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Rally Monte Carlo - 19-22 Jan 17

Posted: February 22, 2017 9:28 AM - 3539 Hits

Round 1 - 2017 World Rally Championship


Photo: Red Bull

Photos

Posted: February 22, 2017 9:28 AM

Ogier seals fourth straight Monte-Carlo win

Posted: February 22, 2017 8:54 AM

Sebastien Ogier eased through the final leg in the mountains above Monaco to claim his fifth Monte-Carlo success in total by 2min 15.0sec in a Ford Fiesta World Rally Car.

It was a dream debut for the Frenchman with the M-Sport World Rally Team, for whom this was a first win since November 2012.

Jari-Matti Latvala finished second in a Toyota Yaris on the Japanese manufacturer's return to the WRC after a 17-year absence.

Final day engine problems for Ott Tanak denied M-Sport a one-two as he slipped to third, a further 42.8sec behind.

Ogier took the lead late on Saturday's penultimate leg when event-long leader Thierry Neuville broke his Hyundai i20 Coupe's suspension after an impact.

With a comfortable gap, Ogier took no risks through the final snow-hit speed test over the famous Col de Turini.

"I was hoping to win but to take it from the first rally, after only one month together and with so little preparation, feels really amazing," he said.

"The conditions didn't make our life easy this weekend, starting first in the snow on day one and finishing with more and more snow."

Latvala struggled to find a good rhythm initially but changes to his car's set-up revitalised the Finn.

Third overnight became second when Ott Tanak dropped time with a broken ignition coil pack in his Fiesta and Latvala sped by.

With no service, Estonian Tanak worked furiously to make repairs and did enough to hold onto third, fending off Dani Sordo's i20 Coupe with a spirited downhill drive to the finish of the last special stage in falling snow.

Craig Breen finished fifth in a Citroen DS 3 with Elfyn Evans completing the top six in another Fiesta.

The Welshman won three stages on Saturday to offset a disappointing start when he dropped several minutes in snow and ice.

More snow and ice are in store for competitors at the second round next month. Rally Sweden is based in Torsby on February 9-12.

Latvala second on Rallye Monte-Carlo as TOYOTA GAZOO Racing makes its debut

Posted: February 22, 2017 8:48 AM

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has finished Rallye Monte-Carlo, the oldest and most prestigious round of the FIA World Rally Championship, with a result that has surpassed all expectations on the team's debut: second overall with Jari-Matti Latvala and Miika Anttilla. Juho Hanninen and Kaj Lindstr?m also finished the rally, in 16th place, after rejoining on Saturday. This collective result ensures a double score in the manufacturers' standings for the brand new Yaris WRC, placing TOYOTA GAZOO Racing second in the championship after only its first event.

Rallye Monte-Carlo: Day four
Latvala second on Rallye Monte-Carlo as TOYOTA GAZOO Racing makes its debut
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has finished Rallye Monte-Carlo, the oldest and most prestigious round of the FIA World Rally Championship, with a result that has surpassed all expectations on the team's debut: second overall with Jari-Matti Latvala and Miika Anttilla. Juho Hanninen and Kaj Lindstr?m also finished the rally, in 16th place, after rejoining on Saturday. This collective result ensures a double score in the manufacturers' standings for the brand new Yaris WRC, placing TOYOTA GAZOO Racing second in the championship after only its first event.

The final day of the rally was scheduled to cover four stages over the most famous part of the route: the legendary Col de Turini. This became three stages after the penultimate test was cancelled for reasons of spectator safety. The route was largely dry, but there were still some slippery sections, with rain and snow reported on the stages. Juho crowned his excellent performance with third overall on the Power Stage today, which earned him three driver championship points: so Toyota has scored in both championships on its debut.

Quotes:
Tommi Makinen (Team Principal)
"I'm very happy. This result goes a long way beyond our expectations, as this is really only a development year. We didn't have much experience but our rally was nearly perfect: both crews reacted very well to the changing circumstances and they were able to set stage times in the top three, which is very encouraging. Jari-Matti had a problem with a sensor during the rally, which was distracting him, and there was a worry that if he stopped the car in the stage he might not be able to restart. But how he coped with this was very impressive. A big thank you to the team for all the hard work so far. We still have a lot of work ahead but this is a good start."

Koei Saga (Team Vice-Principal)
"I'm so happy that we have finished the first rally of our return with a result that is better than expected, as we aim to make ever-better cars. I'd like to thank all our team members and crews for their hard work, as well as all the fans who have been waiting for us to come back for 17 years. It's clear that we have good potential, but our competitors are very strong and we still have plenty of work to do to be regarded as their rivals in a real sense. We'll be doing our best to get there!"

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
"I am so happy with the result, although I am sorry for Ott Tanak, who was second before he had a problem. If you had told me before the start of the rally that this is where we would finish, I would never have believed it. In fact, this equals my best-ever result on this rally. The last stages were very difficult, like the whole rally was in fact, and my main priority was to look after the tyres. On the final stage there was some snow so it was hard to find the grip. It's been an amazing rally, and it's been fantastic to feel all the support of the fans in particular."

Juho Hanninen (Driver car 11)
"Today I tried to be as careful as possible in order to be sure of us bringing two cars home on our first rally, which is a fantastic result: especially with one car on the podium. On the last stage it was really difficult to see exactly where the snow and ice was. It's a pity that we made a mistake on Friday as otherwise we had no problems and our pace was good. Considering my lack of experience it was still a good result here for me and as a team we have learned a lot, which is the most important thing. We will try and keep improving now."

Citroen - AN UNBELIEVABLE RALLYE MONTE-CARLO!

Posted: February 22, 2017 8:47 AM

First held in 1911, the Rallye Monte-Carlo has gained iconic status over the years. Dramatic, incident-packed, featuring superb performances and unpredictable throughout, the 2017 event will also live long in the memory. And yet, the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT will be quickly turning its attention to the future after results that fell short of expectations.

THE STORY OF THE RACE

Proudly lined up in front of Monaco's Casino, the new World Rally Cars set off on Thursday evening for a short first leg to Gap. After the first stage was cancelled, the rally could begin in earnest. And it got off to pretty poor start for Stephane Lefebvre. After carrying a bit too much speed into a corner, the Citroen C3 WRC driver opted for what he believed was the safe option, by running straight on. However, this minor mistake proved costly: stuck in the snow, the Frenchman burned out the car's clutch as he attempted to get going again.

From that point onwards, the hopes of the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi team rested solely with Kris Meeke. On Friday morning, the Northern Irishman went on the attack. On snow-covered roads, he grabbed second place at the end of SS3. But on the next stage, he was caught out by a sheet of ice. The rear of his C3 WRC hit a bank on the outside of the corner, breaking the suspension and forcing him to retire for the day.

If truth be told, this rally never looked like it was meant to be for Kris. After rejoining under Rally2 rules on Saturday, he lost another twenty minutes due an ignition problem on SS10. And in the evening, an ordinary road traffic accident ended his hopes of finishing the rally! On the road section to Monaco, Kris' car was hit by another vehicle, leaving him with no choice but to retire given the damage caused...

"Nothing really went as planned during this race," admitted Yves Matton, Citroen Racing Team Principal. "And yet, we thought we could have a good weekend after some pleasing tests for the drivers and the team. In the early stages of the race, both Stephane and Kris made mistakes and from that point onwards, we could no longer aim for a significant final result. We also had some difficulties in finding the right set-up for these very specific conditions, the likes of which we hadn't faced in testing. We've only just started to run the C3 WRC and we still have a lot of work ahead of us."

Despite these difficulties, Stephane Lefebvre made every effort possible to improve. Depending on the changing road conditions, he juggled with the four types of Michelin tyres available to rack up the miles and add to his experience. From being in 64th position at the end of day one, he swept through the field up to 11th place by Saturday evening!

On Sunday, the fourth and final leg was contested in the hills above Monaco, with two runs on the legendary Col de Turini. In more consistent conditions, Stephane Lefebvre produced a superb performance to claim the C3 WRC's first stage win on SS15, before then finishing as runner-up on the Power Stage. These impressive performances helped him to move up into ninth overall.

"It was really good for morale to finish the rally on a positive note," reported the Frenchman on his return to the port of Monaco. "Setting the fastest time on the Col de Turini is something special. But most of all, it points to some of the car's potential in more normal conditions."

A VERY PROMISING RACE FOR CRAIG BREEN

Whilst awaiting the entry of a third C3 WRC ? due to happen for the first time at the Tour de Corse ? one of the team's young drivers is competing in a previous generation WRC. This time around, it was Craig Breen that drove the "Old Lady", as the car has been affectionately nicknamed.

On the snow-covered roads of Rallye Monte-Carlo, the Irishman produced a genuinely impressive performance to finish fifth overall. And for a good portion of the rally, he crossed swords with Dani Sordo for fourth place. The Spaniard gained the upper hand, however, when the conditions dried out, making the most of the power advantage of the 2017 machines.

In any event, Craig's performance was hailed by keen observers. Never truly comfortable on his previous outings here, he felt he made something of a breakthrough. All of which augurs well for Rally Sweden ? which he will be contesting in a C3 WRC ? or for the 2018 Rallye Monte-Carlo!

ALREADY FOCUSING ON SWEDEN

"We won't forget about this rally, because there are things that we can take from it which will be useful in 2018," commented Yves Matton. "But in the short and medium term, we are going to put this weekend behind us and move on. We remain positive, for Sweden, obviously, but also for Mexico and all of the subsequent rounds. Monte-Carlo can be a cruel rally and we experienced that first hand this weekend. Our aim is still to win races in normal conditions this season."

In order to fine-tune its preparations for Rally Sweden (9-12 February), the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT will, as planned, be holding two days of testing in Scandinavia. These sessions will supplement the work done at the start of January.

M-SPORT WIN RALLYE MONTE-CARLO - DOUBLE PODIUM WITH OGIER AND TANAK

Posted: February 22, 2017 8:44 AM

M-Sport made history this weekend as Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia won the first round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship at the legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Winning on its maiden outing, the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC continues M-Sport's immaculate record ? with another victory on another debut of another new car.

Coming five years after the team's last win at the 2012 edition of Wales Rally GB, the celebrations were made all the sweeter with a double podium ? Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja overcoming all obstacles to secure an impressive third place.

In what has been a highly rewarding weekend for the M-Sport team, the Ford Fiesta WRC has proven itself to be a formidable contender and a strong base from which the team can build.

All three Fiesta WRC drivers secured stage victories this weekend ? three for Ogier, one for Tanak and a further three for Elfyn Evans. The team was also the only manufacturer to secure a one-two on individual stage times ? not once, not twice, but there times.

There remains work to do, but this is a very good start and the team are more motivated than ever to continue the season with the taste of champagne.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
"I can't put into words the feeling in the team right now. It's been five years since we have stood on the top step of the podium and I can tell you that it's a feeling we want to continue.

"Once again, we have won on our debut with a new car and I think that just goes to prove the high level of expertise we have in this company. You just have to look at the performance of all three drivers ? Sebastien, Ott and Elfyn all securing stage wins.

"We have got a great base car in the Ford Fiesta WRC. We know that we've still got a lot of work to do, but we've certainly got something good to work with.

"Again, I cannot praise the team enough. This result is down to their hard work and dedication. Each and every one of them ? here on event and back home at Dovenby Hall ? should be extremely proud of what we have achieved this weekend."

OGIER AND INGRASSIA WINNERS OF RALLYE MONTE-CARLO
Securing a fourth consecutive win at Rallye Monte-Carlo, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claimed what was arguably one of their career-best victories this weekend.

Coming to the legendary event with limited preparation, it's fair to say that the World Champions were not the favourites for victory this weekend, but delivered a sensational performance behind the wheel of their Ford Fiesta WRC.

Becoming stuck in a ditch on the first stage of Saturday morning (SS3), the Frenchmen lost more than 40 seconds to the leading pack and a win looked like a distant dream. But this is Monte, and Ogier knows better than most that it is a clever and controlled drive that delivers results.

Putting all of his experience, poise, talent and class to good use, he mounted an almighty comeback to claim an historic and deserving victory ? christening his debut with the M-Sport team in style.

Sebastien Ogier (1st) said:
"Obviously I feel really great. It always feels good to win at Rallye Monte-Carlo, but this year we had one of the most difficult challenges we have ever had. We had to contend with some really demanding conditions and also had a new car and a new team ? it's really incredible.

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

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

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

TANAK AND JARVEOJA THIRD OVERALL AT RALLYE MONTE-CARLO
Securing his best ever result at Rallye Monte-Carlo, Ott Tanak piloted his Ford Fiesta WRC to the final step of the podium in third place overall.

The result was an impressive one for new co-driver Martin Jarveoja who joins an elite group to have secured a podium result on their world rally car debut. But the podium was hard-fought, and the Estonians put in the drive of their lives to secure it.

Having shown blistering pace through the opening speed tests, Tanak was on course for second place and a one-two for the M-Sport team, but that all fell under jeopardy this morning when his Fiesta developed an issue with the engine electronics.

Causing a misfire on one cylinder, Tanak was down on power and had no choice but to resign his second place. At risk of losing his podium position, the strength of the Ecoboost engine came to the fore.
Coupled with an impressive, brave drive through the final speed test, Tanak secured a thoroughly-deserved podium ? a double for the Fiesta on its competitive debut.

Ott Tanak (3rd) said:
"It's great to be here! For a moment we didn't know if we would make it, but the Ecoboost engine is clearly a very strong and at least we added a little spice to the final day.

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

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

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

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

ELSEWHERE IN THE M-SPORT TEAM
Elsewhere in the service park, Eric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas secured fourth place in the WRC 2 category behind the wheel of their Ford Fiesta R5.

The French pairing had been hoping to secure a podium position this weekend, but their hopes were scuppered after losing more than four minutes to the leading pack with an off-road excursion through SS7 on Friday afternoon.

Were it not for the time loss, Camilli would have finished his home event comfortably inside the top-three; but he leaves the Principality with a full arsenal of experience.

Eric Camilli (4th WRC 2) said:
"Fourth place is not the result we were looking for but when you consider that we lost more than four minutes yesterday, it's not so bad. Were it not for that, we would have achieved our target and the most important thing is that we were able to get experience of all the stages.

"The conditions were really challenging and we didn't always have the correct set-up. There remains a lot to learn and we will work hard to achieve that over the course of the season."

ELSEWHERE IN THE SERVICE PARK
Elsewhere in the service park, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt secured sixth place behind the wheel of their DMACK-clad Ford Fiesta WRC. The Welshman struggled for grip in the early stages, but as soon as the conditions became more consistent, he and Barritt were unstoppable.

Securing more stage wins that anyone else throughout Saturday's running, Evans set the fastest time on three out of a possible five speed tests and was untouchable through the second pass of 'La Batie Montsaleon ? Faye' (SS12) ? 7.4 seconds faster than his nearest rival.

In the WRC 2 category, Bryan Bouffier secured a fine third place behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta R5. Going head-to-head with two-time rally-winner Andreas Mikkelsen, the Frenchman won two stages and used his local knowledge to full-effect.

Craig Breen takes fifth at WRC Rally Monte Carlo.

Posted: February 22, 2017 6:53 AM

Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver Craig Breen launched his works career into its two year term in style at WRC Rallye Monte Carlo this weekend (Jan19th-22nd). While the World Rally Championship dawned a new era in car specification Craig and his co-driver Scott Martin once again used their tried and tested DS3 WRC on the opening round of the year.

The 2017 Rallye Monte-Carlo officially got underway on Thursday evening. After setting off from Monaco's Place du Casino, the crews were to contest two stages on their way to Gap. However, SS1 was cancelled after one of the competitors rolled their car midway through the stage. Unfortunately, a spectator was hit in the incident and later died despite the intervention of the emergency services. SS2 went ahead as normal, albeit slightly behind schedule. Craig and Scott made a promising start to their rally, recording their seventh fastest time, ahead of two new-generation World Rally Cars.

The second leg featured two loops of three stages, held in the Hautes-Alpes area. With two thirds of the stages covered in ice and snow, all of the crews decided to opt for studded tyres and despite the tricky conditions Craig and Scott were on top form in their previous generation WRC. They took fifth place from Dani Sordo on SS7 but wider cleaner roads saw them drop back down a place as well as taking a bit of scenic route on the final stage of the day.

Day three featured five stages which got underway with "Lardier et Valenca" which was very narrow in places and had no room for error. Proving difficult for Craig due to his power deficit he pushed on. After the last service in Gap, the cars set off for Monaco. The conditions were extremely varied, with snow-covered, muddy, wet and dry roads. Despite competing in conditions that were less favorable for their previous generation car, Craig and Scott continued to impress by treating spectators to a ding-dong battle with Dani Sordo. When overall leader Thierry Neuville ran into problems, they claimed another place to move into fourth overall! Drama throughout the leader board on the final morning kept the whole rally on edge but trying his best, Craig and his underpowered DS3 was no match for the new class of WRC machine.

At the rally end Craig said
"It's been quite a good weekend. We've done some really good speed when the conditions were tricky. Bring on Sweden!"

Ogier holds on for famous victory

Posted: February 22, 2017 6:52 AM

Sebastien Ogier eased through the final leg in the mountains above Monaco to claim his fifth Monte success in total by 2min 15.0sec in a Ford Fiesta World Rally Car.

It was a dream debut for the Frenchman with the M-Sport World Rally Team, for whom this was a first win since November 2012.

Jari-Matti Latvala finished second in a Toyota Yaris on the Japanese manufacturer's return to the WRC after a 17-year absence.

Final day engine problems for Ott Tanak denied M-Sport a one-two as he slipped to third, a further 42.8sec behind.

Ogier took the lead late on Saturday's penultimate leg when event-long leader Thierry Neuville broke his Hyundai i20 Coupe's suspension after an impact.

With a comfortable gap, Ogier took no risks through the final snow-hit speed test over the famous Col de Turini.
"I was hoping to win but to take it from the first rally, after only one month together and with so little preparation, feels really amazing," he said.
"The conditions didn't make our life easy this weekend, starting first in the snow on day one and finishing with more and more snow."

Latvala struggled to find a good rhythm initially but changes to his car's set-up revitalised the Finn.

Third overnight became second when Ott Tanak dropped time with a broken ignition coil pack in his Fiesta and Latvala sped by.

With no service, Estonian Tanak worked furiously to make repairs and did enough to hold onto third, fending off Dani Sordo's i20 Coupe with a spirited downhill drive to the finish of the last special stage in falling snow.

Craig Breen finished fifth in a Citroen DS 3 with Elfyn Evans completing the top six in another Fiesta.

The Welshman won three stages on Saturday to offset a disappointing start when he dropped several minutes in snow and ice.

More snow and ice are in store for competitors at the second round next month. Rally Sweden is based in Torsby on 9-12 February.

Results

Posted: February 22, 2017 6:49 AM

1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4h00m03.6s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miika Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2m15.0s
3 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2m57.8s
4 Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +3m35.8s
5 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen DS3 WRC) +3m47.8s
6 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6m45.0s
7 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Skoda Fabia R5) +9m32.7s
8 Jan Kopecky/Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +12m58.1s
9 Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau (Citroen C3 WRC) +14m43.8s
10 Bryan Bouffier/Denis Giraudet (Ford Fiesta R5) +16m09.4s

READY AND RARING TO GO - THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA FOR M-SPORT

Posted: January 17, 2017 9:59 AM

At the dawn of a new era for the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), M-Sport are ready and raring to go ? the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC making its competitive debut at this week's legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Having completed precisely 8,344 kil ometres of testing across seven European countries, the wait is over. With Sebastien Ogier and Ott Tanak behind the wheel it's time to see if the hard work has paid off.

RALLYE MONTE-CARLO AN ICONIC CHALLENGE
The competitive debut of any new car brings a great sense of anticipation, but when that debut comes at one of the most challenging and prestigious events on the calendar, the pressure is on.

Rallye Monte-Carlo has gained iconic status, and it is easy to see why. As one of the most unpredictable events in motorsport, the crews will need to muster all of their talent, poise and experience alongside a little bit of luck.

The Fiesta WRCs are prepared in their asphalt specification, but this is so much more than an asphalt rally.

Frequently changing weather conditions mean that the teams can experience dry, wet, icy and snowy conditions through a single stage. Tyre strategy can make all the difference, and it is often a case of finding the best compromise over a stretch of road where there is no definitively clear choice.

A clear head and a natural ability to read the road are the only secrets to success, and a victory at Rallye Monte-Carlo carries great weight and respect.

MALCOLM WILSON THE TEAM PRINCIPAL
A tremendous amount of time and effort has gone into the creation of the Ford Fiesta WRC, and Malcolm Wilson was quick to recognise the dedication of his team.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
"It's just around the corner ? the dawn of a new era and a chance to see if all the hard work has paid off. The dedication that our team has put into this car is beyond measure. I have to say that it is a very proud moment for me, and that pride is focused on every single member of the team who have worked day and night to ensure we reached this point.

"We feel that we have produced another fantastic car, but no one really knows what will happen until all the teams meet for the first time in competition. You can feel the anticipation, and rightly so. This is going to be a spectacular year of rallying, and we find ourselves with the strongest driver line-up that we have had in years.

"You always want more time, but in our case that is especially true. Sebastien is a class-act, but with so little seat time in the Fiesta we have to admit that he will be starting at a disadvantage. That said, if anyone can succeed when the odds are stacked against them, it's Sebastien Ogier.

"Then we have Ott Tanak ? a man who I have rarely seen so determined and excited about the start of a new season. There's no doubting it, Ott is ready for 2017, and I firmly believe that we will see some special performances from him this year.

"It's also great to see Elfyn Evans back behind the wheel of a world rally car as our third nominated driver, and to see eric Camilli focused on continuing his progression with the Ford Fiesta R5.

"Rallye Monte-Carlo will be very special indeed, and we're ready to face the challenges head-on. It won't be easy, but believe me when I say that this small but passionate team is more determined than ever ? with the number one on the side of the Ford Fiesta WRC."

OGIER AND INGRASSIA THE FOUR-TIME WORLD CHAMPIONS
Having secured three back-to-back victories at Rallye Monte-Carlo, respect is something that four-time World Champions Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have in abundance.

This year however, the Frenchmen will be starting at something of a disadvantage. With limited seat time in the Ford Fiesta WRC, the pairing will have no choice but to learn on the job.

But despite not being a firm favourite for victory this weekend, the World Champion should never be discounted when it comes to securing a strong result in the most difficult of circumstances.

Previous starts: 5
Best result: 1st (2016, 2015 and 2014)

Sebastien Ogier said:

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

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

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

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

TANAK AND JARVEOJA A DETERMINED NEW PARTNERSHIP
Teaming up alongside new co-driver Martin Jarveoja, Ott Tanak is more determined than ever. Having completed the bulk of the pre-season testing, the Estonian is ready for the challenges ahead and keen to take the next step in his career.

Rallye Monte-Carlo may not have been overly kind to Tanak in the past, but he'll be looking to right those wrongs with a personal best at this notoriously difficult event this weekend.

Speed is not an issue for Tanak. Running as high as second overall in 2015 he knows what the mountain roads demand. With more experience under his belt, Tanak is ready to face the challenges head-on ? putting the whole package together in search of a strong result.

Previous starts: 3
Best result: 7th (2016)

Ott Tanak said:
"I can't wait to start this season. There are a lot of new things happening and it's a whole new challenge ? I'm sure that it's going to be interesting.

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

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

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

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

ELSEWHERE IN THE M-SPORT TEAM
Elsewhere in the team, eric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas continue their development behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R5 in the championship's principal support series ? WRC 2.

The Frenchman will use this season to gain valuable experience away from the spotlight. Hailing from Nice, Camilli has home advantage on side and will be a strong contender for the WRC 2 podium this weekend.

Eric Camilli said:
"This is an important challenge for me and I am looking forward to it. The target will be to continue our learning because experience is particularly important when you find yourself in a championship where the level is so high.

"The competition will be really tough this weekend, but it also provides an opportunity for us to show our speed and potential as we go head-to-head with the likes of Andreas Mikkelsen and Bryan Bouffier. We are ready to give our best."

ELSEWHERE IN THE SERVICE PARK
Elsewhere in the Service Park, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt have been nominated as M-Sport's third designated point-scorers.

Piloting a DMACK-clad Ford Fiesta WRC, Evans makes a welcome return to the top flight and is the quintessential dark horse for this year's Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Possessing a natural ability to read the available grip levels in tricky conditions, the Welshman could well spring a surprise or two.

Bryan Bouffier will pilot a Ford Fiesta R5 in the WRC 2 category. The Frenchmen led much of Rallye Monte-Carlo in 2014, before bringing his Ford Fiesta RS WRC home in a fine second place overall.

Other notable names to join Camilli and Bouffier behind the wheel of a Fiesta R5 in the WRC 2 category include last year's Italian Rally Champion Giandomenico Basso, and J-WRC graduate Andrea Crugnola.

New cars, new teams, new rules: new WRC era is ready for blast-off in Monte-Carlo!

Posted: January 14, 2017 4:25 PM

The build-up and fever pitch expectation is almost over as next week's Rallye Monte-Carlo (19 - 22 January) heralds the start of one of the most keenly-anticipated FIA World Rally Championship seasons in memory.

Dynamic new-look World Rally Cars will echo through the mountains of the French Alps as four of the world's biggest automotive manufacturers begin the fight for supremacy in motorsport's toughest championship for production-based cars.

The 13-round series spans four continents in an 11-month global tour, encompassing extreme temperatures that can reach a scorching 35C in Sardinia and plunge to a bone-chilling -25C in the harsh Swedish winter.

Much is new for 2017, and WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla believes the powerful and aggressive cars, developed from a blank sheet of paper to upgraded regulations, will be the stars of the show.

"Our fans are going to love the 2017 WRC! Footage from pre-season testing shows just how exciting these new cars are. A more macho appearance and increased performance will bring smiles to fans' faces, whether they are watching stage side or on television," he said.

"There's a hugely positive feeling throughout the WRC family as we head into the season. The series boasts big names from the automotive industry, and it's a compliment to the championship's development that they have chosen to showcase their cars in an environment that offers global visibility from January to November.

"What is so great is the feeling of unpredictability about 2017 because nobody knows which teams, which cars or which drivers will shine. New rules, such as the start order and revised Power Stage points, have been put in place to ensure down-to-the-wire competition and I'm sure we will see many thrilling battles," he said.

The Teams

Toyota, the world's biggest selling car manufacturer, returns to the WRC after a 17-year absence. The Japanese giant is joined by multiple champion Citroen, which is back after a year's sabbatical. Ford, in the guise of the British M-Sport team, and Hyundai, runners-up in both the drivers' and manufacturers' series in 2016, complete a stellar line-up.

The Cars

Aggressive, loud and moody - they are the new lightweight World Rally Cars that will battle for tenths of a second on dirt, asphalt, snow and ice.

They are bigger everywhere with larger bumpers at the front and rear and extended door sills which increase the width and provide increased safety. Larger aero devices, and more of them, including a huge spoiler and diffuser at the rear and a front splitter add to the 'bulldog' look.

Beneath the bonnet a wider restrictor on the turbocharger increases power from the 1600cc direct injection engine to 380PS. Electronic trickery in the form of an active central differential gives drivers a helping hand in balancing their cars.

The Drivers

The biggest news of the short end-of-year break was the decision of four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier to sign for M-Sport, for whom he will carry #1 on the doors of his Fiesta WRC. The Frenchman is joined by rising star Ott Tanak and Elfyn Evans.

Toyota has opted for an all-Finnish line-up of Jari-Matti Latvala, Juho Hanninen and Esapekka Lappi, while Citroen has chosen the youth of Craig Breen and Stephane Lefebvre to join lead driver Kris Meeke.

There are no changes at Hyundai which has kept faith with its strong 2016 squad of Thierry Neuville, Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo.

The Rallies

The championship comprises the same 13 demanding rounds as in 2016, but the order has been given a reshuffle. Corsica moves forward from September to April to provide a better balance of gravel and asphalt rounds. Monte-Carlo opens the season and Australia provides the finale.

Two rallies have changed their structure. Rally Sweden will operate around a central location at Torsby, while ADAC Rallye Deutschland has a new base at Bostalsee in northern Saarland.

Television

The 2017 WRC will generate more TV content than ever. Over 12,000 hours were broadcast globally in 2016 to a cumulative audience of over 700 million people and this season offers even more for fans.

The Sunday lunchtime rally-ending Power Stage programme, now established as a firm fixture across all rounds, will increase from 60 to 90 minutes. It will feature more interviews, extended coverage of the podium ceremony and reaction to the final result from the service park.

Also new for this year is another regular live stage on Saturday afternoons.

Long-term broadcast partners across the globe have renewed rights deals, eager to relay the news and action from one of the most unpredictable seasons for years. A blend of free and pay TV offers exposure to fans in more than 150 countries.

Digital

An updated version of official championship website wrc.com has been launched this week. It offers quicker access to major news stories and video content from the landing page, as well as an easier menu bar from which to locate other key sections.

There is also one-click entry to the popular WRC+ interactive digital service (www.wrcplus.com), which this year offers extended broadcasts from live stages, on-demand highlights programmes, live maps, exclusive onboard videos and much more.

A Japanese language version of wrc.com has been launched by broadcaster J SPORTS. The site will deliver the latest news during a rally, as well as key information including the itinerary, stage times and overall results.

Fans in Japan will be automatically redirected to their own language version when they open www.wrc.com. Outside Japan, it is available at www.jsports.co.jp/motor/wrc/.

eSports WRC Championship

After an inaugural season which ended in a thrilling finale in Britain, the eSports WRC Championship returns for a second year.

Thousands of players chased the title throughout 2016 on the official video game of the FIA World Rally Championship, as the competition ran in parallel to the real-life WRC calendar.

Entries are open for the 2017 eSports WRC Championship, based on the WRC 6 game. Players will accumulate points over the 13 rounds and the best eight will face off in a live final, hoping to succeed 2016 champion aTTaX Johnson. The first round takes place during Rallye Monte-Carlo.

CITROEN BEGINS A NEW CHAPTER IN ITS SPORTING HISTORY WITH THE C3 WRC

Posted: January 14, 2017 4:22 PM

The moment that WRC fans have been desperately waiting for is finally upon us: in a few days, the 2017 World Rally Championship will get underway on the stages of the legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo. The Citroen C3 WRC - designed to meet the new FIA regulations - will be making its competitive debut. Driven by Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau, two cars have been entered for this, the opening round of the season.

RALLYE MONTE-CARLO: SIMPLY ICONIC!

Quite apart from the prestige invoked by its name, Rallye Monte-Carlo owes much of its reputation to the unpredictability of the racing conditions. In January, the roads in the hills of the south-west of France can be snow-covered, icy, wet or... just dry! The most "amusing" part is that a single stage can feature all of these conditions. Tyre choice is therefore of critical importance here. It's all about estimating, for an entire loop of stages, what represents the best compromise. Gaps can open up and disappear very quickly, making the race even more exciting...

On this, the 85th running of the event, the oldest rally in the world will be spread over four days of racing. On Thursday, 19 January, the rally will get underway in the evening, with the ceremonial start in Monaco. The crews will then head towards Gap, where they will tackle two evening stages, one of which is new this year. After a short night's rest, day two promises to be incredibly intense, with two loops of three stages contested in the Is?re and Hautes-Alpes departments. On Saturday, the competitors return to Monaco, completing five stages on the way. The final leg, contested with no service, will see the crews tackle the famous Col de Turini. The rally is scheduled to finish in the Principality on Sunday, 22 January, in the early afternoon.

THE CHALLENGES: THE START OF A NEW ERA FOR THE WRC

The start of a new season is invariably the source of great interest for rally fans. But this year, the excitement has been ramped up with the introduction of new cars, more powerful and spectacular than their predecessors. In addition to the new regulations and cars, this year's driver transfer market has been particularly eventful and intriguing, so much so that we enter the 2017 season with a large number of unknowns and variables.

What is the relative performance level of the cars? Will they have the necessary reliability? Which crews will adapt the best to their new cars? Many questions that we may be able, at least in part, to answer at the end of the Monte-Carlo.

On its return as a works team in the WRC, the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT has generated a lot of interest. But no one is getting carried away in the ranks of the Red Army. Everyone is eager to see the first times, with a mix of excitement and anxiety, to find out if the results of hard work done in the last two years or so meet the ambitions of the Brand.

At four of the year's first five races, Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT will only be entering two C3 WRCs. This time, Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau have been tasked with scoring points for the Manufacturers' World Championship. Meanwhile, Craig Breen/Scott Martin will be competing in a car from the previous generation. They will therefore be able to score points in the Drivers' championship.

Last year, Kris Meeke was fighting for the lead before he had to retire. Meanwhile, Stephane Lefebvre finished fifth, which remains his best result in the World Championship. This year, the team-mates will have the same ambition: eliminate the unknowns and manage the variables as they try to solve the tricky equation posed by this 2017 Rallye Monte-Carlo.

YVES MATTON, CITROeN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL
"As is always the case at the start of new programme, we do feel that a few extra days would have been very welcome in order to spend more time developing the car. The development of the C3 WRC has been the shortest in the history of Citroen Racing and we have to stress the extraordinary investment made by our teams over the last few months. Having said that, we are eager to see where we stand. That competitive spirit is hard-wired in us. The car seems to be well-designed and consistent, but we'll just have to see how it compares with its rivals. Our crews will have two different approaches. Kris showed last year that he has the ability to win this rally. But of course, we need to differentiate between driving throughout a day on a test run and a completing a four-day rally with only two passes on the stages in recce. We'll need to be defensive at the start of the race, to see where the competition lies and then look ahead to the rest of the rally. It will be different for Stephane. Like Craig, we want to take him to a level where he can challenge for race wins. But before that, there will still be a period of learning, especially in the first half of the season. He needs to aim for points finish and ensure he makes it to the end. We only have two cars here, which means that there's no backup option or safety net."

LAURENT FREGOSI, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
"We come to Monte-Carlo with the feeling that we have done some good testing to prepare for this rally. The drivers seem comfortable in the C3 WRC and that makes us optimistic about the raw performance levels of the car. Preparations for Monte-Carlo concentrated in two areas: test a wide variety of tyre combinations and explore the set-up options, in order to check if the usual 'recipes' work with this new car. We spent a lot of time studying the mapping of the active central differential. This new component allows us to subtly adjust the handling of the car depending on the road conditions. The aim is to provide the drivers with an 'easy' car, which is forgiving when there is a sudden change in grip. This first rally will also provide us with a good test of our car's reliability. On this surface, it's mainly the driveshaft that is given a bit of a hammering during the changes in grip."

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

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

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

We have lift-off! - TOYOTA GAZOO Racing set for Monte magic

Posted: January 14, 2017 4:20 PM

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has completed its testing program ahead of its long-awaited return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) after a break of 17 years and is ready for the legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo. The event takes place from January 19th-22nd on tricky mountain roads when conditions can vary between dry asphalt, ice and snow.

Led by Tommi Makinen - four-time World Rally champion and quadruple Rallye Monte-Carlo winner - and with a strong driver line-up consisting of Jari-Matti Latvala (#10), one of the fastest rally drivers in the world, and the vastly experienced Juho Hanninen (#11), the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has all the ingredients in place ahead of this exciting adventure.

While Toyota has enjoyed considerable success in the World Rally Championship in the past, the Yaris WRC project represents a new chapter in the company's long and illustrious motorsport history with its continued commitment to making ever-better cars through motorsport. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is keeping its expectations for 2017 firmly in check as it prioritises car development and learning over outright results.

Yaris WRC(test program)

The legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo is the oldest rally in the world and runs for the 85th time in 2017. It also marks the start of a new era for the WRC with revamped technical regulations resulting in faster, wider, lighter and, above all, more spectacular cars.

At just under 380 timed kilometres, Rallye Monte-Carlo is not the longest event on the calendar, but it's probably the trickiest. Changeable weather and stage surfaces mean tyre choice and car set-up are often compromised, while the role of the ice-note crews, who provide last-minute information on stage conditions, becomes even more crucial.

Following the traditional ceremonial start in Monaco's Place du Casino at 18:11 CET on Thursday January 19th, two night stages in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region provide an early - and stern - test ahead of Friday's second leg, which is the longest of the rally at more than 160 competitive kilometres. The rally then begins its journey south from Gap to Monaco on Saturday via five mountain stages ahead of Sunday's route, which includes two passes over the infamous Col de Turini. The prize-giving ceremony at the Palais Princier de Monaco begins at 15:00 CET.

Tommi Makinen, Team Principal
The most important thing is to go to Monte-Carlo with a relaxed and open attitude. It depends so much on the conditions there and everything can change in a split second. It's hard for me to say at the moment where we really are in terms of performance and it's unlikely that Monte-Carlo will give us any definite answers either, as it is such a different rally to everywhere else.

The tight schedule has been the biggest challenge. Of course all the teams have had to build new cars from scratch this year, but they can rely on experience from the past. I can pass on a little bit of my personal experience to our drivers from Monte-Carlo, but in the end it's all down to them and the car now. Our target is to get good mileage from this rally, so I will be happy if we have both cars at the finish and arrive in the same minute as the leaders. That would be a fantastic way to continue our development, which is always an ongoing process. As we say in Toyota, we should keep continuous improvement: we just keep on making the car ever-better!

Jari-Matti Latvala, Driver (Yaris WRC #10)
Two months ago, I would never have imagined that I would be starting Rallye Monte-Carlo with Toyota, so that's really exciting. In total I've done 12 days of testing: four days on snow, one day on gravel, and seven days on asphalt. That's a good amount of testing and we've made some useful steps in that time. The car feels very strong but in terms of performance it's difficult to say, as everyone comes with a new car. In any case this year is all about development: For Monte I would like to finish the rally well, then maybe towards the middle of the season we can start to think about podiums. Monte-Carlo is so unpredictable that it's not a good idea to set too many targets: in 2015 I didn't have a particular plan and I finished second, so in 2016 I was aiming for the podium and then I ended up making a mistake! For any driver, Monte is quite a big stress during the event, because of all the unknown factors and tyre choices, but when you cross the finish ramp in front of the Royal Palace on Sunday, it is one of the best feelings you will ever experience in the sport.

Juho Hanninen, Driver (Yaris WRC #11)
I've done Rallye Monte-Carlo four times before, but just one time with a WR car. And actually the last rally I did was Finland in 2015 so as you can imagine I really can't wait to get started now! I've had a very good feeling with the Yaris in testing but of course you never know what happens when you put numbers on the doors, and it's been quite a long time since I last competed.

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

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

Message from Team Chairman Akio Toyoda (full text)

Toyota is about to return to the WRC.

At our team's press conference at the end of last year, I explained that it was the support from our enthusiastic fans and a sense of gratitude to our capable predecessors that led me to decide to return to the WRC.

Right before that conference, we decided that Jari-Matti Latvala would be our other Yaris WRC driver.

I met Jari-Matti unexpectedly at the Rally Finland in 2014 and had a chance to talk to him. At the time, he was a driver for Volkswagen.

When we spoke, he pulled out his smartphone and showed me photographs of the first rally car he had ever driven, a Corolla GT, and the Corolla WRC that he drove for his first WR Car. He also talked about his enthusiasm for Toyota.

I think he was talking to me not as the president of Toyota, but as a fellow car and Toyota lover.

At that time, even in my dreams I didn't imagine that Toyota would return to compete in the WRC or that Jari-Matti would join our team to drive our car.

When I heard that we had signed a contract with him, I recalled the look on his face when he was showing me those photographs and felt certain that fate had brought us together.

When he came from the test track to attend the team's press conference last December, Jari-Matti talked about building "ever-better rally cars" refering to our words.

In fact, I hear that he's continued to work during the testing process to refine and improve the car by offering advice about how to make it a more capable competitor.

He also described himself as "coming home to Toyota." In response, I'd like to welcome him back.

My own eagerness to compete in the WRC's first race, the Rallye Monte-Carlo, has only grown now that we've welcomed Jari-Matti to the team, and I can't wait for the rally to begin.

Juho Hanninen knows the Yaris WRC better than anybody else, and he's worked to refine the Yaris WRC since the earliest days of its development. Jari-Matti Latvala started his career driving Toyotas and has extensive experience driving in the WRC. Then there are their co-drivers Miikka Anttila and Kaj Lindstr?m. Those four; the drivers and co-drivers will be racing the Yaris WRC that was created by the team of Tommi Makinen.

A new journey to build ever-better cars is beginning with many fellows including Toyota's employees, the partners who are helping us achieve our vision, and all the fans who cheer us on.

We hate to lose, and we don't plan to lose. However, this isn't a rally that can be won easily.

I'm confident that the energy from such a broad base of supporters will reach the team, the car, and the drivers, and I look forward to your support for Toyota's entry in the WRC.

Akio Toyoda
President, Toyota Motor Corporation
Team Chairman, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team

Entry List

Posted: January 3, 2017 6:39 AM

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Posted: October 12, 2016 10:42 AM

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