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Italy (P) - 18-21 Oct 12

Posted: November 23, 2016 7:02 AM - 3328 Hits

Round 12 - 2012 World Rally Championship
P - Production World Rally Championship

Solberg heads Ford 1-2 in Power Stage finale at Rally Italia

Posted: November 23, 2016 7:02 AM

Ford World Rally Team finished first and second in the final Power Stage speed test at Rally Italia Sardegna today to claim maximum bonus points. Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson edged out Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila by just 0.2sec in a Fiesta RS World Rally Car battle for top spot, which saw the Ford duo almost five seconds quicker than their closest rivals.

The Power Stage results brought some happiness for the official Ford squad after a disappointing weekend. Solberg finished ninth and Latvala 12th after both incurred heavy time penalties when they retired from the second leg of this 12th and penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

After three days of tough competition over narrow and rocky tracks in the hills around the north of the Mediterranean island, today's final leg was a short and sharp affair. It was focused around two passes over the 8.24km Gallura speed test, north-west of the rally base in Olbia, before competitors journeyed to Porto Cervo for the finish ceremony.

Solberg, who fell from second after crashing into a rock on Friday, and Latvala, who dropped down the order after hitting a gatepost the same day, concentrated their attentions on the Power Stage. Bonus points were on offer for the fastest three drivers, but it quickly became an all-Ford duel.

Latvala was fastest over the first two sectors of the stage to head Solberg by 0.2sec, but the 37-year-old Norwegian overturned the deficit in the final sector to win the test.

"After retiring on Friday, there was only one thing on my mind and that was winning the Power Stage," said Solberg. "Yesterday I drove carefully because I had nothing to gain, but today I was determined to take maximum points in the Power Stage. I knew it would be tight between myself and Jari-Matti because he also wanted to win, and I'm happy to take something away from this weekend.

"It was possible to win this rally but I made a mistake on Friday and that was disappointing for me and the team. It's time to forget this rally and think about the final round in Spain," he added.

Latvala is focused on ending his career at Ford on a high in Spain. "I'm pleased I've had the opportunity to regain my confidence over the last two days after my accident. That was important, because I want to be ready for Spain. Sardinia is one of my favourite rallies and I had every chance to fight for an overall win but it went wrong. I will put this to the back of my mind," said the 27-year-old Finnish driver.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson said the Power Stage result would prove a confidence boost for both drivers. "To finish first and second means both gained something from the weekend, and that will help their preparations for Spain. Neither enjoyed a good rally, but our young private drivers took advantage and they really stepped up to the mark here," he said.

Ford Racing senior manager Gerard Quinn said:
"At the end of a week in which Ford announced its exit from the WRC, it was extremely disappointing to see the early exit of Jari-Matti and Petter from the rally. Conditions proved tricky, as the many top drivers that hit trouble can testify. It's positive to see the Fiesta RS WRC finish in podium positions in the hands of privateer drivers Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tanak. I'm confident this is a glimpse of the future stars of WRC."

News from other Ford teams

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team duo Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor and Ott Tanak / Kuldar Sikk claimed a superb second and third in Fiesta RS World Rally Cars. Second equalled Novikov's best result, while third marked a first WRC podium for Tanak. Adapta World Rally Team's Mads Ostberg / Jonas Andersson finished fourth, despite a puncture in the final test. Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hruza overcame a host of problems to take eighth in the Czech Ford National Team car.

Next round

The final round of the championship takes drivers to Rally de Espana, a mixed gravel and asphalt event which is based in Salou on 8 - 11 November.

Fuchs Wins With DMACK In Sardinia

Posted: November 23, 2016 7:02 AM

DMACK driver Nicolas Fuchs raced to a commanding victory today in the Production World Rally Championship (PWRC) category at Rally Italia Sardegna. The result marked the Peruvian's first ever win in the feeder series and DMACK's first PWRC victory this year on what was the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Fuchs has been one of the fastest drivers all year. He's led events in Argentina and Greece, demonstrating DMACK's performance across a range of surfaces, but mechanical issues have robbed him of the victories he deserved.

However, the Italian round of the world series was his winning event as he controlled the action from start to finish is his Subaru Impreza. DMACK dominated the production-based categories with Ukraine driver Yury Protasov and Fuchs taking a comfortable one-two in Group N.

Czech Martin Prokop was DMACK's top finisher with a fantastic eighth overall position in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC car but his charge was hampered with a series of mechanical issues including an engine misfire and overheating brakes.

The rally was based in Olbia, in the north-east corner of Sardinia, and took competitors across a series of demanding mountain roads with stages characterised by a mix of sandy tracks and abrasive bedrock.

The second pass over each test was particularly challenging with exposed rocks and sharp stones demanding the ultimate performance and durability from DMACK's DMG+2 gravel tyre. This latest evolution exhibits an upgraded construction and possesses Kevlar reinforced sidewalls to deliver maximum puncture resistance.

The difficult conditions caught out many of the top drivers but DMACK crews came through relatively unscathed to notch up a string of solid finishes. The Costa Smeralda-based event saw competitors race across 306 km of special stages with a glitzy podium finish at the exclusive holiday destination of Porto Cervo.

Dick Cormack, DMACK motorsport director, said:
"The challenging nature of this event caught out the best drivers in the world and really demanded serious levels of durability from our tyres. They stood up well to the tough abrasive road surfaces and gave our crews the edge needed to score some significant results. Nicolas has been extremely quick all year and I'm pleased we could help him win his first PWRC round."

DOUBLE PODIUM SEES M-SPORT YOUNG GUNS STEAL THE SHOW

Posted: November 23, 2016 7:00 AM

Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tanak secured a double podium for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team on the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at Rally Italia Sardegna today.

Keeping their heads where the more experienced faltered, M-Sport's young guns ran a near perfect rally ? coupling their speed with a composed air of control and maturity ? to secure a ground-breaking result for the Cumbrian squad.

Climbing from seventh to second, Novikov and co-driver Ilka Minor piloted their Ford Fiesta RS WRC to three stage victories over the course of the weekend. Establishing almost a minute's advantage to team-mate Tanak in third, the Russian controlled his pace through the rally's final phase to bring home his second podium of the year.

Claiming his best ever result, Tanak overcame early dramas to secure his maiden podium as part of the WRC. Losing over 40 seconds on the harder tyre through the event's opening tests, the Estonian refused to be fazed. Head down, and battling on, Tanak's fighting spirit saw him and co-driver Kuldar Sikk climb an incredible six positions ? from ninth to third ? to take the final podium place with almost a minute and a half in hand.

Embarking on the final day of competition ? which encompassed two short dashes through the Gallura stage ? M-Sport's youngsters got the job done to make the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team the highest scoring team on the 2012 Rally Italia.

With just one round remaining, Novikov remains sixth in the Drivers' Championship with Tanak climbing to eighth ? just one point adrift of rival Thierry Neuville in seventh.

Evgeny Novikov (2nd) said:

"It was a very long rally with some very difficult stages, but it has been a great weekend for us. We had to always keep concentration but we are very happy.

"I had a birthday last month when I turned 22, and now I have two podiums, both in second place, so I think it was meant to be!"

Ott Tanak (3rd) said:

"I am really happy. I didn't feel very good after Thursday evening when we made the wrong tyre choice but since that it has been all uphill and we were getting better and better. At the moment, the feeling is incredible.

"For sure this has been a big boost. To have finished without problems and without making any mistakes is very important and I am feeling a lot more confident in the car. It is getting better all the time and I feel like I am starting to understand exactly what I need to do now."

Results

Posted: November 23, 2016 6:58 AM

1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 3hr 23min 54.9sec
2. E Novikov/I Minor RUS Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 25min 15.5sec
3. O Tanak/K Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 26min 16.0sec
4. M Ostberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 27min 37.8sec
5. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 3hr 28min 22.4sec
6. C Atkinson/S Pr?vot AUS Mini John Cooper 3hr 29min 17.1sec
7. A Mikkelsen/O Floene NOR Skoda Fabia S2000 3hr 30min 07.4sec
8. M Prokop/Z Hruza CZE Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 33min 24.2sec
9. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 33min 47.2sec
10 L Pedersoli/M Romano ITA Citroen DS3 3hr 44min 30.5sec

Ford’s drivers bid to blow doors off rivals on The Italian Job

Posted: October 17, 2012 1:49 PM

Ford World Rally Team enters the final gravel round of the world championship season in Italy next week eager to extend its strong run of form. One win and two second places in the last three rallies with the Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car means the squad journeys to Rally Italia Sardegna (18 - 21 October) looking for an explosive finale to its loose surface campaign.

The men in form are Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, who won the previous loose surface round in Wales last month to add to career-best performances on asphalt in Germany and France. Strong pace from Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson has only been rewarded with third in Wales, but both want to sign off their gravel seasons in style on the Mediterranean holiday island of Sardinia.

And both have what it takes to win this 12th and penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Latvala claimed his second world rally victory here in 2009 while Solberg won the Italian fixture in 2004, his 10th success, when Sardinia hosted the WRC for the first time.

This year’s rally has moved from an early summer date to autumn for the first time since that inaugural 2004 event. However, while morning and evening temperatures will be cooler, daytime mercury levels are still expected to climb above 20°C and dust could hang in the late afternoon air.

The industrial town of Olbia is the rally base, nestled below the sparkling Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) and Porto Cervo, host to the event finish and exclusive holiday playground to the rich and famous. Most of the competition is held in the hills and forests west and south of the town, where superb scenery provides a captivating backdrop to the action in the speed tests.

The roads have a hard base covered by a sandy surface, which is usually swept away during the first pass to leave ruts and rougher conditions when cars tackle the stages for a second time. They are generally fast but also narrow, and bushes, trees or rocks frequently mark the edge of the road rather than a verge or a ditch.

The exceptions are the new stages near Sassari in leg two, an area in which Latvala tested last year.
“They are wider and smoother than the other stages. Their character is more like the roads in Finland, without the big jumps, so there’s more room in which to position the car,” explained the 27-year-old Finn.

“The usual stages have a thin layer of fine gravel on the surface which makes them slippery for the first pass. The team has always been strong in Sardinia and after making a step forward in pace at the last gravel rally in Wales, I’m confident of another strong result,” he added.

Latvala believes the pressure for points has been removed with both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles decided on the previous round in France. “That changes the situation for the final two rallies. Chasing wins has been obviously been a target throughout the season but points finishes no longer have any real meaning, so victories are our only real goal now,” he said.

Despite extending to a fourth day, the rally is one of the shortest WRC encounters since the series began in 1973 with just over 306km of competition. As a true sprint event, Solberg realises the value of ensuring he is in the right place for the first leg.

“The roads are very sandy in some places,” said the 37-year-old Norwegian. “That means Thursday’s qualifying is important because it will be essential to have a good start position for the opening day. If it’s dry it will be better to start further down the order and there just aren’t the kilometres to make up time lost during the first leg because of a bad start position,” he explained.

“The team goes into this rally full of confidence on gravel after the win in Wales. We improved the balance and suspension on the Fiesta before that event and the changes improved performance. But the characteristics of the two rallies are totally different, and the only comparison is that they are held on loose surface roads. However, the roads in Sardinia are fantastic and I will push hard,” he added.

Team News

* Michelin’s Latitude Cross gravel tyres will be used by the Ford drivers, and will be available primarily in hard compound. Drivers have 35 hard covers, although 10 soft compound tyres will also be available in case of wet weather. 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.

* Four privately-entered crews will also campaign Fiesta RS WRCs. Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk and Evgeny Novikov / Ilka Minor are nominated by M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson represent Adapta World Rally Team and Martin Prokop / Zden?k Hr?za crew the Czech Ford National Team car.

Rally Route

Olbia remains the heart of the rally and the Isola Bianca cruiser terminal hosts the main service park. However, much is new with a fourth day of competition, new stages along the island’s north coast, a remote service zone in Sassari and the return of Porto Cervo to host the finish ceremony. Thursday’s opening day comprises two passes over a single stage south of Olbia. The second leg includes two new tests near Sassari, which hosts remote service after the first of two passes through the stages. The third day heads into more traditional territory in the scenic forests south-west of Olbia, before a very short final leg comprising just two runs over a single stage north-west of the town. The second pass forms the Power Stage with bonus points for the fastest three drivers. Competitors journey into the heart of the Costa Smeralda for the finish ceremony in Porto Cervo after tackling 16 stages covering 306.04km in a route of 1241.45km.

READY TO RALLY: M-SPORT SEEKS SARDINIAN SUCCESS

Posted: October 17, 2012 1:43 PM

As Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak travel to Rally Italia Sardegna for the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) next week, the duo will be seeking another strong result for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. With the M-Sport technicians transforming the Ford Fiesta RS WRCs in just four days, the pairing are ready to rally and will be looking to emulate their previous successes on the Italian event.

An Italian rally has been a season highlight since the inaugural championship in 1973. Moving to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia in 2004, the event has lost none of its gravitas and remains firmly placed as one of the most picturesque fixtures on the calendar.

Based in the costal town of Porto Cervo, the stages are characterised by their technically challenging and diverse nature – fast and narrow stages interspersed with sections of wide open roads and undulating tracks through the island’s woodlands. The loose and sandy gravel will also make road position key with drivers having to find the balance between sweeping the roads at the front of the field and risking dust clouds forming and limiting visibility towards the back.

A technical challenge for the crews, Rally Italia has also presented a challenge for the mechanics back in Cumbria. With just four days to strip the Ford Fiesta RS WRCs down to their bare shell before re-building in gravel specification, M-Sport’s dedicated team of technicians and engineers have been working around the clock to get the cars ready for the penultimate round of the season.

With his Ford Fiesta RS WRC ready to rally, Novikov will be looking for a strong result in Italy. Making his debut on the event in 2009, the Russian secured an impressive fifth place overall and will be looking to emulate that success as he and co-driver Ilka Minor embark on their third competitive outing together.

Having secured a seventh place finish following a spectacular roll on the previous round in France, Novikov’s fighting spirit will be back in force as the Muscovite hunts down another strong result for the M-Sport team.

Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk made their mark on the Italian event last year when they claimed their first S-WRC victory to finish an impressive seventh overall with the Ford Fiesta S2000. Following his first Power Stage victory on the previous round in France – the first for a genuine privateer since the scheme was introduced in 2011 – Tänak will be full of confidence and ready to impress once again, this time behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

Swapping the driving seat for the managerial role this week, the Estonian is running a number of cars on the Silveston Saaremaa Rally. Based in the 24-year-old’s home region and forming the final round of the Estonian Rally Championship, Tänak will be hoping to emulate his own accomplishments as a driver as he guides his fellow countrymen to achieve success.

Evgeny Novikov said:
“The feeling is quite good ahead of this rally, although looking at the weather there could be some rain which will make it quite tricky and very slippery.

“The stages are very narrow with a lot of rocks and trees lining the roads so you have to be very careful. You need to work hard on the recce and make sure that the pacenotes are as good as you can make them.

“We did quite well here in 2009 with a fifth place finish, but the stages are very different now to what they were then so we will have to start from scratch and see how we go. As always, we will be fighting for a good result and looking to do the best we can.”

Ott Tänak said:

“The feeling is pretty good ahead of Italy. We had a good run in France with no problems, so our confidence is a lot higher right now. We also went really well here last year – it was one of my best ever events in the [Ford Fiesta] S2000.

“The stages in Italy can differ a lot, but most are really fast and narrow with a lot of trees close to the roads which means that you need to be really careful not to make a mistake! But if everything goes well, and you have a good run, you can also go really quickly and maybe even have a chance to challenge the top guys on some of the stages.

“Road position can also be really important here. Especially on the first day, some of the cars will be running in daylight with others in darkness! But really, when it comes to the actual condition of the stages, it depends a lot on the weather so we’ll be watching that for sure!

“As always, we will just try our best and work hard to do the best job we can. We’ll concentrate on having a really good recce so that our pacenotes are as good as they can be and just see how we go.”

Speaking on the work involved in turning the cars around in just four days, M-Sport engineer, Nigel Hoogeveen said:

“The work really started at the end of the rally in France. The engineers and number one technicians on each car went through what was required for each individual rebuild such as any damage sustained from the rally, any small issues that need addressing, changes to the livery etc.

“Once the cars return to M-Sport they are cleaned and stripped depending on what work needs to be carried out. All the components that are removed from the car – suspension, transmissions, hydraulics etc. – are then taken to the relevant departments to be rebuilt whilst the workshop technicians prepare the chassis.

“This week has also required a switch from Tarmac to gravel specification; many parts have had to be changed. Transmissions, dampers, suspension, all these components need to be quickly converted to gravel specification by the various departments.

“Once the rebuilt units are received, they are fitted to the car and the engineers confirm the set-up – depending on each driver’s preference – before the geometry of each car is set.

“Normally this process takes eight to ten days, so the boys have been working around the clock to get the cars completed in time. Our technicians are amongst some of the best in the world and their hard work this week has seen the cars ready to rally in just four days!”

THIERRY NEUVILLE AIMS EVEN HIGHER

Posted: October 17, 2012 1:40 PM

After finishing in fourth place a few days ago at the Rallye de France, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul are now looking for their first WRC podium finish. As was the case in New Zealand, the Belgian crew will be driving for the Qatar World Rally Team in the absence of Nasser Al- Attiyah. Another Citroe?n DS3 WRC will be entered for Luca Pedersoli and Matteo Romano.

Nine months after getting underway in Monte-Carlo, the 2012 World Rally Championship enters the home straight: two weeks after Alsace, the WRC competitors head for Sardinia for the championship's penultimate round.

Confirming the progress they have made with each race, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul finished the Rallye de France in fourth position, claiming six stage wins in the process. Having achieved the best result of their short career, the Citroe?n Junior World Rally Team crew can now set their sights even higher.
“My target is to finish on the podium at least once,” confirmed the Saint-Vith driver. “The result achieved in France has boosted our morale. We proved that we can go quickly without making any fatal errors. We managed to achieve this by working relentlessly with the team, but we are still learning. Not a day goes by at a rally when we don’t learn something!”

Although Thierry has never competed in this rally in its WRC format, he did take part in the Rally Sardegna in 2010, when it was part of the IRC:
“It was only my third race in a Super 2000 and I finished fourth overall. I know more or less what to expect at this event. The course is very technical, and the gravel on some sections can be pretty rough. Just like with all WRC rallies, we’ll have to manage the race intelligently.”

Although the Rally Sardegna was not originally part of Thierry’s schedule, in the end, he has been able to take part thanks to Nasser Al-Attiyah:
“I am very pleased that Thierry will be driving the Qatar World Rally Team’s car in Sardinia. I am in the middle of preparations for the Dakar Rally and have to take part in a lot of testing, which means I cannot compete in the last two rounds of the championship. My WRC programme therefore ended in France and I would like to thank Citroe?n for having given me the opportunity to race with them this season. 2012 was a truly incredible year for me! Above all, more than any particular result, what I’ll remember was the way the team welcomed me and the support I was given to help me to improve. What I have learned will be useful in the future, starting with the Dakar Rally.”

The no.7 Citroe?n DS3 WRC will be driven at the Rally de Espagna by Dutch driver Hans Weijs Jr, who finished as runner-up in the 2010 Junior World Championship in a C2 Super 1600.

A second Citroe?n DS3 WRC prepared by Citroe?n Racing Technologies will be entered in Sardinia. It will be entrusted to the Italian crew Luca Pedersoli/Matteo Romano. Runner-up in the 2004 European Championship, the Brescia-born driver took a break from driving before returning in 2009. Winner of the 2011 ‘Trofeo Rally Asphalto’ in a C4 WRC, Luca sees this year’s Rally Sardegna as the highlight of his competitive season in 2012.
“It’s an immense pleasure for me and a great honour to be able to drive what is currently the best WRC at my home rally,” he confirmed. “I don’t have much experience on gravel and so it’s difficult to set a precise target. I first drove the car as part of a day’s testing in the south of France and I was immediately won over by its abilities. I know Sardinia well, but my recollections of it from a rallying point of view are pretty distant, because I haven’t raced there since competing in the Rally Costa Smeralda Terra Sarda on two occasions in the early 2000s. We’ll see what happens, but above all, I’m determined to enjoy driving this fabulous car.”

Citroen: GOING FOR THE WIN!

Posted: October 17, 2012 1:37 PM

Just two weeks after the Rallye de France, the WRC moves on to Sardinia for the penultimate round of the season. Having already secured the Manufacturers' and Drivers’ titles*, the Citroe?n Total World Rally Team and the Se?bastien Loeb/Daniel Elena crew could relax and take it easy at this rally. But they'll be doing nothing of the sort – the French team will definitely be going for the win! Having amassed a fine collection of podium finishes in 2012, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen will also be looking for the win, which would ensure they finish as World Championship runners-up.

A WRC event since 2004, the Rally Italia Sardegna has earned itself a reputation as a demanding rally, with a course on relatively rough gravel and sandy roads, concentrated in the north of the island. After six years of being held in the spring, the Italian round is being held again this year in the autumn, which may well affect the road conditions.

Winners on four occasions from seven starts, Se?bastien Loeb and Daniel Elena have enjoyed a good rate of success at this rally. Last year, when strategies were still affected by the issue of sweeping, they produced one of their finest performances of the year to claim a win that proved decisive for the outcome of the championship. In 2012, the Franco-Monegasque crew are certainly under no pressure to perform well here. Having wrapped up the title at the Rallye de France, Seb and Daniel will very simply be looking for a 76th career WRC win. It is true that they are accustomed to this situation: in 2010, after winning the WRC title in Alsace for the first time, they then went on to win the final two rounds of the season, in Spain and Wales.

“When I line up at the start, my goal is to achieve the best possible result, and therefore to win,” confirmed Se?bastien Loeb. “I want to enjoy myself when driving and to push so that I make the most of what will be one of my last World Championship rallies. Sardinia is a tough event, and I remember having had some great scraps here against rivals who have always been very quick on this surface. We have seen in the last few rallies that we’re not head and shoulders above the rest, so we’ll have to fight hard if we want to win!”

While Se?bastien Loeb has racked up eight wins this season, Mikko Hirvonen has scored eight podium finishes. The Finn has also finished as runner-up in Sardinia for the last five years running, which makes him one of the event’s top specialists. “This year, finally, I would love to win,” assured Mikko. “Although third position would be enough to make sure I finish as runner-up in the World Championship, I’d rather do it in style. We have done an awful lot of work with the team to try and match my driving style to the set-up of the DS3 WRC. After having made a breakthrough on tarmac at the last rally, I hope to improve further on gravel.”

"We have just experienced one of the highlights of our professional lives at the Rallye de France,” recalled Yves Matton, Citroe?n Racing Team Principal. “But there are still two events left to complete, and the pressure is by no means off for them. Although it is not part of the mindset of the people who work at Citroe?n Racing, I asked the team not to ease off. Our goal for this rally is clear: we will be aiming for our sixth one-two finish of the season! As ever, our crews will be free to run the race as they see fit. I hope Mikko will be able to fight for the win. He deserves it, because we owe him a lot for the two titles we have won this season.”

* Subject to publication of the official results

THREE QUESTIONS FOR... SE?BASTIEN LOEB

Before looking ahead to Sardinia, let’s look back at the ninth WRC title you won in Alsace. That must have been a very special moment for you?
“I had experienced it two years ago and I wanted to experience it again. It was even more intense this time, given that it was my last world title... in rallying, at least. Daniel and I have often said to one another that we have to make the most of these moments, because we won't experience anything like it again. On the other hand, it is my decision to stop, so I don’t feel bitter. I know that other big challenges lie ahead. There were quite a few emotional moments, especially on Sunday when we went through the places near to where I grew up. I was taken aback by how many people turned out to support me throughout the whole week in Alsace, during reconnaissance, the stages and at the podium. It is mad how popular rallying has become in Alsace and I would suggest that this is certainly not the last time I will be taking part at this event!”

What is your mindset for the last two rounds, now that you have won your ninth Drivers' title and Citroe?n has won the Manufacturers’ Championship for the eighth time?
“When I compete in a rally, my aim is to win it. Otherwise, I might as well stay at home! The same goes for the entire Citroe?n team. It’s certainly true that after winning the titles, the tension has eased somewhat. There was a widespread sense of relief after we won in France, because everybody was waiting expectantly for it to happen. We still had to do it though, and nothing was easy in the car. In Sardinia, we’ll feel less pressure and we’ll be able to enjoy ourselves. It’s so nice and rare to be able to compete in a rally without having to worry about managing things. Once again, we’ll enjoy it if we win!”

Is that the kind of mindset you will have when competing in rallies next season?
“As far as I’m concerned, the story finished in Alsace when we won the two titles. The two remaining rallies are a bonus. In 2013, we are going to enter a few rounds of the WRC and we’ll be aiming to win more rallies. But the pressure will be different. 2013 will nonetheless be a busy year, as we'll need to work on the WTCC project in addition to this partial WRC programme.”

World Rally Action As Prokop Joins DMACK In Sardinia

Posted: October 17, 2012 1:36 PM

Around 12 months ago DMACK ran its motorsport tyres on a world rally car for the first time when Ott Tanak finished sixth on Rally GB. Now the Anglo-Chinese tyre manufacturer is hoping to round off the 2012 season in style with more world rally car action.

Next week’s Rally Italia Sardegna is the final gravel round of the FIA World Rally Championship and Martin Prokop will lead the DMACK charge in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

Prokop has been a seasoned DMACK campaigner. He scored the marque’s first top-10 stage time on its first event at Rally Sweden in 2011. The Czech driver was also at the wheel of DMACK’s finest result when he claimed fourth overall at Rally Argentina this year.

However, next week’s Sardinian challenge could be a much more difficult one. The island’s stages around host town Olbia have claimed a few scalps in the past and the high-speed sections across hard base roads are punctuated with slow, rocky corners and hairpins. But the surface can also be pretty soft with second-pass ruts exposing puncture-inducing rocks.

DMACK will equip drivers with its proven DMG+2 gravel tyre – an evolution of the model which scored fourth in Argentina. The construction and sidewall protection has enabled the tyre to stand up well against punctures in the past and it’s hoped this resistance will play a significant part next weekend.

Prokop is permitted to use a total of 35 tyres from an allocation of 35 hard compound and 10 soft. Production WRC runners can use a total of 29 – again from a mix of 29 hard and 10 soft. DMACK will also supply the one-make Rally Class series which uses production-based Subaru Imprezas running exclusively on DMACK control tyres.

Event Details

The rally is based on the Costa Smeralda in the north-east corner of Sardinia with the exclusive holiday destination of Porto Cervo hosting event formalities. Competitors will get straight into the action with two passes over the 28km Terranova stage on Thursday night before two loops of three stages on Friday separated only by a remote service at Sassari. This includes two passes over the event’s longest stage, Monte Lerno, which hosts the famous Micky’s Jump. Day three takes crews south west of Olbia before finishing off with the final 16km of the 306km competitive route on Sunday.

Dick Cormack, DMACK motorsport director, said:
“It’s great to have Martin back with DMACK. He demonstrated the potential of our tyres earlier this year and I’ve no doubt that he can do a similar job next weekend. We’ve got a real focus on development for next year’s championship and the more world rally cars we supply the more we learn.”

Thierry Neuville to start Rally d'Italia Sardegna

Posted: September 25, 2012 10:43 AM

The Rally d'Italia Sardegna, the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship, has now been added to this season's programme for the Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul crew. Set to be busy testing the buggy in which he will be competing in the 2013 Dakar Rally, the Qatari Nasser Al- Attiyah has once again opted to entrust his Citroën DS3 WRC to the young Belgian driver in the hope he will be able to claim a strong points finish for the Qatar World Rally Team.

Initially featuring eight events, Thierry Neuville's racing programme has grown over the course of the season. The Olympic commitments of the Qatari enabled the Saint-Vith driver to take part in Rally New Zealand back in June. This time, Nasser Al-Attiyah's preparations for next year's Dakar Rally mean he is unable to compete in the Italian round of the WRC.

"Although my involvement with Citroën in the World Championship is very important, I have to make choices and I have to work on the development of the buggy that we are preparing for use in the 2013 Dakar Rally. Thierry showed his potential the first time we entrusted the Qatar World Rally Team's Citroën DS3 WRC to him," stated Nasser proudly. "He scored some important points for the team and learned a lot from taking part in Rally New Zealand. When we were looking for someone to defend the team's colours in Sardinia, with his talent, he was the obvious choice."

"Competing in Italy will enable me to complete a full championship this season and I couldn't have asked for any better in terms of building up as much experience as possible," said a visibly pleased Thierry. "I know the roads in Sardinia, having competed in my first rally in a four-wheel drive car there and I know how difficult and rough the gravel can be. But it's yet another opportunity for us so we'll do everything we can not to disappoint Nasser and the Qatar World Rally Team, who have once again put their complete faith in us. The best way of thanking them for this opportunity would be to secure a good result and we'll be trying very hard to do just that."

Rally Guide / Event Website / Details

Posted: September 25, 2012 10:40 AM






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