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2008 World Rally Championship

Posted: November 2, 2008 9:15 PM - 22881 Hits

2008 World Rally Championships

Castrol Ford Team Türkiye delighted with dominant season

Posted: December 16, 2008 1:16 PM

This year Castrol Ford Team Türkiye have dominated the Pirelli-supported Ford Fiesta SportingTrophy International series claiming victories on five of the six FIA World Rally Championship rounds contested in 2008.

Overall Champion Emre Yurdakul showed incredible improvement over the year to win the final four events of the season and capture victory on the final round in Wales last weekend. He was taken all the way by team-mate Burcu Çetinkaya who lead the series for three consecutive events after winning her home round; Rally of Turkey. The Castrol Ford Team Türkiye have also dominated their national FST championship with Çetinkaya and team-mate Berna Aksoy finishing first and second respectively. The pair also claimed the top-two spots in the Turkish Rally Championship Ladies Cup and the Group N3 Class.

Castrol Ford Team Türkiye Team Principal Serdar Bostanci and his Teknik Motorsport team have been supporting a raft of young Turkish competitors for years and his hard work has paid off this season with an array of victories and opportunities awarded to his drivers.

Çetinkaya made her mark on the international rally scene once again this week when she was selected in the ‘final-five’ at the prestigious FST International Shootout. While overall victory just escaped her, she showed that she is one of the leading young drivers emerging into top-level rallying after being selected as a finalist by two-time WRC Champion Marcus Grönholm and BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team Principal Malcolm Wilson.

Yurdakul’s victory in this year’s FSTi series saw him handed the prize of a lifetime as he, yesterday, received driving tuition from Grönholm, behind the wheel of the latest evolution works Ford Focus RS WRC as used by BP Ford Abu Dhabi star Jari-Matti Latvala. This priceless opportunity will be a massive boost to his confidence and development as he looks to progress further in the sport. Çetinkaya was also handed an opportunity to drive the Focus RS for tuition with former FSTi champion, and now WRC regular, Barry Clark.

In all it has been a fantastic year as Castrol Ford Team Türkiye have stamped their authority on the one-make championship designed as a stepping-stone to the elite level of the sport.

2008 FSTi Champion Emre Yurdakul said:
“The tuition I had with Marcus Grönholm yesterday was a fantastic opportunity which I learnt a great deal from. Also to drive the latest Ford Focus WRC was an amazing feeling and something I will remember forever. I have to say a big thanks to Castrol, Ford and our Teknik Motorsport Team Manager Serdar Bostanci for helping me progress in my career. Without their help the opportunity I had yesterday would not have been possible nor would my victory be this year of the FSTi Championship.”


Posted: November 4, 2008 11:21 AM

Loeb & Elena Stats after Rally Japan

Posted: November 2, 2008 9:15 PM

Stobart secure Duval for Japan and GB outings

Posted: September 15, 2008 3:36 PM

FranºYs Duval has been confirmed as Gigi Galli¡¯s replacement in the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team for the remaining two gravel events in this year¡¯s FIA World Rally Championship. The Belgian will continue to be partnered by Patrick Pivato as the pair tackle Rally Japan and Wales Rally GB in a Stobart liveried Ford Focus RS WRC07.

Duval¡¯s addition to the side comes at a pivotal point in the championship where every point is vital as the Stobart team looks to climb up the Manufacturers¡¯ standings with just four events remaining in the 2008 calendar.

The deal will see Duval as a nominated point scoring driver for the Stobart team on Rally Japan when he pairs up with team-mate Matthew Wilson in November. With Henning Solberg back in the Stobart squad for Rally GB, and the addition of Scottish driver Barry Clark to the outfit, a decision on the nomination of point scorers for that event will be made closer to the December date.

Duval is no stranger to either event competing on Rally GB no fewer than six times with a best result of second in 2005. He has contested the Asian event two times prior with his best finish coming in 2005 with a commendable fourth overall.

SWRT to run three Imprezas in Spain and Corsica

Posted: August 27, 2008 1:13 PM

Ahead of the publication of the Rally Catalunya entry list, the Subaru World Rally Team can confirm it will be running a third Subaru Impreza WRC2008 on the remaining two asphalt events of the season: Rally de España, 2-5 October, and Rally de France Tour de Corse, 10-12 October 2008.

The third car will be piloted by the 2002 French S1600 Champion and 2003 JWRC Champion Brice Tirabassi, who will sit alongside long-time co-driver Fabrice Gordon. For the 31 year old Frenchman, who has made 27 WRC event starts in his career, Corsica is a key event. He made his WRC event debut on the island in 1999 and it was also the scene of his last WRC start in 2007.

Tirabassi is no stranger to Subaru, having driven an Impreza WRC2002 in 2004 and campaigned an Impreza Spec C in the 2005 Group N championship. He is eager for the opportunity to upgrade to a World Rally Car for two events.

¡°We are pleased to welcome Brice back to the Subaru fold, and this time in a factory-prepared Impreza World Rally Car¡± said Richard Taylor, Subaru World Rally Team managing director. ¡°We¡¯ve been talking to Brice since just after the Acropolis Rally so it¡¯s great that we¡¯ve agreed a deal that will aid Brice¡¯s campaign and strengthen our line-up for the final two back-to-back tarmac rallies of the season.¡± ¡°I am very happy to be taking part in these two events with a team of the level of the Subaru World Rally Team¡± said Brice Tirabassi. ¡°I have not much experience of driving a WRC car, but I know both events quite well. My objective in Spain is to understand the car better, learn more about the team and find the limit. In Corsica, if I feel comfortable enough the plan is to use more of the car¡¯s performance and push a little bit harder.¡±

Brice will spend two days testing a World Rally Impreza prior to Rally Catalunya in order to become acclimatised to its performance before his first competitive outing.

Stobart duo officially raise £36,000 for charity

Posted: August 27, 2008 12:32 PM

Three extremely worthwhile charities have benefited from £36,000 officially raised by The End to End charity cycle.  

When Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team members Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin decided to cycle from Land¡¯s End to John O¡¯Groats they never expected to raise such an amazing figure along the way. Fortunately for the Richard Burns Foundation (RBF), Great North Air Ambulance Service and the Cumbria Community Foundation they did, and today both Wilson and Martin were able show their support through a donation ceremony at their WRC team¡¯s base at M-Sport in Cockermouth, England.  

In total RBF received an incredible £14,400 with Alex Burns - father to the late world champion Richard Burns whose legacy is the driving force behind the motorsport charitable foundation - happily receiving the cheque on behalf of the charity.  Also receiving a cheque for the sum of £14,400 was Jan Hawkins of the Great North Air Ambulance Service, who was delighted to meet the guys who had ridden over 100 miles a day to generate the generous donation.  

Andy Beeforth, Director of the Cumbria Community Foundation was also on-hand to receive a cheque for £7,200 in recognition of the foundation¡¯s efforts in organising donations generated through the End to End cycle.  

The fantastic total raised was testament to the determination and efforts of Wilson, Martin, Stobart team trainer Barry Johnson and General Manager of Scott Sports UK Ian Hughes, who all cycled the distance in nine days while raising funds and awareness for the three great charitable causes.  

Duval to partner Hirvonen at Ford for Spain and Corsica rallies
Latvala reunited with Stobart for sealed surface events

Posted: August 24, 2008 6:47 PM

Duval to partner Hirvonen at Ford for Spain and Corsica rallies
Asphalt expert François Duval has been called up to join the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team for the final two sealed surface rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship in Spain (2 -5 October) and Corsica (9 -12 October). The 27-year-old Belgian will be nominated to score points for the reigning manufacturers' world champion in a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car alongside season-long nominee and drivers' title challenger Mikko Hirvonen.

Duval is acknowledged as one of the world's leading asphalt drivers and finished third on this month's Rallye Deutschland at the wheel of a Focus RS WRC for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team. He will also drive for the Stobart squad on next week's Rally New Zealand as a replacement for injured Italian Gigi Galli.

He will be co-driven by Frenchman Patrick Pivato and the duo will replace Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, who will be nominated by the Stobart team. Duval's Focus RS WRC will be in traditional BP Ford Abu Dhabi livery.
Latvala will partner Hirvonen in New Zealand next week and also in the final two gravel rounds of the season in Japan in October and Great Britain in December.

"François was due to drive a Focus RS WRC for the Stobart team in Spain and Corsica," said BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson. "His abilities on asphalt are well-known to us from his time as a works Ford driver from 2002 to 2004 and this decision will strengthen our-line up for those two rallies. A third consecutive manufacturers' world title is our aim this season and François' experience of these two specialised rallies will maximise our chances of obtaining strong results."

Duval, who has one WRC win to his credit, finished third in Corsica in a Focus RS WRC in 2003 and second in Spain in 2005. "I'm delighted that Malcolm has the confidence to nominate me for the BP Ford Abu Dhabi team," said Duval. "After several seasons with Ford previously I'm comfortable with the set-up here. New Zealand will be my third rally in a Focus RS WRC this season so I also feel confident with the car. I hope I can score well on both asphalt rallies and play my part in Ford retaining the world title."

Ford of Europe motorsport director Mark Deans said: "It's an advantage of Ford's customer programmes in the WRC that we have great depth of quality with the experience to step up to the highest level when required. Our customer teams increase the pool of talent with which we can work and this is a clear example of how Ford, as a whole, benefits from the system."

Latvala reunited with Stobart for sealed surface events
Flying Finn Jari-Matti Latvala will join the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team for the two remaining asphalt rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship in Spain and Corsica in October. The former Stobart star will re-join his old team-mate Matthew Wilson and will be a nominated point scoring driver on both sealed surface events.  

Latvala will then return to duties with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team for the remaining two gravel events in Japan and Great Britain. The Finn will continue to be partnered with regular co-driver Miikka Anttila.  

The 23-year-old had a fantastic year with the Stobart team last season which saw some impressive results that included his first ever podium finish on the last Tarmac event of the year in Ireland.  

Originally due to contest the two asphalt events for the Stobart Ford outfit was François Duval/Patrick Pivato. However, due to their recent podium form in Germany and well-known ability on asphalt, they will be nominated to score points for the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team to help repeat their success in the FIA Manufacturers¡¯ Championship.  

Latvala¡¯s form on asphalt is impressive also and he scored a seventh in Spain and fourth in Corsica for the Stobart team last year.  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
¡°With François moving to the BP Ford Abu Dhabi team for Spain and Corsica it allows Jari-Matti to score points for the Stobart team, a team he is very familiar with after much success together last season. He has delivered excellent performances in the past for the Stobart squad and I¡¯m confident that he will help boost the team¡¯s chances in the manufacturer championship.¡±

Stobart squad in shipshape for second half of season

Posted: July 16, 2008 9:14 AM

Members of the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team have been keeping in peak condition over the summer break ahead of what is set to be a fiery second half to the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship.  

The next two WRC events in Finland and Germany are set to be warm ones - with possible highs of around 30 degrees centigrade. With this in mind all three Stobart crews have been stepping their fitness up a level in preparation.  

Henning Solberg has been busy with his personal trainer over the past two months and is excited to have pushed his maximum average heart rate up to 199bpm, which is the equivalent to that of a 21-year-old¡¯s according to the British Heart Foundation.  

Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin have been extremely busy boys in the fitness field - after completing a road cycle across the length of Great Britain to raise over £30,000 for charities, one of which being the WRC-affiliated Richard Burns Foundation.  The bike ride was a massive 1500 kilometres and should have the guys in top condition for their next challenge in Finland.  

Gigi Galli has also got in on the act in light of his shortfalls in Turkey, where he suffered from dehydration and exhaustion as a result of the tremendous heat during the rally.  The Italian, along with building a new home in Italy, has been out running three times a week and keeping upthe fluids to avoid a Turkish relapse.  

The crews have also been keeping their driving abilities in-tune by competing on various events/drive-days over the summer break.  Wilson drove his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC07 on a small drive-day in the north east of England last month, where he took pop sensation Boyzone and their lead vocalist Ronan Keating for a spin in the car.  The 21-year-old will also be present with the car at next week¡¯s Goodwood Festival of Speed to showcase his talent to the hundreds of thousands of fans who visit the show each year.  

Galli and Solberg have been keeping their skills sharp too, both competing in a rallycross exhibition called Bjerkeracet in Oslo last month.  It was a real change for Galli, who jumped behind the wheel of a 600-plus brake-horsepower Ford Fiesta rallycross car for the first time.  Theevent took place on a specially-designed muddy gravel track with technical sections and massive fast, wide drifting corners.  

Despite this being his first time piloting the ultra-powerful Fiesta, Galli finished an impressive sixth ahead of some local young talent.  It was unfortunately not enough to beat rival and fellow team-mate on the WRC circuit Henning Solberg, who won the rallycross class by a substantial margin.  The pair were also joined by several Scandinavian-based WRC competitors. including Ford driver Andreas Mikkelsen and championship regulars Mads Østberg and Patrick Sandell.  

The next event for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team is the ninth round the FIA World Rally Championship; Neste Oil Rally Finland 31 July ¨C 3 August.  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Gigi Galli said:
¡°I am looking forward to the second half of this season, it is starting to get annoying now being at home so much and not doing any rallies! I have been doing some running about three times per week while I have been on this break to try and increase my fitness levels. Henning invited me to Oslo a few months ago and the experience was incredible, the engine in those Fiestas is amazing, absolutely amazing. I spoke with Marcus [Grönholm] after I drove the car because I know he will go crazy fast in one of those cars. It was nice to go to Norway as the people are so friendly and rally is a big big thing there.¡±  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:
¡°I have been doing lots of training over the WRC summer break an I am excited that my maximum average heart rate is 199 which my trainer says is very good. Generally I always try to keep my fitness at a good level but there are still some rallies in the next few months which are very demanding on the body. Even the colder rallies can be hard on the body and places like Japan and New Zealand definitely won¡¯t be warm one. It was great to have Gigi over in Oslo to drive the rallycross car ¨C I think he was very impressed with the speed of the car!¡±  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
¡°The whole experience of the bike ride was awesome and there was not a moment where we felt down even if the weather was bad.  To finish was a great achievement, and it was hard to believe that not one of us really wanted to cross the line at John o¡¯Groats because it was as if we all wanted to keep going. From a fitness point of view this ride has been a great thing for both Scott and I. We cycle quite a bit and go to the gym when we are at home but nothing to this degree, so I know I am going to be feeling fresh as a daisy once Finland comes around.¡±

Stobart duo delighted with End2End success

Posted: July 1, 2008 7:50 PM

The End2End team have successfully completed their challenge as they powered home over the last of 960 miles from Land¡¯s End to John o¡¯Groats on Sunday. Stobart Motorsport crew Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin, who were joined by the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team Fitness Trainer Barry Johnson and SCOTT Sports UK General Manager Ian Hughes, began their quest on June 21 from the most south westerly point of Britain in aid of three extremely worthwhile charities.  

In total the ride has currently massed over £25,000 in donations with more still coming in, which has been spread between the Richard Burns Foundation, the Great North Air Ambulance and the Cumbria Community Foundation. The support of so many in the rallying and cycling community, from across the globe, has been phenomenal and indeed the driving factor to such an impressive figure raised for these great charitable organisations.  

The group was hit by some shocking weather but with it came some amazing days of sunshine which fortunately was what they were treated to over the final two days of the ride. At the midway point to the trip the team stopped off in their home county of Cumbria at one of the Stobart Group depots in Carlisle to be greeted by local press and 60 excited young fans from Wilson¡¯s former primary school. The pupils from the school put in a huge effort to helpsupport the guys by raising over £800 in donations.  

Joining the pair for the afternoon stint on their 96 mile penultimate day was fellow FIA World Rally Championship competitor Chris Atkinson. A keen cyclist himself Atkinson flew straight in from a trip back to Australia to offer support and ride with the guys through the Scottish Highlands near Inverness.  

All-in-all the 960 total miles was filled with bumps, bruises and broken chains and claimed three SCOTT road bikes in the process. Despite this it was a remarkable effort for the team to keep on track for nine days straight without once having to reroute or deviate from the original plan set out in the lead up to the challenge.  

The fitness element of this gigantic effort puts both Wilson and Martin in good stead for the next two WRC events in Finland and Germany which are both warm and testing both physically and mentally. Wilson will next be in action for the Stobart squad at the Goodwood Festival of Speed July 11 -13.  

Grönholm to support FST International prize

Posted: June 17, 2008 8:19 PM

The winner of the 2008 Fiesta SportingTrophy International (FSTi) will be rewarded with an exclusive prize package supported by Ford, Pirelli and M-Sport. The prize on offer is an exclusive test session in a factory supported Ford Focus RS WRC at one of M-Sport¡¯s test facilities in Cumbria. In addition to this fantastic opportunity, the 2008 FSTi champion will also receive one-on-one tuition from double World Rally Champion and Ford ambassador Marcus Grönholm, truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The winner will be treated to an all-expenses-paid trip to M-Sport¡¯s HQ at Dovenby Hall in Cumbria, where he or she will meet key members of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team and will be fitted with a WRC replica racesuit in readiness for the test in the Focus RS with the flying Finn. Following an experience that most young drivers can only dream of, the 2008 champion will have an opportunity to discuss their day¡¯s work with M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson over dinner.

But the opportunities for the FSTi drivers don¡¯t stop there. Any driver who starts four FSTi events this season will be offered the chance to sample a drive in a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car at the test event.

In addition, as with all FST championships around the world, the winner plus one ¡®wildcard¡¯ will receive entries to the FST International Shootout in order to compete against fellow FST competitors for the chance to win a contract to work with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team in 2009.

Last (but not least) is the offer of a cashback incentive for any registered driver who opts to display the selected non-championship advertising. From Neste Oil Rally Finland, each competitor will receive a £500 cashback per event, making what is already the most economical stepping stone into the FIA World Rally Championship even cheaper!

M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson said:
¡°I am delighted that we are able to announce this fantastic series of prizes for the FST International and Pirelli¡¯s support has been invaluable in achieving this. I¡¯m looking forward to having Marcus [Grönholm] working with us again and the young driver lucky enough to win this prize will truly receive a chance of a lifetime. I certainly look forward to watching the progression of the winner both during and after the test.¡±

2008 FSTi calendar
Date Event Location
16-18 May Rally d¡¯Italia Sardegna Sardinia, Italy
13-15 June Rally of Turkey Kemer, Turkey
31-3 July/August Neste Oil Rally Finland Jyvaskyla, Finland
15-17 August ADAC Rallye Deutschland Trier, Germany
2-5 October Rallye de España Salou, Spain
5-7 December Wales Rally GB Wales, Great Britain


Posted: June 17, 2008 4:32 PM

Ford today claimed a record-breaking 100th consecutive points finish in the FIA World Rally Championship with the Focus RS World Rally Car. It became the first manufacturer since the launch of the championship in 1973 to reach a century of successive scores on the Rally of Turkey.

BP Ford World Rally Team drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen finished won the eighth round of the 2008 series while team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila were second to seal Ford's century in style.

The remarkable scoring run began in January 2002 and the Focus RS WRC has since claimed points on surfaces as diverse as the smooth asphalt roads of Spain, treacherously slippery snow and ice in Sweden and rock-strewn gravel tracks in the mountains of Greece.

Ford of Europe motorsport director Mark Deans said: "The consistency required in achieving this record is remarkable given that the WRC is the toughest competition in motorsport for production-based cars. It has demanded an outstanding blend of speed, strength and reliability from the Focus RS World Rally Car as well as some sterling performances from the drivers behind the wheel.

"It's also a tribute to Malcolm Wilson and his team at M-Sport that has prepared and run the Focus RS WRC for all 100 rallies. I look forward to starting the second century in Finland in August," added Deans.

    • Eleven drivers contributed to the scoring run (number in brackets indicates number of scoring finishes): Mikko Hirvonen (43), Marcus Grönholm (29), Markko Märtin (28), François Duval (19), Toni Gardemeister (13), Roman Kresta (10), Colin McRae (9), Carlos Sainz (9), Jari-Matti Latvala (7), Janne Tuohino (2), Henning Solberg (1).

    • Thirteen crew combinations contributed to the record: Carlos Sainz / Luis Moya, Colin McRae / Nicky Grist, Markko Märtin / Michael Park, François Duval / Jaen-Marc Fortin, François Duval / St¨¦phane Pr¨¦vot, Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen, Janne Tuohino / Jukka Aho, Toni Gardemeister / Jakke Honkanen, Roman Kresta / Jan Tom¨¢nek, Henning Solberg / Cato Menkerud, Roman Kresta / Jan Možný, Marcus Grönholm / Timo Rautiainen and Jari-Matti Latvala/ Mikka Anttila.

    • Seven different driver nationalities contributed to the record: Finland, Estonia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Spain and Norway.

    • Ford has won 27 and gained 85 podium places during the 100 rallies.

    • The run began on the 2002 Rallye Monte Carlo when Carlos Sainz finished third and Colin McRae claimed fourth.

    Ford reached its half-century on the Cyprus Rally in 2005.

Download Press Pack for Launch of new Subaru Impreza WRC2008

Posted: May 28, 2008 9:43 PM

New Subaru Launched in Greece.

Matthew Wilson and his co-driver Scott Martin cycle Britain for a cause

Posted: May 26, 2008 2:59 PM

FIA World Rally Championship competitor Matthew Wilson and his co-driver Scott Martin are set to embark on a 960 mile charity cycle across Britain in June via the infamous Land's End to John o'Groats route; the ride aptly named End 2 End 2008.

The Cumbrian pair, who race for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team in the WRC came up with the idea to help raise awareness for two vital motorsport related charities ¨C The Richard Burns Foundation and The Great North Air Ambulance. The lads will also ride for the Cumbria Community Foundation which make grants to local charities in Cumbria where the team is based.

The Richard Burns Foundation was set up in the name of the former World Rally Champion, who lost his brave fight against Brain Cancer in November 2005 aged 34, the Foundation strives to inspire and support people with serious injury and illness. The Great North Air Ambulance Service operates three helicopters based at Teesside, Cumbria and Northumberland. It has been proven time and time again that helicopters are vital for the transportation of time-critical injuries and in 2005 one of these helped airlift Martin to hospital after a serious crash on the Rally of Wales; his speedy transportation to hospital a key factor in his successful recovery.

Supporting the cause in various capacities are the following organisations: Scott Sports, M-Sport, Stobart Motorsport, Keswick Mountain-bikes and J Edgar & Son ¨C New and Used Car Centres. The support from these businesses has made this adventure possible for the Cumbrian pair who have been vigorously planning the event since March.

Kicking off at 07:00 on Saturday 21 June the lads will embark on their trip from Land¡¯s End to the far north eastern point of Scotland covering 960 miles over some of the most picturesque scenery in the world. Along with raising awareness for these important charities the ride will form an important part their physical and mental training program for the World Championship as they ride over 100 miles per day through whatever conditions are thrown at them.

The opening two days will see a nice cruise across the south coast of Britain passing Cornwall and Newquay. The pair will then set off north towards Bristol crossing the Bristol Channel into south Wales and into the very hilly regions around Telford and Shrewsbury before heading up the eastern side of Wales. The End 2 End train will then head towards Manchester/Liverpool area up through the Pennines mountain range before hitting rural country north of Preston. Following on, the boys will head through Lancaster and over the Cumbrian border into Kendal. Moving through, they will ride over the highest point, the infamous Shap Fell, before descending into Penrith and up to Carlisle.

From England to Scotland the pair will cross through border country, skirting around Glasgow before beginning on the Scottish Highlands and the famous Grampian Mountains. From there the ride heads to the vast mountain range of Rannoch Moor where they will be put to the test over a narrow 10 mile hill-climb ascending over 1500 feet before racing back to sea-level and into Fort William. From here the cycle will take the direct west to east line alongside the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness on its way to Inverness. They will then cross the Moray Firth at Inverness travelling right up the east coast through Tain and Helmsdale before a final pitstop in Wick. The final 10 kilometres from Wick to John o¡¯Groats will be used as a time-trial to celebrate the ride as they plan to arrive at their destination at 16:25 Sunday 29 June.

Subaru Impreza WRC2008 to launch in Greece

Posted: May 20, 2008 11:04 AM

The Subaru World Rally Team and STi are pleased to announce the launch date of the Impreza WRC2008. The most radically different Subaru World Rally Car in 15 years, the WRC2008 is ready to make its debut on the seventh round of this year¡¯s World Rally Championship, the Acropolis Rally of Greece, from 29 May ¨C 1 June.

The event will be marked by an official launch in Greece on the evening of Wednesday 28 May, prior to the start of the rally.

The new car is based on the latest road going Subaru Impreza which was introduced in June 2007. Although featuring radically new styling the Impreza WRC2008 retains the well proven Subaru horizontally-opposed turbocharged engine combined with Symmetrical All Wheel Drive. The WRC2008 will also sport a dramatic new livery created around the Subaru corporate identity but at the same time preserving the iconic blue identity familiar to rally fans worldwide.

¡°We are very excited to be able to launch the all-new Impreza WRC2008 ahead of schedule¡± said David Richards, Subaru World Rally Team principal. ¡°It is testament to the dedication and commitment of the team behind the scenes in the UK and at STi in Japan. Just as the latest Impreza road car represents a new era for Subaru so the WRC2008 represents a new era for all of us at the Subaru World Rally Team and I am confident that we will arrive in Greece able to fight competitively.¡±

The team¡¯s objective has always been to launch the WRC2008 as soon as the testing confirmed that good steps forward in overall performance had been made. We are confident that introducing the car in Greece will enable the team to be highly competitive in the second half of the season and give Petter and Chris the best opportunity to win in 2008.

A new area of the team¡¯s website has been launched to coincide with the official unveiling, counting down to the actual launch and heralding the team¡¯s new era whilst celebrating the Impreza¡¯s remarkable heritage at the forefront of world rallying. At the time of the official launch on 28 May, the site will be updated with more information on the WRC2008 including facts & figures and interviews with key team personnel.

Paul Nagle to co-drive Barry Clark in Munchi¡¯s team

Posted: May 12, 2008 12:56 PM

Paul Nagle will co-drive for Barry Clark on his up coming outings in a Ford FOcus WRC07 with the Munchi's team - Turkey, Corsica & Rally GB.

Duval tackles three tarmac tests for Stobart

Posted: May 7, 2008 3:55 PM

François Duval will re-join the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team as a nominated points scoring driver on three further rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship. The events to be contested by Duval will be the three remaining tarmac rallies this season; ADAC Rallye Deutschland, Rallye de España and Rallye de France ¨C Tour de Corse.

The deal has been made available thanks to Belgian construction firm Structo who have purchased a brand new Ford Focus RS WRC07 from M-Sport and have offered to support Duval¡¯s entry on all three events.

On event the Focus RS will be serviced by both M-Sport technicians and technicians from R-Tec Motorsport. R-Tec are no strangers to World Rally Cars, with firm experience of the Focus WRC, guiding Pieter Tsjoen to victory in the 2006 Belgian Rally Championship.

Duval is yet to name a co-driver for the three events with his partner from Monte-Carlo, Eddy Chevaillier, unable to navigate the 27-year-old due to commitments with GpN driver Peter van Merksteijn Jr. Having the Belgian driver on these three events is set to be a huge asset to the Stobart team in their quest for strong points finishes in the Manufacturers¡¯ Championship.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
¡°It¡¯s a great boost for the Stobart team to have François confirmed for these three events, especially with his wealth of experience on tarmac. The team put in a strong challenge for third place in the Manufacturers¡¯ Championship throughout 2007 and now with François scoring on these tarmac events it could again become a close race by the end of the year.¡±

Petter Solberg made the first Global Ambassador for Peace Through Sport

Posted: April 24, 2008 10:19 PM

Petter Solberg has become the first Global Ambassador for HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein¡¯s initiative to bring together conflicting communities across the world through sport. Solberg¡¯s involvement with the programme was announced prior to the ceremonial start of the inaugural Rally Jordan on Thursday 24 April.

¡°I think Peace Through Sport is so, so important and I¡¯m honoured to be an Ambassador for it¡± said Petter Solberg. ¡°Sport is enjoyed by so many people across the world and we can see from the rallies how it brings people together. I fully support HRH Prince Feisal¡¯s inspiring vision for Peace Through Sport around the world and I really hope that I can help the programme.

¡°In the WRC we travel to 15 countries this year alone, and with fans and supporters across the world I hope I can make a difference through this programme. It¡¯s important to me to give something back to the countries we visit, and Peace Through Sport has benefit everywhere so for sure I will carry the message with me.¡±

Peace Through Sport is a global initiative inspired and developed by His Royal Highness to contribute to the world¡¯s need for greater tolerance and understanding within conflicting communities. Launched last year in Amman, Jordan, Peace Through Sport operates dedicated peace programmes that bring together leaders of youth from the world¡¯s divided communities and train them to use sport to unite children. Crucially, they are trained to take their learning back to their native countries and implement sporting programmes with children in their region.

At the official announcement, when His Royal Highness passed to Solberg the campaign¡¯s symbolic baton, he said ¡°Petter embodies the values and spirit of Peace Through Sport and is himself the symbol of sportsmanship and a true champion who will be able to inspire and motivate others. We are delighted that he will work with us to pass on the message of peace to his huge number of rally fans around the world.¡±

New World Rally Cars to be Based on S2000

Posted: March 27, 2008 11:11 AM

The new technical regulations for the future World Rally Car will become effective from 2011. The WRC Car will be based on the current Super 2000 and Group N cars, fitted with a supplementary kit, which includes turbo and rear-wing additions. The kit must be able to be fitted or removed within a defined time limit, to be determined.

The current World Rally Car regulations will be extended to include the 2010 World Rally Championship, subject to technical controls. The new World Rally Car will be permitted to compete from 2009 and score points in the Championship from 2010.

More Details

Date Change for Japan & Rally GB

Posted: March 26, 2008 9:46 PM

The Japanese and British rounds of the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship will now take place on 31 October to 2 November (Japan Rally) and 5 to 7 December (Wales Rally GB).


Posted: March 20, 2008 6:26 PM

Citroën Sport is pleased to announce the arrival of Red Bull as a new partner of its programme with the Citroën C4 WRC and its crews Se¨¬bastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc Marti in the FIA World Rally Championship.

It is the combination of the Citroën brand's international reputation, Team Citroën Total's outstanding performance record and the exceptional personality of the drivers (three Manufacturers' titles, plus four consecutive world titles for Se¨¬bastien Loeb and Daniel Elena) that perfectly matches the vision of Red Bull ¨C creator and global leader of the energy drinks market ¨C which is looking at developing closer ties with the French market.

Citroën Sport Director Olivier Quesnel is delighted with this association which will begin from the very next round of the 2008 World Rally Championship, Rally Argentina (March 27-30). "We are extremely happy to have this exciting new opportunity to work with such a dynamic company as Red Bull. The images of our respective firms are very complementary and this partnership will be beneficial since it slots in perfectly with rally sport and with Citroën, which is a particularly active brand."

Red Bull GmbH is based in Fuschl am See, near Salzburg in Austria, and is present in more than 130 countries across the world. The philosophy behind Red Bull's partnerships in the world of sport is based on building strong associations with sportsmen and women who excel in their particular domains.

Red Bull joins Team Citroën-Total's existing partners for 2008, namely Pirelli, Le Coq Sportif, Eurodatacar, Citroën Financement, Magneti-Marelli, Sabelt, Transalliance, OZ Racing and Me¨¬te¨¬o France Sports.

Galli gives up name for charity/New Year, new look for Abu Dhabi in the WRC/FORD REVEALS NEW LOOK FOR 2008 FOCUS RS WORLD RALLY CAR/wrc.com relaunched/Martin signs as test driver for the Subaru World Rally Team/Stobart gears up for another super season wi

Posted: March 20, 2008 6:25 PM

  • Galli gives up name for charity
  • New Year, new look for Abu Dhabi in the WRC
  • wrc.com relaunched
  • Martin signs as test driver for the Subaru World Rally Team
  • Stobart gears up for another super season with a new face onboard
  • Gigi Galli joins Stobart
  • Ford reveals WRC line-up for 2008
  • Suzuki announce drivers
  • Championship Rounds

Championship Rounds

Posted: January 24, 2008 2:09 PM

Galli gives up name for charity
Newly named Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Gigi Galli has announced his 2008 charitable aspirations by auctioning the naming rights to his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC07 for each individual round of the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship.

For decades the Eddie Stobart transport company has upheld an idiosyncratic tradition of identifying its many trucks by allowing their drivers to choose a female¡¯s name to brand it with. The fact that thousands of people are currently on the waiting list to name a Stobart truck demonstrates the popularity of the iconic UK-based logistics firm; now part of the newly-formed Stobart Group. This tradition has since been employed by its motorsport wing which has seen cars named by their drivers in the WRC, British Rally Championship, Production World Rally Championship and the Fiesta SportingTrophy.

Galli bounced on the idea of auctioning the naming rights to his car for charity after he heard the story of a Cumbrian businessman who paid a large sum of money to have the name of a loved one on one of the Eddie Stobart trucks; the amount then entirely donated to charity by Eddie Stobart Ltd.

Approximately one month before each event a new auction is opened online to the public and the highest donation receives the right to brand the Stobart Focus RS with their choice of female name. The beneficiary is an Italian skiing charity headed by former Olympic skier Deborah Compagnoni. Bids for Rallye Monte-Carlo have recently closed with the winner choosing Peppa as the name which will be emblazoned on Galli¡¯s car for the opening round of the 2008 season.

For more information and a chance to have your own choice of name on a Stobart World Rally Car please visit

New Year, new look for Abu Dhabi in the WRC

However, the 2008 program is far more than simply a continuation of these ground-breaking partnerships, formed when the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority took the unprecedented step of joining forces with BP-Ford and the WRC last year, to bring the Abu Dhabi name to millions of motorsport fans worldwide.

The emirate¡¯s activity in the WRC forms part of a more far-reaching program to develop awareness of Abu Dhabi as a world-class destination for leisure, culture and commerce. In addition to the WRC and the emirate¡¯s national team, Team Abu Dhabi competing in the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, Abu Dhabi will also be hosting its first Formula One Grand Prix next year and is currently in the midst of the European Tour-backed Abu Dhabi Golf championship.

Abu Dhabi¡¯s partnership with the BP-Ford World Rally Team reaped huge rewards for the emirate in 2007, with success from the outset. Debuting in the WRC at August¡¯s Rally Finland, the team¡¯s two drivers, Marcus Grönholm and Mikko Hirvonen took a monumental one-two result on home soil to kick-start what was described by the ADTA as ¡®a perfect partnership¡¯. Incredibly consistent performances by the team for the rest of the year lead to BP-Ford claiming its second Manufacturers¡¯ title in as many years, a fitting result at the end of the first year of partnership with Abu Dhabi.

¡°For eight rallies last year our WRC partnership with reigning champions BP-Ford saw the Abu Dhabi name engage a worldwide television audience of more than 800 million,¡± said HH Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. ¡°This compelling mechanism will continue to demonstrate the appeal of Abu Dhabi and its evolution into one of the Middle East¡¯s fastest-growing business and leisure destinations.¡±

Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director of the ADTA, said; ¡°In the 2008 season Abu Dhabi¡¯s involvement in the newly-named BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team will come to the fore. Our first full season as partner will see optimum integration of Abu Dhabi¡¯s destination branding in all aspects of the team.¡±

¡°For the first time the new Abu Dhabi brand and logo will be revealed to the WRC¡¯s global fan-base. The BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team will communicate the UAE capital¡¯s unique tourism proposition to a worldwide audience of potential visitors.

¡°We wish everyone in the team, from engineers to drivers ¨C including Abu Dhabi¡¯s own Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi - all the best for the season ahead.¡±

With the retirement of Grönholm from the sport at the end of the 2007 season, Hirvonen was promoted to the team¡¯s lead driver, to be partnered by rising fellow Finn, Jari-Matti Latvala in 2008. Both Hirvonen and Latvala¡¯s cars, as well as the complete team operation, will feature a brand-new livery for the 2008 season, encompassing the new Abu Dhabi logo, proudly displayed against the burgundy background, giving the emirate a more integrated look and feel for this upcoming season. The new identity was unveiled at this year¡¯s Autosport International show in the UK by the drivers, Ford of Europe Motorsport Director Mark Deans and Team Director Malcolm Wilson.

"The Focus RS WRC has a new, contemporary livery which blends perfectly with the outlook of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team," explained Deans. "This is our first full season in partnership with BP and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and their importance to our WRC programme is reflected in the team's new name and their prominence on the car."

In addition to Hirvonen and Latvala, the team will also welcome the return of Abu Dhabi¡¯s rally representative, Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi. Al Qassimi competed in both the WRC and the MERC in 2007 and lost out to the overall MERC title on a tie-break. However, for 2008, the Emirati is concentrating on representing Abu Dhabi at the highest level of the sport, with a ten-rally program that will allow him to personify the Abu Dhabi spirit and develop his skills and knowledge across all surfaces that make up the WRC.

¡°I can¡¯t wait to start my first full WRC season in the new Abu Dhabi¨Cbranded car,¡± said Al Qassimi. ¡°It looks fantastic and is faster and lighter than the model I drove last year.

¡°There are a lot of tarmac events on the calendar this year, and starting the season with Monte Carlo and then Sweden ¨C both with plenty of snow and ice expected ¨C is obviously a little different to what I¡¯m used to in Abu Dhabi and the MERC!

¡°I¡¯m especially looking forward to Jordan ¨C which I won in the MERC last year ¨C as I¡¯ll be able to test myself against the world¡¯s best drivers on familiar terrain. Then we move to Sardinia and Greece, where better weather will hopefully help me maintain high speeds. It¡¯s going to be a fantastic season and I have to again express my gratitude to Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and in particular, His Highness Sheikh Sultan, for giving me this unbelievable opportunity,¡± added Al Qassimi.

Aiding Al Qassimi in tackling more WRC events this year will be a new co-driver, Michael Orr. Orr is extremely experienced and should help the Emirati realise his potential on the WRC stages and demonstrate what Abu Dhabi stands for.

¡°With Michael ¨C a hugely experienced navigator ¨C in the cockpit with me, I¡¯m really optimistic about the season ahead. His knowledge will be vital in helping me approach new rallies and surfaces with the confidence to go all out.¡±

The 2008 season will also see a much greater presence for Abu Dhabi in the championship itself. The Abu Dhabi Oasis, which debuted in the WRC service park in Ireland in November 2007, will be present on 11 of the season¡¯s 15 rounds and will allow the emirate to communicate its key message to the media, WRC family and the world¡¯s motorsport fans directly. The Oasis will form the base for Abu Dhabi¡¯s expanding programme of promotion through a range of initiatives and the emirate will also have greater presence through the official radio service, World Rally Radio.

Abu Dhabi will also be clearly demonstrating its new brand mark in stages throughout the championship with the associated television coverage, ensuring that as many motorsport fans as possible are aware of the unique nature of Abu Dhabi as a world-class destination.


Ford of Europe today revealed the exciting new look for its 2008 FIA World Rally Championship campaign as the team was unveiled at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham.

The Focus RS World Rally Car, which powered Ford to the manufacturers' world title in both 2006 and 2007, sports a striking modern livery that took centre stage today at Europe's largest annual motorsport exhibition. It was also announced that the squad will be named the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team for 2008.

The team's new driver line-up of Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala were joined by Ford of Europe's new motorsport director, Mark Deans, and team director Malcolm Wilson as they revealed the Focus RS WRC's colour scheme for the first time.

"The Focus RS WRC has a new, contemporary livery which blends perfectly with the outlook of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team," explained Deans. "This is our first full season in partnership with BP and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and their importance to our WRC programme is reflected in the team's new name and their prominence on the car.

"Of course, there is far more to a successful WRC campaign than the colour of the car and the name of the team. But in the few weeks since I took up my new role as motorsport director I have seen enough to convince me that we are again capable of being fully competitive in 2008. We have a dynamic, young driver line-up supported by one of the most enthusiastic and hard-working teams in motorsport at M-Sport and I look forward to a year that I'm confident will be a successful one," he added.

Deans also sprung a surprise on Wilson, presenting him with a replica of the 2007 FIA World Rally Championship's manufacturers' trophy on behalf of Ford of Europe. "That was a fantastic gesture and one that I really appreciated," said Wilson. "It brought back the memories of what a remarkable year 2007 was for Ford in the WRC.

"But that is history and we're now fully focused on the 2008 season. In Mikko and Jari-Matti we have two young drivers who are hungry for competition but also have experience that belies their years and I'm looking forward to watching them develop further during the season. Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi has a comprehensive programme of 10 events in a third Focus RS WRC and I hope to see him gain further in both experience and confidence during the year," added Wilson.

The Official website of the World Rally Championship has been relaunched:
Martin signs as test driver for the Subaru World Rally Team
Markko Martin has signed as the official test driver for the Subaru World Rally Team, as the team steps up its testing programme in preparation for the launch of its all-new Impreza World Rally Car. The 32 year old Estonian, who won the Bettega Memorial Rally at the end of last year driving an SWRT entered Subaru Impreza WRC2007, has an agreement that will see him responsible for the ongoing testing and development of Subaru¡¯s new WRC contender throughout 2008. Martin¡¯s first WRC event with the Subaru World Rally Team was Rally Australia in 2000, where he sat alongside co-driver Michael Park. The duo contested nine events with the team in 2001, with a best finish of fifth on Rally Finland. Martin has a wealth of experience on which to draw, having competed on the world stage for Subaru and several other top teams, and is excited about his return to a major role in the WRC with Subaru.

Markko Martin commented: ¡°For me it¡¯s a great challenge that I am really looking forward to. Having been with the team before, it¡¯s a privilege to come back and be able to help. I¡¯m sure the team has changed a lot since 2001, but the colour is still the same! ¡°It is crucial for me to understand what the car needs to be, and to find the common language with the engineers. The trickiest bit is that before I was used to setting the car up for myself, but now I also have to remember that the car has to work for other drivers. I think that my own preference is quite neutral though so I hope it will more or less work for everybody.

¡°For sure there is pressure in this role. It¡¯s clear that the new car has to be competitive, and I feel now a part of the team that has to perform. But that¡¯s what I¡¯m here for, and I¡¯m looking forward to the challenge.¡± SWRT Managing Director, Richard Taylor, added: ¡°As a winner of five WRC events and having gained competitive experience in a wide range of World Rally Cars we are delighted to welcome Markko back to the Subaru World Rally Team and are confident that he will play a key role in the successful launch of the 2008 Impreza in a few months time. We look forward to working with Markko again and hope that this will be the beginning of a long term relationship.

Stobart gears up for another super season with a new face onboard
After a truly outstanding season in this year¡¯s FIA World Rally Championship, the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team will continue into 2008 with an exciting new force in the ranks. This season Jari-Matti Latvala caused shockwaves throughout the WRC paddock with his performances and, with his promotion to the BP-Ford team, the opportunity to fill some big shoes has been given to Italian superstar Gigi Galli.

Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson will continue with the team in 2008 on all 15 rounds after superb performances this year, especially during the final quarter where both drivers achieved their highest results. All three drivers will have upgraded artillery in the form of the Ford Focus RS WRC 07; an evolution model from the 06 specification used by the Stobart team in the 2007 championship.

M-Sport will again run the Stobart outfit after a successful venture which has seen increasingly positive performances and overall results over the past two years. Malcolm Wilson will again offer expert guidance and management as Team Principal in 2008.

Galli¡¯s addition to the team will see him compete on all 15 rounds in a Stobart liveried car as the team¡¯s permanent nominated points scoring driver. The second scoring driver position will be left open during the year as the team looks to battle for a place on the manufacturers¡¯ championship podium for the second year running.

Fulfilling this position in next season¡¯s opening round, Rally Monte-Carlo, will be a fourth Stobart entrant as Belgian François Duval jumps into a Stobart liveried car to score for the team. Duval is no stranger to the blue oval as he competed as a works driver in the Ford camp on various occasions from 2002 to 2004.

Stobart¡¯s fourth place finish in the manufacturers¡¯ championship this season will mean a numeral change for next year as the two points scoring Stobart Focus RS¡¯ pick up numbers seven and eight on the livery. Wilson will retain his number 16 tag next year for those events where he is not nominated to score for the team.

The 2008 WRC season will see a reduced 15-round championship taking competitors across the globe spanning five continents. Next year also marks a new era in WRC history as Jordan becomes the first Arab country to be introduced into the championship.

The final change for 2008 sees Rally Turkey back in the action after a year¡¯s break from the WRC. Rally Ireland and Norway are being rested for 2008 after both hosting their inaugural events in the world championship this year.

2008 is set to be another top year for the Stobart team which, in its short history, has helped develop some of world rallying¡¯s finest young talent.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said: ¡°It's set to be another exciting year for the Stobart team after such a successful season this year. Jari-Matti's promotion to the BP-Ford Abu Dhabi team has left an opportunity for someone to join this very competitive squad and we are happy to announce that it will be Italian driver Gigi Galli. Gigi has a wealth of experience in the WRC and I'm sure will be a great asset for the team. Matthew and Henning will again be part of the Stobart team after some fantastic performances in the 2007 championship. The battle this year with Subaru came down to the final event in Wales and next year things are again looking strong for the Stobart squad.¡±

Gigi Galli joins Stobart
Gigi Galli joins the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team in place of Jari-Matti Latvala
Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson remain with the team.

Ford reveals WRC line-up for 2008
Ford of Europe plans to keep the WRC as its front line Motorsport activity from 2008. Today Ford announced some important developments designed, in the first instance, to maintain the competitiveness of the BP-Ford Team from the start of the coming championship season.

The retirement from the team of Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen, who have led its campaign in superb fashion over the past two seasons, has posed quite a challenge. However, Ford's WRC strategy has been based also on a programme to develop new, exciting talent. Fresh from their win in the final WRC event this month, in Rally GB, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen now are stepping up into the role vacated by Marcus and Timo.

Further, Ford is pleased to confirm that Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila will also be promoted, as their team-mates, to complete Ford's official line-up for 2008.

Lewis Booth, Executive Vice Chairman for Ford of Europe and Premier Automotive Group, said: "The man who so convincingly kept the BP-Ford team at the top of the leader board throughout the year is Marcus Grönholm. We couldn't have won "two in a row" without Marcus and Timo delivering results so consistently. We're really fortunate to have had them both on the team, and we're proud of what they have achieved for Ford. Marcus and Timo have been one of the sport's most successful pairings of all time - in fact their 30 victories have earned Marcus second place on the list for all-time rally wins. Such is Marcus' standing in the sport that we did not want to lose him entirely from our team. We are asking Marcus to take an ambassadorial role for Ford of Europe next year."

Ian Slater, Vice President Communications of Ford of Europe and Premium Automotive Group, said the team's new driver line-up is a key aspect of Ford's strategy. "Ford of Europe is planning for a long-term success in the WRC. Our young but experienced team, with Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala, is a clear statement of intent. We believe these two young Finns will become stars of the sport and we're delighted to offer them the opportunity to grow and develop with Ford over the next few season, while providing all-important stability and consistency within the team."

"Jari-Matti is only 22, but already he has started more than 50 WRC events and his level of experience is higher than many older drivers. He has developed greatly under Malcolm's guidance in a privately-entered Focus RS World Rally Car during the past two seasons. Towards the end of the 2007 season Jari-Matti has shown he is ready to step up to a full works drive: witness his outstanding third place in Rally Ireland last month. They will debut for us in January's Monte Carlo Rally."

Malcolm Wilson, managing director at M-Sport, gave his views on the season just ended. "First of all I'd like to thank Ford for the trust and confidence. I also would like to thank Stobart for their commitment to run Jari-Matti this year. He has gained confidence by the day and has developed into the most promising driver in the WRC this season. His performances on the second half of the season put him in pole position for the drive. Knowing that he will now be doing a large part of the testing, gives me confidence that his performance will only improve."

"Marcus and Mikko have worked wonderfully together and I hope that Mikko will pass on to Jari-Matti the experience he has learned. If I look back, I'm proud to say that they both came to M-Sport for evaluation five years ago and now they are going to be partnered for the 2008 season," he added.

Mark Deans, Ford of Europe's new Motorsport director, who will head the company's programme from the start of next season, is not hiding his enthusiasm. "With this incredible car and team we look forward for a 2008 full of successes."

Suzuki announce drivers
Toni Gardemeister and Per-Gunnar Andersson will drive the Suzuki SX4 WRC cars for the 2008 Season

Championship Rounds
  1. Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo WRC - 24-27 Jan 08
  2. Swedish Rally WRC (P) - 08-10 Feb 08
  3. Rally Mexico WRC (J) - 29-02 Mar 08
  4. Rally Argentina WRC (P) - 28-30 Mar 08
  5. Jordan Rally WRC WRC (J) - 24-27 Apr 08
  6. Rallye d'Italia-Sardegna WRC (J) - 16-18 May 08
  7. Acropolis Rally WRC (P) - 29 May-01 Jun 08
  8. Rally of Turkey WRC (P) - 13-16 Jun 08
  9. Rally Finland WRC (P & J) - 31 Jul-03 Aug 08
  10. Rallye Deutschland WRC (J) - 15-17 Aug 08
  11. Rally of New Zealand WRC (P) - 28-31 Aug 08
  12. Rallye de España WRC (J) - 02-05 Oct 08
  13. Rallye de France Tour de Corse WRC (J) - 10-12 Oct 08
  14. Rally Japan WRC (P) - 24-26 Oct 08
  15. Wales Rally GB WRC (P) - 5-7 Dec 08

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