally, the crews will however be able to put together their choice of tyres from hard and soft Michelin Latitude Cross tyres, available in sufficient quantities to deal with all eventualities.

Although the date has changed, the route remains more or less the same, except that the rally base has been moved to Cardiff. Like last year, the ceremonial start will be held on Thursday evening in Llandudno, over 300km from the service park. The competitors must then make it through three long days of racing. The only new stage is at Celtic Manor, on roads located close to the course used for the Ryder Cup in 2010.

With five one-two finishes this season, the Citroën Total World Rally Team and its crews line up at the start of this, the tenth round of the WRC looking to add an eighth world title to the brand’s impressive competitive record. To achieve their goal, the Loeb/Elena and Hirvonen/Lehtinen crews must score six points more than their rivals. There are many potential outcomes, but a repeat of the result achieved at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland – first and third places – would, for example, be enough to secure the title.

Seven-time winners in 2012, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena will also be going for a fourth win in Wales.
“It’s a rally that I like and we’ve got some good memories from the last few years”, confirmed the man from Alsace, who claimed the title in Cardiff last year despite having to retire from the rally following an incident unintentionally caused by spectators on a road section. “ This year, it would be good to win and secure an eighth world title for the team. That would also make us ideally placed to win a ninth championship at the Rallye de France. However, I’m not obsessed by that, by any means. I’ll be approaching this rally just like any other.”

“Having a chance of winning the Manufacturers’ title with four rallies to go demonstrates the quality of the work done by the team since the start of the season”, confirmed Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “Having said that, we won’t allow ourselves to get too carried away. We are all too aware how strong our rivals are on this kind of surface to do that. We are expecting it to be a difficult race, during which tyre management may well play a key role, depending on what the weather is like.”

THREE QUESTIONS FOR… MIKKO HIRVONEN

You have already won this event. So, is this somewhere you feel particularly at ease?
“Yes, I like this rally even though it is difficult. The top speeds are extremely high, which is exhilarating for the drivers. All the stages are great, I don't think I could even single one out. In the conditions that you usually get here towards the end of the year, the road surface is so muddy and slippery that you can go off on almost any bend. It probably won’t be the same at this time of year. If it stays dry, I think it’ll be a little bit easier… but it’ll also be even quicker. Although there are hard tyres available for us to use if the weather is sunny, we'll need to manage their wear.”

Your win here in 2007 enabled your then team to win the Manufacturers’ World Championship title. Would you like to experience that again?
“It is undoubtedly one of the highlights of my career. Since then, I have raced against Sébastien at this rally for the Drivers’ title, but I haven’t managed to beat him yet! I would really love it if we can secure the World title for Citroën in Great Britain. It would be a real team effort and it would take some of the pressure off me for the final few rallies…”

With seven podium finishes out of ten rallies, perhaps you are not far away from your first win?
“To win, I’ll need to have an absolutely flawless rally! If we secure the Manufacturers’ title for Citroën in Great Britain, I will no longer need to think about points. That will allow me to relax a bit more, especially on tarmac. We saw in Germany that I really need to make progress on this surface. To do that, I need to take a few more risks so I can drive closer to the limit.”

DMACK And Fisher Partner For Home Event Challenge

Posted: September 11, 2012 2:20 PM

DMACK will take on the challenges of its home round of the FIA World Rally Championship next weekend when the series moves to Wales Rally GB. After claiming a top-six finish on last year’s event, on it’s first ever outing with a world rally car, DMACK is aiming to deliver another strong performance in somewhat different conditions.

The 80th running of Rally GB sees the event move from its traditional end of season calendar date and that change is likely to mean less chance of the winter weather that the event is famous for.

The potential for drier roads and warmer weather means conditions on the flowing, gravel forest roads will be tougher on tyres and serve to produce a more high-speed event. In the past, Rally GB was famed for its muddy stages and slippery conditions but a drier event will expose some more abrasive sections of forest and deliver a fresh challenge for tyres and cars.

However, DMACK believes it is up to the challenge. In addition to sixth overall on last year’s event, its scored a third fastest stage time on one of the toughest stages of the rally in the hands of Ford driver Ott Tanak. This year DMACK has nominated an evolution of that tyre in the form of its DMG+2 gravel tyre which has already performed well in New Zealand and Finland.

It will be available in both S1 and H1 compounds with drivers facing some tough tyre decisions based on the changing weather and stage conditions.


One of the top DMACK competitors is current FIA WRC Academy front-runner Alastair Fisher. The Ulster driver will complete a test in his M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car on Monday before hitting the stages for real on Friday.

Because of the unknown weather conditions, competitors will have the largest pool of tyres to choose from on any event this year. P1 and P2 crews can use a maximum of 35 tyres from 30 soft and 22 hard, while Fisher and other P3 drivers can choose a maximum of 29 tyres from 24 soft and 16 hard.

This year’s format has had a few changes but still sees crews travel the full length of Wales. Thursday evening’s start is in the coastal town of Llandudno in the north while the service park and finish are once again based in Cardiff in the south.

Event Details

The action kicks off on Friday morning with a loop of three stages in mid-Wales including classics such as Hafren Sweet Lamb and Myherin. A second pass is split by a remote service in Newtown. Saturday’s action takes competitors to Epynt and Brecon before finishing the day with a short blast through Celtic Manor – home of the 2010 Ryder Cup. The final day stages are in south Wales and include fans’ favourite Walters Arena before the finish in Cardiff. There is a total of 325km of timed action over 19 stages.

Dick Cormack, DMACK motorsport director, said:
“Rally GB holds many positive memories after a performance last year which really confirmed DMACK’s commitment to reach the top. Since then we’ve undertaken further development and evaluation to move our range forward. However, this year’s event will provide different conditions with drier roads and faster stages predicted. This should work well for us as the S1 compound we’ve chosen is proven to cope with these demanding conditions."

NEUVILLE AND NASSER AL-ATTIYAH TAKE ON THE WELSH FORESTS

Posted: September 11, 2012 2:15 PM

After a brief interlude on tarmac, the World Rally Championship returns to gravel in Wales. Unlike Nasser Al- Attiyah and Giovanni Bernacchini (Qatar World Rally Team), who have taken part in the Wales Rally GB on several occasions, the tenth round of the WRC season will be a totally new experience for Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul (Citroën Junior World Rally Team).

Traditionally contested at the end of the season, in 2012 the Wales Rally GB has been moved to the middle of September. Like the mild weather that Cardiff is currently enjoying, the British round of the WRC may well benefit from something of a summer atmosphere!

As Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul have never competed here before, they won’t be surprised if they don’t find the mud, rain and wind typically associated with the Welsh stages.
“Perhaps the course will make me think of the Rally of Scotland, in which I have competed twice”, assessed the young Belgian. “In any case, I’m not afraid of racing in places that are totally new to me. The purpose of this season is to provide me with experience and I’m always happy to take part in rallies that I could only watch on television a few years ago.”

“I had a chance to relax in the weeks following the Germany Rally”, continued Thierry. “I didn’t really get very far away from the world of motorsport, as I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Belgian Formula 1 GP at Spa. It was very enlightening to watch the Red Bull Racing team at work during a racing weekend. After this short break, my aim for the British round will be to make it to the finish without having to resort to the Rally2 rules. I know I have the turn of speed, including on stages that are totally new to me. But for this event, I’m not going to concern myself too much with my times, because my goal will really be to avoid making any mistakes.”

Having already competed here three times, Nasser Al-Attiyah is already more familiar with the gravel roads winding through the Welsh forests.
“It’s not my favourite rally when it rains. In wet conditions, it is very easy to get caught out and end up going off the road”, recalled the Qatari. “The Germany Rally was difficult for me, but it gave me the opportunity to refamiliarise myself with the DS3 WRC. I think that this will be a surface on which I’ll be more capable of expressing myself. Like Thierry, I was able to take some time off in the last few days. After having spent a lot of time in Europe for the Olympic Games, I went back to Qatar to spend some time with my family.”

Despite his recent lack of competitive action, Nasser believes he can continue to progress:
“The huge advantage that we have is that we benefit from the work done by the works team. When I get into the car, I know that it has already been very well set up. I will be treating this rally with the respect it deserves and I'll gradually push more and more as I grow in confidence.”

PROTON Motorsports Preview

Posted: September 11, 2012 2:13 PM

PROTON Motorsports will be looking to extend its lead in the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship when the series arrives in Cardiff for this week’s Wales Rally GB.

Sweden’s P-G Andersson has won two of the last three SWRC rounds he has contested and enjoys a six-point advantage at the top of the table as the series moves into its final three rounds.

The first of those three rallies is Rally GB, one the WRC’s most cherished events. Britain has run a round of the World Rally Championship since the series’ began in 1973 and – albeit in a very different guise – the event has been running for the last 80 years. Victory on Rally GB means a huge amount to all who take part in one of the world’s most famous rallies. And it’s SWRC victory that PROTON Motorsports is chasing this week.

There’s significant change to Rally GB for this year, with the event moving forward from its traditional final-round November date to mid-September. The long-range weather forecast is looking promising with plenty of sunshine and temperatures around 20 degrees.

As in the last two years, Rally GB runs the length of Wales, getting underway with a ceremonial start in Llandudno on the north coast Thursday (September 13). The drivers then tackle stages in the middle of the country before ending day one on the south coast in Cardiff. The weekend action is based out of the capital city, with another innovation for the event being the inclusion of a stage around Celtic Manor, the host hotel and golf course for Europe’s Ryder Cup victory in 2010.

Joining Andersson in the PROTON factory team next week will be 20-year-old Welshman Tom Cave. Cave is the current sensation in British rallying. He contested his first round of the world championship – the 2008 Rally GB – just 10 days after being legally allowed to drive on the road aged 17. And then won his Rally GB class by 15 minutes.

Since then, Cave has driven a semi-works PROTON on British and European rallies and won his first round of the British Rally Championship earlier this season. His first overseas win came with a stunning display of controlled and committed driving on the Rally of Thailand, his debut with PROTON Motorsports earlier this year.

Cave and Andersson both tested in Wales last month, finalising the set-up for their Satria-Neo S2000s in similar conditions to which they will drive this week.

Rally GB isn’t PROTON Motorsports’ only commitment next weekend, with the penultimate round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship – the Hokkaido Rally – in Japan also running this weekend. PROTON is represented in Obihio by reigning APRC champion driver Alister McRae (Scotland) and Juha Salo (Finland).

In addition to its preparations for Rally GB and the Hokkaido Rally, the PROTON Motorsports team was in France last week for a two-day test ahead of the Malaysian firm’s debut on the Rallye de France.

Quotes:

P-G Andersson said:
“We had a really good test for this event last month and the speed we showed in Finland gives me confidence for Wales. This car is really close to the top now, all the time the team is doing a great job in finding more and more speed from small areas. And we have to keep on pushing like that. For sure, [Hayden] Paddon and his Skoda will be tough to beat in Wales. He was quick, of course at home in New Zealand, but also we saw his speed in Finland – I think he can be fast anywhere now. I know these roads in Wales quite well, which can be a help. Actually, the first day I don’t know so well, I did these only one time, but from what I remember they are really nice and fast stages. I’m sure it will be a good battle and, as usual, we are starting for the win.”

Tom Cave said:
“I am incredibly excited, and of course honoured, to be contesting my home round of the FIA World Rally Championship with PROTON. Craig and I are also very proud to be the only Welshmen contesting the event, which takes place entirely within our home nation. It will be fantastic to be back in the Proton; I really enjoyed driving our Satria-Neo S2000 in 2010 – it really suited my style – and of course, was delighted to win in Thailand with the team, so to get a second opportunity is amazing. Wales Rally GB is one of my favourite events – it's my home round of the WRC and having done the event three times before, I know a little of what the conditions and the stages can be like.
“We appear to be having something of an Indian summer at the moment and as the event is around a month earlier than normal, hopefully the weather conditions will be a little better than we have seen in previous years. The long-range weather forecast looks like mainly dry with some light rain in the build-up to the event but certainly warmer than we have been used to – well into double figures. I think this will probably make the event faster than we have seen, with more grip from the drier stages. I think it will also make it more competitive, as when the conditions are very bad, a little local knowledge can be useful but better weather makes for a more even field.”

MEM team principal Chris Mellors said:
“The nature of this rally could change quite considerably in the shift from November to September, with a potentially drier rally being quite a lot faster than if it’s wet – and we’d be happy with that. Rallies don’t come much faster than Finland and we won there last time out. We’ve got a very good line-up in Wales this week: P-G has plenty of raw speed and the ability to win any event he goes to and Tom has tremendous maturity for his 20 years. We’ve asked Tom to play a supporting role to P-G, but I don’t see any reason why his speed shouldn’t carry him towards a podium place. With Rally GB and the Hokkaido Rally going on at the same weekend, there’s got to be plenty of excitement in the PROTON Motorsports corner of the service park. And, by the end of the weekend on both sides of the world, hopefully plenty of celebrating!”

Tom Cave flies Welsh flag on Wales Rally GB with PROTON

Posted: September 11, 2012 2:11 PM

Welsh rally driver Tom Cave will contest his fourth Wales Rally GB, his home round of the FIA World Rally Championship, next weekend on his second outing as a work driver for the PROTON Motorsports team. The 20 year-old, partnered by Craig Parry, is the only native Welsh driver taking part in the event and one of only three British drivers on the entry list.

Tom's first Rally GB was in 2008, when he famously started the event just 19 days after turning 17 and 10 days after passing his UK driving test and gaining his road license, despite having been driving rally cars competitively since he was 15. He went on to win his class by more than 15 minutes.

In 2009, he and Parry finished third in class and he was honoured to be awarded the Richard Burns Trophy while in 2010, driving his privately-entered and works-supported Proton Satria Neo S2000, was putting in extremely competitive stage times.

This year will see not only Tom's fourth Wales Rally GB but also his second event as an official PROTON Motorsports driver, following his dominant win on the 2012 Rally of Thailand for the manufacturer. According to Team Principal Chris Mellors, he was a natural choice for the role as the team targets the 2012 SWRC title, which it currently leads with Per-Gunnar Andersson.

Tom will be driving the latest version of the Proton Satria Neo Super 2000, the car he drove in Thailand and will be running alongside Swedish team-mate, Andersson. And at just 20 years of age, Tom is believed to be one of the youngest drivers contesting the event, having claimed a similar honour in 2008, when he became the youngest driver ever to compete on Wales Rally GB.

Speaking ahead of the event and following a successful test, Tom said; "I am incredibly excited, and of course honoured, to be contesting my home round of the FIA World Rally Championship with PROTON. Craig and I are also very proud to be the only Welshmen contesting the event, which takes place entirely within our home nation.

"It will be fantastic to be back in the Proton; I really enjoyed driving our Satria Neo S2000 in 2010 - it really suited my style - and of course, was delighted to win in Thailand with the team, so to get a second opportunity is amazing.

"Wales Rally GB is one of my favourite events - it's my home round of the WRC and having done the event three times before, I know a little of what the conditions and the stages can be like.

"We appear to be having something of an Indian summer at the moment and as the event is around a month earlier than normal, hopefully the weather conditions will be a little better than we have seen in previous years. The long-range weather forecast looks like mainly dry with some light rain in the build-up to the event but certainly warmer than we have been used to - well into double figures.

"I think this will probably make the event faster than we have seen, with more grip from the drier stages. I think it will also make it more competitive, as when the conditions are very bad, a little local knowledge can be useful but better weather makes for a more even field.

"I didn't do the event last year, when it changed the route considerably, so I'm looking forward to this year. It's a shame the Great Orme road isn't used in 2012 but in the main, the stages are ones I have some knowledge of so we're not starting from scratch.

"The brief is to provide a support role to PG, who is leading the SWRC at the moment. I know that the S2000 class will be very competitive - there are nine S2000 cars, 11 if you include the two VW Motorsport Skodas, so it's not going to be an easy weekend by any stretch but we're definitely looking forward to it and the challenge."

The event begins with a ceremonial start in Llandudno in the very north of Wales in the evening of Thursday 13 September before six stages in Mid-Wales, with three run in two loops. The crews then head to Cardiff for the first of the two overnight halts, before six more stages on Saturday and a superspecial stage to close the day.

Sunday then sees a further six stages run as two loops of three, culminating with the Walters Arena Power Stage. The first crews are expected at the finish in Cardiff at 15.30 on Sunday 16 September.

WILDCARD FISHER TO STEP UP ON RALLY GB

Posted: September 11, 2012 1:59 PM

Alastair Fisher will step up to the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship on Rally GB this week after being handed a wildcard entry by the event organisers.

Fisher, 24, from Northern Ireland, is a frontrunner in the WRC Academy. However, with the series not including a round in Great Britain this season, Fisher is making a one-off switch to the SWRC, the world championship’s fastest support category.

“It’s great to be doing the British round of the WRC,” said Fisher, who is from Trillick in County Tyrone and will be co-driven by Daniel Barritt from Burnley, Lancashire. “It’s also great to be driving a Ford Fiesta Super 2000 against strong opposition. Last year I was setting top five times in the IRC on the Rally of Scotland in the same car which is some comfort, so I’m hoping it won’t take too long to get adjusted again even though it’s almost a year since I was last in an S2000 car on gravel.”

Fisher said gaining wildcard status for the event – which means he’s eligible for SWRC points – was a big boost.
“I can compare my times against the SWRC regulars so thank you to Robert Reid, the Motor Sports Association and the event organisers for their support.”

This year’s Rally GB, which starts in the north Welsh coastal town of Llandudno on Thursday 13 September and finishes in Cardiff, the principality’s capital, on Sunday 16 September, features 18 high-speed gravel stages plus the all asphalt stage at Celtic Manor, a former Ryder Cup venue. The total competitive distance is 201.61 miles.
“The stages are quite long and very fast due to the likelihood of dry weather and we won’t get much time to bed ourselves in against guys with more experience,” said Fisher. “But we’re looking to gain more S2000 knowledge and secure a good finish.”

Ford’s factory WRC team M-Sport will run Fisher’s Fiesta on Rally GB with Anglo-Chinese firm DMACK supplying tyres in soft and hard compounds. Fisher is due to test at the Walters Arena complex in Wales today (Monday).

M-SPORT FOURSOME LOOK TO THRIVE ON HOME SOIL

Posted: September 11, 2012 1:57 PM

Following a brief interlude on asphalt, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team will make the return to gravel next week with four crews representing the team on home soil at the 2012 Wales Rally GB. Looking to translate their speed into strong points, regular point scorers Ott Tänak and Evgeny Novikov will be joined by returning home favourite, Matthew Wilson and South African star, Jan Habig.

Rich in heritage, Wales Rally GB is one of the oldest and most prestigious rallies in the world. First run in 1932, the event has been a qualifying round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) since the inaugural season in 1973 and with a strong record on the Welsh stages, the M-Sport foursome will be looking to thrive on the team’s home event.

Synonymous with rain, mud and slippery forestry roads, the infamous tracks of Wales Rally GB form some of the most technically challenging stages on the calendar. The earlier schedule for this year’s event may well forecast higher grip levels and faster roads, but in this part of the world, nothing can be taken for granted and the tenth round of the season is sure to throw its usual dose of drama into the mix.

Having contested Rally GB on two previous occasions, Evgeny Novikov will be looking to get his 2012 WRC campaign back on track at an event he knows well and secured seventh place overall on last season. Having completed a pre-event test behind the wheel of his ALM Russia supported Ford Fiesta RS WRC on Sunday, the Russian will be ready for the fight and looking to replicate the impressive form he showed on gravel at the beginning of the season.

With regular co-driver Denis Giraudet still recovering from injuries incurred at last month’s Neste Oil Rally Finland, Rally GB will see Novikov partnered by a third navigator in as many events. But with last year’s podium finishing co-driver, Ilka Minor, reading the notes, the 21-year-old will be in good hands. Minor is the only navigator to have co-driven for three drivers at the pinnacle of the sport this season – Henning Solberg, Manfred Stohl and now Novikov – and is more than capable of quickly adapting to the challenges of a new partnership.

After claiming their first two stage wins on asphalt at Rallye Deutschland last month, Ott Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk will head to Rally GB full of confidence and eager for another strong showing to prove their potential.

The 24-year-old has an impressive record on the British event. Debuting as part of the Pirelli Star Driver scheme in 2010, the Estonian claimed a dominant victory in the P-WRC – taking the win by more than three minutes which also saw him clinch a credible 17th place finish. Taking to the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC for the first time in his career at the event last year, Tänak impressed once more – overcoming early problems to claim an inspiring sixth place – and will be keen to show more of the same this year.

Making a welcome return to the WRC, Matthew Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin will form the only all-British pairing at this year’s event and will be looking to secure a strong result in front of the home crowd. Never out of the top-ten on his previous five ventures to the event, Wilson secured fifth place last year as the Blue Oval occupied eight of the first nine places – an accomplishment never before achieved by a manufacturer in the WRC.

Completing a pre-event test last week, the 25-year-old will travel to Wales this week for a further test ahead of the event. Getting back into the groove of gravel rallying – a surface on which he has not competed since last season – Wilson will be looking to secure a good result behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, the livery of which truly identifies his Cumbrian roots and is due for release later today.

Joining the team for a one-off event next weekend, South African Jan Habig will also be looking for a strong result. Having made his debut in the WRC at the 1994 Network Q RAC Rally, Habig claimed eighth place overall and will be keen to make his mark on the British stages once again.

As a regular and popular competitor in the South African Rally Championship, Habig pilots a Ford Fiesta S2000 for the Basil Read Ford Rally Team and will make history in Wales as the first South African to take to the wheel of a new generation World Rally Car as he pilots a Ford Fiesta RS WRC liveried in the colours of his Basil Read sponsor.

Joining Habig in the Navigator’s seat will be British co-driver, Robbie Durant. With seven WRC starts to his name, Durant is an accomplished co-driver perhaps better known for partnering fellow Brit Harry Hunt in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

Evgeny Novikov said:
“I have a good feeling ahead of this event. Obviously I have another new co-driver, so hopefully that will be fine and I am looking forward to seeing how everything works out.

“We had a pre-event test on Sunday which is very positive, so hopefully we will be able to get the best set-up and be fully prepared going into the rally.

“It will be interesting to see what the weather does. Personally, I have never driven this event at this time of year before, but it should be drier, and maybe the stages will be a lot faster too.

“As usual, we will just try and do the best we can for a good result.”

Ott Tänak said:
“This has been a good event for us in the past. We won here in 2010 [as part of the P-WRC] and then we had another good result last year so the feeling is good.

“This year the rally is a bit earlier so it could be a new challenge for us. It was in 2005 when the event was last this early and I know that it was quite dry then – it was really quick and there was quite a lot of grip in some places. But for sure this is GB – the weather can change all the time and anything can happen!

“We had a really good feeling with the car on Tarmac in Germany and we also learnt a lot about how to best set-up the car which I think will help us on gravel too. So all in all, the feeling is good and we will be looking for a good result.”

Matthew Wilson said:
“I can’t wait to get back out on the stages, especially after we had such a good test on Tuesday! It took a little while to get back into the rhythm of driving on gravel – [Wales Rally] GB last year was actually our last run out on gravel – but once we had a few runs under our belt everything felt great.

“We will have another test down in Wales on Monday which will make us well and truly ready for the event next week. The conditions on the test should be quite similar to those we will experience on the rally, so it should be really good preparation.
“Obviously the conditions will be a bit different this year with the event not being run in November as usual. Even if it does rain, it will be a lot warmer and the stages will dry a lot quicker. Potentially we could be in for a really fast event and I am really looking forward to it.”

Jan Habig said:
“I am very excited to upgrade to the WRC specification Fiesta and believe that we will gain a tremendous amount of knowledge working alongside the M-Sport team.

“In South Africa, the forest stages are my favourite and the Welsh stages appear quite fast with a good road surface so I am looking forward to them.

“I am sure Robbie [Durant], the car and I will quickly find a good rhythm and hopefully secure a good result on my return to the WRC.”

HABIG JOINS M-SPORT FOR WALES RALLY GB

Posted: September 5, 2012 9:08 AM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team is pleased to announce that a fourth driver will compete for the team at Wales Rally GB with South African Jan Habig joining regular points scorers Ott Tänak, Evgeny Novikov and the returning Matthew Wilson.

Competing behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta S2000 in the South African Rally Championship, the tenth round of the WRC will see Habig graduate to the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, liveried in the colours of his South African sponsor, Basil Read. This may mark Habig’s debut in the modern WRC car, but this will not be his first venture to the world stage – surprising the world with a credible eighth place finish when he contested the 1994 Network Q RAC Rally in a Ford Escort built and prepared in his homeland before going on to contest Rally Australia in 1996 and Network Q Rally of Great Britain in 1998.

Habig began his rallying career as a privateer in 1983 and soon found himself as a member of the Nissan factory supported team. He made the move to VW in 1994, winning six South African Rally Championships alongside the manufacturer. Making his debut with the Ford Fiesta S2000 alongside Basil Read at the Total Tour Natal Rally earlier this year, Habig is currently holding third place in the South African Rally Championship after securing two successive podium finishes. Joining Habig in the navigator’s seat will be British co-driver Robbie Durant. Known for partnering Harry Hunt in the Intercontinental Rally Championship, Durant is an accomplished navigator having contested seven WRC events in his career – making his debut on the British event in 2010 when he partnered fellow Brit Jason Pritchard to 20th place overall.

When not reading the notes in a rally car, Durant works as a self-employed electrician building wiring looms for F1 teams the likes of Red Bull Racing and will be hoping to carry the F1 team’s good fortune forward to this month’s Wales Rally GB.

Jan Habig said:
“I look forward to rallying with the M-Sport team, and believe that we will gain a tremendous amount of knowledge. I am confident that we will be in a position to apply this knowledge and further enhance the performance of our SA Ford Fiesta [S2000], not only for the remainder of the season, but also for the future.”

WILSON TO MAKE A WELCOME RETURN ON HOME EVENT

Posted: August 16, 2012 2:11 PM

Out of action since January's opening round in Monte-Carlo, M-Sport is pleased to announce that the British pairing of Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin will make a welcome return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) on their home event at Wales Rally GB (13 ' 16 September).

Back behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Wilson will compete as part of the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team alongside regular entrants Ott Tänak and Evgeny Novikov. With backing from Invest in Cumbria, Britain's Energy Coast Cumbria and In-Cumbria as well as on-going discussions with various other Cumbrian firms, the 25-year-old will sport a brand-new livery which truly identifies his Cumbrian roots and highlights the county's ever-growing commercial prowess.

As the only British driver in the WRC, Wilson has a strong track-record at his home event with its fast and technical gravel stages making it a firm favourite amongst drivers and spectators alike. Formerly known as the RAC Rally and first run in 1932, Wales Rally GB is one of the oldest rallies in the world and one of the UK's most prestigious sporting events. A popular fixture on the WRC calendar since the inaugural championship in 1973, the tree-lined gravel stages and slippery forest roads form the ultimate test of man and machine.

Never out of the top-ten on his previous five ventures to the event, Wilson claimed fifth position last year as Ford cars occupied eight of the first nine places ' an accomplishment never before achieved by a manufacturer in the WRC. With the home crowd behind him, Wilson will be out to impress and is looking to replicate his previous successes with another strong result on his long-awaited return.

More information and the livery of Wilson's M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC will be released in the lead-up to the event.

Matthew Wilson said:
'It will be fantastic to get back to the WRC. I have been waiting for this for a long time and to have my return [to the championship] on my home event is something very special.

'I am very proud of my Cumbrian roots and to have pretty much everything on this project from Cumbria is fantastic. Obviously both Scott [Martin] and myself are Cumbrians born-and-bred, the car has been built here at M-Sport [in Cumbria] and to have the support of so many local organisations is very encouraging.

'Of course we will have a lot of work to do in the lead-up to the event. I've not competed on any gravel rallies this year and we'll need to work hard to be on the pace from the off. But I am really looking forward to getting back [behind the wheel] and hopefully we can achieve the same as last year and bring home a good result for the British fans.'

Second works outing with PROTON for Tom Cave on home WRC round

Posted: August 16, 2012 2:07 PM

Welsh rally driver and current MSA British Rally Championship leader Tom Cave has received a second call-up as an official works driver for the PROTON Motorsports team for this year's UK round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB. The 20 year-old recently dominated the Rally of Thailand, his first event as an official PROTON driver and is, according to Team Principal Chris Mellors, "One of the sport's brightest young stars."

Cave, and co-driver Craig Parry, are no strangers to PROTON - Tom campaigned a works-supported private Satria Neo Super 2000 on selected events in 2010 and was asked to represent the marque on last month's Rally of Thailand, which he won by more than ten minutes.

He is also extremely familiar with Rally GB; he shot to fame in 2008, when he famously took his driving test, and therefore gained his necessary licence, just 10 days before the event began. His success, followed by numerous TV and radio outlets, led to him winning his class on his WRC debut by more than 15 minutes.

Cave will be in good company driving a PROTON over the weekend of September 14-16. He will partner Swedish star Per-Gunnar Andersson on Rally GB while former team-mate and reigning Asia-Pacific Champion Alister McRae will compete on the Hokkaido Rally with Juha Salo, as the brand aims to clinch both the FIA SWRC and Asia-Pacific rally titles.

Speaking after the first of two pre-event tests in Wales, Tom said; "I am thrilled to be selected to drive for PROTON again. I am glad that the job we did in Thailand gave the result that was needed and honoured that the team and PROTON has faith in us for such a crucial event.

"I've done Rally GB three times in the last four years - I didn't do it last year as I was concentrating on winning the BTRDA Production Cup at the time. But the first in 2008 was amazing, when we won our class by more than 15 minutes. Then, in 2009, I was thrilled to be awarded the Richard Burns Trophy, as he was one of my heroes.

"We did the event in our Proton in 2010 and were lucky enough to spend some time at a Proton dealer before the event, meeting some of the team and chatting to customers. So it will be amazing to be back in a Proton on home ground.

"We had a good pre-event test this week; we're fairly familiar with the car after Thailand but of course, Wales in September is very different. We did a lot of miles and got a good start point for the set-up so we're really looking forward to the event.

"The only regret is that Dad isn't here to see this - he would have been so proud." Tom's inspiration and team manager, father Peter Cave, sadly passed away earlier this year.

PROTON Motorsports Team Principal Chris Mellors said; "British rally fans need no introduction to Tom Cave. He's leading the British Rally Championship at the moment and is one of the sport's brightest young stars. He showed tremendous maturity in the way he won in Thailand earlier this year and his home SWRC round next month will provide him with a genuine chance to showcase his talent on rallying's highest possible stage."

The event retains a format similar to last year's, beginning in Llandudno on Thursday 13 September and travelling the length of Wales, to end in Cardiff on Sunday 16 September.

Closing date for entries for the Wales Rally GB National

Posted: August 2, 2012 2:47 PM

With room for up to 100 national entries, the Wales Rally GB National offers Britain's amateur rally drivers the rare opportunity to compare their times with the world's best professional drivers over 9 timed special stages - normally the preserve of established WRC teams.

Covering over 100 miles of some of the most famous stages in the UK, the event will start from Newtown on Friday morning with overnight halts in Cardiff on Friday and Saturday before the ceremonial finish in Cardiff Bay on the Wales Rally GB podium on Sunday afternoon.

A great line up of entries has already been received for this year's Wales Rally GB National, with more arriving every day.

With a closing date for entries on Friday 24 August, those interested in taking on some of the same stages as the WRC competitors should download the National Regulations and Entry Forms and enter now!

Entries Received - National Rally

Posted: August 1, 2012 9:24 PM

Available on the competitors page at:

Entries Open

Posted: July 17, 2012 12:36 PM

Entries are now open for both the 2012 Wales Rally GB and 2012 Wales Rally GB National!

Regulations and Entry Forms for the International event can be downloaded from the official website, while those interested in taking on some of the same stages as the WRC competitors can download the National Regulations and Entry Forms.

With room for up to 100 national entries, the Wales Rally GB National offers Britain's amateur rally drivers the rare opportunity to compare their times with the world's best professional drivers over 9 timed special stages - normally the preserve of established WRC teams.

Covering over 100 miles of some of the most famous stages in the UK, the event will start from Newtown on Friday morning with overnight halts in Cardiff on Friday and Saturday before the ceremonial finish in Cardiff Bay on the Wales Rally GB podium on Sunday afternoon.

National Rally celebrates third year at Wales Rally GB 2012

Posted: June 26, 2012 9:54 AM

The Wales Rally GB National, which takes place on Friday 14th, Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th September, will utilise many of the stages of this year’s pan-Wales WRC route, including the Likes Land Rover at Walters Arena stage on Sunday 16th September.

Wales Rally GB National is open to both historic and contemporary cars. Registrations for the event, which has been oversubscribed in previous years, will open from Wednesday 11th July 2012, with the final closing date falling a month later on Tuesday 14th August 2012. The maximum number of entries for the event is 100, with the first 100 entries received before the closing date being accepted on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. All other entries received will be advised if they have been accepted after 14th August 2012, when additional capacity on the event may be made available. The entry fee for the event will be £665 +VAT.

Covering over 100 miles of classic Welsh forest stages, Wales Rally GB National will be based out of Cardiff, with the finish ceremony taking place on the international podium in Cardiff Bay on Sunday 16th September. Competitors will start day one in Newtown, before tackling nearly 13 miles in Dyfnant, 15 and a half miles in Hafren Sweet Lamb and over 17 miles in Myherin. On Saturday, the action will move to Crychan for just over 12 miles, followed by around five miles in Epynt and 11 and a half miles in Halfway. The event will culminate on Sunday, with almost 11 miles in Port Talbot, 5 and a half miles in Rheola and the 9 and a half mile Likes Land Rover at Walters Arena stage.

Wales Rally GB returns to Walters Arena

Posted: June 26, 2012 9:53 AM

For 2012, the venue will host the Likes Land Rover at Walters Arena Qualifying Stage on Wednesday 12th September and two competitive stages on Sunday 16th September, including the final Power Stage where crucial extra points will be on offer which could decide the event’s winner.

The Walters Arena Motorsport Complex is owned and operated by plant hire and civil engineering business, The Walters Group. The site hosts a variety of activities throughout the year, including manufacturer testing and driver training, as well as accommodating the BMW Off Road School attended by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman before their worldwide adventures.

In the three years since the venue was last used for Wales Rally GB, Walters Arena has undergone a series of infrastructure investments and is being transformed into an Eco Park, featuring thirteen wind turbines and miles of access roads, which are now available for rallying.

The Walters Arena Qualifying, Sunday morning and Power Stages for the 2012 Wales Rally GB have been supported by Likes Land Rover at Walters Arena, a reference to the successful Walters Group Land Rover and Range Rover dealership situated between Brecon and Hay-on-Wye.

Wales Rally GB 2012 - return of the Celtic Tiger!

Posted: May 17, 2012 12:16 PM

Britain’s round of the 2012 World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB, will be held this year from the 13th – 16th September and will include an all new special stage at Celtic Manor Resort, venue of 2010’s Ryder Cup. Home to that extraordinary moment in sport two years ago, the Celtic Manor Resort will once again open its doors to world class sport and its stars when the World Rally Championship visits in the autumn of a year of sporting excellence across the UK.

Route

Wales Rally GB 2012 will see a ceremonial start in Llandudno in North Wales on Thursday, 13th September following a Qualifying Stage at Walters Arena on Wednesday 12th, before the event moves down to the classic Dyfnant, Hafren and Myherin tests on Friday 14th. Following a remote service in Newtown, that loop of stages will be repeated on Friday afternoon.

Saturday 15th takes the event to the Epynt military range, where the stages of Crychan, Epynt and Halfway will be undertaken twice, after which the rally visits Celtic Manor Resort for the first time, before service in Cardiff.

For the final day, Wales Rally GB visits Port Talbot, Rheola and Walters Arena, before returning to those stages again after Cardiff service. The official finish ceremony of the event will take place in Cardiff Bay after the final stage.

More Details:

Event Website / Details / Rally Guide

Posted: May 17, 2012 12:15 PM






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