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Rally Germany WRC (J) - 15-17 Aug 08

Posted: August 29, 2008 2:03 PM - 8025 Hits

Round 10 - 2008 World Rally Championship

Galli & Friends!

WRC colleagues support Galli

Posted: August 27, 2008 12:17 PM

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally driver Gigi Galli got a surprise on Sunday evening after the finish of ADAC Rallye Deutschland when a selection of his WRC colleagues visited him in hospital.

Galli had a high-speed accident on day 1 of the event and required hospital treatment to pin a fractured left femur.

  After finishing the rally, the other Ford crews planned to visit Galli but in order to cheer the Italian up they all dressed in their fire proof underwear. After some strange looks in the Trier hospital, the crews, joined by the Citroen pair of Dani Sordo and Marc Marti, invaded Galli’s room and shared stories from the weekend’s action.  

Galli is recovering well after his Friday evening operation and has returned home.  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Gigi Galli said:
“It was great to see all my team mates in the hospital and what a surprise to see them all walk into the room in their underwear. We have a great team spirit between all of the Ford crews and it really is just like a big family. The doctors tell me the operation went very well so hopefully I will recover soon and get back to action for all of my fans.”

Gallagher - 2nd Junior World Rally Championship.

Posted: August 27, 2008 12:11 PM

Irish man Shaun Gallagher moved up to second place in the Junior World Rally Championship after finishing fourth in Rally Germany. This leaves the Donegal driver with 25 championship points. After a slow start the Irish paring of Shaun Gallagher & Paul Kiely moved up the leader board to give another solid performance on the world rally stage.

Shaun Gallagher said: "I am delighted to be second overall in the Junior World Rally Championship. It was difficult adjusting to tarmac for the first time this year. I will be hoping for one final push in Spain for a top three place in the championship. I noticed the considerable Irish support we had here in Germany and I want to thank all the fans who made the effort to come here for the weekend.

The dominant French force of Sébastien Ogier won the J-WRC in Germany and local German driver Aaron Nicolai Burkart put in a solid performance to claim second place, while Allesandro Bettega of Italy secured third place.

Tommy Mullen, Chief Executive Officer of World Rally Team Ireland commented: "Once again Shaun Gallagher and Paul Kiely have proven themselves for Ireland by moving into second place of the J-WRC. It is a great credit to all our team members for our success to date. I am really pleased with everyone's performance. The strong Irish support here in Germany was a massive boost to both Shaun and Paul in their comeback performance".

World Rally Team Ireland now gets ready for their final round of the Junior World Rally Championship in Spain. The team will be preparing for one final push to secure a top three placing in the overall Junior World Rally Championship.

Yurdakul wins Deutschland Fiesta's as Çetinkaya controls championship

Posted: August 27, 2008 12:06 PM

Emre Yurdakul (25) from Turkey and his co-driver Can Erkal (24) have picked up their second win in this year's Pirelli-supported Fiesta SportingTrophy International series by winning Round 4, ADAC Rallye Deutschland.  Another fine display from the Turkish pair, which sees them claim back-to-back victories in Finland and Germany, has seen them close the gap on the championship leader to one point after a faultless event this weekend. 

  A measured drive has seen Burcu Çetinkaya (27) from Turkey and co-driver Çiçek Güney (26) finish the event third and maintain their lead in the FSTi series; one which they have held since Round 2. This sees her third podium result for the year from four events.  

Joachim Müller-Wende from Germany and his co-driver Umberto Calamida have performed brilliantly on their home event to finish a very impressive second overall. The pair hit back from an early moment when they had a small 'off' on SS1 and lost 20 seconds - to set some impressive stage times which included a fastest on the 18 kilometre Moselwein test this morning; Müller-Wende's first ever FSTi stage win.  

Richard Moore from Scotland and UK MSA British Rally Academy co-driver Seb Marshall (20) have had a successful event debut together finishing all 17 competitive stages without any major issues in fourth position.  This result puts Moore a creditable seventh in the FSTi championship and will stand him in good stead for his next FSTi event in Spain.    

The fifth and final FSTi finisher was regular FST Belgium driver Philippe Maertens and co-driver Tony Lefebvre (23) who drove a measured rally on their debut in the WRC with Floral Racing.  Maertens now lies equal eighth in the championship after his maiden event.  

After taking the lead of an FSTi round for the first time in his career on SS16, Tim Vanparijs from Belgium and co-driver Kurt Heyndrickx (35) were looking strong until a broken wheel on Stage 17 caused them to retire from the event. Also challenging for the lead was Anthony Martin (23) from Belgium and co-driver Eric Borguet (23), who picked up their first ever FSTi stage win on SS7 followed by another two on SS11 and SS14. The pair were looking in fine form until a collision with a rock 6 kilometres into stage 15 ripped off a wheel and retired them from the event.  

The event was marred, however, by the injuries to Castrol Ford Team Türkiye members Koray Muratoglu (30) and co-driver Levent Özokutucu (22). A fifth gear accident on the opening section of SS7 resulted in Özokutucu being airlifted to hospital with a compressed vertebrae in his lower back while Muratoglu was driven to hospital for precautionary checks but later released with no injuries.  

Organisers and event medical staff did a fantastic job working efficiently to help the Turkish co-driver get a speedy airlift to hospital, from where he was released on Sunday.  Özokutucu will travel back to Turkey to recover from his lower back injury.  

Lithuanians Vytautas Baranauskas (24) and co-driver Gediminas Celiesius (36) led the event, only dropping into second on SS16 and SS17, to finish over four minutes ahead of Yurdakul.  They were later excluded by the Stewards for breach of the FIA regulations.  When questioned, the crew stated that they had had a puncture in a stage and in the process of the wheel change, their jack became unserviceable.  On the road section after the stage, the car had another puncture and the crew borrowed another jack from a marshal.  It was thus judged that the crew had received external assistance, which contravened Articles 12.1.2 and 12.2.1 of the FIA WRC General Prescriptions.  

The next event on the Fiesta SportingTrophy International series calendar is Rallye de España in October. After two gravel rallies and an exciting Tarmac event here in Germany, the series is set to treat crews in its fifth of six rounds as they take on the technical asphalt stages in Spain.  

Emre Yurdakul (25) from Turkey said:
"This was a good rally for me, it went very well especially considering there was no rain for the event.  It has been a long time since I've competed on Tarmac, so I took it stage by stage until the end and I'm happy we won FSTi.
  Obviously we've been thinking about our friend Levent [Özokutucu] who was injured on Friday, but we hear he is ok.  It's never nice to see this sort of thing happen.  But for our rally, I liked the stages - they were good fun for me - fast and narrow - but I like that."  

2008 standings after ADAC Rallye Deutschland  
    Total 1 Burcu CETINKAYA 29
2 Emre YURDAKUL 28
4 Vytautas BARANAUSKAS 10
5 Joachim MÜLLER-WENDE 8
6 Teemu HORKAMA 6
7 Richard MOORE 5
8= Phillippe MAERTENS 4
8= Atte ALANEN 4
- Jarkko NIKARA 0
- Anthony MARTIN 0

Citroen Reports

Posted: August 27, 2008 12:01 PM

Devine Duval dominates Deutschland for Stobart

Posted: August 27, 2008 11:58 AM

François Duval/Patrick Pivato have put in a super drive on the final day of ADAC Rallye Deutschland to give their Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team its fifth ever podium in the FIA World Rally Championship by finishing the event in third position.  

Also displaying brilliance were Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud who have achieved their first ever points scoring result on asphalt together. Team-mates Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin kept things going under some tricky conditions to finish the event in 12th just 17 seconds of 11th placed Andreas Mikkelsen.  

Unfortunately Gigi Galli/Giovanni Bernacchini retired from the event after an accident on stage 5 on day 1 which saw the Italian driver airlifted to hospital with a fracture to his left femur. Successful surgery on Friday night sees Galli recovering well, however, doctors have estimated that he will be unable to walk on the leg for six to eight weeks and will require physiotherapy after this time. A decision to his replacement for the season will be made in due course.  

The outstanding effort made by the Grafschaft Veldenz stage medical team in aiding the pair from danger and into hospital saw Stage Safety Commander Manfred Bläsius awarded the ‘Abu Dhabi Spirit of the Rally Award’ for his exceptional co-ordination during the emergency.   

Duval’s performance saw him pick up fastest times on all four special stages today as he won an epic battle for the final rostrum spot against BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver, and championship leader, Mikko Hirvonen. After battling to find a comfortable setup with his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC07 on the opening two days, the Belgian picked up the feeling on the final day. This better understanding of the characteristics of the car will certainly put Duval in good stead ahead of the two remaining tarmac events this year.  

For Solberg it has been a superb and fun drive as he picked up his first ever top-eight result on the sealed surface. All weekend the Norwegian gradually increased his speed focusing more on bettering his technique on asphalt rather than playing around too much with the setup of his Focus RS.  

Twenty-one-year-old Wilson began the event with a degree of caution as he struggled to find the appropriate car setup to compliment his driving style on asphalt. Fortunately some smart suspension changes by his Stobart technical team during Saturday’s midday service rectified the situation as he began to gain more feeling, and confidence, with the car.  

In total Rallye Deutschland covered 352.89 kilometres over 19 stages, the last of which was a 4.37 kilometre super special based through the city streets of Trier. Unlike previous years’ weather, conditions remained dry for the entire event and Pirelli’s PZero tyre performed well on the difficult and specialised asphalt stages. The next event for the Stobart squad sees them roll onto Repco Rally New Zealand where the fast, gravel stages will provide another fantastic challenge for the team.  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Gigi Galli said: “I’m obviously very disappointed with the accident but thankfully the organisers and medical team did a great job. The strength of the Ford Focus, my Stilo helmet and the help of Giovanni all contributed to keep my injuries to a minimum as I think it could have been much worse. I feel tired but not too bad after the operation and unfortunately for my fans I will be out of action for a few months but am looking forward to making a speedy recovery and getting back to the stages.”  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver François Duval said: “It’s great to come here with very little testing and on new tyres and be able to finish on the podium. It was always going to be a big challenge to fight for a win as the other drivers have been competing all year and have been testing so the result feels very good and for sure we have made improvements with the setup and learnt about the tyres so there are many positives. The experience will help for the next two tarmac events we are doing.”  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said: “This has been a very special result for me it’s nearly like winning the rally! Scoring my first points on tarmac is a big achievement and we have made some good steps here. It was a difficult rally for me as I don’t have much experience on tarmac and I came here to learn some more and make improvements. I knew I wasn’t going to be challenging with the leaders here but we made good progress and learnt a lot for Spain and Corsica so from that point of view it was a positive event for us.”  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said: “It has been a very useful event and we have made good improvements through our tarmac technique and also have learned some more about setup and the Pirelli tyre compounds. I’m not happy with the amount of small mistakes I made with spins and stalls but we have learnt from this for the future. We made some important suspension changes which helped the car under braking and gave me more confidence.”  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said: “After the disappointment of Gigi’s retirement, it has turned out to be a dream result to get another podium for the Stobart team. François has done a fantastic job here and his confidence and performance have both increased throughout the rally; this will help for the events later in the year. In addition, Henning has scored his best ever tarmac result and Matt’s times improved well over the weekend, providing more good experience for both of them for Spain and Corsica.”  

Stobart Group CEO Andrew Tinkler said:
“It’s been a very mixed event for the Stobart team. We managed to secure another great podium finish and it really underlines the work put in by the whole team and the effort by the drivers. Unfortunately it seems that Gigi will be sidelined for a while and everyone at Stobart Motorsport wishes him a very speedy recovery; but the strength of the car during the accident and the professionalism of the event safety team really shone through.”

SWRT complete successful asphalt debut with new Impreza

Posted: August 27, 2008 11:56 AM

After three days, nineteen stages and 352 kilometres of competition on the ADAC Rallye Deutschland, the Subaru World Rally Team successfully completed its asphalt debut with the new Impreza WRC2008, both cars finishing firmly within the points.

The leaderboard remained static since the end of yesterday’s stages, meaning Petter Solberg and Phil Mills retained fifth place and team mates Chris Atkinson and Stéphane Prévot claimed sixth, positions they held since the mid-point yesterday.

Crucially, the team were able to learn a great deal about the performance of the new Impreza on tarmac and are now in a much better position ahead of the two remaining tarmac rallies, rounds 12 and 13 in Spain and Corsica.

“We came here with very little experience of the car on tarmac, yet Petter and Chris have scored good points, and we now have a very clear direction for our continued asphalt development” said David Lapworth, Subaru World Rally Team technical director.

Today’s stages saw a return to the type of very narrow vineyard roads first seen on the opening day of the first asphalt rally for the Impreza WRC2008, which has now contested just four events since its launch on the Acropolis Rally at the end of May.

Four of today’s speed tests were characterised by fast roads leading into tight junctions, demanding a staccato dance of heavy braking and hard acceleration. In search of the best racing line, drivers cut corners by placing their cars on the grass on the inside of the slow junctions, bringing gravel and dust onto the racing line making it increasingly slippery.

The final test, bringing a spectacular close to the rally, was a spectator stage run in the centre of Trier. The Circus Maximus Trier test represented a fitting tribute to the popularity of this event by bringing the action of the WRC to the heart of the Germany’s oldest city.

Solberg and Mills had a completely trouble-free run, yesterday working themselves into the comfortable fifth position overall that they maintained to the finish.
Feeling increasingly confident aboard their number five Impreza, true to form they kept pushing to the very end of the rally, recording the third fastest stage time on the day’s penultimate test and setting the equal fastest time on the final stage.

“We had no problems at all this weekend which is very good. The very positive thing is that things have improved through the rally, you know” said Petter Solberg. “We started with ok speed, and it got better through the rally. You have to remember we’ve only done two days’ testing with the car, so I’m really very happy with it. I think we’ve found the direction we need to get the maximum from the car, so it’s good.”

Atkinson and Prévot closely shadowed their team mates all weekend, and consolidated their sixth position overall to add more valuable points to their season tally. Despite losing time with a stall at the start line of the day’s opener and suffering damaged rear suspension three kilometres into the test, the duo had earned a sufficiently comfortable gap to stay ahead of the pursuing crews. “There were large gaps today so we weren’t taking any silly risks” said Chris Atkinson. “Ok it’s not been a bad weekend and there are a lot of things we can take forward from it. This morning was a little frustrating, but we tried to find out some new things today that will help us continue fine-tuning the car and improve our performance which is the main focus.”

Making for an unusually dry Rallye Deutschland, the weather on the final day remained fine throughout. After a cold start, at a mere nine degrees Celsius, the temperature soon picked up to a high of 17 by midday. Amid wildly varying surface conditions, the weather was one element of the mix that remained consistent

Hirvonen leads Ford's double points finish in Germany

Posted: August 27, 2008 11:54 AM

BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team secured a double points finish in Rallye Deutschland today after a difficult weekend on Germany's asphalt roads. Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen finished fourth in a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car, with team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila claiming fifth on this 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

The result meant the lead of the drivers' championship changed hands for the sixth time in the enthralling battle for the title between Hirvonen and Sébastien Loeb. Loeb regained top spot by just four points from Hirvonen with five rounds remaining. In the manufacturers' series, the battle is just as tense with Ford lying second, eight points from the lead.

Trier, Germany's oldest city, hosted this first foray onto asphalt since January's opening road in Monte Carlo. Three days of competition covering 352.89km comprised narrow and bumpy vineyard tracks on the banks of the Mosel river, flowing roads through the Saarland countryside and demanding tank training tracks in the Baumholder military area. Frequent surface changes posed tough challenges for both the drivers and Pirelli's PZero tyres but the forecast heavy rain failed to materialise, removing one difficulty from competitors' minds.

Hirvonen, for whom asphalt is his least-favoured surface, ended Friday's opening leg in second on the debut of the 2008-specification Focus RS WRC. He slipped to third yesterday but punctured a rear tyre after hitting a hole in the final few kilometres to drop into fourth behind François Duval. He fought tooth and nail to catch the Belgian on today's final leg in the vineyards, comprising five speed tests and 84.97km of competition, but could not close the gap, ending 10.1sec behind.

"I was on the limit this morning to try to catch Duval," admitted Hirvonen. "I had a big escape. I had a corner marked in my notes with a small cut, but I took a big cut. It was a high-speed bend and the car was up on two wheels for a long time. It was close! On the third stage I saw I was three seconds down on Duval at the third split section and decided to ease off and settle for fourth. I didn't want to make any mistakes chasing third and risk losing what I had.

"I set some great stage times on Friday and with a bit more consistency I will be able to fight for a top- place on this surface, but I couldn't match the speed of the top two here. But I feel my asphalt driving has improved and it was unfortunate I lost time with a puncture last night," he added.

Latvala endured a frustrating weekend. After ending the opening day in fifth, he rolled his Focus RS WRC yesterday after hitting a ditch at a chicane and slid to 10th. He regained a place, despite losing a minute when he punctured the rear left tyre this morning after landing on a kerb following a jump. Latvala admits asphalt is his weakest surface and the 23-year-old Finn struggled to regain his rhythm and confidence after yesterday's accident.

"It was frustrating," admitted Latvala. "It started well on Friday and I had a good position and feeling with the car but yesterday and today were nightmares. At least I increased my asphalt experience. It's the most difficult of the asphalt rallies as the surface changes all the time. I learned that on aggressive asphalt I'm OK, but on a smoother surface I'm far away in my car set-up and confidence level.

"I had a new experience in comparing Pirelli's hard and soft compound tyres. They did a good job for us and were strong. This rally also showed me how important mental preparation is. I need to work on that this week before Rally New Zealand and start from zero again to move forwards. I also want to complete some asphalt training before the next rally on that surface in Spain in October," he added.

Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr finished 14th in another Focus RS.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson said: "We made a good start on Friday with a terrific performance from Mikko. But a lack of experience on the most difficult asphalt rally in the championship, with a constantly changing road surface, resulted in us not taking as many points as we would have liked. However, the drivers have learned a lot for the final two rallies on this surface."

Ford of Europe motorsport director Mark Deans looked forward to the next round in New Zealand. "We've relinquished the lead in the manufacturers' championship here but the fight to win it back begins in New Zealand in a fortnight. The gravel roads there are more favoured by our drivers and we'll look to reclaim the series lead immediately," he said.


Posted: August 27, 2008 11:53 AM

Final positions 1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 3hr 26min 19.7sec 2. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 3hr 27min 07.4sec 3. F Duval/P Pivato BEL Ford Focus RS 3hr 27min 39.7sec 4. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 3hr 27min 49.8sec 5. P Solberg/P Mills NOR Subaru Impreza 3hr 28min 55.0sec 6. C Atkinson/S Prévot AUS Subaru Impreza 3hr 31min 05.6sec 7. H Solberg/C Menkerud NOR Ford Focus RS 3hr 31min 55.9sec 8. U Aava/K Sikk EST Citroen C4 3hr 31min 57.5sec 9. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 3hr 32min 36.9sec 10 T Gardemeister/T Tuominen FIN Suzuki SX4 3hr 33min 36.5sec

Galli undergoes successful surgery

Posted: August 27, 2008 11:46 AM

Gigi Galli has undergone successful surgery to a fractured left femur he injured during a high-speed accident on day 1 of ADAC Rallye Germany. The Italian is recovering well and is expected be released from hospital on Wednesday.  

Doctors’ have estimated that he will be unable to walk on the leg for six to eight weeks and will require physiotherapy after this time. 

Video Clip - Gigi Galli's off

Posted: August 27, 2008 11:45 AM

O’Mahony and Higgins head for Rallye Deutschland

Posted: August 13, 2008 11:40 AM

Irish crew Brian O’Mahony and John Higgins will contest round 10 of the World Rally Championship (WRC) this weekend when they compete on Rallye Deutschland (14 – 17 August).

It will be the third time that County Cork driver O’Mahony and County Mayo co-driver Higgins have taken part in a WRC round when they get behind the wheel of their OM Concrete Products and MIS-backed Super 1600 Renault Clio across the German asphalt.

The pair, who are doing the British Rally Championship (BRC) this season, have previously contested Rally Finland and their home event Rally Ireland last year, finishing both events.

O’Mahony and Higgins are aiming for a third finish on the three-day Trier-based event as they look to gain more experience at the top level.

“We wanted to do a round of the WRC that was also a round of the Junior WRC (JWRC) with some equal competition,” 23-year-old O’Mahony said. “Germany was the only one that fitted into the schedule.

“We just want to get a result and some more practice in, see how we can do against the JWRC crews. We’ve got the fourth round of the BRC the following week in Ulster so we’ll be minding the car for that but we hope to be competitive.

“I’ve no idea what the German roads will be like but the stages differ from day to day so I expect it to be an education.”

The crew will start at number 77 on the event, which begins with a ceremonial start in Trier city centre on Thursday evening.

Posted: August 13, 2008 11:25 AM

Citroen Preview Germany 08

Posted: August 8, 2008 2:34 PM

New-look Focus rally car to break cover in Rallye Deutschland

Posted: August 8, 2008 12:08 PM

Ford will debut the latest evolution of the record-breaking Focus RS World Rally Car in Rallye Deutschland (14 - 17 August). The car that won the manufacturers' title in the FIA World Rally Championship for the past two seasons, and recently claimed a landmark 100th consecutive points finish, has been upgraded ahead of the first asphalt round of the series since January.

The 2008-version of the Focus RS includes front style changes as well as engine improvements. Style changes to the grill area reflect the looks of the recently-previewed Focus RS road car. A new turbo and crankshaft will increase the range of power available.

This 10th event of the 15-round series can be as demanding and unpredictable as the opening asphalt encounter in Monte Carlo. The roads could not be more different than the French Alpine passes. But the changing nature of the characteristics and surface of the speed tests, along with the threat of rain, will pose tough challenges for BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen and team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila.

The rally is based in Trier, Germany's oldest city and close to the Luxembourg border. The special stages cover three highly-varied types of road. The bumpy, narrow tracks in the Mosel vineyards on the first and last legs comprise fast sections linked by hairpin bends as they rise and fall among the grapes. Corners are frequently hidden by tall vines and there is no rhythm to the artificial roads. The public roads in Saarland are more flowing but are often wooded and can be equally tricky in the wet.

But the infamous Baumholder military ranges provide the sternest test. The roads used for tank training by US soldiers are unique to the series. Fast, wide asphalt contrasts with bumpy abrasive concrete which will demand high durability from Pirelli's tyres. Massive kerb stones known as hinkelstein, designed to keep the tanks on the road, sit on the edge and will punish the slightest mistake. The tracks are always dirty, a mix of sand and gravel making conditions slippery in the dry and treacherous in the wet. The term asphalt is somewhat of a misnomer for Baumholder.

This will be Hirvonen's fifth start here, third in 2007 being the 28-year-old Finn's best result. "Road conditions are the single most important factor on this rally," he said. "If the weather is dry then it's an enjoyable event with some fast and flowing stages. But if it rains the roads can be treacherous. The rain is often localised as well which would make it difficult to judge what compound of tyres to use."

"It's good to be first in the start order here, although on asphalt the advantages and disadvantage aren’t as great as on gravel. The first cars pull mud and dirt onto the road so it makes it harder for those lower down the order. It’s good to test just before the rally, especially after a fast, smooth gravel event like Finland. Baumholder is always rough and bumpy, while the Mosel stages are fast and the car can bounce around a lot. So it's good to get used to these conditions in advance," he added.

Latvala has five Rallye Deutschland starts to his name and his preparations were boosted by a successful test this week. "I had two really good days, covering 230km on the first day and 200km on the next. It was 30ºC and clear blue skies so I hope the rally is like that. I learned a lot about the tyres and I believe I have a better set-up for this rally than the last asphalt event in Monte Carlo. When the series switches from one surface to another, and especially after a long time away from asphalt, it's important to have the chance of a good test with plenty of kilometres," he said.

"The weather is so important on this rally. If it's wet then the countryside stages in Saarland are difficult, if it's dry the vineyard stages are the trickiest. They're very technical roads with many tight junctions and the surface is always dirty. There will be many asphalt specialists to battle with here but I posted good times on the final day in Monte Carlo so a top five finish is my target," he added.

Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr will drive the team's third Focus RS. "Asphalt isn't my favourite surface but you have to adapt your style and technique to suit different terrains. I learned some important lessons last year which will help my pace notes and speed. I finished 16th so I’m aiming to improve on that. The field is huge so breaking the top 10 will be tough but if I can finish in the top 14, keep learning, post some fast stage times and enjoy myself, I'll be happy," said Al Qassimi.

Team News
* As part of the sport's new regulations, BP Ford Abu Dhabi will have just one tyre pattern from Pirelli. The PZero asphalt tyre will be available in both hard and soft compound but there will be no other option for specific dry or wet weather rubber. Teams are not allowed to hand-carve additional cuts into the rubber in the event of heavy rain and each car can carry two spares.

* A record 13 Focus RS cars will start. Gigi Galli / Giovanni Bernacchini and François Duval / Patrick Pivato are nominated for points by the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team while Henning Solberg / Cato Menkerud and Matthew Wilson / Scott Martin will drive other team cars. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene will drive a Ramsport-entered car while five crews from Holland will also be behind the wheel of Focus RS cars. Eleven Fiesta ST cars will also start what is the fourth round of the Fiesta SportingTrophy International, 10 of which are registered for the series.

* Ex-Ford driver Colin McRae would have celebrated his 40th birthday on 5 August. To mark this occasion the team is raising money during the month to donate to the new Colin McRae Vision charity.  This will support designated children's charitable causes and also foster and educate young motorsport talent in the UK.  To donate send a cheque made payable to 'Cumbria Community Foundation - McRae' and send to: M-Sport Ltd, Dovenby Hall, Dovenby, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 0PN, England. There will also be a facility to donate via www.m-sport.co.uk

Stobart squad strengthened for WRC’s German gig

Posted: August 8, 2008 11:50 AM

Round 10 of the FIA World Rally Championship takes crews to Germany for the seventh running of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland. The second tarmac rally this season sees François Duval return to the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team, with co-driver Patrick Pivato, after his solid fourth place debut finish with the team in Monte Carlo in January.  

Joining Duval as the other nominated point scoring crew in Germany are regular Stobart members Gigi Galli/Giovanni Bernacchini. Both Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin and Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud will also be entered under the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford banner.  

Duval comes into the rally as a tarmac specialist and is one of only a small handful of WRC competitors to have contested the event every year since its inception to the WRC in 2002. His results speak for themselves with three second place finishes in 2004, 2005 and more recently 2007; where he finished just 20 seconds behind the leader.  

The second most experienced of the Stobart crews to embark on Germany is Galli who has had mixed fortunes during his trips to Trier with his best result coming in 2005 when he finished fifth overall. The Italian was last here in 2005 but his form already shown on tarmac this year in Monte Carlo suggests he could put in a strong performance for the team next week.  

Twenty-one-year-old Wilson has shown steady improvements during his last two trips to Rally Germany as he will be looking to go one better than last season and finish in the points. The young Brit has been preparing for this tarmac attack with some driver coaching from world renowned expert Rob Wilson.  

Despite some 65 WRC starts, this will be just the second attempt at Rally Germany for Solberg after making his Deutschland debut last year. The Norwegian has also been honing his tarmac skills back in Norway spending plenty of time on the track over the summer break in his purpose built six-speed sequential geared go-kart. To become more familiar with the asphalt surface, after months without practice, Galli, Wilson and Duval will all conduct a small pre-event test session this weekend in the Trier region. This will help familiarise them with Pirelli’s P-Zero tarmac tyre which will be available in both soft and hard compounds for the German event.  

The history of Rally Germany is quite similar to Catalunya in that it was originally formed through the amalgamation of three smaller events – the Deutschland, Hunsbruck and Saarland rallies. Stages are a delight for competitors and spectators alike, with days one and three run through the beautiful regions along the banks of the Mosel River while day two takes crews into the Baumholder military complex with its massive, car-destroying, hinkelsteins.  

In total crews will pass over 18 special stages before a final 4.37 kilometre super special through the historical town of Trier. The longest stage of the event, Arena Panzerplatte – 30.38 kilometres, will be run twice on Saturday. The 352.89 kilometres of competitive stage distance will be kicked off with a ceremonial start at the Porta Nigra - the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps and a World Heritage Site.  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Gigi Galli said:
“OK my experience in Germany is not as great as some of the other rallies but I know this car is very good on tarmac so I am looking forward to seeing what it can do. Last time we were on tarmac was way back in January in Monte Carlo so I think it will take some stages to get used to the feeling again. Last time we were here was in 2005 and we ended up finishing fifth so another result like this will be fantastic this year. The super special on Sunday will be amazing, it is a beautiful city which is filled with fans who go crazy when the rally is in town!”  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver François Duval said:
“In the past I have had some very good results here in Germany and this year I am in the championship winning car so hopefully this can continue. The stages here are quite similar to those in Belgium which I think will also help a lot. The deal we have struck this year is to do all the remaining tarmac rounds which I am excited about because I know I have the best speed on asphalt. Hopefully my addition will help the Stobart team’s chance for more points in the Manufacturers’ Championship and also mine in the drivers’.”  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
“I think this will be a challenging event for me as I have only done the event once before and that was last year. But we still need to collect points and the aim is for a good result. The best way for me to achieve this is to concentrate on improving my performance from last year and get closer to the top guys’ times on tarmac. Then we will see how that leaves us in the overall classification. I like the more open, normal road stages but find it difficult on the military ranges. I need to feel the car flowing and on those stages it is very stop and start and you can’t really get into a good rhythm.”  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
“We have just come from a difficult rally in Finland and now we are going to another one in Germany. The event is like three different rallies in three days over different types of stages and each with their own unique challenges. We will have a test before the rally which will be a huge benefit especially after not having driven on tarmac since January and for sure that will help to give us a good feeling for the start of the event. As always the weather here can also make a big difference so the safety crews will have a huge part to play.”  

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“The Stobart team have a very good chance of scoring well in Germany as I feel we are fielding our strongest team to date. François’ record here speaks for itself and I think he will do a great job for the team. Gigi has been here a few times now so he too will have the experience on what is one of the most challenging tarmac events due to the different characteristics of the stages and the unpredictable weather conditions.”  

Ten Fiestas gear-up for German foray

Posted: August 8, 2008 11:39 AM

Round 4 of the 2008 Pirelli-supported Fiesta SportingTrophy International series heads to Germany next week as ten registered crews prepare for ADAC Rally Deutschland - a record number of registered entrants for the 2008 Championship.  

Already this season the series has seen three different winners in as many events as competition begins to heat up with just three rounds remaining. Battling for a prize of tuition with former WRC champion Marcus Grönholm in a Ford Focus RS WRC, Rally Germany will be a crucial event in the championship race.  

Burcu Çetinkaya (27) from Turkey and co-driver Çiçek Güney (26) currently lead the championship by five points over fellow team-mates Emre Yurdakul (25) from Turkey and his co-driver Can Erkal (24). Çetinkaya has been the most consistent of all FSTi drivers scoring on every event this year, which included a win on her home event in Turkey. Contesting the FST Belgium this year – a predominantly Tarmac championship – will put her in good stead ahead of the first Tarmac FSTi round in Germany.     

After a DNF on Round 1, Yurdakul struck back with a second in Turkey and, more recently, a rally win on the high-speed stages of Finland. Fellow countryman and Castrol Ford Team Türkiye members Koray Muratoðlu (30) and co-driver Levent Özokutucu (22) have come right back into contention after a solid second place in Finland, advancing them to third in the championship.         

Lithuanians Vytautas Baranauskas (24) and co-driver Gediminas Celiešius (36) are also in a position to take the championship despite not starting the Finnish event. Baranauskas is the only FSTi competitor in the field to have contested Rally Germany before. Round 2 entrant Joachim Müller-Wende from Germany and his new co-driver Umberto Calamida rejoin the FSTi race for their home event and will be hoping to utilise their local knowledge to good effect next week.  

Denis Grodetskiy (33) from Russia and co-driver Safoniy Lotko are in for a whole new experience as they enter their fourth FSTi round this year. Grodetskiy, despite his wealth of rally knowledge, has never driven on Tarmac before.  

Four new crews will be joining the regular FSTi contingent in Germany, three of whom reside in Belgium, which has a strong Tarmac championship. The most experienced of the group and currently second in the Belgian FST series is Anthony Martin (23) and co-driver Eric Borguet (23). Martin was also selected to represent Belgium in the 2007 Fiesta SportingTrophy International Shootout at M-Sport last December, where he was selected as one of the five finalists to be judged for overall victory.  

Joining him from Belgium is Tim Vanparijs (36) and co-driver Kurt Heyndrickx (35). Currently, Vanparijs sits seventh in the Belgium Rally Championship, a hotly contested series with names such as former WRC star Freddy Loix in the mix of competition. The Belgiannormally rallies in a Porsche GT3 so the move to the Ford Fiesta ST in Germany will be a different one for him.  

The third crew from Belgium is Philippe Maertens and co-driver Tony Lefebvre (23) who will both contest their first ever WRC event in Germany. All three Belgian crews will be run by the Team Floral outfit who specialise in rally preparation and development of Fords and particularly Fiestas in the Belgian FST series.  

The tenth registered competitor for Rally Germany Is the experienced Richard Moore, who will be co-driven by MSA British Rally Academy member Seb Marshall (20). Moore left his co-driver option open at the start of the year leaving M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson with the decision to pick an up-and-coming British rally talent worthy of gaining the experience and filling the seat.      

Burcu Çetinkaya (27) from Turkey said:
“Germany is going to be a big test for me as there are a few Belgian guys coming who are going to be very fast. I used to be quite weak on Tarmac, so last year I contested the Belgian FST, along with FST Turkey, and this year again I have done two of the three rounds in the Belgian championship, so hopefully this will put me in good shape for Germany with the experience I have gained on Tarmac.
Our aim for this rally is to try and keep the gap in the championship lead and increase our speed from the previous event. But there are ten crews in Germany so there are going to be some good battles during the rally.”

Another milestone as asphalt debut for new Impreza beckons

Posted: August 8, 2008 10:40 AM

As the World Rally Championship embarks upon a busy month with three rallies, just one week after Finland the Subaru World Rally Team heads to Germany for the first asphalt rally with the new Impreza WRC2008.

The scene of last year’s asphalt debut for the revised Impreza WRC2007 again hosts the competitive sealed-surface induction of Subaru’s latest World Rally contender. The Impreza WRC2008 has successfully completed three WRC events and the team, sharing test driver Markko Märtin’s confidence in the performance of the new car on asphalt, are looking forward to proving the machine on this new surface.

Chris Atkinson and Stéphane Prévot demonstrated their asphalt pace in convincing style in Germany last year, winning three stages and setting four further top-three times from the 19 stages. With their well-deserved third place finish in the last event in Finland, and with two days’ pre-event testing in hand, the pair approach Germany relishing the chance to attack.

Rallye Deutschland is punishing, as Petter Solberg and Phil Mills have found out to their cost in the past. The duo have been forced to retire as often as they have finished this event in the six years they have contested it together. They too have also showed strong pace, recording twelve top-three stage times and a stage win over the years. The event is based once more in the western-German city of Trier, which lies just shy of the border with Luxembourg in Germany’s Moselwein region. The rally is an incredibly varied affair; not your normal clear-cut asphalt event. The rally is run on a blend of fast but narrow vineyard tracks normally more used to hosting the local farmers’ tractors, and wide and dirty military roads where the cracked and worn asphalt is very abrasive when dry, or incredibly slippery when hit by rain. Slightly slower than Finland, last year’s event was won with an average speed of just over 100kph.

Whilst the event is run in the German summertime, meaning temperatures can be 20 degrees Celsius or more, the mountainous surroundings of Eifel and Hunsruck ranges make for sporadic and sudden rainfall. The slick nature of the roads holds water, so they become very greasy very quickly. With fast-starting stages and low tyre temperatures for the first few corners, the risk of sliding off the road is ever-present.

For the most part, the stages are the same as last year and so the drivers will be treading familiar ground. The largest changes focus on reversing stages and running them in the opposite direction, with only a few entirely new sections introduced. The 19 stages total 352 competitive kilometres, and are preceded by a ceremonial start at the UNESCO World heritage site of Trier’s Porta Nigra on Thursday night. The event is brought to a conclusion with a spectator stage in the same location.

The Subaru World Rally Team has entered two Impreza WRC2008s for Rallye Deutschland. Petter Solberg and Phil Mills will drive number five, and team-mates Chris Atkinson and Stéphane Prévot number six.

Solberg and Mills make their seventh attempt at the rally this year. Their best result came last year with sixth position, despite suspension damage caused by a rock on the opening day. This season will be Atkinson’s fourth attempt at the event, and his second alongside Prévot.

Team quotes
David Richards, Subaru World Rally Team Principal: “Germany will be an important rally for everyone as it will set the tone for teams’ performance on the remaining asphalt rounds of the Championship in Spain and Corsica. It’s even more crucial for us as it’s the tarmac debut for the new Impreza, but testing has been very encouraging, Petter and Chris have traditionally been fast in Germany, and we now have the experience of three rallies to build on.”

Paul Howarth, Subaru World Rally Team operations director:
“The weather is very hard to predict in the region, and it’s very easy to get caught out on a stage on a rain shower, which completely changes the characteristics of the roads. If someone makes it through a stage in the dry but it rains for the rest of the field, even on only a portion of the stage, it can make a huge difference to the overall standings. This event in lethal in the wet as the roads are coated in shiny tar on which any water just sits, making it incredibly slippery. It’s also very fast and very narrow in the vineyards, mostly one car width, so lines and precision are critical. We’ve seen in the past that it’s so easy to make a mistake here. Generally once underway it’s not hard on the cars, so it’s all about drivers keeping their noses clean, avoiding spins and going off.
“The Panzerplatte stage on day two is especially unpredictable on grip; if dry it’s phenomenally hard on tyres as it’s concrete, and if wet it can be hard to get heat into the tyres and is very slippery. On the wider military roads it is very hard to find the right line as they are so wide, and the hinkelstein are designed to lay out the course for slow-moving vehicles, so it’s a compromise at high-speed. It’s the first time we’ll be using the hard and soft compound Pirelli tyres, and on day two we’re back to remote services.”

Driver quotes
Petter Solberg: “Germany is a rally I like, but one I’ve had mixed experiences on. It’s fast, but it’s very unforgiving. We have done two days’ testing in the new car on asphalt, and Markko has done a few more days, so it’s relatively new for us but things so far are feeling good. We’ve been fast in Germany in the past so we will see what we can do there in the new car. It’s a new car on new tyres, so there will be a lot of learning for the team, but it’s important ahead of Spain and Corsica.”

Chris Atkinson: “We were fast in Germany last year, but this year we have a new car on new tyres and the first rally on tarmac so it’s hard to know where we are speed-wise. The test there went well, and if we can carry the same form we had last year it would be good. It was great in Finland to get a podium as our first points-score with the new car, as it does build confidence – the more time you spend in the car the more confident you get with it. We will go there pushing hard and get a gauge of our performance, and then see how we go from there, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Between the rallies
In the short few days between Rally Finland and Rallye Deutschland, the drivers all returned home to spend some time relaxing and training in what will be a very busy month. Stéphane Prévot returned to Belgium where his partner is heavily pregnant. At the time of writing, the birth is due just before Stéphane departs for German

M-Sport Ford Focus RS WRC to reach record in Germany

Posted: August 6, 2008 9:59 AM

Fourteen M-Sport built Ford Focus RS World Rally cars will contest the tenth round of the FIA World Rally Championship next week – a world record for the WRC class. ADAC Rallye Deutschland will also set the scene for a showcase of M-Sport’s most recent customer teams from The Netherlands.  

The event will see no fewer than five Dutch crews behind the wheel of a Focus RS in what has become quite a family affair for the nationality. Competing in their recently purchased 06-evolution cars are the father and son pairing of René Kuipers and Dennis Kuipers with Dennis contesting his first ever WRC event.  

Peter van Merksteijn will contest his sixth WRC event in Germany, this time behind the wheel of the first 07-evolution Focus RS made available to a privateer, handing the reins of his 06’ Focus RS to new team-mate and son Peter Jr. While Peter Jr has firm WRC event experience behind the wheel of a GpN class vehicle, this will be his first attempt in the WRC class.  

The fifth Dutchman to enter the event with a Focus RS is Erik Wevers who is also overseeing the running of both Kuipers cars under his Wevers Sport banner. Both van Merksteijn cars will be run by the van Merksteijn Motorsport outfit.  

Despite not being run by M-Sport’s on-event WRC arm, all five crews will have access to top-class M-Sport engineers who will be on-hand to offer advice on car setup and assistance in the case of any possible technical issues during the rally.  

Along with the three crews from current championship leaders the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team and four from the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team, the event also sees Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen and Welshman Gareth Jones contest the rally in a Focus RS WRC.  

3. Mikko Hirvonen BP Ford Abu Dhabi Ford Focus RS WRC 07
4. Jari-Matti Latvala BP Ford Abu Dhabi Ford Focus RS WRC 07
7. Gigi Galli Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Focus WRC 07
8. Francois Duval Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Focus WRC 07
15. Henning Solberg Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Focus WRC 07
16. Matthew Wilson Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Focus WRC 07
19. Andreas Mikkelsen Ford Focus RS WRC 06
21. Khalid Al Qassimi BP Ford Abu Dhabi Ford Focus RS WRC 07
23. Erik Wevers Ford Focus RS WRC 06
24. Peter van Merksteijn Ford Focus RS WRC 07 25. Gareth Jones Ford Focus RS WRC 05
26. Rene Kuipers Ford Focus RS WRC 06
28. Peter van Merksteijn Jr Ford Focus RS WRC 06
29. Denis Kuipers Ford Focus RS WRC 06

Irish Entries

Posted: July 20, 2008 9:00 PM

21 Khaled Al Qassimi/Michael Orr (Ford Focus RS WRC)
46 Shaun Gallagher/Michael Morrissey (Citroen C2 Super 1600)
63 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Renault Clio Super 1600)
73 Brian O Mahony/John Higgins (Renault Clio Super 1600)

Also Entered
25 Gareth Jones/TBA (Ford Focus RS WRC)

Entry List and Details

Posted: January 28, 2008 10:42 PM

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